gotta love that tongue....

i couldn't resist adding this picture of sweet Sydney - almost 6 months old now. wow, it has gone fast. she is quite the joyful gal, and such a delight. she is almost strong enough to sit up, and today we began feeding her some mashed banana. she loves to cuddle, and is very aware of her bigger sister's (姐姐: jie-jie's) adventures. yet little mei-mei (妹妹)has her own personality and disposition and call. that's what i love about our girls. they are all so unique and special in their own way. i feel so privileged to be their momma.


My Singing Debut

And you thought I couldn't sing!! Apparently, so did my school since they put me in the back row furthest away from the microphone...probably a good choice.
These are most of the foreign students at our University singing a Chinese song to an auditorium packed with people during a sort of "talent show." The language department made us all practice this song and then required us to sing it regardless of our talent (or in my case - lack thereof). We actually didn't sound too bad thanks to the Koreans, who they wisely put in front of the microphones. They not only have good voices, but are more familiar with this type of singing. It was fun though and I got to meet some new people. They also had a lot of local dances and singing. It was an interesting night. If you want to find me in the pic, I am on the top row in the middle.
- Justin


oodles of noodles....

here's a picture of us eating some home-made Lahkman - a spicy Uyghur dish, with veggies & lamb (typically), though when making it at home -- we can add our fave veggies & use chicken! the adventure is making your own noodles - which requires lots of kneading, stretching, oil and more stretching. its really fun if you have the time. i usually have help when making it, so i have not mastered this dish on my own. maybe someday you can come visit and try it at our apartment. the hot water is always ready for some tea too. our door is always open...


special moments...

aren't they just precious? Asia was "reading" to Eden in the morning after we all got up. they love each other so much, and it wonderful to watch them grow closer, share their lives and treat each other so sweetly. this is not always the case, but more and more they amaze me with their abilities to love, share, sacrifice & serve. Asia is such a little mom, always wanting to teach, lead, nurture, guide....she has incredible faith too. Eden is more than just a side-kick! she takes charge; she's very spunky, energetic & assertive. "no thank you, Asia!" is a common phrase from E. she's also quite mischevious and sneaky. dirt does not bother her one bit. its wonderful to instill simple nuggets of truth, and watch them grow into the special little girls they were created to be.


fruit extravaganza

i love this time of year, for many reasons...but today i especially love the fruit. this morning the three oldest McNabb girls took a walk to the front gate to see what kinds of fruit we might encounter. this entire spread of fruit (shui guo = 水果) only cost us 41 kuai ($5.33), which felt like a bargain to me. i even bargained for it! i plan to freeze some strawberries to last thru the summer, and make some sugar-free apple sauce for the fam. the girls gobbled up most of the xingzi (like mini peach/apricots) fast, and i think we will make mango smoothies for lunch! some highlights of buying fruit at the market - you get some exercise, you see friends along the way, you can brush up on bargaining skills + practice Mandarin, you get sweet deals, and your body will thank you with glee.
A short fruit lesson (minus the tones)
  • watermelon - xi gua 西瓜 (shee-gwa)
  • banana - xiang jiao 香蕉 (shi-yang-jow)
  • apple - ping guo 苹果 (ping-gwo)
  • mango - mang guo 芒果 (mahng-gwo)
  • strawberry - cao mei 草莓 (ts-ow-may)
  • pear - li 利 (lee)

We're going gluten-free

...here is the latest on Asia's health saga! Her tongue & mouth are doing great...no more thrush, no more blisters, no more inflamation and we can't even see the geographic tongue anymore. We are quite thankful for that. However, she has still been having stomach/gut issues. After her recent test results and some research we think that many of her symptoms in the last year could be stemming from a Gluten intolerance (or Celiac Disease). We are still not certain, but the more we research the more it seems to be a good possibility that she has it. The doctor in Beijing suggested this as a possibility and there is a test we can take to be sure. We are kicking ourselves for not getting this test while we were there in Beijing, but it may be able to be done here...we are looking into it.

In the meantime we are learning how to prepare a gluten-free diet for Asia - quite the adventure out here I must say. I am learning quickly how to read ingredients in Chinese and what to look for. Celiac Disease is quite rare in China (at least it is almost never diagnosed) so there are pretty much no gluten-free specialty products here...we are learning how to make everything from scratch with a lot of raw foods. I guess it is good for all our healths! We are just needing grace for all the adjustments to this slightly different life in China.
- Justin


the feeling of home...

we made it home. yippee.
we took an unexpected trip to the capital city of Beijing (may 10-18) for some Medical expertise/advice on Asia's health. we made the decision in about 2 hours, booked the flights and were on a plane quick. eight days later we made it back to our "little" city with a new love for home. i am sure you know the peace of being settled, grounded, at rest in your own haven. clean, soft beds. space to run free. familiar faces and courteous taxi drivers (well, maybe not the taxi drivers). the BJ trip was very worthwhile, as we got incredible medical attention, wonderful news, and healing medicine! Asia's tongue is on the mend - with some simple antihistamines! all her organs are functioning well, and she was brave with her needle poke. we spent most of the week laying low as Asia got better, exploring the city when we felt up to it. PTL for international insurance coverage! we stayed at a lovely hotel - spoiled by a pool of water, breakfast buffet, within walking distance of Starbucks, a water fountain, restaurants, and the hospital. hotel/flight&medical expenses covered! what a relief. I had never seen Beijing before either, so it was a treat to spend Mother's day & Eden's 2nd birthday in the big city. i am so thankful the girls are all "good travelers", flexible and easy-going. but its so sweet to be home. thanks for remembering us. ~ Ali


sweet niece & cousin

Jordana Katherine was born early on May 8th, after much work on behalf of her mommy (daddy helped lots too)!! thanks to many people praying for her arrival, mom & Jordan are healthy and safe! I must say she is so precious too! i know its selfish to think of myself during this time, but I really wish I could have been there to support, encourage and pray in person. It was so hard for me to be miles away unable to DO anything. a good reminder that prayer is powerful wherever you are. one neat tidbit: because of the time change, we were able to cover the "night watch" while others were asleep. She was even born at 3am-ish in Kentucky, which just happened to be 1pm our time....and we got to see her via Skype video within moments of her birth! that was so special for me. the girls here are so thrilled to have a new cousin, and they talk about her all the time. Asia loves saying her name!! i can't wait for them all to meet. we miss you family!

geographic tongue? what the heck is that??

well, we have a unique gal in our family. yesterday we found out that our sweet Asia has a geographic tongue. its a real condition!!! this basically means that she has rough discolorations/patches on her little tongue that change and migrate that can sometimes appear "maplike" and even look like continents. its a funny name, though Asia has had a symptomatic version with blisters on her tongue and lips and has been quite painful. i think we are on the horizon of change & healing. it is easily treatable though, now that we know what it is. i think we are all ready for some answers and peace.



its been a stressful few days, and now that I look back on it....maybe weeks...or even a year? I have never realized how precious our health can be, until my own little kids have faced ongoing sickness like we have this past year. I have heard that everyone's first year in another country can be quite challenging in the health department, but I never imagined it could be like this. We aren't facing any life-threatening illnesses, nor are we in the boonies where we are unable to find help. It could be much worse! I am just *very* aware of the blessing of health. This week, we came to the decision that we need to travel to a larger city to get some expert care. I really hope we can find some answers to our questions, and be given quality medicine to heal every ailment. at the same time we are full of trust that our bodies and healing are in Another's mighty hands. i hope to have the faith and perseverance and joy amidst any inconvenience that comes our way, tho its quite hard when children are in the picture, and we are responsible to make wise decisions on their behalf. there is a huge weight on our shoulders to make the right decisions, trust a doctors diagnosis, choose quality medicine, serve healthy food, not to mention shepherding these precious girls to the best of our abilities. what an amazing task he has entrusted us with. be with me Jesus. as parents, we want to model faith and trust - so our little ones can experience their father at work, and know that he is our great physician. health and healing go hand-in-hand. i am so grateful for the health we do have....even when we are sick! I know it could always be worse.... written by the momma


随便 sui bian

In learning a new language, I am learning there are a lot of useful words that we don't have exact translations for in English. One of my favorites is 随便 "sui bian." In one of my Chinese-English dictionaries it is defined as "casual, random; careless." I find it most often translated into the English words whatever, whoever, whenever, however, etc. In general it seems to embody a relaxed and flexible attitude toward something. If someone is very sui bian, then they would probably be called very "easy going" in English. It has some other meanings, but this is the meaning that I enjoy using because it reminds me of the attitude I need to have here living in another country. We are often surprised by life out here, the differences in thinking, the things people do and the way things get done. I always thought were were pretty easy-going people (growing up in relaxed Santa Cruz), but the stresses of cross-cultural living test that laid back attitude and we find ourselves more easily frustrated than usual sometimes. The more people I meet who have been living out here for a long time the more I see a correlation between the sui bian attitude and those who have been through a lot out here. Those that seem to be wound up tight are constantly struggling in daily life out here. While continuing to be purposeful about our living, we are often reminded that a little sui bian goes a long way to help us relax and not stress about the differences. ~ Justin