August 30, 2012

Year of Jubilee

"Gotcha Day" in our family is August 15.  Since we were still in a jet-lagged, living-out-of-boxes stupor on our first Gotcha Day, we celebrated with a simple dinner out with our besties.

Our "Year of Jubilee" has been intense.  Though adopting a toddler can't be likened to anything else, the past year has been somewhat like our first year with a newborn back in 2005: like a bomb went off, obliterating our former life.  Of course, the most wonderful, new life was in store, but one can't see it at the time.

I can't speak for Jubilee, but if I could, I would say that she has gone from grieving, to accepting, to affectionate toward us, to where she is now.  Now, she has forgotten her first two years.  Now, she has forgotten how she came to be with us altogether.  She has been asking questions like, "You hold me when I was a baby?" and, "I wear diapers when I was a baby?"

"Yes, you cried and I held you," I say (because I did).
"Yes, you wore diapers when you were a baby," I say (because I'm sure she did).

My friend Sonya gently recommended using the word, "adopted" around her, so she doesn't get hit in the face with it down the road.  Seeing Sonya's wisdom, I implemented.

"Jubi, you are adopted," I told her yesterday.  "Can you say that, Sweetie?  Go ahead, say, 'I'm adopted!' It is something you can be proud of."

Jubilee beamed and said, "I'm padopted!"

As far as Jubilee's mama (that's me), I could go on and on about the wrenching journey G0D has taken me on over the past year.  In a nutshell, though, it goes like this: before adopting a toddler, I had been able to do pretty much anything I put my mind to, and do it well (with the exceptions of dribbling a basketball and carrying a tune).  Then, we adopted a sweet, beautiful 2-year-old girl and I was completely and utterly incapable of moving forward.  I could hardly breathe.  I almost literally heard my gracious, loving Creator say to me, "There, there, you aren't able without me, are you?  You can see that now, can't you?  Step aside.  Let me handle this."
Our first "Year of Jubilee" has come and gone, and I will never be the same.  Thank you, G0D, and thank you, Jubilee.  I am one grateful mama.

August 28, 2012

Third Sister

I don't know her given name, but she goes by Sanjie.  It means "third sister," because she was the third daughter born out of nine.  She is our new Ayi.

Sanjie is small and smiley.  She has a huge appetite and works like two men.  She must be in her 50s or 60s.  She is happy and bold.  The dishes weren't clean the first week, so we said, "Because the children's food is very sticky, it is necessary to scrub harder."  In this way, she understood that she needed to do a better job, but it was the children's food that was blamed, not her, so she didn't lose any face.  Honor is everything.

Now the dishes are clean, of course. 

Daniel assures me that four years from now, I will feel the same way about Sanjie that I do about Xiaofu.  I am skeptical, but I know he is probably right:)  Welcome to our home, Third Sister!!

August 26, 2012

school daze

School starts on September 3rd!!
There will be no backpacks, no brown-bag lunches, and no carpool schedules (to my dismay, honestly, except for the carpool, that I won't miss).  All the same, we will have a school year, and this Mama is ready to hit the books!

The pupils:
Bright.  Age 7.  Gained 9 lbs this summer on American food.  Loves learning, and his friends.  A conversationalist!
Zion.  Age 5.  Proclaims to be Made Of Steel.  Loves to work with his hands and solve problems.  Knows what he wants.
Jubilee and Brave.  Age 3.  The stars of my threeschool class!

August 25, 2012

Sally Lunn Bread and our new view

This is the view from our kitchen window.  Bleak, perhaps, but not nearly as bleak as you might think.  There is beauty for me in this view, in a kind of serene way, like looking into the face of a very, very old woman.
We have been up to our ears in boxes and box-cutters over here.  I have been putting things away for so long I can hardly remember doing anything else.  Last night Daniel stayed up (consequently so did I) until well past midnight assembling our new shoe guizi (thing by the front door to hold all of our shoes after they've been habitually kicked off ).  The movie "Tombstone" was on-and-off on our TV, and I was munching on popcorn, of course, and under the neon overhead lights of our concrete room it felt like setting up my first dorm room 14 years ago, like waging war against the space limitations and winning!

To celebrate the winding-down of our moving-in process, I baked a recipe I'd been wanting to try for Sally Lunn Bread out of the January 2003 Southern Living magazine.  Part bread, part cake, but mostly bread, it is a delightful thing to slice thick and eat warm out of the bundt pan.
1 (1/4 oz) envelopes yeast
1/2 cup warm water
1 1/2 cups milk
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cut butter
1 tsp. salt
2 large eggs
5 cups flour

Combine yeast and 1/2 cup warm water in a 1-cup measuring cup; let stand 5 minutes.  Heat milk and next 3 ingredients over medium heat, stirring until butter melts.  Let cool to 110 degrees.  Beat yeast mixture, milk mixture, and eggs at medium speed with an electric mixer until blended.  Gradually add flour, beating at lowest speed until blended.  Cover and let rise in a warm place free from drafts one hour.  Stir down, cover and let rise 30 minutes more.  Stir down and spoon into a greased bundt pan.  Cover and let rise 30 minutes more.  Bake at 350 for 35 to 40 minutes or until inserted knife comes out clean.  Remove from pan immediately.

We topped our Sally Lunn Bread with imported Swiss blueberry preserves, a 29-kuai splurge for the occasion.
The way I see it, when you've busted out your bundt pan, you're home.

August 24, 2012

We're in transmission

There is a rubber shark in a tub of water in our master bathroom.  It has been there for a week now.  The package advertised that it would grow to "many times it's size."  It is growing, but in sections, so that one fin is large and floppy and one is still tiny and tucked close to the shark's body.  It's belly is bulging like the dead carp that bump against the docks of the marina in my hometown, while it's back is strong and straight like the roughly-18-in. bass I reeled in this summer but didn't land because the darn thing broke the line.

I'm glad for the shark.  It has been a great illustration with the kids, particularly Bright, who is the least adaptable in the immediate (though incredibly strong-of-heart for the duration, if you know what I mean).  Bright has been crying.  A lot.  Part of that is jet lag, but most of it is being in America all summer and returning now to East Asia, where we are in a new city, in a new apartment, with new friends to bond with and a new Ayi in our home.  In short, everything is different, and the poor kids are feeling it.  Bright said, while crying on the toilet the other day, "I'm OK, I'm just in transmission."  He meant transition, of course, and I had to turn away so he wouldn't see me smile.

When things get tough, we walk over to the horribly disfigured floating shark, and we gaze down at the ugly thing, and I say, "See, that is us.  Parts of us look just like they should, but other parts of us are refusing to adjust to our new environment.  The result is a very strange and unpleasant thing.  But give us enough time, and we'll be just fine."
The kids this summer with their cousins (on the Rademaker side), Jack and Sharlet.  We miss you and love you!!

August 09, 2012

Ni Haw

Kati, Mira, Me, Emily, and Kristen at the spa.  Kathy is behind the camera.  Sweet, sweet reunion!!  XOXO
Four of our twelve bags are packed.  Brave has an appointment at the doctor in a few minutes to make sure his whooping cough (pertussis) is gone.  Our arms are a bit tan and our pants are a bit tight, and we are ready to head back across the world to our real life.  

Brave epitomized our two-culture way of life perfectly yesterday when he galloped through the house on his stick horse, a red felt cowboy hat on his head, hollering, "Ni haw," a combination of "Ni Hao" and "Yee Haw."  

It's true, our kids don't know which way is up, or where they are going to sleep next, but they know they are loved and they know, without a doubt, that G0D is the only constant in life, and the reason we are alive at all.

East Asia, here we come!

August 01, 2012

Farewell to furlough

People ask me all the time, "What is the hardest part about living overseas?"  I am rarely completely honest, for two reasons:  no one wants me to start crying right there in the middle of the farmers' market, or the play area at the mall, or wherever, and I don't want to deter anyone from doing what we do.


If I were to level with them, I would not answer, "Learning a challenging language," though that is certainly difficult, nor would I answer, "Raising the funds," nor, "Poor healthcare for the kids," nor, "Inconvenient grocery shopping," nor, "Spiritual warfare," nor, "Culture stress," nor, "Burnout."


I would answer, "Coming back to the States on Furlough."  Emphatically.

What!?  How can American food and time with family and friends be the hardest part?  Because, every 2-3 years we uproot our entire lives, travel 36 hours each way with tiny kids, battle jet-lag, lose our boundaries and our structure, and carry a burden to do as much, and see as many people, and make as many lasting memories as we can with the time we have.  Essentially, we feel the need to cram years of lost time into 12 head-spinning weeks, only to find ourselves on "E" at the end, with no one, including ourselves, satisfied with how it all went.

Am I OK?  Should you be worried about me?  Oh, I'm fine.  I'm just on my blog for the first time in a while and I'm being vulnerable here.  I have enjoyed this summer ever so much, to be sure.  I just wish there were a neat and tidy way to do furlough. Alas...

So, now it is time for the photo recap.  With less than two weeks before embarking on our long return journey, we are wrapping things up.  The ride is almost over.

The boys learned to swim!  Bright can swim 25 meters before getting too tired.  So proud!
Brave turned three!  At Chick-Fil-A! 
The big boys went up in a Cessna, with daddy flying part of the way.  Zion looks about how I felt about it...;)
Jubilee had her first 4th of July as an American, on the beach!  
The kids learned one of my FAVORITE pass-times, fishing!!
Rekindling cousin relationships.  Can you spot the white city kids??
We picked blueberries galore, and ate them all summer long.
The kids developed stronger bonds with their grandparents!

And Jubilee turned 3!  On our camping trip!

Those, of course, were just a few of the highlights.  Farewell, furlough.  Until next time.