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Soccer Practice

This photo pretty much sums up the soccer year for Joshua and Hannah. Joshua making an aggressive play in the back ground, Hannah in the foreground doing somersaults, but enjoying her outfit and being part of the group.

A Mother's Letters to Her Children

August 31, 2010

Joshua and Hannah,
This evening we went out to dinner. On the way home from egg fried rice and cold noodles, we ran into our Deaf neighbor whom we see constantly now. David had just been saying we should have him over this week. He was headed home. “Here?” I asked. “Sure, come on up and see,” he offered. And you kids turned on a dime and we all headed upstairs.
Hannah, you signed to him about his dog. Joshua, you ate the truffle he offered you without making a face. In fact, you held it in your mouth the rest of the time we were in his apartment (no one noticed, because you didn’t have to speak!) and you only spat it out when we left the building. That was a sacrifice that made me so proud of you.
And Hannah, you walked right up to him and asked him if he were a believer. “I’m buddhist,” he said. So discerning of you, little one.
HIs name is “King* Trust* Happiness” but the nick name we gave him is Henry. We exchanged phone numbers and left.
Meeting him was God’s gift to me, and your respect of him and care of him honored me. So proud of you both.


July 24, 2010

Hannah, I could spend all day with you and never tire of you. The best place for you to be is with me. Alone, you cut holes in the wall, mix fish food in with legos and never tell, or sneak cookies. I have to keep an eye on you, and I enjoy doing so.
This summer we have taken it slow, mornings go best when you wake up with snuggles. Some mornings that means I come in and snuggle with you, but most mornings you come snuggle with me. I wake up with you nestled in my arms.
And bedtimes you absolutely love being read to. “Mommy, will you read me a story!” you call. Inevitably your brother’s curiosity gets the best of him and he crawls in your bed for the story, as well.
You love to be held, so much so that today walking home from lunch when I asked you, Hannah, what is your favorite age so far?” you replied, “Zero!” And I knew exactly why. You love being held, cuddled, carried, nestled. And that is pretty much all that zero-year-olds do! And I’ve been looking for ways to connect with you. Pulling you onto my lap during Sunday morning gatherings, holding you close during movies, putting my arm around you during book reading. I want you to know you are safe, loved, and valuable. Not go looking for physical attention elsewhere.
You are starting your last week at your local kindergarten next week. You’ve been going there almost half of your life! Age 3 to age 5 and a half! You speak with a lovely accent and are quick to make friends. We love going out for local food together. Duck, san xian sheng dofu, eggplant “qied za”, fried hashed brown potatoes cut like a pizza, (and Joshua gets cold, vinegary cukes). You know how to eat with chopsticks an dhow to say, “no MSG, no hot spice!”
You’ve learned to roller blade this summer, just like your big brother. You can stomp around the cones, although setting up the cones is the most fun, and make “lemons”. When you fall down making lemons, I call that “making lemonade”. You can fall down without getting hurt and you enjoy all the equipment you have to wear: pink, pink, pink, pink, pink!
Your favorite Bible story is Mary and Martha. You have a picture in your little picture Bible of Martha stirring angrily. “She has a bad attitude” you recited when you were little, a phrase you heard often.
You love praying, and your prayers generally go like this, “Dear Jesus, thank You for this yummy food and yummy drink and please help all the people who don’t know about You to know about You, and all the people who do know about You to obey you!” Then you pray for sick people. You came up with this simple prayer on your own. You love Jesus and God and I am praying that one day soon you will come up to me about your sin problem and together we will ask Jesus to take the punishment for your sins.
Heavenly Father, knowing that it was Your hands that made Hannah, and Your plan that placed her in our home, I ask that You would convict her of her sin and give me wisdom as to how to parent her. In Jesus’ name, Amen!


Mommy, Joshua Said...

Our children crack me up.

Hannah said her “knuckles and grannies” hurt, instead of saying her “nooks and crannies”

Joshua said that kamikaze was spelled with a “comma”.

On the topic of home schooling as a means for skipping certain grades, Hannah informed me, “I only want to take the easy grades. The hard grades I want to skip.”

Trying to peak Hannah’s interest, I said, “Hannah, you will never guess what I read this morning in God’s Word!”
To which Hannah very seriously replied, “Can you just tell me?”

“My favorite pizza is meatloaf.”
-Joshua misquoting “meat lovers”

One morning at breakfast, Joshua reflected, “Mommy, you are home made.”
“No,” I corrected, “I am God-made.”
To which Joshua replied, “Well, God was at home when He made you!”

Hannah, exercising as much authority as a five and a half year old can muster, orders her Daddy to take a shower after playing ultimate frisbee, “Daddy, go take a shower, you smell horrible! ...Oh, it is just my breath.”

“Mommy, that lady has white skin, but black legs!”
Joshua, observing the rare phenomenon of panty hose.

Hannah, looking at Jesus’s robes in a coloring page,
“Mommy, Jesus is wearing a cape!”
“Well, he is not a super hero,” I clarified.
Hannah stepped back, “Oh yes! He has the ‘everything power’!”

Joshua asked to pray with me one night, he led and we took turns. He said,
“You know every kind of invention that has ever been made... I only know some parts of light bulbs.”


Joshua, to Daddy: Daddy, does Mexico have totem poles?
Hannah, interrupting: I think the North Pole did...
Joshua, irritated: Do you even know what a totem pole is?
Hannah, deflated: No.

The kids sometimes get doses of American culture from television programs that they themselves do not understand, like Joshua, after watching an episode of Hannah Montana asked, “Mommy, what does the ‘White Hizzle’ look like?”

Crying Into My Noodles

I have a favorite noodle restaurant.
This summer, I ate there every day for lunch. Joshua ordered the same the same thing every day: cold noodles. I tried many different dishes. Mostly what I saw people eating that day, I would point and get one too. Tofu with pork over rice, egg and tomato over rice, vegetables cooked in a clay pot over high heat, pulled chicken over noodles and chicken broth, vegetables served with rice, seasoned meat and pickled vegetables with chewy noodles, seasoned meat and no broth over thin noodles, eggs hard boiled in tea. The possibilities were delicious.
I went there so often, they would recite my own order to me, “no MSG, no spicy sauce, no spicy meat.” It was our greeting. And my children were so accustomed to eating there, they could order their own lunches. I brought friends to this restaurant, I craved it. They had mango soda that the kids liked to drink, too. And right beside the restaurant was a yogurt shop where we would always go afterwards for a flavored yogurt dessert.IMG_2911
Then, one day, the noodle restaurant closed. They moved out all of the furniture, scraped the noodle names off the walls, and locked the door.
So, for lunch I had a sandwich, and the next day another sandwich, and pretty soon it had been a month of eating cold lunches.
This week, to my great delight, a friend of mine told me the noodle restaurant had re opened, newly renovated. Immediately, I took Hannah and we went to check it out.
I didn’t recognize anybody. There were all new people working there. And it wasn’t as busy as it had been. Only a half dozen people were seated, bent over their noodle bowls, slurping. Although the lack of a crowd should have been a warning to me, I went ahead and ordered a bowl of cold noodles for Joshua, and then one of my favorites. They were out. So I tried another of my favorites. Don’t have that anymore. So I ordered three bowls of cold noodles, paid (the price had gone up), and took my receipt to the cook’s counter. I gave my usual order, “Cold noodles, no MSG, no spicy sauce, and no spicy meat”.
She handed me a bowl of hot noodles. Hot “cold noodles”? I asked if she had any shredded chicken to sprinkle on the top the way I liked it. She found a bit and put it on top.
Well, it is hot, but other than that, should be fine, I thought, and I handed her my receipts for the other two orders of cold noodles. “I want two more just like that,” I said, and sat down to wait. After a while, I stood up and asked about my order of “cold noodles”. They had not begun. “We are out of meat,” they confessed, “but we do have this,” pointing to what looked like congealed pig blood. “What?” I asked. They held up a bowl of unseasoned, uncooked ground pork. “Yes, that will work.” And I sat down again to wait.
When it was ready, the meat looked uncooked and unappetizing. When I lifted it to my nose, I couldn’t stand the smell. Meat that had been sitting out all day and undercooked. I could not take even one bite. When they announced the second bowl was ready, I stood to get it and brought it to our table, only to look down and see that in the meat there was a gnat. And that was it. My favorite noodle restaurant was no more.
Without sounding silly, how can I express how sad I was at that moment? How can I explain the weight of something that seems so trivial? But this place had become something I had come to rely upon. A staple of my day. A reliable thing. Pulled out from under me. I mourned my noodle shop and its friendly noodle makers.

I handed the bowl of noodles with the gnat back to the noodle lady and pointed to the unwanted visitor. “No matter,” she excused her work. I pushed it back over the counter toward her and walked away. But what happened next was altogether surprising. When I thought things couldn’t get any worse: running out of ingredients, making orders completely wrong, using ingredients that had gone bad, serving bugs in the food as “no matter,” and charging me more than I was used to for this disaster of a meal, things took an unexpected turn.
The noodle lady held out a fresh bowl of cooked noodles. She asked if I wanted a meat broth ladled into it.
“Sure,” I said, thinking it could not possibly be worse than what she had already served me today. And the bowl that she handed me was a kind of noodle I had never had before. Hannah curiously nibbled at the white vegetable and knuckly meat in my bowl.
“Mommy, this is really good!” I tasted it too. It was good. It was new. It was their way.
“It reminds me of what they cook at my kindergarten class,” Hannah remembered the local flavors at her former kindergarten.
She got up and announced, “I am going to ask what this is named!” She came back and said, “Xing tang mien.”
It is funny, our neighbor has given our wiggly daughter the nickname, “noodle.” Hannah’s optimism may lead us back to this noodle restaurant. Her willingness to try new things might give me the courage to brave the unknown of new restaurants. Whether at this restaurant or another, I am sure my noodling partner and I will find a tasty place to frequent.