Tuesday, August 30, 2011

When did I get so old?

It's been a long time since I've pierced body parts...

weathered a stormy German night in a tent...

basked in the Mediterranean sun...

or hiked through the Alps.  

As life treks on and my responsibility load keeps moving me precariously closer to being a full-fledged adult, our thrill factor has somewhat diminished.  But I think yesterday's events knocked another few notches off what little thrill factor we had remaining.  

On Monday night, Kevin tutors two little boys at our home.  They cancelled this week, leaving us with a night wide open.  What oh what were we to do with our expanse of free time?  This is the conversation that commenced:

Kev: I could go for heading to bed early tonight.

Beck:  Oh!  Me too!  I can't remember the last time I got 8 hours of sleep.

Kev: Well, what time should we turn in?

Beck: Let's get in bed with plenty of time to read for a while but still go to sleep before 10.

Kev: Excellent idea!

So we went to bed at 8:30 and I was asleep by 9:30.  Chinese preschool children don't even go to bed that early!  My neighbor's 18 month old son doesn't even go to bed that early!  Nevertheless, even though the sun is up by 5:30 AM here does not mean that I'm ready to get up, though I have volitionally set my alarm to help me do just that.

On Tuesday night, one of my local Chinese friends was supposed to come over for dinner.  She called me that afternoon to cancel our plans because her husband was getting ready to go out of town for a business trip.  Which again left us again with an evening alone at home and a familiar conversation:

Kev: Want to go to bed at 8:30 again?

Beck: Absolutely.

Old and boring.  That's what we are.  But perhaps I could instead euphemistically label myself as well-rested and sane.

Now if you'll excuse me, it's almost 9.  Past my bedtime!

Saturday, August 27, 2011

An Unexpected Saturday

A Chinese family that we're good friends with called us this morning, wanting to come take pictures of the boys.  It had been a long week with one too many nights of too few hours of sleep, so the prospect of attempting to get our family photograph-able seemed a little daunting.  But we did (sort of) and were so thankful for it.  Here are my favorite shots that I finished editing tonight...

Can't get any more real than that...that is most definitely Sam's drool on Kevin's shirt. 

And finally, what started as innocently touching the flowers...

Ended in an afternoon snack...

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Life As We Know It

We've had the boys for two whole months now.  Both Kevin & I often say we don't feel like parents.  We just feel like us plus two kids.  It's fun.  We like it.  Life is different, that's for sure.  But this is life.  Real & raw.

This is where we spend a lot of our day.  We have two toy drawers and a book drawer.  The toy drawers get switched daily so there's always something "new" to do.  The book drawer is always available, and Micah actually love to spend time turning the pages and being read to.  It makes my nerdy heart sing!

I pretty much wear my work-out clothes all day long.  I figure if I don't spend abundant time getting dressed, I'm more willing to crawl on the floor with the boys, take them outside where I inevitably sweat a lot, or not care as much when any assortment of bodily fluid ends up on me.  And as if the chasing, lifting, and constant moving aren't enough, I usually am able to get a work-out in too. (And since I know you're wondering, that giant contraption next to me is our living room AC unit.)

My parents sent us these amazingly awesome Keep Austin Weird shirts.  Most Chinese people think both of our sons look like girls (maybe the big eyes and long eyelashes?), so I'm sure the colors don't really help their case for manliness.  

Sami has been seizure free for almost a month now, which is a huge answer to prayer.  He's getting so close to crawling, an activity that I'm not necessarily encouraging.  I've got my hands full enough with one mobile one!

Micah is a ham to the core.  He gets shy around a lot of people (ie-the crowds that descend upon us whenever we leave the house) but when we're at home, he constantly makes us laugh.  He dances & snaps to any music he hears, which is only just proof of his African roots.  He further testifies to his heritage by finding our coffee grinder in the lower kitchen cabinet and eating the residual coffee grounds with his finger.  He can say a few English words (dog, shoes, fish, amen, mama) and a few Chinese ones as well.  

As for Beans, she's getting along just fine.  The boys & her have finally come to terms with each other, and they've actually made friends.  Micah actually figured out how to play tug with her, and Sami hasn't figured out how to escape her pink tongue yet.  When she's not playing with the boys, she does a lot of this during the day:

If that picture doesn't perfectly depict my life, I'm not sure what will.  Yes, that plant is dead.  I took it from a friend who moved away a year or so ago, promising her I'd keep it alive.  I have failed her.  I hope she doesn't find out.  And that giant piece of machinery in the middle of my living room is my dryer that we bought for $50 two months ago.  We haven't used it or plugged it in yet, but it makes an excellent place to pile dirty towels.  Don't let the folded nature of those towels fool you.  They are indeed quite dirty with rain water from the giant deluge that flooded our house last week.  

And I'll conclude this random blog post with another installment of Creepy China Gifts.  We call this guy Demon Dog.  He walked, barked, and his lights lit up all red & scary.  He must have freaked out Beans too because she ate it.  I can't say I was devastated.  Micah, on the other hand, still requests to play with Demon Dog because it makes noise (or I suppose I should say it once made noise).  He now resides in the trash can.

So that's life.  It's not perfect.  It's not always tidy.  But it's us and we're thankful.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Somalia on My Mind

There's been a lot of talk of Somalia these days.  The UN has declared a famine ransacking Somalia, affecting almost 11 million people and taking the lives of 29,000 children under the age of 5 over the past three months.  There are stories of women who walked weeks through the desert with their children, hoping to find respite from the suffering at refugee camps stationed along the borders of Ethiopia, Kenya, and Djibouti.  Those same stories did not all have happy ending as their mothers were forced to leave behind some of their little ones who succumbed to the silencing grip of hunger & thirst.

The images are heart breaking; the new footage is devastating.  I feel like it all hits closer to home at this season of my life when I've got two Afrikids of my own in my care.  As I tried to watch an ABC news clip this morning, Micah obstructed my view by covering my eyes with his sticky hands in an attempt to play peek-a-boo.  It obviously didn't register with him that some of those kids on the screen live but a few hours drive of his hometown in eastern Ethiopia.  

I see the pictures of these little famine victims, and I see the faces of my own sons.  The same deep brown eyes.  The same kissable nose.  And I realize that there is no difference between these children, apart from life's basic necessities of food & water.

I see our little Sam, who was once dangerously underweight himself.  With all the weight he's carrying now, it's hard to imagine he's still that same little boy.

May it be the same for this little one as well.

Pray for Somalia.

Give to Somalia.

    Remember Somalia.

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

The Happy Light Goes Off for Good

* I wrote this post several weeks ago but with all the drama with Sami going on, it seemed a little out of place in the blog roll at the time.  But now that life has calmed down substantially, I still wanted to share this with you all.

Once upon a time, I thought that once we moved to China, my big transitions would be done with.  Because moving to China was indeed a big transition.  Packing, selling, Craigs List-ing, hugging, crying, goodbye-ing...it was all quite an ordeal.  An ordeal that I wasn't displeased to have behind me.  Now that doesn't mean I was displeased to have all our friends & family behind us, just the drama of leaving them.

That's what I figured at least.  That ordeals involving such transition would in fact be BEHIND me.  Little did I know that life overseas has turned out to be one transition after another.

Take this wonderful group of ladies, for example:

This picture was taken in July of 2010 and represented every American face that I called friend who lived within a 300 mile radius of me.  Now, one year later, every single one of those faces lives in a different place.  Each family that left meant a hard goodbye.  Each family that left meant one more transition.  

The most recent to leave was the honorable matriarch of this family (Just to clarify, her family left too. She didn't leave her husband & daughters in China without her!):

Rachel was not only one of my best friends here but my neighbor.  I could always see the happy lights of her kitchen & living room shining, and we could occasionally wave at each other from our own homes while she washed dishes and I hung laundry.  It took about 50 steps through a clump of trees and over a rock path through a pond to get to her house.  A path I knew quite well because I traversed it so often.  To share a meal.  To drop off half of a batch of crescent rolls because I made too many.  To return a borrowed book.  To babysit three darling kiddos.  To workout together.  To borrow some liquid smoke when my BBQ sauce isn't turning out right.  To worship in song together with Rachel at the piano.  To join in on a mom's book club she led for some Chinese friends.  Or, for my favorite reason, no reason at all but to chat and drink homemade chai tea together.

Rach taught me so much about what it means to be a mom who actively loves & serves her home & family while still not neglecting reaching out to the Chinese around her.  Both my China life & my family life are different because of her influence.

Rachel stood by us and supported us every step of the way during our adoption process.  She actually tried to understand what all the adoption lingo meant and how it affected our timeline.  It was uncertain if we would be able to bring the boys home before their scheduled departure date, so we were all so thankful when our family of four arrived home to China 4 days before they left for the States.  

The thing about not being able to necessarily choose your friends overseas is that you often end up being paired with people who are extremely different from yourself.  The disparity between my interests and Rachel's is pretty substantial, but now I'm happy to be somewhat versed in all things opera, small town living, The Joy of Cooking, gardening, and coffee.

Yes, it's true that the happy lights of the Wind's China home have now been darkened.  But that doesn't mean I'm alone.  Our Heavenly Father is our forever friend, a truth that I've learned in a deeper way with each transition & goodbye that we've faced.  In His kind provision, He's also given me two more ladies with whom to live this crazy China life.  Two new ladies who will teach me new things about shopping, counseling, ranch living, and photography.  Two new ladies who will, most importantly, teach me new things about the character & care of our most fabulous Father.

Saturday, August 06, 2011

China, We Greet Thee!

After three long weeks in Thailand, we are so very happy to be home.  We had one final doctors appointment on Tuesday, where the boys received another round of immunizations and clearance from the doctor to return home to China the following day.  

We had 7:30 PM flight leaving Chiang Mai, but we were delayed by at least an hour.  We didn't reach Kunming until around 11 PM and still had the task of finding a hotel where we could crash for a few hours before catching our 8 AM flight the next morning.  We kind of set ourselves up for disaster by not making a reservation or even having a clue about local hotels, but with all the uncertainty surrounding our departure date, securing a place to lay our heads for some reason fell to the bottom of the priority list.

This is where the wonderful hand of God's providence intervened.

We had met a Chinese woman in the Chiang Mai airport who was just smitten with the boys.  We ended up talking for a while, which was a good thing for my neglected-for-three-weeks Chinese.  When she found out about our little Kunming predicament, she vowed to escort us to a nearby airport hotel when we arrived.

After passing through immigration, customs, and picking up our luggage, we exited the Kunming airport to find it pouring down rain.  Our new friend's effort were not deterred by the inclement weather, and she solicited the help of a guy claiming to be an airport employee who offered to drive us to a nearby hotel.  Though his casual t-shirt and jeans didn't really lend to his credibility as a legitimate airport worker, we were too tired to care and happily climbed in the back of his car.

Several phone calls and three hotels later, we finally found a place that had a room available.  I was a little skeptical at first when I noticed their price listings had an hourly rental rate, but the clock was ticking until we had to return to the airport and all I wanted to do was unstrap the baby that had been attached to me for the past 6 hours and get some sleep.  My anxieties immediately dissipated, however, when we were shown to our room, which ended up being decent enough.

6 AM came all too quickly, and we were back at the airport.  While we were waiting for our flight to board (delayed again!), a flock of Chinese tourists descended on the boys, taking pictures of them, giving Micah candy for breakfast, and commenting on how much cuter one of our sons was than the other.  We finally boarded the plane, only to wait an additional hour.  Apparently, there was a flight from Bangladesh carrying a few passengers who were supposed to be on our flight, and our plane was waiting for them.  Having missed way too many connecting flights before, I thought this was an impressive gesture of customer service, but several other passengers did not feel the same way.   People were screaming at the flight attendants, and we were pretty certain they were going to start throwing punches.  One woman was marching up and down the aisle of the plane shouting, "If Hu JinTao (the president of China) was on this plane, we wouldn't be waiting!" and "Do only foreigners count as people? Chinese people are people too!"  Tempers were assuaged when we finally took off.

Once we made it to Beijing, we still had an hour cab trek across town and a 90 minute train ride ahead of us.  The new Shanghai-Beijing high speed magnet train stops in our city, and it has made travel so much more convenient.  On this particular ride, the cars we practically empty, so Micah had the freedom to wander around and Sam had two seats to himself to lay out on.  

Now we're back at home, doing our best to re-establish some routine to our lives.  Yes, Thailand was great but there really is no place like home!