Tuesday, December 20, 2011

A Chinese December

I’m sitting here in our apartment this morning playing cars with Aiden and thinking about this season. Christmas is so much more than a holiday, but it makes you think harder when the country you live in doesn’t “really” celebrate Christmas. I start to wonder what Jesus was like as a little boy. Was he as curious as Aiden is at the age…so many questions! But more than anything I’m THANKFUL that he was born to be our savior! What an incredible event that changed our lives forever! Happy Birthday Jesus! 

Well as always, there are funny stories to go along with everything that goes on here. We went a few weeks ago to go get our tree. Back home we always had a fake tree and we knew that was what we were going to get again this year…I’m not sure they even have real ones here. But with my black thumb there is no way a real tree would EVER survive December in our house! 

We made tree shopping a big to-do around here. We went to a massive store called, in English, Stuff Mart. And STUFF is what they have. Going there on a Saturday with 5 foreign adults, 3 kids, 2 babies and 2 drivers was like Black Friday on steroids!!! People were everywhere!!! Definitely a crazy experience trying to push through the crowds to find the Christmas areas, but we did it! It did take almost getting run over by a car twice to get in and out of the mart. That's pretty scary in and of itself, but when you have a baby strapped to you it makes it doubly crazy...and I'll admit that I had to work really hard at keeping my mouth shut. And of course, one thing about China that is so different from America is the lack of personal space. I've had to learn (the hard way most times) that they will cut in line, push you out of the way or totally run into you when they aren't paying attention. They really don't mean anything malicious by it, it is just the way they do things...and I'm not learning that fast enough apparently! Ha!

Decoration city!

Will and Chen - our drivers

Trees, tress, trees!!!


Our fabulous shopping group - minus the men - with our reindeer hats!

We found a great tree that has fiber optic lights, a wreath and some adorable snowmen! I brought ornaments from home so now our house feels like it is actually Christmas. Jeffrey and I put the decorations up that night once Aiden was in bed. The next morning Aiden was enthralled! I tried so hard to get a good picture of him but it just didn't happen. He just couldn't believe his eyes and the fact that the tree had lights. So precious!!! I'm so looking forward to teaching Aiden all about the true meaning of Christmas!

Aiden checking out the tree!!!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Day 30 of Thankfulness - China!

I know I know…really? I’m thankful for China?!?!?!? Am I crazy? Those of you who know me well know that YES I’m extremely crazy, but that’s beside the point. This country is starting to grow on me.

We have now been in China just a week shy of 8 months. In that amount of time I have to say that we have changed quite a bit. We have adapted more in some ways but yet in some areas we are still not fully there. But for all the things we have learned, I’m thankful. I know God is doing some crazy things in our lives here and growing us day by day…even when we don’t want to be stretched. 

When we first got here I was CERTAIN that I would not take a taxi with Aiden. I hated people coming up and touching Aiden without permission. I hated feeling like we were an exhibit in a zoo all the time. I hated going grocery shopping at the bigger markets here and preferred to go to smaller and to Jeffrey’s chagrin, more expensive stores. When I did go to the bigger and more common markets, I was so timid in the produce area that I never came home with everything I needed. It took me FOREVER to open up my box of Rosetta Stone and really want to learn. 

Now…some of these things are still true, but others, not so much. I have mastered taking taxis and most of the time I quite enjoy it.  Though, I do have to say, I got in the taxi today with a woman driver with whom I feared for our lives! But that’s pretty normal here. With Aiden I have just learned to say that I don’t want them to touch his face or I keep wipes handy when I feel like I need to wipe down his hands. Little things I know, but they have gone a long way in helping me cope with being crowded around all the time. Still not a fan of feeling like an exhibit in the zoo, but I’m learning to deal with it better and not get so annoyed. Just keep moving and they have a hard time crowding!

 As for grocery shopping, it’s funny the changes that have occurred there. I was talking to Julie a few weeks ago about a few things I was needing from the store (we tag team shop quite a bit, if I’m going I get what she is needing or she gets what I need) and I told her that I had a hard time finding good apples. All the ones we normally get looked not so good and when I went to look at others I just thought they were too expensive. This gave us a good laugh! 8 months ago we would NOT have cared one bit about what we were spending on food…we just wanted the good looking ones. Man how times have changed! Also, when going into the produce section I’ve just learned to know in advance what I want and not to take a buggy in with me. Otherwise my aggressive side comes out and I start playing bumper carts with them! Ha! 

And if we had not come to China, I would not have met the amazing people I have. I would never have had the desire to learn Mandarin. I would never have eaten jelly fish. I wouldn’t be drinking so much Starbucks. I wouldn’t have seen all the crazy things I have seen. So for all of this I’m thankful! 

Learning daily about trust as well. It does take a lot of faith being here and leaning on the Lord daily! That is being an interesting lesson for both Jeffrey and I. It’s a work in progress. 

If we have changed this much in 8 months, I’m anxious to see what God does in our lives over the next 2 years! Gonna continue to be a wild ride, of this I am sure! Its been a fun month of thankfulness, though at times I confess I was struggling to come up with WHAT on earth I was thankful for here in China. Thanks for sharing my journey with me…we’ll see what next November looks like as I plan to do this 30 days of Thankfulness again in 2012. 

Bring on December!!!

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Day 29 of Thankfulness - Our Apartment

I was so worried before moving to China what our apartment might be like, but as always, I worry for nothing. Jeffrey did a GREAT job at picking our our place and I'm so thankful! It was a hassle to bring our own furniture, but I'm so glad we did. It makes it seem more like home. Enjoy a taste of our "Chinese Life."

Our kitchen

Pantry with the fridge, oven and microwave

Other side of the pantry
Dining Room
Master bedroom

Closet system in the Master bedroom
Master bath
Guest bath
Aiden's room

Other side of Aiden's room
Living Room

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Basement Room - there is another side as well, but not much there :)
Living Room in the basement / Reading Room

Downstairs bathroom
Our "garden" with our patio furniture

Laundry Room

Day 28 of Thankfulness - Smiles & Hugs

I must say that I am so thankful for this stage that Aiden is in right now. He comes up to me quite often just to give me a hug!!! And the boy smiles constantly. I love it!!!! Nothing better than a sweet hug from my little boy! Well…a hug from his daddy is always the best!!! But I do love an Aiden hug! 

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Day 27 of Thankfulness - New Experiences

New Experiences…there seem to be plenty of those here in Wuxi. I’m always learning something new…trying something new or seeing something new. Its been quite an interesting experience, but one I’m thankful for. These experiences are definitely stretching me way out of my comfort zone.
I’ll share some of my favorites/most shocking ones. 

Split Pants!!!! I can still vividly remember my first time seeing this and having NO idea what the reason was or if this little boy just had ripped his pants. Once I finally learned that this was their method of potty training and this started because they have just recently gotten diapers here in China. This makes me EXTREMELY thankful for diapers! I don’t think I’m QUITE ready to potty train Aiden…so grateful for Pampers! 

Constant Honking. Now I know we deal with this in the states as well…but not so much. Trying to figure out something to be thankful for in this area is a little (ok well A LOT) tough, but I guess it makes me thankful for the quiet times on the road. That and the fact that my heart is still pumping! There are days that I wonder if it will after being scared silly by a horn. O the joy!! 

New and Different Food. There are a lot of different things that you can get here that you can’t back home, or are just not very common. Jellyfish is one of them. That was not a pleasant experience trying that…but check it off the list. Red Bean flavored items is another. This one is just plain strange to me because it is more of a “dessert” item here. Beans and dessert just do not go together in my mind. But alas, I did try a red bean bun this week, thanks to Mabel. Not quite my choice of what to eat. The bun part wasn’t bad at all and I would love to try it again with custard, but no thank you on red bean. Things they do have here that I love is white zucchini. Now we may have this in the states and I just haven’t seen them, but I love it! I’ve found many different recipes that I’m going to be trying soon with the zucchini! Another favorite that I have had at a few different restaurants is strawberry, banana and pineapple bread. YUM!!! Its more of a pita like bread but man is it ever yummy. I do think the strawberry is my all time favorite. 

The Red Bean Bun

Baby Swimming Pools. This is just extremely new for me, especially because they put babies as young as 2 and 3 months in the water with a inner tube around their neck for flotation. Quite interesting. I went with a friend to take Aiden and her son swimming a few weeks ago but Aiden wasn’t a fan. I didn’t use the neck tube for him, but requested a waist one. He wanted NOTHING to do with the water…such a strange boy I have, but it was a neat experience. I did find that next door to the pool place is an indoor kids play area that Jeffrey and I are planning to take Aiden to this weekend. Should be fun! 

The pool looks like a giant bath tub.

Aiden would rather play with his socks than stay in the water.

All in all these experiences make me more appreciative of our lives back home and thankful too for the lessons we are learning here. I am learning more and more that I really am NOT in control at all and I’m learning daily to surrender that control to my Heavenly Father! I’m so thankful that HE is the one in control!