April 24, 2014

Our Time in Chengdu Part One

(There’s more to say about our time at the retreat, but if you’re interested in hearing more please write me an email.)

For the first part of our time in Chengdu we went to a retreat. Heather and I were excited to be together as a family and to make memories with the kids. When we registered for the retreat we found out that our registration included meals at the conference center buffet. This excited me. I forgot, however, that it was going to be a Chinese buffet. Although some of us in the family like Chinese food, some of us don’t, and can be picky about it. The first night we were trying to have a conversation with some friends and convince our children to eat something, anything. Caleb started eating a dumpling and then he threw it up while simultaneously melting down. Huh, I guess this buffet won’t be the blessing I thought it would be. Our kids (minus Lily) spent the next five days eating mostly white rice and watermelon.

I did end up finding a small store on the conference grounds. I scoured the shelves desperate for some snacks to keep us alive through the next 5 days. I saw some Cheetos and as I examined them I realized my flavor options were chicken and beef. Both great meats, but not my first choice for Cheeto flavor.

Our retreat staff informed us that the fine for picking a flower on the property was 50rmb ($7.50). Yikes! This could get expensive knowing my kids!

After a few days at the retreat Sydney feel into a pattern of crying each time she left her kid’s classes. This was because each day they had a raffle for a toy and she continually lost. However, the last day she won! The staff told me they contemplated rigging it, but didn't, and fortunately she still won. For the record the toy was Spiderman. Who knew an 8 year old girl could be filled with such joy over a superhero.

After days of struggling with the Chinese food offered we received a little blessing that came in the form of sweet and sour chicken and french fries. I couldn't have been happier.

Our last morning at the retreat and we noticed some evidence that a rat had been in our room. Awesome! As Heather was packing us up to go I went for a stroll. I walked past a van with half a butchered pig laying in the back of it. Normal, right?

We headed back into town because we were still spending five more days in Chengdu. Our time at the retreat went really well. We came away refreshed and encouraged. And the timing couldn't have been better for our family. 

Quotes from our week:
(When describing the bathroom situation)
Me: “Aubrey it’s a squatty (potty), which you love.”
Aubrey: “Yes!”

Caleb: “Come on Daddy! Are you coming on??”

(It smelt like a campfire as we were walking outside)
Matt: “I love that smell.”
Heather: “Campfire?”
Then in unison we both said“probably garbage” then we both laughed

Our next post will be about the second part of our trip where our kids were offered free beer, we saw the pandas, and Lily went to the dentist.

much love,

the petersons

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