Thursday, December 25, 2014

Merry Christmas

Taking a few minutes after 1:00 am on Christmas day to say, Merry Christmas! Winter season is surely here in Shanghai. We can feel the cold here and have turned into wimps. The temperature is still above freezing, but it feels much colder. So now I am being told to bundle up the kids more. There is usually something with how my children are dressed. Either too warm, too cold, or something is too long or too short...or maybe not fashionable? I don't always know whether I am translating it right. The other evening on our walk home from the Christmas Eve service, I thought I heard some girls saying that I was too small to carry Sayde in my baby carrier! Maybe so...compared to my very tall, 6'4 husband walking next to me :)

Our family is still celebrating the birth of Jesus this week. Had some adjustments with the kids, being too loud at the service and having to leave early when they couldn't sit still in their chairs. But we were there for the best part at least, hearing and singing Christmas carols in Chinese. Singing Silent Night on Christmas Eve in China is very special.

It has been a rough couple of weeks with heater going out, electricity out, cold water, and workmans at our apartment to fix things. Hudson has taken up an interest, sometimes concern, in plumbing. He says he wants to grow up to invent some drains that will help save people from being flooded. He really is concerned over any drain that gets backed up and always listens to the bathtub draining, just to make sure the water isn't going to come back up. He is starting to open up more and both of them are truly getting into the sunday school program for kids at our international church service each week. Before we moved here, Hudson had just left the nursery back home. This has been huge for him! I would like them to be able to sit still through a grown-ups service too sometime though.

And Sayde is a very sweet, independent little 16 month old. She can say so many words in English, not to mention that her first two Chinese words are "hao" and "yu" (fish). She was a given a little stuffed animal fish and we play "where is fish?" with her. Whenever we say "where is something" in Chinese she answers "yu?" In English, she can say "play" and "people," and will look out the window to look at people.

Jeremy and I have been able to go on a few lunch dates since we have our ayi who watches the kids for us while we are gone.

I am struggling lately with my time. I can't fit everything into one day all that I want to! I want to homeschool my children excellently and do so much with them. At the same time, I really want to learn the language here and I don't mean just speaking it. I love to study reading and writing in Chinese and really want to become fluent... It is a danger that many moms who homeschool their children in the home in other cultural and language contexts never end up learning the local language.

Jeremy needs to learn the language well too, but that is also hard for him when most in his office will communicate with him in English.

Well it is now 2:00 am. Here are our recent pictures...

Saturday, November 29, 2014

感恩节快乐, Happy Thanksgiving

Our Thanksgiving dinner was a success! We had a wonderful, blessed time with our Chinese teacher and her husband over for dinner, and included was plenty of quiz time for the kiddos. The kids have learned some phrases in Chinese, "zhe ge hanyu zenme shuo?" and "ni zai zuo shenme?"..."how do you say this in Chinese?" and "what are you doing?" We are so proud of them! Our teacher tutors our whole family two evenings a week. Our children are usually bouncing up and down, jumping on and off furniture as she works with them.

After Thanksgiving we shopped for homeschooling supplies with black friday deals going on in the U.S. and we actually have Rosetta Stone now for the family. Jeremy is impressed with it and encourages everyone we know back home to try it, especially if they plan on visiting us :)

I discovered the other day that Annalise is now reading at a 1st grade level so we have had to think alot about what to get for next year...

We have also been getting to know our neighborhood better and found several outdoor/farmers style markets nearby that we love to frequent for most of our groceries now. We had 2 chickens, sweet potatoes, corn, and sichuan fried green beans for our Thanksgiving dinner and all came from our closest outdoor market. It was our first Thanksgiving away from home, in our new home, and prepared all by myself! It has been so much fun getting to meet and recognize all the sellers at these market places, practicing our Chinese with them and getting better each time. Last week we bought all the ingredients to make Chinese dumplings from the market and made them at home.

As we explore our neighborhood more and more, our eyes are also opened to many other business establishments we hadn't noticed before. There are also many modeling agencies here. It is very sobering, and to only just now start noticing this after living here for nearly four months now.

We have also had a difficult time as a family and as individuals (Jeremy and I) with knowing where to be involved, keeping commitments and getting to places on time as a family. We like to take the subway system and it truly is the best way for us to get around, other than on foot, it just may take up to an hour sometimes to get someplace! We need to figure out better ways as a family to be on time places...

Saturday, November 22, 2014

November in Shanghai

This month on the 11th we celebrated Annalise turning 6 years old. We went to the nearby park and brought cupcakes to share with some friends Annalise and Hudson’s ages. I am so thankful that our children have had so many opportunities to make friends.  I am also thankful for such a wonderful daughter, Annalise. She adds so much joy and humor to our lives. She is so thoughtful, kind, smart, and funny. We love her so much! I am so impressed with her sensitivity to the Lord. She has matured so much.

Life in this large city has been busy for our family. There are so many options available, so many groups and activities to be part of. There are homeschooling coops, field trips to museums, and parks to visit. It is hard to find time to sit down at our computer, when it is not being used already. The computer is not a normal part of my life here on a day -to -day basis! I am so unfamiliar with this thing and so out of practice. Since homeschool began with the kids, language lessons and practice, and with the now 15 month old Sayde so busy, sitting at a computer is very rare.  Bare minimum, I have 5 minutes before someone complains. 

Next week we celebrate Thanksgiving with our Chinese co-workers and friends. I want to be prepared for our dinner in many ways, being a blessing not only putting delicious food on the table but also being a blessing to hearts as well.  Be thinking about this for us next week! This is all I have time to write for now. I am obviously having trouble with computers, cameras, and anything technological, for many reasons. At the bottom of this post I will include photos if I have the time to upload them and it works!

God has been speaking to me about being faithful with the little things first, that is what I have been doing lately. So many people here are doing huge things. We are just starting and it’s very important to remind myself what God has called me to do right now. He’s given my three beautiful children to love and care for and invest in, and that is huge in it self. We are raising them to be a blessing. Chinese people are impressed when they see our three children, it is so rare for them, and we are to never take that for granted that we have three.

I cut bangs for Annalise :)
Beautiful Annalise
Another picnic with friends at the park
Hudson's new rainboots he is very proud of.

Our apartment building is the one in the background with a round saucer on top

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Picnic Outing

The past week was a Chinese holiday and Jeremy had a whole week off from work. We went on a picnic one day with a couple co-worker friends to a small mountain west of the city. They brought a tent with them and set it up to keep out of the sun during the day and take naps in, however none of our kids took naps...They were too busy playing with the neighboring Chinese children and making friends with them! They have come a long way in two months. At first it was difficult getting them to just say "hello" to another kid at the playground. While picnicing Annalise spent hours just talking in English to this Chinese family next to us and sitting next to the water lilies with a girl her age. Hudson was playing with water toys and playing tag. He chased the other kids in a game, pretending he was a dinosaur, and learned how to say "konglong." It is so cute to hear their little voices learning and saying Chinese words. And Sayde, she just enjoyed running around all over the grass in her onesie and meeting all the other little Chinese babies her age. I mistakenly thought the sun would not be so bad, and everyone got sunburns by the end of the day.  Plenty of vitamin D for us city dwellers!

We have learned over the past two months that putting too much pressure on our kids isn't the best for them. We decided to let up and just let them figure out how to make friends, learn Chinese and adjust to the culture. We are thankful for the international friends we have met who encouraged us and told us we were doing just fine and don't worry too hard about how or when or how many friends our kids are making. Their biggest influence should be at home. Not long after that, sure enough they are playing with other kids every day we go to a park. All they have to do is bring a soccer ball with them and their is always someone else to play with. 

When we came home that evening of the picnic, we noticed Sayde had a fever. She came down with roseola the next three days, so for the rest of the holiday we just remained at home keeping her fever down. She is finally over that part and just has the rash. I am so thankful I know what it is and that it is not serious. She is teething at the same time, we are surprised at how well she has been acting in spite of all that.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Little bits at a time...

Our family has had a busy few weeks here in Shanghai...homeschool began officially for Annalise and she is doing so well with that. She is able to read some short story books that contain all the words she has learned thus far, and the math program we picked has been super easy for her. We're wondering if we picked the wrong one, but it's too late now...maybe next year. We also met and hired a Chinese nanny named aiyi Xiang. She is coming to our home two mornings a week and helping me with the kids so I'm able to work with Annalise more one on one, and she only speaks Chinese! She is exactly what we had hoped for and a huge answer :) I have learned so much from her. She brings a sense of peace to the loud chaos of our home, a very sweet and peaceful presence. We have also been able to go out and get the kids playing with other Chinese children. Yesterday they played ball with another little boy. All three of our kids enjoyed running on the big grassy field where people fly kites. Sayde ran in bare feet. We're still working on getting her to enjoy wearing shoes. She has been walking for over three months now and it's how she learned to walk so early. Everyone here is surprised about that...
A couple weekends ago our family joined a company tour around the city for the mid autumn festival. It is a Chinese holiday similar to thanksgiving. We went to a city planning museum, a garden, the bund and some restaurants. We were told our kids behaved well, in spite of the fact that they still eat food with their hands and dump noodles into their laps :) 
This week I braved taking all three kids with me on the subway alone to get to a mums tea. It was with ladies from our intl fellowship and only three stops east from our station. It was definitely worth it and the kids did well and played with others. 
So much more to write but this is all I have time for. Our children are still staying up until midnight no matter how much activity, exercise, running around they get and it's exhausting. I'm thankful to drink coffee!


Wednesday, August 27, 2014


Sayde loves to eat now :)

Annalise made a skyscraper instead of a log cabin.

Sayde is ready to potty-train, and Annalise is there to help her.

This is how we get around with three kids!

Handsome buddy!

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Making our home in China

My thoughtful, kind husband gave me a break last Sunday morning and let me meet a co-worker of his for the morning. On my way back to our apartment I walked through the adjoining lobby of our building to find a car show going on…the past two Sunday mornings they have models and sports cars as everyone takes pictures. This is how many Shanghainese may spend their Sunday mornings…Sometimes the materialism can really get to us, I am especially sensitive to it. Sometimes it is frustrating when we want to make more in-depth friendships or talk about more than shopping.

This weekend we will have been in Shanghai for one month. My husband is giving me yet another one-hour break to go to a nearby coffee shop called Pacific Coffee to write in our blog. Even back home this rarely happened. Me, hanging out in a coffee shop! We have at least 4 or 5 Starbucks on our block already, but Jeremy recommended this coffee shop.

I started homeschooling Annalise some more since we are getting settled into our apartment. She is going through hooked on phonics for reading, but it can be kind of boring when we get past the activities to reading materials. So, next week we will begin some readers with stories that are a little more interesting. She is also learning her numbers, colors, fruits and vegetables in Chinese. Hudson is slowly joining in too :)

We have a tutor who visits our home two evenings a week, and we are all learning a lot from her. She is very talented and very good with the kids and has experience teaching them. We have a different style and lesson book this time around. The kind of teaching we had in Beijing is just not practical for everyday language and conversations around here, she said. I noticed I am picking up a lot more on what people are saying. Still working on being understood when I speak to people in Chinese. The accents and words might be a little different in Shanghai.

Sayde had a doctor visit at the Children’s Hospital in Shanghai for the blocked tear duct in her eye she has had since birth. It is very minor and we are not comfortable getting a surgery done now since it has gotten much better. At home in the U.S. surgery is not recommended until after one years of age, so it was never an option before we came here. She has never had pink eye or infections in it so that is good. It was quite an experience going to the hospital and clinic though, everything was in Chinese so an employee from the company Jeremy works for came with me and Sayde on the subway. It took a little over 30 minutes to get there and was very fast. We were greeted at the service desk with people wearing face masks and talking into microphones even though they were right in front of us with no glass separations, just to be heard above the noisy din! People were just pushing everywhere to get their kids in to see a doctor. The lady who came with Sayde and I was really helpful and I enjoyed talking to her. Even Chinese people have people like her to come with them on doctor or hospital visits. This is one of the services the healthcare company does who Jeremy is working with. There are many people who need to see a doctor or hospital but are not getting in. There are also many people getting treatments or staying hospitals who do not need to be there. Our company is sorting out all of this for the Chinese people. In China, it is normal to call the company you work for “y’all’s company” or “our company” and it doesn’t necessarily mean that you are the owner of the company.

We live in the western part of Shanghai which is called Puxi, while the newer, eastern part is called Pudong. We love living on this older side. I think there might be more trees over here. The Pudong side is supposed to be even more expensive to live on, though we think this side is pretty expensive too. We have met a couple of our neighbors. We are happy that we do not live in a complex with all foreigners, and we are looking forward to being able to communicate with our Chinese neighbors more and more.

 Last weekend we all got onto the subway to go to Pudong. We got out at the historical Bund and then went under the river on another subway with fancy lighting and music. We had planned on going to an international fellowship service on that side of town, but missed it and couldn’t figure out the directions. We don’t really use taxis with our family size and lack of seatbelts, so we ended up eating out at a Korean BBQ restaurant and then coming back home on the subway. We are pretty happy with the international fellowship on our side of the river though and we’ll continue going to that one on Sunday evenings. Our Sunday mornings are then free for other places. 

We are noticing that we cannot plan too much in one day with our kiddos. They are happy just going to the park and going out to get dumplings or ice cream :)

Here are just a few things that I have been making at home and foods that the kids like to eat here, maybe some day I will have a recipe blog or food channel –

Wok-fried ginger chicken wings with carrots and rice (a one pot meal, very easy)

Fried potatoes and green beans, or sweet potato fries

Eggplant, ground beef and other veggies in the Wok with soy sauce, fish sauce, or a black bean sauce

Eggs and tomatoes

Sticky rice, avocado and cucumber “sushi” rolls – wrapped up in seaweed wrappers

Pork, Chicken pieces, or beef steak sliced thin with veggies, cabbage or Chinese broccoli in the Wok

Beef Stew

Lots of noodles, rice, and fruit…

We finally found out where the bags of rolled oats are at the grocery store so we have been having that for breakfast. We stay away from the tiny boxes of cereal, for many reasons.

We have one stove burner that works until we get a new stove, so everything we make has been fairly simple using a wok or frying pan. We just got a little rice cooker last week and that has helped a lot. We may be getting a blender and a toaster oven soon to make more things with. Next week we are planning on having at least one friend over for dinner, yay! This is one of the things that makes me so excited, having people over to our home.

Next post I will try to include more pictures...

- Lisa

Friday, August 8, 2014

Our first two weeks

I am taking a few minutes to write this while Sayde is having an afternoon nap and the older two are at the table making log cabins on paper out of popsicle sticks and painting them… I thought the best way to share what our life has been like is to describe one day…we woke up this morning for quiet time before the kids woke up. After breakfast, Jeremy went down to the eight floor to start his workday at the office. Hudson finally got dressed after keeping the bed dry for the first time all week (yay, no washing and hanging sheets to dry today, I’m thankful we have a nice little washing machine that works well :) He had taken some pink ribbons off of a lion gift bag someone had given the kids that had crafts in it. I was going to use the ribbons to fix Annalise’s hair and he stole them away and flushed them down the toilet. The toilet was fine but we had to have a talk about not flushing objects down it. Next, I had to find some cloth to cut up into new ribbons for Annalise. I saw my yellow t-shirt hanging out on the sun porch and decided to cut it up into ribbons since it had gotten stains on it already. Then I fixed Annalise’s hair. 

Jeremy came home for lunch today and that was nice. Yesterday, he was here for lunch also and I was able to go out with a female co-worker from his office. Her English name is Taylor and we went to a Korean food restaurant. It was so nice to have a break from talking to the kids all day long. One of the things we have in common is that we have no female friends during the day to talk to since their office has all males and I am with my kids all day. We also both like to run and stay healthy.  Sayde just woke up crying so I have to go for now...

Today, a friend we met from the international fellowship stopped by. She has a baby a few months younger than Sayde. We are still hoping for new friends for Annalise and Hudson. They are still shy about speaking to other chinese children and afraid they won’t know what to say when they speak chinese. I am hoping they don’t feel too pressured and can relax enough to start conversations if even just to say hello or ni hao. We did begin some family language tutoring in our home with a teacher and Jeremy and I are picking up a lot and remembering all the words we used to know.

Another typical day happened this way…we went to the large park across the street that is very pretty and busy. There are grandmas dancing and doing tai chi exercises in groups with boom box music, parents or grandparents strolling their babies, and little boys waving sticks under martial arts instructors. It was a very hot day and I was reprimanded many times by the Chinese ladies for bringing my baby out in the hot sun, too hot for her! The park has a little amusement park and a playground for kids. 

Another event that happened was Sayde’s actual birthdate on August 1st when she turned 1 year old. Jeremy’s work took our family out for pizza and spoiled the kids :) Chinese people love and appreciate children. Sayde has been eating and running around like crazy! She is climbing on top of the couch and on beds. Hudson is also acting up. A plumber has already been to our apartment to check the sink drain after he dropped his toothbrush down it.  Here is some pictures of where we live and the kids..

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Almost one week

Well, it's been almost a week since we arrived! I don't have a lot of computer/screen time simply because the kids don't allow for that, but I do want to write about some of our first experiences here in Shanghai. This move has been quite an adjustment for the kids most of all. They still seem to be experiencing jet lag and are very quiet around new people. We are trying to help them get over this and reply to adults who ask them questions, but they still clam up when mommy or daddy are talking with another adult.

Here are just a small handful of things about life in Shanghai, China...the eggs we buy from the store are not refrigerated, our apartment on the seventeenth floor has two front doors with about four or five locks on it, and I've seen a whole family - baby, daddy, mommy in that order - ride by the city street on a motorbike without helmets on... It actually looked cute with that little Chinese baby just sitting in front!

Jeremy's office hours are from 9 to 6 pm. This is so nice, and he also works only a few floors below us so we see him at lunchtime often. I feel so blessed right now and hoping that our kids can feel better knowing that he is so close.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Flying to China

In only a couple more days our whole family, all five of us, will be flying on an airplane together to our new home in Shanghai, China. We have technically had about five to six years to prepare for this move, but had we believed this would truly come about at this time we would have spent more time preparing ourselves for this..studying language more often, teaching our kids more Chinese words, and even getting to know more Chinese people in our own hometown in Rochester. Though I am glad we had at least a year and a half of studies with a wonderful Chinese tutor in town and we are thankful for that.

What are some of the small bits of Chinese we can remember? We know how to greet people properly, how to order food or buy groceries, how to introduce our friends and family, and how to say the number of people who are in our family...which when translated to English is like saying how many mouths we have to feed. The classifier word Chinese uses for people in a family is the word "mouth," and it looks like a little box.

What are some of the things we will need to learn to do right away when we get there? One thing I can think of is to know how to order new water containers. Some of the things I can imagine we will be updating folks on is what we are feeding our kiddos. Or what our neighbors are like. We are hoping there are other families with kids for our kids to make friends with. What are some of the differences between Shanghai and Beijing, where Jeremy and I had lived before. We hope to encounter many good adventures and keep everyone updated. We will also try to remember to sign our posts since both Jeremy and I will be contributing to this blog.


Sayde turns 1 year old!

Sayde Grace turns one year old on August 1st, but we are celebrating her birthday early with cousin Harper before we leave for China. They are only eight days apart and it has been so sweet to see how much they love to see each other every week and play together :). Even at this age, it is clear how much they love each other.

Our little girl is so full of energy that we don't know how we will hold her on our laps the whole 18 hour plane ride ahead of us...She has been taking steps and walking the past month. She has been saying "hi" to everyone, in addition to "mama" and "dada." She feeds herself table food and will not let anyone feed her with a spoon. Her favorites are chicken, savory vegetables, meat and potatoes. She is one very independent little girl.

Today will be Harper and Sayde's last photo shoot together in the basket. We will miss you Harper - we love you a lot.  You have such a sweet, fun personality and I have so enjoyed watching you grow this past year. I will miss those "quiet times" at your house while your mama was at work...when I had just you and Sayde :). Sayde will miss you!



We leave for China in only a few more days. We are too busy meeting with friends and family, and packing to think about it all, but we're excited to have more of our dreams being fulfilled!

Monday, March 31, 2014

Something new is coming!

Many years ago I had a dream of bright orange carrots multiplying everywhere, taking over and filling up the sky. It wasn't a very good dream. I thought about applying it to our modern day excess of good things. When we have too much stuff it becomes clutter and takes over, so even a good thing can be bad if it doesn't have its proper place. Recently, we had to do a lot of decluttering. We came to the decision that we had to sell our house for the new adventures for our family that are coming up very soon...We had two weeks to declutter and get everything clean. Our house sold in 10 days at a good price. We were told that it might be fast! Here are some memories we have while living in the 1920's craftsman home we owned for two years.

Family Picture

Babies on the rug

Christmas 2013

Sayde in her high chair, 6 months

Our kids have been going through some adjustments. Sayde started crawling, sitting up and standing at 6 and 7 months and has been a very busy handful! There's been some potty accidents and emotional swings with the older two. Even at their age, this is a big deal for them. But we came to the conclusion that our family is home, not a building or house. And we are excited for what God has ahead for us. We are in the process of a relocation, and what's coming up next for our family is gonna be big!