Saturday, November 6, 2010


First of all, let me say that I am happy living in China. I feel this is where I am supposed to be right now. I feel very strongly that we were called here and God worked things out to get here. I feel a sense of purpose and I do love it here. But it is not always easy living in China. Some days are harder than others. but then again, I could say the same of living in the US. When I have a bad day here, I can always blame it on living in China. But really it could just be a bad day.

When we moved to China, someone told us that there seems to be a bigger culture shock that happens the third year. Many people go home after their third year. Guess what, this is our third year. We went into this year aware of this theory. But we felt energized by our visit home. We were ready to get back to work and get our routine going. We were really excited about the year.

We are not as excited anymore. Sometimes I feel a little guilty about that. Good things are happening with the WORK. We are engaging new people, we have started some new studies, old friends are branching out. Things are happening the way they are supposed to. But I am still having a hard time shaking the blahs.

This semester has been really hard on Jon. His work load has increased and work stress is bad. That always spills over a little into to home. So we all feel his stress.

I have had a hard time with dental work this semester too. It has been painful and frustrating.

Jon's grandmother passed away a few weeks ago. That was really hard. It was hard because we know we are going to miss her. Grieving is weird when you are away. You grieve for the deceased but also that you can't be with the rest of the family. You feel a little left out. My grandmother died in January. I grieved some then, but had another period of grieving when I went home and visited family.

This time of the year is hard on us too. I sometimes think that Halloween and Thanksgiving are as hard or harder than Christmas.

So the question is, is this that terrible "culture shock period" that we have heard about? Or is this just life?

Teachers have bad semesters, and bad years. I could have dental problems in the USA. MawMaw would have died if were were living in Henderson or in Hangzhou.

So what do I do? I just have to keep looking at the positives, and our blessings. And there are a lot of those!

I also enjoy baking and being domestic. If things start getting to me, I can straighten up the living room, or bake some cookies. That makes me feel a little better and maybe slightly more peaceful. If that doesn't work, chocolate usually helps.

So keep us in your prayers, and send us some chocolate!

**I actually wrote this back at the beginning of November. We are still somewhat stressed. This is just a bad semester. With the holidays coming up, we have fresh bouts of homesickness. I also feel a little guilty that my mood is so terrible. But, the semester is almost over. Hopefully we can have a good break and have a better semester next year. In the mean time, keep those prayers coming!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010


In 1974, some farmers near Xi'an were digging some wells and found some pottery fragments and bronze weapons. What followed was probably one of the largest archaeological finds ever.

People knew that Emperor Qun ShiHuang Di the first emperor of China's mausoleum was nearby, but no one knew that more than 1,000 terracotta warriors and horses guarded it. The statues were buried for more than 2000 years.

Emperor Qun is credited for uniting China. He conquered the six other states that existed in ancient China. He implemented a standardized system of weights and measurements for the country. He is built the Great Wall. Well, actually he connected several smaller walls that were already there. He died in 210 BC. If you like history, you should look him up. He was and interesting character.

These terracotta warriors are all different. They have different hair styles and they say that no two faces are alike.

At one time all of these statues were painted. You can see a little paint on a few of them.

They are still unearthing relics from this active archaeological site. There are three main pits where the warriors, horses, and weapons were found.
We know where Emperor's tomb is but it has not yet been unearthed (that is another story).

This is the farmer that first discovered the warriors while digging a well. Now he signs autographs and poses for pictures.

After this picture was taken, he shook their hands.
Eryn was too shy to take this picture, but she did say that we should say "xie xie" (thank you) for finding the warriors.
*Before we took this trip the kids kept saying that we were going to see the "teriyaki warriors".

The hostel

While in Xi'an we stayed at the Shuyuan Youth Hostel. A hostel is usually cheaper than a hotel. This hostel had some private rooms that had attached bathrooms and some rooms that shared a bathroom. This is one of the things that make it cheaper. Often times travelers can book just a bed in a dorm room. This is a really cheap way to stay. I booked us 4 beds in one room. The bathroom and showers were shared for the whole floor.

The atmosphere of this place is really nice. It was clean and really pretty.

This was our room. It was cozy. The third night the air conditioner started dripping. It woke us up that night. It dripped from then on. We told them and they kept saying they would fix it "tomorrow". We only paid $200 yuan a night (less than $30). The location of the hostel was fantastic too. We were in walking distance of several tourist attractions.

It was good that the hostel was cheap because we could not get tickets to come back to Hangzhou when we wanted to go. We ended up staying an extra 3 days in Xi'an than we had originally planned.

This was one of the residents of the hostel. He was really lazy. The kids were okay as long as the dog did not bark. He only barked when he saw another dog. The kids only got scared twice.
Another good thing about staying here so long is that the kids got really good at using a squatty potty. The bathroom on our floor was a squatty potty. The western toilet was downstairs.
We have lived in China now for more than 2 years. The kids could use a squatty, but I still had to hold Hallie's hand (so she wouldn't fall) and most of the time, Eryn had us hold her over the potty (which is hard if she is going to be there for a while!). Now the girls are pretty good at it and do not need my help. Yes!!
Of course, we still prefer good ol' western toilets, but we are more versatile now.

train trip

At the beginning of October, Jon had more than a week off due to the National Day holiday. We decided that it would be a good time to take a trip. It was a good time because Jon did not have classes, but it was not a good time because most other Chinese were also off of work and could travel as well. We had a hard time getting tickets. We did get train tickets to Xi'an. We had "hard sleeper" tickets. That means we did have a beds but they were in an open car. There are 6 beds in each compartment and several compartments in each car. It is not as nice and comfortable as " soft sleeper" but it is not bad. The train to Xi'an from Hangzhou is about 24 hours.

This what the train looked like from my bunk.

What do you do on a train for 24 hours? Well, you sleep some... you eat some play cards...

You play video games....

You read.... You stare out the window....

The country side on the way to Xi'an is very beautiful! I enjoyed just watching it all go by...

Train travel is one of the ways to really see China. We love traveling by train (it's cheaper than flying too).

Tuesday, November 2, 2010


Pumpkin or nan gua is easy to find in China. But what the Chinese call pumpkin we would probably call squash. There is no different name for pumpkin or squash, it is all nan gua. The big one in this picture is not really carvable. We did find a small regular orange pumpkin. A lady was selling them for decorations Most of the ones she was selling, had Chinese characters on them. Unfortunately this one grew too many gross black moldy spots before we could carve it for a jack-o-lantern.

We did however cut up the big "pumpkin" and made a bunch of pumpkin puree.

We baked the pieces in the oven for about an hour (until soft) then we took the peel off and ran it through the blender. This pumpkin yielded at least 6 cups of puree. I have already made 3 batches of pumpkin muffins and one batch of pumpkin cookies. I will need to get another one before Thanksgiving. We love pumpkin!

Since we could not carve pumpkin this Halloween, what did we do?
We carved orange candles! I brought these from the States this year. We "carved" them with tooth picks and then colored the carved spots with black marker (Jon did not color his).

These won't rot or get moldy!
Update: I saw two orange pumpkins at the market today. Where were those 2 weeks ago?!