Summer water dilemmas... again.

I have written about this lovely topic before, but the saga continues. I am sorry to say that I am not laughing about it this week. We have been living in our apartment for over 3 years now - and we are quite UNimpressed by the maintenance of our building. We have been without water pressure for about 7 days now, which is long enough to make this momma go raving mad. I don't think that is an understatement either. The water sporadically comes on in the late evenings (after 11:00pm) but only enough to give a trickle of cold water. My incredible husband takes the brunt of my frustration, AND he finagles/argues/reasons with the apartment maintenance guys to have them come FIX our dilemma. It is no easy venture. My "angry Chinese" vocabulary isn't very sensitive or helpful!!

Anyhow - all that to preface these cute picts of the girls taking bucket showers in the kitchen. Maybe I just need to lighten up and enjoy the simple pleasures these "dilemmas" bring about? Someone please help me see the humor and joy in these moments!! (besides my cute kids!)

p.s. Cold trickle showers aren't that bad when its 90 degrees outside.


One of my last Xmas presents was a special hemp-bag for growing my own sprouts! I LOVE IT, and I just wanted to show Kris proof that we are putting this bag to good use! Thank you so much sister!

My only complaint: the sprouts don't grow quick enough!! We are always eager to use them, and it takes about 5 days to grow another crop. We have also been sprouting lentils, garbanzos, and playing with other legumes/seeds as well. This is the best summer meal for a hot desert-y day!

Here's MY salad, sans tomatoes of course! (xīhóngshì = 西红柿)


happy birthday C!!

We took a good friend out for her birthday to a new restaurant that features Hong Kong food! I am not completely sure of the differences, but it was yummy! Our sweet friend ordered lots of new things for us to sample; things we might not have ordered if she wasn't there! Its great to have connections! I really loved the fish and noodles.

She is such a wonderful friend ~ and we are glad to be getting to know her better since she works with us as well. She would love to travel someday, and continue her schooling/education abroad. We are excited for her as she grows and figures out her passions in life. :)

...and one more picture: Asia eating rice with chopsticks!!
< pure skill >


an afternoon stroll...

On a lazy Sunday we decided to venture outside and take the girls for a stroll thru The People's Park ~ which was teeming with people! I guess this city is teeming, no matter where you go - but its amazing how many people are out and about, filling walkways and benches throughout this huge park! We ate at a little cafe near the park, and brought the kids bikes/scooters too. The weather was perfect!

Everything is in full bloom - colorful and vibrant and smelling sweet. The girls are getting better at weaving through the sea of people along the pathways, as we stroll along behind them. I love watching them navigate and choose their way.

It's so nice to get out as a family.

Life is good!


birthday girl!! #SIX!

Eden is SIX!!! - another unbelievable moment for this momma! She has been counting down the days for over 3 months! This amazing little girl is so full of life and eager to celebrate! She is a bright ray of sunshine in our lives....busting through clouds and bringing absolute cheer. She delights in simple things and observes with quiet intensity. Her beautiful strength shows in her quiet, and in her spunk. She is a sweet friend, silly and yet such a servant.
She woke to lots of sixes taped up on our birthday window, a vase of flowers just for her, and presents wrapped up so lovely. She could hardly wait. She patiently waited for each Skype phone call, each present waiting for its giver to be present. She was overjoyed with each gift - quietly, yet joyously opening the paper with care. Her eyes bright and sparkling with curiosity, so much wonder in her heart. She is such a delight, always easy-going, sensitive and full of questions too. She loves her presents, by the way!

We celebrated at the park with a canopy and little friends. It was a magical tea party with long flowing dresses and baby-dolls and crowns and dizzy-twirling and tea cups.

Eden Sofia was born after much anticipation, over 48 hours of laboring and working....though I don't remember being overly tired (we forget so easily!). Her bluish face scrunched up with wrinkles, feeling ever-so-grateful for a midwife who clipped her cord so fast. It really does feel like yesterday. She loves to hear her birth story retold again and again: the miracle of her life! Even Asia seems to remember kissing her head softly, and the excitement of welcoming a baby sister. They are such wonderful gifts.

Thankful for:

six amazing years of life
her deep questions, always probing deeper
her dimpled cheek
the freckles emerging on the bridge of her nose
bright blue eyes that dance & sparkle
the way she tackles numbers with such ease
she doesn't mind dirt
hearing her read new books to Sydney
her willingness to try new things
how she clams up with an audience
how she walks on my back
her creativity and imagination
her constant laughter
how she loves to eat breakfast (2 times)
her fervent love for spinach
when she helps me in the kitchen
her purity

You are a treasure sweet Eden, radiant light, a miracle in our lives - we love you so!!

Oh...I almost forgot her sleepover too! ...with her sweet friend Amina!
(with not much sleeping going on!)


birthday excitement....

This week we are preparing for a lovely birthday party for our soon-to-be SIX year old! In keeping with tradition, the birthday girl gets to help make her own cake, and lick all beaters too. I am so glad these girls love to help! They are each getting so skilled in measuring, mixing and even washing dishes!

For Eden's birthday party - we are going to a park for a special tea party with 7 of her friends. I decided to try something new and make "cake-pops" which are basically cake shaped into a ball, poked onto a stick, and dipped in chocolate! They taste like a truffle on a stick!! I searched online for directions - and followed Bakerella's website. It was definitely a labor of love (since we don't have packaged cake mixes or frosting in a can) - and a fun learning experience! Eden even shared the chocolate-cake-beaters!!

Here we are dipping the frozen pops into the melted chocolate...and adding sprinkles!
It was quite a process!

The finished masterpieces!

My favorite one!

I think she is giddy with anticipation....

Only one more sleep (not so) little one!!
We love you so!


The bus ride home.

We opted to take the BUS on our way home from Korla. We figured it would be faster and easier than our last trip! ....which had its pro's and cons too! But you never know in until you try! ...and this was our first time ever taking a BIG travel bus in China as a family!

Here's how we travel : light!!

Sydney loved the little snack boxes that were provided - and she tried everything! Even the unknown meat that was shrink wrapped in spicy oil. She is one brave chica. Her favorite was the dried Hawthorne fruit snacks.

Here is the smelliest, stenchiest, most disgusting bathroom stop ever. And since we have three little girls, guess which parent gets to spend the most time in this lovely place? Bring your own toilet paper, of course!! Fun!! Oh...I am excited to get home.

Bus trip Pro's:
we didn't break down on the highway in the middle of the desert.
the bus was on time!
I was guaranteed my own seat!

Bus trip Con's:
the smell of gas fumes gave me a headache
the AC didn't work, and you can't roll down the windows
we only had 1 main bathroom stop
the Chinese movies were loud, obnoxious and not for kids

Note to self: hiring a driver is the best option! It gives the most flexibility and is often cheaper too. But you never know until you TRY!


Korla life

Korla is a beautiful city!! It is very clean and has lots of open parks and trees! After living in a massive city for 5+ years, Korla felt small & quaint, and the people very friendly & kind. There is a river that flows through the city most of the year - keeping the city abundantly green and fertile. There are lots of farmlands surrounding the area too, the most famous crop being the Korla Pears - they are as sweet as honey! It also attracts lots of migratory birds - including the famous Korla swans!! So amazing! I had no idea that swans would be attracted to this little desert city in the middle of nowhere. Korla is also home to a huge operational center for PetroChina - oil digging!

Here is the view from where we stayed:

Our first night in Korla we went to the park since we'd been cooped up in a car for waaay too long. The kids had fun running free and meeting new friends. Then we were off to find a good restaurant for dinner!

We ate a typical meal of Uyghur noodles and mutton kebabs. YUM!! But first you must wash your hands outside in this nifty water tank/fountain.

Our friends have four kids - ages 5, 4, 2 & 10 months! ...and they are so beautiful!
This is their 1st daughter - two years old, eating right off the skewer!!

Here is Eden (below) with their oldest son (5 yrs old):

Five kids (out of 7 total) all lined up by this bright blue gate.
I couldn't resist.

Here we are (on Mother's Day) on our way to the river. We found this entrance to an old mosque and couldn't resist this picture either. I love the intricate painting, and incredible stone-work and the old archways. It is good to be in this place!

The girls were so excited to see the river - even though the river-bed was pretty much dry. The river has been dammed up for construction. It seems like there is always some sort of building project going on everywhere in China! Even so, the girls couldn't wait to explore the river bed. They are off...in chronological order....A....E....& S bringing up the rear.

Peering over the rail...wanting to somehow get down there!!

Daddy loves some adventure too.

More picts with our sweet friends:

Asia, being a wonderful big sister & helper all weekend long!

Not everyone is paying attention, and three are missing....but its our best group picture!

Thank you sweet friends for the wonderful visit, and for being so patient with us! It took us five years to finally come and visit, but we so LOVE you and your amazing family!! Thanks for sharing your home, your delicious food, your beautiful city and your hearts! We are some of your biggest fans!!


May "vacation" to Korla!

We've been invited to visit some friends in Korla for the past five years....and we are finally taking this opportunity to GO! Planning a road trip in this area of the globe is a bit different than what you might expect. Actually, you probably shouldn't "expect" anything! We booked tickets on the bus - and set out at 7:30am hoping to arrive 6 hours later!

We couldn't catch a taxi to the bus station - so we hopped in a "black taxi" (an unofficial civilian taxi) and he just-so happened to have the day free. He offered to drive us all the way to Korla in his personal car! His price was cheaper than our reserved tickets - so we made a quick change of plans. He was such a nice guy too! ....but we had no idea of the adventures that were to come! The nice thing about having your own driver is that you can stop for snacks, take potty breaks, and see more of the desert if we want to explore! We can roll the windows down...and enjoy the hot breeze. Our first stop was to refuel at a roadside station, which was more like a construction zone.

We bought some snacks for the road...
...and got some of the wiggles out!
Most of the drive was flat desert or this amazing rock/mountainous roads!

Right as we got out of the mountains our driver began driving kinda strange. He would accelerate, and then coast for awhile. We weren't sure if he was trying to save gas or something. Then all of a sudden he pulls over.... his car was overheating!

We were basically stranded in the middle of the desert highway for about an hour. It was hot. Not a single breeze...so we tried to help our driver figure out the problem....and let the girls play in the sand & pebbles on the side of the road. There wasn't much we could do!

I love that the girls found ways to have fun with rocks & empty water bottles.
I just took pictures of the silliness!

We were back on the road shortly, but driving slowly to make sure the engine didn't overheat again. We stopped again to refuel and cool off with some popsicles. The heat of the desert is no joke!

Justin found an old motorcycle cart that was calling his name.

Traveling with our little family is never without adventure!

We kept on going....and 8.5 hours later we arrived at our destination! I think next time we will take the bus?? It was an adventure for sure....but we are certainly glad to be with friends for the weekend! Here's a picture of our driver: His name is Li, but he requested that we call him "Bruce Li" (Lee). hehehe.