Another amazing trip to China, good days with Micah, Jodi and the lively grand-girls, punctuated by a memorable train trip down to Hunan to stay with Jodi’s dear parents. I could write dozens of memories–but here’s my “top ten.”
#1. Getting to know the new “grown up” Maryann was the best! She was my little buddy and would sit and listen to books forever, constantly asking “What’s that? What’s that?” on every page. She’s our curious little kid!
#2. In Changsha, we explored the grounds of the oldest university in China. Great fun toddling through the gardens with Micah and Maryann–photo opportunities galore in such a beautiful place.
#3. I’ll never forget the days of remarkable hospitality in the Zhou’s home. It was wonderful for me to see how & where Jodi grew up. From the chicken feet dinner our first night to the warm send off at the train station as we headed back to Shanghai, they were so gracious and kind. I wish I could speak Chinese and really get to know them…
#4. One hot evening Jodi’s childhood friend guided us across Changsha to a historic courtyard building –part Buddhist temple, part small shops and we continued upstairs to the most incredible dim sum restaurant. A sea of bright flagged carts surrounded us as we sat down–so many choices! Micah and Jodi chose 25+ small dishes for us to sample, all washed down with green bean juice (surprisingly refreshing!) The table was beautiful, so full of colorful offerings.
#5. I loved watching Micah being the “Daddy” –showing the girls the rainbow in a fountain, doing water “calligraphy” on an old stone wall, pointing out Venus and Jupiter in the night sky.. He had them giggling and squealing as he tossed them in the air– and is the fun bath time Dad. He has amazing patience and understanding for 2 little girls. They are blessed.
#6. The Zhous hired a little gray van to take us over an hour out of town to a lake filled with lotus plants. We were ferried around the lake in a gondola style boat, poled by an older Chinese man who was informative and clever–He made us a lotus leaf/flower hat that we all modeled for pictures and dug out seeds from lotus pods for us to sample. The brilliant pink flowers big as platters dotted the masses of enormous green lily pads. So beautiful and tranquil.
#7. On our travels home in the little gray van I had a wonderful chance to chat with Jodi. She really is a bright, amazing person. With girls almost asleep on our laps, it was a quiet spot in our week and I feel like I got to know Jodi in a new way…
#8. One evening we had dinner in a little restaurant a short walk from the Zhou’s home–including a huge “corn fritter” and for dessert candied apples and bananas–delish! The Zhous headed home while Jodi took Micah, the girls and I on a little walking tour of her growing up neighborhood. We passed her old schools, a small lake, simple stores and the city park. Jodi stopped at a sidewalk toy vendor to buy the girls little twirly light up toys with a very repetitive chinese melody. They loved them! It was a real highlight for me to see more of Jodi’s world.
#9. One afternoon I pulled out the little photo album I had sent Charlotte of her visit here with us last winter. I wondered how much she really remembered of her weeks at “Grandma Rhonda and Grandpa Larry’s house.” But when I turned to the page of us eating stew for dinner she started to sing the “I like carrots” song that we had sung that very night! It made my heart so very happy to know she still remembered!
#10. I did have a chance to babysit one afternoon and evening while Micah and Jodi took a day away. Charlotte and I walked to the market for lunch/dinner supplies and then we came home to play all the grandma favorites –Maryann can squish play-doh forever. And there was a tea party, lots of coloring, story books, punchy balloons, paper dolls, the chinese equivalent of Sesame Street on tv and of course bath and bed time. It was the best!
Now I’m home. I told Larry I made two resolutions in China– Never go again in August (too darn hot & muggy!) and never go without Larry. It’s too much for him to miss. I thankful for these amazing, memorable days.