Wednesday, July 30, 2008


Okay, so I have all these friends who tell me of their children's masterful feats of making up stories or who sit and ask Mom or Dad to "Tell me a story." I have never had these kids. Don't get me wrong. Mine love to sit and listen to a book. We can read book upon book upon book ad nauseum, until I decide that I just can't read anymore and they will sit and listen to all of them. It's actually quite a peaceful time in my house and I usually reserve it for right before bedtime or naptime. The teacher in me is quite proud of that. However, the idea of making up stories has never interested us. In fact I even had one friend who wrote her child's story down so he could illustrate it. I was starting to think that some of the literary creative juices had spilled somewhere.

Until today...

We were riding over to my mom's house to let the dog out while she was out of town and my dad was at work. We passed by a construction area where they were fixing a bridge and they had a crane out working. The next thing I knew, I heard this.

Kyle: See this is what it says, "Kyle couldn't reach the crane."

So, again, I think the teacher in me saw the moment and the following discussion ensued.

Mom: Is that your story? What happened next?
Kyle: Then he climbed up the crane.
Mom: Wow, where did he go?
Kyle: The crane took him to his house and slid him inside.
Mom: Then what did he do?
Kyle: He just played.
Mom: That sounds like a great ending for your story.
Kyle: Yeah, that's the end. He just played and played.

I know to many it's not much, but I was so happy that he was following a progression of events. And then I heard this.

Kyle: Jacob do you want me to do another one?
Jacob: Yeah!
Kyle: Who do you want it to be about?
Jacob: Jacob!
Kyle: Once upon a time there was a boy named Jacob. He liked his cooking class and his gymnastics class...

I can't remember the rest, but there was a small problem which was quickly resolved and then a Zachary story was told. Unfortunately when Jacob asked him to tell one about Mommy he couldn't think of one. Oh well, I am thrilled with what I got. Who knows? Maybe I'll even write it down and let Kyle illustrate it! Is that crossing some eerie teacher line? :)

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

A quiet moment

I am getting a quick sneak at my computer this morning. Usually I don't get around to it until the kids are down for naps and quiet time in the afternoon. However, the boys have all been playing down in the basement since they woke up this morning-about an hour so far.

They have built some drain pipes using blocks and are happily driving the trains and cars around, parking them in garages and going about their business. It is now after 8:00 and we have to go to the grocery store today, so I have to get breakfast in them soon, but I just don't want to interrupt the peaceful playing that is going on right now. So often, two of them will play well together, but when you add that third one, there are more fights that play. It doesn't matter which two, just take one out of the mix and everything changes.

Granted when I say quiet, I don't really mean quiet. I can still hear them down there and there is some banging going on. However, Jacob is not screaming, Kyle is not purposefully antagonizing either of them, and Zachary is not hording cars or trains. In my world, that is peace. I'm not sure I know what to do with myself!

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Like Father, Like Son

Just in case we weren't sure that Jacob and Kyle belonged to my hubby...try this!

My hubby has this annoying little habit of wanting to rehash every hand of cards that he plays. When the hand is over, he will ask if someone had x card and then proceed to tell what was in his hand and how he could have played it differently or how he knew that he was going to win. Occasionally there is someone who likes to do this as well, but I think most people just want to get on with the game.

As I watch Jacob and Kyle playing catch with Daddy's softballs, I see and hear the following things:
Kyle: Did you see that? The ball just rolled like this and then I had to pull my glove up like this (all the while demonstrating with the ball and glove in slow motion).
Jacob: Give me the ball so I can show you what happened. The ball went like this and I had to go like this (again, demonstrating in slow motion).

They went on like this all morning, rehashing every catch they made and even ones they didn't. At this age, it was really cute, but I'm not sure how long the cute-factor will continue.

A Beating Heart

Tonight at my hubby's baseball game, Jacob came up to me after playing and running with his friends. He didn't say anything, he just kept trying to grab my hand. I kept pulling it away not understanding. Finally I just let him have it. He pulled it up against his chest and wanted me to feel his heartbeat. Of course it was beating very fast having just been running around. There was nothing said between us, but after a moment of me feeling it, he just ran back to play.

It reminded me of how connected we are. I first heard that heatbeat when I was pregnant with him, and every appointment I would long to be sure it was still there. Now, I just take it for granted that God will keep his heart beating. Maybe this was God's way of just reminding me what little miracles I have running around me every day. Have I mentioned how much I love these little rascals?

Tuesday, July 22, 2008


Yes, we have just one daredevil in our family. You might think with three boys that we would have three, but no, we just have one.

Zachary is my daredevil.

When he rides his tricycle outside, the neighbors all ask around to see who is available to watch Jacob and Kyle when I have to take Zachary to the emergency room. See, he doesn't use the pedals, he leans far over the handlebars and gets his feet going (think Fred Flintstone in the car) and he gets himself moving. He refuses to pedal as it is slower that what he does.

He has been dubbed by all who know him as "The King of Near Misses" and he truly is. Sometimes, I am already getting the keys as I watch him do something because I know the ER is our next stop, but somehow, God miraculously watches over this kid.

I am always ready, but ever hopeful that he will stay safe. However, I am not too optimistic since I know that he already thinks that he is at least as old if not older that his brothers. Oh well, the docs in the ER will get to know us well I have a feeling!

Bridal Shower

My sister had a bridal shower over the weekend. It just also happened to be the weekend that my in-laws were in for a visit. My children are desperately trying to understand the role that they will be playing in this wedding, no, check that, they are desperately trying to figure out what a wedding is. They have seen Mommy and Daddy's wedding picture, they know that they are going to wear special clothes, and they know that they are invited (which, by the way, is very important to them), but they don't really get what it is.

Anyway, as I tried to get things ready Friday and Saturday, the conversation went something like this:

Jacob: What's a bridal shower Mom?
Mom: Well, it's kind of like a party where all the people who love Aunt Sara come and give her the things she will need to have a house where she and Uncle Bill can live.
Kyle: Are we invited?
Mom: No honey, bridal showers are only for girls.
Jacob: Is Grandma Iowa going?
Mom: No honey, it's only for the girls in Aunt Sara's family.
Kyle: But Grandma Iowa is a girl.
Mom: I know honey, but you know how we go to Tulip Time and that's only Grandma Iowa's family, and when we go to the lake that's just Grandma Cassie's family? Well, this is just for the girls in Grandma Cassie's family. I know this is hard for you to understand.
Heck, it was getting hard for me to understand
Jacob: So when are we invited?
And the circle of life continues.

Somewhere down the line I think we will get it, but maybe not before the wedding actually happens-it might be many, many years after that.

Monday, July 21, 2008


I'm so glad to be home, but I think Zachary was starting to get used to the idea of not having a mommy anymore, because I heard this from him the other day:

Zachary: I love Grandma!
Mom: Zachary, that's so sweet, do you love me too?
Zachary: No, I only love Grandma!

Then this embodies all I love about my children.

Zachary: Why did you tickle me Mommy?
Mom: Why do you think I tickle you Zachary?
Zachary: Because you love me!
(Ah, indeed I do, and any excuse to get close to them!)

Mother's Love, Teacher's Pride

Okay, so it only took me a week, but I think that maybe I am back in the swing of things. Hopefully I will be able to blog a little bit more now that things are back to "normal," whatever that means.

This morning we were all sitting on the couch before breakfast reading books. They boys had gotten some new books over the weekend from their grandparents and I wanted to read them with them. One of the books they got was Cooking with the Cat, it is a Step into Reading book and it stars the cat from Cat in the Hat. Anyway, I read it to them once and Kyle asked me to read it again. I thought that maybe he could read it by himself. I thought we would maybe read a few pages together and then he would get tired of having to work so hard to figure out the words and would quit. Well, my heart just about busted-I'm not sure if it was the love I have for my son as a mother or the pride I felt as a teacher, but I couldn't knock the smile off my face as Kyle sat there and we read the whole book together. It helped that it was a rhyming book so we could work on word families, but there were many words that he didn't even need my help for. I'm not sure I'm ready to have children who can read!

P.S. Jacob sat next to Kyle and was working just as hard to figure some of the words out. I feel like by this time next year, we could have some readers on our hands! Yikes! Nothing like a challenge for kindergarten teachers!

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Final Thoughts

This will be my last entry from China. The girl who has been so gracious as to let me use her computer is leaving on Saturday and has to pack everything up. I'm not quite sure how to end my time here.

We have our final class tomorrow. I am going to be a little sad to leave them. I feel like we were just getting started and I am pretty sure that I will never see any of them in the states. We wrote our first sentence last night in class. I can now communicate with them just a little and now I have to leave. We are participating in the youth service tonight at the evening church, we will not be teaching, we have to sing half and hours worth of music. It will be a nice break.

Saturday we have no plans. I am going to pack and try to get ready to readjust myself to being able to eat fast food again (he he). I miss my family dearly. I talked to them on the phone this morning and had lots of tears in my eyes. Although I have had some amazing experiences, next time I want to do them with my family. Sunday we are checking out of this hotel and into a fancy one for one night. We are just going to relax and then have a communion service in the evening. Then my flight leaves Monday morning at 9 am.

I would not trade this experience for anything. The Chinese people are amazing. They are so welcoming and agreeable to whatever. Many of the people here have made some lasting relationships with some of them. I wish I could say that was the case for me, but unfortunately, having the classes that spoke no English, I didn't get the chance to have those. However, I will never forget what has happened to me in these last two weeks. They have shaped who I am, especially in my walk with God.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Top 5 Things I Didn't Consider Before Coming to China

5. I would have to use chopsticks all the time
Although I am getting better at them.

4. I would have to eat nothing but Chinese food.
Although I have had no problems getting full.

3. My nose is extremely sensitive to smells.
However, I am coping with it well.

2. The people that I am here with would accept me for who I am.
It has been absolutely amazing.

1. That the Chinese people would be so accepting of this six foot white person.
They are always so eager to strike up a conversation about anything. If they don't know English, they will find someone to help them.

This trip has amazed me in ways I would have never thought possible. I don't know that I'll ever come back, but I am sure glad I came.

Final week

It's hard to believe that we have entered our final week here in China. We will be teaching again this week, both in the morning and in the evening. Today we went to the Beijing Zoo in between. They have 14 pandas. That's the main attraction. They brought in some from the earthquake area. They were supposed to come in anyway, but they brought them in early. They are absolutely adorable.

The morning session is the easier session for me. We have 3 students that know some English so I can work with them on sentence structure and things like that. We have also been able to talk a little bit about their beliefs and things of that nature as well. The evening class is a bit harder. There is still no one who speaks any meaningful English so it has been harder. However, most of them are members of the evening church.

My roommates have been so wonderful to me, as has everyone else that is here with me. One of my roommates has made it her personal goal to be sure that I try as many new things as possible. She has been such a blessing.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Daily Grind

Sorry it's been a few days. We have to use the computer in someone else's room and I don't always feel like bothering them. We have settled in a bit into the daily grind. We teach English at one church from 9:30-11:15 or so, then we have lunch and then we have a break. Some days we come back to the hotel and rest, some days we do some sightseeing. We have been to the silk market (a really crazy place with vendors who sell everything and will even grab you to get you to look at their things--I tend to be a prime target being white and all) and yesterday we went on a Ho Tong tour. Ho Tong means narrow street and it has also come to mean the neighborhoods that families find themselves living in. They are centered around a quadrangle. There are four buildings on each side where various members of the families live. There is a small courtyard in the middle and these Ho tongs are stacked very close to each other, some of the streets separating them are only 22 cm across. It has been amazing. Then we are on our own for dinner, sometimes I even get western food. Then we teach English at another church from 7:00-8:30.

The mornings have been small, my partner and I only have 2 or 3 students, only about 10-15 altogether. In the evenings, we have very large numbers. Our class has 15-20 students and about 150 come altogether. My partner and I have the class that speaks no English so we are trying to teach them basic things that they might encounter as people come for the Olympics in a few weeks. I am so very thankful that my partner speaks fluent Chinese.

I have learned a lot about the people here. They are so welcoming and so eager to learn. I just hope they wind up with as good an image of Americans from me and I have of the Chinese people from them.