Friday, December 31, 2010

What we saw today!

Big snow-makes our industrial city much prettier.   We are due for more over the next few days.

Guess it's going to be the Year of the Rabbit!

To quote the Princess Bride:  "I do not think that word means what you think it means."  I also saw a perfume labelled "Funeral Parlor."  Sadly, the ad was on glass and I couldn't get a picture.

When the giraffes lie down with the the snow?

Sometimes it's better not to ask why.  Just accept the giraffe and deer statues.

The button shop-there were stalls and stalls of these.  Fabulous!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

The doldrums.

I have nothing exciting to say today.  No good pictures or stories.  Well, we did have the slowest taxi driver ever yesterday-that is an anomaly in China where taxi drivers honk, weave in and out of traffic, drive on sidewalks and generally get you where you need to go in lick-splickity time.
No, it's the time of year where things slow down.  My classes are  about over for the semester.  The university closes for most of January and February.  I have to decide what classes to take next semester.  I don't want to take the full load since we will be leaving for the US before the semester is over (February through late June).  I am thinking of taking a speaking class, hiring  a new tutor for grammar and continuing to work with my tutor twice a week.  I love my classes at the university but the homework load is 4 -5 hours a day and with a family, foster baby and other stuff, that's a little high for me.
Elisabeth is off for two weeks and we are spending some good time together. We have so little time left before she goes to college and we are thrilled that she still wants to spend time with us.  We are reading books, knitting and watching movies.  It's all good.
We have two sets of friends who have gone back to the states unexpectedly.  Watching their re-patriation from afar has been painful and enlightening.  I've read that it takes about 12 months to adjust to a new country and 18 months to re-adjust to your own.  There are many things that I miss about the US -family, friends, driving a car.  But I don't miss the 24 hour news, TV or stress to succeed.  But I can't wait to go back next summer for a few months after being out of the country for two years.
We are hoping to get some movement on getting our foster son on the official adoption list after the new year. He is such a sweet little guy-any family would be lucky to have him.  Even when he wakes me up in the middle of the night (like the last two nights), he is happy and cheerful and excited to see me.  It's hard to be upset with him when he is like that!

A couple of good China links.

Christmas in China- very insightful!

Top Ten China myths- China's new place in the world.

Okay-one picture of our family on Christmas Day.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Emmanuel has come.

It's Christmas morning in China.  We are blessed, we are blessed, we are blessed.  Merry Christmas from our apartment in China to your homes all over the world!  Thank you for reading, thank you for commenting, thank you for praying for our family. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts.  May your day be blessed. Love has come.

Friday, December 24, 2010

This never happened to me in America....

This morning I headed out in 0 F temperatures to finish Christmas Shopping. I took a taxi over to Zhan Lang Guan- a large, reasonably priced shopping area.  When I arrived, I saw these women shopping.

Their outfits were so fantastic that I knew that there had to be a reason .  So I looked around and saw this.

A lot of older people behind the book stand, getting into similar costumes.  Nothing else seemed to be happening so I continued into the main hall to look for fun and cheap Christmas gifts.  I hit a gold mine with this lovely woman, Wu Laoshi, who hand stroked Chinese characters onto pretty book marks for a total cost about 50 cents a book mark.

Across the way, people were trying out the massage chairs.

There was also a man cutting up a pig but I have enough pictures of stuff like that.
Anyway, I shopped, found the things that I wanted and left the market after a few hours.  As I walked out, I saw this.

Fan dancing.  We actually see people fan dancing quite a bit here.

Notice the Chinese people just walking by and ignoring them!  Unlike me!

Higher levels costumes-priests and royalty.

The Monkey King!

The most unhappy monkey.  Actually, none of the people looked very happy to be dancing and it made me wonder what they were doing.  Dancing is hugely popular here.

I found a taxi and the guy immediately told me how hard it would be to get to our apartment from that direction.  I agreed (it's a hard street to turn around in) but there's really no other place to get a taxi.  So I told him two ways to go and he chose a third.  It made no difference to me how we got there as long as we got there.  When we pulled up, I pulled out a 100 kuai note.  Taxi drivers often don't want 100 kuai notes because they don't have the change.  An average taxi ride is about 8 Kuai.  But it was all I had.  He refused to take it.  I told him that no one was at my home and that there was nothing I could do.  He said "I'll take you to the store, you can buy something and get change."  I agreed because I actually did need to go to the store and get stuff for a dinner tonight.  Of course the meter ran while I was there!  I ran in, got salad stuff and ran out.  He took me home, I paid him with small change and wished him a Merry Christmas.  He was actually pretty cheerful and I wasn't really upset. The taxi ride should have cost 8 - 10 kuai (about a dollar).  Instead it was 17 kuai.  Smart taxi driver.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Christmas shopping in China or why I have no presents yet.

I've spent almost every morning this week working on Christmas shopping.  Big gifts?  Expensive gifts?  No-that is just how long it takes me to get things done here.
The first morning, Elisabeth and I took the bus to Wu Ai  五爱(Five loves) market.  This is one of the biggest markets in China-it takes up several city blocks and is big and exciting and can be very fun.  We wandered around  the shoes, the yarn, the scarves and more and then found ourselves in the Christmas section.

Yes, it's all sparkle, all Santa and quickly blends into Chinese New Year stuff. No Nativity, no religious symbolism. We bought a few stocking stuffer type things and headed home in a taxi.

The next day, I went to the library to study and then to Carre Four to buy our Christmas tree.  Last year we had a scrawny and pitiful tree.  This year, I had a gift card from the speaking contest I was in.  I went over and bought this tree....for about $28.00! I still miss having a fresh tree..completely unavailable in this deforested country. 

The cat was most helpful with the lights.....and continues to be fascinated and tempted by it!

The next day, I took off on my bike to look for a store where I bought some DVD's last year.  Despite the freezing weather and snow flurries, I pressed on.  No store.  Gone.  So I rode over to a different store where I successfully bought gifts last year.  Also gone.  So I gave up and went home before my fingers froze off.
I did however, tear my gloves off for one minute to take this picture.

Today, Elisabeth and I took a taxi to Tai Yuan Jie.  This is also a fun mall that has expensive department stores on the surface and a fun underground market full of cheap stuff.
We started out the morning well at Starbucks-yes, we have a Starbucks here.

Yes, Starbucks is pretty much the same here.  Even the prices.  It is a nice touch of home on occasion.

We walked on the mall toward H&M and saw these windows decorated for Christmas.

Lot's of American products on sale.

Love Her.  Love Haagen Dazs.  Word!

Of course, the requisite "Engrish" ad!

This is  a couple walking towards the underground market.  He is carrying her purse.  It's common here for men to carry their wives/girlfriend's purses.

So, am I finished?  Not even close!  I'll be taking off again in the morning to finish.  I have no Christmas wrapping paper, major gifts for my daughter or small gifts for my husband.  I do, however, understand the gift that was given to us in the incarnation and even if I don't finish shopping tomorrow...that will be enough!

Jia You, Little Baby!

Off to the doctor yesterday for a check-up.  We go every three months so that a report can be sent back to the orphanage as to our foster son's health.  I forgot to bring our camera to the doctor's yesterday but I did take these shots when we got home.

7.1 Kilograms and 56 centimeters.  Up from 3.3 kilograms in late August.  He can sit with support, roll from front to back and back to front. He reaches out when he wants to be held.  He says "Mama" (which tears at my heart a little).  He is very vocal.  He is happy, happy, happy.  He eats cereal, ground peas, carrots, sweet potato, chicken, Cheerio's and bananas.  He still developmentally and in size more like a six month old. But it's all progress and all good!

Here is part of the recipe for progress-the love of a big sister.  Elisabeth has been a trooper through all of this.  Her love for him is genuine and he adores her.  What a sweet sister she has been.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

What does it mean to be in a family?

 When you are part of a family, you get to be part of a community that loves you.

You get to be held a lot by dear friends!

You get to have a really pretty doctor named Katherine Welch who does amazing work with this organization that she founded  Plus she makes house calls.

You get to sit on the lap of a sweet Korean mom at PFA meetings.

You get to meet other  sweet foster moms and their funny foster sons.

You get to practice sitting with your very cool 姐姐

Sometimes you get to take naps on her bed.

Your family thinks you are pretty darn cute..even when you wake up at 4:30 AM.

You get to eat when you are hungry and your family is willing to help you learn how to eat, even if the food dribble out a little.

You get to have a cat that is jealous and sits in your chair.

You get to go to friend's houses and sit in their high chairs and play with their other children.  It's great practice for a time when you will be with your forever family.

As this little guy stays with us for a short portion of his life, the best gift we can give him is love.  To teach him that he is valuable and lovable.  To give him the opportunity to be loved by us and by others. To let him love us.  Love-that's what it means to be part of a family.

Ni Hao Y'all