Looking Back at 2015. Another year has come to an end… Wow! I love looking back on the year, and of course, write about it. It is my way of “finishing off the year”, and I do this by looking back at the year via blog posts that we have done each month. This year we did 300 posts… In fact, this is exactly the 300th post for the year! Of course, I’m very particular, so when I try to catch up posts, I post-date them and add them to the correct month where we did them. Why? Well, because then on days like today – when I sit back and reflect – I know exactly what we did in any particular month.
Let’s take a look back at 2015…
January. We started the year off with remnants of snow that had fallen on New Years Eve (Eli’s first look at snow). We did a number of walks by the beach, and through our apartment complex, with Elijah in his stroller. We also started apartment hunting, Elijah started eating solids, and mommy – who was 7 months postpartum – decided to get back in shape! Ahh… I’m starting off 2016 in the same manner (except I’m even heavier now and much less fit), 2015 was not a good year for fitness. Towards the end of the month, Elijah and I set off for a six week trip to South Africa, and seven days later Justin joined us there. There were mommy dates, family dates, and evenings out with friends watching live bands. We said goodbye to the Mosby’s this month – wow! Has it really been almost a year since they left?
February. Oh South Africa – what a beauty! There was lots of socializing with friends and time with family. Swimming, cocktails, wine, chocolate, and beer tasting, bottomless coffees, long strolls, meeting new babies, pregnant friends, wine farm tours, a sightseeing bus, birthdays, photos on the beach, a town pier, a family coastal daytrip, Eli sat on a camel, a live African drum band, gorgeous views, fish and chips, visits to the park, lots of running, a Christian women’s conference, a sunset hike… Gosh, should I go on. It was an amazing month!
March. We started March off still in South Africa where we were able to attend a close friend’s wedding, we had plenty of lazy days by the pool and much needed quality family time before heading back to China. When we arrived back we entered “the danger zone”, and with Eli a lot more mobile than when we left 6 weeks before that, he was climbing, moving, and falling a lot. Enter the “bruised-face” stage! My mom moved to China around this time of the year, and this led to more time for Justin and I to spend alone as a couple. We celebrated my 31st birthday, and had a lot of fun being silly in a Photo Booth after dinner with friends. We did Easter with friends at The Hilton in Huangdao, where we helped the “toys comes alive” and see the excitement that this brought the Klug and Clark kids.
April. By this stage we were spending a lot of time with the other members of our fellowship, and China had really taken on a new meaning to us. Spring arrived and our walks outside came alive with cherry blossoms and the sounds of birds tweeting. Our apartment was feeling smaller and smaller as Elijah got more skilled at adventurous, but he stayed in the little playpen area that
we created for him while we needed to move around the apartment, or teach lessons. Elijah and mommy were judges in a burger competition. We also met the Klugs at the beach for some fun days in the sand.
May. We had a few special lunches, celebrated my first Mother’s Day, enjoyed warmer walks, and giving Eli ice cream for the first time. There were a number of quality playdates where I enjoyed time with McKenzie and her three little ones. I got to work preparing for a close friend’s baby shower, and we went to a school out in the Qingdao country-side for children with disabilities, but overall it wasn’t a busy outdoor month. A lot of time was spent party planning and making crafts.
June. This was an insanely busy month… If you only see about 10 blog posts in a month (and most of them were inserted during the following month), then you know we were busy busy busy! We threw a Momm-to-Bee baby shower for Angie, Elijah turned one, we said goodbye to some VERY dear friends, and started moving into our new home. There was a lot of DIY-tasks, much creativity and time spent decorating, many late nights, and lots of hard work. It was a good month, but it was extremely taxing, and we were drained before Eli’s birthday. We managed to do a Cake Smash Photo shoot in our new apartment (with the paint not even dry on the walls yet) and then took him for lunch and a stroll on the beach with friends.
July. Just as we had moved, so did our blog! This month we tried to take some downtown but there was still so much we wanted to do our the apartment, and we wanted it done before we left for Texas. This month we had dinner dates with friends, family dates during the day, a picnic, and lots of coastal runs. I would say that this was the month where we “Fell for Qingdao”. We absolutely LOVE the location of our new home, and we love everything about this decision to move here. This was a good month for running – with the beach only two blocks away, we really soaked up the early summer runs along the coast since we were both only working half days and we had the afternoons off together.
August. Off to America so that Elijah could meet the other side of the family. We enjoyed plenty of quality family time, and even a couple of visits from our close friends from China (The Mosbys and The Logsdons – they all live in Texas too!). We did a baby dedication for little man out in the Esser’s backyard. We were also tired of waiting for South Africa to get their act together and send us a marriage certificate, so we got married again! On the same day as the baby dedication, we did a marriage blessing. There was a third thing that made this day so special – we told our family and close friends that we were expecting baby number two. The following week Justin had to head back to China, but Eli and I stayed in the States for more family time. Sadly, during the most denial-ridden week of my life, we lost that baby. The next few weeks were really tough for me.
September. With Justin back in China, Eli and I tried to make the most of everyday with Gram and Gramps. There was a lot of pool time for little man, a couple visits with friends, and much needed recovery for me. Eli and I flew up to North Dakota to spend time with Richard, and meet his sweet wife, Shauna. We did a mini-roadtrip through the Dakotas, went to a traditional Western town, saw an incredible outdoor musical, explored a national park, went on a party bus, and attended Richard and Shauna’s beautiful wedding. We also got to see Cousin Maxine and her son Charles. I went on MANY long run where I took the time I needed in order to reflect and in a way, recover, from the sorrow of having a miscarriage. Elijah got closer and closer to walking – standing up for long periods and even taking a few steps to get from one place to another. After a month jam-packed with seven flights alone with a toddler, we arrived back in Qingdao. We were welcomed by Justin who had made sweet signs and other welcome-back surprises for us. Nothing felt more right than being back by his side!
October. With the weather at its best, we did a few hikes, beach walks, outdoor excursions, and lots of playing in he Autumn leaves. Despite attempts to spread our wings and make new connections, this was the month where we started to feel like “everyone was gone”. All the new expats had arrived, and we had made only a couple new friends, but nothing seemed to fill the void of the friends who had moved on during the course of this year. For Halloween, we did a night tour of a beer museum and then enjoyed a dinner and live show at the same location.
November. Our home turned into a Fall decor experiment as I started to explore more and more craft possibilities. Although it was starting to get cold, we managed to sneak in a hike in a sightseeing garden. We hosted a soup party. Some freakishly early snow fell after a storm hit Siberia and sent ridiculously cold weather towards Northern China. Needing a new passport, we went up to Beijing for three days. We applied for a new one for me, and also registered Elijah as a South Africa, and applied for a passport for him. In Beijing we visited a park, a frozen lake, a temple, and of course, devoured a ton of food. This was the month when the pollution levels shot through the roof, in fact, during the very week that we went up to Beijing it as at it’s highest. Along with roughly 50 other expats, we drove into the countryside to visit a gorgeous wine farm.
December. The ISQ Christmas Fair was the first Saturday of this month. From the moment that we returned from Beijing, we were incredibly busy preparing for that. My mom and Justin helped me a ton. I cancelled lesson, stated up late at night, and barely cooked a single meal that week. The fair turned out to be a little disappointing, but it was a good experience for Justin and I as a couple. We spent the rest of the month trying to sell the crafts that we had worked so hard – day and night – to make for the fair! The pollution stayed at astronomically high levels so Eli and I barely left the house this month. After a year filled with lots of work, many preparations, moving, teething, and plenty of goodbyes, our Christmas seemed to reflect just that. It was kind of a gloomy Christmas, with little company and almost no gatherings, but still a special one nonetheless. This month we cut off Elijah’s beautiful locks and he went from looking like a baby (and a girl) to looking like a little boy. The Monday after Christmas we started to exercise and watch what we were eating… those New Years Resolutions couldn’t even wait until January 1st. Both Justin and I have packed on quite a bit of weight since returning from the States!
If you made it through all of that – Thank you for reading our post on “Looking Back at 2015”. It was not the easiest of years, but we will overcome the loses and changes. New friends will come, we will fall pregnant again, and the pollution will lift.
How was your year?
We wish you all the best for 2016. May it be filled with peace, love and joy!