Springtime in Shenzhen

It’s been a little over a month since Andie and Ben were here, and although not much is happening, there were a few things to write about in recent weeks. March is always busy, but this year seems way busier than usual. Maybe I say that every year?

The rest of spring break was generally uneventful, we lounged around most of the time. We did rally to brew what turned out to be our last homebrew in China. (We sold our equipment this month.) It was a Wakatu hopped beer that we made for a SZ Homebrewer challenge, which turned out high in alcohol, but I’m not a fan of the flavor. We ended up giving away about a keg and a half when we sold our stuff. It was a long brew because it was cold and we never could get a really good boil. It feels funny not to have our brew stuff, especially our own taps with our own beer in our place. I know our hiatus is temporary, but I’m not sure when we’ll brew again, and that makes me a little sad. Hopefully, we’ll get set up in Italy and be ready to start brewing by the end of the summer, or at least by September or October. Donnie is already shopping for our next set up. 😉

Goodbye, nanobrewery…

The last days of CNY break were fun. We did a staycation at our local Shekou Hilton and they treated us really well (like they always do), with a suite and a really nice lounge set up. We all felt super pampered and rested. After we checked out, we headed over to the Sunday Sesh hosted by our friends at Bionic in Sihai park. It was a little chilly, but it was a perfect way to end the break. Paul and I played soccer and we even threw a football around for a little bit. We didn’t want the break to end, but it was good to get back to routine.

The following weeks are a blur, but it was filled with family time. We’ve gone for dinners and massages (taking a break now because we’re sore from massages). We’ve cleaned our bicycles to ride , baked some delicious snacks from scratch and had some cool family trips to the bay (I run and the boys play with Paul’s drone). Overall, spring has treated us really well.

Now March is in full swing, and it’s as though time has sped up and slowed down at the same time. Donnie has been fighting sickness pretty much since we’ve been back from Texas, but he rallied and we planned a fun party for my birthday this year. We could never top the fun of the birthday bus from last year, but we opted for a tex-mex bbq Sunday afternoon party. We spent most of the day Saturday before prepping for the party, shopping, cleaning and doing food prep. My actual birthday was filled with so many fun activities. It was a gorgeous day, so I had a nice run on the bay, then made Tres Leches cake to have for my party, then rushed off to play soccer for an hour, then back to prep and have a party. It was busy, but fun.

So many people showed up at our place, but it was fun to see all the crowds mixing. We had salsa, guac, queso, chips, chicken fajitas, and margaritas! All of which were made by Donnie or me, fresh tex-mex is the best. Everybody sang and we ate the delicious cake I made, and the party wound down around 7pm. It was a really good time, a lot of work and mess, but super fun. Donnie and I were reminded of the pool parties we used to host at our place in Texas. It’s a lot harder (and more expensive) here in China, but just as wonderful. I don’t have many pictures from the event, I left my phone in my room on purpose to be present with the people there. But I do wish I had a couple of group shots since it’ll be my last birthday in China. The next day my birthday celebration continued when a package from my sister arrived! Hurray! It was filled will all the things I could’ve wanted: cookbooks, coffee and lotions.

I only had a couple of days to recover (and do parent conferences) before I departed on a student trip to Northern Guangdong province. We left early Thursday morning, and took an epic 5 hour drive up to the area of Shaoguan. The trip was for Habitat for Humanity, which I have always wanted to work with, and I was especially keen to visit rural China since I’ve only ever experienced urban China. We arrived in the early afternoon, and were served some local cuisine (of which I ate very little, mostly rice and veg) and then we went to work on a site nearby.

Over the next couple of days, we hauled sand for a foundation of a house, and painted an entire house for another family. It was hard work, and I think the kids felt good about doing something productive for a family in need. The painting was not fun at all though. We were served meals by the family we worked for; and it was very fresh, including killing a chicken to serve for lunch that day. I don’t think I’ve ever eaten so much Chinese food all at once, for every meal. It’s delicious, but can be exhausting picking out just the foods I want to eat and trying not to offend anyone. Overall, the experience was what I was looking for. It showed me what life is like in rural China, in a very real and touching way. It’s beautiful and not easy, and I’m glad I got to be on this trip.

I was, however, anxious to get home though. Not only did I miss my guys, the day I was traveling home was Donnie and I’s 11th anniversary. I got home around 4:30pm and they had set up a beautiful picnic on the patio for me. We hung out as a family and watched a movie before calling it an early night (I was exhausted). I enjoyed my one day off on Sunday, and now here we are again, midweek of yet another busy week!

This week has brought an unexpected bout of very fine weather. It’s cool and clear and dry, and we’ve been making the most of it with our patio. I gotta say, I am really going to miss these days, but my favorite parts of them-Donnie and Paul will be with me wherever I go, and I know we’ll have many beautiful days in our new home.

In just 10 short days it’s spring break! We have bought train tickets to go to Amy’s hometown with her and her fiancé for a few days, but other than that we don’t have anything planned. I’m really looking forward to seeing where she grew up and to meet her family. I also have a soccer tournament coming up with some of the women I’ve played with for the past few years. I hope I don’t get hurt!

March will be drawing to a close soon, and as my favorite month ends, I am looking forward to all that is to come.

Much love to all, J

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