dad camping

It has taken us 4+ years to find time to go camping in China! ...and this first trip was a bunch of dads, hiking with packs into the wilderness. The mountains surrounding Urumqi are quite amazing and beautiful! These are part of the Tianshan mountain range - to the south of the city. The guys drove up with their food & gear, and hiked about 4 miles up the steep rocky trails, dotted with grass and a winding creek. They found a flat area near the top to set up their tents. There wasn't anyone around!!
The guys made it in time to watch the sun set and make a fire out of old receipts and kindling. Of course there were jokes and silly stories, deep talks and bonding - but I wasn't there. This was the Dad Trip. Maybe next time!! I will just leave you with some of their pictures...


Gold Gulf Hotel & Spa!!

We recently found a pool inside a hotel about 3 km away! Finding a clean pool is near impossible in this city - but we found a gem!! There are three separate pools - amazingly clear water, and very few people (at the right time of day!). It is also a Hotel & Spa - but that part is a bit pricey!! We bought a pool membership card, so that we can visit anytime and bring friends along too. We love this place!

The main pool is the perfect height for A&E to walk in, and the Children pool is only a few feet deep, complete with slides and climbing structures too. They have improved their swimming skills immensely - and can both swim underwater, float on their backs, and do somersaults too!

You can see in the picture above - two elevated whirlpools in the center, four lounges on the side, and some shower-jet thingies too. It's all indoors, so we can come all year-round! There is also a small lap pool for ME!! If only we had unlimited visits - I might come everyday! This is such an amazing find - and we really enjoy coming!

McNabb rating: 2 thumbs up!


ice cream social

The past 2 years we have been gathering other foreign kids for a weekly co-op of sorts. This year (2009-2010) has been the largest so far - six 4/5 year olds, and six 6/7 year olds! It has been so fun to teach on different subjects, read stories, create art, do science experiments together, and also learn games in larger groups. There is no international school out here - so we are IT.

I think it has also been good for the children to see other kids learning alongside them, to motivate and challenge them along, and for interaction, as well as the chance to play games in English. The kids even have special t-shirts!! Asia & Eden really look forward to Co-op each week, so I know it has been a special time for them!

As we wrapped up the school year, we decided to celebrate with an Ice Cream Social!! (since we can do that so easily!!) We made bubble-gum ice cream, with all the possible toppings we could find. YUM!!

It was a LOT of sugar...but they burned it all off with the dads in PE class, right?!!

Urumqi Kids Co-op 2010

Sydney is almost ready for her own co-op -- we just need more kids her age!! Anyone want to move out here with some more 3 year olds? :) Pweeze??


happy father's day to our superhero daddy!

We love you daddy! Thank you for being so fun, goofy and handsome. You are also a good cook. You are also so fun to play games with. Thank you for reading us stories everyday and for loving us so much. You are the BEST!!
Love, Asia, Eden & Sydney

The girls made unique frames for dad this year - in our Pre-K Co-op! Here are some of the kids in the 4-5 year old class. They were so proud of what they made!

I am so thankful for my superstar husband - who amazes me with his ability to juggle five million things with joyful ease. He functions in Chinese, English and Uyghur languages - while managing a growing ice cream business, friendships, running errands for me, AND he comes home with a happy heart! He spends quality time with each of his girls everyday (me included!), building forts, tickling, reading books, taking them on special dates (so they will have an example someday!), telling creative stories, affirming their beauty (in & out!), singing spontaneous songs, going exploring, riding bikes, teaching them Chinese, and even lending me a hand with homeschooling! ....all of this while making life here run smoothly in a foreign land for his girls. He really is the strength of our clan. I love his heart for these chickadees, and how he nurtures them individually - loving them so perfectly! We love you Daddy!!


seven years old....

Asia is SEVEN!!! Another year sped by in record speed - and she is seven. It sometimes feels like she was born yesterday! She is taller, more independent, full of virtue, so joyful, and more mature most of the time. :) She is so captivating...and I need to remember these moments or they will be gone too soon.

This has been a year of growth for her! Her heart is so soft and tender, and she longs to be a good friend, a sweet sister, a loving daughter, making right choices for herself. She understands things beyond her years, and she is always listening, wondering, imagining. She has become more daring this year too - more confident, adventurous, daring. She reads books like you wouldn't believe - in every place or position. When we wake up in the morning, she is faithfully reading on the couch!! She loves to swim, and wear bright flashy colors. She loves soccer and babies and horses too. She sometimes asks if we will have more babies. :) Asia is full of love and light - she is so beautiful inside and out. I am so proud to be her momma.

On her actual birthday, she had her favorite breakfast, opened presents - and talked to her Nana, Poppa and Jamma on Skype. Later, I took Asia, Eden & BF Emma to the underground market (sounds shady, but it's not) to get their nails painted. It was so cute! They each got to choose their favorite design and get pampered. I brought lemonade and cherries to make it even more extravagant. They sat so still and were quite giddy. It only cost 10 kuai per kid! ($1.50)

For her Birthday Party – Asia wanted a Cowgirl Party!! We invited all her friends to the park for games & ice cream, which was wonderful for the 100 degree weather we had!! We stayed cool in the shade, with water balloon games and ice cream cones. We had about 45 friends(!!) there, picnicking and enjoying the party. I had fun planning her party, since I got to sew bandanna's for each of the kids! I was so tired after that extravaganza, but very content!

She was also given a rather large Chinese birthday cake from one of our local friends. The cake was quite colorful - decorated with spray paint??, with heaps of sweet whipping cream frosting, yet tasted SO artificial. We aren't fans of Chinese baked goods. Sadly, we didn't eat any - but we got this nifty picture!!

I really love celebrating each one of our girls, and it gives me such joy knowing that they are lavished with love and affection - knowing that they are such treasures, and gifts to us. Every child is a gift from above!! We love you sweet Asia, and we are so blessed by the beautiful little lady you are!!


ways to stay cool in the summer heat

1. Put your feet in the blow-up pool. Yes, we are 8 floors up.

2. Cram lots of friends into the blow-up pool. Eight, to be exact.

3. Go with mom to the veggie stand and ask her to buy you a yogurt Popsicle.

4. Swing really fast on the swings.

5. Spray each other with spray-bottles outside.
(no picture for this one - but this included buckets of water, 8 spray bottles, and lots of wet kids)

6. Have a water balloon toss with friends. (thanks for the pkg mom!)

7. Eat Ice Mountain Creamery ice cream!!

Hope you are finding ways to stay cool in your own summer heat!
Hugs from our clan XOXOXOXOXO


ride the bus with us!

Me and the girls riding the bus home with our 2 kilos of strawberries.

Bus ride for family of five: 3 kuai (45 cents)
2 kilos (4.4lbs.) of strawberries: 16 kuai ($2.40)
Fresh wind in your face on a hot day: priceless!


another Chinese wedding!!

A girl that has been helping us along in the business invited us to her wedding! She has been so encouraging and helpful along the way - and we were so excited that she had met such a wonderful guy. Aren't they sweet?

When you arrive at a Chinese wedding, you greet the couple in the lobby, then proceed upstairs to the banquet area. Everyone signs into a book - and the guest book guy signs your names and takes your gift. Your gift consists of $, and the amount is written next to your name!! - its all recorded for everyone to see. Some people bring red envelopes, but they are opened and recorded in the book. We just try to follow other peoples' example, and be generous too! ...since there are no wedding registries in China.

The banquet was quite loud, but the girls loved the huge bubble blower at the front of the room - blowing bubbles into the crowd. The bride & groom got showered with glitter, shaving cream & confetti during the ceremony. They were smiling thru it all, even though her dress & hair was a mess. Then she promptly changed into a red dress, to greet their guests and offer a toast to each person! Such a neat tradition!

The banquet was amazing - each table was lavished with heaps of food which we don't know the proper names of. We tried spicy beef, glass noodles, bean curd pizza?, broiled fish, Peking duck wraps with plum sauce! ....and so much more! Events like these are so FUN because you never know what to expect - we learn/try something new every time!

(p.s. It is taking me so long to catch up on this blog, because I haven't been able to load pictures for over 2 weeks. I am not sure why! ....so you will just have to picture it in your mind!)


exciting changes

Our city has changed SO much in the past 4+ years! YEAH! for modernization! Today we were excited to find car-carts (is there a better name?) for the girls to ride in at the supermarket. They were ever-so-excited! Of course we turn heads whatever aisle we go down - but they are pretty cute!! The girls are busy drinking their favorite yogurt drinks from a straw.

This supermarket is on the basement floor of a huge department store. We come here about once every 2 weeks to stock up on necessities. It is surprisingly clean and organized, and they have lots of expensive import items! I am not allowed to take pictures inside, but there are fish tanks and turtles for sale (to eat)!! ...as well as every kind of tofu, hallal meat section, and chicken feet. Yummmy. New items I am thankful for: brown rice, dried pinto beans, corn flakes, fresh cut chicken breasts, dried lentils, sesame seeds, and wheat germ!! I get excited over simple things.


feeling crafty: Father's day gifts!

I love hot glue guns! My friend just found one - and now we are gluing everything in sight. This past week, we bought some frames and rocks at the flower/fish market - to make some Father's Day gifts with our weekly 4-7 year old Children's Co-op! It was so fun and simple, that I wanted to share this idea, in case you want to make something fun for your favorite dad, or for yourselves!

Things you will need:
  • any size frame
  • hot glue gun
  • extra hot glue sticks?
  • rocks
We had each kid (6-7yrs) arrange their rocks beforehand, and then take turns gluing each rock in place along the frame. We found all colors and sizes of rocks, so the frames look so amazing! The mom's were in charge of the hot glue guns. Next week, each kid will make a matte that frames their picture, and write "Dad, you ROCK!" in their own printing. All the materials cost 12Y for each gift = $1.76!!

The younger kids (age 4-5) made a different style of frame using:
  • any size frame
  • Elmer's glue
  • coarse sand
  • shells and/or coral
  • small rocks
This frame will have a picture and matte, that says "Dad, you're COOL!" - to go along with the beachy theme. I also used clear nail polish to make the rocks shine! Anyhow - its always fun to decorate a frame!

p.s. It's been awhile, so we aren't really UP on all the new lingo - but the kids thought it was so funny learning what "cool" and "you rock" means. We are all so sheltered! We might need some help in this department soon.


hiking up to the snowmelt

Spontaneously we decided to go hiking this morning - only about an hour's drive along the highway to Shui Xi Gou (West Water Valley 水西沟) - up a long, windy, bumpy dirt road to some green mountains! Everything is picturesque, with fresh air and nature all around. It was so wonderful!! Off in the distance we saw flocks of white goats along the mountainside. They are so agile and sure-footed on the rocky heights. It was amazing to see. We set up a picnic spot near the creek, snacked on nan bread with PB and played frisbee with the girls. We put our feet in the icy-cold creek, and made stepping stones across a narrow section. The girls are becoming more daring as they jump from rock to rock - like little goats themselves. Asia found these beautiful buttercups and made a bouquet!

Later, some big cows ventured over to our picnic spot - eyeing our goods. Later we saw them raid another groups' food -- these were crazy scavenger cows! We were laughing so hard as the cow ran off with a plastic bag of apples and soda cans. When we go the mountains we see ravenous cows, not bears or sneaky racoons. Hehehe. That made my day.

We ended up taking a longer hike up the river valley, past a small village of Kazakh yurts, and young men on horses. The kids were bounding ahead further uphill than I thought they would go! We were amazed to find some leftover winter snow at the base of the mountain - it was still cold enough to remain. The snow was so packed that it was icy blue. Asia & daddy climbed some bigger rocks for this picture:

Asia: "My favorite part of today was hiking up the rocks with daddy! I climbed higher than the snow!"

these hikers were fueled by blue candy.
And you must end every good hike with some ice cream!!

...which, by the way: today is this little one's 3½ birthday!
it has gone SO fast!!


package LOVE.

We just got 2 massive packages from some sweet & generous friends. You know who you are! The girls have been in "package heaven" for the last few days/week as they enjoy all the precious gifts inside. Thank you for making our lives so rich and full - aside from any gifts. We love you with all our hearts!