Out, In, Out, In, & Out Again

It's been a little busy around these parts. (All pictures from the time in Texas)

You see, there is the flu. And the flu is a very nasty thing that, once it gets ahold of me, refuses to let go for weeks on end, making everything seem worse and busier and more difficult than it would be otherwise.

There was a funeral in Ontario that we wanted to go to. We did not know the man who passed away that well, but we know almost all of his children and have counted several of them as our dearest friends through the years. Only Keith and I went, so that part was fun. We rarely have 2 days together like that. I have to say, I'm extremely thankful that after 18 years of marriage there is no one I'd rather spend time with. He forgot his passport and I almost thought the drive to the Canadian border may have been in vain, but they let us through. And then the US border patrol let us back through. So that was good.

Then there was Levi's wedding. The whole family flew down to Texas last Thursday. Douglas was a groomsman. It was beautiful and sweet. We ate brisket and barbecue and potato salad and wedding cupcakes. Never was a groom so handsome. Never a bride more excitedly sweet.

But we walked back into our house on Monday afternoon beyond exhausted (remember the flu's chokehold) knowing that I needed to leave for Taiwan 5 days later. And that I had not yet begun to prepare.

But here we are, I leave in about 12 hours. The suitcases are mostly packed. I'll need to throw a few things in tonight, but it is basically done. I think things are in decent order here for the ones at home. It amazes me how it all pulls together.

This trip looks relatively easy compared to China trips. We will be in Taipei the whole time, in the same hotel. We see fewer children per day, meaning we have more time with each child. I'm sure we will still feel tired and busy, but it should be easier in a lot of ways. You can follow along on the Superkids blog or on the Superkids Facebook page. I may even post here, we shall see.


Kiss That Pig!!

We are sending our children to Blue Mountain Christian School this year. Last night was a PTF spaghetti supper and they decided to do a little mini-fundraiser in conjunction with it.

A couple of weeks ago these jugs decorated like pigs showed up in the lunch room. There was one for each teacher and the children could put money in the jugs. Whoever had the most money in their jug by last night would need to kiss a pig in front of all of us.

Excitement was high as the three teachers with the most money in their jugs were called to the front.

Mrs. May seemed pretty excited to come in third this time.

Then it was between Mr. Batz (Freeland's teacher) and Mrs. Batz (Annika's teacher).

Mr. Batz won!! And the table behind us where Freeland and his friends exploded with cheers and laughter.

Not the greatest photo, but it had to be included!
First came the application of lipstick so we would know he had actually kissed the pig.

Then the kiss...

Then another kiss just in case someone had failed to capture it on camera.

I have to say, seeing the children entering in and laughing with their friends does this mama's heart good!


This Just Happened

The eldest son has a new job and I have to say, I really enjoyed watching him get ready and snapping pictures. When he went in for his job interview I told him to take the job no questions asked if families get food discounts. Unfortunately that didn't happen, but he took the job anyway!

I think a trip to Chik-Fil-A is in order soon!


Photog Retreat

I was a little nervous heading out last Wednesday to attend a photographers retreat. I had met a few of the ladies in person, but most I only knew online. Twenty-two ladies in a house for several days sounds like it has the potential to be a little overwhelming.

It was one of the most fun things I have ever done in my life! 

The location was gorgeous and relaxing. We were in a house right on the beach in St. Augustine, FL. To stroll along the water's edge, letting the waves lap at my feet, snapping pictures with other snap-happy friends, discussing reflections, aperture values and the use of horizon lines to enhance photos was so, so much fun.

We went on a photo walk the first morning we were there. We had guides who took us to lovely locations to take photos and pointed out good techniques to use to capture various effects. It was slow moving enough that I could keep up without feeling pressured. I love the pictures I took on that walk!  I almost exclusively take pictures of people, so it was especially exciting for me to capture images I love of inanimate objects.

Another thing we did was model shoots. We had groups of individuals (families, friends, an engaged couple, etc.) come and we divided up into groups based on the focal length of the lens we were using Each photographer group got the chance to pose the group and take photos. It was challenging to work in unfamiliar locations and a very limited amount of time. I was almost afraid to look at my pictures when I got home, but I was very pleased with some of the photos I captured.

This is truly an exception group of very talented ladies! I learned so much and had so much fun. A huge thanks to all who helped to plan this event. It was amazing. I'm already looking forward to next year!


Chinese New Year Party

On Saturday we headed off to NYC to attend the Chinese New Year party that Gladney hosts each year. Most years we all go, but this time it was just Douglas, the girls, and I. Monica also went, it was so fun to have her there, not to mention helpful since she kept an eye on the girls and took them across the crowded restaurant to the restroom too many times to count!

We loved the dances and the food! We loved seeing people we see each year and meeting people whom we had never met. I got to see several little ones that I have met in China with their families which is the most wonderful thing I can even imagine!

It was a great day, but I think this post should be mostly pictures, they tell the story better than I can anyway!


The Third Week of January

The third week of January has been very, very good to our family! In 2002 a tiny baby boy joined our family on January 15th. He weighed only 5 pounds 5 ounces and was in the NICU for 9 days before coming home. Long gone are the tiny days! Freeland just turned 15 and is really loving being in high school this year. He is also pretty excited that he is now old enough to go to youth group activities and keeps reminding me that next year he can get his driving permit.

Three years and three days later, on January 18, 2005 Casper arrived. If we thought Freeland was tiny, Casper was only a little over half his size! Weighing only 2 pounds 11 ounces and arriving almost exactly 3 months early, we weren't sure what was store for our sweet, tiny boy! I wish I could have seen then how at 12 years old he would be a grade ahead in school and excelling. He is also bigger at age 12 than either of his older brothers were. He spent the first 11 weeks of his life (except for 1 1/2 days) in the hospital, but he never looked back once he was home to stay!

In 2012, Keith and I left for China on January 14th, we arrived late at night on the 15th, and met Eliana at 9:00 AM on the 16th. She was a tiny, fragile little thing. She weighed only 21 pounds at 3 1/2 years old and still walked like a toddler. She could chew anything that wasn't very soft. Playing ball in the hotel room totally exhausted her. She immediately started growing and learning new things. She is now 8 1/2 and is still a fragile little thing in some ways. She needs lots of love and attention showered on her all the time. Which is no problem! I love that she still loves to cuddle! But she is a confident, capable little student who is reading and making excellent grades in school.

So the third week of January is always full of a lot of joy, celebration, and reflection at our house. God has certainly blessed us with these three!


A Visit to School

Today I went to talk to Eliana's classroom about China. They are learning about China right now and got to take in some of the things I've accumulated in my travels.

Eliana was so excited about me coming and prepared by wearing her beautiful silk Chinese dress. She looked so cute when I arrived at school.

I sent Rocky (one of my friends in China) a WeChat message last night asking him to say some simple phrases in English and Chinese so I could play them for the children. He sent me lots of fun little phrases and I played them for the children then we tried to say them together. It was so fun and sweet.

Singing their snowman song at the end of the day.
What a precious experience it was to go see her there. She is well loved in her classroom and it shows. It makes my mama heart so happy!
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