Sunday, February 27, 2011

Project 353: Week 7

February 20
Sunday Cabin Fever Festivites
Proof that spring needs to get here FAST so we can get out of the house
(And yes, that is in fact mascara in Kevin's temporary mustache)

February 21
Local Bike Fix-It Man (ie-My Knight in Shining Jumpsuit)

February 22
Delinquent Dog

(To help interpret Beans' note, I'll tell you that our closet is three-sectioned space with a sliding door that occupies an entire wall of our bedroom. We took one of the smallest sections and put a few blankets in it for Beans. This is where she hangs out when we leave the house, at night, or when we're sick of her shenanigans.)

February 23
My Best China Friends

February 24
A Question of Effectiveness

February 25
Package O' Goodness From the States

February 26
Don't worry, Dad. You're not the only one who has issues with chopsticks.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Real Men Love Pink

We received new pictures of the boys today, and I've pretty much spent the entire morning staring at them. I've told you before that I'm not able to share full pictures of them with you until they are legally ours. I made a few modifications, so you can behold the fullness of manly glory.

No, no, no. We need a gruff, cool dude face to compensate for the pink outfit.

That's much better.

He's standing, he's standing, he's standing! Is he cruising? I don't know. Is he walking? I don't know. But we do know that he's standing, and this is most definitely good developmental news. Our younger son also looks much fatter, which is a relief to this mommy's heart.

I purchased our plane tickets today as well. We leave from Beijing on April 7, which is only a mere 38 days away. Plus, we'll probably head to Beijing a few days early to go to the dentist, see some friends, and eat good western food. That brings the countdown to a mere 36 days. I think I can wait that long. In the meantime, I'll continue staring at our manly man in pink.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Lantern Festival

The first year, we marveled & gawked from the safety of our own furniture-less home. (This video is worth a re-watch if you missed it the first time around.)

The second year, we were too cool for school and stayed at home by choice rather than by naivety. The fact that is was still really, really cold also helped make that decision.

But the third year, we made our kidneys big (that's the Chinese way of saying "to gather your courage") and headed out to partake in the Lantern Festival activities.

Now I fear I have misinformed you, faithful blog readers. That just goes to show that I am far from a Chinese culture expert! Before, I told you that Yuan Shao Jie translates to Lantern Festival. In fact, it literally translates to Glutinous Rice Dessert Festival. I think Lantern Festival has a nicer ring to it, don't you? So we'll stick with that.

Last Thursday marked the 15h day of the Lunar New Year and also marked the last day of the Spring Festival holiday, which (hopefully) means the last day of the 24/7 fireworks extravaganza. We headed to a nearby downtown street to see the lanterns merry & glowing.

I would also have to say that the ratio of lanterns to people was about 1:100. And there were a lot of lanterns. If you don't get my point, here's a helpful (yet poorly photographed) visual aid to better illustrate. Some of us have always been visual learners after all...

There were street vendors, bands, and people. Lanterns, Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade floats, and people. Bikes, motorcycles, and...did I mention people?

It really is days like this that I love living in China. The constant rumbles & claps of the fireworks charged the air with energy & excitement. The lanterns lining the streets were gorgeous, casting their warm, red glow on the festive crowd below. I also love the fact that among that festive crowd was quite a few unassuming faces to whom I surreptitiously subjected my Rebel:

We didn't really stay long enough for anything funny or interesting to happen because my fingers got cold inside my mittens. So after I had ample opportunity to experiment with my Christmas lens (oh f/stop 1.4, how I love you!) in this tricky yet ideal low-light setting, we were happy to bike back home and rescue our cowering puppy.

So from all of us China folk (and I again will emphasize all) to you...

Happy Glutinous Rice Dessert Festival/Lantern Festival/Yuan Shao Jie!

I hope we all have a QUIET & happy Year of the Rabbit!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Birthday Wishes from Afar

This is my mother.

This is the woman who carried me for 9 months and brought me into the world.

This is the woman who tolerated my moodiness as a child and my temper tantrums over having wrinkly socks.

This is the woman, who 20 years later, would be one of my best friends.

This is the woman who taught me that knowing a person is knowing the small stuff. This is why I love it that when she goes out to eat, even though I'm a world away, she almost always tells me what she ordered and whether it was tasty or not.

This is the woman who used to twirl me in the kitchen until I was dizzy, singing "I Could Have Danced All Night" for My Fair Lady.

This is the woman who danced with me at my wedding to that same song.

This is the woman who is always behind me. In my blogging, she's always there with a comment. In my photography, she's the one shopping for new lenses for me. In my efforts to learn Chinese, she's the first to offer a "Jia You" (Chinese for "Keep it up!"). In my running, she's the one rubbing my shoulders after a brutal 26.2.

This is the woman that never seems to grow up. Never mind the fact that she still looks young and beautiful, it's the charisma in this woman that strikes me. Leaving an established career to go back to grad school, setting Mario Brothers records on the Wii, exploring her creativity more & more, and galavanting around the world, this is a woman who refuses to get old, boring, & crotchety.

This is a woman who loves & serves her parents. Yes, there is stress. Yes, there is drama. Yes, in some ways she is becoming a parent to her parents. But she is doing is with patience & perseverance. I hope she lets me take care of her in the same way in the years to come (though just like my daddy, I doubt she'll let me!)

This is the woman who listens. No matter what I have to say, no matter how unfounded my fears might be, she listens & responds.

(This isn't necessarily a picture of her listening but I thought it was so fun that I couldn't help but include it!)

This is the woman that taught me that if a man ever hits me, I should leave immediately. Does this count, mama?

This is the mother that I love, that I'm thankful for, that I look like, that has shaped who I am in so many ways. This is my mother.

And in other news, there are a few other birthday shout-outs that I'd like to make...

Our little nephew Jonathan turned one on February 21.

Our oldest son is Jonathan's birthday buddy. No, this is not a coincidence. Since they're not sure when his real birthday is, we got to choose it within the ballpark of his estimated date of birth. We chose for him & Jonathan to have the same birthdays. So we celebrated his birthday without him this year. But next year, we're planning a smashing joint birthday bash for the two of them.

My girl Angela. The past year has not been an easy one for her, but she is fighting the good fight. There are so many evidences of grace in her life, and I am thankful to know her.

So to my mama, my nephew, my son, and my dear friend...

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Project 353: Week 6

February 13
Second Snow Day
Proof that, contrary to popular belief, Spring Festival does NOT mean spring has arrived

February 14
Qing Ren Jie
Because nothing says love like holding hands inside a stuffed bunny...

February 15

February 16
The Best News of the Week!

February 17
Yuan Shao Jie celebration

February 18
How to Deal With the Problem of Split-Bottom Pants in the Wintertime:
Add More Layers!

February 19
For a Really Thirsty Giant

Friday, February 18, 2011

April 12! April 12!

This is the story of two little boys living in an orphanage in a far away place. Little did they know that they had a mommy & a daddy who loved them very, very much and were waiting until the day that they could go meet these little boys, hug them tight, and dress them in manly blue instead of girly pink.

Then one day, a day like all the other days before, the mommy woke up in the morning, and as she was accustomed to do each day, checked her email right away. You see, while the mommy was sound asleep in China, the hard-working people in America were awake doing all that they could help the mommy & daddy & the little boys be together. She had been waiting a long, long time to get this particular email, and today was the day: "Congratulations on your court date!"

The mommy went to tell the little boys' friend about this wonderful news. This is what they had to say:

The mommy, the daddy, and the friends were so thankful to God that the day was coming closer when they could go see the little boys that they had never met before but loved so much. The friends were even more excited to find out that maybe, just maybe the little boys might be able come home to play with them in June or July.

The mommy & daddy are also thankful to all their other friends in blog-world who have been praying for them all this time as they wait for their little boys to come home. If the friends want to pray for something specific, they can ask God to help the Ethiopian Ministry of Women's Affairs (MoWA) to provide a letter of approval for the judge before their court date on April 12th. If this letter does not reach the judge beforehand, it will be even longer before the little boys can come home to the mommy & daddy. And that is no fun at all!

~From a very thankful mommy & daddy

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

I Choose Him

With this week being Valentine's Day and all, I figured this would be a good time to share some of my thoughts about how fab my husband is. To tell you the truth, I wrote this post weeks ago but it's been in the line-up waiting to be posted. Today is the perfect day.

When you choose someone to be your spouse, you are consequently choosing that same person to be the father of your children. Granted, it seems like an obvious statement but a statement I hadn't really given much thought to until recently as we are about to reach the jumping off point into parenthood. The past two years, we have had to most wonderful opportunity to play "aunt" and "uncle" to the other ex-pat kiddos that live in our city. Kev has not taken this job lightly, and it's made me see just what kind of a man I've married who will be the father of our children.

He's not afraid of baby spit. Or baby poo, which makes me think he'll help with the diaper fun. He is afraid of blood and pain though, which also makes me think I'll have to step up to the plate when it comes to scrapped knees and nose bleeds (which I imagine will be aplenty in a house full of little boys).

He's just fun to be around. While Kevin always claims that I will be the heartbeat of fun in our house, I'm partial to think that the good times will roll when daddy is home.

He is intentional about conversation, even when there is not much reciprocity. Or even when it involves Lego magazine. Something we've talked is about how crucial it is to listen to kids no matter what they want to say to you. A strange dream, a dumb knock-knock joke, a movie they watched 8 months's important to them. If at a young age, they're convinced that mom & dad don't care to listen, what will change as they get older? As they age and the subject matter gets a little more serious or important (at least from the parent's perspective), mom & dad might be ready to listen but the children might have quit talking years earlier.

He makes the same quirky, laughing sound every time he holds a baby. I hope he does this forever.

He is a protector. I think this will be especially important as we raise two black babies in a country full of curious people. No doubt each day will bring a torrent of touching, pictures, questions, and comments. I believe his protector attitude and patient heart will help us respond with a balance of grace & guardedness.

He is patient. Patient enough to deal with timid kiddos, patient enough to deal with dogs determined to destroy anything they can get their teeth on, patient enough to deal with an impatient wife.* Case in point: we took three of our little "nieces & nephews" rollerskating last month. Apparently things have changed since 1991 when I scooted around Skate World to M.C. Hammer. No, this rink was full of teenage boys who were reckless and fast. Reckless enough to knock over the little ones who were supposed to be in my care! When I was ready to throw down and put my skate in their faces, Kevin calmly told me I was done and needed to take a break. Patient, I tell ya!
*wife left anonymous for privacy sake

He's not afraid to play, even if it means getting climbed on, dragging kids around a skating rink for hours on end, or making weenie dogs out of modeling clay.

I want our sons to be like their daddy. I want them to love Jesus, to know that humility is a virtue and not a sign of weakness, to treat their mama with love & respect (yes please!). Kev & I both have so much to learn as we grow into our role as parents, but I feel like I'll have a jump start with this man by my side.

Happy Valentine's Day, my love, from your wife & sons.