Tuesday, November 30, 2010

All in good fun

Today, Megan came racing into the kitchen screaming and laughing and exclaimed, "Ethan's going to KILL me!"

"I don't think he's going to kill you."

"Ok, maybe I'm exaggerating but AAAHHHH!!!" as Ethan rounded the corner and attacked her, and they fell down in a heap laughing hysterically.


I realized today during a Tao Bao search for brown leather clogs (any suggestions?? The Dansko ones I can only find in a size bigger than I wear) that if I lived in Europe, my age would match my shoe size, 37.

This amused me because since I turned 37 I've been reminded of that line from Monty Python and the Holy Grail, "I'm not old, I'm 37!"

A momentous year for me, that's all I'm saying.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Still thankful . . .

More things to add to my thankful list from earlier today:

391: The turkey turned out awesome, if I do say so myself
392. And so did the stuffing, and I don't even like stuffing so that's saying something
393. Conversations with friends that start with, "When we were living in . . . " and it's always somewhere out of the ordinary. I love those stories!
394. Crunching leaves under my feet as I walked home. There never used to be leaves in the fall here! I hope it's a long time before someone comes along and takes them away

I just found the sign below online and it encouraged me. I hope you see all the good gifts in your life today too!

Sliding down the stairs

Thump thump thump thump - "Oww . . . ."

That was the very familiar sound of a child sliding down stairs. We used to do it as kids, in our sleeping bags, down the carpeted stairs. Here, we have concrete stairs covered with a thin wood veneer. It didn't sound fun.

"Was that an intentional slide down the stairs?" I asked from the kitchen where I was nursing the turkey (oh please oh please oh please be good little turkey!)

"That was me sliding down the stairs on a beanbag," said Ethan with a bit of a moan.

"And what did you learn from that experience?"

"I need to do it again!!"

Not the response I was expecting. I should stop typing and put the kabosh on this madness because it's only fun until someone smashes into the AC unit at the bottom of the stairs.

Gratitude on the day of Thanks

It would just be wrong if I didn't add to my list of grateful things today, so here they are:

366. My husband gently disciplining the kids in the wee hours of the morning
367. Quiet hours in the a.m. while getting over jet lag
368. Amazing women in my small group who love me and want to hear my heart
369. New friends for our kids
370. Running the Turkey Trot (and finishing it despite a side ache!)
371. Running the Turkey Trot with four other women, just enjoying their company on the way
372. An older woman who can coach me in cooking my first turkey (yes, my first!)
373. And my first batch of stuffing!
374. An oven big enough for a 13 lb. turkey. This is a rarity in China.
375. Oh, I forgot to mention - 20 people fitting into our kitchen/dining room after the Turkey Trot to eat cinnamon rolls and drink coffee (and we weren't even that crowded! I love my kitchen!)
376. Enjoying a new book (Count of Monte Cristo) on my new Kindle (which is on my new iPad)
377. Dayle, my coach, who is wise, gentle, and believes in me
378. Realizing that I have parents who love me really well and are unfailingly generous.
379. Almost being through jet lag
380. The gift of being able to coach LEAF again in a few weeks
381. Erik has sabbatical for the month of December - I'm so looking forward to him being around!
382. Our house is WARM!
383. God is my defender, the One who justifies me
384. God uses all things for good
385. My husband is my safe place
386. Plaid pajama pants from Old Navy - they have become my new "uniform"
387. Tao Bao - what can't you buy on it? We would have ordered the turkey from there but they were sold out
388. Our helper - I love coming home just in time to host people for dinner and seeing that my house is now clean (it wasn't when I left!)
389. I was able to use my Discover card at Carrefour yesterday. It's a long story, but it saved me a lot of time and stress!
390. So far the turkey looks edible!

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Our kids' take on the States

Before we left China, I asked the kids what they were most looking forward to about being in the States. I thought I'd get responses about seeing family and spending time in Orlando's amusement parks, but instead they said,

"We'll be able to see the sky because it won't be polluted." Ethan

"No one will touch my hair." Megan

"I'll be able to understand everything that people are saying." Ethan

"The traffic won't be so bad." Ethan

The kids really do love China, but it was interesting to see that they do notice the differences in culture and can appreciate something good when they have it.

Thoughts from 27,000 feet

Our kids are getting too big to curl up in the chairs and sleep.

Even time I do this I think, “I never want to do this again.” And yet I will have to do it again in a week.

Never judge your hair in an airplane mirror. The lighting in there is awful.

If people are still standing and walking while the seatbelt light is on, even after the flight attendant says in Chinese, “For the last time, sit down and fasten your seatbelts!” chances are they will remain standing.

Special meals are the way to go – no waiting for that meal cart to finally get back to us little people.

Providing someone with a small, thick steak may seem like a kindness except when you have simultaneously provided her with only plastic utensils.

It doesn’t matter how bored I am, the movie Grown Ups is not worth more than 5 minutes of my attention.

Why can’t I bring water on the plane, but you’ll give it to me when I’m here? (there is a second security check as you leave China, after your ticket has been scanned, to take any liquids you've bought in the airport)

I am genetically programmed to sleep only when it is dark and quiet, I am laying down in a comfortable and warm bed, and no one is touching me. These are not the conditions on a plane, therefore I do not sleep. Also, I would suck on Survivor.

I wish I could take credit for what great travelers our kids are. We get so many compliments, but really, it’s all them.

My butt hurts.

Thursday, November 04, 2010

Being Thankful

I've been meaning to make this list for awhile now, but it's been hard to find time in the busyness leading up to our brief trip this Friday. Much of what I'm thankful for involves this trip, but there have been many other blessings as well!

330. We're going to the States on Friday!
331. Our kids are old enough that even flying solo with them isn't that hard
332. We get to see Erik's family, my family, and my friend Laura, this weekend
333. Target! Can't wait to shop there
334. My parents are graciously coming to Orlando with us to hang with the kids while we work
335. We got a 3 bedroom apartment to stay in while we're there
336. I'll have lots of time to write next week
337. I will have a night with some old friends from China there.
338. We get to see our dear friends, the Higgins, on our way back through MN (shh! The kids don't know!)
339. Orlando's weather looks to be right around 80 degrees every day
340. But the weather here this week has been GORGEOUS so I can't complain
341. I had a great time buying gifts for friends and family yesterday
342. I've been coaching Erik's new assistant in Chinese and last night I walked away with a long list of words I'd learned (admit, to be hurt, selfish, avoid, lies, barriers)
343. My maid, otherwise who knows what condition my house would be in right now
344. Teaching drama to the 3rd and 4th graders was really fun last week - looking forward to it today
345. I had a great 2+ hour talk the other day with a good friend that was just what I needed. Then later I got encouraging texts from another friend. Feeling very blessed in this area!
346. A teenage girl from our co-op called us a few weeks ago and offered her services as a babysitter for us - just what we needed!
347. Our kids are at this moment up early doing their schoolwork before breakfast. This means my hope of running once the sun and the temperature are up might really happen!
348. We had a great conference a few weeks ago with some other moms where I was the MC. While most people would rather die than speak in public, it feeds my soul.
349. Halloween - super fun with just our expat friends in the neighborhood, and everyone outside commenting on how cute they all looked
350. Megan had her first soccer tournament on Saturday. Her team came in dead last, but not for lack of Megan trying! She did really well - we were so proud of her!
351. I finally feel settled here
352. Scarves - I'm a bit obsessed
353. My Croc slippers for around the house - again, a bit obsessed
354. Carpet! It's become the wrestling ground for our kids on a daily basis
355. My new computer!
356. All the books, clothes, etc. that are waiting for us when we get to America. It saves me so many hours of shopping here and there
357. Our kids have been getting along really well lately. It's such a blessing!
358. Red leaves - never used to see these here
359. pumpkin seeds - they are my new favorite snack. But not just around Halloween - they are readily accessible here, roasted and salted already
360. My friend Tammy led us to a great local dentist who saw Ethan for free last week (we had a sudden fear when he had a huge bump over a molar. Turns out his 12 years are coming in early!)
361. There's a rhythm to life here now
362. Runs in the park nearby have been so life giving
363. Our treadmill for those days when it's still too dark and cold to run outside!
364. We found a new park near us that looks beautiful - so many places to explore!
365. I get to see my coach, Dayle, next week. She's a great blessing!