Hello to everyone from sunny Spring City! It's Saturday morning here and we're so thankful to be safely back at home in Asia. The girls have played nonstop since arriving late on Wednesday night, only taking brief breaks to eat and sleep. Even as I write, I'm hearing them both singing (fairly loudly!) to themselves as Clara Anne paints with watercolors and Chloe plays with some interlocking people toys. It's fun to see them discover their old toys as completely new again!
During our time in the States we were frequently asked some of the same sorts of questions, so I thought I'd try to recall some of them here and answer them for you.
Q: How long was your time in the States?
A: About 10 weeks. We decided to take a shorter time this time around because we knew our trip would involve a lot of traveling and we didn't want to be traveling forever!
Q: How have your kids adjusted to being in the States?
A: On the whole, they really did very, very well. We had looked at pictures beforehand of people we would be meeting along the way, and prepared a lot through talking with them about what to expect, and I think that really helped them. Clara Anne, at 5.5, was of course more aware of things around her but Chloe did well too. I was very thankful because in the past sometimes the two older girls have been slow to adapt to new situations, but this time it seemed like they were eager to try new things. Christin was pretty much clueless, and had a few rough days (due to lack of naps) from time to time, but if she got enough sleep she was generally pretty agreeable.
Q: What did the girls most enjoy about being in the States?
A: Several things, first of all, family! They really enjoyed spending time with Grandpa and Grandma, and Grandma Ann, and all the cousins and friends we met in different places. They especially loved that almost EVERY house we went to had "new" toys for them to play with! Also, nature! They really enjoyed being able to go in and out, in and out of the house so easily. We walked in the grass, we admired the sky, we found shapes in the clouds, we went swimming in a lake, we played at parks, we admired and learned the names of flowers blooming in Grandma's and Grandma Ann's gardens, and we played with sidewalk chalk, played in kiddie pools, jumped on a trampoline, petted the neighborhood cat, and watched the birds. Finally, the food! They loved eating breakfast cereal, string cheese, and Pizza Ranch pizza. . . and so many more things! Actually they basically liked everything they tried. (There might have been an exception somewhere that I can't remember.) They were a bit surprised to not eat much Asian food, but we just wanted to take advantage of the yummy American food while we could get it!
Q: What did you and John enjoy most about being in the States?
A: Some of the same things as the girls. High on my list would have to be seeing the girls interact with the grandparents and other family members. Webcam and email is great, but there's nothing like being together. I had many fun coffee dates with family and friends, so Starbucks would have to rate pretty high on my list too! I LOVE to sit around over a cup of coffee and chat with dear ones. We also really enjoyed our interactions with other believers in the States; that was refreshing, encouraging, and very uplifting. And I would also have to say that I have never enjoyed the blue sky, green trees, white puffy clouds, and blooming flowers as much as I did this trip. If you live in a naturally beautiful (or landscaped beautiful!) place, don't take it for granted! Truly, it's such a gift from the Lord--the heavens truly ARE telling the glory of God, it's just that living in our urban smoggy city we don't always see it! But that makes us appreciate it all the more when we do have it, either here or in the States. One last thing--John and I really loved going to bookstores in the States! We spent some significant time (and $$!) at Lifeway, Barnes and Noble, and Borders. What a delight to be able to wander the aisles and browse since everything is in English!
Q: What were some favorite foods you enjoyed being back? Do you miss Asian food?
A: Yes, we missed Asian food, especially the super-fresh stir-fried vegetables! But we totally enjoyed American food as well. Mmmm. . . chips and salsa, tex-mex of all sorts, Chili's chips and queso, yummy sandwiches with deli meat, fresh bratwurst, pretzels, meat on the grill, salads salads salads, breakfast foods at a restaurant, Pizza Ranch pizza and broasted chicken, Cracker Barrel anything, and let's not forget Blue Bunny Ice Cream! That was Clara Anne's favorite since her favorite color is blue and her favorite animal is a bunny--she was delighted to find there was a brand of ICE CREAM with that label. What could be better? :)
Q: How many miles did you travel? And where did you get your vehicle?
A: We drove about 7,000 miles during our 10 weeks, most of those in the middle 6 weeks of the trip. We were so thankful to be loaned a Suburban from a couple in my parent's church. They very generously let us use it for such a long time and put so many miles on it! It was the perfect vehicle for our travels since it could carry lots of stuff as well as accomodate all three carseats. Thanks so much to Jim and Cheryl!
Q: How much luggage did you take back with you?
A: The airlines allow 2 checked pieces per person, and we had five people (and five seats, PTL Christin had her own seat), so 10 checked pieces, at 50 pounds each. Do the math:that's 500 pounds of luggage! Then add: a stroller, two laptop computers, John's carry on shoulder bag, my red backpack, my purse, and the older two girls both had pink rollable backpacks. Wowza!
Q: Will you continue to post other pictures from your time in the States, even though you're back in Asia already?
A: Yes, I do have plans to finish (even if it's briefly) the "Faces and Places" series. I still have so many pictures to share, it might take me awhile but I'll try to do it as I can!
Q: How long does it take to get back to your home in Asia?
A: It was about 29 hours, door-to-door, for us to return home here to Spring City. We are so thankful for the Lord's protection and mercy to us as we traveled--the girls did absolutely wonderfully on the trip. I don't think I heard a whine, a whimper, or a cry from ANY of them during ANY of our flights! They were positively angelic, so lots of you must have been praying. John and I slept a fair amount too on the various flights and so didn't feel too bad upon returning home.
And we're glad to be back! We did the bulk of unpacking the first night and now have been sorting and putting things away bit by bit. I still have some homeschooling materials to organize and shelve, but basically everything else is done, even the laundry! We're all slowly adjusting to Asia time again; yesterday morning everyone was wide awake by 5am and today by 6am, but that should gradually improve as long as we don't nap too much during the day!
So, if I didn't cover "your" question regarding our time in the States, leave a comment and ask it! Thanks for reading!