**Grab a cup of coffee…. This is 2000 days – i.e 5.5 years – of AMAZINGNESS!!! I wrote this blog post for My Love.
Thank you for all that you have done for me, and for our little family of three. I love you so much, and I appreciate all that you are! When I met you I could tell thatyou were definitely “my diamond in the rough”. I’m so proud to see how you now SHINE!**
In the last 2000 days together we… Fell in love in a country neither of us is from. Did long bus and train rides across numerous countries. Slept in airports. Climbed towers and left love locks. Took sunset Ferry rides. Traveled to numerous new countries, and to more cities than we can remember. Enjoyed a scrapbook on our first 100 days. Went swimming in the ocean during the night. Confessed our love for one another within a few weeks. Flew to the Philippines for our first romantic vacation, and never left the one beach where our hotel was located. Went up on a Ferris Wheel at night to view a city’s Christmas lights. Traveled to South Africa on our second international trip together. Visited a castle. Have done as many Sightseeing Bus Tours as we can. Sang carols by candlelight in the beautiful Kirstenbosch Gardens. Touched cheetahs. Watched the sun go down over Blouberg Beach. Waited a long time on sushi at a restaurant where our waitress was named “Patience”. Fished in the Atlantic Ocean. Watched penguins playing at our feet. Celebrated the 4th of July with fireworks and live music. Watched live Baseball games. Played in a cornfield. Attended a wedding on a gun range, where the groom was literal pushed down the aisle with a shotgun in his back. Watched a cattle drive and rode a mechanical bull. Went on a long road trip through the middle of the States. Saw Mount Rushmore, Crazy Horse and whole lot of corn fields. Moved to China. Lived in a dirty, smelly dorm room, where we shared a single bed for 10 months. Trained for a marathon. Learned to love a simple life. Lived on barely any money at all so that we could save up to travel through five countries over 6 weeks. We walked the Great Wall China. Explored the Forbidden City, Tiananmen Square in the rain, and then Ghost Street for delicious food with a stranger we had met along along our travels. Biked old city walls. Shopped at a night market in a Muslim Quarter. Wandered around the Great Mosque of Xi’an. Viewed the Terracotta Warriors. Visited the Bung in Shanghai, and took a sunset cruise down the Huangpu River. We took an ancient canal tour, and got our names written in Chinese on traditional scrolls. We climbed the 6000+ steps to summit a sacred mountain, slept in a cold room with a groups of friends, and woke up before 5am to watch the sun rise above a sea of clouds. We’ve experienced Chinese fire drills, facial exercise songs three times a day, the weirdest cafeteria foods, and bare bums poooping everywhere. Lay in bed, sick and sad, when we couldn’t compete our first fully trained for marathon. Walked markets, met locals, and tasted some of the most awful alcohols. Experienced the peaceful yet frantic hustle and bustle of Hanoi, Vietnam. Walked among a million motorcycles and bicycle, and realized traffic could get busier than China. Realized the meaning of organized chaos. Experienced the 1,600+ islands and islets, forming a spectacular seascape of limestone pillars, that make up HaLong Bay. Slept on a “junk” boat, jumped into dark cloudy water, explored caves, climbed mountains. Met monkeys. Climbed mountains so jagged and steep that we thought we might die. Had “more adventure for you!”. Biked in the rain through a sparsely populated island. Slept in a hut, and hoped we weren’t eating dog for dinner. Hiked through a jungle with a guide that seemed a little wacko. Marveled at the cleanliness of Singapore. Rode the largest observation wheel in the world. Saw the Merlion. Walked the Botanical Gardens until our feet blistered. Slept in Little India in a dorm room with 6 other travelers. Bused from Singapore to Malaysia, with no plans except to “wing it”. Marveled at churches and statues of Jesus – after living in China. Soaked up the sights and sounds of Melaka, a World Heritage City. Explored forts, towers, and old Christian churches. Took the romantic Melaka river cruise. Rolled around in $100 bills – pretending we were in a hip hop music video. Then took some of that money and went to buy our engagement rings. Danced in the streets of Malaysia to the sounds of blaring Kenny G and Black Eyed Peas as tricycle drivers drove by. Enjoyed riverside beers and brunches. Held a giant lizard. Suffered through awful motion sickness, sometimes both at the same time. Realized Hoatelworld pictures are nothing to go by. Slept in a nightmarish green hostel filled with what seemed like half of India’s population. Experienced the grim and glamour of Kuala Lumpur. Found ourselves weary of a man named “Thumbee” outside of the KL Central Market. Cartwheeled at Merdeka Square. Marveled at the Batu Caves. Fed monkeys. Got caught in a torrential downpour and had to hide in a cave filled with bats, then ran for the last train out of a village. Fed deer, held a large python, and cuddled bunnies. Rode on the back of an elephant. Slept in the oldest rainforest in the world, Taman Negara. Ate a “Mama Chop”, a floating restaurant, where the cicadas kept flying at our heads. Did a night walk through the jungle, a treetop canopy walk, and showered with ginormous spiders. Hiked Bukit Teresa with a hilarious Bruno Mars lookalike, called “MJ”, who provided endless entertainment. Lost our tour group in a forest, so we stopped to paint our faces with mud. Visited a traditional Malaysia Tribe, and learned to shoot darts through a blowpipe. Admired the Cameron Highland tea plantations. Explored strawberry, butterfly, reptile and bee farms. Held a giant scorpion. Escaped rats, prostitutes, rain, and cicada’s by sitting in the dodgiest bar we have ever laid eyes on. Crossed the Malaysia-Thai border by bus – exhausted and starving. Found a piece of paradise in Krabi, Thailand. Sept in a bungalow with no electricity. Befriended a three-legged dog. Haggled souvenir sellers, tuk-tuk drivers and riverboat men. Enjoyed cocktails and sunsets. Found heaven in three home-cooked Thai meals a day, served to us under coconut trees, right on the beach. Did quiet sunset beach walks. Play card games and dranks beers until late in the night. Realized that we enjoyed roughing it more than spending all our money on a couple of nights someplace fancy. Enjoyed summer downpours, watching lizards at play, and Instant Shrimp Tom Yum noodles. Did a nine island tour. Snorkeled up a storm. Got stung by jellyfish. Were stranded on a deserted island during an ocean storm. We built a bonfire, shared food, drank beers, and then went for a night swim in the ocean amongst hundreds of tiny star-like bioluminescent plankton that twinkling like a starry night as we moved through the dark water. Met a crazy man named “Oillie”, in a very small speedo, who told us of all his worldly adventures. Took an overloaded bus, in a storm, and almost lost all of our luggage (which was strapped to the roof of the vehicle). Slept on a massive rusty cargo ferry. Almost died. Shared an awesome villa on a hill with new friends on Koh Tao. Sunbathed, hiking, and explored islands. Drank fresh coconut juice, ate Thai pancakes, and copious amounts of Thai food. Got buzzed drinking a Thai whiskey called Sansom mixed with coke, out of a bucket. Took a (not so) luxurious cruise liner, and then a bus to Phuket. Stayed awake all night to avoid spooning strangers. Played mini dino golf. Swam in Maya Bay, and marveled at the Phi Phi Islands. Feed bananas to monkeys, snorkeled amongst millions of colorful fish, got sunburnt, enjoyed buffet lunches, and contemplated ditching our boat back so that we could live where we were forever. Learned the addition of iced coffee. Took a speed boat to Kai Nai Island. Swam, ate fresh pineapple, drank from coconuts, and nearly got left behind. Almost got engaged at sunset on Kata Beach. Canoeing through monkey-filled caves. Visited James Bond Island. Jumped off a double-decker boat into the ocean. Got engaged while singing karaoke. Dreaded returning to China. Realized we liked our life in China. Climbed the TV Tower in Qingdao. Spent a crazy birthday night in a nightclub. Went on rural runs, met locals, and learned to make jiaozi. Partied the night away, on the stage, at an Angry Birds themed-night. Did a completely elaborate engagement photo shoot which lasted 11 hours. Got a concussion and had to explain life important questions a million times. Had an Hawaiian-themed engagement party in a torrential downpour. Rode horses and walked the Great Sand Dunes. Went bowling, whitewater rafting, on a waterfall hike, and ran away from crazy cows. Did a Peddle Hopper drinking tour of the bars in Denver, Colorado. Did a glow run. Found a wedding dress, then got a second one personally made from a unknown connection in China. Did a sunset hike in Utah. Watched a baby being born. Visited zoos, parks, markets and summer concerts. Did a Family 5km walk, Went on Groupon adventures, long lake runs, and dinner at Medieval Times. Enjoyed a birthday surprise of over one hundred balloons. Fascinated ourselves with an unforgettable Fall Bucket List. Played in a pile of leaves, carved pumpkins, ate smores, went on picnics, went trick-or-treating, and lavished in quality family time. Explored the San Antonio River Walk, remembered the Alamo, and went tail-gating in Austin. Enjoyed our First Thanksgiving with family. Moved back to Korea, did winter camps, suffered through separation, and planned a wedding. Did a roadtrip to Yeosu, South Korea. Chickened out on eating live octopus. Went snow-tubing. Had delayed flights and spent 52 hours in Hong Kong. Went on beach runs, to wine farms, met family and friends, and toured as much of Cape Town as we could. Got dressed up as a prisoner and a cop, and then showed with love by our friends. Fed monkeys, saw penguins, and watched an African sunset. Got married on a beautiful wine farm. Honeymooned in a hotel along the coast, where we ate sushi, lots of ice cream, and drank wine all weekend. Signed our marriage certificate, trashed our wedding outfits on a beach for a photoshoot, and then drank champagne all covered in sea water and sea. Wine tasted more times than we can remember. Hiked Lion’s Head. Watched our first live rugby game. Swam at the West Coast National Park. Picnicked on top of Table Mountain and in Tokai Forest. Had the craziest night of our lives in Incheon, South Korea. Swore we would NEVER move back to China. Moved back to China. Lived out being “flat broke” and had to move in with friends. Suffered through more visa drama than most people do in a lifetime. Went on hikes, dates, brunches, and ate ate ate. Ate way too much. Quit food for 15 days. Almost slept on the streets in Beijing. Got an apartment and made it clear out of credit card debt. Fell pregnant and struggled through no heating, suffocating smog, and brutal morning sickness. Learned the woes of being pregnant in China. Faced ridicule from Chinese doctors and ealized the value of bedside manner. Took a pregnant trip back to Thailand. Petted tigers, found out we were expected a baby boy, explored temples, played with baby elephants, wandered night markets, did a Thai cooking class, got in touch with Chang Mai, saw more islands, went kayaking, fell in love with a laid-back beachfront resort, sunbathed, ditched the cocktails but ended up in a Marijuana bar, and again, ate a ton of Thai food. Learned the value of a good expat community. Had a baby shower, Diaper BBQ, Maternity Shoot, and worked until the day we went into labor. We had a baby in China… WOW! We had a baby in China! Learned how different life in China is with a baby, and enjoyed all the kindness and help that people offered. Found a wine farm in Qingdao. Made it a two year tradition. Fellowshipped with friends. Forged some unforgettable relationships. Went on our first family vacation with our three month old son. Saw beaches and mountains. Took flights, boats and ate at meaty buffets. Learned that we could take our son to everywhere, and that the locals adored him. Mommy became a mermaid. We dressed up as three mummies for Halloween and caught a lot of attention. Found our place in a church and started to feel a new side of China. Enjoyed a multi-cultural Christmas. Took our son to South Africa. Fish&Chips, Coastal Rides, a town pier, beach walks, misty cliffs, and Elijah sat on a camel. Did a sunset hike and then questioned our sanity on the dark walk down the mountain with a sleeping baby. Enjoyed family lunches, playdates, and misty evenings in our 24th floor apartment. Mourned and weeped with friends. Learned just how much a marriage can be tested. Watched friends fight against the greatest odds. Witnessed our Eli devour and smash an entire cake for his first birthday. Painted and fixed up a really large apartment ourselves. Moved into our favorite home. Worked too much. Lost ourselves a bit. Worked some more. Said goodbye to all our closest friends. Realized the downfalls of a life as an expat. Flew to Dallas, had a baby dedication, got married again, and soaked up all the sun and family time that we possibly could. Lost our second baby to a miscarriage, and battled through that loss while we were separated. Swore we would never separate again. Flew to Medora, North Dakota. Went on a road trip, long runs, became fascinated with the cutest western town, and watched brother Richard get married. Realized sometimes separation, though hard, is worth it. Settled into our new apartment. Made it a home. Realized the importance of family time.
We’ve grown, we’ve learned, we’ve changed.
We love where our life together has led us.