Monday, January 9, 2012

What We've Been Up To

Did I mention we are on a five week holiday? This time of year is always a bit funny for us and our work because of the two major holidays represented by both East and West that must be celebrated and given the appropriate time off.

There is Christmas, which the Chinese barely turn a head to celebrate, but for us westerners requires a 2 week break from school, and then there is Chinese New Year which is like the mother of all holidays for the Chinese, and which we politely nod our heads to, but for them requires a 2 week break from school as well. Because the Chinese New Year is based on a lunar calendar, it's date fluctuates year to year, where Christmas remains fixed. Sometimes that means we have two weeks off, a month on, then two weeks off again! But this year, the two holidays were so close together that the break got lumped into one big, loooong stretch of time wherein most people returned to their home countries or fled south for warmer temperatures and tropical beaches. We stayed. Here.

Because of a lot of factors, the biggest one being we have usually had one or more kids the age of a traveling-with-you-is-no-fun toddler, we don't usually travel much over our breaks. We rest. We spend time together. We explore our surroundings, spend time with other non-traveling folks, and in general just take the opportunity to recuperate. It has always worked well for us. We have never regretted staying. We've come to really enjoy our breaks, and usually reach the end of them ready to head back into work and the routine of school days feeling refreshed. There was that one year we trekked via train and bus all the way to Inner Mongolia when our boys were 2 and 3.5 and I was 5 months pregnant with Scout. But it was still refreshing, if for no other reason than all that 25 hours of training and days of bumpy bus rides was so well worth the clearest blue skies and fresh, dry air of the Mongolian grasslands. It did us good to spend three weeks in our yurt after a year of concrete and city life.

So here we are, in the middle of our 5 week break, half way through our 5th year in China. Tomorrow the kids and I are leaving on an 8 hour drive to the mountains, a beautiful national park that is increasing every year in tourism and world wide renown. The Man is already there, waiting for us after attending a conference the last few days. He says it's breathtaking. I can't wait to take deep, cold breaths and to soak in what we can, maybe take it with us when we haul ourselves back a few days later to the grey world of our city. I think you can live in perpetual greyness, provided there are moments to stick your head above the clouds now and then.

The past few weeks we have been provided for in many ways, I am coming to see.
~We were invited to the zoo with some friends who used to work there. It provided a wonderful day out, with people, and our kids were enthralled the entire day by Siberian tigers and a Hippopotamus who let you feed him, strange monkeys and rolly polly Panda Bears.

~I was able to take my middle one to see an American doctor, who led us to a Chinese hospital where his hearing was tested and a specialist determined he needs a minor surgery which will very likely solve a longstanding hearing problem we have been unsure how to address. The surgery is scheduled for a few weeks from now, in another city at a hospital we feel much more comfortable with, and I am so excited at the prospect of seeing this little guy able to freely hear and communicate on a level he has struggled to for some time now.

~After a frustrating day at the post office, we received gracious news that a computer item we could not return to the States in time for a refund, was being credited in full to our account without ever having to give the item itself back! I don't mind telling you the excellent customer service award goes to Amazon.

~I've read some old books, some old favorites, and have found they fed my soul right where it was most needing it. It occurred to me today that in all my Advent reading and praying for a sense of His Coming, I have received it in a small and yet wonderfully large way.

Yes, it has been a good break thus far, and a good five and a half years on top of that. I always look forward to fleeing, but there is always goodness in coming back, and in being right here where we are.

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