Friday, August 15, 2014

Starting P1 and R2

Whew! We've officially kicked off another school year. Josiah is in P1 which is what the British system calls American "Kindergarten." Annette is in R2 Kindergarten, which is what the Hong Kong system calls American "Pre- School" (yes, very confusing) Adding to the confusion is the complicating factor that they are daily at different campuses for different lengths of time. But with a little help from friends and a lot of help from the car we are making it work. 

P1 is a 7 hour day which is a big transition for Josiah. P1 is also the grade that I used to teach at ICS. I LOVE P1!!! Josiah's lovely teacher, Mrs. Crook, was my co- teacher when I was pregnant with Josiah. So, technically Josiah has already been through 9 months of P1 (:  I never dreamed that I would be a P1 parent, it really feels full circle for me. So far he is loving all the "special" classes (computers, music, art, library, PE, mandarin), having 2 recesses and getting to occasionally see daddy around campus. 

Annette goes to school in the afternoon for 3 hours in Mrs. Ma's class (same teacher as last year). I am enjoying having time with the girls all morning long and it is amazing how differently Annette plays when Josiah's not around (think lots of dolls). 

 Not to be excluded, Annabelle has reached some milestones of her own recently, such as her first set of pig tails 
and working on her fine motor skills

Sunday, August 10, 2014

In our jet lagged state we lugged 450 pounds of luggage up two flights of stairs. Soaked from sweat we turned the key and gasped at the miniature size of our house. Weary from the journey, yet unable to sleep, I lay in bed thinking about this crazy life. My chest physically hurt at the pain of loved ones left behind and swirled in thoughts of "what ifs".

The next morning a warm breeze and beautiful 5 am sunrise over the water felt like balm to my soul. I started getting text messages from friends and the kids found delight in their missed toys. I unpacked, bought food, took and deep breath and kept going.

Although 8 years of this bi- continental way of life has started to feel normal, it never feels easy, and certainly not natural. I've struggled with contentment and wondered if we've made the right decision to raise our young family here. And while I value being reflective and intentional, playing "what if" games seem to steal joy and distract from the point. God has shown us so many times that it's not where we are, but who we are. And today he needs us to be here. Fully here. Stopping for our neighbors, engaging in our community and looking for ways to love.

So while I identify with the quote above I disagree that I will "never be home again". If anything this lifestyle reminds me to take hope in a better home. Better even than a big home with a grassy backyard next to Target (I miss you Target). We know our citizenship is in heaven where we can all be together in one place with the Father. That will feel like home.

Friday, August 1, 2014

California- Part 4

I'm taking a break from packing our NINE suitcases and FOUR carry- ons to throw up some final photos from the summer. We have been in America nearly 2 months now and our love tanks (and stomach tanks) are feeling filled up. Our last two weeks were spent in Redding, CA with Jason's older brother Matt, his wife Karina and their adorable dog "Jimmy". Together we spent time in the Trinity Alps, including a trip to Moonstone Beach and Redwood National Park. 

 Matt and Karina watched the older kids so Jason and I could do some intense hiking (back in "the day" we loved to backpack). As you can see from the photo we got into some rugged country. When we were still 4 miles from the car the thunderclouds rolled in and it started raining. Annabelle was sleeping in the backpack  through the rain (bless her) and once we got in our car it started hailing. I was really glad to get off the mountain!

On July 26 our family went up to Ashland, Oregon to support Jason on his 50K (that's 31 miles) trail race. He thought it would take him 5 hours to finish. At the finish line the clock flashed 5 hours and 0 minutes when Jason came into sight!! I was so proud of him for sticking with his rigorous training, through injuries and discouragement, and meeting his goal of completing an ultra marathon. We love you babe and are your biggest fans!

Sunday, July 20, 2014

California- Part 3

I feel like this blog post is one long promotion for San Diego. In my unbiased opinion, I would recommend that everyone have Grandparents in San Diego. It is a great place for a vacation! We have had a fabulous last 2 weeks including "surf" time with Uncle Matt and Aunt Karina. . .

. . . a patriotic 4th of July

 . . . a seaplane ride taking off and landing in the harbor (thanks Aunt Christy and Grandpa!)

  . . .  Padres game

  . . . .San Diego Zoo and Wild Animal Park

  . . . . lots of Mexican food
  . . . .a visit from our friends Billy and Katherine (and little Talia)

  . . . .  VBS at Grandma and Grandpa's church. This is "Crazy Hair Day"
 . . .  and bike riding with Uncle Mikey

Reflecting on our time I'm so thankful for the quality time we got to spend with so many loved ones during our time down here. We love you! Thanks for everything!

Friday, July 11, 2014

California Part II- Idyllwild with the Paine Family

After the climax of Angela's wedding people slowly started leaving Arroyo Grande. We went from 30 people in the house, to a quiet 16 people, down to 11, until we knew it was time to hop on a train and move on. We rode the train from Grover Beach to Fullerton and enjoyed following the coast most of the way. The kids were free to move around which was great for Josiah and Annette, but challenging with Annabelle. 

 We even took some trips to the front to keep the Engineer company. He was very patient with Josiah's endless curiosity.
 From Fullerton Grandma drove us up to a cabin in Idyllwild where we enjoyed 5 days of sweet smelling pine air with all of Jason's family. It was a great house with lots of fun things to do and conducive for spending quality time together.

 Brothers watching the world cup

 The fish weren't biting but the kids still made great memories with Grandpa

 We loved getting to meet our new nephew Sawyer Elijah. The dads even played one- armed Ladder Ball while balancing their babies

It amazes me how naturally our kids transition between the Chinese and American cultures. The world must really be getting smaller. They have been been awed by some "new" novelties such as 

- garages and garage door openers
- self service gas stations
- dish washers
- different toilet flushes, light switches and paper towel dispensers
- gum ball machines
- drive throughs
-ice cream trucks
- garage sales
- milk in gallon jugs