When you travel, you expect to learn things about the area you're visiting. You take pictures of the scenery and get out of your comfort zone by trying new things. You convince yourself that you are learning about the world, but I really believe that synthesizing this information mainly teaches you more about yourself.
This trip has been a great chance for introspection. Here are some of the things that I have learned (in no particular order):
* I much prefer bathroom scales that measure in kilograms instead of pounds. I must try to find one for my house.
* I could happily eat dumplings every day of my life.
* A biological connection to a child is absolutely not necessary for a mother's love.
* Two weeks is entirely too long to be away from my family. I have much more respect for others who have to be away from home for such long lengths of time.
* My math skills are not great. I am sick of asking Ben to compute how much things cost in "real money".
* I can handle people staring at our family. I understand that a person doesn't see an un-repaired cleft lip/palate every day. And, some of the places we have been, we are clearly the only non-Chinese family, so an intercultural family is also unusual. What does get my Momma Bear instincts kicked up is the pointing at my sweet girl, the pointing at their own lip and the rapid conversations about my child that I cannot understand.
* God placed me in Minnesota and Wisconsin for a reason. He did not intend for me to survive constant high temperatures and humidity. Give me a snow shovel and a pair of boots and I will be happy.
* Everywhere you go, most people are kind and truly want to help.
* Shockingly, I can survive two weeks without Diet Dr. Pepper.
* I still don't understand why I needed to fill out half of the adoption paperwork I completed. Sigh. One of the great mysteries of the universe.
* I can eat octopus on a stick, but I don't think I will intentionally seek it out to eat it again.
* I need to stop complaining about all the laundry I usually have to do. It has been much more difficult to wash it in the room and hang it to dry when it takes several days to dry due to the humidity.
* I will never be able to buy shoes in China. Cute styles abound, but I don't think they have ever seen a size 11 foot here.
* Eating out is fun, but I miss cooking meals at home.
* A mother's love (or foster mother's love) is the same around the world. It may be expressed differently, but the love is the same.
* I miss seat belts and car seats.
* The daily afternoon nap I have been indulging in is a habit I wish would continue. I will be sad to see it go.
* I am a girl who needs some quiet and green space. After experiencing being in big cities non-stop for weeks, I am extra grateful for my yard, garden and quiet street.
* I am not good at communicating with crazy hand gestures and words that non-English speakers can't understand.
* Some restaurants are worth walking up five flights of stairs to get to.
* Traffic signs and laws are treated merely as suggestions in China. I have learned to follow the old people when they cross the street.
* I am incredibly blessed to live in a country that doesn't restrict my family size. I am so grateful for medical insurance to care for my children and family and friends who have been sch a great support and blessing.