Sunday, November 18, 2012

Family Visit

Kevin's parents arrived this morning, and we are loving the time together! We bought a Christmas tree yesterday to decorate together this week, and Molly and Hudson have already been making ornaments with Gram. I'm so blessed to have a mother-in-law who brings crafts and paint and beads for them to enjoy. (They packed two 50-pound suitcases entirely full of gifts and goodies for us and put their clothes and toiletries in their carry-ons. Amazing!) 
After eight months of virtual visits, it's fun to watch Molly and Hudson read books to Gram and Granddad, show them all of their favorite toys, and run over for hugs. We have so much to be thankful for this year.
Happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Sea World, China style

Just like China itself, Saturdays for us are very diverse. At times, we've been able to visit an orphanage. Other times, we've celebrated a birthday or ventured to a shopping center and eaten at McDonald's or Pizza Hut. Still other times, we have met homeless people with special needs, or on a recent Saturday, we were invited to go to our city's equivalent of Sea World.
Because the invite came after Dayna was already out shopping with friends at Wu Ai, the largest market in Northeast China, it was just me and the kids. We missed her, of course, but Molly made sure we took lots of photos and videos so Dayna could take part in our day. And amazingly, our friends paid for everything. They drove us, treated us to lunch at KFC and took care of our admission to Sea World. It was quite the day!
Molly and Hudson were eager to start our sea world adventure. The dolphin show was first.
For days, Hudson and Molly talked about these dolphins. They absolutely loved the show.
Hudson wasn't too sure what to think about the seals swimming overhead. They definitely had his attention.
Usually, it's Hudson on my shoulders and Molly in my arms, but this time, it was the reverse. But I think I liked the penguins more than they did.
 Indeed, it was a great day!
And Dayna had a great day, too! Among shopping for winter clothes with our friend Cathy, they were each able to find a great pair of boots for $10. So it was another memorable Saturday in our memorable life here in China. We have been blessed in so many ways.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Short-lived Fall

Fall in our city is the most beautiful time of year -- unfortunately it's also the shortest season. The evenings and mornings are cool but the afternoons are usually sunny and beautiful without much wind. You can tell fall is here because everyone begins stockpiling cabbage and leeks and other vegetables and drying them outside. While our friends in Oklahoma and Texas are posting cute photos of kids at the pumpkin patch, we found our apartment complex turned into a cabbage patch!
This photo above is the wider view from where Molly and Hudson were sitting. Our apartment playground was the perfect place for many neighbors to dry cabbage.
At least they left two seats open for people enjoying the fall weather! :)
The two photos above are of the the courtyard directly in front of our apartment door. And the two below are just to the right of our door. Leeks and green beans are hanging.
Practically every space around the complex is utilized.
I believe after they're dry, the veggies will be stored in barrels like this one below for the winter. (This neighbor is making good use of barrel space while drying cucumbers on top of it.)
Autumn in northeast China is also marked by the countdown to getting heat in apartments. Toward the end of October, the weather is a little unpredictable. We had a few days of snow flurries and high temps in the 30s. Thankfully those days were followed by sunny afternoons in the 50s and low 60s. The cold started to settle in the concrete apartment walls, but everyone who came over talked about how warm our apartment was. We are thankful for many huge windows that give so much natural light and sunshine. We have no control over when the heat is turned on (by Nov 1) or off (by April 1) and can't increase or decrease the temperature. This year, our apartment's water radiators began to heat on October 27. We are very comfortably warm now.
Happy Autumn, everyone!