Wednesday, September 9, 2015

September Fun with Friends

I think fall may be my favorite season in Shanghai. While spring will always be my all-time favorite, with flowers blooming and the end of winter, here it seems to take forever to really warm up in the spring, and it's laden with rain and pollution making it hard to really enjoy the outdoors.

But fall? It's beautiful here. Fairly low AQI, more blue sky than other seasons, refreshing breezes a respite from the hot heat of summer, and the ability to spend the whole morning outside again if you want to. So far September has been gorgeous, and we're kind of sad we'll be gone for October, as we remember that being the best month last year. But, we're also excited for other reasons that we'll be gone!

God continues to give much time to get together with friends, so much that I almost don't have any mornings just at home these days! But, we're taking advantage of nice weather and the flexibility of going out with just one child to enjoy it. I noticed a few weeks ago that I haven't had any down, lonely days recently. After a winter where they were pretty common, as I saw almost no friends during the day, I know being blessed with community has contributed to more feeling of joy. God is so good.

On Wednesday morning, Hadassah and I met friends at "Zoo Coffee." Just a 5 minute or so taxi ride from our apartment, it was a really cool place! Hadassah was SO excited to walk into a place with a life-size giraffe statue outside and so many big stuffed animals inside!

 Upstairs they have a big open area with a lot of tables and tons of stuffed animals, big and small, for kids to play with, as well as a corner with other toys just for kids. So smart... make a coffee shop with food for the adults and a place for kids to play and you're sure to get business! It's fairly new and was almost empty on a weekday mid-morning, so was the perfect place to meet up with friends.

 Snuggling down on a "ride" on a Zebra. :) It's cute to see how these girls are growing in friendship. Hadassah always gets super excited when I tell her we'll get to see this little girl!

Zoo Coffee is a place I hope to go back to. Hadassah smiles hugely whenever she brings it up in a memory, so it is a great indoor place for her to play. I'm thinking especially in the winter when being outside is harder, having a big room upstairs for her to even run a bit in (it was fairly empty and had wide aisles!) and play with fun animal toys is worth paying for a treat for us - and a good excuse to get one too, right? :) We already have friends to take the family of one of Ryan's co-workers to it on Saturday morning. They are always inviting us to go to interesting places with them, so it's fun to have a new place that we know about to show them for once!

Almost every day, Hadassah and I take an 8 minute or so walk to the front gate of our apartment complex and off to the side where Ryan's company has a bus stop. He takes their free bus home at 5 PM each day, and we enjoy walking back home as a family. It's an excuse for us to get outside, too, and usually there is a beautiful breeze at that time of day. If we can get out earlier (if I'm on top of things with pre-supper prep!), Hadassah and I go to this little walking/running path just off of the road. The surface material is absorbent, and Hadassah loves running down it while I walk at a brisk pace behind. Exercise for both of us!

This morning Hadassah and I walked on JiaoTong's campus back to a familiar site. We haven't been here for a while, as we're just a little farther from it in our new apartment, and with the heat, it was easier to go outside for short times early in the morning, and Hadassah has loved just going to the play ground when we have time to get outside. But oh, what a beautiful day for a longer walk! Just look at that sky!!

We met our former neighbor and her son at the eagle (by pre-arrangement) and then let the children somewhat lead where they wanted to explore, though I did my best to steer them toward shade, as the sun is still pretty hot! The campus has many pretty places to walk, though, so they had plenty to explore. It was cute how they both liked walking holding on to the stroller together. :)

I also am seeing leadership tendencies in Hadassah. She often led the way of where she wanted to go, and told the boy (who is actually a year OLDER than her!) where he should sit, etc. We'll have to make sure it doesn't turn in to too much bossy-ness, but I think it will contribute to her being a good big sister. :) As long as she learns to be flexible and full of grace when others don't follow her wishes. ;)

 After 1 1/2 hours, we headed home, walking with our friends to get bread from a bakery on the way. It was a bit bright by then. ;) And after another 15 minutes for me to walk home, I was definitely tired, but in a good way. It's nice to have good weather to walk longer distances again!

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