Saturday, December 20, 2014

the background scenery

It's something seemingly simple, but I don't really notice it until I see it in pictures.

I live in a sea of towering buildings.  This is an enormous city, an influential city, a fast growing city, home to millions.  And the millions live and work in high rises.  

This is Isaac's preschool class doing morning exercises.  It'll be tricky to find him, he has his jacket hood up covering his hair.  [navy jacket, white sleeve covers, brown pants partially obscured by a classmates flag]

I dropped him off a bit late one morning and he had to rush to catch his class.  I snapped a few pictures as I walked away and when I got home the one thing that stood out most was the brown high rises surrounding his school!   [You can see the rear wing of his school on the left side of the picture, it's a two story building with about 500 students ages 3 to 6.  They have lots of play areas, courtyards, green space and playground equipment.  We are very thankful!]

And then two days later, this one. 

I thought I was taking a picture of the apple truck.  

And there they are again, more brown high rises!  I'm used to it, they don't stand out every day.  But sometimes I can't believe my own picture-eyes!  How in the world did I ever get myself to this crazy massive city?!?!?  

[And the apple truck parked at the gate of our complex is kinda fun, huh?  One way to take care of the middle man in the supply chain.  This truck is from a few provinces away .... pick apples.  load truck.  hire driver.  cruise highway.  park.  sell.  When the truck is empty he will head back for another load.]

Thursday, December 18, 2014

a milestone for my middle middle

I sometimes think of Isaac as my middle-middle.  It doesn't get more middle than #3 in a pack of 5.  And he handles the role so very very well.  I got quite the gift when God put Isaac in his middle middle spot.

And earlier this week my middle middle hit a big milestone.  Finished reading through the Beginners Bible.  In our family reading the entirety of this 500plus pager (aloud) is your ticket to a real Bible of your own!  I knew it was in Isaac's near future so I advanced ordered his Bible when we were in the U.S. and it's been waiting in my dresser drawer for this day :)

It took him several months, and in late November he got really motivated to finish before Christmas Day.  We sailed through the final chapters and then stopped at the very last one to wait for Daddy.  When I told Isaac we would wait and read the last one when Matt got home he asked "how many more hours will that be?"  The answer ("probably 2 or 3 hours, buddy") was a bit of a discouragement and by the time Matt walked in the door Isaac was pacing the living room waiting!  The family gathered on the couch, listened to him read the last few pages, and he tore open the wrapping paper.... victory!

This year was special to see the girls really choose to encourage Isaac in his quest!  They have identical Bibles, and really wanted Isaac to be part of the "club".  He's a blessed boy to have such big sisters!

And now we have another one who has his own copy of the WORD!  What a gift!  Oh that he would treasure it for a lifetime!

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

the banners

My big three with their tie-dye banners from the birthday party.  I wish I had gotten a picture of all the kids and their tie-dye but oh well... 

You can see that no one stuck too close to the tie-dye pattern but instead ventured out with their own "what will happen to this design when the colors start to bleed" ideas!

Isaac and Lydia (both top bunkers) hung theirs from the railing of their bed.

I have three remaining banner-napkins so these kiddos are looking forward to tie-dye round two, probably this weekend.  

And how fun is this?!?!  I was shocked by how well the cake turned out.  It came from a box, y'all!  The colors stayed so bright and the layers didn't smudge together.  We will definitely do one like this again!

Monday, December 15, 2014

a tie dye birthday

Our internet is giving me all kinds of trouble .... ugh.  It's gotten to the point that I can hardly use it at all in the evenings.  Oh well, these things tend to come and go so maybe I'll be pleasantly surprised next week :)  

I started this post 24 hours ago and will see if it lets me finish it now...

We celebrated Julianna's 9th birthday this weekend.  She started the shindig with two friends sleeping over, then after Sunday group and a big lunch together the 11 oldest kids joined us for some tie-dye fun.  

Earlier this fall a friend brought us a tie-dye cake mix and it lit a fire in Julianna that she wanted "a tie-dye party".  We baked the cake Saturday night and after much oohing and aahing the decision was made - no frosting.  The cake was much too beautiful on it's own.  

[I had no idea the color pattern would stay as clear as it did, even after baking.  In retrospect I should have coached the bakers towards using the colors to paint a "9" or a "J" ... we just had a meandering river look going on!]

We tie dyed used colored sharpie markers and rubbing alcohol.  It worked awesome.  Instead of pillowcases or t shirts (vetoed by Julianna, too humdrum) we chose to tie-dye "banners".  I bought a stack of white restaurant napkins and they worked nicely.  

I have pictures but they won't load, hopefully I can come back later and add them.  It really was a fun activity, perfect for my craft loving daughter!  

After the tie dye slowed down we got ready for cake!  A few of the dads had been outside with littler children (no sharpie markers for my John Paul, thankyouverymuch!) and we all gathered to sing and eat.  

These children (and their parents) are among our dearest friends here.  

Such joy to celebrate this daughter of ours together with them.  Julianna's got more celebrating on the horizon too!  We'll do a little something on her actual birthday (the 23rd).  

I'm so thankful for this beautiful little lady, my firstborn.   Happy almost-9th-birthday Julianna!  

Thursday, December 11, 2014

stage make up {updated with more photos}

So it's over.  The girls, well all of us, heaved a sigh of relief.  It was a fun adventure, but we are all weary of the endless rehearsing and schedule changes.

The filming is done and now we wait for the show to air (on New Year's Day).

When I picked up the girls yesterday I was a bit taken back by all the make up.  I am not ready for them to look this grown up.  I am not ready for them to BE this grown up!

They had a great day at the TV studio.  Lydia told me they met some "really famous Chinese people".  I asked her who she met and she said "well, I don't know, but I got their autograph".  ha!  When in Rome... Julianna didn't bother to get autographs.  "I didn't even know who they were!", she said.

Of course, neither did Lydia.

Here are a few pictures of the shindig.  I've seen a DVD of the first level competition so I'm pretty familiar with the performance but I didn't ever see it live.  [parent participation is not really a value of the school system here.]

I got these pictures from Lydia's teacher (no idea where she got them from).  I LOVE Lydia's teacher, such a gentle spirit!  And she initiates with me!

I looked at these together with the girls asking them to fill in details.  They mostly loved the dry ice effects.  Also the screen behind them was apparently pretty fancy stuff.

So that's the end of our jaunt into Tang Dynasty poetry (the theme of the competition - I'm dead serious!  It's a pretty incredible culture than has thousands of years of history to celebrate and now I can boast that Luke, thanks to the big sisters,  has memorized a bit of 唐诗! ha!)

Anyways... enough talk of ancient poetry.

Isaac (who spent Tuesday night throwing up - ugh!) seems to be on the mend, no one else is showing any signs of repeating his activities, and the laundry pile is diminishing once again.  Matt gets home late tonight (his last trip until after the holidays!) and we have a birthday party for my almost-9-year-old this weekend.  Good times!

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

TV day (almost)

Today was dress rehearsal at the TV studio.  For me that meant that we, me and the party of five, were out the door by 7:45 am.  Certainly an invigorating start to the morning!  

I 'traded' a child with my neighbor Ashlei, sending John Paul and receiving her Grady.  With Luke in the stroller we headed for the girls school (drop off by 8am) and then back towards home where we stopped in at the boys' school and got Isaac and Grady to their respective classrooms.  The boys' school doesn't accept students before 8:10 and we were definitely on the early side!  

That sweet yellow glow is streetlight, not sunshine.  Though we had two nice sun-shine-y days last weekend things have taken a solid turn towards typical winter weather... gray with a light drizzle all. day. long.  Pleasant.  [ha!]

The girls were home late this afternoon and tomorrow is the big final day.  I'm ready.  And so are they.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

as serious as it gets

This is serious business, waiting for "your day" to do the advent calendar.  With five siblings to share the work it takes a bit of patience :)  Even Luke is quick to claim his turn in the rotation and showed remarkable restraint waiting an extra three minutes until the big moment arrived.

With 24 days to complete, running youngest to oldest , we get through the family exactly 4.8 times.  Sweet Julianna.  Being oldest has major perks, and a few drawbacks.

This year we hung our calendar on the big glass door - it separates our home from the entry porch and during the winter we try to keep it closed as much as we can, helps the house stay a smidge warmer.

Either way, open or closed, it's a great spot to hang our favorite Advent tradition.