Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Gifts from This Week

  Everyday is a Gift. I strategically hung this so it would be the first thing I see when I come in the house and the last thing I see before leaving. It is so easy for me to dwell on the rear shocks that need fixed on the car, my iphone screen which I cracked for the THIRD time, the fact I lost my voice (I mean gone) and the attitudes that need adjusted (often including my own) that I miss the gift of now. So in case I missed it the first time, here are some gifts from this last week. 
 Monday- the girls played together peacefully (at least for a moment)
 Tuesday: Annabelle works to smile for the camera now. These are her "cheese" smiles

 Wednesday: Annette loves to read in her bunk-bed which we just painted red
 Thursday: Annabelle wants to wear big brothers T- Shirt and Josiah has insisted on wearing his "explorer" vest around the clock. To bed, at home, on walks, he takes it off just before school and puts on over his uniform as soon as school is over. In his words, "you never know when you'll find a great bug"
 Friday: We had a pizza party on the roof to celebrate the end of a long school week. As Josiah bit into his slice of pepperoni, out came his front tooth!!! It was the perfect punctuation to his first week of school.
 I can't get over how much it changes his face
Saturday: Jason went night spearfishing with our neighbor next door. It was a nocturnal, amphibious, cross- cultural hunting experience! He left at 9:30 pm and didn't get home until 2:30 am!!! Jason only speared a puffer fish, which he couldn't keep because they evidently are poisonous. But the other men caught crabs, fish, octopus, cuttlefish and more. They graciously shared some of their catch with us.
 Annabelle was not impressed with the crabs

Sunday: but was a big fan of ice cream. This is how my kids' faces look every time we eat ice cream! 

May you have eyes to see the gifts in your everyday. . . .

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!