Monday, September 08, 2008

China Boys at Camp Powhatan Summer 2008

Thank you Blue Ridge Mountains Council for a wonderful adventure and great scouting friendship!
(see article page 11)





Direct Services Troop 888

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Boys' Biennial Canoe Trip on our River

Putting in

Waiting for the exchange

Waiting at the end point


Monday, September 01, 2008

By the way

By the way, we're having the boys' rooms painted today in anticipation of Tim relinquishing his room to his brother. Yes, Josh, for the first time in his life, will have his own room.

More summer pics posted below...


Josh helping build Great Uncle Al's plane

Hanging out at the pool with friends

We're back.

Well, I'm back. Some of you know that our family spent the summer in the states (June 5 - August 15). We got back to Asia just two days before the boys started school. Tim is now in 10th, Josh 9th, and Peter began his first year of middle school. Getting back with friends and classes and catching up on foods they'd missed was a good way for the boys to combat jet lag. Too bad that early morning wide awake, ready for action feeling fades away. Our summer was very full and I'll try to post a few pictures below to give the highlights. Thank you to our family and friends (old and new) who gave us their time, words and notes of encouragement, listening ears, and love during these days.

Hanging out with old friends

First helicopter ride.... Thanks Mr. Hendricks!

Josh & Peter both skied, but Josh got hooked.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

A New Year!

"The Boys" right before the New Year with an old friend

Well, a lot has happened in the past few months. The Chinese New Year (this year is the Year of the Rat) finished up with a bang, literally. On the final 15th evening of the holiday, all of the firecrackers and fireworks in the entire city seemed to be exploding on the ground or in the sky above our neighborhood complex. It was fun, but not great for sleeping.

The next day we hosted Peter's belated birthday sleepover and attempted to keep six active boys busy with games (including dining-room table ping-pong), an adventure to go eat fastfood chicken and back, capture the flag, a movie, and a disastrous strawberry cake with melted ice cream hidden inside. They were great and I hope enjoyed the time as much as Peter did.

Pete kissing his 100 kuai present

the day after
The next week on February the 28th it SNOWED! We knew of the precipitation even though accumulation began way past bedtime; because our neighbors decided to throw solid, klunking snowballs at our bedroom windows to announce the good news. Tim went out in shorts, a sweater only, and flip flops; because they were the first things he could find to put on.

We've had some sad news and some wonderful news this spring as well. We said good-bye to our househelper of approximately seven years. She had become so dear to us and very much a part of our life and family. She has decided to try her hand at having her own business and we wish her the best. The wonderful news is that our best Chinese friends just had a beautiful baby girl.

Hai Zhen

Not looking my best, but overjoyed and proud.
We have much to be grateful for!

Upcoming events:
Pete has two scout camping trips this spring (one this weekend).
Josh is still playing ice hockey (check out the pics!).
Tim and Josh are practicing for the school play and will also have their service project trips in this quarter.
We have some other trips planned as well. (One in particular which will bring us back to the states for the summer.)

Monday, November 05, 2007

Where did October go?

It's been such a long time since I sat down to write anything on this blog. The days in October just slipped by, most quite full and meaningful. I think it is the same all over the world; the Fall days tumbling past. Of course, here in the Spring City we transitioned from cool rainy days to colder ones. Which leads me to the following proverb.... We have "four seasons like spring; except when it's cloudy, and then it feels like winter." (They never tell you the second half of that proverb.) The climate does seem to be changing here. Anyway, October.... Early in this month I had the rare opportunity and pleasure to travel with Allen and see him using his talents and gifts. We went to Singapore and left the teenage boys home without me for the first time ever. Pete went to stay with a friend, and Tim and Josh (though cared for by our househelper Hai Zhen) had complete responsibility of getting up and out, and anywhere they needed to go, and homework done, etc. They did beautifully. Thank you to our friends in the neighborhood who kept a watchful eye and were available if needed, and to David who went with Josh to his first hockey practice. Hockey!? Yes, after watching "Miracle" several times, Josh has skated into the world of hockey. It all started with rollerblades, but now he is on ice. It is different, but he's learning and loves to be doing something that none of his friends or brothers have tried. There is an adult ice hockey team in our city. They skate at the one rink in town in the Hongta sports complex. And they let younger hockey enthusiasts practice for an hour before their game. Some times they get to play in the game as well. So our Virginia boy, who'd never even seen much ice is now scraping it up to a fine dust. Also this month we had a special retreat time with our co-workers, Science Fair work began in earnest for the older boys, and we had our first China trick-or-treaters. We sure miss the brilliant changing leaves, and the smell and warmth of a crackling fire in the fireplace, and football. But life here has it's own rhythm and surprises.

Josh has a real hockey helmet now.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

In Honor of Heidi

Whenever I read the book Heidi, I'm left with the impression that goat cheese must be the creamiest, most delicious and satisfying food there is. Thankfully, when we moved here, we came to one of the select places in the world that make and serve goat cheese. I was able to try it first, here. Now when we are out to eat, we often order it fried golden and crisp on the outside.
But I also use it as a substitute for ricotta cheese in lasagna. It crumbles up really well. No, it doesn't taste like ricotta, but it works for our family. We officially invite you, our friends and loved ones, to come for a visit and try our local specialties some time:)

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

In Honor of Tim's 15th Birthday....

Living with an Aspergers Teen

Tim set up and had me take this pic. I think it looks cool.

I am always on the learning curve, but not to the intensity that he is. He is continually absorbing and processing or rejecting data. He showers me with incredible tidbits of miscellaneous and here before unknown information, and he is fascinated by patterns (in music, in art, in daily life). Music, especially neo-metal, soothes and orders his world. He is seldom seen without headphones. They are semi-permanently attached. Friendships are important as well as drama. On the stage he can pretend to be someone he is not. His worldview is pretty much good versus evil, right versus wrong. It can be a bit black and white, not much gray. Black and white especially in terms of how he thinks the world should operate/function. A crack or rift in this reality severs the nerve endings (especially someone who thinks all things related to the computer should work flawlessly and in the user’s favor). It is inconceivable and blatantly wrong for things to work in opposition to the Aspie's thoughts. Things should work as they are supposed to. Ambiguity is stressful. Wrongs should be righted. Evil should be punished. Truth, as it is seen by this Aspergers teenager, must be spoken and defended. Rights should be protected. This means that he has an incredible sense of justice, but also not a great deal of patience. His thoughts get stuck in a rut and play over and over like a scratched record on an old-style record player. He is merciful and kind and very much wants to learn about the people he likes’ feelings and how to appropriately respond (unless, of course it’s his own brothers, whom he likes, but places in a totally different category all together).

I thought I’d let you see a glimpse of his ideas on Apergers. These are some excerpts from a list we compiled for “You Might Be an Aspie if….”

  • Your favorite attire is comfortable jeans and a t-shirt – for school… for PE… for the beach… for sleeping
  • You understand and can express the thoughts of your dog better than the thoughts of the girl sitting next to you in class
  • You want to know “Why” all the time
  • You wear headphones to and from school to block out everything else and spend your time before class circling the basketball goal
  • You are intimately familiar with the Marvel Universe
  • You prefer to go out in a foreign country where people don’t understand your language than in America where they know what you’re saying
  • You’d rather starve than talk to the person at the counter of a fast food restaurant.
  • You’d rather go out to your friend’s house and look in his window to see if he’s home than call him on the phone (risking talking to another family member).
  • You wonder why people aren’t logical.
  • You can’t explain your mental math and you certainly wont write it down.
  • You can create a family tree connecting the Adams family and the Munsters as well as several other families of Gothic villains.
  • You have very decided opinions.
  • You think your classroom smells like a restaurant.
  • “I can’t think in this light.” (Environmental distractions are very real.)
  • You’d rather go out at night than during the day.
  • You’d like to revive Victorian clothing because it’s so cool.
  • You think arguing is a sporting event.
  • You like acting because you can actually be somebody else outside of your head.
  • Your favorite item to hold when thinking is a strong thin wooden stick or sword.

As you can see Tim is an extremely creative and at times thought-provoking writer. He also is a semi-cartoonist, but doesn't have a lot of confidence in his drawings.

He also has a soft heart and curiosity for the underdog, the poor, the unusual. I think this relates to how he feels the world should work and to his identification with them in ways. He has been a challenge and a blessing in our lives that we could never have imagined, and now would feel incomplete and a loss of a great treasure without. I should mention here, he speaks strongly against curing autism. He wants help in areas that he knows are his weaknesses, but also to walk in and be appreciated for his many strengths, especially his unique ways of thinking and seeing the world.

We love you, Tim!