Sunday, September 30, 2012

May 10, 2012

We've been home 4 1/2 months.  Sweet Pea is 14 months old now.  It is amazing how much she has grown and changed in the last 4 months.
4 new teeth, a bit more hair, walking, and not many words, but babbling a lot (she was almost completely silent in China except when crying or laughing).  Before she gets much bigger, I do want to finish going through my photos from China.  

On May 10th we visited the SWI which I already blogged about here and here, but that was only the morning.

On the way home from the SWI we went to lunch with our guide and driver.  Traditionally after a visit you would have lunch with the SWI director or staff, but they were unable to do that this time, so they told our guide to take us to lunch and they would pay her back.  We actually drove all the way back to Nanchang and had lunch in the city.  I believe it was at a restaurant attached to one of the other big hotels in Nanchang, but I can't remember the name (I have it somewhere, because Sweet Pea came to us clutching a package of napkins from this restaurant).  But it was very, very nice. 
The food was great.  The roasted chicken had the most divine flavor and was so tender.  Our guide intersected it before it came to the table and removed the head, feet, and possibly some other parts to spare us.  Then she expertly tore off pieces with her chopsticks and served us.  It felt awkward letting her serve, but it would have taken us forever to do what she could do in seconds with her chopsticks.

I don't remember all else that we had.  I believe there was a delicious sweet and sour chicken, but the roast chicken was even better.  There was a tofu dish I didn't try, but Oak and Huckleberry seemed to really like it.  There was also an eggplant dish...just strips of eggplant sauteed in some oil.  The flavor was very good, but long, limp, purple strips made me think of snakes and I couldn't eat very many...though again the boys gobbled it up.
Sweet Pea did great sitting on Oak's lap and eating little bits from the chopsticks.  Good thing we had 6 years to perfect our chopstick usage.  The only issue came up when it became clear the meal was only going to continue being enjoyable after a diaper change.  Even though we'd been in China a week at this time, Oak and I wondered if there would be a changing table in the restroom.  It was a very nice place...but the answer would still be a no.  Oak was just going to take her to the restroom and try there anyway, but our guide was horrified at the idea.

"No, no!  That is dirty!  Here is where you would change her!"
Yes, on the restaurant chairs around where other people are eating.  It was the fastest diaper change we've ever done.  And to be fair, she would have had us just do it at our table, but since that seemed to bother us, she pulled up two chairs from an empty alcove next to where we were sitting.
We put down the pad from our diaper bag; I promise.
Then we had the afternoon in the hotel...hopefully for naps.  Unfortunately Sweet Pea didn't nap until about 15 minutes before it was time to leave for dinner, but she did seem happy and we all had fun playing.
She still loves this picture book that has pictures of all her siblings and us.
Then around 5:30 we met our guide and the other family with which we were sharing her for our evening adventure.  Since we'd monopolized her attention all morning we let them pick dinner...so it was McDonalds.  They had two little boys and wanted the comforts of home; since McDonalds in China doesn't even carry the more expensive crispy chicken sandwich that is my comfort food, I still wish we'd eaten somewhere else...like at the dim sum place that was in the same complex.  But moving on...
After dinner our guide took us to the park for the evening light show on the river.  She says it happens every evening and all of the large cities have one.  She said the best show is in Shanghai, but we enjoyed the Nanchang one just fine.
 I did not take a tripod with me to China and was mostly busy with a baby who had fallen asleep in Oak's arms but then woke when he shifted to a more comfortable position, so my pictures can't do the show justice.  Perhaps the video at the end of the post will give you a better taste of the show. 
Once Sweet Pea was awake she wanted me to hold her, but she was fairly content to just sit and watch the show and listen to the music.  Now we know she loves music and Oak will play her Chinese videos some mornings--bringing him lots of cuddle time...oh, the power of the internet.
I'd love to go again and see the shows in other cities.  I imagine people don't go every evening, but the idea of a whole country having a similar relaxing experience at the end of their work day...that was a little higher class than reality TV...made me pleased to be a part of it.  I am thankful our guide took the time to take us.
video
Our guide had us sit this far away because one time they'd been there her clients had gotten very wet with their new children. She didn't think that would be a good thing.
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Tuesday, September 25, 2012

More Photos

This baby...
...LOVES to swing.



And this one...

...LOVES to help.

Can you feel the excitement?
We are slowly remembering which parks have baby swings and which ones don't.

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Sunday, September 23, 2012

SnapDragon Snapshot

What I wish they meant by liquid sunshine.
On Tuesday, while my oldest was at youth group and the girls were home with Daddy, SnapDragon and I spent a little time with our church landscaping and my camera.  We had a fantastic time, and these are only a portion of my favorites from the day.
Mom.  I'm a frog.






This rock fascinates me.

Hi-Yah!
I'm a tiger.

I CAN tickle myself.

Ni Hao Yall 
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Friday, September 21, 2012

You Know You are Desparate for Sleep When...

1.  On the same day you and your husband come home at the same time with a combined 10 new pacifiers (mine were free at MOPS.)

2.  You move your 4 year old INTO your room so you can respond to the baby's cries just a little bit slower.  (Often she self-soothes back to sleep in about a minute or two, but we weren't even letting her try because we didn't want her to wake Sunflower.)

3.  You consider lying on the couch with Sunflower while she watches television and Sweet Pea is sleeping, even as Sunflower rolls and kicks the whole time, a wonderful nap.

4.  Your main only goal for a day is to make sure you remember to get your children from their various schools on time.

5.  You start to hate people just for their sheer awesomeness.  Your response to frazzled moms who have lost sleep for a few days from teething is not sympathy but an internal rant that includes the phrases "stop whining" and "tell me about it when its been four months."

6.  When swear words enter your internal...and occassionally external...dialogue.

7.  When you know God wants you to turn to Him for help but you forget to even pray about it...except to say, but "God, the Bible says you grant sleep to those you love.  Why don't you love us?"

I really am just trying to be funny, but yes these all did happen in the last week.  I can't tell you how in public, out loud, around my children, I said, "we can make our own d**n scones" when the line at the fair was just too long.   But let's just say that shows me I'm out of reserves.  How long my husband has been without reserves...well, let's not go there.

It is only the last few weeks that the sleep issues have become such a problem.  Her bad sleep habits going from bad to worse, Oak going back to work full-time with no flexibility until the semester is in full swing with all the computers functioning, everyone having to get up for school...those combined to put us on the edge and having to find a solution. 

But there is the rub.  What is the solution?  We've spent the last 4 months teaching her that crying for us...instead of a demanding screech...would get her needs met by us.  But what are her needs in the middle of the night.  Is she grieving, in pain, hungry, or just wants to get up and play?  How to know and how to help her?  We've tried letting her sleep with us, but she is even more restless.  We've tried rocking her, but she just arches her back and screams until she is back in bed.  So now we are trying leaving her alone for just a little bit longer.  Making it just a tad bit harder for her to wake us up.  Is that the right thing to do?  I don't know.  But we need sleep.  She needs a family that is functioning.  
So now you know a little more than your probably needed by what I mean when I mentioned sleep issues these last few months.  I am seeking God for guidance.  Many of my friends are praying for us.

And so I want to end with this.  God is good.  He has strengthened us many a day when I thought I would not be able to function, stay awake or hold my temper.  We have had some really fabulous time as a family.  Sunflower is basically back to herself though still trying to negotiate a better relationship with Sweet Pea.  The boys have pitched in with chores keeping us ahead...or at least not horribly behind...on house work.  And He has given us* Sweet Pea.  We are immeasurably blessed by her presence in our lives.  She is doing wonderfully, wonderfully well (aside from those pesky sleep issues) and our family cannot imagine life without her.

*Please don't take this to mean I believe God knit together Sweet Pea in her first mother's womb just so we could have her in our family; but I do believe He took her bad circumstances and our painful desire to bring good to both of us.  It would be impossible for me to view Sweet Pea as anything other than an amazing blessing of God in my life.
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Monday, September 17, 2012

Just Because...

I already put 2 from this day on facebook...
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Friday, September 14, 2012

Preschool for Sunflower

Can you tell who is excited about going to preschool?
Today is open house and Monday she starts M-F 9:00-11:30.  All summer I'd been praying about preschool.  The boys had not gone, but it seemed like it would be a good thing for Sunflower, and possibly even Sweet Pea and I.  But except for praying, I didn't do anything.  I didn't research.  I didn't look at tweaking the budget.  I pretty much figured it was a no go.

Then a week ago on Wednesday night we got the call that our district was starting a new, free preschool the only caveat was you actually lived here.  Thursday we went in to see what it was about and by Thursday afternoon, Sunflower was enrolled.

I truly believe that this is God's hand giving Sunflower what she needs at this particular point in her life.  I'm not sure how to explain how I am confident that this is something Sunflower needs.  The boys did fine without it.  She likes being home with Sweet Pea and I while the boys are at school.  It will help her academically...she doesn't recognize all her letters yet...but I was not worried that she would pick it up this year without school.  But this is something just for her.  Something to give her play, friends, and stimulation.  Something God provided because He knows and loves her (and I.)

And I KNOW she thinks it is great.  In order to enroll her by Thursday afternoon, Sunflower needed 5 vaccinations.  For the first time ever she sat brave and still on my lap for her shots.  No need for 2 extra nurses and Daddy to be there.
 So proud of my big girl.
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Monday, September 10, 2012

Sunday Snapshot

I can't believe my photo was chosen to be featured on Sunday Snapshot last week, and I almost missed it!  I could blame it on getting the car fixed, school starting, first MOPS meeting of the year, a night in the city photowalk with my photoclub, a surprise enrolling of Sunflower in preschool, even less sleep than usual, or an eye infection that made looking at the computer painful...or I can just be glad today is a new week and my photo got featured with some seriously spectacular work!
Ni Hao Yall

Last Friday marked 4 months of Sweet Pea in our arms.  Kind of unbelievable, it has gone so fast!  And she has grown so much.  She is so much more affectionate and louder and adventurous.  She even spent her first day in church childcare at MOPS last week...with Huckleberry who had not yet started school.  She had no problem;  Mommy was weepy (which is so not like me!)  So I should probably share one of my photos from my night walk or start giving some of my other children some blog attention*, but we'll just go with another one of my sweet Sweet Pea.

Ni Hao Yall

* My photo blog with this week's Scavenger Hunt does have some of those photos.Photobucket

Monday, September 3, 2012

Swing

When an infant swing isn't available, Daddy will do.
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Sunday, September 2, 2012

Sunday Snapshot -- Waterfall

I do take pictures of things other than my children...sometimes...
This was why I got a neutral density filter* for my birthday.  Camping can be fun.

Ni Hao Yall
 * It cuts out some of the light so that you can slow down your shutter speed enough that even in bright sunlight to get the creamy waterfall.
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