Friday, March 4, 2011

One year ago today

Its a bitter sweet anniversary, one year since we left everything we knew behind and embarked on an adventure of a lifetime. We have so many cherished memories from our time in China. We made life long friends, experienced the treasures of civilizations long gone, lived the big city life, and at least partially fulfilled a life list dream. Here are some of the best and worst of our Beijing days:

Worst: the flight to China on March 4th, 2010 Kees threw up all over himself at airport check-in and again and again as we flew through the air, checked in at our hotel, and moved into our apartment. In the photo below Sid and Kees are watching a movie between visits with the barf-bag. Notice the keyboard is covered with plastic-just in case.
Best: Watching our kids love and explore a new culture.
Coy loved to try to eat with chopsticks,
while Kees liked to use them for poking and stabbing.
At first it seemed impossible to find things they would eat,
but it didn't take long before they found their new favorites.
Worst: Commuting with 22 million people
This photo is Coy and Kees in the stroller on the subway
on our way home from the zoo. We purposely keep them
in the stroller so people would not squish them. Sid would read
books on his way to work by holding his book up at face level
with someone jammed under each armpit.
Best: Li Ayi our maid
This is a picture Coy drew of Li Ayi, her, me, and Kees (in that order). It really was as awesome as you would think. Everything in my closet was washed, ironed, and ready to wear. Kees' relationship will Li Ayi would go down hill as she became his non English speaking nanny while I was away in the US, but just yesterday he told me that he missed her.
Best: Hunting for Western products at the markets
Shopping at the markets, even food markets, was really fun. First there was the competitive element of trying to get the absolute lowest price. Then there was the feeling of being on a treasure hunt, never knowing what you would find. And it certainly was always nice to find a little piece of home, like syrup for pancakes.
Worst: Buying meat that was hanging outside
We never got sick and this is a common occurrence the world over, but we Americans like our meat in styrofoam packaged saran wrap.
Best: the fruit!
This little market was just outside our apartment complex. We would stop there on the way home from picking Coy up at school.
The mangoes, oh the mangoes! Juicy, sweet, divine.

Worst: Taking Coy to school
This is one of my favorite photos. We had to fight traffic and cross a major freeway to walk Coy to school each day. I usually walked the kids alone with the stroller, but on this day Sid made the journey with us. This was a worst because on most days Coy would cry as we left her at school. We felt terrible, but knew it would only be a few months before she would start picking up the language and make some friends. Unfortunately we didn't stay long enough to get to that point. Sorry Coy.
Best: Taking our kids on epic outings
We tried to have a family outing once a week. In the short time we were there we managed to make it to all the major sights and then some. Sid and I got to premier a documentary on China last week that Sid had a small part in. As the film flashed through Beijing it was an awesome feeling to know that not only have Sid and I been there, but we went to those locations as a family.
Worst: Never getting to say good bye
We loved our time in China. It's hard to pinpoint why. Maybe it,s because it was a dream come true for Sid and me. Maybe it,s because life seemed so free and easy when compared to the trials that came after. Or maybe it,s because we grew so much together as a family. If I had any idea I wasn't going to get to make my round trip flight back to Beijing I would have done a few things differently... like some major shopping, not put Coy in school and bring the kids back with me.
One year ago today we tearfully said good bye to family and friends in the States and set out to change our lives and live our dream. Today I finally feel ready to tearfully say goodbye to China. Maybe we will go back again someday, but if not, we had a great ride. And for now we will continue to write new dreams as a family of five.

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