Sunday, April 29, 2012

Lessons from a Lump

This song was playing today as I was nursing Willow, and it struck me in a new way. I thought, this perfectly sums up the past few days for me.

Praise You in the Storm

By Casting Crowns 

I was sure by now
God You would have reached down 
And wiped our tears away 
Stepped in and saved the day
But once again, I say "Amen", and it's still raining 

As the thunder rolls
I barely hear Your whisper through the rain 
I'm with you" 
And as Your mercy falls 
I raise my hands and praise the God who gives
And takes away 

And I'll praise You in this storm 
And I will lift my hands 
For You are who You are
No matter where I am 
And every tear I've cried
You hold in Your hand 
You never left my side
And though my heart is torn 
I will praise You in this storm 

I remember when I stumbled in the wind 
You heard my cry to you 
And you raised me up again 
My strength is almost gone 
How can I carry on 
If I can't find You

But as the thunder rolls
I barely hear You whisper through the rain
"I'm with you" 
And as Your mercy falls 
I raise my hands and praise the God who gives 
And takes away 


I lift my eyes unto the hills
Where does my help come from? 
My help comes from the Lord
The Maker of Heaven and Earth 

So, maybe it's a little melodramatic, but I've gone through a pretty dramatic range of emotions the past ten days. I wasn't really ready to blog about it until today because I was in the middle of a storm, and feeling very torn up inside. I think, it's mostly over now. 

It all started with a lump. A very suspicious lump in my right breast that was larger than a golf ball. To be honest, I had this memory of feeling this lump before when Willow was first born. But because of nursing, whatever I had felt before 'disappeared' behind all the milk production that was going on. Now, Willow is nursing less than she used to, and so I am producing a lot less milk. The lump, whether it was new or old, reappeared and it caused me to worry. I felt sick to my stomach when I felt it again--my heart literally stopped as it filled with dread. Whatever it was, I knew it couldn't be good. 

Adam demanded that I get a doctor's appointment for as soon as possible. It was a large lump, of course, and since it was close to the surface, I could see it's profile easily. The skin was starting to discolor around the mass. I could feel that it was large, round, and very solid/hard. But there was no pain associated with this lump, even when I touched it. It didn't seem to be affecting my nursing Willow either, so I didn't know what it could be. 

Whatever it was, it was preoccupying my thoughts. I started thinking about all the 'what ifs'. 

What if it's cancer.
What if I need surgery and treatments.
What if I have to stay in a Chinese hospital? 
What if we have to go back to America?
What if I miss the play?
What if we can't return to China?
What if we can't afford the bills (our insurance is terrible!). 
What if I miss watching Willow grow up?
What if it takes a long time to die? 

I started making plans in my head for all the 'what ifs', as morbid as this sounds. Thinking of things like leaving behind my email and facebook passwords, packing up our apartment and making sure special things got handed down to the right people. I was making my 'will', mentally. 

And then I stopped, and asked myself--'How does this make you feel?'


I had a couple good cries. A few hours of crying out to God, looking for something to cling onto for comfort. I prayed that I would be able to face whatever the future held. I knew that life isn't guaranteed--I don't know when I'll die--but the thought of dying kept coming back. I remember thinking, "Well, if I'm to die young, at least I've gotten to do 'so much' in the years I've been given". I got to go to college, get married, live overseas, teach, become a mother--those are pretty big events that I've already been blessed enough to experience. The other blessings that come to mind are too numerous to count. 

When I was little, I used to think that God had us on earth for one major act. Once we had accomplished that act, we would just expire--and life would end immediately. There was no more reason to be alive. I used to worry that I wouldn't know what my major act was and completely miss it, or that I might accomplish it too early. This is a bit laughable--but it's what I thought for a long time. Now I know that our purpose, our major act, is an ongoing thing. It's a daily surrender to God's will; it's a commitment to worshiping and obeying our Creator. It's not so much that we'll die once we've done our ONE major's more like, we should strive after a life doing the ONE thing we were created for: giving glory to God. 

OK. Saying God a lot today--something I usually avoid because of where I live, but am totally ignoring that precaution right now.

I was feeling a little nervous about my appointment. I had to wait a few days, but it was never far from my thoughts. I had it out with God over the weekend. I made a commitment to not stagger down the list of 'what ifs', but to trust Him instead. I believed that no matter what would happen, He would take care of Willow and Adam, and even me. I surrendered things that I really wanted. Things like, being at Willow's wedding, having more kids, living past my twenty-fifth birthday. And I asked for strength. 

To be continued.


Willow trying to talk on the phone while Adam orders food. It cracks me up how she crawls up there by herself--she's always trying to get in on the action.


Mentoring girls and I baked and enjoyed some treats.




Does my baby need a kiss? Willow loves kisses. She understands the word as a verb and loves to kiss me, her baby doll, other kids/babies, and even strangers. She's not too fond of kissing Adam, unless it is early in the morning and he is still sleeping. 

But she loves, loves, loves this cat app on our iPad. She loves him so much, she tries to kiss him. But this usually results in the cat getting punched or slapped (since that's what happens when you touch his face), and sometimes closes the program. 

Or....she tries to purchase new apps. Too bad she doesn't have the password.

Oops, closed the cat app again.

Trying to search safari--

There she goes again...trying to kiss that cat.


Saturday, April 21, 2012

Spring is Here....Finally!

We're still wearing our coats, but the temperatures are definitely on the rise! The past week or so, trees have been blooming and the tulips are starting to grow. The trees here are very pretty--there's a few weeks, every spring, when it seems like most of the trees in our complex are bursting with blossoms. I wish they looked like this more often because they are so pretty! Cherry blossoms, plum it! 

This is what I came home to on Monday after rehearsal. Adam and Willow were waiting for me outside! 

The guards have been congregating outside of our building often this year. They are always lining up outside for inspections and reports. They meet in our building, below our apartment too. Even the guards were taking pictures of the lovely trees.

Soon, all the blossoms will be replaced by leaves.


Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Ache in the Gut

Most memorable stomach aches (...because this is what I've been thinking about, when not stressing out about Little Women):

1. Swine flu, 2009
2. Morning sickness, 2010
3. When I had a tick in my belly button, 1992
4. Labor, 2011
5. Little Women, 2012


On Monday, I arrived at school to work on Little Women stuff. The tailor was coming for costume fittings, and there were a lot of kids that needed to be fitted before they left (not everyone was staying for rehearsal). We had a limited time to do this, so that was stressful enough. But when I got to the drama closet to grab a hoop skirt, I was confronted by an open door. This scared me immediately because this door is meticulously locked all the time. When I turned on the light, I noticed everything was moved around, and nothing looked the same as how I'd left it on Thursday. I couldn't even fathom what had been changed, because so much had been altered.

I went to the man who is in charge of maintenance and asked him if he knew what had happened. Only the directors and maintenance have keys to this room.

He looked confused, and then his face registered some recognition as he remembered that this room had FLOODED over the weekend. Instant panic! He said that they noticed water pouring out of the room, so had opened the door, fixed the problem, and moved the wet stuff around. Oh brother.

There is a small sink in our closet. The faucet had been left on, but it wasn't such a big deal since the water was off in this building. Apparently, they turned the water in the building on, and flooding ensued.

I'm still nervous about what has been affected by the water. I'm not sure about the extent of the damage, because between the rehearsal and the costume fittings I never had time to fully check out the situation.

I really hate this last month of production. There's so much to do, and not enough time to do it. We need more time for rehearsal, and I need more time for the million little jobs. It's especially stressful when other people don't understand the pressure that we're under. Parents don't understand that their kids need to be at rehearsals, students don't understand how little time they have left to get their parts ready, administration doesn't understand that we need more time, and everyone doesn't understand how much work a play requires. I was telling a lady last week that I worked 8 hours the previous day on play stuff. She was shocked, since it was not a rehearsal day. "What were you DOING?"

Well. I was DOING a lot.

My to-do list is five pages long.

And here, I sit. Blogging.

Everything just takes LONGER. For instance, I've been trying to pay the royalties to perform this script for five months. Last week, I thought it had finally gotten sorted out, and then I received an email that there were further complications! I wish that there was a button that solved everything instantly--this drawn out issue is so exhausting, I'm sick of it!

I'm getting to the point where I'm fantasizing about life-after-Little-Women. What will I do with my extra time? Scrap book, picnic, watch a movie, organize my closet....

It's a love-hate relationship. I can't imagine NOT doing Little Women, I'm enjoying the process. But the amount of work is currently outshining the level of enjoyment. The last few days are always tricky--it's a rough balancing act.

Oh man! Willow just woke up! I thought she would sleep for her typical two hours. But no, she is already awake after thirty minutes.


Thursday, April 12, 2012

The End of a Long Week

We woke up late this morning. Too late. Slept in. Adam jumped out of bed in a panic! Here's why.

It was our second night of trying to break Willow of her sleeping pattern. She likes to wake up 2-3 times a night to nurse. I know that she does this because she is hungry (she's too distracted during the day to eat much), and because it has become a habitual routine. It started when we got back from our Christmas break in America--she had jet lag and got the influenza in February. By the end of February, it had solidified, and I had just been hoping it would go away by itself all during March. Well, now it's the middle of April and there's no signs of it going away on it's own. So instead of doing the easy thing--which is bringing her in bed with us so I can nurse her for a few minutes--Adam goes to soothe her mid-night cries. If I go, she'll want to eat.

The first night was successful. She only woke up once, and didn't protest to Adam settling her back down.

Apparently, night #2 was not as peaceful. Adam spent a few hours up with Willow--I had told him that should this happen, he should let me take a turn (after thirty minutes). But, I guess he forgot. His alarm didn't go off.

And neither did mine. Willow is my alarm. She slept in because she was tired from being awake so much during the night.

We woke up with a start. Adam had to leave for school in ten minutes, and I had to be out the door with Willow in thirty! She had a wellness check up at the foreign clinic. It was a mad chaos as we took turns getting ready, packing our stuff, getting Willow up/dressed/fed...We all made it to our various destinations on time.

Willow is doing great! I found out that I should be giving her fluoride supplements to help with her teeth. The water here doesn't really have added fluoride, and it's not consistent with the bottled water that we drink either (depending on companies). So if I want Willow to take a daily supplement, I have to first get our drinking water tested so that the appropriate dose can be given. Part of me doesn't really think this is necessary, but I would hate for Willow's teeth to rot prematurely. It's ok with me if they rot when she's 89.

These are her current stats:
weight: 20.7 pounds
height: 28 inches

I wouldn't put TOO much emphasis on the accuracy of these measurements. But, I suppose they are close enough, so we'll go with it.

This week felt so long. It feels like spring break was two or three weeks ago. I'm working lots on Little Women. Probably anywhere from 4-8 hours a day...which I guess might surprise people who think I only work three hours a week when I'm at rehearsals. Chinese lessons are coming along too. I have a new teacher now, and I asked her if we could review the book that I had already finished, and that I had been reviewing last year as well. Technically, I'm on the third book, but I feel like the second isn't sticking in my head. So we're reviewing AGAIN. And it struck me, that I originally passed this book two years ago. That was slightly depressing. At least this time I go through all the vocab and grammar, it makes more sense. It's not that I remember it--because I don't, hence the reviewing--it's just that my frame of reference for this language is a lot broader than it used to be. I have some stories to share next time.


Sunday, April 8, 2012


It seems hard to believe that 9 months have gone by so quickly, and that in only three months Willow will turn one! As we're entering the tenth month of Willow's life, here's what she's been up to developmentally.

New Tricks:
-Responds to "where's your baby?" and finds her doll
-Responds to "give a kiss"--but sometimes plays hard to get. She is more fond of kissing books than kissing Adam.
-Can climb onto our couch without any help (doesn't even need something to use as a step stool)
-Likes to wave hello and goodbye, although sometimes it's still hit-or-miss
-Sometimes obeys when we tell her not to do something (although we're not really worried about enforcing 'obedience' at this point)
-Loves to splash the water during bath time. She also understands 'bath time', and gets extremely excited (no matter how tired or crabby she is) the second she sees the bath tub being filled with water.
-Likes to clap her hands during songs
-still interested in non-toy objects more than anything else, and being careful with little details
-has had an explosion of 'baby-talk' in the last few days. She now babbles constantly while she plays. Before, she mainly stuck to vowel combinations and occasionally threw in a 'g' for good measure. Now she says little baby 'words' that include many consonants (l, w, g, b, d). It's fun to hear her experimenting with so many new combinations and sounds--I like to hear her little baby voice.

She has started giving us 'the look'. She looks at us with her chin down and her eyebrows raised. It is pretty funny! If we do it to her, she mimics us (it's unnerving how quickly kids learn how to copy behavior). She doesn't stop giving 'the look' until we smile at her--so it's sort of like a staring contest. It cracks us up! The first night she started doing this, we were eating dinner. We spent the whole meal giving each other the look and laughing at each other. To be honest, this 'look' gives me the creeps. I feel a little guilty saying that, as her mother, since I shouldn't be scared of my baby....But if I am doing something else and then turn around to see Willow looking at me with 'the look', it's unsettling! She might be plotting my demise, like Stewie.

At any rate, Willow is a silly baby with a budding personality.

Willow loves to play with Adam. He runs around with her, chases her, plays all sorts of little games they've invented together. She loves to be with him, once he comes home from work everyday. It's been very nice for Willow and I to spend more time with Adam during spring break--we will both be sad once he goes back to work tomorrow.

She has been enjoying playing in her room a little more lately since we've officially moved all her toys and books into it. She's also been going to bed at night with a lot less gusto. She's been a great nap taker this past week too, so I hope the trend continues.Of course, Willow loves to eat. She begs for food from the table, just like a puppy. It's been very nice to introduce more new foods to Willow. There's so much she can eat now; it's been fun for her, and somewhat of a relief to me. Probably the most annoying thing right now is Willow's ability to whine. She whines (not cries) a lot, and there's really nothing I can do to make her stop, most of the time. There's no reasoning with a baby--so unless I can miraculously entertain her in such a way that she forgets about being fussy, the whining doesn't stop. Sometimes, she's just NOT happy, and I guess she's learning to express it. I suppose this will get worse before it gets better. It drives me up a wall. This reminds me of something else that's developing...temper tantrums. Sometimes she REALLY wants something. Usually it something she can't have, because it's dangerous/fragile/valuable. When said thing is taken away from her possession, she FREAKS out. It's not just simple crying (like she would have done in the past), it's all out screaming/arching of the back/gnashing of teeth/wailing.....oi

Other than that, life is settling into a routine finally. I feel like the first six months were a lot to swallow--I was always so tired, and we were always traveling. Now, things are finally starting to feel normal, expected, and natural.

Supposedly, it is a realistic time to be back to your pre-pregnant self. I will never look at my body the same way again--it's a pretty amazing process (growing a human and ejecting it from your body). Even though I am lighter than I was before pregnancy (yay!), I am also flabbier. When am I supposed to work out? Plus, there's all that nonsense with bone structures changing. You can't be exactly the same as before, but I'm totally ok with that.

Back to our little girl. We love Willow so much. Everyday, we comment to each other about how funny and smart she is, and how much we love her. She is a bright source of happiness in our otherwise mundane lives. What did we ever do before she came along?