Thursday, April 28, 2011

Clap, clap, clap your hands.....

This is our little guys favorite picture.  Notice anything about it?

Notice anything now? Anything?
(That's his sweet little friend in the background.  Let's just say he was having a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day).

This little piggy went to market.





Notice anything now???

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Update on the little guy

All my children, hanging out.

So our little guy will be 18 months on May 2.  We have had him for about 8 months.  He has gone from 3.3 kilograms to 11 kilograms thanks to the "Chunk 'em up" diet of supplemented formula, good healthy food, a regular routine and a strong diet of love.
He can now clap (soundlessly) and wave.  He can sit for extended periods of time but not get into a sitting position by himself.  He can roll, scoot backwards and kind of schootch himself around the room.  He loves computer cords and is on a constant hunt for any kind of cord.  He loves yogurt, applesauce, apple juice and bananas.  He mostly eats what we eat- we just grind it up for him.  He has two teeth on the bottom, one top tooth partially through, one other top tooth about to erupt, one top molar coming in and many other teeth about to come in.  He drools a lot!
One of the biggest changes in him is that he initiates contact.  We used to make kissing sounds at him and he would kiss back.  Now he kisses at us and we kiss back at him.  He talks to us and nods his head if we ask him a question.

Over the months we have exercised his body a lot.  Now he likes to exercise us.  The pictures below may look like Elisabeth is moving his arms.  He is actually moving hers!

We are so thankful for the Father who loves him more than we ever could and we continue to pray for a future and a hope for him.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

This just in....

I found my winter, warm slippers.

After freezing for a few days, I asked my helper where the slippers where that were previously in the slipper basket. "Zai nali  在那里。"  she said with a wave of her hand. This basically means "Over yonder"  "Zai nar? 在 那 儿"  (Where)? I asked。She looked at me firmly and said it was too hot to wear those slippers. I gave up.
Then as I was cleaning the cat little box on Friday, I leaned over and looked in the bathroom cupboard and there they were, wrapped up in a plastic bag.  Victory for warm feet!  Now if we could just find Elisabeth's Converse tennis shoes.
Anyway, we are back to life as usual.  Chinese class, teaching, taking care of our little guy, praying for his future, looking at colleges for Elisabeth and so on. I've been really under the weather since we returned from Thailand  and haven't done much.
 Here are a few pictures of our week.

We were all happy to be back together after ten days apart.

Paul went to a new English Corner since ours has been temporarily suspended.

One of his friends.

Our little guy continued to be fascinated by the cards we have for him.  

His sitting is better and better.

Cloth books are so fun!

Still loving the cards.

Yes, he need a hair cut.  Remember how bald he was when we got him?

Yes, he is a Gleek.

At the doctor the other day, he weighed 11 kilograms and was 73 centimeters.  Jia you, little baby.  I don't think we can call you "failure to thrive" any more.

Friday, April 22, 2011

The Wats.

The purpose of my blog is to be descriptive, not prescriptive.  I am a guest in this country and in any country that I visit.  I am not really trying to criticize or even critique what I see.  I am interested in how people see the world, how that affects their lives, families and cultures.  Most people who read this blog either know me and thus know my religious viewpoint and if you don't know me, might be able to pick it up.  So when I talk about other religious things that we see, my purpose is primarily descriptive and I don't add a lot of commentary.
So with that disclaimer- the Wats.
Thailand is almost 95% Buddhist with a 4.5 % Muslim population and .5% Christian.  Buddhism seems to infiltrate every part of their lives.  As I posted before, there are shrines in every home, store, market, hotel, and even parking lots.  People stop and pour water over the Buddha and bow at most shrines.
The flowers markets are full of flower offerings that are taken to shrines or wats (temples).

You also see balls of string for sale.  We saw quite a bit of string hanging in the temples and I am a little unclear as to the meaning.  I think it has to do with blessing.

Huge, huge flower markets.  By the way, that red truck is a taxi.

At the airport, we saw this sign.   Yes, we did peek in the rooms. Nothing special.

So now, on to the wats.  I think we went to about six or seven, including a Chinese one.  Each was very different and fascinating.

Modesty seemed to be a hallmark all over Chiang Mai...except for the foreign tourists and the professional "daters."

This is a new mosque being built in Chiang Mai.

Many languages at the entrance.

The string and flags hanging down.

Many visitors worshiped.

There was a school at the wat, and the temple was full of wiggly boys.  Really wiggly.

We found the Chinese temple that has a very different look and feel than the Thai temples.  This is much more what we see in temples in China.

Going to these places gave our family lots to talk about.  At one place we saw a man dressed in a  tiger outfit, swaying and chanting.  People were bowing before him and he was blessing them.  It was dark outside and there was chanting coming from the temple and it really was a scary moment for me.  It really bothered me to see people worshiping a man.  He seemed very off and odd to me, with unfocused eyes and just a scary feel to him.
We also discussed the role of religion versus non-religion.  How has the officially non-religious stance in China affected their culture and how has the deeply religious stance in Thailand affected their culture.
We are so glad for these opportunities to learn and grow.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

I just want my winter slippers back.

So while we were in Thailand, our helper came and really cleaned our apartment.  Lest you think we are living the life of luxury over here, let me assure you that we are not.  Our helper comes twice a week to help with some child care, some cleaning and some cooking.  She is a sister, speaks clear Chinese and is generally a great help to me in particular.  Our little guy likes her and she likes him.  In the West we have helpers too- we just call them things like cars, dryers, washing machines that use hot water and dishwashers.  We have none of those.  So using a helper a few days a week frees us up to do the things we need to do, including frequent hospitality.
Anway, our helper came over and cleaned.  It's late April and our government controlled heat has been off since the first day of the month.  The temperature is in the 40's and 50's and yes, it's chilly.
Apparently though, it is Spring.  How do we know this?  Well, our helper took all of our warm slippers and replaced them with Spring slippers.  Apparently, you don't wear warm slippers past a certain date.  I have looked all over our apartment for the warm slippers and can't find them.  So I am wearing warm socks with Spring slippers.  I probably agreed to this before we left.  I often understand about 2/3 of a conversation and find myself agreeing to things I didn't understand.  Tomorrow, when she comes, I am going to ask her where the warm slippers are!
We also know it's Spring because she took the mattress heater off of our bed (ironically we don't use it in winter because our apartment is warm) and all of our winter clothes were folded and put away.  I've had to dig for sweaters and flannel nightgowns.  It's pretty funny.  This is culture learning at it's best!
Our little guy came back to us with a cold.  I decided he needed to go to the doctor since he has compromised lungs and can get pretty sick pretty fast.  I didn't want to go on Monday since it was cold and rainy.  I was explaining to our helper that I would take him on Tuesday when the weather was better.  "Oh", she said.  " He probably needs an injection."  "Maybe, but probably not."  "Well, he needs IV antibiotics" (Yes, they give IV antibiotics for colds here).  "Maybe, but probably not."
So Tuesday, I headed off in the taxi for the clinic.  We love this place as it is a combo of Chinese and foreign doctors working together.  The foreign doctors are training the Chinese medical residents in family practice medicine (fairly new concept in China) and the care is really good.  Plus, because our little guy is an orphan, exams are free!  So we get there and see some of the people we know. They have known our little guy since he came out of the orphanage and they are always really interested in his growth.
 There was a new resident and she starts the exam.  We do the exam in Chinese and English and she is really nice and pretty good.  We discuss his cold and she listens to his lungs and says she thinks it's probably just upper respiratory.  She says he will probably need antibiotics and albuterol.  I say okay, because I know what is coming.
The American doctor comes in (actually Taiwanese American) and they exam him together.  Then they discuss.  I hear discussion of medicine and then the words for "salt water" and then am told no medicine, that salt water flushes are the best.
Again, culture learning.  How a culture thinks about the body and sickness is really telling.  I knew we would walk out with no medicine if it was just a cold and thankfully it was.  Our little guy fell asleep in the taxi and slept for 3.5 hours.  He woke up much better and continues to improve.
One more thing.  Being cold here is a big no.  There is a strong belief that cold makes people sick and that all people, especially babies should be kept warm at all times.  I sometimes find it exhausting to have people constantly tell me that it is too cold to have the baby out or that he isn't properly dressed.
But yesterday was a little warmer and the hospital was quite warm.  When I walked out, two ladies sweetly told me that the baby was too hot!  His cheeks were flushed.  I just started laughing and told them Chinese people always told me he was too cold and that I was afraid.  They laughed and walked away.  Again- more culture learning.  Take all things with a grain of salt!
Not to make this blog a travelogue of our Thailand trip, but here are a few pictures of the incredible beauty that we saw.

Two birds at the zoo aviary.

Birds of Paradise.  These were everywhere.  Spectacular.

I would say monkey but I think it's something else.

Cat sleeping on Buddha's lap.

See the cat?  We were really charmed by the gentle dogs and cats in Thailand.

Beautiful weavings in a really boring museum.  These more than made up for the dullness.

Sigh- all creation reveals the creativity of the Creator.  The colors, the patterns, the variety- amazing.