2015: Year in Review

Can you believe it’s already the end of 2015? Where did the year go?

Just back last January, we were in China. Winter was seeming really gray and really long. So apparently I spent a good deal of my time blogging, as , in some un-repeatable feat, I wrote a total of 11 posts. Most popular of those posts was, of course, Whither Sex?.  Other than writing blog posts, though, I was busy finishing up grading for the year, visiting some interesting places in Beijing, and then jetting off to Xi’an to do a little sightseeing. For some reason, my least popular post in January was this one. I guess people don’t like reading about dishes??

I don’t know what my favorite picture from January is. Probably this one, of the cathedral in Xi’an:

Before the service

It was such a welcoming atmosphere, to worship with the people of God in another land.

In February, Chinese New Year was the main event.  We heard fireworks for weeks! Of course, another exciting thing was that I got pregnant with John Quincy, which meant that all the sudden Jared told me everything I wrote sounded like I was complaining. However that may be, my favorite picture from February is definitely this one of the fireworks. They may have been loud, but they were pretty to photograph!


In March, I almost became Jared’s first wife (no shock that that was the most popular post of the month!). In less exciting news, there were some pretty spring flowers and Beijing warmed up and became slightly less gray. I also decided not to become a food blogger. Less popular was tips on long distance friendships. I guess people just like having friends who are close to home!

Favorite picture for March is definitely the one of the girl kissing the horse. She was so cute!


In April, apparently not much happened. There was Easter (which was of course busy at church), we visited Marco Polo Bridge which is called something else entirely in Chinese so no Chinese person will know what you’re talking about if you call it that (though I digress), and the most popular post was one about how China lost our mail. Fascinating stuff going on here, folks!

My favorite picture for April, though, is one of the pretty spring flowers. When you’re living in a place like China, where the buildings aren’t beautiful, you’ve got to cling to whatever beauty you can find–and the flowers definitely had it.


In May, my most popular post was on how to grow up. We also visited Tianjin and got a taste of another Chinese city. And that’s all I blogged about, though I’m sure my days were filled with more teaching, bike riding, and grading.

Favorite picture in May is of the man fishing (though I still wish the angle had been right to get the No Fishing sign in the picture!).

This just captures the spirit of China. . .

Bonus picture: little tiny JQ (it sounds nicer to say it that way than big fat me!).

He’s come a long way since May!

In June, the most momentous thing was that we decided to go back to the US for the summer. Of course, we were keeping it a secret, so no blog posts about it. It was a fun surprise! Since I wasn’t blogging so much (looking back, I mostly remember being pretty busy with teaching all the time!) I got in a guest poster who would write something funny for ya’ll. I’ve tried to get him to do more, but whaddaya know? He’s even worse at turning out regular blog posts than I am!

Apparently I didn’t upload any pictures on to the blog in June, but here’s one of our anniversary dinner: some kind of Chinese tasty beef.

Don’t ask me why he’s making that face!

We actually hiked the Great Wall in June too, but I didn’t write about it till July. As that was the only thing I posted in July, due to visiting relatives (it’s hard to find time to write when visiting people!), pictures are rather scarce. Looking back, I find it hard to believe that I actually did that hike when I was five months pregnant. Maybe I was slightly crazy!

Is this the face of someone who’s having fun, or someone who’s about to keel over from the heat?

Since that picture was actually taken in June, I’ll give you a real July picture too: Jared doing one of his favorite things.


In August, we were visiting another set of family and I gave you the rundown on the crazy that was my life. I also got asked questions like “Would you rather have Jared or a shark?” Tough decision, folks!

Favorite August picture: Colorado sunset.

Nothing prettier than a Colorado sunset!

In September, the big news was moving to London! (Yes, third continent in one year.) We stopped by Iceland on the way there just to do some sightseeing as well. I also was so pregnant that I decided there were some things that pregnant women shouldn’t have to do. (One of my more popular posts for the year.)

Favorite picture from September? Iceland.DSC_1142

In October, I wrote my most popular post ever. That was definitely the most exciting news of October. Just kidding.

Actually, John Quincy was the most exciting thing of the whole year. And he definitely merits the October picture. Except, he’s so cute I don’t know which picture is best. So you get the one that was most exciting for me–when he’s about three seconds old.


In November, my mom and brother came to visit. It was definitely nice to have some help cooking and cleaning so I could recuperate and enjoy the baby. JQ turned one month old, and that was about it on excitement.

Picture for November? Definitely this one.

He’s so much bigger now! (And I don’t mean Seth, either)

In December, there was spit up. A lot of spit up. There were also Christmas decorations and some traveling (which I haven’t blogged about yet. And Christmas. And we visited Greenwich Park.

Santa Baby definitely takes the cake for December. Everyone loved him.


And that’s it for 2015. Just a quiet year involving three continents, a move, and having a baby. Who says you need to be single to have adventures? Let’s hope 2016 has just as much joy and maybe slightly less excitement.





Happy New Year!

It’s midnight in China, and it feels like we’re in the middle of a siege right now, as loud booms, sharp reports, and far-away thunderclaps crack. The smell of gunpowder and explosions is everywhere: burnt, acrid, sharp. We try not to think of what it’s doing the air quality.

Why, didn’t you know trees grow red leaves around here?

This city is echoing, filled with thousands of distant booms, and some not-so-distant ones. Every Chinese person left in Beijing must be setting off firecrackers right now. Unlike holidays in the US, where only certain designated authorities can set off fireworks, anyone in China can set off any type of firework so everyone is setting off every kind. And so we’re carried back to what the Civil War must have sounded like: thankfully, though, without the accompanying carnage. This is a celebration.

Built-in Christmas lights.

At the louder cracks, we lean out of our windows, trying to catch a glimpse of some of the fireworks, making sure they’re not headed for our building. I finally manage to get the camera ready in time to get a picture against the dark night sky.


At 10:00 p.m., we decided to wander around campus for while to get some up-close action. We should have brought ear protectors, because wow are these fireworks loud. Take the noise of a string of Black Cats and multiply it times ten or so and you’ll have a rough estimate of what these sounded like.

These are the really loud type, and this string went off for five minutes straight.

Unsurprisingly, it’s nearly all men setting these off. They seem to love the loud sounds and watching things go “Boom,” with the added spice of danger from perhaps getting hit by an errant Roman Candle.

Such a typical “man” picture.

One man came up to us and asked if they have fireworks in America (at least, that’s what I think he was asking!). We tried to tell him we did, but that you can’t set off big ones there. I’m not sure he understood us–we were lacking some pretty necessary vocabulary words, as somehow they don’t teach you to say “fireworks” in Chinese class.

Sparklers are for the younger members of the crowd.

And then we went home and tried to go to bed–I’m sure you can guess how sucessful that attempt was. Strings of fireworks being let off outside one’s bedroom window do not a sucessful bedtime make. The noise was a cross between a loud hailstorm on a metal roof and a catfight.


And that was how our first day of the new year ended, not with a bang, but a whimper. Of relief that the fireworks were finally over, and we could go to bed.

This week, we’re planning to see some of the other New Year celebrations–yes, it’s celebrated for a whole week. Probably by the end of the week, we’ll be able to sleep through just about anything.

12 Photos (plus a few) from 2014

I think the theme of this year could almost be summed up in flowers. Starting in January, I kept the house stocked with all the fresh, springy-looking flowers I could find. So be warned–if you don’t like pictures of flowers, you may want to skip this post altogether!

Back in January, we had no idea that we’d be in China for the next New Year. We spent our holidays with family, and then headed back to Arlington, Virginia for the final semester of Jared’s Masters program.

Apparently, in January I only took photos of flowers. You get a little tired of nothing but bare trees after a while and need something to brighten up your day.  So enjoy some irises. Spring will be here in about another three months!


In February, my mom came for a visit. As I was a bad photographer, I took pictures of some food, and someone got a picture of me–but somehow we didn’t get any pictures of her visit.  Apparently food is more important than people? Anyhow, since I’m rarely on the business end of the camera, you can admire one of the few pictures of me.


And, I’ll include an extra photo of some of the food. You’re welcome.

Key Lime pudding with fresh berries. Very February-ish. (The roses are left from Valentine’s Day.)

In March, my longing for fresh flowers remained. And I took about a million and one pictures of them. But judge for yourselves–aren’t they adorable? The little orange pitcher was a gift from Mom’s visit.

Begonias. They’re just the cutest flowers! Just looking at this picture makes me want some.

In April was Easter, and we got (or tried to get) the obligatory family Easter picture. I need to work on this timed-photo business, apparently.

Can’t even get the camera straight!

In May, Jared graduated. One Master’s degree down, two to go!

Isn’t he handsome?

Apparently June wasn’t as exciting of a month: according to iPhoto, the main thing I took pictures of was foxes. I think in June we also decided for sure that we were going to China.

We did celebrate our first wedding anniversary in June–and were able to go home, to the place of real mountains and actual sunsets, for it. There’s not much that’s more beautiful than a range of 14,000 foot tall mountains.

THIS is the sort of solid ground I'm in to.
THIS is the sort of solid ground I’m in to.
And since you can’t just put a picture of mountains for an anniversary picture, here you go.

In July, I started this blog. Apparently July was also the month in which I posted the most–8 posts total!

We started out the month by going to the beach, and then my life was over for the next month when I started an intensive CELTA course. Since I don’t have any photos of CELTA, you can look at a picture of the beach.


In August, I finished up my CELTA course, and it was bye-bye to Virginia for us (after packing for what seemed like eons). We were off to Oregon to spend a little time with family before taking our big trip.

There are so many beautiful pictures from Oregon (click the links to see them), but I think this is my favorite:

I love the lighting of this picture!

There’s just something about the colors and the sunlight and the waterfall that makes you think of fairies and elves and magic water.

In September, it happened. We moved to China. And somehow, with moving to China, I didn’t blog much. Part of that may have been that we didn’t really have reliable internet for a while–and I’m sure part of it was that moving halfway around the world takes time and energy. Not to mention jet-lag!

So I give to you: the last picture we had taken in America (and one I look like a dork in).


In October, we got a little more settled in to our China routine and began to learn a little Chinese. We did a little more touring (since we had another holiday in October), got eaten alive by mosquitoes, went shopping, and taught classes (well, I did. Jared TOOK classes).

The trees also started to turn fall colors, and we did a few fall things like make and eat apple crisp.


In November, we finally got rid of our mosquitoes when it got cold enough to kill them. Never have I been so thankful for a first frost.  I took lots of pictures of fall leaves, did dishes, and went to the zoo. We also had our first Chinese Thanksgiving–which was a lot of fun.


Also in November (and December), everybody decided it was time to get engaged. Seriously. In one weekend in December alone, nearly six couples decided to get engaged.

Beside the romance, December was full of Christmas lights, Christmas concerts, Christmas services, and Christmas dinner(s).  I finally got our Christmas tree set up and looking somewhat less forlorn, and even decorated our house a little.

Favorite December picture!


Well, you’re probably exhausted after reading all that, so I’ll let you wind down. I promise not to barrage you with any more pictures until at least a day or two later!

Linking up at House Unseen, Life Unscripted.