2016: Year in Pictures

Well, it’s that time of year again, and I’m sure you’re longing to remember what happened this year for us.

Let’s start with…

January

where we did a lot of traveling around the UK (to Gloucester, Oxford, and Southampton) while Jared was on break, and took several awkward self-timer photos.

Jared: That’s not pointing the right way.

Me: Yes it is! It’ll be fine.

Looks at picture of one arm cut off body.

Me: Ok, where should I point it?
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We managed to get a fairly decent one with all of us in the picture, though, so I’ll count that as success.

Jared’s sister also came to stay with us in January, and we had a great time with her for the next three months.

For

February,

for some reason all my pictures (and my one blog post) were of the baby. Apparently not much happened in February except me taking baby pictures. Can you blame me, with that much cuteness constantly around? DSC_0229

Oh, I did manage to snap an iPhone picture of the daffodils since (in my opinion) February is ridiculously early for daffodils. So babies and daffodils = February.

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In

March,

we took some long walks to some parks near us and enjoyed some sunshine. We also visited Cambridge with Jared’s mom and sister, and I managed to write a couple blog posts on all my best tips on living my relaxed lifestyle while pregnant and thoughts on moving so often.  My little brother also gave his thoughts on what it’s like to be a country hick in London.

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In

April,

we loved watching all the trees bloom. London has so many pretty spring trees.
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We also went on a boat ride down the Thames to enjoy more of the spring weather. And Jared’s sister left us to go back home to the U.S., but not before we convinced her to write a blog post about her time here.

May

was the month I went to Yorkshire, and I’m still in love with its green hills and pastoral scenes. I also managed to take some more lovely self-timer pictures–maybe I should make that one of my New Year’s Resolutions!DSC_0642

In

June,

we had even more visitors! My sister came to visit, and we thoroughly enjoyed taking pictures of the lovely flowers at Greenwich park.
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OK, now you can stop yawning about all these park visits and flowers and la-di-dah, because in

July

is where it gets interesting.

First, we coined the term “monstering” to describe the habits of our baby. Then we visited Gloucester once again,  and then we moved out of our flat and went touring for a few months.

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And you get a bonus picture of Edinburgh for this month since it was one of our favorite places to visit and was just so gorgeous! Cumbrae Island was also a highlight.

Edinburgh

 August

was the month we visited Paris (and Berlin) and I have two pictures of the exact same scene because I can’t decide which one I like better.

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Anyways, Paris was amazing even though I never wrote a blog post about it and if you ever get the chance to visit, go there. And eat a croissant. They really are that good.

Travel photos iPhone

In

September

the craziness quieted down a little as we stayed with my family for about two months. JQ got to meet his twin cousins (and terrorize them a bit) and we loved getting to see so many friends while we were back home. It was so great to remember what it’s like to have friends just around the corner to get together with, and having so many aunts and uncles to take care of JQ was lovely too.

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October 

was THE month for enjoying fall colors. So many golds and greens and blues–it was so lovely. We even made it on a hike up Horsetooth Rock to eke out the last bit of goodness from the warm fall weather.

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November

was the month I didn’t write even one single itty bitty blog post. We headed to the west coast to see more family before taking off for our next destination, and JQ found a new favorite thing in life. Puddles. He enjoys stepping in them, sitting in them, splashing in them with his fingers, and licking up the water from them like a dog (and I’m not even joking about that last one. It’s terrible.). At least in Oregon you know the rainfall is fairly fresh?DSC_0017

Last but not least, we survived until

December, when we went from this:

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to this:

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Yes, we survived our 36ish hours of travel from Oregon to Singapore. And no one was more surprised than I was that JQ was almost an angel baby on the flights. Those baby bassinet things they have are amazing–except for the fact that you have to take the baby out of them for any turbulence.

Well, have we ever come a long way since the start of 2016! I am hopeful that 2017 will be somewhat calmer…or at least mostly in one place.

For other years in review, go to Revolution of Love!

Fall in Colorado

It’s fall, and it’s gorgeous. I’d forgotten just how gorgeous Colorado falls could be, and I’m definitely enjoying it while I can, because who knows how long it will be until I get to see a proper fall again!

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I may be biased, but I think Colorado scenery is some of the prettiest for fall. Blue mountains, blue sky, and blue lakes contrast so nicely with the yellows and reds of fall.

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So even though I’ve traveled all over recently (it feels like it, at least!), it’s been so nice to come home.

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Sadly, the leaves left quickly when a giant windstorm came up and blew them all away. But we sure enjoyed them while they lasted!

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There’s just something about the mountains that is so beautiful against the sky.

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I hope you’re enjoying fall wherever you’re at, though I’m guessing it’s not as gorgeous as this!  Now if I can just pack in a little snow before I move to the tropics!

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7 Things Pregnant Women Should Never Do

This summer has been like a time warp for me–somehow I expect it to still be June or July, but here it is September! And leaves are turning colors and everything, while I’m still expecting to hear about the green beans getting ripe or the squashes finally coming on. How is it already apple and raspberry season?!

Anyways, enough about me being clueless about what time of year it actually is (maybe it’s just denial that I’m going to have a baby in around 8 weeks. . . ).

Let’s talk things that clearly were not designed for pregnant women and should be put on those randomly restricting lists that float around.

  1. Wash dishes. This one should be obvious–who really wants to do the dishes, especially when they’re pregnant? But the reason it’s on this list, besides the fact that you all know my true feelings about dishes, is that every sink ever made is at the exact wrong height for the belly of a pregnant woman. And who really wants to stand at a sink trying to wash a dish from a foot away, while simultaneously trying to keep water and soap and grease spots off their convenient spot-attracting shelf? So I say, let’s put dishes on the list of “dangerous things for pregnant women” that includes things like picking up a jug of milk because it’s too heavy.
  2. Pick things up off the floor. Who really wants to bend over when there’s a gigantic baby in between your waist and you? Either you can bend at your hips and spread your legs apart and pray that you don’t fall over, or you can try to bend like you used to and get about half as far as you used to, or you can do what’s “recommended” and squat, praying that you’ll make it back up. All three options have a pretty good failure rate, in my opinion. So either build conveniently placed shelves around all the walls of your house to put everything you’d usually stash on the floor on, or just leave stuff on the floor. It’s better for your health! (At least, your mental health.)
  3. Do laundry. Getting stranded on your belly as you gracefully fish for the last few pieces of clothing stuck in the very bottom of the washing machine isn’t my idea of a fun day. If it floats your boat, then by all means, go ahead and fish! As for me, maybe I’ll stick with a front loader instead of a top loader so I don’t have to grow my arms a foot longer.
  4. Sit up. When you’re laying in bed and somehow have to get your feet off the bed and on to the floor, it’s oh-so-tempting to try to do it while keeping the rest of your body laying flat. Unfortunately, for those of us who weren’t gymnasts in our former life, 90 degree angles don’t come easy to our backs. At the same time, with abs stretched as far as they can go, sitting up takes a herculean amount of will-and-muscle-power. I have yet to find a solution to this problem, but rest assured I will keep trying! (I’m guessing “have the baby” is the only solution out there.)
  5. Live in hot, humid places. I thought I was doing great with summer heat. . . until I came to Arlington, Virginia. Days in the 90s combined with 50-60% humidity (on a good day) do not lend themselves to the cool svelte look. My advice? Stay someplace nice for the summer, where there’s no humidity. Maybe Australia would be nice for the months of June-August.
  6. Drink ice water. Actually, I have nothing against ice water. This was one of the crazy Chinese prohibitions that I think probably every American pregnant woman has broken at least once. I actually had a Chinese woman take an iced drink away from me and chew me out (in Chinese) for drinking a cold drink while pregnant. I basically listened to her and then took it back and finished drinking it. Baby’s still fine, as far as I can tell (it would be tough luck on all those American babies if ice water really were harmful!).
  7. Read pregnancy advice blogs. Writing them is fine, as long as you have GOOD advice to give (like mine obviously is!). But when every other pregnant woman out there is certain they’ve figured out the secret to _______ (fill in the blank with your choice), or has a horror story of that time they nearly died because their baby kicked them in the ribs (totally making that up, but you could probably find it somewhere on the internet!), it’s easy to get overwhelmed. So basically? Stick with nice bloggers, like me, who don’t post very often. Then you can’t get overwhelmed.

And, in the words of the immortal Bugs Bunny (I have a nagging fear I’ve used this line before, but can’t remember for sure), “That’s all, folks!” Oh, and here’s a bad mirror selfie of me because I haven’t taken any other pictures this month.

Linking up with This Ain’t the Lyceum.

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Call Me Crazy

So ya’ll have probably been wondering what I’ve been up to this last month and a half. Besides neglecting my blog completely, I’ve been busy doing a million other things, like going across the US from the west coast to the east coast, seeing friends and family, and preparing for another international move (after which a baby will make his appearance–we hope not too soon!). So call us crazy: since July first, we’ve been on six plane flights (if you count layovers), six US states (three only in airports, though), said hello to about a million people we hadn’t seen in a year or more (I exaggerate only slightly), said goodbye to all of the aforesaid people, and are currently working and saying hi to a few thousand more people in the DC area before we head off to another new continent, at which point it will be only slightly more than six weeks before JQ is due to make his appearance. Stressful? Not in the slightest.

So, we started out in Oregon, where Jared made delicious molasses cookies (hey, I’m pregnant–I can think about food, and cookies are obviously some of the most important things in life).

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Don’t they look tasty? (They were!)

I had to take a picture of them because they were so shiny and chewy looking.

Besides eating cookies (did you know there’s good iron in blackstrap molasses?), we also went on various random hikes to see waterfalls,e

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This is what happens when I try to put up a picture of me–it’s either blurry or glowing or both. Enjoy!

and more waterfalls,

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Isn’t that pretty, though?

and some strange trees.

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They do weird things to trees in Oregon.

We also went to the beach, where I tried boogie boarding for about 30 seconds and decided it really wasn’t comfortable to try to lay on my (increasingly expanding) stomach while a giant wave washed over me.  My thoughts on the ocean apparently haven’t changed much. Jared, on the other hand, enjoyed it.

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Doesn’t he look happy?
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I got me a handsome one!

Then it was off to Colorado, where we enjoyed gorgeous sunrises and sunsets,

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God knew what he was doing when he created mountains!

great company (have you ever noticed how nice it is to be around people who actually care about you?)

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Chillin’ with the littlest sister.

and fabulous conversations along the lines of: “Annika, would you rather have Jared or a shark?” The decisions these people want me to make!

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Jared enjoyed the back porch.

It was great to be back on the farm for a while and able to see long distances again. Beijing just doesn’t have a wide expanse of sky.

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So here we are on the east coast, enjoying its particular brand of beauty as well (sorry, no pictures yet). It’s been a great trip back in the US so far, and we’re looking forward to our last month of it. And who knows–I may even blog a little more frequently now that my brain isn’t being assaulted with all the decisions like, “Would you rather have JQ or a mosquito?”!

In Which You Get the Scoop on the REAL Me

Goodness, it’s been quiet around here lately. Only a few finals left till the end of the semester, though, and I’m wondering, is that like being a few fries away from a Happy Meal or a few screws loose on the steering wheel? Let’s hope not.

Anyways, this blog has been a lot of me blithering about me and China and everything else I could think of (which, granted, hasn’t been an awful lot, especially recently!). And while nothing has been happening for us here in China, back in America there’ve been funerals and graduations and weddings that I’ve had to miss. So for a change, I thought you could hear from other members of the family. Enough of me talking about me–now you get to read what others think about me.

So without further ado, here’s my younger brother Seth’s take on farm life in Colorado.


Greetings from the beautiful state of Colorado! My sister Annika being ‘blogged’ out currently and ensnared with the worries and cares of this life has expressed a wish for me to fill some dead air and thus I her little brother Seth will be writing this post. If I do a good enough job, methinks I shall be added on as a regular contributor, which would be fitting seeing as how I introduced ma’ sister to the concept of milk and pickles in the first place. Be sure to let us know in the comments if you think I am “succ-Seth-ful.”

At this point some introduction is probably in order. I am Seth. If you met me in person I probably would tell you something along the lines of, I am a simple sheep farmer who is seeking to reflect the face and affections of God in my life albeit imperfectly—as any of my siblings would gladly tell you (at least about the imperfectly part).

As Annika hasn’t discussed much of her past life on this here blog, I thought ya’ll’d like to see a side of her she doesn’t let on about—the tough older sister who isn’t above doing some spinach picking until her back is sore. A large part of my life includes farming, which is a little different from the gentrified city life Annika’s gettin’ accustomed to here. Well, a typical summer day on the farm starts at 4:56 AM when you wake up and shut off your alarm before it rings because as everyone knows a ringing alarm is the worst way to start the day. Incidentally, even if you don’t set an alarm you will still wake up no later than 5:30 because that is always the time you get up. You then go read the Scriptures. After this time of reading and prayer you go get some “starting fluid” (water, orange juice, or for the strong-stomached, V8), and head out the door to begin the day’s work.

At the field this time of year, me and my ever hardworking younger brothers Abel and Hans (note: names are the same but attributes have been changed to protect the guilty), go out the door, grab a hoe, and begin working like David Copperfield, A Christmas Carol, or A Tale of Two Cities (i.e., like the Dickens). (This is one of the attributes that has been changed, never fear!)

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Abel working extremely hard. Notice how he is outstanding in his field.

But it is not all hard work and early mornings. A few years back when Annika was still at home and she did not appreciate something I was doing—I don’t remember what it was, probably something quite annoying as is the wont of little brothers—anyway, she didn’t like it, and next thing I know I was being chased through the cucumber patch with a crazy woman behind me brandishing a large cucumber as a fearful instrument of war. If we are perfectly honest with ourselves, I think Annika could teach Attila and Genghis a few things about striking fear into the heart of the enemy. It is not every woman that can strike mortal terror into the heart of the enemy with a cucumber. But Annika did not always have to use fearsome weapons: she could also strike fear into the heart of her little brothers—or anybody for that matter—with a look that would in the middle of August freeze every lake in Orlando solid.

Fortunately, Annika did not always freeze us solid all the time, and to be perfectly honest with ourselves she is truly a wonderful older sister. When I wasn’t making her mad enough to chase me with my enormous cucumbers, another exciting thing to do was teach Annika how to drive a manual transmission. She practiced and practiced and when she got good enughf we finally let her have whack at driving a manual transmission with a pickup under it. However, she disliked this “beast,” my beloved first vehicle. For some reason, the two inches of mud on the floorboard, the gaping hole in the dash where the radio was supposed to go, or the seat whose only padding was the old jean jacket, gunny sack, and other oddments that the previous owner had stuffed in there left her immune to their endearing charms. In fact, she thought it was treacherous to her just like Brutus to Julius, liable to leave her stranded in the middle of the highway any time she needed to make a left turn. O All of its charms, such as its rugged good looks and perpetual cleanliness were lost on her and she could only see its faults. Alas, thus is life.

Well I have probably driveled on enughf now so I will let you all get back to your lives. I shall leave you with this quote from the great Groucho Marxs “Outside of a dog, a book is a man’s best friend. Inside of a dog it’s too dark to read.” Well, have a blessed day, toodles!