Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Drinking sodas and making friends (1)

            For the past 2 weeks I have been at an orphanage, translating to the point where I am jumping gladly, climbing like a tired dog into bed. And teaching a class of 5-8year olds  with  4 boys and a girl. ( all parents of 1 or more boys, sympathize with me.) 

I got to spend those 2 weeks with godly and awesome people. All through the weeks, there were plenty of times to complain. but no complaints were heard from their mouths. I got to room with a home schooled high schooler who is one of six children. We would turn the light off at night and talk till midnight. We would say "good night" then " oh, one more thing" over and over till we were too tired to say anymore. 

Above are some of my chinese buddies at camp. When the adults\me weren't having a meeting and\ or weren't teaching, us girls were together.  These pictures are from the graduation performance of  the "cotton-eyed joe", "hokey pokey" and "hoedown throw down" by Miley Cyrus. ( doing that dance was a new thing for the older people. ) But I have to say, doing the hokey pokey with a skirt on can be...... challenging at times.    

Anyway, My class that night did "head shoulders knees and toes" and did a great job! There were ups and downs the whole week, like having sprite, coke and pepsi every day, three meals a day (well,at least I had artificial energy! Better than none!), also getting beat in pingpong, playing (here's the catch)  "beach ball volleyball, in the dark, in the park.... and hanging out with my new buddy; sarcasm........

Mom, why did I wear a skirt again?

Trying to corral 50+ kids to get into a line to dance. bad idea.

 My students "singing."

Smiles because I was leading and did the wrong move. oopsie.

The whole gang came to graduation and we figured that I would just go home with them that night. But the director  came up to us and said " can......" OHHHH I'll save that for the next post.:) 

                                                    TO BE CONTINUED.......


Saturday, August 25, 2012

Of Course it's Risky...It's Parenting!

In lieu of Pat Robertson's moronic insights into adoption, I only want to comment on a couple of things. I'm not going into detail because Together for Adoption did a great job here.  They have articulated most of the things I would say about it, so I'll let them chime in. (My husband keeps trying to explain Robertson's comments to me in a rational way. I know he is not an evil man, but his comments just make me want to punch a hole through the wall. If you have a better take on it, please tell me. It would be good for my soul.)

There is just one piece that I want to shout about in the form of Caps Lock: 



***Here's the deal about that,***


I have too many friends who have lost babies or have chronically ill children to allow that false illusion to lie to another pregnant woman. 

I have also had far too many discussions that start like this:

"I would love to adopt one day….but (it's always here that my blood begins to boil.) we want to try and get pregnant first. We want to try and have our own kids before we adopt." (Remember, adopted kids will also be your OWN kids.) Or, it starts like this, "There are just so many risks to adoption, I'm just not sure I can handle not knowing where my baby came from or what kinds of things might be wrong with them." Or how Pat Robertson so eloquently put it, "All the things that make a baby grow up all weird." If he were sitting in front of me, I think I'd throw a shoe. 

I realize that I haven't struggled for years with infertility. I realize that I birthed babies before I adopted them, but this was not intentional. We honestly just didn't know much about adoption before we jumped into that world. I just get so frustrated with people using excuses to cover up their fear of adoption. Just lay it out there. Starting a family (however it looks) is scary. 

There are a gazillion unknowns. 

There are a gazillion expectations. 

There is one God in charge of it all. And that my friends is where we have to hang our hope. 

Birthing children can be an idol just like fancy cars, high paying jobs, and pornography. I realize it's weird to equate pornography and pregnancy. But, I have seen friends so gripped in anger, fear, and despair by infertility, that I just don't see the difference when you are talking about a person's soul. An idol is something that draws our eyes from the promises of Jesus. It's just that simple. 

When you allow fear to tell you that adopting a child is just more risky than birthing one, you are believing a lie.  Or when you believe all the sensationalized stories of horrible adoption experiences, you have let the world win. 

You have let fear win. 

Jesus found it a risk worth taking by adopting humanity. In all of our ugliness, rebellion, unfaithfulness, and greed, He took us in. Adoption isn't merely about being a family, it's about understanding that gospel. As Christians, we have been let into a family that will continue to love us no matter how we got there in the first place. 

Monday, August 20, 2012

How to Not Freak out as a Homeschooling Mom Links

This is my favorite app for August. If they had a "do crafts with the kids while I take a nap" app, that would have been my favorite. Apple just hasn't gotten there yet. So for now it's the Reading Rainbow app. It is a bit pricey, but worth it when you don't have access to an English library. You can choose from tons of books. They can be read to yourself or read to you. We love this app.

Weird unsocialized homeschoolers has a great post on questions to ask before switching homeschool curriculums. Homeschool curriculum can act like Satan and Jesus in the desert. Each curriculum offering me more and more until I finally break.

Here are few savoring the end of summer things to do at SimpleMom. These things are much more fun than listening to Dora swipe Swiper one more time.

Simple Mom also had a post about cooking from scratch. It's all about starting simple while maintaing sanity.

Raising Olives has started some good dialogue and has lots of links on how to teach your children the difference between tattling and telling their mothers useful information.  She homeschools 11 kids so if she tells me to wear a rainbow colored wig while teaching math, I'm doin' it.

Simple Homeschool challenges us homeschoolers to take a look at what is and isn't working. Questions to ask yourself about the last year as you look ahead to next year.

Chris Brogan talks about checklists. He's got some helpful ideas on how to make them work. What he doesn't tell me is how to not loose my checklist.

I am so thankful to the Lord for the internet as I homeschool. I'm just not sure I could do it without these other people who are smarter and more patient than I am giving me tips on their blogs.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

My China Pinterest

There are a gazillion differences between China and America. One of them is family size. Sporting the one child policy, most homes have fewer than 7 people living in them...unlike yours truly. I've decided to start my own pinterest. Ok, so not really start, but this will be called China Pinterest, to make me and my other expat friends a little more joyful about living in small spaces. And sometimes, we just need to commiserate. 

So, here you have the launch of China Pinterest:

When your dresser breaks two weeks after purchasing it, simply pull out the drawers and stick them under the bunk bed to store non-seasonal clothing. Then, pretend that purple pillows, red sheets, and powder blue broken drawers are super shabby chic. 

As we saunter into the bedrooms, we see pillow cases and plastic bags shoved neatly into the spaces left when the air conditioner guy blew out a huge square hole for your circular pipes. It keeps out mosquitoes and rats, while adding a softness to any corner. 

Wondering where to put your 100 year old tv? Just refashion a $10 bookcase and well...put your tv on top of it. Simple, cost efficient, and doubles for a homeschool bulletin board. 

Take a circular vase and put in a protractor, two remotes, and a random plastic thing to make a modern rendition of a fish bowl. Fish are so 1990. 

When you have an entire balcony worth of space, there is no sense in letting it go to waste. Place bikes, sand toys, mops, your washer, and your dryer on them. It gives you an excellent view of the old men doing tai chi as you do your laundry in your pajamas. It's like bringing the inside out instead of the other way around. So ahead of the times.

Coffee tables do not offer enough functionality for a family of 7. Take two bookshelves and lay them on their sides. Take the top off your old broken coffee table and nail it all together. Voila! 8 more cubbies to stick things in. Like movies, books, and ballet shoes. Pretend that the paint that was stripped off the second you placed a cup on it is really a faux finish. 

When you have a coffee table that just doesn't fit anywhere, you stick it under your kitchen table. You can claim it's a modern model of table that is not bound by the constraints of connectivity. You are a family of the 21st century, you define your family's sacred spaces! Carpe Diem!

When the guys who moved your table from your last city and basically shot putted it into the truck, just pull out your glue gun and clear tape. Make sure none of the rough edges poke through. We will call this "Urban Antique."

If your children happen to ever drop a mug and the handle snaps off. No biggie, it makes a spacious and trendy toothbrush holder. 

When you moved from the States to China in the first place, it took 14 pieces of checked in luggage. These trunks are wonderful for traveling, but luggage eventually has to be stored. Our industrial sized trunks come in both red and black. There is no need for a bed frame when you have 14 trunks that you can use underneath your mattress. These also double for storing books, clothing, pictures, homeschool materials, and shoes. 

There you have it friends. May this inspire you to creativity and joy. At the very least, it will not tempt you to covet like that other Pinterest does. 

Wednesday, August 08, 2012

Context is King: The Olympics

My husband is well versed in theology. It's a hobby and a passion for him. One of the phrases that he often uses is, "Context is King!" The gist is that you can't just take a verse out of its original context and use it however you want, even if it makes a nice refrigerator magnet. I thought of this phrase over and over again as we watched the Olympics. How many things, when taken in a different context, just seem wrong. On many levels.  

I realize that Mexican wrestling is not yet an Olympic sport. A tragic oversight from the IOC. I hope that in the future, my children can enjoy a dream realized in an Olympics that includes Mexican wrestling.

These sweet Chinese women are not so much afraid of being drop kicked in the jugular but instead, of getting sun on their face. The sun...the most formidable opponent to a Chinese women. The monster air conditioner would be the next most intimidating competitor.

Masks: appropriate in the ring, terrifying on the beach. 
Context is King.

Tears were shed be countrymen around the world as various songs representing proud people were sung. As we watched the American athletes watch their years of hard work culminate into the playing of the US National Anthem, we too felt united with America even though we live so far away. 

With a short turn around between swimming in his event and stepping up on that awards stand, even Michael Phelps knows that you put on clothes before sportin' the gold. Thank you.Michael.Phelps.

While this man is probably making his mama proud, the rest of us could do without the mental picture. I'm sure Jesus still hanging on the crucifix would also appreciate a shirt of some kind.

Gold Necklaces: Victorious on the Olympic awards stand, creepy on random hairy Italian beach-goers.  

Context is King.

And now we move over to the Aquatics Center where speed and resilience are key. Swimmers have been perfecting both their strokes and their suits for the last 100 years to make them cut even faster through the water. This year, the swimsuits were definitely underrepresented and at times I thought they had even forgotten to show up. Man, those things seemed small. Like an after thought really.

If slicing through the water at 35 mph isn't what you are trying to achieve, then wearing a small loin cloth in the pool is simply not necessary. 

Speedos: necessary for optimal impact and minimal splash in the diving pool, a gratuitous uniform when there is not way a minimal splash will be achieved in the hotel swimming pool.

Context is King.

The amount of strength it takes these gymnasts to hold themselves up and defy gravity is remarkable. It is totally understandable for a person who is doing rings in the men's individual competition to cramp up in their arms. 

It is not ok, as a 35-year old mother of 5 to get cramps in her biceps from holding her cell phone to her ear for 12 minutes. That would not break any type of record in any type of country. It is quite simply pathetic and makes me want to go outside and start cross training. Right now. 

Cramps: Sign that an Olympic athlete is pushing his body to the limits, also a sign that a mother's body has limits akin to a ninety-year old woman.

Context is King.

Saturday, August 04, 2012

Going to Camp in the City

This daughter of mine will leave tomorrow for 9 days. She is going to camp for the first time. I've been giving her my motherly boy scout advice for the past week. At pretty much every meal. And any time she isn't sleeping.

1. Don't go anywhere with a boy. They are all evil. 

2. You are going to have to wash your clothes. I'm not sure how because there are no washers or dryers. At the very least, turn your underwear inside out every 2 days. 

3. Don't allow yourself to be the first one asleep. Mean girls will do things like put toothpaste in your mouth and stick your hand in warm water to make you pee your pants. Don't ask me how I know these things. Just resist the force to fall asleep early. 

4. Do not teach the American volunteers phrases like, "My girlfriend looks like a fattened calf." in Chinese. Funny, but not nice. 

5. If you laugh so hard that you pee your pants a little, head to the water station and "accidentally" spill water on yourself. 

I think this is freaking me out mostly because my camp experience involved the forest, smores, a cabin full of prepubescent screaming over New Kids on the Block, wearing bright green zinc, and getting in canoe fights with the boys. My sweet girl will be attending camp:

in a city of 6 million

in China

at an orphanage

translating for an American volunteer team

teaching English to 8-9 year olds

There will be no snack bars, tater tots, or swaying back and forth to "Friends are Friends Forever" at the end of the week. I am treading new territory again. I am trusting the Lord to take care of my girl. I am excited (albeit a bit psychotic) about the whole thing. I'll let you know how it goes by the end of the week. 

Thursday, August 02, 2012

Physical Exercise and How the Heck can I Find Time?

I love to exercise. I really do. I was one of those crazy teenagers who would wake up and workout most days of the smarthy Houston summers. Smarthy is Latin for "it's so hot and humid you think your skin is going to evaporate." I would throw on sweat pants and 5 pound ankle weights and go running at noon. I had mental issues and maybe a few body images ones as well.

Now that I am a homeschooling mother of 5, I have found that exercise is just really hard to make happen. I also hate when people make excuses. I remember being younger and watching these young mothers walk around Barnes and Noble with their double strollers and complain about not having time to exercise. I would switch to inner monologue mode and decide that they were just being lazy. That if they had time to condemn themselves in the Martha Stewart magazine isle, they certainly had time to exercise. So very not-helpful is that inner monologue of mine.

I now find myself a mom that gets maybe 4 days of exercise a month. Yes, I walk a decent distance to drop my kids off at Chinese school. Yes, I walk to the market, up the stairs, and to most places that I need to go because of living in China. But I still don't have the elevated heart rate type of exercise that my body needs. Honestly, I just don't know how to fit it in. Unless I wake up at 2 in the morning and use my mad ninja skills on the bad guys at that hour, exercise just doesn't happen much. I exercised this morning and my only motivation was that I got to have a few minutes to myself. I had to do it before breakfast and that meant that I also skipped any semblance of devotional time this morning. So if I am to run AND spend time with Jesus before the kids get up, I'm literally needing to set my clock for 3 am.

There is no possible way to be a good mom with that type of wake up routine.

I'll be 36 this year and I realize that this has got to change, I just have no idea how to make that happen. All of our kids must be up by 6 am so that Chinese school can happen. I homeschool one in the morning and the other 4 in the afternoons. I sometimes go with my oldest daughter in the morning, but I'm not a great partner exerciser. As a matter of fact, I literally hit my husband (who was merely my boyfriend at the time) when we went running together because he was egging me on. It was not pretty.

This entire rant is to lead you to this post by John Piper about Exercise.

Physical Exercise and Why I Do It (his reasons are much more Christ centered than my "I just don't want to have arms that slap people upside the head when I raise my hands" type of reasons.)

Part 1

Part 2
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