#aphotoaday View of your Dad

My daughter, Anna, is my second guest poster in this series. It’s an interesting shot and it got me thinking of how my children will view me when they are off on their own.







When they think back at the important moments of their childhood, will the memory of me be positive?

Or will it just be blurry?


#aphotoaday Milk Tea

Milk tea is a thing here. And we’re really into it. This is from our favorite milk tea place called, Coco. Actually, I decided to take this milk tea home and save it for another day because I was really full from dinner. I put it in the refrigerator. Apparently, though, when my wife saw it in there she thought it was over two weeks old and THREW IT AWAY! WHAT! Have no fear, I sent her some Bitmoji’s (here and here) letting her I was upset about it. But just yesterday she bought me another one to make up for it. So, now she gets this and this one.

Also, when did my child become an adult?


#aphotoaday For the Love of Reading

If you’ve been around my house, you’ve seen this as a normal occurrence. I envy her ability to be utterly consumed by a good book. I never gained the love of reading that my daughter has. But at least when she finishes a book we get to watch the movie together.


Anna’s Birthday

Anna has really jumped in to life here in China. Although she misses her friends in the States dearly, she has very quickly connected with some girls here. When she said she wanted to have a birthday party at an ice-skating rink, we were a bit worried that she wouldn’t have any friends join in. But we were wrong!



We are very proud of Anna. She’s studious, creative and very caring of her siblings. She’s been through a difficult time moving overseas, but has really done well adjusting to it all. We love you, Anna!

Can we do Devotions in the Morning?

How in the world would I possibly be able to say no to such a request? Anna has such a tender heart. She recently told me that she wanted to be able to explain to her friends about Jesus. So, I recommended getting “More than a Carpenter” because I had read it myself as a kid. But I suspected it would be a bit heavy reading.  We bought the book and read through some things together. But it does have quite lofty thoughts that she’s not really ready for. So, we’ve just been reading through Our Daily Bread on my Bible app. It’s been fun to see her processing the devos. I pray she keeps this tender heart. 

The (not golden) Bridge

Last night I went to the Mid-Hudson Bridge to get some shots for work. We’re doing a fundraiser for an organization called Solving Kids’ Cancer.

Anna is interested in what I do at my job. Every now and then when JK brings the family to the store to shop, they’ll come up and say hi. I showed Anna my computer and tried to explain what I do. I even had her edit some pictures that I was working on. But all in all, it’s pretty boring for a 7 year old. Last night was fun because we got to go out on location.

(Picture by Anna)

The goal for this project was to take some pictures of the gold lights of the Mid-Hudson bridge so that I could post them as part of the fundraiser project. The bridge was supposed to be all gold as a tribute to pediatric cancer victims and survivors. Unfortunately, there was a mix up and the bridge wasn’t all gold.

But Anna and I had fun together throwing rocks in the water and watching the water for jumping fish.

This picture is of Anna being “surprised” by a jumping fish:
A Jumping Fish

As usual, Anna asked alot questions. Here are just a few:

  • What if our car was full of water but you could breathe in it?
  • What should we get mommy for her birthday?
  • What if everyone walked with a cane?
  • What if everything was cherry flavored?

And my favorite dialog:

Anna: (In rapid succession) I want to ride in a boat. Can we get a boat? Not just a regular small boat. I mean a boat with two levels so we can be on top and bottom. We could come down here and ride in the boat with the family.
Me: I think you’re talking about a yacht.
Anna: Yeah, can we get a yacht?
Me: That would be awesome. But they’re really expensive. Like more than house!
Anna: How much?
Me: (After looking it up on my phone) Like $2 million.
Anna: You and mommy have $2 million.
Me: No, we don’t.
Anna: Yes, you do. Each of you has $1 million in your bank accounts.
Me: No, we don’t.
Anna: Yes, you do.
Me: No. Seriously. We don’t.
Anna: (Saddened by reality) Oh.

To Shanghai and Back Again…Now Repeat

We knew for quite some time that our daughter, Anna’s, passport and visa were going to expire soon. We planned to go and take care of it as soon as our son Micah was born. After all, he would need a passport and visa as well. We might as well take care of it at the same time. Plus, Jacquelyn was really in no shape to travel being as far a long as she was.

We Pause now for a Context Explanation: In order to get a new passport for a 5 year old, both parents must go to the Embassy or one of the Consulates and show a photo for every 6 months of life of the child proving that the 5-day old picture of your child on the old passport is the same child 5 years later. Also, before we could get a passport for Micah, we had to get a Consular Report of Birth Abroad (CRBA) – which is like the equivalent to an American birth certificate for us Expats. Again both parents must go and show their marriage certificate and passports along with the new baby’s Chinese birth certificate (which is a rather interesting process in and of itself…I’ll share that another time, I guess.) In both situations, it takes about 10 working days to process the paperwork, make the new passports in the US, FedEx them to China, and, if you do it in Beijing, they’ll mail it to you!

So Micah comes and we’re extremely happy just enjoying our new treasure. Micah was born on a Thursday and the following week was spring break…great timing for a birth, actually. I still had several paternity days, which we were planning to use to go take care of the passports.

During this pre-paternity-days spring break I went online and scheduled the earliest appointment available at the Beijing Embassy. The appointment is 1 week before the Anna’s passport and visa expire. I’m not too worried about it, though. Surely, as long as the passport is being processed, the visa can go over a couple of days. After all, the Embassy could provide proof that the passport was being processed. So, on the first day back to school I check with our visa liaison to make sure this was okay. It turns out that my assumptions were wrong. The visa-processing-people would not be able to accept that the passport was being processed as, “there was no policy for this situation”. If Anna overstayed her visa, we would be fined 500 RMB (75 USD) for each day overstayed…plus she would have a “bad record”. I’m not sure what a bad record means, but I do know overstaying your visa accidentally or otherwise is not something you want to do. You can end up in jail in addition to the fines and bad record.

This was not the news that we wanted to hear. So I get on the phone with Jacquelyn and talk about our different options. We could try to go to Beijing and just do a walk-in appointment, but there was no guarantee that we’d be able to see anyone.

Context Explanation: The lines outside of the Embassy are tremendously long. Of the 1.3 billion people in China, about half are trying to get a visa to the US…okay, not half…but the line seriously snakes around the block for along way. Being American citizens, we most definitely probably wouldn’t have to wait in that line…but still, the thought of being in any line that resembles that one scares me. I actually have a recurring nightmare about such a line.

Another option was getting to Hong Kong. Although the Consulate down there didn’t have any appointments available either, we don’t need a visa to be in Hong Kong for like 30 days. But that would have been ridiculously expensive. Finally, we came up with the idea of going to Shanghai. Shanghai’s Consulate had appointments right way. Jacquelyn finds tickets online for that very evening and books them! We’ve got plenty of time. I can go home from work at 4:30, eat a nice dinner, pack up clothes and head out the door for a stress free trip to Shanghai.

As a review, here is the timeline up to this point:
-Monday 7am – find out we need to get the passport sooner than expected
-Monday 8am – talk to the embassy on the phone and try to figure it out
-Monday 9am – panic
-Monday 1pm – purchase tickets to Shanghai

I get home as planned and have a nice dinner. Just after finishing, I go to the computer and check online to make sure that we have all the documents needed as requested by the Consulate. Marriage Certificate – check; Anna’s age progression photos – check; current passports for the whole family – check; Anna’s CRBA – not with the other stuff. Hmm, okay, the search begins…

Remember, the CRBA is the equivalent to an American Birth Certificate. We cannot update Anna’s passport without it. We tear the house apart looking for it. We can’t find it. I have this faint idea that it is in a green folder. I had to use it to apply for Anna’s SSN like a year ago. Oh, no. Does that mean that I left it at my office? So, I pack several days worth of clothes, not sure if I’ll be matching in Shanghai or not and head out the door to my office. Jacquelyn continues looking for it at the house just in case it’s not at my office.

The taxi driver is not the best driver. He’s one of those drivers that can’t seem to figure out how to slowly press the gas, gain speed at a steady rate, and then in the smooth and calculated way press the brake when needed. If you’ve ever ridden with someone who rides the brake, you know what I’m talking about. We’re a block a way from the house and I’m already car sick and contemplating if it would be too rude to ask to get down sooner than what I already told him in order to change taxis. Unfortunately, there wasn’t time for such luxuries. But one things was for sure, I was not going to ask him to wait for me at my office to take me home. I’d try my luck at finding a different taxi – even though taxis aren’t as frequent out at the office.

I finally make it to the school and look everywhere for this thing that I think should be in a green folder. It’s not there. I run up to my storage room in case it inadvertently got moved up there. The lights don’t work in the room, so I’m using my cell phone as a flashlight. It’s not there. It’s got to be at the house. This is not good. I’m 25 minutes from home not helping in the search and just wasted about an hour going to the office. We need to be leaving for the airport in about 45 minutes. There’s no point in going to Shanghai if we can’t find this cursed CRBA. Can we get money back for the tickets that we purchased?

In the taxi ride home Jacquelyn and I go over the places that she’s looked and she starts re-looking in those places. We say a panicked prayer to God asking for help. She opens a backpack – somewhere that she’s already looked – and locates a green folder. Inside is the CRBA! Tears of frustration are replaced by tears of joy.

Waiting for a job

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About a month and a half ago my brother told me about a job opportunity in Nashville, TN, very near, and actually, associated with his own job. I read through the job requirements and agreed that the job could be perfect for me. I immediately applied for the job and submitted my resume to HR. With my experience and my brother’s voice in the hiring manager’s ear, I was quite sure that I would be offered the job. Or at least get an interview.

One of the pre requirements of the job was that I needed to take a manager’s test to see if I was manager material in general. I drove down to NYC and took the test and passed. (I got a parking ticket, too…) I was feeling pretty confident about the whole thing. When I initially talked with HR about this position, they said that it needed to be filled by mid-May. As it was already early May at that time, I thought things were going to move along quickly and I’d likely be heading to Nashville with in the month to interview in person and then, if all went well, be moving down my family a few weeks later.

Well, mid-May came and went with no updates on the position. My brother was confident that no one had been interviewed for the position. I contacted HR another time just to let the I know I was still interested in the job.

Finally, at the beginning of June, HR contacted me to let me know that I was no longer in the running for the position. Nathan did some research into it and found that one person had interviewed for the job and s/he was internal. Of course, that really sucked and I’m a bit upset that I didn’t even get an interview. It’s almost as if the position wasn’t really available.

Anyway, what I really started thing about was the psychological impact a possible move has on you. I remember when I was in middle school my mom told me that there was a possibility that my dad could be transferred – I think it was to Minnesota or something. The next day at school I was taking it all in, trying to set things into my memory so I wouldn’t forget about them. I wasn’t sad about the prospect of moving, just sentimental. That transfer ended up falling through and we never moved.

With the prospect of moving to another city for this job, both Jacquelyn and I had a difficult time of trying to move forward with our existing life. It certainly wasn’t as sentimental, as we’ve only been here less than 2 years. And in that 2 years, we’ve always felt like we could be ready to move again any time. But planning even for smaller thing like gymnastics for your children have an additional stressor. I mean, if we register, will we be able to get our money back? Should we plan on not doing the activity at all? I even struggled with my fish tank. I didn’t want to invest any more money into if we’re just going to sell it off or even take it with us to the new job. Should we buy a leaf blower? Should I resign from my volunteer positions at the church?

When the job opportunity fell through, I actually felt a sense of relief. The stress of possibly moving was pretty heavy. I may not have a better paying job with better opportunities for growth, but at least we were finally able to get our daughter enrolled in gymnastics camp.

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.

Ordering a House

Anna my 6 year old is screaming from upstairs in her bed for me to come up to her. She’s not screaming because she’s scared. I can tell from her voice that she’s just got something to tell me. It’s the typical persistant, ever growing louder by each call type of yell. I can tell she really wants to talk to me because I can hear her all the way from the sound-killing family room as I try to watch the NBA playoffs. Lucas, who is younger than Anna by 4 years is also screaming. But he’s doing it because Anna’s doing it. It’s a game to him. Plus, the result of the game is that daddy comes back in the room.

Someone in the kitchen, where it’s much easier to hear what’s going on upstairs, alerts me to their cries by saying, “The kids are asking for you.” I make the snide remark, “They’re asking for some discipline is what they’re asking for.” as I make my first motion out of my recliner. I’m a bit upset. It’s the second time we’ve completed this exercise tonight. As I get to the stairs, I’m contemplating the type of discipline I’m going to dish out. But by the time I reach the top of the stairs, my attitude has changed and I decide to hear her out on what this “urgent” need is. (Then I’ll decide what type of punishment she would get.)

“Yes, dear, what’s the problem?”, I say.
“Daddy, I miss China.”, she said at first fine, but by the word “China” is forcing out a tear and overemphasized wording.

Two thoughts occur to me at this moment. The first is, Man, she’s such a drama queen. Should I let her turn on tears like that? The second was, Man, I’m really glad I didn’t come in here without hearing out what my daughter had to say.

Except for Micah, who was like 4 months old when we left China, we’ve all done some type of grieving since leaving China. Lucas, 2, struggled with the unfamiliarity of everything and everybody. Anna’s biggest anxiety came in the form of her room. She misses it. She misses the colors, the bedspread, the closets, and that she had a room by herself. (Her brother shares a room with her now.)

Jacquelyn and I continue to struggle with our grief over leaving China, too. There are lots of manifestations as a result of our grief, but one of the main roots of the grief is our purpose. Or better put, the lack of purpose. What’s our ministry here?

“Daddy, I miss China”, Anna repeated, this time in full forced tears.
“What is it that you miss about China?” I said, trying to think of something that would comfort her. I sit on the bed and give her a snuggle.
“My room…You know that cover with the colors on it and it was purple and it was my blanket”, she said, using her hand to draw the designs of the comforter. “I want that. Can we get that out of storage.”
“Yes, we can get it out of storage. Did we bring it back with us from China?” I say.

“I miss my friends”, she continued.
“Well, your mom and I are praying about going back”, I said, realizing that by the time that we would actually get back to China her memory of the place would be very little and everything that we knew would be different. Plus, she probably will be pretty engrained in life here in the States by that time.

The statement was true. We are praying about going back. In fact, just that day I surprised myself with my response when the pastor of the church we are attending asked me where I see my self and my family in 5 years. Without hesitation I said, “Back in China, or if not China, some place around the world.” His reply was one of excitement, “Well, that gives us something pray about, doesn’t it?” He then probed a bit further, “What would it take to get you back there?” Again, without hesitation I said, “Two things. A specific call to do a specific thing and Jacquelyn and I take the next step in our spiritual growth.”

Anna had a puzzled look on her face and repeated what I just said as a question, “Move back?”
“Yeah, we’re praying about it”, I offered.
“But we just ordered a house”, Anna said, truly confused as to why we would “order” a house and then decide to move.
“We didn’t order a house, dear”, myself now confused.
“Yes, we did. Mommy got a piece of paper with a house on it. We ordered it.” she said quite positive of her memory.

Jacquelyn had taken Anna to look at a house that was for sale and picked up a flyer about the house.

“Oh, well, we didn’t order it. Mommy and you just looked at the house and that piece of paper just listed all the things it includes.” I said with a big a smile on my face.
“Can we get that blanket out of storage?” she said in her scattered, non-sequitur kind of way.
“Yes, dear. Now go to sleep. Put your head on your pillow and close your eyes. Good night, dear.”
“Good night, daddy”

Lucas, who up to this point was sitting up in his bed, repeating everything that Anna was saying, with the same intonation, looked at me with a huge smile.
“You, too, bud. Head down. Eyes closed. Go to sleep.”
In his 2 year-old, cute way he replied, “Go sleep”, and put his head down.

Anna Ice Skating Practice

Anna has come a long way since her First Ice Skating lesson. She can now skate forward and backward. She can swivel (forward and backward), lift one leg, squat low, cross over legs on a turn and stop quite quickly. With being able to skate backward, she already passed her daddy’s ability…

This video shows Anna in a special practice for a show that Anna will soon be in. It’s meant to show everything that they’ve been learning. Take a look!

Anna Mae Reciting Psalm 100

Anna has been working very hard in her Bible class at school. Every week she has a verse to memorize. We usually work on it in the morning as she’s eating breakfast. The fact that she’s able to read many of the words helps with studying.

For the last several weeks, her assignment has been to learn Psalm 100. Anna has done excellent with it and knows the passage really well.

Anna Reading “The Daddy Book” Then & Now

My Favorite book of Anna’s is, without a doubt, The Daddy Book, by Todd Park. I’ve been reading this book since Anna was a just a little girl. She still likes to read it from time to time and it thrills my heart when she chooses it. I decided to take a video that I had made previously and add a current reading of the book.

Anna sure has grown up. She’ll be turning 6 in just a couple of days! Alot has changed from the first movie. She’s got a couple of brothers now, she’s in the US, and she’s going to school.

Anna’s 1st 100 Days

Anna has now attended 100 days of school in America! To celebrate this milestone, her Kindergarten threw a 100 Days Celebration. Each student was supposed to make a project with the 100 days theme. We had a bunch of candy left over from the Gingerbread house we made for Christmas, so *we decided to make another one with the “100” theme.

*I say “we” because it was my idea to make a Gingerbread House, but I didn’t do any of the work.

See below for the fun pics of the result. Good work Anna and Jacquelyn! Happy 100 days of school!

Working Hard at counting out the pieces.

Each portion used 100 pieces of candy and was in the shape of a “100” (except the nerd-wall). Can you see the 100s?

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.

Update on Life in the USA

We’ve been back in the States for about 3 months now. God has blessed us in many ways since being back. The biggest thing has been His providing of a job for me. For the last month I’ve been working as the Webmaster for a family-owned chain of grocery stores here in the Hudson Valley of NY. I love the work and the people there are great.

Additionally, I’ve started working some freelance web-design projects. I just finished the first project and am quite happy with it. I’ll be writing another blog about it later.

Jacquelyn has adjusted pretty nicely, too. It’s been tough on her as she’s had to adjust her routine to me finding a job. Am I there all the time? Am I working on freelance projects? Do I have a job? Now that I’ve been working for a month, though, she’s finding her stride. Even though we’ve only got one kid in school, it seems like there’s already a bunch of running around to do.

Anna is attending the same school that her mother attended when she was a little girl. We’ve seen her shine so much since starting school. She was definitely ready for school! She’s reading very well. Jacquelyn is giving her piano lessons, as well, and Anna is doing EXTREMELY well with it. She’s got such a high aptitude for learning. She’s still having some hearing issues, but we hope to get our insurance situation worked out shortly and we will be visiting an ENT to get it fixed soon.

Lucas has taken a bit of time getting used to things around here. It took about a month of tears every time we left him in nursery at church for him to finally embrace it. But he’s such a fun and easy-going kid. He’s now loving being there. We’re also thrilled to report that He is now peeing and pooping on the potty! Woo Hoo! We’ve had a few accidents, and will probably a few more in the future, but he’s basically got it down.

Micah is super-cute. It’s hard to have a bad day when he’s around with his huge smile and crazy get-up-and-go crawling and attempts at walking. He’s very much like his big sister and the opposite of his big brother. When he and Lucas get older, I think it’s going to make for a very interesting relationship.

Anna’s Ready for Tomorrow

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For weeks we’ve been talking about coming to Beihai. Anna has been intrigued by this mysterious place that her mom and dad insist is still in China. All she knows about this place is that we are going to be living there for a month, and we’re going to be playing games with new Chinese friends.

Today she did something that really showed me her heart. While we were busy cleaning the house, Anna was busy playing. We hardly noticed what she was doing. When she was finished doing what she was doing she called us over and showed us. She had tied and taped together several chairs. She explained to us that she had made a game. We had to put something under the chair. Closing eyes and guessing where the object is also entered into her explanation, but I can’t be too certain since it’s a 5 year old’s explanation…:) We said that it looked like a very fun game, but we needed to straighten up and untie the chairs to get ready for tomorrow. And she said, “No, it’s for our Chinese kids tomorrow to play a game!” The more I think about it, the more I’m touched that she would be willing to do this. Anna is very shy around new people, so, it’s brave of her to come up with a game to play. It really makes me remember what it was like to be a kid and try to imagine something like going to a new city and meeting new friends.

The second thing she did was bring out a bunch of books and layed them all out. She even organized them by English books and Chinese books so that those who could read English could use the English books and those that could only read Chinese could read the Chinese books.

Sent from my Windows Mobile® phone.

Out with our Neighbors

Since we’ve been living in Qingdao we’ve enjoyed living in the same apartment. In most places getting know your neighbors beyond the stairway/driveway head-nod is a challenge. Despite living literally 10 feet away from our nearest neighbor in this 6-floor apartment complex, it is still a challenge. That being said, we have gotten know a couple of families that live in our stairwell. One in particular has really been cool to see develop.

Bob is a high school senior this year. Over last couple of years, Bob and I have been able to hang out to practice his English. We’ve done tutoring, hanging out with friends, and even playing the board/card game,Dominion. From time to time Bob’s family takes us out to dinner.

This last year has really been special for Bob. He’s on a special track through his high school to study abroad. Bob put in his applications to several universities in the States and hoped for the best. I was thrilled to hear that Bob got accepted to Purdue University in West Lafayette! It’s been fun being able to tell him about Indiana. He’s off for college in August. For you Indiana friends, I might need you to show him the sights.

Another cool factor is that Bob has a little sister about the same age as Anna. They enjoy hanging out together and chasing each other.

In the days since we’ve decided that we would move back to the States, every time I hear Anna speak Chinese I feel a bit regretful about the decision. It’s almost certain that Anna will completely lose her Chinese within 6 months to a year. This year in particular her Chinese fluency has increased incredibly. It’s so cool to be able to watch her converse so easily with her Ayi, teachers and friends.

Here’s a video that shows her hanging out with Kun Kun, Bob’s sister, when they took us out for one more dinner this evening.

Daddy Date: The Last in Qingdao

Anna and I took a break from the packing up and went Yogurt Garden. It’s a self-serve yogurt place. Kinda cool (if u like frozen yogurt).

Afterword, we rode our bikes around the marina and Anna had me take pictures of her.

Here’s some of my favorite things she said on our date:

  • “Okay, see those flags over there? We’re gonna go over there and you’re gonna take two pictures of me there. And then we’ll take some more pictures somewhere else. Okay?”
  • “Daddy, you’re so cool.” (I was showing her how far I could lean over on my bike.)
  • (Taking pictures)
    Anna: “Send them to Starbucks.”
    Me: “Huh?”
    Anna: (With exasperation) “Send the pictures to Starbucks so mommy can see them.”
    Me: (Thoroughly confused) “She’s not at Starbucks, she’s at home.”
    Anna: (Obviously agitated) “No, send them to Starbucks so she can see them at home!”
    Me: “Oh! You mean Facebook.”
    Anna: (With a smile) “Oh, you’re right, I mean Facebook.”

Sent from my Windows Mobile® phone…and edited on my PC 🙂

5 Second Rule

From time to time, our family makes good use of the 5 Second Rule (which actually has some merit…). The other day we were waiting for our food at McD’s and Anna had picked out the straws that we were going to use. She was playing with them and they, predictably, fell on the floor. She said, “It’s okay, daddy.” And started blowing on them to get the dirt off.

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.

Dad: Do you know what “Stealing” means? Anna: Yeah, it’s when I hold a ball and Daddy steals it from me…

We were going over the Advent calendar as a family. This particular day we talked about the 10 Commandments. We got to the part about not stealing because it breaks God’s command. So I asked, “Do you know what stealing means?” Anna replied, “Yeah, when I’m holding the ball, Daddy steals it from me.”

Okay, well I guess there are some instances of stealing that are okay, after all. 🙂

*Video – Ode to the Binky

Every now and then the family will have a jam/dance session. J-Dogg leads on the guitar, Anna the Orchid interprets with dance, and the Mean Bean Lucas will add lyrical dissonance (crying). Orchid Mama usually (wo)mans the camera, but will pipe in when the moment’s right with sweet resolution (usually, when J-Dogg fails to resolve on his own).

Below is a short clip of how these jam/dance sessions go. This is an original: “Ode to the Binky”. (All rights reserved.)

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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.

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I love it when Anna helps me make coffee

On the weekends Anna and I have this routine of making coffee and “me-meal” (oatmeal). Anna does practically the whole thing, with me just opening packages and stabilizing pouring.

The worst thing about working out of the home is not being able to share these little “everyday-life” moments with my family as much as I’d like. I guess it makes me treasure the little things that we can do together.