Da Sha Gu - and a CAR!!

Some exciting news:  We bought a car -- a used Mitsubishi BK6450 something-or-other: not a brand I have ever heard of before.  We really love having the freedom to get around town, and get OUT of town too - its so nice to get some fresh air in the many mountains and valleys beyond the city.  It was really inexpensive, and Justin already had his license from the Ice Cream Delivery.  He is such a great international driver, which takes SERIOUS skills.  He manages to follow all the rules, even when there aren't any, while paying attention to all the crazies too, and read signs in Chinese.  I could never do it.    

Anyhow, this past weekend we decided to take a drive/adventure with the girls - and explore a new valley that we hadn't been to before.  We went to Da Sha Gu -- about 90 minutes away, with a small fee to enter the "park."  It was really mellow and quiet, which is so refreshing when you are in a city of 4+ million.  I loved the entrance sign that warns you of the wild mushrooms.  I hope you can read the sign, it says = Warm prompt : does not pick, does not buy, does not eat the wild mushroom. 

The park was full of completely man-made rocks (cement formations) and the entire "river" had a cemented bottom.  There were even tree-trunks that were made of cement.  It was so strange.  I don't think the kids noticed really, so we didn't tell them.  This was supposed to be our "escape into nature" adventure.  Only the mountains were real.  Oh, and the crisp mountain air!!...so I shouldn't complain.  

Our favorite part of the day was when we strayed off the normal path to eat our picnic snacks in this huge field, while we watched Kazakh herders galloping nearby, or the tourists (Chinese) riding their horses, while bundling up in our sweatshirts.  We hadn't planned for cold weather!  The girls began a game of spitting their dried garbanzo beans at daddy, which turned into a hilarious war back and forth with beans flying everywhere, and lots of laughter.  I love my little family. 

Here we are....somewhere in the middle of the TianShan mountain range...in NW China.  It still blows my mind sometimes.  I am so very grateful for this opportunity to BE here and share our lives with so many different people groups, and for our girls to see the world this way.

Off we go!!  Its a very cute little car -- and yes!! -- there are seatbelts!!

thankful for:
10+ years of marriage to this neat guy
3 amazing, joyful little girls
God's faithful provision in every way
the adventure continues....


birthday & bagels

Happy birthday to the best dad these girls could imagine!!  You are so incredible!! 

We bought daddy a special glass teapot that is customary to this part of Central Asia.  The tea pot sits above a small candle to stay warm.  We love to make our own unique tea-flavors, especially when we can add fruit and spices of our own.  We'd love to have you over for a visit!!  

We also decided to make some pretzel bagels for the birthday boy/dad.  These are such a labor of love, but so worth the work. It involves a bunch of mixing, rising, rolling, boiling, baking & basting.  But homemade really is the best!!  Many hands make light work though, right?


Armenia clan : part 3

Our last few days spent with our sweet family was so FULL!!  We filled every moment to the brim with as much love & joy & life that we possibly could.  The cousins were more like sisters at this point!!  We barely slept - not wanting to miss an extra minute wasted on sleep. I know, we are crazy like that.

We took the kiddos to People's Park - romped around bouncy castles and climbed huge climbing walls.  But they mostly liked the cartoony balloons that they brought home for 1 kuai! 

The girls had slumber parties each night, with special hour-long bedtime stories by uncle Jason.  Bedtime became such an exciting adventure - to find out what would become of the 4 heroine princesses (Diana, Trudy, Ethel & Gertrude).  Our girls still remember every detail of his creative tales.

We spent one full day @ the Xinjiang Zoo - which is more like a desert safari!  There were lots of interesting animals living in wide, open habitats - even though they might not enjoy the desert heat!  The kids had fun watching the ostriches, camels, tigers, bears, and the monkeys too. 

I love these two!!

Aren't these girls so CUTE??
We also took the girls go-cart riding @ Nan Gong Yuan, which was a huge highlight.  Jason drove with Jordan & Sydney, while Justin drove the course with Asia & Eden.  The girls were so happy to get behind a steering wheel and go fast.  It was pretty sweet to watch their excitement! 

Goodbyes are always hard....but we are so thankful for the amazing adventures we got to share in 8 magical days in Xinjiang.  Who knows where we will see you guys next!!? 



Armenia clan : part 2

It was only 8 jam-packed days of both McNabb clans together - but we got to show them some of the best parts of our life out here. One afternoon we piled 4 families (11 kids!) into our delivery vehicles and drove about 15 minutes outside the city into the hills. A few months ago we stumbled upon this random dirt road - and followed it just for fun. It has become a special "quick getaway spot" when we were needing a break from city life.

We drove everyone out to the spot - brought pizza, salad and marshmallows. We hiked the dusty hillsides, and saw horses and a huge flock of sheep. We built a bonfire and just enjoyed this place we call home. The kids had great fun running free, and even Madi got to take a little walk to follow some sheep. She was so excited. I just adore this little one!!

It was great to share another side of our life with them - the friends we have made out here, and some of the ways we try to recharge. I think they are getting a pretty accurate taste of what life is like out here - and all the beauty, joys, challenges and dirt too. At least we hope so!!
(Yes it was dirty and poop was everywhere, but we loved it.)

Thankful for
The chance to be together
An amazing sunset over the hills
Being an auntie to these precious girls
Flocks of sheep that live in this desert place
Kids running free
Deep friendship

(more to come)


visitors from Armenia!!! (or Ohio, Kentucky, DC, Santa Cruz? they aren't sure!)

Just in case you don't know where ARMENIA might be - its the small yellow country on the map below, bottom left - south of Georgia, and north of Iran. Its in the Central Caucasus Mountains, where Mt. Ararat is located. We hear it's beautiful (but we might just need to go there ourselves to make sure)!! Our family is stationed there for the next 2 years, serving with US Aid - and they are taking some vacation time to come here! Wahoo!!

This is a dream come true: to have Justin's brother, Krissy & the girls come to China to visit! We've been pinching ourselves to make sure this is REAL - but here they are!! Such a collision of two worlds! They have 2 precious little girls: Jordan (4yrs old) and Madi (1yr old) - and they are so incredible and full of life! I love getting to be an auntie in real life! We cherish this time with them - as life can move along so fast, and we are all in such different places & careers. Its hard to predict when we will all be together again...so this is a gift! (and it just so happens to be right around my birthday, so I consider it a birthday gift! thanks guys!)

We only had 8 full days ~ but we filled it with lots of adventure and sweet times together as a fam! We made homemade noodles called Laghman (a Uyghur style spicy noodle dish), ate lots with chopsticks, and visited our favorite restaurants - so they could sample our cultural cuisine!

We took them on the local bus - though I wish they could have experienced riding a bus during rush hour - being squeezed into a bus without any space to move is quite the cultural experience. Oh well....next visit, right??

And we gave them the grand tour of all things ICE CREAM!! This picture is outside our tiny shop downtown - where it all began almost 3 years ago! The cousins had fun choosing their favorite flavors of ice cream too!

Most days we just went to a nearby park and let the kids run free. It was so wonderful for the cousins to be together again....and for ME to become Jordan & Madi's best friend (again). I love getting to love on my nieces - for 8 days straight!

more to come....