On Saturday morning, April 11, Brad and I awoke bright and early to grey skies over Langfang. The morning was busy as we finished last minute preparations for the 10 guests who would be arriving around 11am. We hoped the weather would clear up before the guys played basketball in the afternoon. I showered, washed dishes, and straightened up around the apartment. I heard a commotion in the hall around 10am, and looked out the peephole where I was amused to see Shannon and Jess Shamblee wearing colorful baseball caps and giggling about something. I poked my head out of the door, just as they simultaneously knocked on our door. They presented me with a bright pink invitation wrapped in a fat white ribbon—an invitation to a surprise Baby Shower at 2pm!
I was momentarily confused as I started to put together various interactions from the last few weeks and realized what they were saying. Shannon and Jess told me to just relax as the rest of our guests arrived, and asked me not to enter Jess’ apartment as they prepared. With the change of plans, I spent the rest of the morning getting ready at a slower pace and listening as our friends arrived and entered Jess’ apartment to help with the shower preparations. The guys left to play basketball together shortly before the shower began, and only the girls were left in the building.
At 2pm I knocked on Jess Shamblee’s door, and was greeted by nine smiling girls: fellow IECS teachers Shannon, Jess, Courtney, Emily, and Amelia, Chinese students Sunshine, Cassie, and Danielle, and Tim’s girlfriend Melissa. Jess put a bright pink headband on my head and a pink wand in my hand, both topped with little pig-tailed baby doll heads. I laughed as I looked around the room at pink and purple balloons and bright posters that read: “Welcome Baby Girl Distad!” “It’s a girl!” and “Made in China!” A line of baby diapers filled the windowsill, delicious foods covered Jess’ desk, and colorful gifts hid the coffee table from sight.
Shannon began our activities with introductions and an explanation (for our Chinese friends) of the foods on the desktop, including deviled eggs, brownies, peanut candies, fruit, and funfetti cake (for later). She also explained the clothespins on our shirts, which would be taken away if we dared say the taboo word, “Baby.” I was the first to lose all of my clothespins! After snacks and some initial photos, we played the “Baby Name Game.” Each girl suggested a baby name which I then drew from a hat and read aloud. The names suggested were Eleanor Rose (Elle), Natasha Joy, Britney, Eva, Lydia Faith, Surprised Gift, Elise Marie, Xin Yi (Happy Harmony), and Allison Love. Then Jess unveiled the name “Naomi Faith,” cleverly hidden on a poster under the words “Baby Girl.”
For the next game the girls had to guess the circumference of my “Baby Belly” using lengths of blue yarn. We laughed at the various strategies used, including Courtney’s method of measuring her own head and waist and adding the two distances together. Cassie was the winner of this activity and the name game, taking home a “family” of hangers and a notebook. The last game was called “Dirty Diaper ID” and it had us all in stitches! Jess had melted 6 candy bars in 6 diapers, and it was our challenge to identify the chocolate by appearance and smell. The results were hilarious, as you can imagine! Amelia was the winner of this activity, correctly identifying a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup, Almond Joy, Hershey’s Milk Chocolate, Snickers, Hershey’s Green Tea Chocolate, and a Mint 3 Musketeers.
After the games, I got to open the gifts from the girls who were there, and some from friends who couldn’t make it to the party. The whole group gave us a “Ching-ting” (Dragonfly) Chinese baby bib, and Sunshine gave us 2 pink and white baby bibs. Jess Shamblee gave us a pink shirt with matching blanket, and Tony & Lily gave us 2 yellow and white shirts with a matching blanket. Wil & Courtney gave us baby shoes, a shirt, and overalls, and Emily & Amelia gave us Chinese baby shoes, a shirt, hand socks, and slit Chinese pants. Frank & Helen gave us a magnetic photo tree, and Shannon & Peter gave us a pink baseball and tiny “Crocs with Socks.” Each card was so thoughtfully written, and each gift so thoughtfully chosen! Naomi will certainly make a fashion statement in all of her tiny adorable outfits!
After the gifts were unwrapped, Shannon and Jess led all the girls in “thinking” about Brad and me and Naomi and our future together. After this time of encouragement, all of us had funfetti cake and took group photos. Then we relaxed for the rest of the afternoon, talking and laughing and taking more photos. We laughed as Shannon and Jess put clothespins in Sunshine’s hair, and Melissa and Courtney practiced eating cake as if they were in a wedding. It was a great day and a great surprise! What a delightful way to celebrate new life and friendship! Thanks again girls!
Brad, Jessie, & Naomi