Bring On The Rolls

My son was born at a healthy weight of 6lbs 15oz but quickly began to lose weight, as do most babies right after they are born. Unfortunately with Lucas he continued to lose weight and at 16 days Lucas weighed in at 5lbs 14oz. Doctors recommend that babies should be back to their birth weight by 10 days! As you can see by the picture on the left Lucas was very skinny and dehydrated. It was a very difficult few weeks nursing constantly, carefully keeping track of feedings, wet & poopie diapers and weighing him every night to see if we were making any progress.

Today Lucas is 3 months old and looks very healthy (picture on right). Today he weighed in at 12lbs 14oz!! Way to go Lucas, you even have a double chin!!

Lucas Dunking

Lucas has grown in many since moving back to the States. Both his physical and mental skills have greatly improved. It’s been such a joy to see him enjoying life. He loves cars, trucks & trains more than anything else. In fact, the way to coax him into going to Sunday school is by saying something like, “Lucas, I think they have a truck for you!” (It works every time.)

He also like balls, which of course thrills my heart since I’m also a fan. He gladly joined me in playing basketball on this afternoon. We were at Anna’s school picnic at a State park. Despite his fear of heights (he’s our timid one), he overcame for a few seconds to dunk the ball. He actually wanted to do it several times, which, of course wore me out.







Picture notes:
Jacquelyn took this picture and I edited it. I did my original edits (cropping, B&W) in iPhoto and then moved over to Photoshop to add the puzzle effect. I also removed my arm pit shadows as it was distracting and the first thing I looked at. (See original and cropped B&W.)

Lucas Dunking B&W Cropped

Lucas Dunking Orginal

Anna’s Ice Skating Show

Anna finally performed her ice show! She did awesome! I’m so proud of how hard to she worked at it.

Things I learned while sitting in on her practices and performance:

Ice rinks are cold
Yes, this may not be a big surprise to you, but sitting in the stands for hours on end really establishes this fact. We had to keep the winter clothes out just so we could watch her practice.

1-year-olds and 3-year-olds don’t like to sit for more than 30 minutes at a time (and that’s pushing it)
Our 1-year-old made a game of seeing how many times he could get mommy and daddy to come get him from going down the stairs. No matter how many times I grabbed him and pulled him back, he headed right back for the stairs. The 3-year-old certainly did better than the 1-year-old, but his apparent goal was to stand in the middle of the isle preventing anyone from passing. He wasn’t aware of this, of course, but he surely didn’t want to get out of the way.

They like to turn up the music really loud at the performance
Wow. My ears are still ringing from the speakers blaring out Glee songs.

Anna is athletic
Actually, this isn’t a new revelation to me. Just the other day, we were throwing a baseball around for her first time and she amazed me at how fast she was able to throw it correctly and follow my form exactly.

Ice-skating is a culture unto its own
We certainly know what it’s like to enter someone else’s culture. In many ways entering into the ice-skating culture is similar to moving to another country.  There’s a new language to learn with it’s own abbreviations, customs to follow, and new places to go. The sheer amount of time that an ice-skating performer needs to craft his/her art ensures that they their life will revolve around the sport.

Anna’s 1st Ice Skating Lesson

Anna’s been so excited about her ice-skating lesson since we signed her up several weeks ago. I got to take ice skating her only one time while we were living in Qingdao. It was a lot of fun and she, as usual, picked it up rather quickly.

I wasn’t supposed to take her to the lesson tonight, but Jacquelyn got sick. I had a blast, though, taking pictures of her and waving from the stands like the proud dad that I am.

Anna the Baller

The last couple of weeks I’ve been helping out with Qingdao Youth Basketball League. It’s for kids Kindergarten to 5th grade. There are two leagues – Jiaozi and Baozi. Jiaozi are typically smaller than Baozi, that the younger league is Jiaozi.

Even though Anna’s a couple of months too young, I registered her to play. She’s been having a good time and looks super cute in her Nuggets uniform.

Acting silly while Daddy sets up

The first week we worked on Skills and Drills. And the second, we did Skills and Games.

She’s been doing really well with it…except the first day she had a broken nail and said, “Daddy, I can’t practice anymore. I’ve got a broken nail.” It made me want to shout in a high-pitched, Tom Hanks-like voice, “There’s no broken nails in basketball!”

On the second day, the game had been going on for about 5 minutes and Anna asked me, “Daddy, what do I do?” I said, “You know how when you hold a ball at home daddy steals it out of your hands?” She nodded. “That’s what you do…steal it out of their hands.” She smiled really big and ran after the person with the ball.

Stretches before practice

Anyway, it’s been super fun to be Anna’s and the rest of my cool team’s coach. What can be cuter than watching a bunch of 5-7 year-olds playing BBall?

Excited about QYBL!

For more pics, check out the QYBL Picture Gallery.

Anna’s Dead Fish

Well, it happens. Fish die. As you know, Anna got a new fish tank. We’ve had a good time taking care of it.

But the other day we noticed one that wasn’t so healthy looking. Eventually it died and we had a funeral. After using the net to remove the dead fish from her tank, and flushing it down the toilet, Anna said, “Let’s get some more!” I think she’s taking the loss well.

Actually, I knew she wasn’t going to be too upset. When I told her about it, this is how I put it:
Me: Anna, I good news and I have bad news.
Anna: What?
Me: The bad news is that one of your fish has died.
Anna: (Exaggerated sad face) Oh, why?
Me: The good news is we get to use your pink net to get it out!
Anna: (Jumping from her seat and yelling) I can do it!

Anna Not-Too-Sad

In the Toilet

But even the death of a small fish gives us a chance to talk about our big God. After all was said and done Anna asked why her fish had died. We got to remind her that one day we will all die, but that death is not the end for believers in Jesus. We reminded her of her Papa (Grandpa Smith) and how he is in heaven partying with Jesus and the angels.

For more pictures, click here.

Anna’s New Fish Tank

Anna's Fish TankOn Thursday we went to a somewhat large market to buy some fruit and vegetables. At the same place, in the basement, we wanted to go look at the tropical/marine fish market. This is the place that I bought my saltwater fish tank. After looking at the fun corals, we started meandering around the market. They I got a brilliant idea. I said without consulting my wife, “Anna. Do you want to get your own fish tank?” Of course, Anna said emphatically, “Yes”.

We shopped around and found a hot pink one that she liked. We were sure to get all the supplies that we needed – most of which came with the tank.

Including all the setup equipment and fish, we spent a total of RMB 165 ($25). Not too bad, if I say so myself. (We later added two plants and more fish, adding to the total RMB 36 ($5).

Currently we have:
6 Neonfish; 6 Guppies (all boys – no babies, please), 2 Catfish (“Mousefish” in Chinese), and 1 Plecostomus

Enjoy the Slideshow:

[lg_slideshow folder=”annasfishtank”]

Night Night at the Homestead

Our week here in China is probably much like everyone else’s week in the world…we’re just doing it halfway around the world. I usually come home from work around dinner time. We eat, play a game or have the kids take a bath, and then off to bed. It often feels like life is one big time-crunch.

Anyway, tonight was bath night.
Man Hat #2
“Man Hat” -term coined by Anna.

Bath Time

The Emperor's New Clothes
Reading the Emperor’s New Clothes

Done and in bed by 8…well, Anna anyway.

Happy Birthday, A-Mae

Anna Mae is now 4 years old! What an exciting time in all of our lives. Anna is so full of life and happiness. She’s also developing in her memory and emotions. The other day she saved a cookie from school for mommy to eat (a feat in itself to get it home in one piece). Mommy didn’t immediately eat the cookie, and the next day Anna reminded mommy of it by asking, “Did you eat the cookie yet?” When mommy said no, Anna said as she visibly became emotional about it, “But I saved it for you!”

Anna got to have 3 birthday parties!

Her Chinese school threw her a birthday party.

She celebrated alone with mom and dad.

And then we threw her a party with her friends at the house.

Oh, and Jacquelyn made a cake that was simply out of control!

Some Observations about the Party Scene

For JK’s birthday I thought I’d take her out on the town. There was a band in town called Immaculate Machine. (I forgot the name, though, and kept telling people we were going to see the Immaculate Conception.) The band was from Canada. What they were doing in China, I have no idea. Their music was quite good. I always wonder what motivation rock bands have to go out on tour. This band didn’t seem to be in it for the party scene, or money, or hookin’ up. They seemed genuinely interested in the music…which is nice. Overall it was a good night. We had a fun time together.

While talking together, we made the following observations:
-Neither one of us have really experienced the party scene before
-Neither one of us particularly like it
-Both of us think it is quite smoky
-We both enjoyed the music
-We’re usually in bed by the time the headline band hits the stage
-I think we’ll do it again, sometime

Immaculate Machine’s website:

What I Want for Christmas – An Anna Mae Deluxe…

Things are winding down for us here in Qingdao. In just a couple of weeks we’ll be headed back to the States to spend our first Christmas with the Carman family since we were married. Although we’ve enjoyed the last 5 Christmases in China with our friends, we’re really looking forward to being able to spend it with family this time

Recently we were able to get a remote control car! (Awesomely named, “Land Despot” or “Overlord”) But, as with most toys that 3 year-olds get, Anna enjoys playing with the box much more than with the car itself.

Wax Berry?

I have seen this fruit many times when I would go to the market and buy my fruits and vegetables. But being a unadventurous person I have never had the courage to buy it. I showed it to my friend the other day and asked if she knew what it was. She said she didn’t and I thought that was that. The next day when I was over her house she had bought some! She told me I had to try one and I instantly fell in love. This weird berry thing tastes a bit like a cherry. It looks and fells like a hard ball. There is a small cherry pit like seed in the middle.

My friend did some research on the Internet and found that they don’t have an English name but is most commonly called a Chinese wax berry. So whatever this fruit is it has made my top 5 most loved fruit!

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With June comes . . .

During the month of June the roses begin to bloom; trees are blossoming and these fruit (pictures on right) are ripe and ready to eat. The first city that we lived in here in China, Lechee would practically grow wild. We could just pick them off the the trees ourselves and eat them. That is where I first fell in love with this refreshing fruit. The outside is a hard spiky shell that you peel off to reveal a white fleshy “meat” inside. You bite into this sweet but not strong refreshing flavor. The inside has a good side pit.

I would eat soo much of them and our Chinese friends would worn me and say that a person should only eat 10 of them a day or it would cause the body to have too much riqi (pounced houqi here in QingDao). I didn’t care – I would eat as many as I could.

Lechee is famous for growing in the south but is only in season for the month of June. The emporer way back when also had a love for these fruit and would have them brought up over the rough roads of the day to be delivered to him.

After two years of eating them while living in Dongguan I was delighted to see them in Beijing while we lived there. When I went to purchase them I was shocked at how pricey they were, but I knew how much I loved them and it was worth the price. I was greatly disappointed when I got home and they were not very good. Because lechee only grows in the slow this fruit was imported making it so expensive & not very fresh.

Since moving to Qingdao I saw my favorite fruit out this past June but was very hesitant buying it since my horrible experience in Beijing. I don’t know what changed my mind but I decided to give it a try and boy was I glad I did. These lechee were very delicious! I have been reminded how much I love this fruit . . . . I think I might go and finish the few we have left.

3 years have past

My baby is no longer a baby. A day does not go by with one of us saying “You’re/I’m not a baby any more, you’re/I’m a big girl!” She has changed a lot these past 3 years.

Here are some things she has accomplished since turning 3:

  • Potty Trained (yeah! no more diapers!!)
  • English language: she is able to express herself using words but still struggles with distinguishing when to use his/hers & when speaking about time she always uses yesterday
  • Can be polite when she wants to be: “Excuse me mommy” my favorite is when she spontaneously at the table says “Thank you mommy for making dinner, thanks daddy for making the bread”
  • Can sit through a whole movie (as long as it interests her
  • Writes both a capital and lower case “A”
  • Draws a face
  • Colors in the lines (most of the time)
  • Loves to dance
  • I think she is a little lonely, she gets upset when I’m not in the mood to talk back to her. She looks at me as says “Mommy, talk! Use words.”
  • She is very excited about mommy having a baby – she talks about it everyday, for awhile there I think she really thought she was pregnant to

It has been a great adventure raising a 3 year old, many tears, laughs, exiting times & dull times. I am so thankful for all those times. I look forward to many more years!! I love you Anna May, Happy Birthday!!

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Obama nothin’, I can make the front page too!

A couple of weeks ago Obama made the the front page here in China when he won the election. Well, it turns out that it’s not that hard to do! (For those of you who have kept up with us, you’ll remember that I made the newspaper another time as well.)

I recently took the HSK (Hanyu Shuiping Kaoshi – Chinese Proficiency Test). It is nick-named the “Chinese TOEFL”. Over 600 students took the test at Qingdao University. In my particular class I was the only “Western-looking” student, as everyone else was *Korean. In fact, on my way to and from the test I didn’t see a single “Western-looking” person!

The HSK test is quite difficult as it is only in Chinese characters. There were quite a few questions that I just had to guess at. I have to wait 50 days before I find out the results. If you don’t see me blog about the results within 2 months, that means I probably didn’t do very well on the test and am ashamed to tell anyone about it 🙂

PHOTO CAPTION: Overseas students take the “Chinese TOEFL”

*The Korean population is Qingdao is huge!

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Baby Fever

Someone in our house has baby fever and her name is . . .

Anna Mae! Recently Anna has been very into playing “babies.” She actually takes care of her babies very well, feeding them, changing them, putting them to bed. Sometimes they are even potty training.

Last Monday we had study at our house. There are several new babies and Anna was was right there observing, learning how to be a mommy.

Obama In China

47-year-old Obama was elected the *56th American President, becomes the first black president in American history.

 奥巴马 (Obama – pronounced: “Au-ba-ma” in Chinese) made the front page of our local city’s newspaper. Not only did he get the front page, but he also got a section-A, 4-page spread.

At the corner store today, I showed the fruit-seller-guy the newspaper and asked if he thought Obama would be better than Bush (**Most Mainland Chinese people don’t like Bush). He said, “There’s no way to tell. He’s not president yet”. Although people in both parties are making their predictions of Obama’s future grand success or utter failure, this Chinese guy has voiced what is probably the most honest, non-partisan remark possible. In other words, “We’ll have to wait and see.”

Here are a few of the other headlines (These are my own translation…could be a bit off):
-Black horse puts on White house
-Obama: I have a dream
-Black man rules the roost, but the “white” in White house remains
-From “little poor baby” to big president
-Kenya takes holiday to congratulate Obama

*Notice the misprint on the front page. It says Obama is our 56th president. The last I counted, he’s actually only the 44th. Hmm, not sure if the local papers can be trusted…

**One of the first things Chinese people ask you is, “Where are you from?” Of course my reply is always, “America”. More often than not, the next thing out of their mouth is, “布什不好” (Bu shi Bu hao), meaning, “Bush is Bad”.

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Halloween Update

We’re not sure if anybody still reads this blog or not, but we just wanted to let you know that we’re alive and well. We had a party over at our house to celebrate the day after Halloween. We carved and painted pumpkins, ate home-made chili and hung out with our friends.

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Don’t cry over spilt milk…just drink it.

Although we like to parade around in 5-Star hotels like the one we stayed at in Vietnam, we readily admit that we are cheapskates at heart. In addition to avoiding the bellboy for fear of needing to give a tip, we rarely took any taxis while in Vietnam.

Further evidence of our cheapskate-ness can be seen in the picture below…

Korea & Vietnam

We’ve been on holiday for just over a week now. We started out in Korea and made our way over to the beautiful city of Hoi An.

We had lots of fun in Korea. We spent the whole time with JK’s “Korean Sister” and her family. They really overdid themselves in hosting us and treating us to the touristy things in and around their city of Suwon. After spending several days with them, we took a four hour flight for Hanoi. The next day we arrived in Hoi An.

Hoi An is a beach town in the middle of Vietnam. Many resorts line the beach. The one we picked is called the Golden Beach Resort. It has a massive pool (I mean huge) and it’s own beach front. We spend our time rotating back and forth between the beach and the pool. Downtown is only a few km away and it is a bustling tourist town. I don’t think I’ve ever really experienced anything quite like it.

JK has been uploading a bunch of pictures to her facebook. Go over and check ’em out:

Olympic Torch in Qingdao

The excitement is growing here in Qingdao as the Olympics are getting closer. This past Monday there was an Olympic torch relay through Qingdao. It started at the sailing center and turned down the main road that passes in front of our apartment complex. It continued down and around Qingdao and ended up at beach #1 where it went on a sail boat across the way back to the sailing center.

As you can see in most of my pictures we couldn’t see very much because everyone was waving flags, but just to be there was so exciting. It is interesting to be here as the Olympics come. I think that the local government did not want the crowd to be too large, so they told most people to stay inside while the torch relay was going on. They bused almost all the spectators in from around town. That is why they are all dressed alike.
There were actually suppose to be two other torch relays in the nearby area but for some reason or another they were canceled. So what happened is all the relayers came to Qingdao and were going to “run” in this one. All together there were 259 people that carried the torch. So instead of running 2 km they each ran 50 m (about 130 feet). So each relayer did not actually do much running.

Where we were standing we got to see the fire pass from one relayer to the next. Unfortunately, all the flags & cameras were in our way so I can’t say I saw that actually happen. But after watching it, Jeremy & I were both very excited to see the Olympics, so I think the purpose of the relay did it’s job.
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Annual Goodbyes

If any of you have lived overseas before, you know saying “goodbye” to friends is an annual occurrence. This year is especially rough for us as some of our closest friends are headed back to their home countries or new assignments. Although we’re extremely happy for our friends who are turning a new page in their lives, we’re a little offended they didn’t consider our feelings…

To all of our friends who are leaving, we’re super excited for you. You will always be remembered by the Carmans. Thanks for all the good times we had together.
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The Storm

by Jacquelyn Carman

As we were taking our evening walk the wind was blowing pretty strong causing rather large waves to crash up against the rocks. As I watched I was thinking, this is exactly how I have felt the past few days. Waves tossing me this way and that . . . how can I with stand all the turmoil. Then words from the song “Beautiful Lord” by Leeland came to my mind.

When the storm is raging all around me
You are the peace that calms
My troubled sea
And the cares of this world
Darken my day
You are the light that shines
And shows me the way
Oh, the beauty of Your majesty
On the cross You showed Your love for me!

Beautiful Lord
Awesome and mighty
I’m captured by this love I see
Beautiful Lord
Tender and holy
Your mercy brings me to my knees
It’s Your mercy that has made me free
Beautiful Lord

When my sin is all that I can see
Your grace remains the shelter that I seek
And when my weakness is all I can give
Your gentle Spirit gives me strength again
And oh, the beauty of Your majesty
On the cross You showed Your love for me

And I am lifted by Your love to sing!
It’s Your mercy that has made me free!

You’re beautiful, my Lord
You’re beautiful, my Lord

Spring is coming . . .

The weather is turning from cold to warm and sunny. Last weekend it was cold enough that we had to wear our winter hats, coats and gloves. It was cold, wet and damp. I was getting depressed fearing that the warm weather would never come. Today, to my great pleasure, it was warm enough I didn’t even need a coat. The wind is still blowing pretty strong but it is not bitter cold any more. Anna & I went to beach today and were able to enjoying the shinning sun and the blue sky. Soon the flowers will begin to bloom!!

Joy Like A Child

When was the last time that you got up on some one’s feet and “flew”? Or just went outside and started laughing at a dog or a bird? How about finding the joy in sliding down a slide or racing someone? It probably has been a long time for most of us. (probably because we are too big to be able to do any of those things)

Sometimes we can be dragged down by all the things in our lives . . . bills, appointments, sickness . . . . The Book tells us to have fth like a child, why not find joy like a child. “Rejoice in Him always. I will say it again: Rejoice!” It also says to find joy in every circumstance as you face trails of many kinds.

As many things seem to go wrong in my life I look at this happy face and listen to her sweet silly laugh and I say . . . “I want that.” I can have that, we all can have that. Find the joy in small silly things, enjoy the beautiful creation, laugh and smile together. Be like a child and have great joy!
“A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a broken spirit drys up the bones.”