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Thursday, January 16, 2014

2013 in a nutshell

2013 was quite possibly the best year of my entire life.

And unfortunately I'm so late in getting this end of year post out that I don't feel like I have as much time as I'd like to really list everything.  There are so many other posts writing themselves in my brain right now Asia Trip!  Job Fair!  We're Moving Next Year!, that 2013 is about to topple off the conveyor belt and be lost forever.  And that would be a shame, because to put it simply, 2013 was the year my son Q was born.  Now everything is changed, better, brighter, more exciting, more tiring and all around amazing.

Ryan and I frequently look at each other and ask, what were we doing with our lives before he was born?  I know we did some amazing things, but nothing that even compares to the last 7 months.

So here's what happened in 2013...

We had a beautiful, baby boy who we named Quincy.

He was so small, and decidedly Asian looking at first.

And he's grown and changed so quickly, it's been hard to keep up with everything.

My Mom came to visit after he was born, which was a God send.  Both for me healing, and for Quincy, getting to soak up all that grandma attention.

When Q was 6 weeks old, we traveled back to the states to spend the summer with family.  But first we stopped off in Boston for a few days to do some traveling as a family of 3.

Then it was back to Florida for the family to meet their new grand/great grand baby!

We had a wonderful summer, and returned to Egypt ready for the new year to begin.  We'd already decided this would be our last year in Cairo, so the hunt for new jobs began, even as we were in the hustle and bustle of a new school year.

We decided to forgo traveling anywhere throughout the fall, just in case we would up jobless and needing a little extra financial cushion.

When December rolled around, we loaded up for a crazy trip around Asia, ending with the job fair in Bangkok in January.

Our first stop was Japan, to visit Amy and Jim who are stationed at the Atsugi Naval Base.  It was so nice to spend Christmas with them, and their new baby boy Henry.  The boys got to "play" together and we all really enjoyed the time together since the last time we'd really seen them was our wedding.

This is Ryan trying a "hot" drink from one of the vending machines.  (It wasn't that warm, he's just a wimp)  ;)

Amy and Jim treated us to some sweet potato and green tea ice cream, very good actually!

And one of Santa's reindeer decided to hang around Christmas morning.

We even saw Santa!

Towards the end of December it was time to part ways.  Amy and Jim were headed back to the states so their family could meet Henry, and we were moving on to China.  Our first stop in Beijing took us to the Temple of Heaven, The Forbidden City, the Great Wall and the Summer Palace. Quincy got bundled up for cold weather like he'd never experienced before.

Then it was on to X'ian to see the Terra Cotta Warriors.

Q made friends with a massive dog that we were pretty sure was part wolf outside of the entrance.

Phewww, are you getting tired yet?  We certainly were.  I think this was actually the point in the trip when we asked each other if this trip was a bit of a crazy undertaking.  Luckily we have the best baby in the world and he was a trooper through all the planes, trains and automobiles.  And we're not even done yet!

Now, normally I stop my "year in a nutshell" posts at the end of that year.  But this trip went on for 2 weeks after the new year began, so I'm going to keep trucking and give the full description.

This is the view from our plane as we flew to incredible new heights, into Tibet. A place that I've always wanted to go, but never imagined I would actually make it to.

Ryan drinking butter tea.  He liked it more than I did.

Potala Palace, the Winter Palace of the Dalai Llama.  It's 550+ steps to get to the top, and you're already starting out at the ground at 12,000 feet altitude.  So yeah, I almost died getting to the top.

See that old woman in front, with the bent back and the cane?  Yeah, she beat me to the top.

Tibetans tie their babies to their back, around the baby's knees and back with a piece of fabric.

A monk actually took this picture of us, after the Tibetan ladies "taught" me how to put Quincy in his carrier properly.  Wish we could have taken his picture, but as a holy man, taking his picture is not allowed, because if we were to delete it at some point, we would be throwing away something sacred.

One of the most amazing things that happened was in the most holy inner chapel inside the palace, Tibetans bring white scarves to be blessed by the monks for good health and fortune inside.  We were standing to the side watching when a monk walked up and put a white scarf around Quincy's neck, then held out his arms to take him.  We handed him over and he carried him up the stairs and into the chapel.  Our guide started to freak out a little because apparently this never happens.  No one is allowed inside except the monks.  She said it was very special that they were taking Q inside, and they were blessing him.  

Tibet was amazing, incredible and also the place where we had a horrible hotel, all got sick and couldn't bring ourselves to eat the yak meat that was the only thing available, so Ryan and I both lost some weight.

Our last stop in China was Chengdu, where we saw the giant pandas!

They are so cute and super lazy eaters.  All they do is lay there and pull bamboo plants down to their mouths to eat.

This guy was our favorite.  I just can't go on, I have to take a nap right here!

And last but not least, we flew to Bangkok Thailand, for the job fair.  Where it was so hot, both Ryan and Q sweat through their clothes within minutes of being outside.  It was quite a departure from our cold days in Japan and China.

We didn't get to do much sight seeing in Bangkok, just one day to the Grand Palace and Emerald Buddha.  The rest of our time was spent in the hotel doing interviews, while this little guy got to hang out in our room in his jammies and play with Sunanta, a Thai nanny that we hired to look after him while we were there.  She took wonderful care of him, which let us relax and focus on the fair.

And we were successful!

We are so thrilled to be joining the staff of The Anglo-American School of Moscow next year.  It's a wonderful school with a great staff and we think it's going to be a perfect fit for our family.  Here's the director Jon hanging out with Q.  The school took us to dinner the night we signed our contracts.  It was nice to talk to some of our fellow new hires, and it looks like the school already has lots of families with small children, and has hired several more.  So lots of new friends for Q to play with!

It's been a great year.  Full of hope, excitement, joy and incredible blessings.  Our baby is turning into a toddler, and we've got a wonderful new adventure on the horizon!