is this normal???

When you live in a city that is surrounded by concrete and is over 3000 km from the nearest ocean, there are bound to be some quirks. I guess I haven't really noticed them until we set foot on the beach in southern Thailand. Yes, that is where we are taking some much-needed vacation time with our family of five. It has been glorious. There are beautiful blue skies above us, and a salty ocean breeze that is so refreshing. If it weren’t for these three small things:

The place we have been staying has massive, sprawling green lawns that go on forever. They seem like they are greener than I remember grass being. You can walk and play on these lawns!! At most parks in China, the grass is forbidden to walk on. And because this is a “new” sensation of having prickly (or soft, depending on your perspective!) grass underfoot, the girls are a bit wary. Well…they pretty much abhor the thought of walking on it. Justin has been spending time each day getting the girls used to the feeling of the grass by walking barefoot on it…even though they whine most of the way. Exposure, right?? But the main reason they aren’t fond of the grass is...

Ants in Thailand come in various sizes. The large black ones look like small beetles, AND they bite hard! Asia distinctly remembers being bit by a Thai-black-ant TWO years ago – and she will point to the exact place on her arm. She remembers, and she equates Thailand with Black ant bites. Thus, the major fear.
Sand that is so soft, you could just sleep on the beach. The girls don’t like when it sticks to anything, or the scratchy feeling when it dries. They think it’s too hot, too sticky, too scratchy, you name it. They have an excuse why they don’t want to go to the beach. I am not sure what to do with these gals. They are not from California!!

Are these normal occurrences for children under 7?? Of course we give them time to adjust…but we never imagined these would be the quirks that would surface. …and don’t get me started on the cute hermit crabs. (pray for sanity)


in a nutshell.....

I have seriously contemplated blogging about the last 7 months in detail, but there is not enough time in my day. So, I will give a condensed version - if that is even possible with me.

On July 5, 2009 - violence broke out across the city. Many people lost their lives, and others were wounded or beaten. It is the scariest thing I have ever had happen in my short life. But only Love can conquer fear, which we have lots of. The last 7 months we haven't had any internet connections, and things like 'family blogs' get put on hold. This is my feeble attempt to fill in the gaps...

July - stayed indoors more often than normal. Didn't feel very safe going outside without my strong muscular husband. We bunny-sat a friends' rabbit for 5 long weeks. Never going to do that again, especially indoors!! I needed more creative outlets so I started playing guitar more, and even sewing some rag dolls for some neighbor girls. We learned how to make yummy peanut sauce too. I started getting outside more, but only close to home. Internet withdrawals big time...plus we couldn't make any phone calls out of the country. Our poor families.

August - Went to the mountains for a weekend, and had a blast in the mountain air. Got some hiking in too. Had our 1st game night with Ice Mountain employees - which was full of laughs! Then took an extended weekend for our 8-year anniversary at a really luxurious hotel. So relaxing!! *yes, the girls came too!! Still processing all the turmoil in our lives.

September - I turned 34! More riots happen in the city, right as I (Ali) fly back to CA for a wedding. Justin holds down the fort, while I travel and spend time with family. It was a great trip, but so hard to be away during challenging times. I returned with my mom!! She visited for almost 3 weeks (brave lady!)! We gave her the grand tour of our city and spent every waking moment together. She even rode a camel and learned to make jiaozi from scratch. So hard to let her go....

October - Started a Weight Watcher's diet, which is *extra hard* to do in China. Trying to stay motivated though!! Hosted a costume party at our apartment with over 25 kids!! Sydney has now mastered the potty...even through the night!!

November - Enjoyed the first snow of the season...lots of baking in the kitchen, preparing for Thanksgiving. Also celebrated Ramadan this month by lifting up our friends, and sharing meals with them. We also celebrated Eden's 4½ birthday!

December - broke down and bought a fake tree. Sydney turned THREE this month and Asia turned 6½! We baked gingerbread for ornaments, and also a big yummy candy house. Went sledding 2-3 times this month! Enjoyed visitors from nearby cities over the holidays - our house was bustling! Sent fun packages to our families in the States - and got a few too! Someone gave us a turkey for Xmas - did I mention he was alive??!! I made unique rag dolls for the girls Xmas presents!

January - rang in the New Year by teaching swing dancing at a foreign cafe downtown! Asia lost her first tooth...and just another a few days later. She has a cute gap that makes her lisp. We are currently traveling for 4 weeks in SE Asia...and that is where I shall leave you today.....

Ice Mountain Creamery - Oh, I cannot forget our amazing Ice Cream business! The winter months in Urumqi are very cold - mostly 10's and below!! We assumed ice cream sales would dip significantly....but, nope! They are strong and growing! We have about 10-20 restaurants that regularly order multiple buckets each week! We are making so much ice cream, that our pasteurizer broke, and we need more space!! We will be working on figuring out what is next with our bustling business when we return in February. What a nice problem to have though...