tooth #4....

This tooth came out as Asia got her top tooth stuck in a straw! It came out so easily...and now she has a large gap & even larger lisp. I love it! Her face is changing as she grows too, which is strange to watch as the girls grow older. I love watching them develop & change....such beauty!!

Also, we decided to tell Asia the truth about the Tooth Fairy, since she was finally catching on and asking too many questions. She loves knowing the secret now, and plans to help us with future tooth-under-the-pillow visits with her 2 little sisters. She is growing up so fast!


my new schedule

I have huge respect for those of you taking kids off to school everyday. I don't know how you do it! My daily schedule has changed significantly in the past three days! I now use an alarm (gasp) to wake up so that I will have enough time to a) get dressed, b) get my kids dressed for school, c) get them a healthy breakfast and d) make sure their backpacks are ready to go! Justin drops them off in the morning which is wonderful! The mornings feel like a whirlwind - but then again, I am not much of a morning person anymore.

I am loving the quiet, mellow mornings so far, having hot tea with Asia - and starting off our daily home-school activities together. She is such a precious lady, and one of my favorite people on earth. She likes having my undivided attention too. But 2+ hours goes fast! Pretty soon we are bundling up and out the door to pick up the girls. We walk to the bus stop, wait for the #907 bus, ride about 2 miles - and then walk to the school. E&S are always so excited to see us! I get to hear all about their "day @ school" along the way! They especially love telling me what was served for lunch! Then, we all ride the bus home together - and shop for our veggies & fruit along the walk home from the bus stop. Its great to get outside like this everyday - on a more methodical schedule. I feel like we are more apart of the community & interacting with shop owners, etc - on a daily basis. The girls LOVE riding the bus most of all.

One of my favorite preschool discoveries by Sydney: "MOM!! When the Chinese kids go potty, they DON'T wipe!" I found this out after hearing S&E whispering about these new observations, comparing notes - since they are in separate classes! They were giggling so much about this new fact.


1st day of Chinese preschool

The girls passed their medical checkups and were cleared for Chinese preschool! They were so excited to get ready in the morning and pack their backpacks with fun items for school (tissues for the bathroom, indoor shoes & a change of undies!).

They will also be attending the school with 2 friends - our business partners' kids. This is a picture of Sydney & her buddy A, both 3 years old. Monday mornings @ this preschool is their Flag raising ceremony, every week!! We arrived just in time to watch the kids gather by class to participate in the flag-raising by three little 5 years olds! The kids are so adorable (& obedient)!!

I got a great picture of Eden, as she was being introduced to her new class - so shy and excited at the same time. I am so proud of her for having a desire to learn something new, and take a step into the unknown. Her teacher's name is Miss Gladys - who has such a wonderful heart for kids.

Here's a pict of the kids in Eden's class - mostly boys actually! She later told me that there were 2 boys that "always got in trouble and were really loud" which cracked me up. I wonder what she is like in a classroom setting?? For now, I encouraged her to try and learn a new word (in Chinese) each day - and just have fun making friends. I am not sure how much she will understand, but I am just glad the girls are trying something NEW!!



For those of you who might get migraines - I truly feel for you! I began getting migraines about 5 years ago, right after we moved to this city. It has been so debilitating, frustrating & zapping of my spirit for much too long. I know that my neck & back have issues, but there aren't any chiropractors here. We immediately began to pray for healing, without much change over the past 5 years.

I have tried so many things to get rid of these migraines...and so far I continue to live with it. It most often feels like a knot screwed tightly in the base of my skull, reaching over my head and curling around my eye or forehead. It squeezes and holds on tight. If I am able to feel one "coming on" I can sometimes take an Excedrin, but only enough to take the edge off. I try to avoid pain-meds if possible...but most of the time I need something to be able to function. When J comes home from work, I sometimes have to retreat to the dark bedroom to get some relief from the light & noise for the migraine to subside. Sleeping is challenging but probably what brings the most relief.

I rack my brain to figure out the source of this pain - stress, allergy (MSG, caffeine), environment (pollution), neck out of alignment, optical problems, chemical imbalance, muscle spasms, and on and on. I think I have narrowed down my specific possible factors - but to rule out my biggest fear {brain tumor} I am going to have an MRI done before we return. It's so cheap here, so we are going to rule out anything serious!!

Anyhow - for the 6 of you that read this blog faithfully, please think of me in this struggle. I don't really like to complain {though my husband might disagree} yet this struggle with daily pain has been one of the hardest things in my life thus far. With 2-3 migraines per week, a constant lingering headache, and pitiful attitude issues - living with pain is not nice. It is hard to function at the top of my game, and to respond graciously to noise, have joy, or even get outside to do normal errands on a daily basis. I think that ever since Sydney could speak (and pray) she has asked that my headaches be healed for almost every prayer she has prayed. Its precious that she thinks of me all the time, but sad that this is all she has known of her momma - with a headache. I desperately want to be healed of this pain. Also, in a few short weeks, I will get to be adjusted by my wonderful father-in-law!! ...so that I can get some relief from this evil head-pain! I love that I married the son of a chiropractor. Maybe one of the best decisions I have ever made....but for 5 million other reasons too. :)


learning about Islam with kids...

In an effort to help our kids understand the world better and learn about the cultures where we live - we embarked on a week of discovery about the world of Islam! We read from an assortment of books about history, culture, lifestyle, beliefs, and food. We learned about architecture & design, and even made a list of vocabulary words that we wanted to learn: (mosque, minaret, arabesque, head-scarf, doppa, muzzein, loom, 5 pillars, Ramadan, pilgrimage, Allah, caliph, halal, imam, Mecca, & Qur'an)

After all that "study" and preparation - we made a visit to Da Bazaar - the central spot to observe Islamic culture in our city. We have been to this Bazaar countless times since we have lived here the past 5 years, but never with the intention of observing and discussing the Islamic flavor of our city with the girls. It was so fun! We had wonderful talks about head coverings, modesty, and why arabesques are used so often in Muslim decor. We took time to observe details of wool & silk rugs (looking for a real-live loom), Uyghur instruments & even made a scavenger hunt for a friend to do later (he is 7 too!). They counted the minarets and took notes about details they observed. The girls were so enthralled with the little outing - and didn't want to go home. This "field trip" was actually unplanned on my end, but it just seemed to fit with what we had been learning this week. Here is a picture of Asia's favorite rug - full of Arabic styled arabesques!

After making the effort to create a hand's-on experience, I can attest that the girls learned so much more - and will retain the memories (or knowledge) more than if we had just looked at books. It just takes a little time, a desire to ask questions and to learn in the process!


Chinese preschool

Eden and Sydney have recently begun asking me about "going to Chinese school" - more than once per day which is new! Asia went when she was 5 - for about 5 months, and she didn't like it too much. Sending our girls to preschool here hasn't ever been a huge priority - but if they have shown interest, we have given them the opportunity. I guess our hesitations mostly have to do with the way Chinese schools are run, and if the benefits outweigh the challenges. And most often - we just never pursue it. I am sure many foreign kids have loved the experience, and learned lots in the process....so we have been open...but never pressured them.

Anyhow, with all those disclaimers aside - our two youngest wanted to TRY it out! So with the new semester beginning - we got the girls enrolled at a local Preschool. First they needed to have the school physicals completed: all their basic info gathered by a doctor - even a blood test. The girls were both so brave, and didn't even squirm with the needle in their arm. The doctor's were very sweet and gentle, so that helped.

Now we wait a few days for the results, and a clean bill of health - and then they can attend. Their classes will have about 20+ kids, and three teachers! We have been able to visit the school, observe a bit - and ask questions. We are excited for the girls to have this chance to learn inside of a classroom, hear Chinese spoken, make local friends, and get a healthy dose of independence too! They are so excited! ....stay tuned!


on having a kitty....

Today this precious lady told me she wanted to be a Veterinarian when she grows up. Having a kitty has inspired some new life-goals in this gal. These two are such great pals, and Sushi is so gentle and forgiving.

We also have someone to cuddle with when we are feeling under the weather. Sushi is great company and wonderful at keeping us warm & toasty too. I think her snuggles help in the healing process too.

She also serves as a special baby doll that doesn't mind getting dressed up at times. ...or carried around in blankets. Well, she might mind - but she puts up with the attention without too much protest.

Sushi also loves helping the girls with their math or reading. She is quite content to be involved with any daily activity, especially anything that moves or makes noise. She is quite social - and loves to be involved in the action. These girls have loved having her around!!

Sushi Lightning: @ 5 months old


happy birthday Baba!!

breakfast in bed {veggie scramble}
special poem {that rhymed} by the girls
lazy day at home {by request}

riding bikes outside
special coffee ice cream cake with caramel topping

1980's trivia {thanks friends!}
Happy 30th Birthday Baba!!
We love you!!



In the past few months - so many of our friends have shared about their desires to grow their families through adoption. It has really been exciting to see a renewed desire to love a child who would most likely grow up without a family that loves them. Justin & I have always had a heart for adoption, and caring for orphans overall - so this has been refreshing to hear about these special families who are taking huge steps of faith and opening their hearts to a little one. I get so excited for them, imagining the emotional & joyful adventures ahead as they LOVE a little child who has been left alone. I wanted to share about these special friends - because adoption is something that is dear to my heart, and I know these three families are uniquely called to LOVE with abandon.

Two friends from our Kona days - A&J are looking to adopt a little one from China! Jess is such a kindred spirit, and I was always so inspired how she could create beauty out of simple things. She opened an Etsy shoppe -- WildPoppyShoppe -- full of beautiful hand-made items! All her proceeds will go towards their international adoption. Please check out her creations and consider doing some early Christmas shopping! What a better way to spend your dollars, and make a lasting difference too!

Two friends from College - J&N are looking to adopt a little girl from Ethiopia! They recently started a blog to chart the journey - and we are just so thrilled to know they will be parents again to a little girl! They have some neat fund-raising ideas ahead too, and need all the support they can get!

Also, two friends - K&C are moving forward with their adoption from Ethiopia too! They are such a joyful and giving family, and its so exciting that they will be growing again soon! Their blog is also very inspiring!

Anyhow - just wanted to share, since hearing about these families has really encouraged me! There are so many ways to care for orphans - no matter where you are in life. I hope you will be encouraged too!


a long distance gift to U.J.

For Uncle Jason's (U.J.) birthday this year, we decided to take the training wheels off A&E's bike....just to see if they could balance and ride at the same time. There was much serious determination and balancing going on. Both girls were so READY, and didn't need much help or coaxing. They just needed to make that decision - and go for it. Daddy ran alongside holding them up about 10 times each - but then it happened so quickly! Maybe they were subconsciously waiting for a momentous holiday to mark the occasion? We like to think it was a special gift for U.J.'s birthday.
So happy birthday U.J. We learned to ride a bike just for you!! And Sydney has a 2-wheel balance bike too!


tooth #3 is out.

Asia lost her first top tooth last night while eating chicken curry. It was hanging on by a thread - and she yanked it herself. She gets SO extremely giddy when a tooth falls out, its quite amazing how much giddiness can exude out of a 7-year-old who just lost a tooth! She loves the feeling of her tongue filling the hole in her smile....and we all love her little lisp too.


birthday camping

This was my birthday request: Camping in China with friends!
It was an adventure to say the least!! ...and our friends are brave souls!!

Five kids in the back seat of the van? Not squishy at all!

We rented a van & driver who drove us up into the mountains and dropped us off. We brought all our food, clothing & gear for two days/nights! We were able to stay in a wonderful Kazakh Yurt, which already had blankets & bedding, and a coal burning stove too. Yurt-camping sounds so rustic & adventurous.

BUT - out of nowhere, the temperatures dropped - and we were freezing COLD! Luckily, we brought winter jackets, etc - and we basically wore all our clothes in layers for the entire 48+ hours! The bedding was very lumpy & thin, so we didn't get that great of sleep, well - hardly any. I guess that is to be expected when you camp! Despite the cold weather/lack of sleep - we still had so much fun! More on that later. :)

When you go camping in America, you expect to get dirty - and the DIRT seems normal. In the mountains here, you have to take the dirty-factor UP a few dozen notches to fully grasp the filth that is "normal" here. I am not joking. Cattle & sheep roam all over the place, so the dirt is laced with animal dung everywhere. You can smell it. When we go to the mountains though - you just have to CHOOSE to overlook all the obvious signs of dirt and muck & poo. Otherwise you can obsess about it. And most of the time we just laugh really hard about grime & germs. Or else I might go crazy.

Then you have GARBAGE lurking from tourists in every possible cranny. And some of these tourists decide to drink large amounts of alcohol for hours on end, resulting in lots of loud vomiting. It's very sad. We try to find the humor in it all, but we mostly feel bad for the locals who live there and witness this type of behavior. I am glad we can be a positive reinforcement of families having fun, enjoying nature - and taking care of the world we live in. We had some neat conversations with lots of people this weekend. :) We also had to ask our local host to move their sheep one night, because it was tied up right outside the yurt, bleating every 5 seconds right next to our head. So they tied it up about 4 yurts away instead. SOOO much better!

Also, there are no showers in the mountains, so local people who live here year-round can only wash themselves in the trickling river water, but never a complete bath or shower. I can assure you they go months without a normal shower. Especially in the winter!! There are no bathrooms with running water or sinks. The outdoor squatty consists of a brick outhouse with 2 holes in the ground. You have to squat standing over 2 cement slabs. Surprisingly, these were cleaner than I had expected! Not that I mean to complain - just trying to give you a better idea of the differences. The girls preferred to find a tree or a convenient ditch to do their business. The outside air-flow is definitely a bonus!

And finally....
Things we loved about camping
eating picnic lunches outside
going for a nature scavenger hunt
riding horses up the mountain & through a flock of sheep
taking a hike at dusk up to the top of a crest
digging in the creek bed
roasting marshmallows over a coal-burning stove
warming ourselves by the coal stove
learning to play Dutch Blitz
cuddling under covers with the girls
brushing our teeth by flashlight & a water bottle
finding bugs & neat walking sticks
getting dirty
throwing rocks
the quiet of the mountains & nature
seeing a herd of camels
the brightness of the stars at night
sleeping in a Kazakh yurt!
bonding with friends even more!

Eden is our little animal lover. She wanted to ride all by herself, but this horse belonged to this Kazakh boy...who helped escort her up the mountain. She was so happy!!


Live Uyghur music on my birthday!

My birthday this year was mellow and restful! We didn't plan much, since we were planning a camping trip later in the week. But we did enjoy dinner at a favorite restaurant, which just so happened to be having their 10th anniversary celebration - with LIVE music! It felt like I was being serenaded in Uyghur - and I have really missed live acoustic guitar over the past few years. This guys' voice was mesmerizing too - kinda raspy & so very central Asian. We all loved it!

We had a great day together - which is what I love most about birthdays!!
Spending time with those you love.