Thursday, October 28, 2010

A Nice Shiner!

Xan had a tumble right before my eyes on Monday evening resulting in a very nice shiner. She was in the tub and I could see it happening and couldn't stop it in time. I felt like "mother of the year" for sure. Stan teased her today that it looked as if she was wearing makeup......that made it a bit better. (and then she asked for lipgloss)

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

300 years

300 years.....that is a long time. Week before last I was honored to attend a wonderful event celebrating the 300th anniversary of the orphanage that I volunteer at each week. They had a really nice affair on Thursday that included all kinds of entertainment and local dignitaries that spoke before a crowd of at least a couple hundred people or so. They also had several families that had adopted from this orphanage return for the event and they were presented with gifts and one even spoke about her life since the orphanage.
I was part of a group of 10 volunteers that attended the event and I went to show support for the orphanage. I really didn't expect to get overly excited or emotional or even understand most of what was being said for that matter. I just wanted to go and be supportive. Well....that was my plan and as the Lord often does.... He had another plan.
I found myself in tears several times watching videos that were shown or observing families that were in attendance that have been grown through adoption. It is such a miracle and beautifully transcends all language's just amazing. I was fortunate to be in attendance and it wasn't just so I could be supportive. The Lord wanted to bless me and encourage me and oh how He did!
On Friday, my normal day to go to the orphanage, I went expecting nothing extraordinary. The celebration and festivities had all been on Thursday so I again, wasn't prepared. Surprise, surprise!......the families that had come in for the celebration (from the US and the Netherlands and not sure where else....I think there were 6 or 7 all together) were all touring the facilities and came through the baby/toddler area during our shift. Oh it was so wonderful! Most of the girls were about 12 to 15 years old and one family was even celebrating their GOTCHA Day on that very day. They had received their daughter 15 years ago to the day. (how cool is that huh?) There was also a family that had a little boy that was only 3 or so.....also from this orphanage. So here's the part that is just so neat and I'll write thru tears now b/c it still gets to me. The girls and their families were being followed and escorted by quite the entourage- as you can imagine there were lots of photo ops and they came in and immediately started playing with the toddlers and such. The part for me that was so moving was the parents of these girls. They literally could not stop expressing their gratitude for what we were doing as volunteers. They just watched us with this look of emotion that can't quite be expressed. There were tears and hugs and lots of smiles and exchanges of "that look" but here's the was them that I wanted to thank. I kept saying...."NO, NO it's you that we thank. You are the families that are loving these girls forever now. We just come and help for awhile." and the whole time I'm just thinking how grateful I am that I get to be that moment.

Then there was the other side of my brain........ I know the feelings they are trying to express.....I am "that Mom" who would LOVE to know that someone had gone and held my little girl when she was tired or hurt. I would love to know that for 7 1/2 months of Xan's life she was being loved on......even if it was only once a week. It's huge- and I totally get that. It really was a surreal moment. My feelings were all jumbled. I was grateful, they were grateful, I was happy, I was sad, I was overwhelmed. It was just one of those moments that will forever be part of me.

The whole time all of this was happening we were just sitting in the floor holding babies (I think I had 2 on my lap for most of their visit) and just rocking them or soothing them. They weren't used to all this attention and it was a bit unnerving for them. Once the families and their entourage all left we were back to the normal routine......and the babies were all still there doing what they normally do and probably wondering what just happened. I didn't have time to really collect my thoughts and process all of the emotions until I was home and then it hit me. God totally blessed me those two days. ABUNDANTLY blessed me and I have no idea why it was me....but it was and for that I am grateful.

I didn't get a whole lot of pictures....but here are a few.

One of the girls who had been adopted from this orphanage.

The director giving his speech.

Some of the entertainment and one of the young girls living at the orphanage now.

A few of the other volunteers.

Xan was excited to hold the flowers we received as gifts. They were beautiful!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010


I have made a commitment and, like most responsible adults, when I make a commitment I take it pretty seriously. This one was no different. I was afraid to even speak it out loud until I knew I really wanted to do it. I have pondered "the idea" for sometime now but actually committed to it about a month ago. Here it is.....drumroll please: I am going to run an official 1/2 marathon on December 5.....yep 13.1 miles in Shanghai, China.

Stan completed a full marathon in January of this year and I was so proud of him and the accomplishment. I told him several times during his training that I admired his willingness to do it but what I most liked was that he had this "goal" that was out there and he was physically working towards it. It's actually a joke between us that if he doesn't have a goal then he is long as we've been married he's always been working toward something. I'm grateful because those goals have taken me to some pretty amazing places and afforded me a lot of great experiences. Anyway, that is what appealed to me personally.....having that goal and testing my self discipline to see if I could really do it. Not just the race on race day but the grind of training for it. So here I am and I'm letting all of you in on my journey of personal growth (blah blah blah).

Now I would like to give you a little background here. First of all, I do not like running. I'm fairly certain I never have enjoyed running. Some of you that knew me "back in the day" may recall a few successful events I took part in that required some running and the passing of a baton amongst some other young ladies. They are actually some of my fondest memories and to this day I can think about a race and literally get butterflies. It was so much fun. However, I decided a long time ago that what I enjoyed was not the actual was the winning. Oh how I love to win and we actually did it a lot. We were blessed with talent, were coached well and we worked hard so we won. What made it more fun is we were very unlikely winners......4 (some would say scrawny) girls from a small west Texas town with a combined weight of 375 pounds (maybe).......when we were soaking wet.

Anyway....I say all that to say that THIS running is much different. I'm now running for myself. There aren't any teammates or coaches to push me along during the training, there aren't any fun track meets each weekend where medals are awarded and my efforts praised, no opportunity to win a big race to qualify for a bigger one.'s just me, my tennis shoes and my iphone heading out and returning for these runs in preparation for the big day. I don't think I had ever run further than a mile in my whole life until I started this training and I'm not gonna lie to you....I fully anticipated hating every single training run (which is why I thought long and hard about the commitment). BUT, I've been pleasantly surprised at how much I've enjoyed the runs and actually look forward to getting out the door and beginning. I've gotten up to 5 miles thus far and it felt good. Sure, my knees hurt a bit and I'm ready to stop when it's the end but overall, I enjoy it. I'm following a training schedule that I found online and I'll get up to 10 miles before the actual race. That sounds completely impossible right now but then again the thought of running 5 miles a month ago was absurd to me as well.

I think one of the things that makes it so enjoyable for me is the music that I listen to. In the States I had quite a bit of car time and that was when I really got my fix of the music I like but since we've been here in China that has been missing. I didn't anticipate that being a big motivator for me but it is. I get to listen to everything from praise and worship, country and a little pop -all as loud as I want and without any interruptions. I have gotten a few funny glances when I'm apparently singing out loud as I run past some locals but oh well- they are going to stare at the foreigner anyway. :)

So there it's out there.

And 8 weeks from this Sunday I'll be out there too!

Chat with ya later-

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Pet & Plant Street

We have made the short trip to Pet and Plant street a couple of times since we arrived here in Suzhou because as any of you who know Stan can attest...the man loves plants. He comes by it quite honestly.....his mom is also a lover of all things green and she converted Stan's dad and they have created (read: worked their tails off for 7+ years) the most amazing back yard ever with ponds and bogs and plants and plants and more plants..... but I digress. Back to pet and plant street.
It is literally a street where there are probably close to 40 or 50 shops selling plants and more than that selling animals. I use the term "shop" very loosely as many are just a small room (imagine a flea market environment and you are close). Anyway-we made the trip (10 short minutes by taxi and 20 by e-bike) right before Xan began school about a month ago and I've had these pics just sitting on my computer waiting for me to share them with you. The plant part of pet and plant street is very lovely and lush but the pet part is a different story. There are literally hundreds of different animals that are for purchase and the conditions are certainly less than optimal. Those animal protection folks would go nuts but it does make for an interesting morning and some pretty good pictures too. So here is a random sampling of what we saw that no particular order. (thanks for the photo advice today from my friend Danielle on getting them to up load quicker....thus resulting in more blog posts--- hopefully)

A cage full of pigeons.

Tiny baskets for the crickets you can purchase.

There are TONS of turtles....all sizes, all colors, etc. One of the delicacies here is turtle soup and there is literally a whole turtle floating in top of the bowl when it arrives at the table. I haven't partaken but Stan has and he says it's actually not bad. I think these smaller turtles are for least I hope so.

Yep....this is a bag full o' turtles.

Just because I is a picture of a shop owner cleaning her toenails.

This sweet little girl watched us very intently.

I was glad she let me photograph her without posing.......I loved this picture.

More cricket cages.....this is only about 3-4 inches square.

and if you want a bit more style for your cricket this one is for you

Here are some of the hundreds of was loud and I can't imagine wanting one for a pet. Obviously the locals can and do.......lots of them for sale and all kinds of accessories.

Xan was checking them out.

Here are some of the smaller plants.

Again...because I could...high heels are literally worn every day by all kinds of workers....doesn't matter what you do or if they even match your outfit. I'm shamed in my comfy flip flops or tennis shoes by these ladies walking the streets and working in their heels.

This is for Stan's mom.....Yep that is trumpet vine. Want some??

This large, lovely plant is now a member of the Everitt greenhouse. He had it delivered to our apartment that same afternoon with about 5 other smaller plants. It really is beautiful.

Stan is just loving life here.....he gets very happy when he is around lots of green things.

This is a very common stance for people here in China to do work. They squat and will sit forever doing tasks or just chatting with each other. The older folks do it too....the men will squat and play dice games on the sidewalk. I don't know how they do it.

This cutie pie stopped to admire the very large, ugly cement lions that we did not have delivered to our apartment that afternoon. (I do have my limits)

Just some pretty flowers-

Some kind of nasty worm....there was a shop with tons of these bins full of them. I'm not sure what they are for....not sure I want to know.

This guy was one of several in the bird section that had a great seat to watch the shoppers go by. He was quiet but there were lots that weren't.

More birds...

and because he can.......a man working without a shirt on. [Side note: unfortunately this is not the least dressed that I've seen a man working. I drove by a construction site one day and saw two men in their tighty whitey's and hardhats and shoes. I promise! It was almost traumatizing if I hadn't gotten so tickled.]

Fish.....lots and lots of fish.

Some of the dogs....most were the small breeds but we did see a few large dogs.

More fish...

Just a sad puppy.

Trying to fit in with the locals.......ok- not so much.

A basket of eggs that were near the pigeons......this picture doesn't do them justice. They were a beautiful almost see through white color. Very unusual...again not sure if they eat them or what.

That's about it for now. Would love to give anyone a personal tour of Pet and Plant street so if you're in the area be sure to call us.

Chat with ya later-