Bruges (or Brugge) and Fun with Friends

We are entering the final stretch of our life abroad. The past 4 years we have been able to take advantage of the countries and cultures that we have lived in and hope that we have used our time well. Through all this crazy travel (and at points crazy stress!) we hope that our kids have learned so much in all that we have done and the people that we have met. I was reminded today that in a world filled with cynicism and “unliking” I hope that we never forget or lack space in our lives for empathy, being able to understand someone and that we don’t have to be defined by the moments we messed up. Redemption is always available. Through empathy we don’t have to be afraid to meet people from all walks of life. Whew, its coming to an end and I hope we can remember all the lessons we have learned.

Most recently we were able to visit Bruges (or Brugge if you want the Flemish spelling). It is a magical city, medieval and frozen in time with Gothic architecture and beautiful cobblestone streets. It is definitely a tourist town, but for good reason. We absolutely loved walking around this city and I think the kids loved it as well. A special treat for us was that we had dear friends come to visit us from the USA and it was such a treat to be able to have them explore with us.

Bruges is a city in Belgium known for its lace, waffles and old streets. Bruges was founded by the Vikings, but its height of prominence was from the 12th to 15th Century. Like many sea port towns, Bruges flourished because of the river Zwin, but as it began to silt up the main port was moved to Antwerp and Bruges was basically abandoned. By the middle of the 1800s Bruges was the poorest city in Belgium. Since Bruges had been in such a decline, none of the grand buildings were touched (cause you need money for that) and it has been left in tact, a hap chance preservation of a historical city. Today it is a tourist hub, walk-able and enchanting. Definitely worth seeing!

 
 

While in Bruges we went to the chocolate museum, Choco-Story. Every floor offers bits of chocolate to eat while you wonder and not only can you learn about the way chocolate is made, but you also learn some quirky history about humans love for chocolate. Did you know there were whole dishware sets made to accommodate hot chocolate drinking? Who knew?!? The most surprising thing was after the tour, all my kids asked for vegetables, they may have eaten a bit too much chocolate! We enjoyed it and since we were there in February it offered a good warm place inside. Also, who can resist Belgian chocolate, some of the tastiest on earth. There are many more museums in Bruges, but we mostly walked around, got our waffles and ate from grocery stores so we could sit outside.

Bruges is also famous for its lace. I love fabrics and seeing all the lace work here was no exception. When making lace by hand it is an extremely tedious process that is still practiced today by artisans in Bruges. It is a meticulous process. Think of having hundreds of threads wound up on small baseball bats and then weaving the threads to make a beautiful design and of course, try not to get the threads tangled. They are true masters and the lace map of the city was amazing to see. People still make lace in the city so you better believe I brought some handmade lace home.

We also took a horse carriage ride through the town, the kids loved it and thought it was so fun. Clearly there was brother/sisterly love. Best part about it is that the price is per carriage, not per person, so I think we won with that one!

We also were so excited to see Michelangelo’s Madonna of Bruges (his only sculpture to leave Italy during his lifetime), but alas, it was being worked on and not on display for another week. WAH! There was a model in place, so we did our best to pretend. At least we didn’t have to pay full price to go into the church.

 
 

We spent 2 days in Bruges and thought is was a good amount of time to see everything. With two families (and 11 people) it is really difficult to find places to stay. Our go to is AirBnB and we were able to find an awesome place that had enough room for us all. We stayed a bit outside of the city and enjoyed being by the seaside. It was beautiful there and we were thankful the kids were able to relax and play around in the sand (and not bring it inside the house but definitely brought it into the cars). So glad we were able to visit and also so thankful for friends willing to do crazy things with us!


Until our next adventure!



Mountains and Half Timbered Houses

It’s after the New Year and after a very busy Holiday season I thought I should finish my post on our fall travels. Last I left off, we were in Bavaria and had just enjoyed the Neuschwanstein Castle. With our car and the kids enjoying riding in the back, we decided to head to Austria. We thought it would be good to reminisce about our life that was in the mountains and to be able to see how different the Alps are from the Himalayas. I think we were all happy to take in the views of the mountains again. Austria has some great roads and I will tell you, everywhere we went it was a much smoother ride than in Nepal.

We opted to go to a small village town called Fontanella and stayed overnight in an AirBnB. It ended up being a beautiful area. The one thing we did not plan on was the Austrian National holiday. We arrived and thought we would walk into town and get some food to cook dinner. Little did we know EVERYTHING was closed since it was a holiday. So, we asked our hosts if we could have a kilo of potatoes and tried to be creative. We had some food we traveled with, and I think our kids will say that this was one of our favorite dinners. We made potatoes and onions and then grilled up some apples with butter and had Nutella with them. It was creative and most of all filled our bellies for the night. I was very thankful for the reminder that our best memories are made when things don’t go as planned.

 
 

After a fun night and a good sleep, we ended up heading through Switzerland and spent the night in Colmar, France. We looked at staying in Switzerland, but we realized how expensive it was and opted for a walking tour of Zurich and staying overnight in France. While we were able to see all the beauty of the mountains and drive on some amazing roads (ok, this is something that I have a great appreciation for now!) we ended up in Zurich. When we arrived in Zurich it was raining. We were able to meet the walking tour guide and followed her around slipping and sliding through the city. Although the weather wasn’t great, we enjoyed seeing the sights and I was glad we made a stop there. Did you know the Romans had an outpost in Zurich?? The city has been established for a long time and we were able to see a stone that was placed by the Romans. Also, we saw the Technical University in Zurich where Albert Einstein, Wernher von Braun and a long list of star studded genius studied there. I know there is so much more to see in Zurich, but I am so glad that we had a quick introduction to the city (but not to the 9 Franc coffees!).


 
 

We had a short but sweet tour in Zurich and honestly, we just wanted to head to Colmar, France with all the bad weather. This quaint town in France has beautiful half timbered homes with a small river running through it. If you have ever seen Beauty and the Beast, this is where it should have taken place, it’s like it came right out of the story. I would have embarrassed my kids, but it would have been fun to sing and skip as I walked through he town and had a couple of books in the crook of my arm. Belle would have been proud. It is also famously the hometown of the Statue of Liberty sculptor. We loved walking around this quaint little city and are so thankful to have seen the Alsace region.

 
 

Hello beautiful houses and flower boxes. My sweet husband also decided that no trip to France is complete without some escargot. He enjoyed some for dinner and we *almost* got our daughter to try one. It got as far as her mouth, that was about it.


 
 

After a charming time in Colmar we decided to head back north towards Belgium. I saw that we were close to Verdun, so we stopped by and spent the day at the Verdun memorial and surrounding grounds. During World War I Verdun was one of the longest and largest battles of WWI. It was a devastating and tragic loss of life. As we visited the memorial and drove around the grounds, the land still bears the scars that show where the months and months of shelling and fighting occurred. We saw hills that were formed from the fighting that now have grass and trees and cover land that was barren. There was a whole village that was reduced to rubble. Today, in its place a small chapel was built as a memorial to remember all who died and what was lost. Although my kids may not understand what they saw that day, I hope in time they can understand that real lives and real people lost their lives and lived in terror for months. I hope their history lessons will have more weight after seeing where these tragedies occurred. War is not pretty and it feels like solemn ground walking around there.

 
 

After the stop in Verdun, we headed through the French speaking part of Belgium. We spent the night in Belgium and then the next day we wanted to head towards the highest point in the Netherlands, where 3 countries meet. While driving through cute villages, and trying to find a great pastry shop, I really had to dig into the recesses of my brain to grab the little French that I had learned to communicate. Thankfully it was sufficient. While driving back, we found the Henri Chapelle American Cemetery and Memorial. It is American ground and we pulled off the road to see the place. It is the burial ground for many Americans who died during WWII. Again, as we were there, it felt like sacred ground. There, at the memorial, was a tangible sense of all the people who fought for freedom, and honestly the thanks that many people still have in this region towards the Allied liberation.

 
 

Even though we only had one week, we were able to see so much! The last place we stopped was the 3 country border, where Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands meet. It is also the highest point in the Netherlands at 322 meters tall. We are so thankful for all the experiences that our kids (and ourselves!) have been able to see and experience. The world is such a huge, complex and amazing place, I am so thankful I am able to go out and explore it.

 
 

Until our next adventures!

German Treasures

It has been months since I have last written here and life has gone on! A move is a move and the first weeks were spent with getting organized, settling in, finding out where to buy things and just trying to figure out how everything works in our new country. We had an amazing Dutch summer and thoroughly enjoyed it. The kids are really loving school and so that makes mama’s life a lot easier.

The kids had an Autumn break and even though there were some deadlines at home we decided to go ahead and take the week off and explore a bit of Europe. We decided to head to the Bavarian Alps to see the fall colors and sight see in the southern part of Germany. We decided to drive the Romantic Road and circle back to the Netherlands.

We have found that with a family it is quite a bit cheaper to travel with a car. As much as we would love to go on a train or bus with a family the economics just don’t work. It also gives us more freedom so we are able to see what we want to see. Having a car also gave us more freedom to book AirBnB’s or hotels that were a bit outside of the town or somewhere along the way.

We decided our first stop would be Wurzburg. This is the first stop along the Romantic Road. If you look up the Romantic Road many blogs will come up that have chronicled it well, so I will not do that here. We began with a long day from the Netherlands to Wurzburg, Germany to be able to start on our tour.

Our first day as tourists we drove along the road and spent most of the day in Rothenburg ob der Tauber. It is an iconic village that is a living museum, although not officially. The city is well preserved with medieval walls and roads and it is as if someone forgot about it for 600 years and we just stumbled upon it again. The town is currently well maintained and has beautiful homes, roads and an amazing city wall that can be walked on. The city wall is the best preserved complete wall from the medieval times, it circles the entire old city. It also has enchanting stores with medieval themes and my favorites, the Christmas stores. We all loved spending the day here and I would highly recommend this for a family with kids. Our kids had a blast!

 
 

We had to get a silly picture with the sign that says “Balloon Fahrten” which is clearly funny in English.

After spending about 6 hours in Rothenburg we decided to head to our next lodging. There are many, many other interesting cities along this route, but we knew that our children would probably be tired of seeing these older cities and decided to hit the main tourist spots. You have to choose your battles. The next place we headed was to the Neuschwanstein castle. This castle is very well known and shows up in movies and was the inspiration for Disney’s castle. It is opulent and imposing, clearly attaining the grandeur that its builder wanted. We stayed at a campsite near the castle at Camping Magdalena & Haus Sonnenlage. We have found many times campgrounds have rooms or villas available for one night rent for a cheaper price than you would find at a hotel. They also tend to be better for a larger family as they typically can accommodate more people better. We were able to get a great room at the campground that included breakfast. We made reservations for the castle in advance, which is highly recommended, and had our tour time booked. It is easy to find the ticket office, but there is a 30 min walk/hike up to the castle or you can pay for a horse and carriage or a bus to take you up. Any way you choose, you need to get there with plenty of time to spare. Since we lived in Nepal and went trekking all the time, we knew we had to hike up the hill. It is not very difficult with a slow incline and is paved. The kids enjoyed the walk and we reminisced about all our treks in Nepal. Once you get to the top, close to the castle, there are food vendors, shops and other stores available. We made it up on time and took some time to look around at the top once we got there.

The castle itself is beautiful and has a very interesting history. There are many other people out there who have written on it extensively, so if you would like to read about it there is plenty of material. We enjoyed going inside the castle (no pics allowed) and visited 8 of the finished rooms. Many of the rooms of the castle are not finished due to the Prince’s untimely death. It still is a marvel and one can only wonder what it would have been like finished.

We spent the rest of the day wandering around the town of Fussen and enjoyed this city. It is also a older German city which retains much of its charm. Whether its the cobblestone streets or the river running on the outside of town it was a great way to spend the second half of the day.


 
 


We thoroughly enjoyed the Bavarian Alps and in our opinion October was a great time to go! We continued on, but that will be in another post! Until later.

Moving, One continent to another

Our time in Nepal has come to an end. When the busy, crazy and chaotic life, that is Kathmandu, becomes normal, I knew it was feeling more like home. In the beginning, I never thought the end of our time there would come, but here we are, 3 years later knowing it was our time to move on.

As I have been thinking about our move and our life abroad a couple things stick out. First, I didn't write about all the really hard things we experienced. There were times of huge frustration, seemingly insurmountable obstacles and really hard conversations. There were times of sickness for all of us, struggles with the air pollution and water pollution, cultural snafus, and homesickness. And second, when presented in a nice, concise form like a blog or a paper, it may seem that what has happened here was easy. It wasn't and it isn't. It takes lots of perseverance, character and energy to get anything off the ground in a developing country, and I am so proud of my man for making that happen. 

I am a reader, I love reading and like looking for a good book to read. Recently, I have been seeing lots of books coming out about topics such as savoring the moment, and a seemingly opposite side of the spectrum, dreaming big.  I think I am drawn to try one or the other, but not both (that is too hard!). I want to savor the moments, but I also want to dream big and sometimes it doesn't seem that these two go hand in hand. In the past three years, I have come to see that these to ideas are more interconnected than I thought and Nepal has been a great place for me to synthesize these two ideas. In order for us to take the step of faith and move, we had to dream big. We had to know that God was leading us and that there was work to be done, and lots of it. I also knew that the time in Nepal would not be forever. While in Nepal we tried to enjoy the moments we were given: the tea with a neighbor, driving my scooter and smelling the honeysuckle as I drove past, watching the kids learn a Nepali dance or listening to the monsoon rains at night. I also knew that during the hard times, they would pass: the sickness, the border blockade, the visa issues, the struggle to learn Nepali, or the loneliness. In all these things, they have added up to become the big thing. That is the reason that our little things are so important. The sum of our little moments push toward the big dreams. I think this season has been marked by the big dream.In the big dream I learned that it is actually just the small things that make the big dream beautiful.  This is what I needed to learn in this season. 

Even though we have moved, we are not back in our home culture. We are off to another country to finish what we started. Moving is never fun, and moving internationally can be a bear. By the last week of moving I just want to burn all the things, but then I realize that I need those things, so I continue packing. When we finished packing our house in Nepal we had to ship 14 boxes ahead of time and kept a suitcase and carry on for travel. I wish I had time to tell you stories about Nepali customs and getting our stuff out of the country, but alas, it would take its own blog post! Our last days in Nepal were a blur; they were filled with friends, tears and hugs. We had many touching good byes by both our expat friends and our Nepali friends. We are so thankful for them all. We will miss our house helper so much as she became a great friend. Goodbyes are never fun. We had lots of them, and are thankful we will hopefully see many of them one day again. We did take advantage of having our friends until the very last minute.

 
 

While saying good bye is hard, watching your kids say goodbye will rip your heart out. Such a hard day, but our time had come to an end. 

We decided to take an overnight stop in Istanbul so we could take a quick tour there. We studied the Romans and the Byzantine empire this year and I thought it was a fitting field trip for them! We had an early flight and said some last good byes at the airport. We had ALL our things and it felt so good when we got on that plane. We made it to Istanbul by the afternoon and took our things to a hotel and then signed up for the free Turkish Airlines tour of the city. We hit all the hot spots, the Blue Mosque, the Hagia Sophia, the Hippodrome, the old bazaar area and had an authentic Turkish dinner. With some rain and slip sliding on our walk home, we were able to enjoy a quick view of Istanbul.

 
 
 
 

Besides the fact that Josiah looks like he is so tired he can't even stand up we were able to get on our flight and head to the Netherlands. Thankfully, we have some great friends in our new town who met us at the train station and helped us get our things to the house. It felt good to land, to finally be in the place we would call home for the next year. Also, a shout out to my cousin who came in the chaos to help us get settled. Thanks for helping us move from chaos to order! Just to make us feel at home, we had 2 resident mice in our new place, which have since been disposed of. Nothing like mice poop to welcome you home.

 
 

So now, here we are for a year, looking forward to see what is ahead. 

Khumbu Region AKA Mt. Everest!

I have taken a bit of a hiatus since we spent most of the spring packing our house for our worldwide moving adventure. We are now settled and I wanted to get this adventure written down! We were able to spend some of our last days in Nepal visiting the places we have always wanted to visit and with the people we love.

So, we did it! We finally made it to the Khumbu region of Nepal. This is definitely one of the most popular places in Nepal, it is the home of Mt. Everest, the tallest mountain in the world. I have hesitated going here since you have to take a scary plane ride to get there. We are closing out 3 years of living in Nepal and if anyone 1) knows where Nepal is then 2) they ask about Everest. It is the world's most famous mountain and is kinda in our backyard, I knew we should try to go. This region is a bit of a trek to get to and not as accessible as other areas. It also has one of the world's most famous airports, Lukla! We spent about 10 days trekking, heading to Everest Base Camp and back and made memories along the way. We ended up taking a helicopter up and a plane back.

 
 

Our first day was a pretty easy, short walk and nice hike. Since you fly up to 2,860 m, you start descending on the first day. We spent the day in Phadking and felt good. We knew the second day would be challenging so we got a good rest in Phadking. it is a great city to start at and we were able to enjoy our first day in the mountians.

 
 

Our second day was from Phadking to Namache Bazaar. This day is a good climb and over a crazy high suspension bridge (which are not my favorite!). The kids did great and we passed a couple hikers that were having problems with the altitude. It is a good reminder to always hike with a friend/guide and to drink lots of water. We carry an O2 sensor and check our Oxygen rates as we climb. We also make sure to drink lots of water and stay hydrated! We ended up staying at Nirvana Home in Namache Bazaar. It was very comfortable. It is a friend of a friend's hotel and a great place to stay! Tshering's father (he is the owner of the hotel) was on the original expedition that Hillary and Tenzing made when they summited Mt. Everest for the first time. He is the only surviving member of the group now and many people come to meet him.

There is a great monument to the expedition in Namache. The statue there is Tenzing and he is holding his axe under Everest(which is known locally as Sagarmatha). We had a rest day here and went to see the statue. 

 
 

When we trek in the Himalayas we try to get an early start so that we can relax in the afternoon and miss any possible storms. We woke up and headed to Tengboche. I was not anticipating it to be a hard day, but man, it was harder than I expected. It was only 430 meters higher than Namache, but the trouble is you go down about 400 meters and then head back up. So you actually are climbing a lot more elevation! Whew. The kids did well and we tried to find a point on the trail and then walk until that point, stop, and rest and do it again. We arrived in Tengboche and it was quite cold. We were not able to find a place with 2 rooms, so we settled on one room with a large bed. For one night we slept all five in one bed. We were so cold we kept each other warm! Again, we had someone who had to be airlifted out of the town because of altitude sickness. Altitude sickness is no joke, but luckily there are helicopter pads along the way if an emergency comes up. We woke up to SNOW! We were all so excited, but especially the kids. It was beautiful, but this is where the kids and I and Jeff parted. Jeff headed up towards EBC, and we headed back to Namache. We both took a porter with us so that we were not alone.

 
 

Jeff continued up and he climbed Kalapathar for great views of the sun rising with Mt. Everest in the background. We stayed in Namache Bazaar and Jeff met up with us there. Below are his pictures which was a winter wonderland and so cold!! The pictures are beautiful and stunning in person.

 

 
 

We headed back down and I think the kids were done! They will enjoy looking back at what they saw, but this was a ton of work for us! If you have read this far, then kuddos to you!

 
 

 

 

  

Summer Travels - Part IV

I promise I am almost over with this novel! It has been a long time in coming to finish our Southeast Asia tour. We last left off in Siem Reap. We arrived at our hotel late at night, and the next day I was in bad shape. I was feeling really sick and had to use the bathroom every second. I decided I needed to go to the doctor. Some tips if you are sick in Asia: 

1. You can go to an International hospital, but it will cost you more. In Siem Riep there is a great hospital that is run in conjunction with the group of Bangkok Hospitals called Royal Angkor International Hospital. It will bill international insurance if you need it. If you have good insurance, this route is easiest.

2. I knew I needed a test and knew what my diagnosis might be. So I decided to go to the local hospital. I have learned that most laboratories are across the street from the local hospital in Asia. Usually, there are multiple labs near the local hospitals as well as pharmacies. Usually, someone there will be able to speak English and you can order the test yourself.

3.  Once you know your test results you know what kind of antibiotics you need and you can go to the pharmacy and buy them.

4. If they think you need to go to a hospital, they will direct you. In my case they wanted me to go and get an IV to hydrate me. 

I went to the lab and was diagnosed. They referred me to a local doctor's office and I was given an IV and antibiotics. It helped to be rehydrated and get some antibiotics in me. My husband and kids were able to  explore that city a bit while I sat in a lovely room with some needles in my arms. Thankfully, I was able to start feeling well enough to head back to the hotel. Also, a good picture was taken in the hospital and is to follow. 

 
 

After we got my sickness under control, we were able to make our trip to the ruins at Angkor Wat. We decided to hire a taxi and have him drive us around since we had lost a day due to my sickness. The area that encompasses the old temples are actually quite vast. If you want to visit Angkor Wat, you definitely need to have some kind of transportation to see as many temples as you can. We went to the biggest temple first, Angkor Wat. It is the most renovated and we decided to get a tour guide to show us around. 

 
 

After we went through the big temple, we took the car on a trip through the rest of the smaller temples. I personally liked the older, less restored temples with all the trees growing through them and all the different kinds of vegetation and nature that mingled with ruined stones. We were able to spend the day there exploring.  

 
 

The next day we headed to the Thai border via the land route. We personally had a very easy and uneventful crossing at the border. After you arrive on the Thai side there are many taxi's waiting to take you anywhere. For us it was cheaper to take the taxi back to Bangkok. We settled in our hotel in Bangkok and had a great couple last days there, including an IKEA trip! We always enjoy our time in Thailand and we feel so thankful we were able to make the trip!

 
 

If you followed along the whole way, way to go! As you might notice in the picture above, our flight was quite delayed. No worries though, we made it back and I became fully well and am able to write this post now. Until next time!

Summer Travels Part III - Rainy Island

It has been a busy fall and winter for us, but I want our adventures to be chronicled even if I am back in summer. When I last left off, we were headed to the islands off the coast of Cambodia. Jeff and I had done some research and it looked like it would be a good place to spend some time. It was off-season, but we visit many places off-season and usually don't have a problem. This was different. 

We hired a taxi to take us to Sihanoukville on the coast of Cambodia. From there you are able to catch a ferry boat to one of the islands. If you look this up online it looks amazing!!! Crystal clear blue water, beautiful beaches, and everything you want for a beach vacation. We arrived to the smaller island called Koh Rong Sanloem. When we arrived the pier was a mess and not finished and I started to wonder what we got ourselves into. The first day we walked around the island and were able to go in the water for a bit. It was a fairly clear day and we didn't have any rain until that evening. 

 
 

So, we were able to collect a lot of shells, but the next day it was as blustery as it gets. We woke up in our thatched roof cabana (sounds amazing, right??) only to find the torrential winds and rain were coming down. We were cooped up in our cabin for the morning. When the rains finally stopped we headed out to find food. We found out our neighbor in the cabana next to us had been stung by a scorpion (eek!) the night before. I did not want that to happen to us. We were able to find food and ate for a bit before the torrential rains happened again. We stayed cooped up in an oceanfront store this time. It was literally blowing so hard that tree branches were falling down and people couldn't walk straight. We headed back to the cabana after a break in the rain only to have more rain. Apparently, the off-season is a legit thing there. Do not go in the off-season! We went back to the cabana and it didn't have any water (??? hello torrential downpours) to rinse the sand off or to flush the toilet until 3 pm. So we hung out and waited. That night I did not sleep as well as I heard a mouse coming into the cabana. If anyone knows me they know that I really, really don't like mice (see post on shrews). So I was pointing my flashlight at him wondering why in the world he is in the cabana. Good times. So we finally decided to leave as we had very few dry times and I started having stomach problems again. The ferrys wouldn't come in the huge storms so we just waited and waited to see if the storm would calm down so we could go. We finally carried our luggage over the broken pier and took a tug boat to a different island to catch the ferry (and let me remind you I am still having stomach issues). We were able to make it to the ferry and it was not a fun ride to get back. When we finally got back to the mainland and we took a taxi all the way to Siem Reap so we could see the UNESCO heritage site at Angkor Wat. I have never been more thankful to get off of an island. 

 
 

We made memories and it is always easier to laugh about it when you are through it, but I don't want to have to do that again! 

Summer Travels Part II

I find myself at the end of October wondering where the time has gone. We had a busy month that has left my monthly post a bit behind. While we get back in the swing of things I thought I would share the rest of our trip to Southeast Asia.

When we planned this trip we knew we wanted to fly one distance and make the return trip overland. We decided to fly from Bangkok to Ho Chi Minh City. We said good-bye to Thailand and headed to Vietnam. The visa process for Vietnam is relatively easy and there are many blogs about how to do that as a US citizen. I knew there would be lots of history there (which I love) and lots of scooters. Beyond that I didn't know much about Vietnam and I was ready to learn about it. 

We AirBnB'd (can I make that a verb? I'm going to!) a great spot for us to stay that had a pool. It was close to a mall with a grocery store so we were able to grab food easily. It was a really nice facility, but a bit far from the center of Ho Chi Minh City. We took a taxi to the center of town and found a booking agency and booked some tours as soon as we got there since we didn't have a lot of time. High on my list was to visit the Cu Chi tunnels. We booked the tour and headed out. 

 
 

The Cu Chi tunnels were interesting for the whole family. They are a series of tunnels that the Viet Cong dug during the American/Vietnam war. There are over 250 kilometers of tunnels complete with sleeping rooms, kitchens, ventilation, hospitals, work rooms, meeting rooms and of course toilets! The entrance to the tunnels were everywhere so they could quickly hide and get away from anyone and hide their tracks quickly. We had someone show us how quickly they could hide their track and it was about 30 seconds! It was fascinating to learn about the war in Vietnam.  In Vietnam the war is called the War of American Aggression. It was good and educating to understand the other side of the war and how complicated and confusing it was. I am glad my kids were able to go visit and know it was definitely worth visiting. 

We spent some time touring the city later that day and I met some older men who I was able to talk to about the war. I didn't know that Vietnam had been a French colony so I was surprised by all architecture and the huge churches and pretty gardens and open spaces throughout the city. 

 
 

After we spent some time in the city we went on a tour of the Mekong Delta. It is an amazing water system that provides so much for the area. Since my husband is into water and is getting a PhD in it we had to visit all the things water. We took the 2 day tour that took us across the border into Cambodia. The tour took us up the Delta and we saw the Mekong and all the industries it provides along the way. We thought that we were going to take a boat all the way to Cambodia, but we ended up taking a bus from the Cambodian border to the capitol Phnom Penh. I was a bit disappointed by that, but we made it there by the afternoon. 

 
 

Once we got to Phnom Phen we put our stuff away and went quickly to the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum. I knew that this would not be a happy museum, but I had so many Cambodian friends in California that had lived through the Khmer Rouge reign that I wanted to see this firsthand. It was sobering and sad but a reminder of the power, for good or bad, we have over each other. In the midst of the hard, horrific, and terrible, there are stories of beauty that were saved and the way the human spirit can survive and sometimes even thrive in the midst of intense adversity.  

 
 

After Phenom Phen we headed to the coast hoping to have a relaxing vacation. Since it deserves its own post, I will leave you here! Thanks for reading!

Summer Travels Part 1

This summer we decided to take a bigger trip through Southeast Asia. We were prompted by our friend's wedding in Chiang Mai, Thailand. We have wanted to see these sights and I was thankful we made it a reality. Our first stop was Thailand. Our itinerary included Thailand, Vietnam and Cambodia. We had visited our friend the summer prior and we really do enjoy Thailand and Chiang Mai in particular. We headed to Chiang Mai via China since it is not super easy to get anywhere from Kathmandu. We arrived in the morning, tired and a bit groggy, and headed to our hotel. We always try to book hotels with pools and the kids were excited about being able to swim. We spent a couple of days exploring the city. We love the street food (crocodile meat!), Thai Iced Tea and the night market. Its always fun to explore the city. 

 
 

One thing we did that was fun was visit the Tiger Kingdom outside of Chiang Mai. It is a mix of zoo and hands on learning. It is situated a bit outside of the city. The grounds are beautiful and the roads good to get there. This was particularly fun for Josiah since he loves animals and particularly predators. He was able to pet a baby white tiger and was so pumped! Sienna and I opted not to go in a cage with the tigers. Brooklynn was able to touch a baby lion and Jeff went in with the medium tigers. All the tigers here are not sedated and have been rescued for some reason or another. The baby white tigers had all been rejected by their mothers for deformity reasons. Some of the deformities can be corrected so the veterinarian on site is working to help them heal correctly. 

 
 

After our sightseeing, the wedding festivities began. We loved being able to see our sweet friends get married and enjoyed meeting up with friends, new and old, from around the world! It was so fun to see friends from our hometown in Thailand. What a fun time we had at the rehearsal dinner and the wedding. We loved the amazing food, restaurants, traditional Thai dancing, fireworks (!) and friends at the wedding. The reception venue was along the river and at the end of the wedding, fireworks were set off in celebration of their marriage. So, take that sparklers. If you want the real deal, get married in Thailand.  

 
 

Chiang Mai was a real refreshing time. We saw friends, enjoyed the city and were able to enjoy some of the best food around the world! We set off the next day for Vietnam. Vietnam, here we come!

Lang Tang Trek

It might strike fear in the heart of many to think of taking their children on a 66 kilometer trek into the Himalayan Mountains. I am here to say it is do-able, amazing and you will survive the trek. Since we live in Nepal we have been wanting to do a longer trek for a while. We planned this trek and let me tell you, I was a bit nervous. The whole idea of altitude sickness and kids made me a bit scared. What I realized quickly is that my kids are tough and they actually really enjoy being on the trail. I did learn some tricks along the way to keep them going which I will share later. We do feel so blessed to be able to see all the amazing things that the Himalayas have to offer and hope it is a special memory in the hearts of my children.

First, we took a jeep to Syabribesi. It is the start of the trail head and there are many great little hotels in the town. We ended up staying right on the main road at Sun Rise Hotel. It is a neat, clean hotel with hot water and tasty food. It happened to be Sienna's birthday so we celebrated that morning with candles in Tibetian bread. 

 
 

The typical Lang Tang Trek starts at Syabrubesi and stops the first day at Lama Hotel. The most elevation gain on the trail is between Bamboo and Lama Hotel and we wanted the kids fresh for that part. Our first stop on the trek was Bamboo. It took a little over 4.5 hours for us to get there and was certainly a fairly easy start. We also crossed a couple suspension bridges which are not my favorite, but a staple in the Himalayian Mountians. They were able to make a birthday cake in Bamboo (!!!) and we celebrated Sienna's birthday that night by the river in a small room heated by one stove and a beautiful cake made by our hosts. 

 
 

The next day we continued our trek upward. We tackled the most elevation gain first part of the day and we were able to stop in Lama Hotel for lunch. Just an FYI, Lama Hotel is the name of the city, not an actual hotel, but there are many hotels in the town. After full stomachs we continued on and stayed at a very comfortable and pleasant place called Riverside. The weather was great and we loved being so close to the river. Who doesn't like falling asleep to the sound of water? Ok, maybe somebody, but I love it!

 
 

From Riverside we hiked up to Lang Tang Village. For those of you who don't know, the earthquake in 2015 created a landslide that fully covered the village of Lang Tang. Half of the residents died and what was once a beautiful valley is now filled with rubble. They are currently rebuilding, but it is taking some time to get the supplies, manpower and money needed to rebuild. It is a bit somber to walk across a kilometer of rubble and know that underneath is a whole town that was buried. We  enjoyed being able to stay in Lang Tang and trying to support the local people. We passed water prayer wheels and as we got higher some yak shared the trail with us and we began seeing some cow/yak mixes grazing on the hills. 

 
 
 

We then walked to the end of the trail to Kianjyn Gompa. It is up at 3,850 meters (12,631 ft) and the final stop on the trail. There are many different peaks around that you can summit in a day if you want to go higher, but I was happy making it that far with the kids. Kianjyn was a great little town and there is a great bakery up there that serves cakes, apple pies and some great snacks. Jeff and some of our friends went for a day hike to one of the peaks. We stayed in the town and washed some clothes and watched the yaks on the mountains. This is a beautiful town, but it does get cold at night. We had proper clothing, but the fireplace in the hotel was a great place to relax at night. Kianjyn also had a lot destroyed during the earthquake and are currently rebuilding. The mountains you can see from here are amazing!!! We loved seeing the mountains come out and one day we even got a rainbow!!!

 
 

We then headed back down and the trip was much quicker. We took 10 days to do the 66 kilometer hike. The amazing thing is that as we were walking we realized all the materials, food and things in these villages were being brought up on the backs of people and sometimes on mule trains. It really is amazing to see people carrying large timbers, rebar, cement and plywood ALL ON THEIR BACKS!!! I am continually amazed at the resilience of the Nepali people. Many of these village are actually Tibetan peoples and I also enjoyed seeing the different kinds of dresses the women would wear. We did learn a few tricks along the way to keep the kids walking. Each of the kids would pick a landmark they could see and we would walk to that point, then the next kid would pick a place they could see and we would walk there, then the next. This silly little game kept them going even when they just wanted to stop. We also brought some dear Nepali friends who the kids loved to walk with and asked questions and kept them going. Typically I was never really tired as we did keep the pace pretty slow for the kids. Ultimately it was a great experience and we are so glad we did it! 

 
 

So if you are wondering if you can go trekking with kids, you CAN!!! The kids may not have loved every moment, but it was so worth the time it took to visit there. 

Pokhara my Heart

Have I told you about Pokhara? I think I already have! For me Pokhara feels like a little retreat from the crazy, busy, dusty life of living in Kathmandu. We try to visit there a couple times a year to remember and see the beauty that is Nepal. I think one of the best things about Pokhara is how stunning the mountains are. From Lakeside on a clear day the mountains feel so close.  Pokhara is named after it's large lake, in Nepali lake is pokhari. It bring a different feel to the city and offers some fun things to do. Pokhara is also fun for cheap bike rentals, taking a boat ride on the lake, hiking to the Peace Pagoda, the Mountaineering museum, the outdoor movie theater and food from different countries that we all enjoy!  

I have found a hotel that I really enjoy; it has a pool, air conditioning and is pleasantly furnished . Pokhara is typically warmer than Kathmandu, so a pool in the warm seasons is a great treat for us. The hotel is called Swapna Bagh and is centrally located in Lakeside. If you want to check it out, you can click here. 

 
 

This trip we made with our friends from Kathmandu's family. I had always gone with Jeff, but he was out of town. I asked a friend of mine if she would be up for taking the trip with her kiddos and she was. This trip was the first time I had ever hiked to the Peace Pagoda. It is a temple on the other side of the lake and it is a stark contrast to the landscape as it is shining white and gold atop a mountain. We had asked some people the way to the trial head and they pointed us to two options. First, you can take a boat over or second you can take a taxi around the lake. We opted for the first option. Since there were 6 kids and 2 mamas we decided to get an early start. At the beginning of the trial head it says 45 minutes to the top. Well, we know by now that is Nepali time. They are truly the best of the best when it comes to hiking these mountains. I knew it would take longer. We had kids ranging from 1 to 10 years, whew! As we started we had some snacks and some water. There are places to buy water along the way so we were well hydrated. We did have tears along the way and my friend made up games to keep the kids motivated to reach the top. We knew it would be a great view. We hiked and hiked and two hours later we were there! At the top we ate at a restaurant and sitting looking out over the lake the clouds began to part and Machupuchrre and the Annapurnnas started to come out. They are amazing and we could tell the kids their effort was worth it! 

 
 

We enjoyed the afternoon with a swim and ate at some of our favorite restaurants. We had crepes at Metro Cafe, Italian at Cafe Concerto and some great time together! Until next time.

A Bit About School

Many days as I am grabbing a taxi or if I meet someone at the store and begin some small talk, they will inevitably ask me where my children go to school. In the States if I tell people I homeschool they usually understand what that means and we can continue our conversation. Here in Nepal homeschooling is not a thing. Many people going to school are the first generation to be able to read and write. They seem to appreciate that going to school is a privilege. So, here in Nepal when I tell people I homeschool they give me a blank stare and ask what that means. I often tell them I am the teacher at home and I get my material and curriculum from the US. That will usually suffice, so I tend to stop there. Since I am asked this question weekly I thought some of you might want to know what I do here in Nepal and what our schooling looks like.

First of all, I am finishing my second year of homeschooling. I am not one that feels naturally drawn to homeschooling, but I think it is a great fit for our time here in Nepal. Before we left I signed up with a local homeschool group who submits our paperwork to the state and handles all of the legal things. I have a great support teacher that sends an assessment over every year to see how the kids are doing and records it in their files. I am held accountable by her and if I have any questions or am struggling in some areas she is a great resource to ask if I know I need improvement.

I am able to pick my curriculum, so every year I have to order it a bit ahead of time and have someone bring it over. This is usually one of the harder parts as it is so heavy. I know other homeschoolers here who use many online products, but this has worked for me so I want to stick with it.  We have school everyday, duh, and usually our days can be a bit flexible. Every week I fill out a planner for each child and what they have to do for that week. The kids have book work that they have to do on their own. They can complete that whenever they want, but I usually like it done before we have group time. We do all our history/geography, science and read aloud together. I can usually tweek things just a bit for each grade level so at least we are doing those things together. We can usually finish school by 1 or 2 and in the afternoons we do activities or we do art.

I have a Nepali tutor who comes three days a week so I have to be available for that which is in the mornings. There are not a ton of extracurricular activities to do here, but we have found a piano teacher who comes to the house weekly. Josiah is also involved in a baseball practice which he loves to go to every week. Most weeks we are busy with something, but I have to be pretty creative with things we can do. There is a Co-op here in Kathmandu and we meet up with other families about every month. This has been a very fun time for my kids and we all enjoy meeting the other families. 

The other thing I love about homeschooling here is the flexibility it gives us in travel. We have been able to go places for longer periods of time and not miss out on school because I bring it with us! I love being able to go to the Netherlands, United States, Pokhara or other places and still do some school and make things a bit more hands on. I am hoping this will be one of the richest things we have done for our kids in giving them a wider view of the world. 

Although homeschool has been a lot of work, I am hoping that it will be some rich memories for the kids as they grow older. Until later!

Canals, Bikes and Cheese

This is a trip that had been planned for a while. I looked forward to visiting the place where we are moving next, Delft, the Netherlands. So much about Europe enchants me and I was looking forward to old buildings, canals and beauty. We started off the flight on the right foot. They upgraded ALL of us to business class, WHAT?? Who puts kids in business class? We were loving it. The real china came out and I had to admit business class with children left me a bit more anxious. Ahhh, don't break the plates, the china! So many breakables!  As we arrived in Mumbai I can say that the last leg of this trip was the first airplane trip that was a struggle. We had some stomach issues when we arrived in Mumbai (which we think was from something we ate in Nepal) and we were just wanting to land in Amsterdam. Unfortunately, we had some throwing up on the plane and needless to say we were all very glad to arrive in the Netherlands. 

 
 

We stayed at a campsite in Delft, Netherlands. Camping is the way to go in Europe. It is usually much less expensive than anything else and it is so accessible and is much nicer than the campsites we are accustomed to in the US. They not only have camping but also have cabins on the property. We stayed in a 3 bedroom chalet home with a playground, small store and petting zoo close by. It was about 15 min walking distance to the center of town and very easy to find. The Dutch are known for their bikes, it is the way most people get around. So, we joined in their mode of transportation and by the 3rd day we all had bikes to get around town with. Biking there is amazing. The town is laid out for people to bike, so we were able to go so many places quickly. Also, the Dutch bike parking game is strong. See the third picture below for awesome bike parking. 

 
 

While we were in Delft, Jeff had to visit his University every day and work, have meetings, write and work some more. Though this was more of a work trip for him, we made it a bit more of a vacation for us. While he was working we continued to homeschool, but I took advantage of being in the Netherlands. After some morning reading and math we would venture out. We visited a windmill, saw how an Archimedes screw worked and how they used it to push back the sea. We visited the Vermeer museum and learned about the golden era of the Netherlands. We visited the Princehof museum and learned about William of Orange, the first monarch and some of the history of the Netherlands. We went on a walk in the woods and learned how to use a compass. We visited one of the old city gates and Josiah loved seeing the spaces cut out where the archers would defend the city. We visited a petting zoo and saw baby pigs. We climbed to the top of a 600 year old church where all the monarchs are buried. We read a book together that takes place in the Netherlands and we were dangerously close to IKEA so we may have visited there a bunch for some soft serve ice cream. But obviously this had nothing to do with school. I think it was a very profitable time for the kids and I know I really enjoyed all the things we were able to see. 

 
 

Netherlands, we had a great time. We love your cheese, your yogurt, your flowers, canals and old buildings. We loved your open spaces and charming ways. Your smells of bread and variety of chocolates keep us coming back for more. We look forward to spending more time with you in the future. Your weather will keep us guessing, but we are thankful for the time we had with you. Until next time, the Davids

Taming of the Shrews...

This week I have a tale to tell. We live in what is called a colony here in Nepal. It is small and very pleasant. We have an open green space in the middle and paver made roads that seldom have traffic. We are surrounded by houses except for one open garden type field behind us. Now, we have a room in the back of the house that is like a shed. It is full of random things and is best forgotten. Unfortunately, every so often we have to go in there and I see plenty of poop, probably from something of the rodent family. Something you should know about me is that I HATE rodents. I will kill a spider happily, but rodents freak me out. I try to control my urges to scream when I see one, but it is no use. I scream and run and hide. 

Under our sink in the kitchen our didi began to see poop. I thought oh no, rodents. Luckily she is Nepali and brave and knows how to deal with such things. She brought over a cage and we set the trap. Nothing. Not one bite. So, we had to up the anty since we were finding a nasty hoard of feces behind our refrigerator. She brought in the glue. She said the only way to catch them was to place sticky glue on a piece of wood and then they would scurry across and get caught. The biggest problem was a live rodent, wriggling around on a plate. I was not excited to have to deal with them from that point on. Sure enough, later that day we caught the culprit! It was a chuchundra in Nepali, or what we call a shrew in English. Now for those of you who have no idea what that looks like, let me introduce you to a creature with very pronounced facial features, a hairy tail and extremely smelly poops, the shrew. 

This picture shows the shrew all cute and in nature, but these are viscous rodents and have sharp teeth and they do not like to get stuck on sticky glue. Our shrews actually have a much harrier tail, but I digress. After our first shrew was caught I was so relieved. My husband being the man took him out an killed him (sorry for all the animal lovers, but these guys stink and carry disease, no thank you!) I was relieved as Jeff was leaving and my friends were coming in. The next day came and more feces, NOOOOO!! That ment there were more than one in our kitchen. So, again my didi put the sticky plate under the sink and I left with my friends for a quick out of town holiday. 

We came home on a Sunday and the kitchen was smelling funny. I thought I should open the doors and windows. It continued to stink and I decided to investigate. I opened the door under the sink and the most putrid smell came out. I ran and hid in the corner screaming (dramatic, I think not!) and thankfully my friends were there to help. Together we mounted the get rid of shrews team, which was documented of course. My friends bravely opened the sink and there on the sticky pad were 2 more shrews, deader than dead. That brought us to a total of 3. Now they were gone of course so I was happy. We cleaned up the feces and bleached the cabinet. 

The next day my didi came again and she said she found more poop. Noooo, I cannot handle the amount of poop these things produce. I started operation seal up the house. So I sealed up every possible entrance point, so I thought. Once again we put out stick glue. Shrew number 4. 

We had a break in the shrew incidences over the summer. I was happy and thought we finally got rid of them. Then, in September we were sitting in the dining room and I heard the sound of a poly bag rustle. Something was in the trash. My didi was there, who by now knew how much I hated these guys. She set a trap again and caught the guy. Shrew number 5. 

The next day I was walking in our living room and I saw something scurry. I told my didi and my language teacher who was there and they cornered not one, but 2 of them and whacked them on the head. Two more down for the count. Shrew number 6 & 7. 

The next day I saw one more. Now this one was sneaky and he was old. I could tell he had been a good hider because he didn't make the mistakes of the other ones. Once again we set out sticky glue. As I walked into the kitchen it was just in time to see the board with the sticky glue was being pulled under the refrigerator and a tail was languishing behind. I called my husband to come to my rescue. I was right, this shrew was big and mean. He had sharp teeth and I could tell he had been rolling in the glue. We took him outside and it was over. Shrew number 8. 

I am going to warn you the next picture is of our friend who met his death on the sticky glue, so be warned, it is gross. 

 
 

Currently we really are glad to see these guys gone. Only 8 have lost their lives and I am hoping they have realized that the Davids home is not a safe place for them.  Actually, I am surprised these little creatures have not become some kind of cartoon character yet. So, here is to the rest of a shrew free time here in Nepal!!

Until next time!

FOOD!

Food is such a great thing to experience in any country you visit. You get a glimpse into their daily life. The sounds and smells that emerge from a local kitchen give you a souvenir that you can take home. We have come to know the smells and sounds of Nepali cuisine. Whether it is the sound of the pressure cooker letting out steam, the smell of boiling rice or the smell of curry coming from the kitchen, Nepali food now holds a place in our hearts and, probably more so, our stomachs. The daily food here is a simple food, dahl bhat. We love it and look forward to eating it. It is a curried lentil that is poured over rice. We eat this 3-4 times a week, but Nepalis would eat this everyday. Yum!

 
 

We are also served a tadhakari, or vegetable dish, with the dahl bhat. We really enjoy this food and luckily our didi is a wonderful cook and we love eating her dahl bhat tadhakari!

We also have some tandoori places around us. We have a favorite spot that makes some killer naan. It is amazing and cheap to buy here. Oh man, naan is the best!

 
 

We had the privilege to go to a Newari restaurant and eat some pretty unique things. Newari is the people group that have lived in the Kathmandu Valley for many centuries. They eat a lot of meat, so we ate EVERYTHING! Brains, tongue, lungs, fried intestine filled marrow and of course meat. I can't say everything was exactly tasty, but I am glad to say I tried it! Tongue and brains pictured below.

 
 

I am able to buy our produce at a local shop. The produce is seasonal, so things are not available year round. The interesting thing is that Nepal is able to get a wide variety of vegetables and fruits. The high altitudes of the Himals and the tropical areas of India allow for so many great fruits. From apples to mangos and pineapples to berries we can have fresh fruit. We do have to disinfect all our fruit before we eat it, but I am telling you, the mangos are the best!!!! Some people walk around neighborhoods with their bikes laden with goods. I love seeing them walking around.

 
 

One more thing that keeps me fascinated here is that everyone can sit in a crouched position and eat. Most people eat with their hands and they are really amazing at mixing the dahl and bhat to create the perfect scoop to put in their mouth. Our kids are getting the hang of it!

 
 

Look at Sienna, she is doing the perfect squat! And just because we live in Nepal here is a pretty picture.  Until next time!

 
 

Off to a New Start

 We were able to ring in the New Year in America and we are hoping that this coming year will be a great year. I (Kristi) am feeling totally better and have enjoyed our time with family and friends in the US of A.  In N Out, friends, family and time to relax gave us such a great boost. After a good long 2.5 months being home we feel rejuvenated, relaxed and ready to take on the next 1.5 years in Nepal.  

Flying back we took Singapore Airlines. The perk of flying this airline was that we had a 24 hour layover in Singapore and we intended to make the most of it. After a 17 hour long flight we were met at the airport by our hosts and we got a good nights sleep and were ready for the day in Singapore.

We had heard that Singapore had a great zoo. I'll be honest, going into it I wondered what made a zoo better than any other zoo. Well, I learned! The Singapore Zoo was awesome! Many of the displays are made in such a way that you feel like you can reach out and touch the animals.  The shows were entertaining and fun. It really was amazing to see the Lemurs, Cheetahs, Lions, Giraffe, Wolverines and so many other animals so close. Our youngest is particularly fond of animals (predators to be exact) and he was so excited the whole day. We loved spending the day there and I think we learned a lot! It was well worth it. The Zoo area is huge and we only entered the main zoo area, but we heard the night safari, river areas and the bird areas are awesome as well. Below are some pictures of us leaving and at the zoo. Also, there is a picture of the bathroom, which I loved. Behind the sinks there was not a wall, but it opened up to a beautiful enclosed outdoor area where nature came inside.

Brooklynn was able to be apart of the Sea Lion show which was really fun! She fed the Sea Lion fish, even if we had already seen the California Sea Lion in its natural habitat it was still fun to go!

After the zoo we headed to the down town area to a mall. We were able to take the mall elevator to the 52nd floor for free and see all the sights. It was close to Valentine's day so they had some fun decorations up. I am not a big fan of heights, but it sure was fun to be able to see almost everything from up there.

After our short jaunt here, we had to head back to the airport to get our plane to Nepal. We did have a great time in Singapore. We had heard it was so expensive, so we were glad to be able to see it and not have to spend a bunch more money to stay there longer. 

We are now back in Nepal and doing well. This year is looking like it will be much busier and we are already looking forward to many more visitors!

A Year In...Reflections of the Past Year

I hear that the first year abroad is the hardest. In our case, I think it was true. As I think about the past year it was harder than I thought, but there was beauty, hope and healing in the midst of some crazy. Our first year in Nepal involved political unrest and a border blockade, my first year of homeschooling, making new friends, sickness, trips to Malaysia and Thailand, visitors, new friends made that are coming and going, learning a new language and lots of new foods. 

This past year the biggest struggle for me was health. I had amoebas as well as giardia that seemed to not want to leave me. I thankfully am feeling much, much better but I have so much more compassion for those who struggle with chronic illness and sickness. In some of my hardest days I knew that God was with me and helping me to get better. Thankfully, I am much better and we are looking forward to heading home.

 

We are looking forward to a trip back to USA for the holidays!

Visitors

As you may have seen in the last post, we were able to get away to Pokhara a couple weeks ago. It was a very needed time of refreshment and just having family time. In April we had some pretty special visitors. Jeff had to go to the Netherlands for 2 weeks for school, so my dear friends came to keep me company! Jeff was able to get some of his requirements for his PhD done while he was there. He connected with professors and was able to spend time in the library and get some work done. The library looks awesome as it has a grass roof (Hobbits anyone?) and is very modern in style. We are looking forward to visiting it!

I cannot tell you what a joy it was to pick my friends up at the airport. We all cried and it is such a blessing to have friends that you know will help carry you when you feel like you cannot. April is not the prettiest month here, so we headed up to Nargarkot and stayed in the mountains for a couple of days. We read, talked, drank tea, ate, walked and talked some more. It was a great time for me to be able to think about what I have learned being here thus far and how we want to move forward. The weather was not great, but the rains have come and we are so thankful for the cool, crisp air and weather that it brings. Here are some pictures from their time here. 

When we were in Nargarkot it happened to be Nepali New Year. They have a different calendar and year system. We did not take Doc's flux capacitor and head to the future, it was Nepali New Year of 2073. I am so, so thankful to have this time with them. It was needed and refreshing. Adrienne, Gayle, Leona and Kelsey THANK YOU! Looking forward to more adventures with friends here. 

As we head into monsoon season I'm sure I'll have tales to tell. We are nearing the one year mark of being here in Nepal and hope I can keep sharing our adventures.

Why we have been MIA

As I look back on the blog posts I have been MIA for a long time. As I looked back over the months I realized it was because of this...

Sickies!!! We have been off and on sick for the past few months, no joke. Whew, we are tired. Many things about living overseas I kinda knew what I was getting in to, but I did not anticipate us getting sick so much. Yuck! Don't worry, we are all fine, but between the flu, pneumonia, parasites, and a good round of colds I feel like we can tap out for the rest of the year. We have been able to do some fun things, so here is a brief recap!

The girls took a art class and really enjoyed it! While the girls were in the class Josiah would go climbing at the gym one floor above. It was a win for all! The girls would sometimes join in after. Since there are not a ton of things for kids to do here in the city, we are thankful for a place where they can get some of their energy out!

We also were able to enjoy Easter with some friends here in Nepal. My sister-in-law was so thoughtful and sent over a bunch of fabric so that I would be able to sew the girls' Easter dresses. I was so glad I was able to continue that tradition. We ate lunch at a pizza place called Fire & Ice. After we went to a place called Garden of Dreams and had a very pleasant afternoon just hanging around and enjoying time together. We did a small Easter egg hunt for the kids and they of course loved their goodies. 

Whew, I guess the months are flying by. Barring anymore sickies I am looking forward to getting back in the swing of things and writing here more often. The monsoon season is around the corner here and I am looking forward to a summer with thunderstorms, hopefully I will get some good shots to post here!