As I look back at 2012 one thought comes to mind, "What a HARD year!" Things like saying goodbye to friends, saying hello to Qingdao, continued struggles in our family life (with no end in sight), and finding our roles in our company. BUT, in the midst of all this we have seen God's faithfulness. Sometimes things aren't easy or enjoyable but He is there with you in the midst of it! One goal I have for this new year is to look at tough spot and see a positive in it or resulting from it. So, hello 2013! I'm looking forward to looking for (and seeing) what God is doing in and around me!
It snowed all day Saturday! It was just warm enough that it didn't really amount to much, but it's going to be slick tomorrow when it's all frozen! Ana was really sad because she couldn't ride her scooter in it :)
I started this project by cutting the papers to the correct size. I cut them slightly smaller than the canvas so that the black showed. I then inked the edges so that the papers looked more coordinated.
I chose black as the curtains that we inherited are black.
I found it really important to get the edges otherwise the paper curled up pretty badly. It's also very helpful to get the air bubbles out before you put the Mod Podge on the top.
At this point I did add a dusting of very fine glitter just so that it reflects the light a little more.
Here's our finished wall (although I'm thinking of adding more !)
As our final activity together we cooked Christmas Eve dinner. We had such great choppers and dish washers that the cooks had a very easy time. Christ made garlic mash potatoes and a meringue encrusted pork. I made sweet potatoes, apple crisp, and a ham. We also had rice and vegetables--an interesting mix!
As I didn't bring my nice plates with me, we just used paper! It was great to have a nice home made dinner with friends!
On Christmas Eve we went down to the beach at low tide. It was still really cold, but with no wind it was not too bad. We looked for sea glass and shells, climbed rocks, took photos, and watched a diver collect oysters (we got to see them and they were HUGE, but we felt sorry for the diver--must be freezing!!) A fun way to spend an hour or two even in the winter!
At about 7:30 (after all the kids were in bed) we ordered two Papa John's Pizzas. It's more expensive than the other brands, BUT it tasted exactly like it does in America---amazing. We'll definitely be ordering again sometime--maybe after the kids are in bed :) Between us six adults we wiped out two 14 inch pizzas and a small cheese bread. The guys took the boxes down to the trash so that there was no evidence! It's fun to have people over so that you have an excuse to order in.
On Sunday after fellowship we went to a Szechuan restaurant. We enjoyed jellyfish with cucumber, mushrooms and eggplant, pumpkin rice, sizzling green beans,
steamed pork dumplings, and some truly spicy dishes like crispy lotus root. To my great surprise I was one of the few who enjoyed it!! (Ana really liked the rice--eating practically a whole container by herself!)
Even though it was EXTREMELY cold and windy we managed to enjoy a nice lunch out!
Ana was so THRILLED with the pajamas the Wongs sent from Singapore. She especially wanted everyone to see the tail!! Auntie Angela took lots of pictures for us. The funny thing is that she insists on wearing them, gets too hot, and takes them off at some point in the night.
We maybe got 1/2 inch of snow, but Ana really wanted to go out and play in it! She didn't have much success beyond making one snowball, but some Chinese (who are much more patient) made some fairly large snowballs. It was pretty while it lasted. Unfortunately, the ocean keeps everything fairly "warm" and most of it had melted away (and turned to ice) by the end of the day.
So Ana and I ran around all morning trying to get more Christmas gifts. IT WAS FREEZING!! I still only have my running shoes and my feet were numb. (Thankfully I found a pair of boots--I'll be wearing them before Christmas!!!)
We got home and were sipping our hot chocolate when what to our wondering eyes did appear---SNOW. Like real snow---not just little flakes you can barely see.
We're excited and hope our four visitors from Singapore are too. It's gonna be quite the temperature difference!
Ana (for a very brief period of time) declared she would one day be an artist. She's not into details. Her pictures usually have one main focal point and her name. She then proceeds to color every square inch with her trusty markers. Artist we may not be, but she can be called thorough. And I greatly appreciate the twenty minutes it takes her to do it!
Ana got to have her hair done today (as I spend hours on Mitike's hair every Saturday). This looks complicated, but it's really pretty easy. She was so proud she didn't wear her hat, just some ear warmers. Click Here if you want to try this yourself! There's a really good video on this site.
Ana got this cute, little pink hippo at the fellowship party. She was playing with it and called me over. I asked her what she liked so much about it. "Look mom", she responded, "I can pick it's nose!" Sometimes I guess I just shouldn't ask questions. Ignorance is bliss.
We went back to the doctor yet again today. Ana is still running a fever and her ears hurt (after nine days of antibiotics). So we did a blood test--it showed she had extremely elevated white blood cell and inflammation counts. Thus, the antibiotics are doing nothing. We're trying a new, stronger one and we'll go back next Thursday for a checkup.
Sadly we missed her first Christmas program and will miss China and Mitike's tonight. We're celebrating by watching Polar Express at home (She's so sick she didn't even want hot chocolate!). I had to snap a picture of her reclining in a borrowed stroller (for the longish walk to the hospital).
As I'm stuck at home listening to Ana tell me how sick she is all day, I decided to put some of the nice Christmas scrapbooking paper I found to use. (Still learning how to get a good shot focusing manually on my camera!) The stars are pretty easy to do. The "garland" took a while, but I liked putting it together. The best part is that it is all paper clipped so that it can be folded flat and kept for next Christmas.
This is Ana taking a nap by herself--her own choice! You know she's sick. (This is day 7!) She sat yesterday and looked at books, made a paper chain for the Christmas tree, and otherwise entertained herself sitting down for pretty much the whole day.
She saw the Western doctor (yeah! finally got an appointment!!) and he upped her antibiotic dose. Her ear is still hurting and she's still getting up at least three times a night for aspirin or ear drops. BUT, we really liked the doctor. It's so nice to have someone who 1. speaks English 2. examines the whole child not just the painful part 3. can make a kid feel comfortable (Ana said he was the best doctor ever!). I'm really thankful that he is willing to work here, when I'm sure he could have a much more glamorous, higher paid position elsewhere!
The Christmas program is coming up on Friday. Hopefully we get to participate! Fingers crossed.
We had a very fun international cookie exchange today! There were Japanese, Americans, and Australians. As the hostess I ended up with a lot more cookies than I put in! Ana however was in solitary confinement as there were other small kids present. She got her own selection of cookies in the room--so she was all right with it! Clean up took a while, but I hope we do it again next year (and Ana is not sick during it).
Sorry for the fuzzy pictures--it's my camera.
On Sunday morning I got to go back to the hospital as Ana had been unable to sleep due to pain in her ear. I had to take a friend to translate as the international clinic is not open on Sundays. It was an experience and a half. We first went to the pediatrics unit(which was packed out). I learned some tricks of the trade from my friend. Don't go in the shortest line--the busier doctors are usually better. You have to go into the room and slip your paper in the stack and stick around to make sure it stays in order. You need to be in the room ready to go when the doctor calls your name or she quickly moves onto to the next patient. Everything depends on you being a wee bit pushy and aggressive! Then we were sent up to the ear doctor. But the entry fee you pay has to be from the right department--so my friend Tien went to get it changed (from pediatrics to ENT) while we sat and waited--Ana was pretty much a slug. This doctor changed the antibiotic and ear drops to stronger ones. What's really interesting is that there is often no children medicine---they are just to take a portion of an adult dose. Ana can now swallow pills :)
Very thankful today for friends so willing to help even when it takes them away from their own family.
This is China's very small class. This shows you the make up of the school. China is one of two black kids--him and Mitike-- in the whole elementary. He does have ONE Caucasian class mate. The teachers are almost always American with a co-Chinese teacher.
This party was for the December birthdays. They had pizza, cupcakes, and chips. (Pizza is a BIG deal here!) Matt attended the party as he was free and already at school. It's good for dad to get some experience in class partying!!
After the doctor Ana got to help Ayi make the cinnamon rolls (notice her little yellow rolling pin). She's super at making mass quantities of baked items!
My camera will no longer take pictures in Auto Focus mode. So now I have to search out a Chinese staff member to help me get it repaired or start taking all pictures manually or look for a new camera body!
About and hour after she went to bed last night Ana woke up with her ear hurting. So today we made our first trip to the hospital. It has a designated international clinic in it. There were no appointments left with the English speaking doctor (he only works in the morning), so an English speaking nurse went downstairs with us. There are some major differences in health care here. People wander in and out of the examining rooms asking the doctor questions when he's seeing someone else. I don't think there is really a "line" for seeing the doctor--it's whoever gets there first. Thankfully the nurse (who was extremely helpful) went into the office and sat there. As expected Ana had an ear infection. We then went back to the International Clinic paid our bill and waited for our prescription to be filled. They brought it to us and explained the instructions and we were out of there. 45 minutes, less than 30 US dollars (including the medicine), and a relatively stress free experience. Not bad!
Three families hosted this party. We're guessing that around 40 people besides our families came. Above is most of the men at the party. We had made some gingerbread playdough which was a big hit with the children.
My main contributions to this party were desserts. I couldn't believe how quickly everything went. Nobody was afraid of it being too sweet. I have to say that the pecan bars I made were easy and AMAZING!! (Thanks for the pecans mom!)
Here's Ana in front of the Hedricks Christmas tree with some new friends!
It was really a lot of fun to co-host and to get to know some people I have NEVER met although I see their names on e-mails all the time. Ana, of course, had a ball--esp. since she was up two hours after her normal bed time! The food must have been pretty good because there was almost NOTHING left--have to make more next year :)
I'll post more on this soon when I get some photos from some other people.