Life as we know and love it.

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Happy Birthday America

“What’s your favorite activity?” “What is something you’ve eaten you never want to eat again?” These are some of the questions I ask my kids on their birthdays each year. Most are silly questions and answers and it’s a fun way to laugh together and see a bit of where we’ve been and even some of their hopes for the future.

As America has her birthday I think of how she has answered some questions this year. “What is something you’ve done you hope you never do again?” “How do you show your valuing of a human life?” Many of America’s answers to her birthday questions this year bother me too much to share my feelings in this format. Most of the men and women who have sacrificed more than most of the rest of us can comprehend though, have done so because America has answered lovingly and beautifully to other questions. Today I will celebrate one of those. Living several years in another culture makes it so that when I’m in America for a bit I get easily overwhelmed with the beauty in the culture there.  It’s unbelievable, actually, some of the amazing things that the country stands for and provides for its people.

When we were in America last summer, my kids played on grass nearly every day.


Green, clean, grass. Especially kept and protected grass. Kept and protected for people to play on, to have picnics on, to just . . .sit on. Who knew? Seriously, I cried when I saw it. Children playing on grass. Backyard grass, front yard grass, grass between the parking lot and the drive-through where we sat to eat our chicken nuggets. Every place we traveled while in America had grass for people to walk on at any time.

Scratchy grass, mowed grass, dead summer grass, green lawn grass, tall wild grass. Seriously, unbelievably beautiful.
Those who have served and those who are serving in our armed forces are people I admire greatly. Thank you to those who have sacrificed by saying goodbye so your family members can serve. Thank you to those who have said goodbye until heaven to your loved ones so America can provide life to many. Thank you to those who have given their lives to provide life…and grass. I am more grateful than you can ever know in this life.

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Dragon Boat Festival

“Are you home?” A neighbor texted the other night wanting to drop by. He and his wife brought over a large bag of traditional food people here eat during the Dragon Boat Festival. We unloaded the bag and even got detailed instructions on how to prepare and eat it.

You can buy these leaves this time of year at just about any market. You use them as wraps for sticky rice and various fillings before tying them shut with string in preparation for boiling and eating 🙂

Our current Chinese Sign Language teacher invited us to her home to share the Dragon Boat Day spread her mother prepared.

Monday found us there with plate after plate of food being set in front of us. They were all cold dishes and most were delicious even to a western mouth! As our teacher used sign language with us, texted in Chinese with her brother who sat next to her and her mother spoke in the local dialect to her brother (which we don’t understand) it was quite a multilingual meal!

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A teacher who has been especially good to us over the years took us to lunch yesterday. I’ve never seen any kind of western salad served here, but as we waited for our jiaozi (steamed potstickers) to arrive, a bowl of salad was brought out!

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Taking Memories

Having a computer (called a phone) in my pocket that takes pictures is quite a gift.

Having a husband who appreciates technology and keeps a such a computer in my pocket is also pretty cool 🙂

It makes it so that even when I didn’t know the plan ahead of time to know I should have brought my camera, I can still take memories.

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Unexpected Soul Care

A friend organized a get-a-way from the city last month. I didn’t know where we were going or what we were doing ahead of time. All the friends going were Deaf, so Dan and I were looking forward to a day practicing our Chinese Sign Language. As it turns out, it was a day of not only language practice and friendship, but of soul filling beauty.

Growing up I liked hearing your stories, Dad, of reading on the tractor 🙂 as you helped farm wheat in Montana.

On this day, thanks to a farmer on a completely different continent, on a completely different farm, my soul was filled with overwhelming peace on the edge of a wheat field.

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“Not Sure” is a State of Being

Know what this jacket means?  Me neither. But someone was walking down the street outside our apartment complex was wearing it.

After the question of, “Where are you from?” often comes the next one, “Are you adjusted to living here?” After six years of living here I can say I’m adjusting to the food, the customs, the way of life. But the question no one asks is, “Are you adjusted to being Not Sure?”


That’s what it’s like for me much of the time. Existing in that precarious “Not Sure” state of being. I think that describes, at least in my case, a good sense of the feeling of living in a country where you didn’t grow up. I mean I can guess, I can even make educated guesses sometimes, but I’m Never Quite Sure about the meaning of a gesture, an action or what I’m supposed to do in a given situation. Is this person asking if we have electricity today or making sure the repairman came to fix our elevator? Are we meeting for a quick lunch of noodles or going to a graduation reception? Should I bike in front of him or is he going to accelerate and hit me with his car? Are we going shopping at 10am to buy groceries together or are you coming to my house at 11 to teach me how to make Chinese food?

I’m used to eating with chopsticks, negotiating at the market, arranging meeting with friends, but living in a nearly constant state of “Not Sure” is the harder adjustment to make. I wonder if I’ll ever be used to that.

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Patches of beauty #2

When I first moved here I saw someone dusting a couch. Seemed rather odd. But it didn’t take many March winds until I, too, began performing this perfectly normal behavior!

It’s that time of year. Dr Seuss could write a book.

I feel dirt beneath my feet. I feel dirt between my teeth.

I feel dirt in my hair. I feel dirt in the air. I feel dirt everywhere!

The trees and bushes blossoming along the streets are such a refreshing sight. Beauty is so appreciated when you live in a city of concrete and tile. I can’t take the kids to a forest, a lake, or a state park this weekend, but we are enjoying these blossoms every time we step out of our building.

May will be here soon. The dust will settle. We’ll enjoy warm, sunny days and long, cool evenings. The dirt and the pink blossoms will both be replaced with summer and we’ll look back and laugh at our impatience with the spring dirt!

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The sun was shining as we looked back at 2017 today…

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Fun Food Find

Noodles….or rice? It’s a common question when you’re ready to get Chinese food for dinner. Sometimes it’s even a deal breaker depending on who all is going out to get food. It seems like most of the time you can order rice dishes OR noodle dishes when you stop at a shop on the way home, but not both. We have a good noodle place right outside our apartment complex that’s been pretty successful. It’s been going strong for a good couple of years now. But come to find out, they have some rice dishes too! Here’s the one we’ve bought a few times already since finding out a couple weeks ago! 🙂

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