-Nolan turned one year old on July 24th. We had a big party with several neighbors and friends, and it was especially cool since my mother came from the USA for a visit. It was the first time that she had seen Nolan and Tina in person, and we had a blast while she was here. My father passed away last year so he never got to see his grandson face to face, but I'm glad that my mother was able to make the trip.
-Tina celebrated her 30th birthday on August 2nd. I arranged a little surprise party with some of her friends, which was something she had never had before. For a lot of Chinese people, turning 30 is the equivalent of becoming middle-aged, so Tina was lamenting the grinding gears of time a bit. But since she already has the husband, the baby, and the house which are all required of Chinese girls by the time they turn 30, she wasn't feeling too bad. Plus she still looks like a dream, and people always tell her that she's got to be in her mid-20s. By the way, she's a year and a half older than me, and you know what they say about hot, horny older women. Giggity!
-Life is slow and quiet at our new home, but it's nice. It's a few kilometers outside of the city, which means that everything is much cheaper but it's kinda boring, with small town people, small town manners, small town life. I'm the only foreigner around so I'm a bit of a local celebrity (which we have been able to use to our advantage in creating a small English school at our home during the summer) but I spent three years in Jiangxi province before I came to Xiamen so I'm used to the Chinese countryside. There are a lot of things that I wish were different, but I appreciate what I have.
-Tina and I got tattooed together last week. She got a little "Z" on her ankle for Nolan, whose middle name is "Z" (I know, cool huh?). I got a large design filling up the empty space on my left elbow region. It took two sessions for a total of six hours. It was not fun at all. I've decided that in the future, I'm going to get tattooed once a year, and with this new tattoo out of the way, I don't really have any desire to get anything new, so I think I'll just devote my tattoo energy to improving the ones I already have (and some need a lot of touching up). I'll post the photos of Tina's and my tattoos once they've healed.
-I've been doing lots of research on cathedrals, particularly the Gothic style of architecture. I've always loved cathedrals, but now I'm taking a serious look at the design, the styles, the symbolism, and it's utterly fascinating. There is a commanding grandeur in this structures that I find lacking in Chinese construction, and the more I learn, the more I yearn to explore them in real life. I'm even reading The Hunchback of Notre-Dame right now.
So that's the deal for now. I'll be heading back to work in a couple of weeks, and it's been great having the whole summer to spend at home with the family, particularly Nolan as he navigating these formative days. I feel bad for a lot of parents, particularly fathers, whose jobs take them away from home for so long. It's nice to have personal space sometimes, but I wouldn't want to miss first steps or first words for anything. The Bible says that children are a gift from God, and it's true.