Saturday, June 25, 2016

Water Play the Apartment Way

 Since this one got up earlier than planned on Thursday, she discovered how to pull up on a box while I had my back turned getting a chore done. Ellie just keeps learning faster than I can keep up with! ;)

When it was time to get Hadassah up, I told her we were going to put on her swimsuit and do some water play. Pretty much the best thing you can say to a 2 year old! ;) With it so hot and humid, being outside and doing our normal walking and running and playground activities wasn't very enjoyable. Yet, being outside is still so good for my girls and their attitudes. I was kind of inwardly complaining about the fact that I didn't have a back yard for putting out a pool or a water play table, when I realized I could still do something similar here. It just might take a little more work. But, really not all that much more....

 So we loaded up the stroller (I so enjoy this versatile sit-and-stand double stroller!) and headed outside. When we first moved to China, I would have never done this sort of thing, too concerned about what people would think. I hardly ever see parents or grandparents letting their children get dirty or wet. But, 2 years in, I know they think we're a little weird regardless, and I'm not going to let fear of what people will think keep me from giving my girls some free fun!

 We chose a quiet, somewhat secluded sidewalk, and Dassah went to work scooping and pouring. Mostly on her sister...

 ... but Ellie didn't seem to mind too much! The water felt good on the hot day!

 Then they tried standing in the tub and splashing around. Was fun for a few minutes, but the size was a little small.

Dassah tried sitting in it, but decided it was too cold. ;)

 Ellie seemed tired of water after a bit, so I moved her to the play mat where she enjoyed rolling and crawling while Hadassah watered the grass, trees, bugs... Next time I may bring chalk out too, so she can draw and then wash it away.

 I entertained Ellie with twirling leaves when she got bored. She was pretty fascinated. :)

 Then it was time to head back home. It had only been half an hour, but I knew Ellie needed another nap, and the mosquitoes were descending more. And some play time is better than none!

 This little cutie slept really well after that too! For a girl that is trying to give up her third nap, I actually had to wake her up from this one! Nothing like a sweet sleeping baby...

 In other cute news, did you know that a slinky can be an awesome toy for a baby and a toddler?

It may not stay in its original shape, but these sisters sure enjoy playing with it! :D

The Cousins Come!

It seems like just yesterday that Danielle was 6 and Alex was 4, and I had come to spend a week and help take care of them while their mom recovered from the birth of their little brother. I was 17, but their mom told Danielle, when she wanted to know if I was a kid or an adult, "She's an adult to you!"

Now, Danielle is 17 and Alex is 15 and they arrived yesterday to spend six weeks with us! So I told Hadassah, "to you, they're adults - you need to do what they say!" Life really does come full circle...

They're my niece and nephew, but we'll refer to them as "the cousins" since that's what they are to Hadassah and Ellie (and many people assume they are to me, since there's just about 10 years age difference between us!). It's shorter to type than niece and nephew, anyway. ;)

Hadassah was quite excited when they arrived, definitely on a high all evening. She even ran one whole mile (yes, Ryan mapped it out - a whole mile!!) start to finish without stopping with Ryan. She kept saying as she ran, "Tell Danielle and Alex how far I ran!"  It's pretty awesome to have extra people around to play with the girls, and we're excited to have an excuse to see more of Shanghai and even a few other parts of Shanghai. It will be easier to travel with two extra pairs of arms to carry luggage or children!

I served Cashew Chicken for their first meal here - the best of the few Chinese recipes I've tried and stuck with. It never fails and is super yummy! Of course, I actually found it online... Sorry, but it's not one I learned from a friend here. Partly because it seems like most Chinese cooks don't follow recipes- it's a little bit of this and that and hard to follow but pretty amazing! Anyway, get this recipe here. You won't regret it!

Danielle and Alex actually slept almost 12 hours last night - an exhausting plane flight will do that to you! So here's to hoping they get over jet lag quickly! We've had a laid back rainy Saturday, taking them to Zoo Coffee in the morning and playing "Airlines" while the girls napped (horray for board game players!).

I also took Hadassah puddle splashing for a few minutes in the morning. The apartment always feels small when it rains for some reason. And there's just something adorable about a girl dressed in pink with a butterfly umbrella!

Unless it's a tiny girl in a swim cap! :D They are required to be worn at Chinese pools, but they sure do make her look growing up! They took Hadassah swimming with Ryan after her nap. When we tried taking Hadassah at Ellie's age, they said she was too small, so we didn't bother trying with Ellie. I explained to Hadassah that Danielle would take her through the women's dressing room, and she said "I like women. They take care of me." :)

I think Hadassah is still trying to figure out their relationship to her, though. She came back and said "I had fun swimming with my other parents!" Earlier she asked, "Are they grandparents?" She's pretty in awe of them. She called Alex "Uncle Luke" a time or two (I think she's impressed by his height!) and said of Danielle "it's kinda like a big sister!" I never thought she'd be able to have such a close relationships with cousins while living half way across the world. What a blessing.

Y (our first neighbor) had us over for supper. She is so sweet to do SO much cooking, and it was a great introduction for them to Chinese food. Having Chinese food at someone's home is so much better than in a restaurant. They also got to get some practice with chop sticks!

 Y played some beautiful music on the piano for us - she recently got one and has been taking lessons, and it is so beautiful! The sound is so so full. Dassah enjoyed dancing to the music. :)

 And Ellie loves having extra playmates! She seems right at home with them, which is fun to see, since recently she's been in a "mama mama" stage with a little stranger anxiety at times. But she can tell they love her and she's enjoying all the extra fun! And I'm enjoying the extra arms. :) Just in the rush to get out the door, realizing they could hold Ellie while I get my shoes on and get Hadassah's shoes on her to boot... I'm going to be spoiled while they're here! :)

One full day down... many more full of fun to come!

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Life around home with little loves

 I love being a mom. It's crazy and exhausting sometimes. I cry sometimes because I can't figure it all out and my baby's not sleeping as I thought she should (though she's done better these last few days thankfully!). But these little girls? I get to spend all day with the cuteness and dress us all in jean skirts and floral shirts by accident and then cuddle up for a picture just because... I'm living my dream.

(and yes, we are working on Hadassah's affectionate choke-hold of Ellie... She does it with goodwill - usually! - but Ellie doesn't always appreciate it!) ;)

 This little miss is officially getting so so grown up. It's hitting me that she'll be three in four months, and I don't know where the time has gone... We went to the "secret garden" (botanical garden on campus) last week, and she was the one to pick out spots to take pictures, and do the posing herself.

 Her "cheese" face gets me every time!

 But as we were still getting over jet lag, the still beauty did us all good...

 Though I do NOT like the wind in the winter, I'm realizing just how wonderful all the winds are in the summer. It's been so hot and humid recently, but often in the late afternoon and evening it's bearable as the breeze blows in....

 And see this? No people. Soon after we came back to China I took Hadassah to campus but she started crying because she wanted to go somewhere without people. I know, little girl. I do too sometimes... But it's hard to find. So this place, just a 10 minute bike ride away, is a solace to both our hearts sometimes. There are people, but it's spread out enough and full of nature, that you have moments of aloneness.

 And it doesn't get much better than a little girl walking among big trees, feeling like an explorer.

 We're also getting to try new crafts, with new supplies bought in America and the heat outside not tempting us out mid-morning. And I have to say, tempura paint is awesome. I tried quite a few "homemade paint" recipes, but they've got nothing on store bough tempura paint!

The pinterest idea was to make flowers with forks, but I love how Hadassah comes up with so much more! She was swirling all the colors by the end and it was so pretty!

 We made "stick people" the other day. She helped pick out the pipe cleaner color for the arms and legs of our family, and drew all of the faces. Somehow in the last month she went from scribbling to actually drawing, and I love how she draws people! I've always thought kid drawings were cute, but it's so just much more amazing when it's your own child and you've seen them go from just eating crayons to actually making understandable drawings! :)

 This little miss is crawling all over the place now. She chased her ball all the way under the jumper and then crawled in after it! It's fun seeing her discover new things, but keeps me more on my toes, especially since she craws the fastest when she's after something Hadassah has. She's just so interested in big sister...

 Hadassah is enjoying dress up more these days, though she seems to find more joy in dressing me up than in dressing herself up. So I end up with huge flowers in my hair and crazy glasses, but who cares? I'm living my dream. And it is such a blessing to be home with them. And we've truly made it a home. In China.

Who knows where this girl will go? At under three she's already crossed the ocean 7 times. We pray much for our Hadassah Faith. She's understanding more about God and people and sin and worship. She wakes up singing often, and the songs she makes up about the Lord are just beautiful. One of them was "Come to me, Jesus. Come to me... I love you! I want to give you a hug!" May that always be the cry of her heart.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Family on Father's Day

Our father's day weekend was pretty low key. Our first weekend back in China, we didn't want to do anything crazy! But hey, it made for family memories that are what we'd want to remember anyway, right?

Like Saturday morning sister snuggles...

And the cutest faces when they study each other...

And the huge smiles when Daddy joins in playing! Because he's an awesome daddy like that, of course!

Baths are always made easier when Ryan is home to help! As I posted on Facebook for Father's Day:

This guy is pretty much the best Daddy in the world. I get to see him in the ins and outs and highs and lows, and he loves his girls with all he is. No one can make them laugh more, and his silliness to get a giggle knows no bounds. And yet he instructs and teaches and is firm when needed, training them in such good ways. He's also the best with stories, both in making up ones about Dassah's stuffed animals and in reading books - there are certain ones Hadassah won't let me read because "Daddy reads them best."  He makes Bible stories come alive, putting them in toddler terms to make sure she understands. He's here every evening, his family his priority, helping with baths and bed times and blessing me in so many ways as he blesses them. I love you, Ryan! Thank you for being such an amazing man of God! Happy Father's Day. 

And these are what pictures are starting to look like for Ellie. If she's not constrained, she wants to move!!

I took Hadassah out to campus to give Ryan some rest (he'd gone straight back to work the day after we got home from America!) and then when Ellie woke, we tried going to the park for a picnic. Bad idea. While the mornings and evenings here are sometimes breezy and not to hot, mid-day is not the time you want to be riding a bike with a girl on the back and a baby in the Ergo. HOT! But, it was fun to be a family.

But both girls somehow knew it was a special picture on Father's Day morning, and they gave me their best smiles! Oh how they love their Daddy!

Ellie threw up four times on Saturday afternoon, so I didn't want to risk taking her to church. But Ryan took Hadassah, though I offered to keep her home too, knowing it would be easier. But he values her learning about God and getting used to the discipline of church each week, that he took her alone. And oh how happy she was when she came home after a whole morning with his attention!

Had to make Ryan's favorite breakfast!

And after naps, he introduced Ellie to guitar playing. Just like Hadassah did at her age, she loved feeling the vibrations!

And of course Hadassah had to join in on the fun too!

To top it all off, Ellie started actually crawling on Father's Day! Ryan got pictures of her moving from one side of the room to the other!

Since Ellie seemed to be doing better, we braved the subway to go half and hour away to Blue Frog for Father's Day dinner. That place is the closest nice Western restaurant and oh so good!

I am not that into fish, so I am always happy when Ryan gets some special fish while we're out - good for him, and I didn't have to figure out how to make it!

Monday night I did his favorite chicken. Originally I'd planned it for Sunday, but had forgotten to get Ranch dressing, which is his favorite dip for it. So we went out and postponed this to Monday. This man is definitely worth celebrating for a few days!

And Hadassah was absolutely thrilled with corn on the cob! She ate all of hers and tried to sneak bites of mine!

Monday evening there was the best sunset we've seen here... Absolutely gorgeous. All of the rain means it clears out the pollution and the sky is so pretty when there's not so much smog. Makes me realize how much more beautiful this city would be if the pollution were not around.

And the clear skies meant there was an amazing moon over suburb lights... All in all, a beautiful Father's Day weekend.