Friday, July 29, 2011

summerful of thanks

I know it's not over yet, but I have been meaning to share all the things I'm thankful for here in the States. Some of them may surprise those of you who live here. But I suppose a lot of things that happen to me could be viewed as odd to the rest of the world, and that's ok. It's part of the expat life.

So here they are (in no particular order):
1. sandwich meat and lots of it
2. wildlife
3. free days
4. ceiling fans
5. anything we could possibly need (except my Chinese almonds. I'm missing those)
6. croquet
7. swimming pools
8. endless miles of prairie
9. endless miles of woods
10. people who have known me such a long time
11. yogurt that holds its shape when you put a spoon in it
12. the library
13. cool mornings
14. no one else around on those cool mornings
15. except the few other people who without fail greet me
16. speaking my own language
17. parents who serve and give endlessly
18. uncles and aunts who love on the kids (our aunts and uncles and theirs too!)
19. the novelty of programmed television
20. VBS
21. Trader Joe's
22. hearing "Gina Brenna?!?" at Trader Joe's and having it be a friend I've known since kindergarten (who lives in Boston)
23. Oh yeah, Boston
24. New York
25. My oldest, dearest friend Laura being just miles away
26. cute things in stores that I just like to look at and sometimes buy
27. Seeing old friends who normally live in other countries
28. catching up on trends in culture and clothing
29. seedless grapes
30. inexpensive avocados and hummus
31. Valleyfair
32. The MN Twins
33. Thunderstorms
34. Fast internet streaming
35. Road trips
36. Diet sodas other than Coke Zero and Coke Light

and the list goes on. We're enjoying Minnesota!

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Both and Neither

I always appreciate the fact that in coming back to the States there are so many people who want to see us and hear how we're doing. That said, I do get tired of answering the same questions over and over again (I have to remind myself that they aren't the same questions to the people who are asking).

I've been thinking about making a t-shirt Jeopardy style that would preemptively answer these questions so we can save some time. It would look something like this:

1. June 9th
2. August 18th
3. We're having a great time!
4. We love it there.
5. At my parent's house mostly, because they have 3 extra bedrooms.
6. NY, Boston, Colorado, Milwaukee and the cabin
7. Panera Bread
8. Both and neither.

Now I'm guessing you can figure out the questions behind these answers except maybe #8, so I'll tell you. The question is, "Which feels more like home?"

Erik and I always pause before we answer that, unsure what to say. Does this feel like home? Yes, of course. Does that feel like home? Yes, after 12 years it does. Do I feel completely at home here? No, and not just because I don't actually own a home here. I know that I think and look at the world differently now and sometimes it makes me feel out of place. Do I feel completely at home there? No. No matter how much language I learn or how long I'm there, I will always be an "outside country person."

But the up side is that it makes me feel more keenly what is most important, which is that we are just passing through. My true home is in heaven and I will feel like a stranger until I get there. It reminds me of one of my favorite C.S. Lewis quotes,

"Our Father will refresh us with many pleasant inns on the journey, but he would not encourage us to mistake them for home."

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Gym Membership

Erik and I are spending the week at a conference in Fort Collins, CO. Included in our conference fee is membership to the Colorado State University gym. I'm normally not a fan of gyms because I hate the extra time it takes to get there, and I feel weird exercising with other people around me. I mean, you never know when you're going to trip and slide off the treadmill, and that's the sort of thing I prefer to do in private.

But a wise woman (I'm talking to you Dayle) told me that life is about seasons, and in this season I have a lot of extra time to go to a gym, and a complete lack of knowledge of where I could safely and enjoyable walk or run around town, so I'm taking advantage of it.

So far I've used the track, an elliptical, a rowing machine, an exercise ball, free weights, and of course the mat for stretching and core stuff. I'm generally sore all over but it feels good because I genuinely enjoy exercise. Yes, you read that right. I do it for fun. And other reasons.

I've been asking myself, "Should I get a gym membership when we go back to China?" But then I remember that my husband travels a lot, and I don't have this much time on normal mornings, and I don't actually know where a gym is, and we already have a treadmill and free weights and TRX bands and P90X and an exercise ball and the great outdoors. So instead I'll just enjoy this time and focus on not falling off the equipment in front of strangers. I think I can manage that.

Saturday, July 16, 2011


Back in April Megan asked to be baptized on Easter Sunday. Since it was only a few days before it was a little too short notice to get in on the baptism service. She also said she preferred something smaller. I was curious to know if she really understood baptism or was just interested because several of her friends were being baptized. I pressed her to tell me why she wanted to be baptized, and she finally cried out, "Because I want to follow Jesus, because I need Him!"

Ok, sounds good! Just wanted to be sure.

So this summer we made plans to go to a local State park and baptize her in the lake with our family present. Thanks to the MN government shutdown, that got changed to a county park. Erik's dad was able to come down and join us, as well as my brother and sister-in-law.

There were a few other people at the beach where we stopped, including a family of four who watched us. Afterward we realized (and so did they) that they are old friends of ours! We still can't get over the fact that they just happened to show up at the perfect time to witness it.

Our future Hope Solo

No, I haven't forgotten how to blog. Nor is it for lack of content that I haven't shared anything lately. I've just been enjoying life in Minnesota!

This week was particularly fun as Megan participated in Sports Camp at my home church. Of course she chose soccer for her sport. Initially I was supposed to be one of the coaches, but since they had as many coaches as kids the first day I volunteered to switch to photography. I'm glad I did so I could capture these fun shots:One of the guys visiting from Mexico taught the kids how to do proper headers. Though I've heard kids under age 12 really shouldn't be doing headers, they had a lot of fun trying!

We left early from camp on Wednesday so we could watch the Women's World Cup. Megan was enthralled watching those women play soccer. The next day she wanted to have her coach teach her how to send balls like Hope Solo. Someday!

(If you are unfamiliar with the US women's soccer team, and there's a good chance you are, Hope Solo is the goalie. Technically Megan likes to play offense though!).