Some things we will miss. . .

We are getting ready to get on a plane and head back to the States for the summer.  We are so excited to see our family and friends and spend a precious 2 months together!  Of course, we have mixed feelings of leaving our friends, our home, and our life here for 10 weeks. . . but again FAMILY and FRIENDS.  Those two words are so important to us and we want them to be important to our little ones too.  But, here are a few things we are going to miss:

THIS VIEW – this is the mountain right across from our house.  We climb the mountain frequently and play in the river.  It’s a beautiful and quiet place we enjoy.

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“PETS” – so the kids have caught 3 baby turtles, 2 fish, and silk worms that they have enlisted local friends to help them take care of while we are gone.  This huge snail, I made them put it back because that thing can cover some ground!  I did not want him getting loose in my house :)

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THE FOOD – We LOVE LOVE LOVE local food.  We eat it out and fix it at home here.  Caden is tearing up a bowl of noodles and the spicy/sour pickled radishes that he added himself.  We hope to be able to fix some good Chinese food for our family and friends when we go back to the States :)

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NATURE – We are nature lovers, always amazed by the Creator’s art.  We come to this special place and climb, hunt for crawfish, camp, or hike several times a month.

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Not pictured are our local friends.  We have been blessed and encouraged by so many relationships that have helped make this place feel like home.

Injuries and Sickness

I really feel thankful for the past 3.5 years here in Asia. We haven’t had any MAJOR sickness or injuries. That’s definitely the Father’s hand of protecting and blessing for sure! Here we are, getting ready to head back to the States for the summer, and we have had more health problems than I remember having before.

Well, this past week Caden fell on some slippery tiles in our neighborhood and cut his head open, and Colt had a severe ear infection (which would make flying excruciatingly painful). Thankfully, we were able to get Caden’s cut cleaned up and take the fast train to the next province over to an international clinic. From other people’s experience, we knew the local hospital used thick sutures and no numbing medicine. . . I couldn’t imagine Caden holding still with that painful stitching job going on right next to his eye. Thankfully, it was possible to avoid that traumatic experience.

Colt. . . after 2 sleepless night and painful days, we were able to get some antibiotics and he started to get some relief. I was desperate.  I even took him for massage that the locals do when they are sick.  He said it made it worse :) haha. He still has some fluid in his ear, but it seems to be getting less and less. He should be good to get on the plane Monday!

I used to be laid back, but after this. . . I’m more foreseeing the accidents and germs/sickness that never happened before – pretty much turning into my mother :)
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Professional Pics

One of Colt’s classmate’s parents own a kids photography business. They had asked a while back (like last year) about taking pics of the kids to “give them practice for their western style.” I really had no interest because our kids don’t sit still for long periods of time, and she was talking about it being pretty much an all day affair. Well, the kids had a two week break this past month, and I thought it would be a good way to break up the day. So (after agreeing to being finished by lunchtime). . . we went to their studio and it was amazing! I have never seen so many clothes. We had no idea what it would be like, so I had already bathed the kids, brushed their hair, and put them in nice clothes. But, when we got there, the workers ushered them into a huge studio for clothes and make-up/hair. Kylie was in heaven. The boys. . . not so much. I’m not sure about the outfits they picked out for the kids, but I suppose it’s part of their idea of “western style.” These are pics we took with our phone. I’m hoping to get a few from the professionals when they are ready :) :) It was an unexpectedly fun experience.
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Cooking over an open fire

David had the idea. He calls this meal “hobos.” I’m not even sure how you spell that, because I had never heard of them before. We each made our own – just meat and bunch of different veggies. We went to our favorite camping/climbing spot and played while they cooked for about 30 minutes. Of course we also had smores afterwards, then came home. How’s that for a no mess meal? Not too bad. . . And yes, they were quite good :)

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A beautiful day in the countryside!

The kids were off school for the past 6 days so we took advantage of the break from school and a break from the daily rain of the past month (it’s rainy season!!) to visit a sister in her home village before she moves to another province to work in the factories. She comes from a family of 7 brothers and sisters. She and one sister are like-minded, but the rest of the family is not. They were so warm and welcoming, treating us just like we were family too. It was really a wonderful day. The kids decided they wanted to live there and not come home. Of course, everyone said they would be happy to keep them :)

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After talking with this lady, it turns out she actually lives about 2 minutes from us! She was just visiting her family for the holiday as well! Hoping to get to know her better :)

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The kids made friends quickly and played all day long!

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I like this pic because it shows all the kids engaged with our friends. Kylie is in the kitchen and Colt and Caden are helping wash some vegetables.

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One of the “grandpas” had caught this baby horned owl the day before. Colt had JUST finished the book “Owls in the Family” about a little boy who had 2 pet horned owls, so this was beyond cool for him. He wanted to catch one too and keep it as a pet. Thankfully, we didn’t find one.

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The kids helped use hammers and mallets to beat these wild leafy plants (mugwort is English) to a pulp, which we used to make some food pictured later.

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This was a good activity. . . swinging hammers around :)

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Kylie helping and taking some lessons in the kitchen.

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David had to take a nap. He said that bed was the hardest thing he has ever laid down on :) His nap also didn’t last long since the kids were right outside his door banging leaves with their hammers.

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Washing washing. . . a lot of work goes into making food here. It was pretty warm that day, so the kids were pretty much just playing in the water I think.

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Exploring! The kids loved having free roam of this little village. We would just call them when it was meal time. Of course they would hear us, but anyone knew where they were at any given time too.  Everyone’s homes were open door policy, just come and go as you please, sit and talk. It was really neat :)

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This was our dinner table. Kind of different from the ones in the States, huh? How low can you go? Getting ready to eat!

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This was finished product of all the leaf smashing pictured above. The mugwort leaves were mixed with some sticky rice flour and brown sugar, then steam on some leaves They have a bitter/sweet taste kind of like unsweetened tea.

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A good pic of the red around the doors and the blessings that they put up with each Chinese New Year. They will leave it up year round. Many have used it as a conversation starter because it’s very similar to the Passover blood of a Lamb, right?

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Little helpers. .

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Everyone was taking advantage of the sunshine!

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Another tradition of this holiday is to make zongzi. It’s a sticky rice mixed with chestnuts, meat, and millet all wrapped up and steamed in bamboo leaves. They made it look so easy, but I could not get it right when I tried!

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Cooking the zongzi (pictured above)

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Caden helping in the kitchen too. You can see the simplicity of this home.

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Kylie LOVED it there. She especially loved helping with all the food.

Food

Don’t want to leave out this pic . . .

Tomb Sweeping Festival

Today is Tomb Sweeping Day here in Asia. Most families will go together to the graves of their ancestors. They will clean them up, place flowers, and also leave food, wine, and/or fruit for the deceased. Another interesting activity is burning incense as well as paper items (money, cars, houses, clothing) for the beloved to use in the afterlife. It’s a concept completely foreign to the way I was raised, but here is a deep part of their culture and tradition.

The kids and I went to the market yesterday, and it was full of vendors selling these items to burn as offering to ancestors.

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This little guy was justing hanging out at the market too :)
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Taipei 101 Tower

During our free day in Taipei we decided to visit one of the famous tourist spots – Taipei 101. It’s the tallest building in the city and has (or did at some point anyways) the fastest elevator. Our ears were popping as we flew up the 89 floors in a matter of seconds! The view was amazing. It was pretty much what I expected Taipei to look like though – big city. That was my feel of the place from our week there. Yes, it was way more westernized than China which was “comfortable,” but it felt so crowded! It was amazing though, western restaurants everywhere. Mexican. Steakhouses. Burgers. Krispy Kreme. Coldstone. Most everyone could speak English. There was NO trash on the ground. They apparently did away with trashcans on the street, and you were responsible to take your trash home with you. They also require a crazy strict recycling system. Our friend’s home had 4+ different trashcans in their kitchen for separating food/plastic/cans/paper/I can’t remember what else. People drove in the correct lanes and walked across crosswalks. They lined up for the subway and buses and everything. I mean. . .so so different from mainland China. The food wasn’t as good though. Glad to be back in Guilin :)

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Taipei – part 1

Last week we had a required training in Taipei, Taiwan. We learned lots, and it was refreshing to my soul! At the end of that week we had 2 days to get LOTS of medical done in preparation for returning to the States this summer – full physicals, blood work, immunizations, eye appointments, etc (for 5 people too). The appointments wore the kids out, and it wasn’t too fun actually. So we made sure to find something fun to do. Will post pics of that later :)

Doctor appointments all day. . . just wears you out!

Roasted sweet potatoes!

Street food – roasted sweet potatoes, and boy were they sweet!

This kid is always up in a tree . .

Crazy girl. . .

This kid loves some Chinese food. Chowing down on warm soup :)