About Me

My photo
I love to laugh and love with my family, read, exercise, cook and sew, all the while giving thanks to God for his immeasureable love and faithfulness to me.

Friday, February 26, 2016

Chinese school performance

This year the Noodle started attending Chinese school.  It meets every Saturday morning from 9-11 and they work on spoken and written Mandarin as well as Chinese culture.  Her class is taught by a native speaker, however most of her peers are like her in that they have parents who do not speak any Mandarin at home.  There are other classes at the school for children who do have native speakers at home, so the pace and focus of these classes is obviously much faster and with a different emphasis. On Saturday afternoons children may also sign up for Chinese dance, martial arts, ping pong, etc.  At this point the Noodle decided she wasn't interested, but maybe next year?
Overall it has been a huge success.  She grumbles every Saturday morning before she has to leave (usually about wanting to stay in her jammies, etc., etc.,) but she's all smiles when we pick her up when class is finished.  She is very interested in China and enjoys learning about the country, its customs and its language, so this has been a good fit.
The Chinese New Year coincides with the school's annual fund raiser so there is a big dinner as well as a performance for the families to see what the students have been learning.  We had been to the celebration one other time, so we knew a little about what to expect, but there were waay more people this time so the lines were much longer--especially for the food!
Grandma, Grandpa, Lala, Papa and our good friends from church all came out to help us celebrate. There were quite a few acts--children dancing, "grandmas" doing the rumba, skits, tai chi and martial arts.  We didn't end up staying for all of it, but was definitely a great way to cap off a fun Chinese New Year!

Thursday, February 11, 2016

2016--The year of the monkey

Over the past year, we have been blessed to become friends with another family from church who are American born Chinese.  Not only are they so much fun to hang out with and are always up for a good time, but they have taken us under their wings and allowed us to delve a bit deeper into the Chinese culture.
As with many relationships, this bond has been strengthened through the mutual love of sharing and eating food.  Coming to the table together helps to draw people out, linger and really share.
We've made jiaozi, gone for Sunday dim sum after church, churned homemade ice cream, participated in hot pot, celebrated Christmas Eve English tea, and even helped feed over 50,000 people in a Care for AIDS project.  We're also experiencing life together as part of a small group at church.
So when we were invited over to celebrate Chinese New Year, of course we jumped at the chance! We knew it would be a traditional/authentic meal (read: some foods we've never had before!!) but we were up for it.  Girls included ;)
While my friend, L, is an awesome cook (probably one of her love languages), her hubby, S, decided to take the lead and went.to.town.  When we saw her at church Sunday morning, she informed us that he was at home preparing the pig trotters.  Yes, you read that right, pig feet.  Insert deep breath here.
When we got there Sunday night, on the eve of Chinese New Year, the kitchen was hopping!  All kinds of delicious smells greeted us and the kids were beyond excited.
I swore that I'd take notes so that I'd remember all of the menu items, but then got carried away with talking and so didn't.  Here's hoping I can keep everything straight...

 Bok Choy with mushrooms and dried scallions
"Long life" noodles with pork
"Long life" noodles with tofu
A whole chicken (head, skin, bones--literally a WHOLE chicken!)
A whole fish (see above)
Turnip cakes
The famous pig trotters
Rice cakes with cabbage, mushrooms, fish cakes and pork
 Then, for dessert....
Almond cookies, coffee and strawberry roll cakes, mango jigglers, various Chinese candies, tangerines, pomelo and Mei Mei's Gotcha Day cake, the super-sweet American mint chocolate cake and
 glutenous rice balls with peanut and coconut with sesame (?) filling
 The kiddos had fun slurping the jigglers.
After we finished eating, we all sat around and I read a book that we had brought before we turned on the Super Bowl--
J of course couldn't resist this one, the matchmaker.  We sent this to my brother.  The chicken head and the fish head kissing.  Ooo la la!
 And you know it was a great CNY when you turn around in the garage and see this.
Happy year of the Monkey everyone!

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

2nd Gotcha Day Anniversary

Oh Mei Mei!  2 years ago we met you at the Civil Affairs office in Nanning, Guangxi, China.  You were clutching onto a piece of candy the nannies had given you.  It was one of the few things you took with you from your old life into your new life.
You were hesitant to meet us at first, but then you got caught up in everything.  It wasn't until we arrived back at the hotel that you seemed to realize things were drastically different than normal.
By that time the tears came but thankfully your sister jumped in with the great idea to entertain you with a balloon.  After cuddles, reassurance and a little dinner, you were better.  The shock didn't set in until a few days later but we were ready to love on you no matter what.
Fast forward two years and look at you!  Still the same bubbly little personality, eager to give a smile and to laugh.  You bring such joy to everyone who meets you!
Two years!  On the one hand it seems as if you've always been a part of our family.  On the other hand, I can't believe that two years ago you were living in China and had no idea who we were or what life was like in America.  
That's the thing about adoption.  While it is beautiful, it is born out of loss.  Loss of a birthmother/birthfather/birthfamily, loss of a culture and/or country, loss of "what might have been", loss period. That is no small thing to be looked over.  The amazing thing is that God takes the loss and sadness and the ashes and He turns it into something we could never imagine.  Something that is infinitely beyond our wildest dreams.
God's BIG plan for all of our lives was that we'd be a family.  Today is a reason to celebrate and to proclaim that you are our's and we are your's--forever!!

"Do not be afraid, for I am with you; I will bring your children from the east and gather you from the west."--Isaiah 43:5