Monday, October 24, 2011

October with Mom & Emma

This was the last picture of us together during Mom and Emma's visit--right before we left to go to the airport. We were all very sad to say goodbye to one another. Even though they've only been gone for twelve days, it feels a lot longer!

Willow is smiling ear to ear! She just loves playing with her Aunt Emma!

Willow passed out---she was so tired she didn't even wake up when Emma changed her diaper!

Willow tried on my wedding ring. She loves sparkly things.

We made a raspberry cheesecake with the help of two lovely ladies that I mentor. It was very good! If I ever make it again, though, I will definitely just use my deeper pans (vs. the shallow ones). Wasn't sure how successful I would be, especially without the traditional equipment, but it worked out great.

Last night with Grandma!

Maybe Willow was sad because she heard Emma was going back to America.

Emma got a beautiful manicure while in Shenyang. Four detailed flowers painted on each finger nail!

Wow! Look at that expression! Willow finds a lot of the world to be very shocking.

We'll end on a not so shocking note.


Hat from Grandma

Dear Grandma,

Thank you for buying me this super cute hat a little while ago. I love to wear it since the weather's a bit chilly these days. I'm not used to the cold yet! I miss you a lot!



Is that REAL?

About a week ago, our school had it's annual International Day. Many different countries are celebrated with food and exhibits--parents, students, teachers...and even a baby named Willow enjoyed the event. There's a fun flag ceremony that initiates the day, but we missed that part of the festivities. We arrived just when the food was being served in the market place. Lunch is always a little chaotic on International Day...imagine over 400 people (probably) in a room smaller than a basketball court, getting food from a dozen different tables at basically the same time. The whistle is blown every few minutes to signal the rotation of was always hard as an elementary teacher to help heard the little ones around and makes sure that they ate enough healthy food (instead of just desserts) or didn't over eat/under eat. It was a little easier this year because I only had to keep my eye on Willow, who was taking a nap in her bjorn. However, I didn't get to eat very much because I was almost constantly surrounded by kids and parents who wanted to see Willow, touch her hands, talk to her, and take pictures with her....

A rare moment when I got actually eat.
It was probably soon after this picture was taken that a parent came up to me (someone I didn't recognize) and asked me if I was carrying a stuffed animal around (notice Willow's hat?). Yes...because I frequently like the feeling of strapping a stuffed animal to my body and carrying it around crowded places. I thought the question was funny---especially when she realized that the stuffed animal was actually a sleeping baby.

One of the presenters was sick, so was unable to make the event last minute. Our great national staff put together an impromptu presentation about Chinese dancing. Of course, Adam had to get in on the fun. Willow hated watching Adam dance. At first I thought she was laughing...but then I realized between her looks of horror/anxiety, and the lack of giggle sounds that she was just yelling at him in frustration. The Chinese ladies around me thought it was hysterical, and were trying to get Willow to calm down, "It's ok baby, don't be scared!" It was commical!


Saturday, October 22, 2011

The Eyebrow Girl

Or maybe Cinderella? Keep reading to find out!

So, like all my posts seem to be saying lately, Willow is growing so much! Her eyebrows too...I wonder what will become of those eyebrows in the next few years--they are just massive on her baby face! But, she makes them cute and dolls them up a lot, as if she knows that she has these crazy eyebrows with which she can make lots of different expressions. I think that I can do half of the things that she can do with her eyebrows.

She's also in love with her fingers. She loves to suck on her hands all the time, and I'm a little worried her hands are getting the rough side of the bargain since she's chomping on them with her two little teeth.

Something I just figured out is how much she also likes to bite on her burp cloths. I don't know what it is about those burp cloths--maybe because they've always been an arms length away from her for the past three months--but she loves them.

I love it when she is this tired and this calm. She's so precious! It's like she's too tired to make a fuss about it, and would rather just sit there until her eyes close and she drifts to sleep. I wish this was how every night worked out! :)

"Look at me, dad! I'm wearing my leopard print mini skirt to fellowship! What do you think?"

This picture was taken last Sunday, and she's gotten even better at sitting up since then. She needs a little support, but her balance is improving on a daily basis.

Working on her head control during tummy time. She's improved a lot in this area over the past month. She doesn't scream so much anymore and has built up a little stamina.

Last Sunday was the first time that she put her hands down and held herself up with her arms, however! Yay, Willow!

She held herself up like this for about a minute and just looked around in bewilderment. I think she shocked herself with her strength.

"Sometimes it's so hard to stay awake at night--I don't know what I want eat or to sleep."

Friends of ours in Shenyang are lending this bumbo seat to Willow. She's a little unsure about her new get-up though. Take it easy, Willow!

She mostly looks at her feet while sitting in this chair. She's fascinated by her cute little feet and really likes to stare at the chicks on her socks.

It's starting to cool down here. In our first floor, cement walled/floored/ceilinged apartment, it stays chilly. Mornings and evenings are cool as we wait another two weeks for the heat to get turned on by the government.

I think they share an eyebrow resemblance...

Willow's Chinese name now has a fun story. I'm not sure what the characters look like as of right now, but I will figure it out soon. Willow tree in Mandarin is "liu shu". Rose in Mandarin is something with the word "mei" (which means flower). So, our Chinese friend told us that we should name Willow, "Liu Mei". We could choose which kind of 'mei' we wanted to use though. There are different tones in Mandarin which usually alter the meaning of the word. It might sound the same to foreigners, but little changes in the pitch of the word can totally change the meaning. Well, there are a few different meanings for the word 'mei', depending on how you say it. Sometimes, however, words are pronounced the same but can have different spellings--or characters--much like homophones in English. So, one meaning for 'mei' can be for flower, but it is also used in part of the word for eyebrow. Apparently, there is a Chinese word to talk about the flowers that grow on the Willow trees--Liu Mei--because it looks like the trees have eyebrows. Actually, the pronunciations of Liu Mei (Willow tree with the eyebrows) and Liu Mei (willow flower/rose) are the same...but the characters are different.

We decided to choose the characters where 'mei' is talking about eyebrows. It is fitting for our Willow because she has such crazy expressive eyebrows! Our friend was happy about this because he said it is a very fanciful name--like being named after a fairy tale. Apparently there is a famous fairy-tale type story written in China a few decades ago where the protagonist is a girl name Liu Mei (like the eyebrow). I asked him if this was like being named Cinderella....and he said yes! So, Willow has quite a unique name in English--but also an unusual name in Mandarin. A willow tree with a flower that's like an eyebrow....also like being named Cinderella. Oh my!

Sometime I'll have to explain some of the reasons why I really like Willow's name and the verse that goes along with it.


School is Out!

...for me!

mini's so darling...

A box is sitting on Willow's bedroom floor, filled with her summery outfits--cute little garments that are sized 0-3 months. Little bits of lace, embroidery, and crocheted details. Frills and ribbons, rick-rack and ruffles. Little girls clothes are the sweetest. It's so sad to pack these outfits away. I've been dreading the job--and although she has plenty of cute clothes that fit her right now, it's a little sad packing away her clothes. She'll never wear them again--that's a good thing--but she's growing up so fast! Some babies seem to take a longer time to jump sizes in onsies and diapers, but for whatever reason Willow has been growing a lot lately. She's probably past fifteen pounds now, and my back can attest to the butterball effect. Her double chin keeps growing, and now it's practically touching her rib cage! I'm so happy she's growing up, developing and learning so normally--but looking at her little outfits, I'm reminded that she used to be just a seven and a half pound little person (with a lot more hair on her head)! I can hardly believe that she used to wear these tiny little clothes and that they used to be BIG on her! Now she's wearing 6 month clothing and I can't believe it!

The first three and a half months have just flown by. I'm so excited for the stage that she is in right now (sleeping longer at night, etc.), she's not a newborn anymore and that's a good thing. There are so many joys attached to having a three month old. She's sleeping well, eating well, playing well. She laughs and smiles and recognizes her mom and dad....but I just can't get over how fast she's growing. Soon she'll be six months old...and then that's just half way to hitting the one year mark! I'm dedicated to cherishing all the moments, the good and the challenging. I should say "challenging" because there really aren't any 'bad' moments yet. We've been so blessed, and except for this little cold she's had the past few days, she's had great health. I'm so thankful for the little, chubby person she is. I love watching her personality broaden with each week that passes. She's always been a mover, but now she's just spastic. She wants to twist and arch and scrunch and scoot as much as possible. It doesn't matter if she's sitting in your lap or the bouncy chair, or lying on the floor--she's trying to get places. I'm just hoping that it's a bit longer before she starts that mobile stage....oof....Not ready for that yet!

Adam just found out that he has a paper due for his graduate I'm a little stressed out for him as he searches for sources and starts writing his paragraphs. I'm also really relieved that I don't have to be writing a paper right now. I love being a student, I love assignments and tedious homework...but I think I need a break from academics and I'm enjoying every minute of it! No planning, no preparing, no grading, no homework, no researching....yes! I didn't think that I would enjoy it this much, but I do! Who knows, maybe someday I will be a student again, but for right now, I'm enjoying a fairly academic-free existence. Adam, however, is very diligent about his homework. I'm proud with how well he seems to be keeping up with all his responsibilities--and he rarely seems stressed about how much he works.

It seems like a lot of my friends in America that have kids are taking pictures of their children with pumpkins. That seems the thing to do, in light of Fall festivities. But, no pumpkins here. If Willow would wake up from her nap before the sun goes down, I wanted to take her out for my Chinese version of this photo trend. Guess which vegetable she'll be posing's not pumpkin.

It seems like the minute the leaves change color here, they start to fall to the ground. Fortunately, there are lots of trees in our apartment complex that have turned to yellows and reds. I feel like a lot of the trees in Shenyang just stay green all winter long. Fall feels different in Shenyang for lots of reasons. If I were in America now, I bet I'd be drinking hot cider, going to the apple orchard, raking leaves, and smelling bonfire smoke. Maybe there'd be harvest parties or tricker-treaters. There'd be lots of holiday decorations out for Halloween and Thanksgiving, and people would be getting ready to raid the stores for Christmas gifts. I feel like Fall in Shenyang is much simpler--and it would just pass by if you didn't take the time to notice it. It's just a different flavor here and I'm learning to appreciate how Autumn is celebrated on this side of the world. Different kinds of veggies are set out on the curb to dry, people are airing their winter blankets and coats, the sweet potatoes smell great from the street food vendors, and there were a lot of moon cakes being sold during the Festival time.

So, the days are just slipping by. I feel like every week flies past, which is strange because they used to go by so slowly. They felt heavy. I like being a mom! Every day is full and nonstop, but having just one baby is a little easier than taking care of a couple handful of kids. I'm trying to work on "Little Women" every day too. It was hard the last two years because I felt like I was trying to do two full time jobs simultaneously. I thought it was going to be so much easier this year because I wouldn't be teaching anymore. Today, it struck me...I'm still trying to do two full time jobs simultaneously. Whoops. :)

Can I just say, I'm really excited about the costume possibilities for "Little Women".

This week I read a book called, "The Help" and loved it! Thanks to my mother-in-law for sending it for my birthday! I think I read the whole thing in three days, which is quite a feat with Willow around. Too bad I don't live near a great library, because I think reading might become one of my hobbies again. Willow and I have also been fighting off colds for the past few days. She has been sleeping a little more during the day because of her cold...and not sleeping as well at night because of her stuffy nose. Every day is different around here. I can pretty much count on Willow acting differently every day when it comes to her sleep patterns.

Everything is going well around here. And if I haven't said it enough already--I'm loving the fact that I get to stay home with Willow. This is the first time in my life since I entered kindergarten that I haven't had to be in school. Yay!