In October with visited Xi’an and Shanghai, two cities in other parts of China. Both were amazing, and we enjoyed this vacation very much. Shortly after that we signed up for the Xiamen Marathon, and started an intensive training program. This, coupled with the p90x program Catherine was doing, put her in the best shape of her life. This was when things got very exciting for us because we started to plan for our winter vacation. We knew we wanted to head to Southeast Asia so we planned a big excursion, and worked on travel plans whenever we could.
In November we climbed the gruelling 6,600 steps leading to the summit of Tai’Shan, and then slept up there and watched the sun rise above the clouds in the morning. We also took a trip to Qingdao (yup, that’s where we live now) and explored the city – which was a luxurious paradise compared to where we lived. Back in Dongying it was starting to snow and this meant many icy runs in our marathon training. After our first Christmas in China, we filled only our two backpacks and hit the road. We explored southern China, Vietnam, Thailand, Malaysia and Singapore on our 6-week backpacking escapade. We got engaged in Phuket – awesome, I know! – then headed back to the bitterly cold China to start our final semester.
Just before the summer vacation arrived, we did a very typical Chinese photoshoot in celebration of our engagement. This was an amazing experience that took 13 hours, 14 sets and 7 outfits changes! We then got ready to leave China and head to the States for our second, but much longer, visit with Justin’s family. A week before we were about to leave, Justin fell while he was playing soccer and he suffered a concussion that left him not knowing where he was, what he was doing, or even that we were engaged!
Following this, we spent 6 months in Texas, just over 2 months in South Korea, 3 months in South Africa, and then came back to China to begin our second year of living in in the “Middle Kingdom”. We had been gone for a year, but our friends – The Mosbys – had moved to Qingdao and stayed there for the year that we were all over the world. We returned to China married and ready to start a new teaching contract, and moved in with The Mosbys. There was lots of hiking, running, and feasting on delicious foods while we nervously awaited the news on whether Catherine’s visa would be approved. Fortunately, I had no issues with this (Thank You America!) and I was able to start work while we kept jumping through paperwork hoops! We did a 15 day juice fast in June, and also ventured to Beijing to get a stamp on our paperwork. While there we almost had to sleep on the streets because China is so crazy with their hotel rules. During summer vacation we taught some classes, relaxed on the beach, went to the Beer Festival and ran the incredible Color Run in Beijing.
In August – with Cat’s visa approved – we moved into our own apartment. At this stage we were already praying for a baby, and excited for things to come. We spent an day at Huadong Winery with the Mosby’s to celebrate Justin’s birthday. Little did we know that we would fall pregnant that month too. For two months Catherine fought her way through morning sickness and the terrible pollution that made her feel worse. When that passed we entered the “glory days” and she has been glowing ever since. We left China for the winter vacation, and spent an entire month travelling through Thailand where we found out that our baby is a boy. Since returning to China things have been getting more and more beautiful by the day. Spring is here, and we are preparing for the birth of our first child. On our Chinanniversary all three of us got baptised!
Wow, the years are flying by but they are SO FULL love, adventure, good memories and sweet blessings! We know that we will definitely be in China for another year since we signed a two year contract with our current school. This next year will be unlike any other though… they just keep getting better and better!