I enjoyed August this year more than ever before. It was stressful because we were making the decision of whether or not to take this giant leap of faith called “China.” We were trying to finish up as many house projects as we could and cram in every doctor and dentist appointment under the sun as we agonized over the best route for our family as a whole as well as each member individually.
BUT in a way time seemed to slow down. My kids were signed up for nothing. I couldn’t help but have a big smile stretched across my face whenever carpool group texts came through or when my kids came home with big school assignments because none of it really mattered for us right then and there. The kids, although some were worried sick about China and being torn away from friends also had this alleviated sense of liberation. It was this weird little alter-world of freedom. I could take them out of school and who cared?
All the teachers knew we were leaving and were totally supportive, some giving them a few assignments and tricks to keep up with what they were going to be doing while we’re away. It was like I was removed from life for a moment in time and could look at it from a different vantage point which was kind of fascinating to me.
Sure, we knew what was coming would be rigorous and difficult. That’s why those couple weeks were extra sweet while they lasted. You don’t get many snippets of life like that. I knew China would give us plenty of challenges and that it would take a great deal of mental, emotional and spiritual energy from all of us in such a unique and different place (and boy howdy does it ever!). So we just let the simplicity of that moment in time wash over us.
And in the midst of that juxtaposition of feelings I found myself appreciating every aspect of little things like the grocery store (I knew the unfamiliarity of Chinese grocery stores from our last trip) and soaking up conversations with friends I wouldn’t be able to talk to for a while. I cherished how comfortable our bed was and how the moonlight looked flooding into our room at night. I said little prayers of thanks when I hopped in my suburban two steps away from my house and could go anywhere I wanted knowing how difficult transportation would be to maneuver here.
Once that agonizing China decision was finally made everything started working like clockwork to make it happen. And I totally believe it was help from above that we are now here, missing life back at home terribly at times, but living so intentionally aware of the sharp learning curve that is bringing us together more than ever.
Those are my thoughts on a muggy, hot day here in Shanghai as I head out for my day. I will walk past the school where my children are learning hard things in a way they couldn’t even imagine back home. I will have a moment of silence to marvel at their courage and be thankful for the comfort they feel from having each other. I will ponder my husband’s vision to make this work, who is working hard in his own learning curve here. My nerves will be on alert as I brave the metro again on my own, hoping I remember the way since I still have not a lick of Chinese under my belt (yet) to ask for directions if I get lost. I will get everything situated so that I can give myself to my children when they come home, hungry for something to eat and for unconditional love and acceptance from someone they trust.
So, with that lengthy introduction, here are some pictures from that unique, transitional month of August (the part before school started is back HERE).
The kids came home hot and sweaty from school each day (just like they do here). This was our traditional first day of school “cookie chat” I forgot to put in the first day of school post back HERE.
(I also forgot to take pictures of our “cookie chat” Chinese-style on our first day here…mashed together doughy cookies from a mix I slipped into one of our suitcases, but boy did they ever taste good to us!)
We experimented with some new hair-dos and then of course had to take pictures:
Whoops, looks like I forgot to swoop that one last piece of hair into the bun…
(I think that one’s from Instagram.)
My brother Josh started school at his new school a couple days after we did. He had to move everything to his new classroom and we were able to help a little amidst our own school hoopla.
We sure love this guy! And so do his school kids. Boy oh boy they are lucky to get him.
I wish we had had a chance to get back to see the finished product but everything swirled into lightening speed the week we left. I’m sure it looks amazing!
Sometimes I just have to snap pictures of my kids before they go out the door for school.
Lucy kept busy with her “stuff.”
Max started off the school year up at BYU volleyball camp.
After four months of no bedroom window coverings (Dave taped up one of my photography backdrops for a little while in the heat of the summer), we finally got our drapes installed:
Lots more house stuff but I’ll update it on the house blog some day…
Elle and I listened to and read the Book of Mormon a lot in August. She was reading it to finish her personal progress before she got her license and I figured it would be a good time to jump start my reading too. So my phone looked like this a LOT in August:
Ha! But I took it to remember dropping off Dave at the airport when he went to China to finalize things for our family to live there.
One of many doctor appointments:
We filled up the room at the pediatrician’s office a few times.
We also visited the orthopedic doctor, the urologist, the dentist, the orthodontist, the cardiologist, the family practitioner, the gynecologist and ophthalmologist, the cornea specialist, you name it, we were probably there.
When you’re numb and you get your teeth pulled that you have been freaked out about for months, you should always come home and take a selfie:
Speaking of doctors, amidst all this flury of activity Elle had been dying with sensitive eyes all summer. We finally took her in to a specialist when she couldn’t even open her eyes on the second day of school (I know, great parents!) and found that she had an ulcer in her eye.
An ulcer! I had never heard of that before.
We had to get some serious medication for that thing (both eyes) and she had to put the drops in from two different medications every two hours around the clock for a few days (even through the night). So grateful for how on-top-of-it she was. I don’t think she ever missed for three days straight.
We had all kinds of medicine sitting around to remember to take.
Here are the natural remedies we’re trying thanks to some great suggestions from blog readers:
Grace’s friend taught her how to make delicious potatoes:
Claire and Grace also helped make red and white pasta (the stuff I made for the volleyball team with recipe back HERE).
Elle and I went and practiced in the 3-point-turn cones for her upcoming driving test.
The girls got a really, really nice package from a family of blog readers who are our new pen pals (except that we haven’t done our part back yet…we are not so hot at that stuff!).
We need to get on it though because these girls were purely delighted.
Claire carried around that “flubber” stuff for days and was so mesmerized by it.
Elle went ahead and got that license of hers.
More about her birthday soon…
Max vigorously took on skateboarding. He was doing it every spare second he could.
Elle was smart enough to go take some pictures one day.
He’s been skateboarding a bunch here in China too. Love it.
Another hot girl home from school:
And some more hair-do experiments:
We took up riding bikes to the bus stop (a block away) to help Lucy feel more secure with her riding abilities.
She can do it but man oh man that is a tricky thing for her! The first couple times she yelled at the top of her lungs the whole time that she did NOT want to do it after she got going but didn’t know how to stop! (and her mean mom just ran alongside her and told her she could do it!…and she did). The couple times Claire went with her (see her up there?) she did great. We’ll need to work on that a bunch more when we get home.
We finally got our new zone chart (back HERE) laminated and put to use…for two weeks…
Lots of friend time…more on that later.
Grace got her braces off!
We went to so many farewells!! Here we are walking into our second for the day, Max’s third.
Don’t let Grace’s face fool you. She broke into a laugh right after the picture.