Monday, December 5, 2011

My First . . .

(check out that hot car model!)
At 30 I bought my first car . . .
and at 30 I crashed my first car.

To find out what happened read here

Sunday, November 6, 2011

SNOW . . . in October?!?!

I'm a little pessimistic when it comes to the weather predicting snow.  I feel like whenever I'm around the snow isn't.  So when the weatherman said that we should expect somewhere between 6 to 16 inches of snow in October I didn't even blink.  When the flurries started falling I was kind of surprised but was even more surprised as it began to accumulate.  As time went by and the snow was already a couple inches deep I was getting concerned because my husband and two kids had not returned from their Saturday outing.  My husband got a hold of me and said that the roads were pretty bad and wasn't able to make it.  After taking a lunch break the roads were a little more drivable and they finally made it to our street.  Once there I had to walk down, carrying shovels, and with the help of a neighbor we shoveled tracks up our street and into our driveway.  It took about 1 and 1/2 hours to get up our street and up our very steep driveway!!  Once we got into the house, dried off and just about ready for dinner we lost power.

The next day my husband & I got quite a workout shoveling the 16 inches of snow in the driveway and off the cars.  Once we recovered we took the kids out to play, it was beautiful!! The sun was out and pretty warm but the snow was perfect for playing and building.  It was a little to deep, cold & wet for my 2 year old to enjoy.  He was much happier inside watching from the window. 

 As a family we enjoyed this freaky snow fall, even having to shovel, especially playing out in the snow with the kids but we were even appreciating the lack of power.  My husband's work is dependent on computers & the internet so he was able to not think about it and just spend time with us and play games.  The only bad thing about not having power was by the end of it the house was very cold and getting uncomfortably cold. 

It was a very strange, surprising, cold but fun filled weekend.  
(BTW all of the snow melted by the end of the week.)

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Giving Thanks

Being that it's November, a month we like to take time to focus on giving thanks, I am working on giving thanks. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 "Be joyful always; pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus."

Waking up in the morning no one says, "I think I would like to get into a car accident today." I certainly didn't.  I was so upset, humiliated, feeling dumb, feeling sorry, wishing I could go back and get a redo, thinking about how much it's going to cost me.  But taking a deep breath, remembering the verse, "In everything give thanks" and getting some perspective I was able to think about all the things I can and should be thankful for.
  • No one was hurt
  • The 3 children that were in the car were all calm and very patient (aka no one was crying raising the stress level)
  • My nephew's wife was with me, it helped to have an adult with me to keep me calm and keep my head straight
  • My brother-in-law answered my phone call and gave me excellent advise
  • Even though I was the one who did the rear ending, I wasn't given a ticket meaning the police thought I wasn't being a reckless driver
  • God protected us, the accident could have been much MUCH worse
  • The police report went as quickly and smoothly as it could go
  • Nothing was too complicated (referring to the fact that I was driving my mother's car, have a Tennessee license, and having insurance coverage on a different car)
  • Love and supports of my family and friends through the situation
This whole accident could have been much worse than it was and for that I am very thankful!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

It Only Takes A Moment

As time goes on and we get more into a routine here I think less about missing China.  My time is being filled with new things to do like DRIVE to the grocery store, DRIVE to go pick up my daughter from school, do a gazillion loads of laundry, clean house, potty train a 2 year old, the list is never ending.  But as these things come more and more natural I find myself not thinking about the way I used to do things.

As days go by however, there will be something that triggers something inside of me and I am immediately hit with sadness and grief and a ache for China (and all that we left behind).  Oh man how it hurts!!  I think it hurts even more than when I would miss China almost every minute of everyday.  It's almost like you take all that longing and sadness that I would feel over days and compact it into one instant.  When it happens I'm not sure what to do with myself.  I'm not a very emotional person, I tend to have a very steady and even personality but when I get hit head on with the bus of emotion feel like I am going to collapse and tears come rushing to my eyes.  I wonder if I feel like this because as I adjust and get more comfortable here I'm scared that I'm going to forget China (and all that I love there)?

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Feeling on Top of the World

I had an awesome day.  I woke up and was able to do devotions with my husband before he went to work.  Then I was able to get a work out in and read up on some good friends who are on the mission field before my boys got up.  After eating breakfast I put the boys in front of a little TV so I could clean the bathrooms and bedrooms upstairs.  (The boys TV was over before I was done but they were good "helpers".) Once lunch was over, boys were down for naps and my daughter and I rested for about 30 minutes we were back to cleaning.  We were able to finish our downstairs cleaning and made dinner.  I would also like to note that my 2 year old made it to the toilet for all his peeing needs!  We ended the day with our small group meeting.  It was a great day, I felt on top of the world!  I haven't been able to get all that done in . . . . let's just say a very long time.  But as I put myself to bed I reminded myself that there will be days like this and then there will be days when nothing gets done, I don't have any energy, I'm not able to get dinner done on time, my son doesn't make it to the toilet and nothing seems to go my way.  But by the grace of God I will be able to make it through that day too.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Following God's Voice

Many are wondering why we left China.  It has been the first question that most people ask.  I have a feeling that because we love China and were very sad to leave that people think that something happened that caused us to leave.

I just want to clear things up, we were not asked to leave, nothing happened that caused us to get hurt and want to leave, we really just felt because God was leading us back to America.  We do love China and we will always have a special place in our heart for China. We loved the experience, the culture, the people and the friends and relationships we built there.  We have so many great memories there.  (All three kids were born in China!) So it's easy to understand why someone might be asking . . . "Why did you leave?"

I believe it was a year ago that my husband was really feeling unsettled in his job and began to seek God for guidance.  My Husband knew he wasn't going to sign another contract at his job, but we really wanted to stay in China.  So we began to pray that God would bring something to us.  There were several things that did come up, but as we looked into them and sought God's guidance, we didn't feel that those were the things that God had in mind for us.  Time was running out, our job was coming to an end and God still hadn't made anything clear yet.  So we planned to pack up and head back to America.  When we made this decision it was made evident to us that that was what we were suppose to be doing.  Oh, how God provided for us!

We moved to China about 6 months after we were married and have been there ever since.  Spending all that time away, our families really haven't had a chance to get to know the respective spouse and us as a couple.  We also had three kids who don't really know their grandparents and cousins.  We want to spend time with our family and our family to be able to spend time with our children.  We also want our kids to get to know America!

We had been in China for almost 8 years!  It was a great time of learning and growing, but it was about time for a break.  Life can be hard in China, if you want to cook Western food, you have to make things from scratch (sometimes even making the ingredients from scratch, --- one time I had to make corn syrup).  All the attention we and our kids get because we have white skin and light colored hair can be very overwhelming.  Because of the language and culture, anything we do ends up taking a lot more time than you think.  We enjoyed the challenge of learning and using another language, but that can also be tiring, It's hard work!!  And no matter how well you know a culture there is always something that happens that just makes you go "huh?!".  After 8 years we have learned to expect the unexpected, because it will happen!  So I say all that to say, we need a break from it all and come back to America and rest.

So as we began to make plans to head back to America we were given a financial gift which was such a huge blessing!! We were able to bring stuff back from America and then have some money to live while we looked for a job and also buy a car.  Also, once we got settled into my mother's place, my husband began to look for a job.  He did not look for very long and it was only 2 weeks when he was offered a job that he really wanted!  It's amazing that during this time when people are losing jobs, or jobs are very few that we find a job in just 2 weeks!!  It is the perfect job for him and he is loving it!!  We really feel that God has had his hand on us through this whole thing and as things work out, we really feel that we are exactly where God wants us to be.  God is taking care of us!! and we are so blessed and thankful.

We don't know how long we'll stay in America. We hope to rest and spend quality time with family.  We would love to go back overseas, but as of right now we don't have any plans set for that.  We will continue to seek God and listen for his voice to lead us.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Around The World In 8 Years

I can now say that I have flown around the world! I think that's pretty cool. It may have taken me 7 1/2 years to do it, but I have done it!

I remember as a kid watching the movie "Around The World In 80 Days". The movie was playing on tv while my family was taking a trip around America. We traveled around seeing the famous sights like the Grand Tetons, Petrified Forest, Grand Canyon, Mt Rushmore, Yellowstone, Disneyland, Knottsberry Farm, etc. It was a great educational and fun adventure as a family. My dad called our trip "Around The US In 42 Days".

In the past month and a half we have traveled to south China, Beihai (which is in between Hong Kong & Vietnam), then made our way to South Korea for a few days. The next leg of our trip was to England for a couple weeks and then finally off to the USA.

Whenever we would go to China we would fly across America and then across the Pacific Ocean. This last trip when we left China we flew across China, across Europe then across the Atlantic ocean and back to New York. So I can now say that I have flow completely around the world! How awesome is that.

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Sunday, July 24, 2011

Sleepless in Qingdao

So it's 2am and I have to get up at 6 to be on time for our flight tomorrow. Why am I not sleeping?!?!!

I think I'm anxious about our flight tomorrow, excited for our next adventure and sad that today was our last day in China.

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Saturday, July 23, 2011


These past three weeks we have worked with these people. Thanks so much for opening up and bring us into your family. We will remember you always. Keep on following Him, listening to His voice and doing His work. We will see you again one day.

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Thursday, July 21, 2011

Local Lunch

We ate with our friends in a local and very small town. We arrived at the restuarnt which appeared to be someone's home. Our friend asked us to order but we politly refused saying we would like anything he ordered.

As he finished up ordering the workers ran around gathering everything needed to make our food. One ran out back and returned with our chicken. They killed it, plucked it chopped it up and cooked it. They also pulled out an eel from a bucket, killed it, chopped it up and cooked it (see picture below). Talk about fresh food!

I'm sure this would violate some health code.

The food was pretty good and we tried several new dishes. One was a local speciality called sweet and sour cucumber. I was a little hesitant to try it because it looked like a bowl of fat. Once I got over the look the taste was good, a little sweet. One of my favorite dish was sweet potato leaves

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Pass The Baby

No matter where you are in the world babies are usually "ooo" and "ahhh" -ed at. They are just so cute. I don't know what it is about them, being so small, helpless, innocent, don't have a care in the world. I don't know but they are just adorable.

Well in China the fascination in children, and babies is no different. For us, being white, I feel like the fascination is higher. Then you throw us in a very rural area where they have never seen white people before and the curiosity is just a bit overwhelming.

When we had our first child 5 years ago this idea came to us as a shock. The first time we went out in public we were swarmed with people to get a peek at the 3 month old white baby.

Here both my boys get lots of looks and people wanting to touch then, hold them or play with them. A lot of people think my middle child is fun, but being a toddler he is not very compliant and doesn't like all the touching and really doesn't like to be held. So I usually hand over my baby since he loves the attention no matter who it is from.

Yesterday the family we ate lunch with played "pass the baby" around the table.

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Last Days

Today was a very fun day. It was very full and long and it's getting late so I will write more details later.

For the past three weeks we have been in a very rural part of China. It has been exciting and adventurous being here and experiencing life here and I am so thankful for the opertunity. I think it has been the perfect way to spend our last days in China.

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Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Doctor Office Skit

Our kids performing during the closing performance, they did an excellent job!! I was so proud of them!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Ready For The Beach

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Monday, July 18, 2011

A Scary Moment

Our family went to the beach today. It was overcasted making it nice and cool, perfect weather for the beach. The ocean water here is a nice warm temperature making it a lot of fun to play in.

My husband took my daughter out so they could swim while I sat with my two sons on the shore were the waves could come and touch out feet. After awhile my husband & I traided.

LanLan and I made our way out past were the waves were breaking so the waves wouldn't go over our head. Shortly after we got there I felt the undertow pulling us away from the shore. LanLan was in an innertube so I wasn't so worried about her going under but I held onto her so as not to lose her. I started to swim as hard as I could but the pull was so strong we weren't going anywhere. It was then that I noticed two 10 year old boys also struggling. I watched as one of them went under the water and his friend trying to save him. They were crying for help. I was making my way over there but I was really struggling. I was praying that I would make it to them before they drowned. I reached out and with one arm picked up both boys, still holding tight to LanLan with the other. As soon as I got the boys one of them kept saying in English "Thank You! Thank You!". I swam all three kids and myself to where I knew LanLan could stand and asked the boys if they could stand up. Holdin on to me as tight as they could they replayed in Chinese that they were too scared and tired. We made it all the way back to shore and I put all three kids down an said not to worry and to be careful.

It wasn't till I was relaying the story to my husband that I felt how scary that situation was. Those boys woud have drowned if I wasn't out there to save them! PTL I had the strength to carry them all to safety!

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Family Trip to BeiHai

After a wonderful and busy week at LSV doing family camp we decided as a family to spend a few days in BeiHai city. We figured we could take this time to explore BeiHai, enjoy the beach, maybe go to Underwater World and swim in the hotel's pool. It is also nice to get a break from camp food and our usual breakfast of congee and mantou (corn rolls). (see blog post "Cafeteria Food" for a picture).

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Saturday, July 16, 2011

A Relaxing Saturday

Saturday was a nice break from a very busy week of camp. We spent the day cleaning up the apartment. The lids helped by sweeping the entire apartment (they got an "A" for effort but mommy had to go back and actually sweep up all the dirt). Mommy and daddy worked on dishes and putting stuff away along with runny back and forth putting laundry in the machine and hanging it up to dry. Since it was raining all day we had hang up the clothes inside. There are clothes hanging just about everywhere, from the bathroom, to the dinning room to all the bedrooms.

The rest of the day was filled up with naps, books, watching the kids run around and just plain old relaxing. Hurray for restful days!

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Closing Ceremony in pictures

Friday afternoon was our closing ceremony for the family camp. It was excellent!! We started with the kids doing a demonstration of what we did in English class. Here they are displaying zoophonics.

Our family performed first with our skit "The Doctor's Office". It was great, people understood it and laughed!

The Chew family went next and sang "I'm A Nut"

and also performed a famous Chinese tongue twister.

The Hsu family sang "Do a Deer"

The Kang Family performed a percussion song.

The Wang family went all out and preformed "The Little Red Hen", the kids did an excellent job.

As you can see the ceremony had a wide veriaty of things which was great. We ended with "Lean On Me" and gave out certificates.

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Final Day of Family Camp

The last day of camp was full of excitment. The morning started with english class and then we broke into family groups to practice our preformances and then did a quick run through of the entire closing ceremony.

After a quick lunch and nap time the kids were back with their parents at 2. My husband was a little nervous because he was the MC and had to do everything in Chinese but he did an excellent job.

Actually the entire ceremony was great, everything went very smoothly and all the families' performance were excellent. It was a great way to end the week.

It was an exhuasting week but a lot of fun. It was a struggle balancing between being a mom and a camp teacher. Everyday was a little better (except for my son screaming whenever we had to teach). We had a great time spending time with the local kids, playing games and getting to know them. It was also awesome to watch our LSV helper grow in confidence. She really worked at coming out of her comfort zone. I enjoyed watching her interact with the kids and treat them like her own little brothers & sisters.

My husband & I had a great time working with the kids here and will always have fond memories of this camp.

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Need a relocation service? Need help moving your family? Or your eggs?

You might want to call on these fast workers!

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Thursday, July 14, 2011

Sick Day

This morning I woke up feeling terrible, my joints hurt, nose stuffy and just plain old sick.

Because of that I missed a lot of camp, I went and led the song time but it didn't go very well. Not only was I not feeling well but my son was screaming the whole time.

In the afternoon we had planned to go to the beach. It has been raining everyday this week which is nice because it has kept the weather cooler but it doesn't make for a good beach day. We decided to go ahead and just hope that by the time we got there it wouldn't rain.

Since I wasn't feel too well I stayed back with both the boys and we all took afternoon naps. My husband said that it was perfect weather for the beach, it didn't rain but it was cloudy keeping it cool.

I still have a runny/stuffy nose but am feeling much better this evening.

Tomorrow is the last day of camp.

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Cafeteria Food

For each meal we eat together in the cafeteria. The food isn't bad but it isn't great either. I think it lacks flavor but another thing is everyday is the same thing! Ok, well maybe not exactly but pretty close. Breakfast is the same every morning, lunch is rice with two types of veggies dishes with one having a little bit of meat in it and then dinner is lunch leftovers with maybe one dish added. We will also have some kind of fruit for dessert.

Thus is our breakfast everyday congee (rice poridge) & corn mantou (soft roll). It's fine but I'm really getting tired of the same thing everyday!! (this day we had added bonus of hot pepper paste we could add if we wanted)

Since the campers have been here the cooks have been putting on thier best and I'm so happy!

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Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Culture Exchange, Food & Games (pictures)

In our family unit, this is the entire Carman family. 5 campers, 2 helpers & 5 Carmans.

Mixing up the eggs

Chopping tomatoes, green peppers, spam, and green onions

Cooking the omelletes

In the afternoon the kids brought their favorite snacks to share. This is dragon fruit

Fresh mangosteen

You eat the white part in te middle that looks like garlic

This fruit is grown locally here in NanKang. The Chinese translation is yellow skin fruit. It tastes a bit like tree bark.

We asked the kids the day before to bring their favorite game to share with us. The girl in the middle is our helper who is an LSV child. She brought UNO and taught the kids. Everybody enjoyed it.

LanLan wanted to play red light/green light.

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