Monday, December 31, 2012

Christmas Part 2

Willow, at the Christmas party in our complex's clubhouse
A little craft--the lights are Willow's ginormous thumb prints. 

She thoroughly enjoyed the ice cream

singing silent night with a candle--she kept blowing the candle out...

Willow playing 'pretend' with her baby doll--changing the doll's diaper. 

Christmas gift from her great grandma and grandpa Koedyker. The frog croaks and its shirt says, "I love Florida" 

First gift from mom and dad---opening on Christmas Eve 

It's a cheap little stroller from the market

Matching aprons and dish cloths for Willow and her dolly made by her Grandma Kang 

New shoes from great grandma Koedyker 

5 kuai wooden puzzles from Wu Ai for Willow 

Little outfit from one of Adam's students

Starting to get the hang of opening gifts

decorating cookies with student council 

Helping mom in the kitchen 

Sugar cookies, China style 

At the middle school Christmas banquet

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Not a Creature Was Stirring

December has not been the month for blogging. There are so many reasons for this, and one of them is a picture dilemma. Apparently, I've used up all my free storage space for pictures and videos on Blogger and so I have to go use other routes to share pictures here....which is so unattractive to me right now. So, I've sort of fizzled out. Obviously, I blog to share pictures and no other reason. Sarcastic. Chuckle. Sarcastic. Laugh. But, no, really. I will post pictures. It's my goal in life.

Well, so much has happened in December, though this corner of my life has been fairly quiet. I thought I would sum up our December Adventures for you. Perhaps there will be pictures again someday soon. Today is not that day.

Top Ten Adventures in December! 

10. Bought Paint: it ended up being quite an adventure. I went with a friend and her Chinese friend (who had a nice car with 3 tv's in it!) to buy paint for our living room. We need to paint it for obvious reasons. There's some murals going on right now, thanks to our resident artist. We ended up at a home-depot-esque store that we not heated at all (think way-below-freezing-temps), and ended up staying there for a while. Then went to a mall that was composed entirely of paint stores. It was crazy large, and only sold paint. Finally purchased everything we needed, and I was never so happy to be home and warm.
9. Got a Metro Card: After nearly four years of China living, I finally have my own Metro Card. I only go there about once a year because you need a card to enter (like Sams Club). But they have lots of great selections, and it is CALM there. It almost feels like being trasnported to America. I also bought bacon and brought it home.
8. Received 7 packages from our wonderful families! We are quite the talk in Shenyang, because I think we might receive more packages than any other foreign family. Sometimes I feel guilty about that fact---but really, to all of you who have sent us care packages--thank you so, so, so much! We feel loved and remembered by the sacrifice you made to send it! How great is it to get a piece of America in a cardboard box? Even the Small-One gets to experience her birth place through the US post service. She squeals when a package arrives. She knows there's bound to be candy inside.
7. Christmas Parties Galore (+a concert): it has been the busiest Christmas ever for us! A total of 9 Christmas parties. I've been thankful for all these opportunities. They've been varied in theme and form, and have really helped us to remember Christ in all this chaos. Christmas Day is tomorrow and we're blessed with two different pot lucks (breakfast and dinner). In all this activity, I am ready to be introverted again. We're only half way through all our parties.....
6. Danced all Night: I've been dancing a bit. Willow thinks it's hysterical, and I have to agree. It's not a dance party. It's waltzing. How can I waltz? I don't know. Dusting off some old skills, and watching loads of youtube videos. Because not only do I have to waltz, I have to choreograph. 1 dance turned into 3 separate numbers....and now I'm teaching lifts and steps that I don't know the names to. It's legit because I pulled a muscle. Just in case you were wondering, you either have to be doing something very right or very wrong to pull a muscle. From all these dancing escapades, I've decided that Willow WILL take dance lessons and she will not be allowed to quit! (sort of kidding).
5. Play Land Extravaganza: Willow and I were invited to join two other families for a morning at a amazing play land. I took some pictures with my phone (some videos too) and maybe someday, I'll get around to posting them. Because you need to understand how INSANE this place was. I would have loved it as a child. It was all I could do not to join in on the fun. Willow couldn't do anything longer than 10 seconds, that's how over stimulating it was. She left a tired person. Running in circles while shrieking because there are too many options is quite exhausting.
4. Lost our Appetites: otherwise known as "hey-do-you-want-the-flu-for-a-week?" We are finally eating again. I realized today that I was cooking for the first time in a week. It was liberating. Also exhausting.
3. Not One but TWO Nativities: For our team's Christmas party, I got to be part of a nativity as the narrator. It was especially interesting to read, since it was in the KJV. How does one pronounce these words? At one point, Mary and Joseph were on stage with a baby doll. Well, it wasn't really Mary and Joseph, but our friends who were pretending to be them. Willow saw that doll and beamed excitedly. Before Adam could catch her, she was crawling up the steps and walking across the stage. She went up to baby Jesus and took him from Mary. She was so pleased with herself. I wish I had a camera at that moment, because it was absolutely priceless.

Hopefully, not too many people were offended or annoyed by the interruption. But later, I was misty eyed as I reflected on the scene. Just as Willow was excited to see that baby, we ought to approach our Savior with child-like hearts. She had no gift or talent to offer--absolutely no contribution except her eager heart. Isn't that all God truly wants from us? During this crazy Christmas season, I pray that we can approach the throne of God with child-like eagerness and excitement. We approach not because of who we are, but because of who HE is. It's beautiful.

Oh yeah, then I got to help with a very similar nativity at another party for our neighborhood. It was a unique opportunity to present the true meaning of Christmas and the true story of Christmas to people who've never heard it before. There's lots of confusing ideas over here over who Jesus is and how he relates (if at all) to Santa Claus. Some mixed up notions----is it Santa Claus' birthday? Who was that baby? What are angels? I hope some seeds are now taking root. I invited my neighbor and her family to this party---I'll write more about that experience later! It's still unfolding (I hope).
2. Ice Skating: I went ice-skating with a first grader! She was great--we went together while her mom finished up some shopping. I fell once trying to spin in my plastic rental skates. It was then that I realized...."Wow, I don't remember the last time I went skating". Probably five years ago. And that made me feel extremely old. Willow should definitely take skating lessons.

1. Christmas Eve. That would be today! We had a lovely day--spending it mostly at home. Which is so nice, considering how busy we've been (and will be!). We had a special brunch with a breakfast casserole and homemade hash browns. We played with Willow, opened presents, and ate tacos for dinner. Now Willow is sleeping, Adam's hair is cut, and I'm sitting on the floor typing. I should be sitting on a chair, because now my legs have no feeling and my back is killing. Christmas Eve is magic to me. I think Willow felt a little bit of the magic too after she ate half a bag of M&M's.

Disaster Report:

5. The Smoothie Debacle: sort of self-explanatory. I was making a whole liter of to say this? Anyway, as I picked up the pitcher off of the blending dock....smoothie went everywhere. On my cook books, on the wall, the counter, the cupboard, the floor, the door, my sock (just one sock), the vitamins....etc. It took a while to clean that up.
4. The Vomit War: also self-explanatory. Willow was throwing up everywhere. We did so much laundry and cleaning. It did get a little scary at one point when she started to vomit blood. All is well now.
3. The Joys of Aging: I injured my back/neck while dancing through the night and couldn't move very well for a week. Then I fell while ice skating, and still have a bruise to prove it. Adam also is falling apart.
2. The Attack of Crayola: We have some new additions to the mural. They sneak up on me, but morning by morning new wall art I see.
1. The Candy Invasion: From all the loving care packages we have received (plus gifts from students at Christmas time) we now have boxes and boxes of candy. It is a land of paradox for Willow. "So much candy all around me, yet I cannot eat any of it!"

Willow's Top Five: 

5. Favorites: her new doll stroller, her new stuffed animals, candy, Toy Story, the Christmas Tree, and helping around the house.
4. Health: She was pretty sick for a week (and still getting over it). She seemed to have every symptom under the sun, and it was exhausting taking care of her. Poor baby! She watched so much TV, because she was so exhausted from the flu, that we have since put a ban on movies. She is not coping well with this.
3. Behavior: Lately, she looks at us, waves goodbye (makes sure that we respond with our own 'goodbye') and then darts away to another room for a few seconds. She soon returns with a toy. Do "Terrible Two's" start early? She is definitely pushing the envelope.
2. Vocabulary: Tonight at dinner, she warmed my heart immensely. While Adam was praying, she leaned close to me and said "iss, iss". Since I've never heard her say this before, I was confused. I leaned closer to ask her what she meant, and then she kissed me! So cute! She was saying, "kiss!" Later, when she was opening her gifts, she was super excited to receive a cute little stuffed kitten. She squealed, "Itty!" Which I think means, 'kitty'. She still isn't talking too much--it seems like as soon as she perfects a word, she stops using it altogether. Still drops off consonants and word endings a lot. Today, she wandered to another room, and I was worried she was getting into mischief. I called out to her, and she yelled from where she was playing, "Whaaa!" And then came peeling around the corner like, 'what the heck do you need now? I'm in the middle of something life changing!'
1. Idiosyncrasies: She has started clapping her hands very properly. Like, imagine one hand palm up and stationary, and the other hand tapping it politely. She looks like such a lady. She anticipates plots in movies and books. For instance, if she knows people will be clapping in the next scene/page, she will start to clap (this freaks me out that she knows/remembers, since I never remember these things) before hand. Or if I'm cooking her food, she will go to the cupboard to retrieve her dishes and then hand them to me. One more funny thing--she has been practicing the 'disapproving/skeptical/disbelieving' look. We get that look a lot these days. It's especially funny if you're asking her a question, and she flashes you the look (cocked eyebrows, narrowed eyes, expression of shock).

Merry Christmas! 

Now it's Christmas---and we have no Christmas Family Pictures. No Christmas Card......bla, bla, bla. Should we do this thing? It's not really practical currently. Besides, it's a 'grown up' activity that we have yet to partake in. Such as having to actually pay taxes (we're so poor, the Government pays us), choose a cell phone plan, or think about our credit rating.

But, even without a picture, because I'm too lazy to post a picture (let alone find a way to take a picture)---we wish you all a Merry Christmas! It's directly from our hearts to yours. I hope our message warms you up like hot chocolate with mini marshmallows after a snow ball fight (and your brother just rubbed snow all over your freezing face, so you decided to quit).

We're enjoying the rest of 2012 (can't believe we survived the Apocalypse by the way--I was really worried how that would go over, being in a foreign country and all) the two weeks vacation from school/theater, and all the goodies that were mailed to us!

Willow would like to officially offer her artistic services at a reduced price (Free!). She uses only crayola, but would be interested in expanding her portfolio to include Sharpies. Anyway, if you want any mural in your home that really scream, "Drawn by a one-year-old", let her know. Her only condition is that hugs, cookies, and other forms of positive reinforcement are provided. I just spoke with her about this offer, and she's willing to add a delightful mural to your television screen at no additional charge. Please call her toy cell to schedule an appointment. I 'highly' recommend this opportunity! It's been a great experience.

What I'm really looking forward to right now, even more than putting pictures on this blog... is READING!!! My parents sent me a Nook gift card and I think I can squeeze at least 10 books out of it. Ha. le. lu. jah. 

Sunday, December 9, 2012

17 Months

Yes, Willow is nearly at the one-and-a-half year mark! I can hardly believe it. This month will surely fly by with all the Christmas parties and events we have going on. I'm starting to understand that Christmas is a hectic time. We've finished all our Christmas shopping and that's a great feeling!

Willow is still babbling non-stop, but it's beginning to sound more like English. Sometimes she says that same combinations of sounds over and over again, while Adam and I try to figure out what she's saying. The other day, she said, "Its sgo" about 50 fifty times. It could possibly mean, "it's cold", 'that's snow', or what we're leaning towards, "Let's go".

She said it again tonight when she wanted me to get her ready for bath time.

Horror of horrors, she's started picking her lip.

She likes to point at the Christmas tree every morning, and demands that the lights be turned on. "WOW!" She exclaims, every morning. She likes the Christmas candy that's been set out, and enjoys playing with the stuffed snowman.

Tonight, as I was cooking some chili, Willow burst into the kitchen (she opened the door herself), babbled something very matter of fact to me, then dashed to the cupboard. She grabbed one of her plastic bowls and then ran back out to where Adam was peeling an orange for her. Apparently, he had told her to bring him a bowl.

Willow attended the secondary choir concert with us last night, but wasn't very patient during the performance. Adam brought her out to the foyer for about half of the concert.

Her favorite movie is now Toy Story 3. I think she understands the concept of toys having personalities. I will also admit that I give her candy. Mostly because her reaction as I'm unwrapping the chocolate is so hilarious.

She is constantly up to something. Today, she texted a screen shot (that she took) to someone on my cell phone's contact list. Embarrassing! She is forever calling random people on skype. She knows that the remote controls for the DVD player (and not the TV) can rewind or fast forward to her desired parts. Um...So embarrassing! I'm not bragging at all. I'm confessing that I have no idea how she knows these things. Technology is part of her life at such a young age, she doesn't even require lessons in how to use it. She just knows.

Willow has no interest in playing outside lately. It is so cold! And she has decided that winter is not her season.

Adam is out playing basketball, Willow is tucked into bed, and now is the perfect time to catch up on chores and reading. If only tomorrow was not Monday......

Friday, December 7, 2012

It's a Jolly Holiday with You, Dad

Some pictures during Thanksgiving break....because I am SOOOOO on top of things! One day, we went to a kids shopping mall, bought outerwear for Willow, played at a play land, grabbed drinks at Starbucks, bought lunch at Subway, and watched some pseudo-professional ice skaters practice their routines. It was a fun day--we enjoyed spending some day light hours together out and about! Willow especially loved the play land--and we ran into some friends while we were there too! We were able to find Willow a winter coat, snow pants, and a scarf. She is now properly dressed for the frigid temps we've been getting! Me...on the other hand....has still been out of doors in a thin jacket. Tsk Tsk. Going out to remedy that tomorrow! It feels like -16F lately.

I was happy to see that Starbucks has their Christmas drinks in. Always a pleasure to drink a white chocolate mocha in China (only comes at Christmas).

I have some funny videos of Willow riding this electronic bunny. She thought it was the BEST THING IN THE WORLD! We had to save her from crashing and driving down the stair cases or escalators....Law suits!

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Date at the Asian Table

Otherwise known as, the night Adam made a Filipino friend. Our friend and her daughter offered to babysit Willow on Saturday evening so that Adam and I could go out baby-free. We decided to try a new restaurant. We weren't sure what kind of food would be served, only that it was decorated with bird cages. Most of the dishes in the menu looked very unfamiliar. The atmosphere felt tropical. And the entertainment was unusual. They had a band of dancers that literally accosted restaurant-goers with songs and dances. They made shy people get up and cha-cha. They made others belt out songs in their native language (they sang pop songs in at least three languages). They sang Happy Birthday to the tune of "Baby, Baby" by Justin Beiber (e.g. "Happy, Happy, Birthday, Oh! Happy, Happy, Birthday Oh!")

The food ended up tasting great. Although it was very spicy, it was not a spice we were accustomed to. I think it must have been Filipino cuisine.

Here is a beef dish, sauteed with peppers, onions, and mangoes. We had fresh mango juice as well! Willow would have loved the mangoes. The spicy green beans were so hot!

This other dish was also spicy. The little sesame seed pitas were a good match for the spicy greens and beef.  We also ordered a yummy fried rice dish and a spicy beef and cabbage stir fry. My mouth was definitely burning!

Ok. So here are Adam's special friends. We first noticed them when we arrived at the restaurant. They were very friendly and seemed to speak English fluently. They were definitely not Chinese---they were not as formal as Chinese people, and EXTREMELY friendly. From across the room, the guy on Adam's right puckered-up and sent us some invisible kisses. This started a debate among Adam and myself. To whom were these kisses directed? We both thought it was pretty funny. We hoped fervently that they wouldn't come to our table and make us sing Lady Gaga or dance the cha-cha. Haha.

When we left, the whole band came up to us and we had a conversation for a few minutes. The ladies talked to me, initially. But when I turned around, I saw the guy (on Adam's right) with his arms around Adam saying, "I want him". Adam was like, "Whoa. You have to ask my wife". The Filipino guy looked at me, and asked, "Can I take him home? I want a hug" 

I was laughing. I guess the kissie-lips had been meant for Adam. I said that I would take a picture of them instead. The other guy (on the left) quickly joined the photo op. The women chimed in, "Tweeter! Tweeter!" Which I think meant, "Put the picture on twitter" 

Afterwards, I saw these desserts at a coffee shop.
Green tea cake and pork flavored bread.