Thursday, May 31, 2012

coming around

I saw them the other day. The famed, mystical mountains that supposedly rim this great city and can be seen in the distant horizon, if ever a clear enough day presents itself. The old timers say they used to see them several times a year. More recently, it's down to maybe one or two days if you're lucky. I have not seen them since we arrived here, nearly ten months ago.

But then, a steady and unfamiliar breeze blew all morning, and something I remember from a dream called white clouds started to appear in the sky with patches of blue all around them, and the sun seemed bright and hot and hurt our blessed eyes. And then I saw them. The mountains! They really are there. The stories are true.

The school year is coming to a close and in many ways I am feeling like we have reached a reprieve in our  journey of moving and adjusting. The mountain viewing the other day was just another reminder of that, and I couldn't help but see the broad themes of our life here rising up in my mind along with those distant peaks. So much of what we hear about, the stories of truth that we hold on to for strength and structure are unseen. We get a glimpse from time to time, maybe. But they are there, and they are beautiful and real and unmoved.

The clouds have parted lately and so has the mood that has clung to us for nearly a year. I can feel myself relaxing into this place. I can sense that I may just have it in me to grow to like it, to even call it home.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

lately we've been (growing)

I have determined that I will get back on here more regularly. If for no other reason than I do thoroughly enjoy it. And yet I just can't seem to make it happen. Slowly, I guess. Just like growing. I can't help but think of that word with all that we have been doing lately. We are on the brink of summer, after all. And then there are children who are always growing in so many fun ways, the baby who changes every day, our plants, our plans for the future, our bank account (ha! that was a joke for my husband).

I hope my brain starts to grow back to it's normal size someday too. Lately it seems to have shrunk to a very small size and I miss the things it used to be able to do. In the meantime, just a few images to share from all the growing we've been doing around here.

{every changing blossoms on the table}

{herb seedlings}

{it takes a lot of sleep to grow so fast}

{strawberry picking}

{strawberry bounty}

{potato hunting}

{growing readers}

{after school}

{my new rose plant}

{we do a lot of this}

{ahh, hydrangeas}

{someone else moving means I gained a new "old" cabinet}

Monday, May 14, 2012

Even with my mom around, doing almost everything that needs to be done besides nurse this new baby of ours, I seem to have my hands full most of the time. So in lieu of my own pictures, I stole some off my mother's camera since she has been happily snapping away.

It has startled me again, to watch someone else view our life here, when I have grown so accustomed to it. The things that seem strange, or hard, or adventurous, are at least commonplace to my own experience. Things like the traffic, or the way the little kids are dressed, or the dirt that covers everything, or the busyness and chaos of the neighborhood streets. 

It's also sweet to see the things in my kids through a grandma's eyes that I sometimes am too tired or worn out to notice. Like this picture of them playing hide and go seek... hiding each others eyes while they count.

or Scout's ability to make friends with just about anyone, and her endless desire to do so.

the way they make lemonade from lemons... or find ways to play with grass and the outdoors even though there is so little of it to go around.

The way our small apartment allows for so much togetherness. right. on. top. of. each. other.

how a rainy day and missing umbrellas makes us run for the garbage bags and I can be sort of proud that my little boys aren't growing up wimpy where they can't get a little (or a lot) wet on their way to school!

how our "mini van" in China is so much more fun than a Dodge Caravan.

and the traffic is easier to weave through when there are no rules...

And without car seat restrictions we can pile one mama, one baby, one grandma, and three kids onto a three-wheel scooter to go get dinner.

How dinner on the street can cost about five US dollars and still feed the whole family.

My hands are full. And so is my heart. I love living here and I'm so thankful we are given the opportunity to do so. 

Saturday, May 5, 2012

books, babies and babushkas (that's a grandma)

It occurred to me to download whatever snippets we've been gathering on the camera and post a few of them here, along with an update on our current day to day doings. Somewhat to my embarrassment, all that I found were pictures of people holding books, or sleeping. Seems we need to get out more or find something else to do. Not that reading is bad. It's just, well, not the only thing there is. And I suppose it could, in some sense encourage anti-social behaviors, or the neglect of housework, or the onset of an interior life to the neglect of the world around you. Anyway. They're just pictures. It's really not all we're doing.

The Baby, as we've taken to calling him (oh dear, his lot in life as the last in line begins) is a delight. He's so "squishy" as Scout likes to say. And we all like to squish him. He sleeps and eats and rarely changes things up. But still, we can't get enough of him.

The Girl is firmly in the midst of Grandma Boot Camp. My mom, who has come to stay with us for several weeks (and is nothing short of The Most Helpful Person in the World) has taken it upon herself to reform this wayward child who has been at the mercy of my tired and unmotivated mothering the last several months. Don't worry, it's not the intrusive, overbearing kind of reforming... simply the thoughtful observations of a loving mom and gramma who is helping this tired momma and her itchy little girl by establishing some much needed routine. So they do puzzles (set the timer... 15 minutes!), they read a book, they build with blocks, they listen to stories or songs, go outside, read again, color a picture, and on it goes. I'm so thankful. I can only hope that I have as much energy and generous love as she does when I am a grandma someday.

Oh, and the other thing we do is cook. And wash the floors. My mother keeps commenting on these elaborate meals I am making (such as soup. and pizza), when really what I think she is noticing is the fact that nearly everything must be truly made here, often from scratch. I am used to it by now, and don't really notice the extra time or planning it takes to prepare a meal. But I suppose it is nice to feel like someone thinks you are a gourmet chef for making your own granola.

Food, books, a new baby, and Grandma. What more do we need really?