The Kite Runner

We just watched an incredible movie the other night, based on the book, "The Kite Runner" by Khaled Hosseini - one that we would encourage you to read/see if you enjoy learning about other cultures, and stories based on historical events. It came out last year (Dec 07) and has amazed viewers for its honest portrait of Afghanistan in 1978 and beyond (the Soviet Invasion, rise of the Taliban and the tension between the Pashtun & Hazara minorities). It tells the story of two childhood friends in Kabul, divided by class & ethnicity - who share a love for flying kites. There are 2-3 gut-wrenching scenes that earn it a PG-13 rating, so we don't want you to be too surprised (or shocked when you can't stop crying). It seems like an accurate glimpse into the culture and history of such a precious country.

We wanted to point out that this film was filmed mostly in Kashgar, Xinjiang, China!! This is somewhat close to our neck of the woods (or should I say desert?) so we wanted to share our excitement. You can watch the movie, and imagine some of the people & places we love. Here are a few pictures we have that remind us of the movie!! (all taken in Kashgar by friends)

three Uyghur kids in normal attire

kids playing on the old brick & stone walkways

we think this is the cafe in the kite runner scene!

The Kite Runner - spoken in Dari, with English subtitles, it is rated PG-13 (parents strongly cautioned) because there is a discreetly shot scene of a child being raped, children beating up another kid, a woman being stoned, men being beat up and the use of a slingshot.


sharing my alma

ALMA = apple ئالما
Here's a pict of a sweet little Uyghur boy we met while out-and-about. He loved the apple, and enjoyed holding Sydney's hand for a few moments. His mom & I were about the same age, and she couldn't believe I already had three kids. I wish I knew more Uyghur to communicate with her. Maybe this summer I can start learning more!


this cheers me up

If you ever need a laugh - just come visit our fam (it's not so far). You will find the girls running about the house in all sorts of costumes & gear, playing house or airplane or school (in other languages) or even depositing toys in their shirts for safe-keeping. I think that last one deserved a picture for explanation.

just one tragedy per week, please

OK, well maybe "tragedy" is a bit of a hyperbole - but in an attempt to prepare myself for the worst, I have begun to accept the idea that if there is only ONE challenging/frustrating/troublesome/time-consuming event per week - then we are doing fabulous. It helps me accept the "tragedy" with more joy and even excitement. What could it be this week? It feels like an adventure, with surprises at every corner (just one surprise per week tho, OK?). Thanks.

This week: We found out that our newly installed hot water heater had been secretly leaking behind the sink, under the kitchen tiles, under the not-so-pergo flooring, and into neighbor's bedroom below. I thought fix-it men were supposed to fix things, not make them worse? Oh wait, that's ok - because I haven't had my allotted ONE tragedy this week. Everything is fine now, and I can laugh at the situation. What an adventure!


bu yao 不要

A very interesting aspect of living here - is that when a foreign family decides to return "home" to their native land - they typically sell whatever they can of their belongings, and then hold a "Bu Yao" which is basically a free-for-all, in-home garage sale. Bu Yao - translated literally means "I don't want."

I have mixed feelings about these coveted events, because obviously I *love* scoring on others' give-away goodies, but mostly - its hard for me to see them leave. To rummage thru someones life and personal belongings that have sustained them while living in a foreign land, just gives me chills. Maybe I am just overly sensitive, but I assume its a tough spot to be in. I am sure they are happy to get rid of all the stuff (it feels so freeing) but I would rather them stay. :)

I have experienced 3 Bu Yao's to date, and have definitely scored big. Children's clothes, lamps, candles, first-aid items, shelving, books, tea cups, a fax machine!, chopsticks, toys, etc. But none of this stuff compares with the richness these families have brought to this land & culture. At the last one, I even cried. Yeah, call me sensitive.....

things can change so fast out here

for example: two days ago it was beautiful outside - with a small heat wave and gorgeous skies. Then the wind picked up and brought in some blustery blizzardy snow! Now we have snow on the ground, and an ice rink on our tiny patio/balcony. And tomorrow...its supposed to heat up again?

I love this picture tho - such the epitome of Spring attempting to burst forth amidst this weather confusion.
example #2: our Visa situation continues to baffle us, as we have gotten word that China is no longer giving business visa's until October '08. This situation causes us to ponder the options - and hope for the best. We need to renew/switch/find a solution within 3 weeks! Even with all the changes, I feel much more flexible than I ever imagined I would be. That's a bonus, right?


my precious buddy

Asia Nicole - almost five years old: yet mature beyond her years, full of spunk, compassion, creativity, love of life+learning, a dancing butterfly, with a precious servant-heart. She listens to every word, nuance of expression, and feels for others with all her heart.

Here she is learning to chop veggies with her (non-sharp) kid-knife, and learning to write simple Chinese characters. She amazes me everyday!


a new view

Well for those that follow this blog more closely....you will be glad to hear that we survived the move!! It was 12 days ago now....and we are slowly beginning to feel settled in this new spot. I truly hope we do not have to move again soon - as it was not a pleasant experience.

We literally packed all our belongings in 5 short days. That was a miracle in-and-of itself. We packed everything in cardboard boxes, rice bags, suitcases and laundry baskets. The movers showed up at 8:30am....and proceeded to negotiate the price to move our home across town. Nevermind that we had gotten a previous quote on the phone. There were added costs once they saw we had white skin. Justin patiently (yet inwardly annoyed) negotiated for another 45 minutes, until an agreement was made. Three van trips later - all our belongings were transported to our new apartment. We changed neighborhoods, and moved off the University campus that we had grown to love. It was hard to move!!

This new apartment comes with some new quirks and joys: It is much bigger than before, with an extra room for guests (when are you coming?), and a huge kitchen! The previous renters renovated the entire apartment with amazing taste, which we gladly inherited. We are on the 8th floor (with a lift!) overlooking the city from 2 directions - and have views of the snow-capped peaks on clear days. Its amazing to have this bird's-eye view as we truly love it here.
The kids can all sleep in one big bedroom, and play on a small patio/balcony too! It's much dustier than before, and the bathrooms are not yet up to par. There are stairs (which keeps us on our toes) and the kids enjoy the new space to explore+hide+create. I particularly love the open school area - and the vast counter space in the kitchen (2 places I frequent).

It always takes time to feel at home in a new place, but little by little it it is beginning to feel like a haven for our family! I am sure you will see many more picts to come. We have already had 2 groups of visitors within 2 nights of moving, and another 2 this summer. We'd love to have ya!


April 15 = heat turned off + tax day

Its April 15th here in the wild west of Xinjiang China, which means -- the heat is turned off for the season. Our heat is regulated by the government, which probably saves in the long run! We've had a small heat spell the last week or so, so we've been ready to have our radiators stop radiating their heat. It can get too stuffy and dry indoors, and we are ready for some clear skies...and fresh Spring air!

For those who don't know about radiators - they are thick iron-coiled heaters, mounted on the wall in each room. They convect heat from the hot water that is pumped thru each building (heated by coal plants around the city) via many pipes. The amount of "heat" is somewhat regulated depending on the outside temperature, but we don't have manual regulators in our homes. Its either ON or OFF. We will have heat again on October 15th, 2008. Here is a lovely photo of a radiator in our home:

Back in the homeland, tax season hits its peak - and the IRS is making bank. Either way, we hope you get a lovely breath of fresh air (big refund?) in this season!


warm toes

As Spring defrosts the outdoors, our heating indoors becomes less constant - so we wear soft slippers (tuōxié 拖鞋)to keep our toes toasty.

This munchkin loves sporting her new indoor shoes (xiézi 鞋子). It's infatuation!


The past 4 days have flown by. It all happened so fast, which is abnormal for life in China!! We are moving!! ...its only across town, but closer to downtown and our ice cream shop. We look forward to less travel time, great bus routes, new restaurants and the bustle of life in the heart of the city. Once the dust settles - we will try to post some picts of the new home/haven. We have already met some precious schoolgirls and friendly neighbors.

Explanation: The girls love to ride on these goofy 5 mao 毛 amusement rides outside of most neighborhood shops. All they do is rock back & forth to a repetitive Chinese kids song with high-pitched voices, while a red light flashes on top. Eden turns the steering wheel frantically, as if it makes her go faster (the best 7 cents spent). Sydney takes it all in with glee, while Asia isn't so fond of all the attention from our neighborhood schoolgirls - it might take her a bit longer to warm up to her newest fans. What can you expect when three precious little white girls invade your neighborhood?