Saturday, May 21, 2011

To Africa & Back

I figure that my hiatus from blog life is justified by the fact that I had a hiatus from husband life.  One might think that a husband hiatus might precipitate a rise in blog posts, but life kept moving on at its busy pace, even without Kevin around.  While Kevin was in Africa helping Josh bring home his sons, I spent 5 days with Josh's wife Courtney in a city about 6 hours from here.  We chatted, laughed, and filled her deep freezer with enough baby food and frozen meals to feed their growing family.

The guys, on the other hand, did not do as much laughing & chatting as we did.  This is what they were usually doing:

Though on a regular day, I'm not sure the smiles were as big as they were in this pictures that was taken right before they headed to the airport to come home.  Their stay was extended to around 10 days because the Chinese embassy was less than willing to grant the boys visas.  It took navigating a maze of red tape to finally come home.  Nights were long, tears were abundant, and diapers stinky.  But there is certainly a redeeming quality in knowing that the source of those sleepless nights, shrill cries, and foul smells are these little guys:

And of course, there was the highlight of getting to love on our little men as well.  Kevin took plenty of videos for me, which I have been watching several times a day for the past week or so.  I even attempted to upload on the blog to share with you but gave up after 6 hours of waiting for our slow internet to do its job.  Pictures will just have to do!

The update on Sami & Micah is that their paperwork is ready to be submitted to the US embassy for review.  Our agency representative attempted to do it last week but was unable to because he was informed at the last minute that he needed yet another document.  Thankfully, it was easily obtained, and the embassy should have our boys' files in hand this week.  It can take anywhere from one day to 6 weeks for the US embassy to give their approval, so there is still no way to know when we'll be able to travel again.  To whittle away at the wait time, I did my first loads of little boy laundry this week.  Now if only there were little boy bodies to fill those little clothes...

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

The Relationship Between Stress & Trash

An odd thing I discovered when we first moved to China is that the trashcans are tiny.  Maybe it's because most kitchens are tiny too.  It didn't bother me in the beginning but just forced me to take the trash out a little more often.  Even that didn't bother me because all taking out the trash involved was tying up the bag and putting it outside our apartment door for the maintenance guys to pick up.  I don't even have to climb the four flights of stairs out of my apartment building to throw it in the dumpster.  What makes the set up even better is that one morning, I discovered a kind neighbor had donated a discarded tile and a wooden box lid to my front door stoop so I could put my trash bag could rest there while waiting for its final journey to the big trashcan in the sky.  Could it get any better?

But then we got a dog.  A dog who like to stick her nose in anything and eat anything.  Including my trash.  Nary a day went by that I wasn't chasing her as she fled from the kitchen with a contraband egg shell or discarded cabbage leaf in her mouth.  I thought I was outsmarting her when I bought a trashcan with a lid.  But alas, this was the scene that I unfortunately continue to deal with:

But then I went to a local market with my friend Tao Sha the other day.  We meandered past a restaurant supply store and, amidst the commercial waffle makers (random) and soft ice cream dispensers, I spotted it--the mother of all trashcans!  It was only $10, and I knew it had to be mine.  The salespeople were terribly perplexed why I only wanted one.  I didn't even attempt to explain to them that it is for personal use.  I lugged my booty home and presented it to Beans.  Ha!  Take that, puppy!

My other favorite thing about my trashcan is the easy-to-follow directions on top.  Push.  Why, thank you, I think I will.  But laugh as you may, those directions actually came in handy to my little 6 year-old friend, Clara when her family came over for dinner on Friday.  She asked me where she could throw away her trash and I pointed to my behemoth of a trashcan.  "How does it work?" she asked, most likely due to the fact that she's never seen a trashcan that she herself could fit inside.  Upon my prompting, she used her newly cultivated reading skills: "Push. Oh, now I get it."  Let's just hope that Beans never learns to read like Clara.

So there's one area of my life that I've now seemed to de-stress somewhat.  Just trying to simplify as much as possible until those two little men come and shake things up a bit!

Thursday, May 05, 2011

Good idea? Bad idea?

Good idea: joining a group of friends at our local Botanical Garden

Bad idea: my friends informing me that we were to meet at 8:30 AM

Good idea: joining the old ladies doing Latin dancing (or so they said) in the park 

Bad idea: pretending that I was Lauren from "So You Think You Can Dance" when in fact my rhythm is as poor as it was during my failed attempt to try out for the drill team in high school

Good idea: dancing to Lady Gaga songs downloaded on their cell phones & being silly throughout the park (After all, these friends are freshmen in college, which makes them about 19 years old.  Man, that makes me feel old.)

Bad idea: dancing & being silly around the guys, who weren't really thrilled with the girly giggling

Good idea: agreeing to ride one of the theme park rides at the park with my friend Bonny

Bad idea: agreeing to ride one of the Chinese theme park rides that went upside-down and incredibly fast.  Stuff around here isn't really known for its stellar quality...

Good idea: participating in the ever-so popular Chinese past-time of hanging out with pigeons

Bad idea: actually holding the dirty, scabby birds and letting them eat out of your hand

Good idea: hanging out with, getting to know, & loving on these dear Chinese friends

Bad idea: well, there really isn't anything bad to say about that!

Wednesday, May 04, 2011

The Sovereignty of God & the Calendar of Man

The Bible reminds us frequently that the Lord has numbered our days and that He knows each one.  This truth has proved resoundingly true recently as I've been reflecting on the "ironic twists of fate" that have manifested themselves in my life.  Let me give you a few examples:

April 9, 2010 was the first time I experienced the overwhelming hope & joy that a bit of pee and two tiny lines can bring a woman.  Though I was never able to meet that little life, hope & joy persisted still.  April 9, 2011 was the first time I experienced the overwhelming hope & joy that holding your child (or children in my case!) for the first time can bring a woman.  I was finally able to meet the little lives that were forever to be entrusted in my care.  One year to the day. 

Three days later on April 12, I legally became a mother.  All the way on the other side of the planet, on that very same day, my dear sister-in-law Shannon became a mother as well to two beautiful twins.  We've walked the long and sometimes bumpy road toward motherhood together, and in some ways we reached our destination together.   Together.  On the same day.

Today happens to be my birthday.  Last year, I was so thankful to spend my birthday with my parents, brother, and sister-in-law eating sub-par Moroccan food in a Chinese tourism hub city (not a good idea if you were ever considering it!).  This year, however, my husband is on another continent, enjoying the opportunity to see our sons.  My "new" family is together on this birthday while I'm at home.  I don't share that with you to elicit any pity (it's actually been a wonderful day, especially the part where I bought myself a birthday pineapple, shoved a candle in its leafy top, sang to myself, and blew it out) because there's no trace of sadness in my heart now.  This is such a work of the Lord in my heart from years past!  I used to be the person who reminded folks that my birthday was on its way.  If the day didn't live up to my expectations, I was disappointed.  The disappointment robbed me of the joy of recounting God's faithfulness to me over the past year.  

But this year seems different.  I'm so thankful that Kevin has the opportunity to be in Africa and that we got to talk for 8 whole minutes on the phone today.  I'm so thankful for the low-key morning I got to spend at Starbucks with my friends.  I'm so thankful that I got to meet with the same local friends tonight that I meet with every Wednesday night.  I'm so thankful for the handful of local friends who remembered my birthday and sent my sweet text messages.  I'm so thankful for the Facebook messages that have made me feel loved from across the ocean.  I'm so thankful that this is hopefully the last birthday that our family will be separated.  Lord willing, next year, I will look back at this birthday, remember the separation and be overwhelmed once again with thankfulness that that particular season of waiting is behind us.

It is the specificity of God's sovereign love that arranged these events to play out just so.  It is the sensitivity of God's spirit working in my heart that helped me notice them at all.  Therefore, my responsibility is to love Him, thank Him, praise Him.  Won't you join me in that?

Monday, May 02, 2011

Off to Africa Again!

All it really takes is one rather large credit card purchase, one 3 hour train trip, and 15 hours on a stuffy plane.  In my opinion, the expenditure is really quite reasonable when it means that this is on the other side:

Unfortunately, it's not yet time for both of us to make that global leap to Africa for the second time.  There's a reason, however, that I emphasize both of us. The reason is that one of us will be doing this very thing this week: 

We have some good friends, Josh & Courtney, that live in our province who are also adopting two baby boys from Ethiopia.  The twist in their adoption journey came when they discovered they were pregnant about half-way through the process.  Now it's time for their boys to come home but Courtney is too pregnant to travel.  They asked Kevin if he would be willing to take her ticket to Africa to assist Josh in toting their sons across the world to their new home.  Of course, my husband was more than happy to oblige.  

So this was the scene at 6 AM this morning as he scooted out the door to catch the early morning train to Beijing to re-board the same flight we were just on three weeks ago.  I tried my best the night before to not only pack his suitcase but to pack his brain with every baby trick I've ever learned.  Our friend Leslie "lent" us her three-month old son for practice so Kevin could learn the ins & outs of diapers, soothing, and all the other baby know-how that just seems to come more naturally for us women folk.  Courtney & I agree that this international escapade our husbands are undertaking has potential for a reality show...

Two Men, 
Two Babies, 
One Really Looooong International Flight...
Will they all make it in one piece?

On top of the comedic effect this event will most definitely bring, we're thankful for this unexpected opportunity for Kevin to serve our friends and to love on our sons.  I have to admit that I'm a bit jealous that it's him going instead of me but bringing home my friend's children with her husband just might not be the wisest course of action.  I'm just glad that one of us will be there to give that extra amount of attention to Sami & Micah.  Plus, this whole experience for Kevin will hopefully make our own homecoming trip with our boys that much easier.  Hopefully...

So until Sunday (or maybe even Tuesday...we're not exactly sure how long this trip will be!), Beans & I will be cruising solo at the casa.  We should be able to keep busy to help the time pass quickly. Well, I'll be keeping busy that is.  Beans' idea of busy is relocating herself every so often for a new napping location!

Sunday, May 01, 2011

Project 353: Week 16

April 24
Our Easter Sunday at Thousand Buddha Mountain

 April 25
Kitchen Organization Project...Done!

April 26
Kiddos' Room Organization Project--Done!

April 27
Thursday (early!) Morning Fun at the Botanical Garden 

April 29
Happy 3rd Birthday, Sweet Christin! 

April 30
Is it normal to love a trash can as much as I love my new one?