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Friday, April 18, 2014

Happy Easter!

Currently sick. Combined with being 31 weeks pregnant, not so fun, but attempting to take it easy this weekend and praying for hubby to have a good time on his Easter retreat with the San Antonio Chinese church.

For all the people wondering why I haven't posted belly photos...time for an honest statement, followed by some visuals....I am not a glowing pregnant person.

I look, and feel, exhausted. I don't love being pregnant, and I don't make it look especially cute.

So....in comparison with all the lovely professional photo shoots of glowing mama-to-be...here is my reality:


 
31 weeks pregnant and sick...but I have consistently looked that exhausted before getting sick.
 
Anyways....I keep reminding myself that, as with all things, pregnancy is not something that I need to be rating myself in comparison with my pinterest board photos on.
 
 
Aside from some exhaustion, it has been a relatively smooth and healthy pregnancy thus far, and for that I am thankful. Our son has already been an active little boy, we could feel him moving like crazy starting at 16 weeks! He gets hiccups, and wakes me up a lot. He also kicked Daddy in the face while he was trying to listen for the baby's heartbeat.
 
We picked a name, which I will share here only because I think it is doubtful that any of my readers are going to steal it. 刘恩路。 We haven't found an English name, so the Chinese name will have to do. He, like my students, can always give himself an English name later...and he will have mom to advice him on not picking a name like "Demon" or "Will.I.Am" (yes, those were both self-named male students of mine).
 
Anyway...the name, which means something like "a thankful path/journey" alludes to the grace of God in mine and my husband's lives, and the blessing that our son is. We are looking forward to meeting him! Hopefully only 8 or 9 more weeks to go!
 
In this journey, I've been so blessed by my husband, who has been supportive, encouraging, and even gives me a foot/leg massage every single night (and makes me eat protein even when I don't want to).
In spite of the hardships we have faced, we have learned more than ever to trust God together, and as we are looking forward to this Easter Sunday, when we can celebrate Christ's triumph over the grave, I am thankful to also be able to attest to Christ's triumph over many things in our lives as well. Happy Easter!
 
 


Wednesday, April 9, 2014

I'm homesick for China these days...not all of it, of course, but parts of it. Food, people, and some aspects of our lifestyle there (although of course there are parts that I don't miss at all and don't even really look forward to returning to).

It has been fun, however, to watch my husband navigate life in the U.S. at times. I don't enjoy watching him have to navigate the not fun parts, such as no driver's license or job because of our in limbo visa situation, but other parts...it's quite funny.

I only realize just how much has has adjusted to some things when I listen to him talking to friends and family in China.

One notable thing, of course, has been his adjustment to preparing for baby...which would have been a completely different experience in China, as we'd originally thought it would be.

As we've taken our Bradley Method class, and prepared for what we hope will be a natural birth at a birth center instead of a hospital, he has certainly had his eyes opened to a lot of things you wouldn't see in Inner Mongolia, China.

We've been able to compare things with his sister, who recently gave birth to her daughter back in Inner Mongolia. As I've heard about her experience, I have been reminded how honestly thankful I am to be in the U.S., preparing with my birth team here. In spite of the financial difficulties, it will be worth it.

Last night, I laughed a little bit as I heard him lecturing his mother on breastfeeding and the wrong care instructions that she was giving his sister. His mother was completely silent on the other end, and I know she had to be thinking, "What on earth has happened to my son?"

Overall, we are grateful for this time "in limbo" as it were. Our time here has been an opportunity for us to switch roles and bring a bit of "China" life to America.



Friday, February 21, 2014

Hey everyone!

So, no update for quite some time...I am not Jules in 中国 (China), still Jules in 美国 (America).
Life has been challenging (not a shocker I suppose) and mostly we have been preparing (as much as we can) for the arrival of this little guy....


Our own little 混血宝宝。(mixed-blood baby). Who is, yes, a boy. And who we still have no idea what to name. We are mostly preoccupied with how to pay to bring him into the world, I suppose. Navigating life in America, just like life in China, is a series of massive headaches as part of an international couple.

Anyways, more posts to come as I process thoughts about life in America vs. in China, our child's racial/ethnic "identity", raising a cross-cultural baby, and yes, thoughts and observations on the hype surrounding male babies in China.


Wednesday, January 1, 2014

新年快乐!Happy New Year!

We've been back in the U.S. for almost a month now, and it has been a welcome time of refreshment and quality family time for us.

While we didn't do anything particularly exciting for New Year's, it was better than last year in that I didn't have food poisoning. We ate tamales, listened to fireworks (felt almost like being back in China for a moment, where fireworks go off nightly), and then reminisced about 2013.

2013 was a big year for us.

In January, we returned to China after our first visit together to the U.S.
We finished our apartment (which was a huge undertaking).

 (our master bedroom)

In April, we got legally married.

 
(our wedding certificate)
 

We took our fun wedding portraits.




We planned our wedding celebration, and got to have the wedding with my family coming to China for the first time.

We got Hali, our Golden Retriever.
(Hali with Xiao Bai, another stray dog we feed sometimes, and Oscar, another dog in the background...at one point our house was fullll of dogs) 



We saved 5 newborn puppies from the side of the road where they had been abandoned. 4 of them didn't make it, but the 1 who did was so worth it. He is precious.

(blurry picture, but this is "puppy", our little survivor)
 
We went on our honeymoon in Sanya, where we enjoyed surprisingly good weather (it was the rainy season).
 
(enjoying a walk on the beach in Sanya)

I gained several new work experiences.

 
(one of these new work experiences was modeling for an online shop...here I am getting hair extensions put in....ridiculous, haha)
 

We enjoyed cooking classes with friends!

(our Thanksgiving cooking class event...with Rachel, my dear friend and chef extraordinaire)

We decided to try getting pregnant, fully expecting it would take us a while...to our surprise...it didn't.

We came back to the U.S., rather unexpectedly due to a series of events, and thus got to be here when my father unexpectedly had to undergo a quintuple bypass.

All in all, it's been a year full of challenges and surprises, but God has been good to us, and we are thankful. 2014 will be a year to remember as well, and we are looking forward to our newest adventure, parenthood.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Contentment versus Complacency

I've been contemplating contentment versus complacency today.

I've been frustrated by the culture here so much recently because of this very concept. People want to call complacency being content.

Now let me be clear, I think there is a fine line to walk between these two concepts. As a believer, I want to allow God to continue to refine me to being content when it comes to the blessings He has given me. I want to grow in recognizing those and having a thankful heart each day (that is something that I could use  a lot of work in). However, I do not want to EVER EVER become complacent when it comes to how I use my time, and basically, my life.

I feel that this is a culture that, for the most part, stresses "contentment" in a lot of situations where what they are actually doing is being complacent. Please also hear me when I say this issue is not specific to China, it's global, a struggle for all of mankind. But there are some things, societally, that reinforce this among people.

People thinking I am strange to want to adopt children...I should be "content" to just have my own. People thinking I am strange to still feel so deeply disturbed by injustices around me and all over the world "what can you do about it?". In a country where speaking out against oppression and injustice is STILL not welcomed in the least, I have been frustrated because sometimes I feel so powerless to do anything. I am, and always will be, a foreigner in this place. I miss the diversity of the States right now, because even though things are far, far from perfect...I've never faced persecution from the law for trying to change things (although you might face persecution from other people).

It makes me want to cry sometimes how little people seem to know or care about the rest of the world, and little is being done with the education system here to remedy that. I know that this is a problem in the U.S. too, but it seems that 99% of my students here have no clue about the world....

I guess my point is that I am tired of feeling pressure from Chinese family members to just "settle down, stop caring about radical ideas, and focus on "好好过日子“ (a term that I have come to detest, it means "spend the day well" and what is usually meant by it is make sure you cook 3 perfect meals and clean your house all day). Even from our Christian family members this doesn't seem to translate to spending time reading the Bible, in prayer, or helping people in need. If we do not sit home all day cooking and cleaning we are believed to be wasting our day.

These are jumbled up thoughts, but the strangled cry of my heart today is one of frustration at a world where people are content to work, cook, and never leave their hometown until they die, taking with them not one single thing or memory of value....and I'm frustrated because I feel like I've bought into that too recently....feeling content to stay home, have morning sickness, and sometimes cook. Sigh.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

My Proactive List

So, one of my primary concerns for our unexpectedly long stint in the U.S. (due to needing to leave China earlier than planned, and thus just stay there until the baby is born), has been how my husband will feel. I understand cultural difficulties, and how you miss things from home, and of course, a big bummer for him will be that he can't work because he will be on a visitor visa.

So, I have been brainstorming fun things to do and ways he can get involved and use his time to avoid feeling useless and bored.

Here's what I have come up with so far:
-Chinese church. We are both Christians, and I was pleasantly surprised to find that San Antonio has a couple of Chinese churches...he can go to fellowship in Mandarin, and maybe even get involved in volunteering.
-Animal shelters. We are both dog lovers, and are going to be missing our puppies, so I want to do some volunteer work with our local humane society.
-Teaching/tutoring Chinese. Namely, I want him to formally tutor me...I haven't formally studied at all since last year, and that will be a good use of time.
-Encouraging him to use 100% Mandarin when speaking with me (in China we use a mix of Chinese and English at home, and actually while he speaks Mandarin to me fairly frequently I usually speak English because I am so tired of speaking, reading, translating, and typing Mandarin at work all day). So this will be a way for him to keep from feeling too isolated while having to use English with everyone else (and allow us to have private conversations more easily since we don't know that many Mandarin speakers in our part of Texas, haha).
-Making him finish some parenting/baby books.
-Cooking. We both like trying new food and learning to cook, and honestly, the U.S. is more conducive to this than the area of China we live in).
-Letting him handle the volume of requests we get to bring back foreign products for people (maybe we can make some money off of that this time...haha). Although if one more person asks me to bring back an Apple product for them, I might scream!

Let me know if you guys have any great ideas!!

Cultural Bitterness

I used to have the reputation of being "that China girl"...and honestly....when it comes right down to it...I'm not. I had no interest in China prior to coming here "by accident" the first time, and the thing that drew me back was friendships with Chinese people, and not necessarily an inherent draw to the culture or country itself.

Now I'm married to a Chinese man and have lived here consecutively for over 3 years (it having been over 6 years since my first visit to China). And just as I have no desire to be "the girl who loves America" I don't really have a desire to be "the girl who loves China" either. I want to be "the girl who loves people" but if we are being completely honest...I am dealing with some bitterness towards China and the culture here.

I can recognize in myself that I am reacting to stressful situations, many of which are not universally found in China (although some are) by blaming the culture around me.

My hard reality right now is that China has not made it easy for someone in my situation to make a life. Bringing me to my next announcement in case you haven't heard...I'M PREGNANT! Yay, but anyways....

Right now life for us feels like work hard all year so we can spend all the money on the inevitable visa run that I will have to do. Due to changing work situations, changing visa laws, the inability to change to a marriage visa in my city....life for us is pretty rough in terms of trying to make things work.

I want to be someone who responds to adversity with determination (sometimes I do), but in the midst of cultural stress which stems from many sources, I'm not doing so well.

Don't get me wrong, there are cultural stresses for me (and my husband) in America too (more about that later perhaps). But faced with leaving my doggies (my fur babies) and going to America penniless to work my butt off while pregnant to save the money for our return tickets to China with hopefully some sort of visa in hand, is really frustrating me right now.

In addition, some situations with my paycheck, neighbors, and the ever-present bitchy mother-in-law situation (sorry, I'm calling it as is) have really caused me to resent life here right now. And as I don't intend to leave my baby with crazy mother-in-law (which is what most Chinese parents do), this will further complicate our situation. Because many families in the U.S. do without dual incomes, but it is becoming more and more unheard of in China (and honestly, my foreign face is a great asset work-wise).

All of these situations and a few more are causing us to lean towards moving our family to the U.S...more on that in the future though. This trip to America will be our testing ground to pray about what is the right step for our little family.

Trying to get into that more peaceful frame of mind (especially since I'm pregnant)
Praying through it, and grateful that I have a mostly sweet (hehe) Chinese man to help me sort it all through.