Wednesday, July 23, 2014

one month

Today marks one month since landing.  I'm especially aware of the date because it also marks the day that our entry visas expire.

Complex situation that only three of us had entry visas, the other four had existing visas that expired in early July but that paperwork was in process ASAP after landing... Isaac too got to jump in the process with the other four, but John Paul and I sat it out, waiting for some of his previous paperwork to clear.  Here it gets more complicated.... John Paul's previous Chinese identity was still on the books - in his old province - making it difficult for us to get clearance for his new U.S. identity and process his paperwork.  Still with me?  So on Monday at 5pm I finally got word that John Paul's old identity was fully cancelled and we could start processing paperwork for his new identity.  Which was good news, since we only had about 36 hours before our visas expired.  And which was bad news because it sent John Paul and me downtown on our no drive day.  (Our city limits cars on the road with a system that assigns each vehicle a "no drive day" based on license plate number.)

We started out strong, leaving the other four kids with my neighbor and house helper, and quickly finding a taxi.  John Paul was pumped to be out on the town alone with Momma.  When all the "sit still and wait" caught up with him I pulled out the iPad.

Saved. The. Morning. (part 1)


Paperwork completed - well, at least the start of the paperwork is completed, now we wait again, but no risk of overrunning our visa - and we headed out to find a taxi home.  Ha.

An empty taxi is the proverbial needle in a haystack, especially downtown.  We waited and sweated and waited and sweated.  When an empty taxi did show up we were never quick enough to get inside - it gets a little cutthroat with everyone sweating and impatient and a foreign mama plus her 3 year old?  Well, we are no way savvy enough or aggressive enough to snag one for ourselves.

So I gave up.  And we headed for the subway station.

Saved. The. Day. (part 2)

As soon as I mentioned the subway John Paul perked up.  He walked - oh so much walking - motivated by the promise of "holding the ticket" and "riding the train".


The subway did not disappoint and we arrived at our stop - which is still a little over a half mile from our house.  I figured I'd pressed my luck with the almost-noontime-sweaty-3 year old-walking and we hired a three wheeled motorbike for the final leg of the journey.


Sat down at home for lunch and starting thinking about heading for the pool.  On the bus.  At this point it was starting to feel a bit like Public Transport Appreciation Day or something of the sort.  The kids were pumped about the bus/pool combo.  I pared down our pool bag to the bare essentials and loaded them in the kids' backpacks.  Sunscreen, floats, water bottles, pool toys.....

I put Luke on my back (in the Ergo) and we headed out.


Our new favorite pool is just two stops away on a convenient (air conditioned!) bus.  We haven't been bus riders for years.  I felt like it was just too many, too little (children, that is).  I didn't have enough kids who were big enough to navigate the steps on/off the bus.  I had too many who couldn't walk a block or two to the stop, etc.  Yesterday was a big jump for us!  I can do a bus with the 5!  Luke even did the whole trip home on his own two feet - not getting in the backpack even once!


Yep, it was a hot one!  But the pool cooled us all off so nicely.


And we'll do the bus again.  But probably only on a no drive day.  It was still a LOT of work!

Monday, July 21, 2014

just the girls

Sometimes you need a girl date.



Actually, my girls would argue that they almost always need a girl date!  They LOVE it!

I do too.  So fun to get some time away with just them.  It feels very grown up to be "out on the town" with an 8 year old and almost 7 year old.  Our maturity level jumps significantly when we leave the little boys behind :)

We headed over the bridge and down the greenway to a favorite local drink stand.


We talked about all sorts of things, some significant, others not so much.  And just had a good girl-y time.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

tetris (the refrigerator version)

Remember that game?  Tetris?  Where you twist and then place different shaped pieces to try to fill up your empty space with as few gaps as possible?

Until earlier this week I played Tetris with remarkable regularity.  Only I played the refrigerator version.  Our fridge was small, but if I played my pieces right, I could fit just about everything.

And then sometimes I couldn't fit everything, and other times I got tired of playing Tetris with my refrigerator.

Then I resorted to whining and complaining.

[I only wish I was joking.  My children and I are all working hard to break the whining/complaining habit.]

Anyways, I finally played my last game of refrigerator Tetris.  Thanks to a scratch and dent appliance dealer we went for a MAJOR size upgrade.

From this


to this.



Funny thing is this is the second time I've blogged about a refrigerator upgrade :)  In June 2008 we jumped sizes.  And now, 6 years (and three additional children) later, we jumped again.  I think this is our last fridge for a good long while!

You can read the other fridge post here.  Check out tiny Julianna (age 2 1/2) and Lydia (just about to walk).  I think it goes without saying that our daily food consumption increased significantly during the years we used that old fridge!

Friday, July 18, 2014

lunch yesterday

Yesterday friends came over to join us on the neighborhood playground.  I think the basic rule of thumb here is this: if you're gonna be dripping with sweat watching your kids play hard outside, might as well sweat with friends :)

It's been quite hot and (I'll blame the humidity for this one) we all have rivers of sweat running down our backs pretty much anytime we step outside :)  And to think our suitcases were full of layers and layers of cozy winter clothing!  I'm so grateful for seasons!

Lunchtime rolled around and we rolled down the sidewalk, a troop of kiddos (12) on scooters and three moms trying to herd the crowd.



We stopped for bowls of noodles - with a side serving of fried rice -  and filled up the many empty tummies.


then it was back home again!  Grateful for cooks who sweat over huge pots of boiling noodles so I don't have to make lunch!  {double bonus that they wiped the tables and washed the dishes too.... my kind of lunch!}

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

my view

I spend a lot of my day looking at this.... this is the view from our dining/kitchen area through our living room to the school porch at the far end.


I call this "relatively picked up".  It gets tidier, but also a LOT messier.  My kids cannot leave those seat cushions on the couches and I'm about to forfeit the battle :)  he he.  [Not really, I'll not forfeit this one.  But I am learning that the pull of the couch-fort is irresistible.  It's give and take around here.]

And this other frequent scene ... cooking with the littlest two.  At 9:15 this morning Luke climbed up onto a bar stool and told me he was ready "to help you cook supper".


Unfortunately, I was not yet ready to "cook supper".  We compromised and went to the pool instead.  But early afternoon rolled around and we were busy :)

Cooking with these guys can make a simple recipe quite complicated.

But worth it :)

Sunday, July 13, 2014

gorgeous (our weather!)

Yesterday started out as a disappointing drizzle but by midday our skies were blue!!!  First time since our arrival almost three weeks ago!  I took a picture to document the occasion :)



We've struggled through lots of cloud cover and a fair bit of rain, so these blue skies were a big big treat.  Matt decided it was time to wash the family fleet.  The two-wheeled fleet, that is.

Apartment living doesn't lend itself to outdoor water taps.  There are outdoor faucets, but you need a special "key" to turn them on.  But my kids have (mostly) charmed the groundskeepers (the unofficial keepers of the water tap keys) so we sent Julianna out on her bike to scout around for a open faucet or friendly staff.  She came back victorious - one of the building ayis turned on a faucet for her/us.


I gathered a few buckets and rags and the kids got right to work.  Yes, Luke's hair is out of control.  I cut it last night (after this pic was taken).


He calls this little scooter thing his "bike".  Desperate to be like the big kids.

Isaac loves his bike, and has a new found scooter love too.  Just like his Daddy.... life on wheels is good for him :)


The bike washing session was partly a celebration - we are back in business with our electric scooter!  We arrived and discovered it needed a bit of work .... Matt picked it up from the shop yesterday.  Luke loves these scooters (calls them 'motorcycles') and I knew he'd be thrilled when he realized his Daddy had one!  I was not disappointed.



Yes, Daddy owns a "motorcycle".  Life just got a whole lot better!

It's sunny and blue again today... we are off to the pool!

Thursday, July 10, 2014

biking campus

Our first date night back in Asia (best to jump right in to this commitment - we have a date night swap with our neighbors and watched their children 8 days after arrival... pay off came a week later when we headed out on our date!)

Friends once advised that we aim to go out on a date within a month of baby's birth (of course baby came with us, unless we kept it really short, but the principal stands: make time to get out and away from the particular demands of home).  I think the same principal applies to an international move: aim for a date night within the first month.  


We look hot and sweaty because we were hot and sweaty!  Hair in a ponytail and red marks on my forehead from the bike helmet.  I'm classy like that :)

We biked to a new restaurant and then rode all over a huge university campus, ended up at a riverside park, then back to a different restaurant for dessert, and finally home.  


I'm always pleasantly surprised how fast we can travel by bike.  Matt is practically as comfortable on two wheels as he is on his own two feet.  He can navigate just about anything!  I'm not nearly as savvy, but he is patient and it's a fun activity for us to enjoy together.  

Grateful for this date, and so many other blessings from our first weeks.