the pet market

If you want to buy a PET (chǒng'ér 宠儿) in our massive city - you obviously go to the "pet market!" Well, of course you can find random pets sold (mostly in the springtime) on busy corner streets out of cardboard boxes, but most often - you drive across town to the BIG open pet market! Justin had been there before, and I was kinda jealous! If you know me, you know my love for animals!! Justin told me that it was a huge sprawling market with cages of all kinds of animals to buy. It sounded kinda exciting to me, so I begged for him to take us there as a fun family outing. You know, an adventure?

So we made our way to the north end of town, which took a seriously long time. We wandered around the massive rows of store shops, asking for directions to this 'market.' Finally we found the entrance (and took a picture of course), with excitement mounting.
Now this picture doesn't really capture the grandiosity of this market - but it is HUGE! This first walkway opens up into more aisles, jam-packed with cages, tanks, and hundreds of individual shops; each specializing in a different species of animal (like a pet flea market!). There were squirrels, chipmunks, hedgehogs, chinchillas, rabbits, guinea pigs, snakes, lizards, fish, hamsters, rats, mice, chickens, parrots, and every color & size of bird, cat or dog! The selection alone is amazing. We wandered about, taking in all the sights, sounds and SMELLS. Poor Asia has a sensitive nose. She could not stop complaining about the smell.

And momma has a sensitive heart. I wanted to rescue these animals from their cages and set them free. Most of the conditions were filthy and cramped, and we even saw an entire cage of hedgehogs eating one of their friends. I was shocked and horrified. What started out as a fun family outing, became a traumatic event. I don't think we will be buying any pets from there (not that we want one yet), or visiting again anytime soon. Still, I am glad we ventured to the pet market!! It was interesting, and even though it was hard to see animals like that - I am sure it could be worse. This dog (pictured above right) became the girls' favorite! I never knew they would choose a massive DOG!!


party girl

Eden wanted a "monkey party" this year with lots of friends! This was Eden's first BIG party in her five short years of life (she typically withdraws in big groups of people) ....but we invited all her friends to this party! = 15 kids total!! The weather was great (no snow or rain, thankfully!) and all the kids had a blast together. We brought a picnic lunch, banana cupcakes, banana ice cream and a monkey pinata!!

The only time Eden got a bit nervous was during the 'Happy Birthday' song & when she was opening her presents - when she was the center of attention! She had a great time though, and it was precious to watch her run around with her best buddies. Happy Birthday Monkey!!

(Gabe, Josiah, Emma, Linus, Asia, Noah, Andrew, Aaron, Wes, Elvira, Eden, Amina, Sydney)

Elvira, Eden & Amina - the three musketeers!


McNabb girls rule.

The McNabb clan is growing yet again -- no, silly, not MY clan, but the other McNabb clan! Justin's brother & wife just welcomed baby Madison Leigh into the world on May 18th!! She is beautiful and perfect!! You can read about her grand entrance on their wonderful blog too (we are big fans). So now we have a total of FIVE granddaughters in the McNabb clan(s)!! What fun!!

When we found out that aunt Krissy had been admitted into the hospital after her "high risk" ultrasound, we gathered the girls to pray. We made some lists of all the things they could think of to pray for their soon-coming-cousin and auntie-in-labor. I love the ideas they came up with:

Here is the picture (and notes) we sent along, since we couldn't be there in person.
All of these requests came true - and momma was able to deliver naturally, without any complications!

That same night, we got a Skype call to let us know SHE was born!! (safe & healthy - wahoo!!) Of course its challenging to be across the globe when our family is expanding....but we are SO glad that we can get this kind of news, and SEE her within hours of her grand entrance! (have I mentioned how much I love technology?) Madison weighed 5lbs 5oz - such a precious peanut!! Emotion wells up in my heart, knowing that we have a new niece/cousin out there - even though I can't hold her or sing her songs. I am still determined to win her heart, and let her know how much she is adored! Madi - we are some of your biggest fans, and we love you dearly!!


the world-wide-web is back!!

The entire province of Xinjiang did not have access to the internet since July 5, 2009 - because of ethnic rioting. We have not been able to "get online" for that entire 10 months within our province. We have gone through times of frustration, apathy, disconnectedness, and plain annoyance all along the way. Simple tasks like calling "home" were even cut off. Our families can attest to the challenges, as they tried to call internationally for days/weeks/months, without being able to get through. We resigned to living isolated and globally uninformed. But that is all behind us now!! As of today, May 14th, 2010 - our internet has been restored!!

I doubted that this day would ever come, mostly so I wouldn't get my hopes up! We got phone calls from friends all morning to spread the news! I cannot tell you how excited we were - it has been a loooooong time! Technology has become so basic to our everyday life, that its hard to imagine life without it. It felt like we were living in the stone age. We are SO grateful to have it back!!

I can honestly say that I learned a lot during this "wilderness experience" and that I do appreciate having this time of hiatus (for a season). We found we had so much TIME on our hands - to play, read, visit, create! It brought perspective and rest. But now that we have access again, we definitely appreciate connecting with family & friends in a new way. I am thankful for the small things in life - being able to google anything to find answers at the touch of a button. I am glad to finally see pictures of friends' babies, my growing niece, and share pictures in return. We love being able to call via Skype and see out family over the webcam! Such simple pleasures!! I think I will still continue to limit myself, striving to maintain the balance of life in-and-of the glorious internet.


birthday girl!!

FIVE years ago today we welcomed you into our lives, "E." Little did we know how much you would inspire us, change us, teach us, and bring so much joy into our lives! Your questions, your smile, your spunky spirit ...you are a miracle!! We love you with all our hearts!!

Eden was so excited to turn FIVE this year! She was counting down the days for at least 2 months. She was served her favorite breakfast and smothered with love all week! We had fun opening presents from America, eating a Chinese cake with Aiyi, using SKYPE for the first time in 10 months, and counting snowflakes outside!! It was a monumental day!!

Eden Sofia - such a joy!! Your name means "delights in wisdom" and you are already proving this to be true. You ask many deep questions about life, and you love to learn! You are full of energy and creativity. You love to play games, figure out how things work, and move about. You love to help mommy & your sisters, or join dad on any errand. You love being outside!! We are amazed that you are already learning to read, and figure out how "math" works (without any help). You are so kind, inquisitive, thoughtful and smart! We love you sweet-pea!!
(Asia saved her Yuán 元 ($) and bought Eden a little stuffed monkey this year!)


...it was bound to happen sometime...

It all began with a lovely bike ride to the park! Asia & Eden rode ahead - as I pushed Sydney in the jogger. She wouldn't have lasted the entire walk, and I needed some jogging! The girls did so well, staying to the side while cars & taxi's honked and drove by so quickly. They are very well-trained in Chinese traffic wisdom - AND listening to mom's voice from behind. It was a good test of their abilities too - they were so determined to make it all the way! ...even with hills!

We rode about the park, stopping to share a little snack or drink. We parked the bikes, and began climbing on the exercise equipment. Some older school boys came over, and started joking around, laughing and pointing at the girls. I attempted to chat - but they weren't paying attention to my attempts. I briefly got distracted when Asia scraped her shin - and in a flash, my camera was stolen. When I finally realized it was gone - the boys were too. Eden saw the whole thing happen - she even told me what the boy looked like, and what he was wearing!

Things like this are bound to happen anywhere in the world. I know that in my head – but its so frustrating when it happens to you. I replayed the scenario over and over in my head - but there wasn't much I could do. I "should have" kept the camera in my pocket, instead of the stroller. It was a shiny object calling out to be taken. Thankfully, Justin was very understanding - and we've had this camera for over 7 years (the 3rd camera! for one price, Thank you Costco!). Maybe this kid needed a camera? Maybe he will feel guilty, maybe not. But now he has a new person praying for a change in his life.

...and we get to bargain for a camera in China. yikers.


cherry blossoms

they are blooming everyday!!


mother's day

I love being a momma! These three girls melt my heart everyday! We all had a wonderful day together – got to eat lunch at the park, ride bikes and take pictures near the budding cherry trees. It’s not often that I get to be in a picture WITH the girls!! AND spring is here – it was great to be outdoors together!

*Asia looks like she was forced. Well, maybe she was.

hand-picked bouquet!

Birthday bike + frustrations

This year Eden lucked out – she got her very own NEW bike (this is a big deal for us)!! It took lots of patience and bargaining skills – but we finally found the perfect bike for her! (hopefully this one will last for Sydney too!) It says “Moonbeam” across the side – and has lovely purple & sliver streamers on the handlebars. She was very excited to get home and ride about. It’s the perfect summer gift!!
As always, making a purchase like this here is a bit frustrating: We never know the actual price, because there are no set price tags on anything here. It’s all about your bargaining skills! Justin bargained hard, and then walked away a few times. We looked everywhere for another bike (with the same quality) and ended up returning for this one. THEN – the lady we had been talking with had left for lunch, and lady #2 gave us a higher price. Does this mean they aren’t sure of the real price? We waited for awhile until lady #1 came back, and realized she gave us TOO LOW of a price…but the real price was higher! Ahhh!! Why can’t they get their prices right the first time? This whole process is very challenging – especially when it comes to spending money. When people haggle & lie like this, we just want to walk away and not buy from them – for principles’ sake. BUT – we ended up buying this bike for Eden….and realizing it was only the difference of $10.29US. That made me feel a little better. When dealing in Chinese Yuan – 280Y seems so much cheaper than 350Y. AND – I haven’t a clue what childrens bikes should normally cost….so there you have it: We bought her a bike, and our blood pressure needlessly skyrocketed once again.


Cheng Du - passport renewal & panda's!!

To renew our kids' passports - we needed to travel to the nearest American Consulate, so here we are in Cheng Du, in the Sichuan province! Its a great city - very big and sprawling! This is also the most well known city for breeding PANDA'S in all of China!! So we got to visit the huge Panda Park, and see them up close! (and we got the passports too!)

Here's some pictures of our beloved bear:

lounging and munching on bamboo.......and ONE more for our McNabb girl fans....
(we won't be able to blog for awhile....but enjoy these picts!!)

Easter extravaganza 2010

Easter events in pictures - enjoy!


May 1st holiday

May holiday is a BIG deal in China! Everyone takes a break to travel and get outdoors - so we joined the crowds, and went to visit a new area to go hiking. Here the kids pose over a huge bridge - overlooking the man-made dam.

We brought picnic lunches, and played soccer. Eden & Sydney also got to ride horses on the big open field. They named their horse "Pao-pao 跑跑" which means "run-run!"

our meat market

This is a typical sight when you walk through your neighborhood. These are all sheep carcasses, hanging outside so you can choose your favorite slab, and take it home. Nice and fresh, right?