Thursday, February 27, 2014

Made it!

We are in Hong Kong!  Before you read any further, I'd appreciate a quick prayer for David.  We had some nasty GI something hit Katie and me before we left, and it looks like David may have it too.  Right now we are still hoping it's just travel exhaustion combined with a mild version of what hit me.

So, back to our travel adventures.  Length alert!  We did a lot of traveling!

We flew out to Chicago Tuesday night and after a little delay with the flight and rental car, finally made it to my brother's home.  I had forgotten how bitterly cold 12 degrees felt like.  :)

My mom drove up the next morning with her treasure box of toys and things for Liz and to pick up the kids.  There were times in the last week when I'd think, "oh no, I don't have anything for Liz!"  And then I'd remember that my mom had it covered.  Thanks, Mom!  We packed it all up, had our last goodbyes with the kids, then we were sent off with a lovely prayer from my brother.

I was basically a basket case until we got through security.  Don't ask me's some uncontrollable flight or fight response that I have to airports.  But we made it with plenty of time to spare and even got to eat Big Bowl for lunch.

We had a direct flight to Hong Kong on Cathay Pacific.  I'm not very well traveled on international airlines, but I'd say CP lived up to its reputation.  The food was great, the inflight entertainment was expansive, and since we have a lap child on the way home, we got the roomy bulkhead seats with the bassinet.  My only complaint is that they don't serve real butter with the bread.  :)

We made it to our hotel by around 9:45, and can I say that I'm soooo glad my friend talked me out of a hostel.  We called home and checked in with the kiddos (who are doing great), then crashed.  I slept a little better than David..he's more of a "when I wake up, I'm awake" kind of guy and doesn't love laying in bed the way I do.  He probably was starting to feel a little ill too, poor guy.  

He's sleeping in the bed next to me now (there are two slightly larger than twin sized beds in the room), and it's only 8:45 HK time.  It's a very gray day (at least from our bedroom window, so this might be a good reminder to relax on our first day and save the sightseeing for tomorrow.  My only real goals are to take the ferry across the harbor and the tram up to Victoria peak.  That and eat some yummy Hong Kong food!

Sunday, February 23, 2014


I'd say that's about where we are in terms of leaving.  :)  We are 90% packed, 90% booked, 90% cleaned (thanks to dinner guests tonight).

We did the bulk of our packing yesterday, and I think all we have left are a few odds and ends (like my yarn...) and a few things for the kids.  We almost don't have enough stuff to pack in the suitcase, mostly because we have a super short list of clothes that we're bringing.  Well, that and they still have Wal-Mart in China.  ;)

The only thing we have left to book is our train ticket from Hong Kong to Guangzhou, which will happen through our hotel in Hong Kong.  I do feel like we're flying a bit by the seat of our pants in terms of Hong Kong at this point, since I haven't really planned anything.  That might happen on the plane.  :)  Thankfully, you can get Lonely Planet China as an e-book from the library.

We're having some company over tonight for dinner, so that will help to get my house clean.  Maybe not everyone leaves their house like a tornado recently went through when they leave on a trip?  Ours isn't that bad, usually, but cleaning the bathrooms and mopping the floor is usually pretty low on my trip check list (like, "do it if the stars perfectly align" low).

Company is also a good reminder that despite the momentous nature of this event, our life is still made up of little moments strung together, coming one by one and then moving on.  Like any life-changing event, you still have to live what comes before and after it.  In some ways, I'm just ready for our new normal to arrive.  :)  And it will certainly be here before we know it!

Still, two days in Hong Kong without kids will be something to be savor...

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Getting Ready

Last night I kept dreaming that I was trying to decide between two hostels in Hong Kong so I could book one for our travel.  The comparison screen from the website kept popping up, and then I'd wake up and go back to sleep, only to dream about it again.

Have I booked our hostel?  No, because after speaking with a few people, I was reminded that I'm not a 20-something backpacking across Europe any more.  :)  So I'm considering some more...ahem...30's-friendly rooms.  I will not be going to bed before booking them, though...I don't want to dream about it again!

I saw the term 'paper pregnant' on our facebook group, and the truth is, there are a definitely some similarities (having done both now).  You have trouble sleeping, you stress about the details, you have bags to pack (although on very different levels!), you're emotional about the slightest things (songs are really hitting me these days).

I vacillate between feeling overwhelmed by all the things to do and wondering what to do next.  At this point in the process, it's challenging to be excited about seeing Elizabeth instead of bogged down in all the details, but we're getting there.

I was reminded today in our bible study that no matter my attempts to think or feel or direct my thoughts in a certain way, my sin nature is weak.  Instead of relying on my own strength of will, I need to rely on God to see me through the next three weeks.  He will give me the ability to see through all these pesky details to the joy and wonder what our new normal will be!

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Leaving On a Jet Plane

We got our appt at 11:45 last night (I was NOT awake at the time, thankfully), and this morning after going back and forth with the travel agent over different options, we have booked our tickets!  I'll post an itinerary at some point, but right now, I'm going to recover from all the crazy travel planning excitement by catching up on the ice dancing competition.

In two weeks, Elizabeth will be in our arms!

Monday, February 17, 2014

Life Goes On

Tonight I will start checking my email for news from the consulate.  Friday was a little rough, but by the end of the day, I was pretty at peace with the whole thing.  All of the dates have advantages in some way or another, so whatever date we get will work out fine.

In the meantime, we enjoyed a special meal for Valentine's Day (rack of lamb, risotto, and acorn squash), and we drove to the Jemez Mountains on Saturday for a little hike.  We took advantage of the drive to finish up most of our packing list, and this morning a good friend is watching the kids so I can run a few errands for the trip.  Last night I lay in bed thinking that we might be holding Elizabeth in two weeks!

Friday, February 14, 2014

Tomorrow is...not today

Well, it looks like tomorrow will actually be next Tuesday.  :P  We're not sure why the consulate did not get back to us (possibly closed for a Chinese holiday), but with President's Day this Monday, we probably won't hear now until after that.

We are hoping now that the ticket prices don't go up too much.  Our first choice for the appointment puts us flying out on Feb. 27...which is two weeks from yesterday.  Alternatively, we may not have gotten an appt because the consulate got slammed for appts after Chinese New Year, meaning we may get our appt a week later than we planned.

If only we had known, we could have requested our later choice first.  I keep reminding myself that there is someone who knew this was going to happen, and He's the one planning this trip.

Thursday, February 13, 2014


That would be one of many thoughts going through my head right now, because we have our official TA from China!  We have requested consulate appointments on March 10, 11, 17, or 18, which puts us potentially leaving for China in two weeks.  The US Consulate gets back to us tomorrow with the appointment, so we can't buy our tickets till then.  But, you know, tomorrow is only a day away!!  I'll post an itinerary here once we have it all figured out.

Some quick prayer requests as we move forward...

1.  Luke and Katie, as the next month will be crazy!  They are so excited to spend a few weeks with my parents, but it will definitely be a transition for them as we all come back to the new normal.

2.  Planning our travel, that everything would work out smoothly (and cheaply!).

3.  That I would be able to sleep with all the lists running through my head.

4.  That God will continue to prepare Elizabeth for this huge transition.

5.  Most of all, praise for bringing us this far!

Monday, February 10, 2014

While We're Waiting...

The first person in our LOA group got their soft TA today.  That means their hard copy TA is being processed, which can take up to 14 days.  We're probably not far behind, so I've been working hard on my list.  We had a pretty busy weekend, but nothing related to China...Katie turned 4!

We had a family day on Friday in Santa Fe at the Children's Museum, then had a party on Saturday.  I didn't take any pictures of the spread, but if you look closely in the picture, you might be able to make out a Vietnamese spring roll.  Yes, my 4 year old daughter wanted rice wraps for her birthday--they were a big hit!

Our next non-China plans are for Valentine's Day--we always have a special meal at home.  This year we're having rack of lamb, potatoes (for Luke), something green, and creme brulee.  I hope we're celebrating a TA too!


Thursday, February 6, 2014

The Pause

This week has been a mix of 'hurry hurry work hard' and 'enjoy the pause' moments.  I have a long list of places in the house that I'd like to declutter/clean before we leave (I won't show you a picture of my desk, the drop spot for all papers in our house), and I also have my short list of projects that I'd like to complete:

Gift bags for China
The aforementioned cleaning list
Liz's blanket (to knit)
Packing list

On the one hand, it's been really nice to have something to focus on and be productive.  And it's lovely to have a less cluttered, cleaner house.

At the same time, if I finish this list by the end of this week, what will I do while we're waiting?  And in some ways, it's tempting to ignore the list, sit down, and while away the time, knowing that we're SO CLOSE to traveling.  After all, when it happens, it'll happen regardless of whether we are ready.

This week's pause is brought to us by Chinese New Year--nothing will even begin to happen until next week at the earliest.  I'm enjoying the lack of anticipation (which can so easily move to stress/anxiety), especially since I know that however long it takes for our TA to arrive, it will be here before I know it.  List or no list.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Gong Xi Fa Cai!

January 31 was Chinese New Year, and we were able to celebrate this year with some friends at a local international market.  This was the first dragon dance for all of us, and we all enjoyed it.  They begin with fireworks, then dance around for a while eating the traditional CNY dragon food--little red envelopes of money.  At one point, they also 'eat' some lettuce and spring onions way up in the air (that's the last picture).  Of course, everything is supposed to bring luck for the new year.  Katie was a little nervous to start out (it was a little loud), but by the end of the dance, she was willing to feed the dragon too.