April 10, 2014

The Slow Train to Chengdu

Hi friends and family,

We have been back home now for nearly a week. Here is a look at our trip.

Like I mentioned in our previous post we were going to be taking a train with all five of our kids for 26 or so hours to get to Chengdu. Trying to get all of our small kids to move in one direction and pulling all of our luggage through the train station (as the rest of China attempts to do the same) is the most difficult part of taking the train as a family. The train station, unfortunately, doesn’t have elevators/escalators, which means running multiple times up (or down) flights of stairs to retrieve luggage (and kids). This will no doubt get easier as our kids get older. Right now it’s still pretty challenging. I was happy though that Sydney was able to pull one of our suitcases for this trip.

One funny scene we came across was on our way to the train station. We saw a group of guys riding mountain bikes decked out with biking gear. They looked like they were pretty serious about biking. One guy though must have only been semi-serious, because he was smoking a cigarette as they road through town. Watching people exercise while smoking is quite the ironic picture.

After we got through the train station and made it safely to our cabin I began shifting luggage around. (We booked four soft sleeper beds. Each cabin has four beds, so we didn’t have to share our room with anyone). I came across Lily’s carry-on bag and all it had in it was a kid’s Bible. Heather then tells me that it’s all she wanted to bring. Precious.

After we’d been on the train for a little bit we got all of the kids to sit on one of the top bunks and then put our computer on the top bunk across from them and set up a movie. A bunk bed movie theater if you will. Today’s first showing is the kid’s movie Epic. It’s at this point that I’m incredibly grateful. You’re not always guaranteed a cabin with a functional electrical outlet. The fact that ours works means we will have movies for the duration of our trip. If our electricity didn’t work we would have had insanity for the duration of the trip.

For meals we have a bunch of snacks packed, some banana bread, muffins, and bread/peanut butter. The train also has ramen for sale, but it’s twice the normal going rate (6rmb for a bowl, yikes!). Side note, you can buy a Snickers in a lot of places in China, but not on the train. Bummer!

During this trip I’m reminded of something random. Aubrey loves using squatty potties. I don’t know where this love came from, but she has it. And that’s good for her, because squatty potties are your only option on the train (but dark tunnels and curves in the track make it more difficult to use).

Night time on the train is also pretty difficult for our family. Trying to get our son Isaac to sleep without the prison walls of a crib is not an easy task. In the morning we are making our way through the Sichuan province and it’s beautiful. Two train attendants then come to our cabin to collect the blankets that are given to the passengers. I’m not at all comforted as they fold each of ours and just put them back on the bed for the next people to use. (To their credit they did take one of the blankets that had pop tart smeared on it.)

We then arrive safely in Chengdu. I will write more about our time in Chengdu in my next post.

much love,
the petersons

March 20, 2014

The Train To Chengdu

On Saturday our family of 7 will be taking a 25 hour train ride to Chengdu. In case you think I wrote that wrong I will write it again. On Saturday our family of 7 will be taking a 25 hour train ride to Chengdu. Maybe you've heard the saying "The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over expecting a different result" nope, its taking your large family on a long train ride. To be honest I'm looking forward to it. I enjoy taking the train and although this is nearly twice as long as our previous longest trip with kids, I think it will still be a good time. 

Our family will be going to a conference there for 5 days. Afterwards we are going to stay in Chengdu for a few days so that we can take Lily to see a foreign dentist there. He does incredible work and we're grateful that Lily will get to have some work done on her teeth. (A couple baby teeth haven't fallen out yet even though her second set is starting to come in and she also has some cavities). We will let you know how the trip goes!

Before I end this though let me share a couple cute and funny kid quotes from recently.

Recently Caleb and I were going to wrestle and he asked me “Can I hit you in the face?” while holding a balled up blanket. I replied “Yes you can hit me with the blanket.” Caleb then celebrated by saying “YAY!” This probably isn't the first time, nor the last, that someone will celebrate being able to hit me in the face.

Then the other day Sydney said something no other woman/girl in the history of the world has ever uttered. She said “I don’t need any more diamonds, per se.”

Here was another exchange with Sydney:
Me: Sydney did you know that on average women live longer than men?
Sydney: (said with a happy tone) Cool!

Finally last night while watching the Avengers Aubrey made this statement "The Hulk’s favorite thing is to smash, its not even to color". I had no idea.

much love everyone,
the petersons

March 12, 2014

One Thing I Want To Teach My Children

The other day I also got some encouragement about something I wrote on here a long time ago. A friend of our family told me that a post I had written "10 things I want to teach my children" had one point that really stuck with her (That life is full of doing things we don't want to do) and is something she teaches her kids now. I want to add one more thing to that list, but first I need to give some context. 

My wife and I are currently doing a lot of processing and reflecting about our gifts, values and what we want to do. To be honest these aren't questions I've really spent a lot of time thinking about. Its left me feeling a bit frustrated. One of the exercises Heather and I are doing right now is writing down all that we want to do before we die. I wrote that I wanted to get my kids in a place to be successful. To narrow it down I wrote that I wanted to help my kids discover and cultivate their giftings. As parents I think helping our kids discover their gifts is something we can do. Of course, this will also be their responsibility, but we can help them start the process.

So, yes, I want my kids to succeed, 
but I want them to know what is important to them. 
I want them to know what values drive them and their decisions.
I want them to know what they were created for.
I want them to discard every distraction from this calling (even if that distraction is good).
And I want to help them refine their gifts and abilities so that they will be blessed and be a blessing to others.

much love,
the petersons