Thursday, October 18, 2007

Still livin' it up in Tianjin

I don't have too much to report today. I'll leave it to Kyle, if he wishes, to fill in the details of our October holiday vacation and any other noteworthy events recently transpired. On my front, the kids are still cute and demanding, nothing new. Ellie and Erik are now officially sharing clothes. And flashy accessories...

I've been taking the kids out more, and that means figuring out bus routes and carrying/dragging them around the city. It takes pretty much an entire morning or afternoon just to buy groceries or run a couple of errands. I can now resolutely confirm what my parents always said about the two ways to travel: first class or with kids. On the days we stay home, my stress level is much more manageable and I find myself enjoying my children and my life.

Also, as of this week, we have an ayi, which is a maid who we call "older sister." We are temporarily borrowing her from friends who are visiting the US for a couple months, and she was trained by an immaculate housekeeper, so my house is, well, let's just say she earns every fen (fraction of a penny)of her wages! She remakes our beds so there are no wrinkles in the sheets and organizes my jewelry and golly, she'll be color-coordinating the items in the pantry next! It's a little uncomfortable watching a woman twice my age scrubbing my floors on her hands and knees--actually, it's been unbearable, so I just leave the house with the kids. I'm no fancy lady, so even the idea of hiring someone to do what I could reasonably be expected to do still nags at my conscience. Alas, keeping a home in China clean and tidy is a formidable task--dirt and dust creeps in from the woodworks at all times, so floors truly can afford to be scrubbed daily. I am grateful for the burden of housework lifted, and am now dreaming of all the procrastinated projects and hobbies I can now resume, from scrapbooking to reading novels to tackling the fabric market to maybe even doing a little exercise! Probably not, though. I'd opt for a professional massage instead. Here's Ellie with her new friend Xixi (shee-shee) making a mess that our ayi will promptly make tidy.

Our branch (group of church members) moved buildings this week and the movers never showed up, so men of all ages got to participate in a piano and furniture-hauling fest. It was fun and rewarding to get to do something useful and helpful for others, for a change. Since our arrival here, it seems we have been constantly the recipients of service, and with two little kids, I need help pretty much everywhere I go. Here's Ellie with a pretty good hide-and-seek spot--inside the pulpit--but not too good that I couldn't track down her giggles.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Ellie's second birthday slideshow

I'm having problems getting the video on the page... so, for now, click here if you want to see it (or if you want to hear a kickin Devo song).

Monday, October 08, 2007

Stay tuned...

Just wanted to let you know that Ellie's picture-memorial is still on its way. I asked Kyle to load the pictures onto the blog and of course he went the extra 10 miles and created a cute little slideshow set to a song that has little to do with Ellie but that some of you will recognize and appreciate... Anyway, he's having trouble getting it onto the blog, but he's still trying. So stay tuned!

Friday, October 05, 2007

The Magical Number Two

So many wonderful things in life come in twos-- kitchen sinks, twix bars, Ellie's blue eyes. Oh yes, and as of today, Ellie has accumulated two years of life experience. We just returned home this morning from a five-day tour across four Chinese cities, including two 11-hour train rides, but through our bleary eyes Kyle and I watched Ellie as she slept and were brimming with pride and gratitude for this sweet, lovable little girl who has brought spunk and purpose to our previously simple lives. We honestly struggle to remember a time when she was not center-stage...I suppose her arrival two years ago and her presence ever since has out-shone any previous challenges and blessings.

This year she didn't get a birthday party, cookie monster cake, a pile of presents, and her own video-clip montage. Maybe later today we'll buy her a dry, inadequately-sugared Chinese cookie. Even without the festivities, though, as I tried to select "just a few" pictures representing Ellie's now-completed second year of life, each picture reminded me of a story and made me smile, and I'm so grateful for the many who have shared the hilarious and heart-warming moments of Ellie's life with us. I think I won't write out all of the stories that could accompany these photos. Time is short, and Ellie's smiles and expressions say more than my commentary could.

Every once in a while I think of what other 23-year-old American females are doing, and briefly wonder what glamorous adventures I would be pursuing if there were no Ellie yet, but ultimately, I honestly can't imagine that there's anything I'd rather do than be her mom. Ellie reminds me daily of the good and beautiful and precious things of life.

Kyle and I are slightly less obsessed (kind of annoying, really) with her than we used to be, perhaps simply because we have less time to be fanatical, but we love her more than ever. Happy birthday to our buoyant, bright-eyed Ellie-belly. May her sweetness grow even stronger (and her hair grow much, much longer) in the coming year!

>>okay, I'm struggling with posting my collection of pictures, so I'll get Kyle to work on that later today...<<