Monthly Archives: August 2015

“Bumpdates” weeks 23-27

Wow! I can’t believe I just finished my second trimester of being pregnant! Now we’re entering the home stretch and I am so excited to meet our little guy!

Week 23:

This week Jedidiah is the size of an eggplant- measuring about 11 inches long and weighing just over a pound. He can feel my movements now and I can certainly feel his! This was the first week I could actually see my stomach moving as he moved inside of me. It is a strange, but cool experience. His little lungs are still developing and are busy preparing to breathe outside of the womb. His hearing is fully developed now, but of course, things might sound a bit muffled since there’s lots of other “stuff” going on in there.




I was reminded this week how important it is to write Jedidiah’s story down and make sure that it is shared. He already has a unique story and purpose in life and we can already see how God’s hand has been at work in making him. Amber White, my pastor’s wife, took some time to share with Trent and I the stories of her two babies and how they had to trust God with both of those pregnancies. It is always good to be reminded of how God brought us through the tough times (I’m thinking back to the stress and confusion of my early pregnancy). I want to remember that my Jedidiah is deeply loved, highly favored, greatly blessed, totally righteous and destined to reign all because of what Jesus did on the cross! He has already been created by and for the creator of the universe. He has a purpose and a future! We were blessed by hearing her story and reminded to be thankful for ours.

Pastor Zak, Amber and their two kiddos

Pastor Zak, Amber and their two kiddos

In other big news this week, we bought a second car! We bought it used, with cash, so that we can save the majority of our money for baby boy. A very worthwhile investment, indeed! Ironically, we bought the same make and model that we sold right before we left for China. Apparently a 2005 Dodge Neon is destined for us even though our other one is being used by a ministry somewhere in Mexico. We also paid off our CRV, so we are officially debt free (except for our house)!!! FREEDOM!

new car

Other highlights of the week included meeting with my Bible Study again. I have been meeting with the same core group of ladies ever since I moved to San Antonio 7 years ago, and we’re still going strong! This core group in many ways reminds me of my house church in China; it is an intimate group of believers with one heart and one mind- to glorify Jesus in all that we do.

Some of my core Bible Study girls

Some of my core Bible Study girls

We also got to go swimming with Trent’s sister Katey (and baby) and our nephew Cohen. It was (and always is) so much fun to watch Trent interact with Cohen. The two of them had so much fun together, which allowed Katey and I to relax! It was awesome.

Trent and I went for a game night to celebrate my dear friend Abby’s birthday. Abby is the reason I moved to San Antonio in the first place and has been a big part of my life ever since. We had a great night celebrating her birthday and having fun, playing games and eating yummy cupcakes!


We went out to dinner one night at the BBQ place right down the road. They catered our wedding and we always enjoy their food. Harmon’s BBQ- if you’re ever in Cibolo, that’s the place to go!


Symptoms this week: Nothing… I feel like I have a lot of energy and I’ve been trying to work out and walk more often. The San Antonio heat sure zaps me though and makes me pretty tired, but only if I’m outside for long periods of time. I’m still craving (and eating) a lot of pancakes (…and pickles… but not together). Preggo brain is in full swing!

week 23

Week 24:
Wow, 6 months pregnant! That’s HALF A YEAR! In some ways it seems like it’s flying by and in others it seems to be going slowly. This week baby boy is the size of an ear of corn. He is about a foot long and weighs just over a pound. He is starting to fill out a bit more and get more “baby fat” on his little body. His brain is continuing to grow as are his taste buds and lungs.




This week we began looking at birthing centers in and around San Antonio. We toured three different ones: San Antonio, Stone Oak, and New Braunfels. All of the centers were very nice and we enjoyed chatting with each of the midwives, but in the end, we decided to go with the New Braunfels Family Birth Center. My friend Abby (the same Abby who had a birthday last week) had her last two babies there, and not only is it the closest to our house, but we felt most comfortable there. They even checked me out while we were visiting, just to give me some peace of mind (We hadn’t been to the doctor in over 6 weeks… since China). They took my blood pressure and all my measurements and made sure that Jedidiah and I were doing well before we left. That extra care goes a long way in a mommy’s mind! I’ll write another post soon about why we chose to go the “Birthing Center” route instead of the typical OB-GYN/Hospital route.

Daddy and I have been reading to Jedidiah every night out of The Toddler’s Bible. We bought it last week at Barnes and Noble and have decided to start reading one story a night to our little guy. What I really like about this Bible is that it is simple and that it is bilingual. So Trent reads the story in English and then I read it to Jedi in Spanish… and then Trent tries to read to him in Spanish too. It is good practice for him. Lol.


Mommy started taking zumba classes this week at DeVoir Fitness just down the road from our house on FM 78. I really enjoy the music and the movement, and now Jedidiah should be able to feel it too. It has been a fun way to make sure I’m getting the exercise I need for a healthy pregnancy.

work out ready

Some highlights of this week were going to the river for Trent’s best friend, Casey’s, birthday. We floated all day long, ate some amazing BBQ, and then headed back to their campground for a dip in the pool. The sunset was beautiful and we got to watch some deer wander along the side of the lake at dusk.


trent in the pool

You can see at least one deer by the lakeside... at one point there were 6 or 7 of them.

You can see at least one deer by the lakeside… at one point there were 6 or 7 of them.

We also got together with my bestie, Traci, and her family for dinner at Genghis Grill. Yum! We had a family dinner at Trent and I’s favorite local restaurant, Garcia’s. We got to see some family that we hadn’t gotten to see since we got back, so that was really nice.


Lowlights of the week: Trent spent this ENTIRE week studying. His new job requires him to pass the Generalist EC-6th grade test for Texas since he will be the teacher of record (he was already certified for Special Ed). Poor guy…8-10 hours a day he was pouring himself into his studies. I’m thankful for his diligence though. He wants to make sure he can have this job and provide for his family. Love him!

Symptoms this week: Preggo brain!!! Hard core. It was SO bad this week, I couldn’t remember anything. I also had no control over my body… there was one night I nearly had a breakdown… after not being able to think clearly or remember anything, I sneezed and peed a little (sad times) and then just minutes later, I was literally drooling… WHAT IS WRONG WITH ME?!!? What is happening to my body!?! The crazy thing is that it will only get worse. I also had my first bloody nose this week. It happened at the river of all places, but I had been reading that many pregnant women have sinus issues and nosebleeds due to rhinitis, the swelling of your nasal cavities while pregnant. It’s just a side effect, but it still came as a surprise!

week 24

Week 25:
Man, my baby boy is growing! He is now 13 and a half inches long and weighs a pound and a half. Jedi is the size of a rutabaga or an acorn squash. He’s growing more hair- even the color is distinguishable now! He’s also fattening up and filling out those skinny little arms and legs.




This was a week of WAITING for us. Trent took his teaching test on Friday and we didn’t know that he PASSED until this Wednesday! It was a long few days of waiting but daddy did good! Now he can officially work at Windcrest Elementary! I’m so proud of him!

We had dinner with my friend Missy and her daughter Baylee, who was our flower girl in our wedding. My, has she changed! This little girl is growing up!




We spent an entire day doing yard work with Trent’s mom- we trimmed our trees, bushes, and cacti, and cleaned out the garden beds so that we can plant again. It was a lot of work and it was exhausting, but the yard looks so much better now! While we were working we came across a HUGE spider and a very large wasp’s nest. Good thing we didn’t end up disturbing either one!


spider context

wasps nest

Symptoms this week: I feel great! Preggo brain hasn’t been as much of an issue and I’ve had a lot of energy.

week 25

Week 26:
We are getting so close to the third trimester! This week Jedidiah is the size of a scallion, about 14 inches long and almost 2 pounds. He’s growing so fast! His sense of hearing has really developed so hopefully he can hear daddy and I talking to him and reading to him at night. We hope so! He’s begun breathing in small amounts of amniotic fluid- again, preparing his lungs to begin breathing outside of the womb. Since he is a boy, his testes have begun their descent… a process which apparently takes 2-3 more months!




Trent officially started work on Thursday- he went in for two days of trainings, signing contracts, and all that other official stuff. We went out to dinner on Thursday night to celebrate his first official day of work. We decided to go to Texas Roadhouse. I had a hankering for their bread (oh, my gosh… so good). Anyways, as we were sitting there, one of the managers came up to us because her son used to go to Trent’s school. He wasn’t one of the kids on Trent’s case-load, but Trent worked a lot with many of the Gen. Ed. kids too. She still remembered him and praised him highly for how much her son liked and trusted him. She was sad to hear that he wouldn’t be going back to Walzem (there weren’t any job openings when we looked), but was happy for him in his new position. I love to brag on my husband because I’ve seen how great he is with the kids, but it is even better to hear other people sing his praises! It made me so proud. On top of all that, she bought our dinner for us! It was such a nice gesture that again, made me love my husband even more.

Friday night, they had a “welcome back” party at his new Vice Principal’s house. It was nice to meet lots of Trent’s new co-workers and I got to see my dear friend Hope, who Trent and I both worked with at Walzem and who is currently the other Vice Principal at his new school. They even had a pinata and a photo booth! It was a fun evening.


The rest of the week he spent at his new school, in and out of trainings and preparing for the first week of school. I spent a lot of time with him getting his room set up and helping in any other way that I could. It was a LOT of work that left both of us exhausted, but I think we are ready!

On Saturday evening, we went to Revolution Church’s “After Party” and gorged ourselves on pizza and popcorn. They had a climbing wall, a petting zoo, and karaoke! We love our church and all the cool things it does for outreach, but the coolest part about the evening was running into one of Trent’s new co-workers. Not just any co-worker, but his mentor, Gabe. It was an answer to a prayer I had been praying that Trent would not only find community in his new school, but that there would be other believers there that he could connect with. Seeing them at our church was super cool and we were excited to hear that he and his family also attend Revolution! We also enjoyed a beautiful sunset that evening!

revolution after party



On Sunday, after church, we took our weekly “bump” pictures, but then also decided to do an impromptu photo shoot. I have tons of pictures of ME and the baby, but we hardly had any of Trent AND I. So we went up the road to a cornfield and tried to self-timer the camera for a few good shots. We were really happy with how the pictures turned out. Unfortunately since the car ended up being our “tripod,” there’s not a whole lot of variety in the angles of the shots we got and the background is the same in all of them. But for us being by ourselves, I think we did alright. We started out serious…


looking up

photo shoot

photo shoot2

…and then, as usual, things turned silly. We had fun- that’s for sure!




photo shoot silly

photo shoot silly2

Other highlights of the week included eating dinner with our friends Sandy and Derek. We hung out, chatted and Sandy and I watched as Trent and Cyler (their 6 year old) played with the dog. I know I’ve said this before, but Trent is going to be such a good daddy. As we were leaving, Cy wrapped his arms around Trent in a big, impromptu hug (he didn’t even say goodbye to me…) and I knew that Trent had totally made his night.

Cy and Bay

Symptoms this week: I’ve been much gassier/bloated than normal. I’ve been tired too, but probably from helping Trent with his classroom. Setting up for the school year is a LOT of work! We’ve been seeing/feeling much bigger movements from Jedidiah. Before we could really just feel his kicks, but now I can tell when he’s shifting inside of me. Sometimes I can feel his head or butt or elbow or heel moving across my belly. It’s pretty cool. I’m also pretty sure baby boy has had the hiccups once or twice (but only for short periods of time).

week 26

Week 27

This week Jedidiah is the size of a cauliflower- weighing 2 pounds and measuring about 14 and a half inches long. He has become active at more regular times- usually right before bed and for a few hours in the evening, and also usually right when I wake up in the morning. He’s also off and on throughout the day.


cauliflower front

cauliflower side

This week was full of excitement! Trent’s sister had a birthday, so we went to celebrate with a dinner at Houlihan’s.


We also took a road trip to Dallas with some of our best friends from China. We met the Mosby’s (Zach and Heather) in Georgetown, just outside of Austin, and then spent Friday night at their place after a delicious Mexican dinner at Chuy’s (I’ll never stop being thankful for Mexican food after living in China).

Heather and I

Trent and Zach

We enjoyed our time together, catching up with these two, who left China several months before we did. They also gave us a present for Jedidiah, full of cute outfits for him to wear!

Jedi gift bag

baby gifts

Early Saturday morning, we woke up, ate some tasty bagels (another luxury we didn’t often get in China) and coffee and then hit the road. Other than a stop at the Czech Store for some kolaches, the trip went by pretty quickly. We arrived at Justin’s parents’ house (where they were staying) around noon and it was SO great to be reunited with these friends! I’m sure you’ve read about Justin, Catherine, and baby Eli in some of our other posts. We spent the weekend talking and catching up, lounging in the pool and eating delicious BBQ. It was so great to be able to be together again and we left feeling like our souls were refreshed!


pool belly shot

the boys

Elijah has already gotten so much bigger and he’s nearly walking (he does this hilarious walk on his knees). He also LOVES the pool and being in the water. Trent and him played for a while and it was precious to watch. Eli loves his “uncle” Trent!

Trent and Eli in the pool



Justin and Cat also got us a gift for Jedi- more adorable (and funny) onesies. We can’t wait until Jedi is here so that he can actually wear them!

more gifts for baby Jedi

Heather had put together awesome gift bags for Justin’s parents (for hosting us) and another one for Eli. Here they are together with the stuffed dog she got him.

Eli's gift

It was really a great weekend!

Monday was a big day for Trent… his first day of school! I should have taken a picture of him (too late now) but I forgot. His first day was bit on the rough side, but lots of kinks have been worked out and the rest of the first week went much smoother.

I had to take our kitty to the vet because something is wrong with his poor ears. That was a bit traumatic, but it worked out in the end. Now we just have to give him medicine in his ears for the next week and a half.

Symptoms this week: Nothing much. I feel a little bit more sluggish than normal, but I’ve been waking up with Trent in the mornings to get his breakfast and lunch ready for school, then I’ve been trying to stay up (not go back to bed) and do my devotions early in the morning and maximize the time I have in my days.

week 27

I’m planning on doing my “bumpdates” more regularly now that I’m hitting the third trimester. I’m aiming for every 2-3 weeks instead of the 4-5 I’ve been doing! Keep posted for more coming soon!

Leave a comment

Posted by on August 28, 2015 in Uncategorized


Tags: , , , , , , ,

Pregnancy and Chinese hospitals: Qingdao

When we first found out that we were pregnant, obviously we were ecstatic! But later, the reality of finding doctors in China set in. What does that look like? How do things work? What the heck do we do? How in the world will we communicate? Thankfully, like I’ve mentioned in previous posts, I had several friends who had already had babies in China, so they had some ideas of how to help me out.

Trent and I didn’t want to take any time off of work to visit the doctor, and for that reason, we chose a smaller clinic that is a branch of the big International Women and Infant’s Hospital in Qingdao. Both clinics are open on Saturdays, but it was anticipated that this one would be far less busy. I’d heard horror stories of people spending all day waiting at the International Clinic (because it is first-come, first-serve- they don’t really do appointments). Time is very valuable to us, especially with the job we were working at QISS… it kept us BUSY!!!

China is also different than the states in that you can go in right away, as soon as you think you might be pregnant; whereas in the States, they usually have you wait until 10 -12 weeks. I had conferred with my bestie, Catherine, who had Elijah here in Qingdao just over a year ago, and she suggested going to the doctor at 6 weeks. That is when you can first detect a heartbeat. Cat, her husband Justin, baby Eli and Catherine’s mom all met us at the clinic so we would know what to do, where to go and also to offer moral support.

That first Saturday morning Trent and I headed for Qingdao Congamarie Women’s Hospital (Marie Yi Yuan).


Most of our

Most of our “Cheering Squad” (all but Justin)

Cat and the gang were already there by the time we got there and she had already filled out most of my information for the nurses. I finished up a few small details, and they walked me up to a counter and I paid 20 yuan for the hospital card ($3). Then they had me do a urine test, which brings me to the topic of cleanliness at hospitals in China. Already you have to use a squatty potty (which makes things difficult, gross and smelly), and they don’t give you gloves or anything else while you’re peeing in this tiny, flimsy plastic cup with a sad excuse for a handle. Then, after you pee, there’s no soap to wash your hands, and you still have to carry the cup all the way back to the desk, hoping not to slosh anywhere. I was NOT impressed by the bathrooms in the hospital. (There’s also no TP… seriously, at a hospital???)

After that, we were taken into another room with what I think was the doctor and a nurse. Neither one of them spoke English, although the nurse had a bit more than the doctor did. We explained that we wanted to have an ultrasound, but not a blood test, since I already knew I was pregnant, and obviously, if for some reason I wasn’t anymore, the ultrasound would also show the same thing. One thing that always seems to happen in China is that they make up rules that don’t really make any logical sense and then they refuse to break them. So they were very confused when I made this request. Essentially the translated conversation (via our iphones) went like this:

Me- “I only want an ultrasound”
Them- “You have to have blood work too”
Me- “But I only want an ultrasound, not the blood work.”
Them- “But you HAVE to do them together.”
Me- “But why? I already know that I’m pregnant. I just want the ultrasound.”
Them- “No, they can ONLY be done together.”
Me- “Why???”
Them- “We can’t do the ultrasound by itself. Take the blood test.”

Eventually I got tired of arguing and decided just to do the dang blood test even though one is clearly not contingent on the other. They had me sit on a stool while the blood technician took a few vials of blood (without using gloves by the way!). But after it was done, I would have to wait for 2 hours for the results. Also, where you gave blood was just a few feet away from where people were bringing their urine samples back… aren’t they worried about cross-contamination???

Then they took me back to the front to pay for my ultrasound. All the while they are just leading us around and we have no clue where they are taking us… nor did we really have any idea what we were paying for. Once we’d paid, they brought me back to a room where they instructed me to take off my pants (at 6 weeks, they do the ultrasound trans-vaginally) and lay down on the bed (this took a bit of miming for me to understand exactly what the heck they wanted me to do). They wouldn’t let Trent come in the room at all, and they wouldn’t let me see the screen. Thankfully, Trent was right outside the (open) door and was able to listen as we heard our baby’s heartbeat for the first time. This made the visit entirely worth it! Now… what to do for an hour and a half while we wait for the blood work?

One of the best parts of going to this hospital was the fact that across the street was Wanda Plaza, a big mall, so we decided to take an early lunch and we ate at this amazing Indian restaurant! It was so good. I have no idea what it is called, but we had all sorts of delicious food! We spent a while there, knowing that we still had time to kill. Eventually we wandered back down the road to the hospital. They gave me my blood results and then brought me back to the doctor and nurse.

The test did indeed show that I was pregnant (duh), but it was the source of much consternation later on. The results showed levels for Estrogen, progesterone, and HcG- the three major hormones in pregnancy. All of them seemed normal, except for my HcG which was abnormally high. Instead of picking on that number, they decided that my progesterone was too low and not only would I have to take medicine, but I would have to come back the following Saturday for ANOTHER blood test. Now I know that in the States blood work is not cheap… not so much in China either. Whereas I only paid 100 Yuan for my ultrasound (like 17 USD), I paid nearly 350 Yuan for the blood (about 60 USD). The entire time we were communicating, it was through Google translate, so that made it even more difficult. Eventually I bought the dang medicine, although I wasn’t certain I was going to take it, at least not before I had done more research.

Finally, after most of our afternoon was spent, our first visit was done. On the way home, I meticulously searched for what normal levels of Progesterone should be for 6 weeks pregnant. Every chart I found said that I was well within the “normal” range. So I decided that I would talk to my Ob GYN back home and ask his opinion. You can read all about my decision and the weeks that followed in the post {Pregnancy} Walking by Faith. Anyways, after doing some natural things to try and boost my progesterone, I went back the following weekend.

Trent and I did another round of blood work with basically the same results. My estrogen and HcG had both doubled (now my HcG levels were WAY off the charts) but my progesterone stayed the same. This time I had no “cheering squad” with me, just Trent. So when the ladies asked if I had been taking the medication, and I told them no, they scolded me in all sorts of Chinese. They told me to take the medicine this time and come back AGAIN the following week to compare levels. Now it should also be noted that each time I went to the hospital it was around noon, and progesterone can fluctuate during the day, so who knows how accurate the results were anyways.

After all was said and done, Trent and I decided not to go back until 10 weeks, at which point we would request another ultrasound (NO MORE BLOOD!).

The next time we went back it was just the two of us. We accidentally forgot the book that they usually give you for your medical records (they literally glue things in the book and write notes in it… but all in Chinese). By the time we realized it, we didn’t have time to turn back around to go get it. In China, when you have to take taxis everywhere, there is no “going back.” The hospital is already across town and it takes us nearly 40 minutes to get there. Going back would have entailed us trying to explain to the taxi driver that our destination had changed and we needed to go back to our apartment, after which we would have had to walk the quarter mile back down to the main street to try to flag another cab, just to begin the entire trip over again. It would have added an hour or two easily to our day. Anyways, when we walked in, they wanted to know where my book was. I had already prepared my translations in the cab so that when I went there, I flashed them the screen shots I had taken of “I left my book at home, sorry.” And “I am 10 weeks pregnant; I’d like to have an ultrasound.” I also flashed “I don’t want any blood work” just in the hopes that maybe this time they wouldn’t press for it so much.

They brought me in a different room this time with two different doctors and nurses. I think it was by God’s grace that we forgot the book- they simply started a new one and didn’t even argue about the blood work- maybe since I was already 10 weeks along, it didn’t matter so much. They led me around again, bringing me to pay first, then to get my official fapiao (receipt) and then finally to the exam room. Again, Trent wasn’t allowed in, but this time they just did the ultrasound on my stomach. I still didn’t get to see anything, but the picture looked like a baby (a very little one, but a baby nonetheless), and they didn’t seem to find anything else wrong. We brought the print out back to the doctor and nurses and they looked at it and told us everything was hěn hǎo and that there was only yiguo (one) baby (we wondered if we might have twins since my HcG was so high). That was the only Chinese we understood anyways.

After the ultrasound, we went back to Wanda Plaza for some more yummy Indian food- we were not disappointed! Then we wandered around the mall a bit. We ran into Baymax (Big Hero 6) while we were there and of course, Trent had to give him a fist bump (blu-ba-luba-luba-lu).


Our overall impressions of this hospital:

Less expensive
It was super hard to communicate
Not very clean
Not foreigner friendly (unless you speak fluent Chinese)
Friendly staff
A bit frustrating, not knowing what we were paying for or even what tests they wanted to run
It was more traditional and followed Chinese laws more closely. It was disappointing that they wouldn’t let Trent in the room during the ultrasounds and that they wouldn’t let me see what was going on either.

The next time we went to the hospital should have been at 14 weeks, but we decided to hold off until 15 ½ weeks, in the hopes that we might be able to find out the sex of our baby. The odds of us finding out the sex of our baby at Congamarie hospital were not very good, but some friends had found out the sex of their babies at the Qingdao Women and Infant’s Hospital. Apparently they still won’t tell Chinese women (or men) the sex of their babies (because it is against the law), but are more lax with foreigners. So we opted for a switch this time around.


We went again on a Saturday, this time even further across town (all the way by the pier), and thankfully were greeted by an English speaking nurse, who helped me get set up with a new hospital card (thankfully they are cheap!) and listened as I told her that we were hoping for an ultrasound and if possible, to find out the sex of our baby. She took my blood pressure and weight and then brought me back to the doctor. Thankfully the English speaking doctor was there that day (I guess she’s not always there). They asked us a bunch of questions about ourselves and whether we wanted a boy or a girl… I think they were trying to feel us out. After it became clear to them that we really didn’t care either way, we just were excited to know, they told us that they would “try” to see the baby’s sex. I had to do blood work again… but this time it was for a different test… who knows what for. I tried to tell them that I had already done blood work, but they said that this time they were looking for different things.

They took me behind a curtain, and let Trent come along, to hear the baby’s heartbeat using the fetal heartbeat monitor. Then they brought me, much like the other hospital, here and there and everywhere to pay and get the fapiao and then to have the ultrasound done. We paid a LOT more at this clinic (like over 1000 Yuan), but this clinic had a much nicer facility. When it was my turn, they let Trent in the room, although there was a curtain separating us. At the foot of the bed, hung on the wall, was a big screen TV where both of us could clearly see what they were doing on the ultrasound. It was the first time we’d seen our baby move around! It was pretty overwhelming seeing our baby, really, for the first time. After the technician was finished, she informed us that she couldn’t tell if it was a boy or a girl, that it was still too early and the genitalia wasn’t obvious yet. We knew that this was a possibility, since usually the earliest it can be detected is 16 weeks. But our baby shower was that Wednesday so we were hoping to possibly do a “Gender Reveal” at the same time, but alas, it wasn’t meant to be. The doctor told me to come back at 20 weeks, but after we explained that we wouldn’t be in China anymore (which even with English speaking doctors was hard to get across), she said that we could come back at 18 weeks, right before we left Qingdao. She told me that I would have to do ANOTHER blood test the next time (for something different again) and that I wouldn’t be able to eat or drink before my next appointment.

We left with a much better impression of this hospital. It still wasn’t the cleanest- they still took my blood without using gloves (don’t they know that it protects THEM?!?), and the bathrooms still didn’t have any soap or TP… (c’mon… soap?), but overall, we felt better about our experience there… at least we could communicate and knew what was going on!

I actually ended up going to the hospital again at 17 weeks, by myself, because I had a round of diarrhea that lasted nearly a week. I was afraid it was a bacterial infection, so I thought I had better get it checked out. You can read all about that embarrassing experience in my ‘“Bumpdates:” weeks 14-18’ blog post.

Our last visit while we were in China came at 18.5 weeks, 3 days before we left China for good. We returned to the same hospital, this time early in the morning. Even though we only arrived a few minutes after they had opened, they were already busy and we had to wait much longer than the last time. I was starving and super thirsty and I couldn’t wait for them to take my blood so that I could eat or drink something! Thankfully I only had to wait about 20 minutes or so before they got the blood work going. This time they were checking for nutrient deficiencies, I think. Anyways, they drew the blood (again, without gloves) and then brought me to the waiting area for the ultrasounds. My nurse (a different one than the last time) whispered to the technician about us wanting to know the sex of the baby and then we waited our turn. When it finally came, Trent and I again got to watch the entire ultrasound on the big screen (and Trent video recorded it on his phone). This is when we found out that we were having a BOY!!! We were so happy by the time we left, we were on cloud nine.

We left for breakfast (this hospital doesn’t have any good Indian food… just a Burger King down the road). But we realized that we had forgotten one important thing: Chinese airlines require an official, stamped document that permits you to fly when you’re pregnant. It seems kind of ridiculous, but it was necessary, so we had to go back. When we left the mall we were in, we walked out into the Chinese version of “Drum Line” except with a much older crowd. You can always find random things like this in China… people dancing to choreographed songs along the road or outside of businesses, Chinese dragons and masked actors on the street, or a Chinese drum line. Thankfully when we got back to the hospital, the nurse had our document prepared in just over an hour and then we were ready to go!


Overall impressions of this hospital:

More expensive
Much more foreigner friendly
Still dirty in the most basic ways (no soap, gloves, etc.)
I had to poop in the tiniest, flimsiest cup ever and then carry it through the “walk of shame” down a floor and all the way back to the counter (which again, was right by where they draw blood…)
English speaking nurses (Hallelujah!)
Overall, a much more comfortable experience

Leave a comment

Posted by on August 26, 2015 in Uncategorized


Tags: , , ,

Snow and Ice and Everything Nice

After spending our morning at Siberian Tiger Park (read the post Lions, and Tigers and… Ligers?), we ate a late lunch and then prepared ourselves to head back out into the cold for what we considered the “main event.” The famous snow and ice festival that happens in Harbin, China each year was the only real draw to this God forsaken-ly cold land. The festival began in 1963 and took a brief hiatus during the Cultural Revolution before starting back up again in the year I was born, 1985. It is now the largest snow and ice festival in the world. Harbin, after all, has been nicknamed “The Ice City” due to its geographical location- sitting even further north than some parts of the Russian border.

The four of us (Joyce, Matt, Trent and I) bundled back up (imagine Randy from A Christmas Story… “I can’t put my arms down!”) before heading back out into the cold. Joyce, with her amazing Chinese, snagged a taxi driver to take us to the festival and in fact, charmed him so much, that he told her that he would be waiting for us (in the blistering cold) outside the festival when we were ready to leave. We waited in a long line of cars before he took a little detour and dropped us off at the front.

We went into a tent to buy our tickets which cost 300 yuan a person (around 45-50 USD). We could have left earlier in the day to get discounted prices, but “Snow and Ice World” is really only worth visiting at night, as that is when everything is lit up.


After we bought our tickets, we emerged into another world made only of ice and snow. It was magical. All of the displays were lit up in beautiful, bright lights. There were castles and pagodas and towers all made of ice blocks with colored lights. We were surrounded by ice sculptures making up all sorts of imaginative things. It was breathtaking (well, that and the fact that it was -17 degrees Fahrenheit outside).







The four of us wandered around, slipping and sliding along the icy paths, and taking in the sights around us. We went in and out of igloos, we sat on top of sculpted horses, we stuck our faces into ice-Eskimo cut-outs. Trent had to walk like a robot to keep from falling and at times, we would take turns pulling him along.




There were kaleidoscopes you could look through that reflected all the brilliant colors, and there was a large chandelier and a series of mirrors that did the same. There were colors everywhere you looked!





We went down ice slides, Trent and I went together, laughing as people wiped-out at the bottom. Some people even tried “surfing” down the slides… not us! Only later, as we continued to make our way around the park, did we realize that those were just wimpy little slides. The BIG slides were made out of snow and you got to tube down them. Initially we thought this looked like a good idea… but after inching along in a never-ending line of people, huddled closely together for warmth, we decided it wasn’t worth the 40 minute to an hour-long wait (Plus, I’m from Minnesota… which might as well be Russia; I’ve gone sledding a time or two). Instead, we made the brilliant choice to go inside to try to warm up our frozen fingers and toes and to indulge in some hot cocoa and popcorn. The building was packed (no surprise there) with others trying to do the same. We were so thankful that Joyce brought hand and foot warmers that we had been keeping in our mittens and our boots; I can’t imagine we would have lasted very long without them!


After we sat for a little while, we headed out to finish making our loop around the park. It really is huge! There were many other snow and ice sculptures as we went differing greatly in size and style. Unfortunately, the sculptures that had been entered into the contest were partitioned off and we couldn’t got inside for a closer look. Bummer!









I’m still not even sure that we saw everything! Even with our little break in the warmth, we were freezing. We spent another hour or so walking around looking at everything before deciding to head home. One of our last stops took us to the edge of the park and as we went up the stairs, it gave us a great view of the festival!



Then we headed out. It took a bit of back-and-forth between us and the cab driver before we found each other again, but we were successful (only thanks to Joyce’s Chinese-speaking abilities).

The one thing left on our bucket list for the evening was finding a Harbin beer to enjoy together. We could have had one at the festival, but, as they often do, they jacked up the prices so high! In hindsight, maybe it would have been worth it anyways as we struck out that evening. It was too late and there wasn’t much open around our hotel. We did stumble upon a cool Russian souvenir shop but eventually we called it quits and turned in for the night. What a cool day!





Leave a comment

Posted by on August 19, 2015 in Uncategorized


Tags: , , , , , ,

Lions, and Tigers, and… Ligers? Harbin, China

For those of you who think you’re having blog post Deja Vu, this is actually a NEW post.  You can read about our experience in Chiang Mai, touching and petting tigers at Tiger Kingdom (read the post Lion, and Tigers and Elephants in Chiang Mai! Part 1).  With all these tiger posts, you might think we are crazy (we are) or somehow obsessed with Tigers (just curious, really).

Trent and I had been reading about Harbin, China and the famous snow and ice festival that is held there each year (currently, the largest in the world). We wanted to go during our first year in China, but the only time we were able to go was over Chinese New Year and the plane prices were exorbitant!  We simply couldn’t afford it (especially since we knew we could get tickets for 200 dollars or less during any “normal” time). So this past year we were very intentional about making sure that we made it there! We chose a weekend in January and booked our tickets. We were doing this!

After talking about our upcoming trip to some friends, they decided to join us. So Joyce, Matt, Trent and I all headed to Harbin, China, early Saturday morning. Harbin is located in the Northeast corner of China, even more north than parts of the Russian border.  By the time we arrived at our hotel it was nearly 1:00pm. Our first destination was Siberian Tiger Park. Trent and I had arrived on an earlier flight than Joyce and Matt so we went ahead and checked into the hotel for all of us and then hit up a nearby Starbucks before heading out to the park to meet them.



From what we had read about the park, we knew it was the home to over 500 Siberian tigers and covered over 1,440,000 square meters. It was created to be a sort of conservatory, designed to protect this endangered species of tiger. There are 10 different areas for the tigers, each harboring different ages and sometimes genders of tigers.




We arrived a bit earlier than Joyce and Matt, so we walked around a bit, taking a few fun photos while we were waiting.





When the other two arrived, we purchased our tickets (100 kuai each), then wandered around the gift shop for a bit, stopping to admire the ridiculous outfits we often see in China! (sorry about the picture quality, we’re not quite as bold as the Chinese when we take photos of others, so it’s a bit blurry)



Then we boarded a caged bus. In each of the enclosures, the tigers roam free. WE, instead of the tigers, are the ones who remain behind protective bars. The bus was freezing (as was the outside) and the windows kept fogging up, making it difficult to see outside. I slid my window open just enough so that I could get my camera lens outside. Another problem we continued running into was the fact that it was so cold outside that it was zapping the battery power on our phones and cameras. When I wasn’t snapping photos, I had to keep both my phone and my camera close to my skin so that my body heat would somewhat preserve the battery life. Awesome, right?


As we drove around to the different enclosures, we watched these massively huge, beautiful tigers roaming around and relaxing in the snow. It is amazing to watch them- they are such beautiful creatures! We were a bit disappointed in the sizes of the enclosures. Although they are “big,” they still had cages inside and didn’t seem to capture much of their natural habitat (except for the snow, of course). We snapped tons of photos, and at one point, a tiger jumped at the bus! I was thankful that we had bars on the windows then!







One of the saddest parts of our visit to Siberian Tiger Park was watching them “feed” the tigers. When we bought our tickets, we also had the opportunity to buy any number of animals, ranging from ducks to cows, to “feed” the tigers. The Chinese make quite a sport about watching the tigers tear apart their helpless prey. I know that tigers are natural predators in the wild, but something about the way that these animals had no escape from imminent death was so sad. When we were there, someone had bought a chicken or duck (some sort of bird) to feed to the tigers. We watched as the tiger pounced on his prey and then started plucking its poor feathers before he even killed it. He played with it/tortured it some more before finally putting it out of its misery and eating it.




After we had finished driving through each of the enclosures, we had a chance to walk around on a “viewing platform” and see other tigers, lions, and other big cats. We even saw a “Liger” (they DO exist!). Ligers are a cross-breed between a male lion and a female tiger, but they can never reproduce… and here all of us who saw “Napoleon Dynamite” thought a liger was made-up. Ha! As we were walking around taking photos, a jaguar jumped right at me and scared the you-know-what outta me! He bounced off the fence of course, but he was HUGE and coming RIGHT AT ME! Yikes! Then the same thing happened with a tiger! At least that one I caught on camera!


The "Liger" in his cage

The “Liger” in his cage

Another photo of the "Liger"

Another photo of the “Liger”


The jaguar who had moments prior jumped all the way up, bouncing right off the cage in front of me!

The jaguar who had moments prior jumped all the way up, bouncing right off the cage in front of me!

The tiger who did the same

The tiger who did the same

A Lion

A Lion

The cold was so intense that we couldn’t handle any more time there! We were FREEZING!!! We headed back to our hotel for some food (and to charge all of our cold-drained devices) before our next adventure… the main event- the Snow and Ice Festival! Read about that in my next post!

Leave a comment

Posted by on August 17, 2015 in Uncategorized


Sister, Sister!

I love being pregnant! (That might sound crazy to some, but I think it is awesome.) But what makes it even better is that I get the chance to be pregnant with two of my closest friends and sisters. That’s right, you heard me! Both sides of the family (the Logsdons and the Settles) are going to get grandbabies!

I found out that Trent’s sister Katey was pregnant shortly after we found out that we were pregnant. She is only 2 weeks behind me gestationally, so it’s been fun to walk through this journey together. It was crazy to compare our pregnancies and the treatment we were getting since by week 10 she already knew that she would be having a girl and she’d already seen her on the ultrasound. In contrast, for us, even though we’d already had two ultrasounds, we hadn’t been permitted to watch either one. It was week 15 when we first got to see our baby on the sonogram (as it was being done) and week 18 before we learned that our little baby is a boy. Now that we’re back in Texas, we’ve been able to do lots more together. We looked at some birthing centers together, since we both want to go that route instead of a hospital birth. We’re going to try to start walking together regularly too, to get us some “sista” time and some consistent exercise.

Katey and I

Right after mother’s day, we found out that MY sister, Christie, is also pregnant! (She found out ON mother’s day, but it was already a day later in China) I’ve been trying to keep my mouth shut about it and not post any pictures until she shared her own special news, but now that it’s out there, I want to say it too- I’m so excited!!! It was really fun to be together in Minnesota, and even though she was just barely starting to show, we were able to get some sister bump pictures in! We won’t know what her little bundle of joy will be for a few more weeks yet. Super exciting though!

Christie and I

Christie and I at Grandma;s

Uncle Derek

Uncle Derek

Due dates:
Angie- November 19
Katey- December 4
Christie- January 16

So within a few months of each other, we will have three new babies in our families. 

1 Comment

Posted by on August 5, 2015 in Uncategorized



This Sunday, back at my church in Texas (Revolution Church), we sang a song that has always moved me, but the timing of this particular song was significant.

When we first moved to China just over two years ago, I knew that things weren’t always going to be easy, but I wasn’t entirely prepared for just how difficult things were going to be for us. As we felt isolated, discouraged, and completely overwhelmed, this song carried me through in many ways. We’d sing this song at our fellowship, both during the service and afterwards, with Stan and Zach playing guitar and our voices singing out from the heart. This song was an anchor for my soul.

The guys playing at fellowship

The guys playing at fellowship

Fast forward to this past Sunday in church. Even though we’ve been back in the States for over a month now, it still feels somewhat strange. We fell back into our routines so easily and seamlessly that it almost seems like we were never really in China… like somehow the last two years of our lives were a dream. And I was feeling kind of guilty about that. China was so life-changing in many ways and, even though it was hard, I would do it all over again if we had to. We were stretched, changed, and grown in ways that maybe wouldn’t have ever happened if we had stayed here in Cibolo, in our own little comfort zones, in the practiced routines of daily life.

As the song played, I let my tears flow. I was struck so powerfully by God’s faithfulness. I was struck by how much he’s blessed us and how lucky we were to have been in China, surrounded by people who loved us, helped us, and came to be our “family.” In that moment, my heart ached for them. But I felt God wrap his arms around me as I sang with the depths of my heart…

“Spirit, lead me where my trust is without borders, let me walk upon the waters, wherever you would lead me… Take me deeper than my heart could ever wander, that my faith would be made stronger, in the presence of my Savior…”

I was brought back to my classroom that first year, sitting at my desk in the dark (well past dinner time) night after night, listening to this song on repeat. At that time I wondered why God had brought us to China and why, if we were following his will for our lives, things had to be so hard for us. But as I reflect back now, I see that he never left me or forsook me, but that he was faithfully by me all along. That he used those difficult times to teach and mold me, to shape and to guide me. And those things won’t be forgotten. China made me stronger.

Here are the lyrics and what they mean to me.

Oceans (by Hillsong United)

You call me out upon the waters (for us, this was our decision to move to China)
The great unknown (China) where feet may fail (we couldn’t stand or do anything on our own)
And there I find You in the mystery (in this unfamiliar place, we relied more on Christ)
In oceans deep (The depths of the ocean are dark and scary and often times uncharted)
My faith will stand

And I will call upon Your name
And keep my eyes above the waves
(I will keep my focus on Jesus)
When oceans rise
My soul will rest in Your embrace
(He will give me his peace and sustain me)
For I am Yours and You are mine

Your grace abounds in deepest waters (in the hardest of places and times, we see his grace more powerfully)
Your sovereign hand
Will be my guide
(He had a purpose for us in China)
Where feet may fail and fear surrounds me (What the heck is this place?!?!?! Why can’t we DO anything ourselves?!?)
You’ve never failed and You won’t start now (God is always faithful)

So I will call upon Your name
And keep my eyes above the waves
When oceans rise
My soul will rest in Your embrace
For I am Yours and You are mine

Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders (It shouldn’t matter whether we’re in China, in Texas or wherever else he might call us)
Let me walk upon the waters
Wherever You would call me
(since this is where you called us, help us to stay focused)
Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander (You had more for me in China than if I would have stayed in Texas)
And my faith will be made stronger (and it was)
In the presence of my Savior

I will call upon Your Name
Keep my eyes above the waves
My soul will rest in Your embrace
I am Yours and You are mine

You can listen to the song here:

The parts of the song about being called out “upon the waters” has to do with a Bible story about Jesus calling Peter (one of his disciples) out of his boat and on to the water (Matthew 14:22-36). Peter stepped out of the boat in faith simply at Jesus’ command, “come,” and walked on the water until he took his eyes off of Jesus, at which point he began to sink. This song reminds me to step out in faith but to keep my eyes on Jesus.

There is another place in scripture where Jesus calms a storm (Matthew 8:23-27). It says, “Without warning, a furious storm came up on the lake, so that the waves swept over the boat. But Jesus was sleeping.” In China, at the beginning, it certainly felt like our “boat” was about to be capsized. There were tremendous, seemingly insurmountable waves- not being able to communicate, not having internet, changes with school, working ridiculous hours, not being able to get where we wanted to go, not being connected with familiar people, technology issues, feeling overwhelmed with work, the list of “waves” go on and on. And at times, it felt like Jesus was sleeping through it all. I resounded with the disciples when they came to him, saying, “Lord, save us! We’re going to drown!” That’s how we felt… like we were drowning, like we were alone in our storm. But Jesus responded, “You of little faith, why are you so afraid?” Then he got up and rebuked the winds and the waves and it was completely calm. God brought us out of our own storm and eventually calmed the waters. Qingdao transformed from a scary, unfamiliar, harsh place to a place where we found tremendous blessing. Now we look back on that place and those people with joy in our hearts for all that God allowed us to experience and for all the people he allowed us to meet.

Leave a comment

Posted by on August 5, 2015 in Uncategorized


A “Date” day with my parents

Shortly after arriving in Minnesota, and about half-way through the jet-lag, my parents asked if we would be free for a “date” day the first Tuesday we were home. It was about a week after we arrived (we got in on a Wednesday) and our days were pretty free, since most of our friends and family worked during the days.

We began our day at one of my favorite restaurant “Baker’s Square.” Now my mother (shaking my head) likes to make up words like “teefers” (teeth) or “pancakies” (pancakes). So when she ordered her breakfast, she asked the waitress for “hash brownies” (hash browns), never stopping to think what she was actually saying. We’re used to my mom doing this so it didn’t even occur to us what she had just asked for until the waitress quite obviously stared at her in confusion and tried to explain that they only sell “regular” brownies here. That was a fun one to explain! Then the poor waitress moved on to my dad’s order and asked him how he wanted something cooked. I couldn’t resist a “half-baked” joke after that. We all laughed a lot and I’m sure the waitress thought we were absolutely insane, but it was a pleasant, light-hearted start to our day.

After a delicious breakfast, we headed to Fort Snelling, a historic site right at the meeting of the Mississippi and Minnesota Rivers. My dad has been a Civil War reenactor for many years so as a kid, we were frequently there, but Trent had never been there, so I thought it might be a cool place to visit. We arrived and wandered through the gift shop, playing around with some of the items as we went.

Fort snelling sign





Then we headed down past the fort to the river and to a little island. While we were crossing the bridge, I noticed a big splash! I looked and at first, I thought it was a fish, but after looking a little bit harder, I realized it was a beaver! We watched him swim back and forth across the river and wander up onto the shore before splashing right back in and swimming some more. It was quite entertaining!

Beaver beaver 2

The mosquitos were bad (they jokingly *or not so much* are known as the Minnesota state bird) so we didn’t stay too long before wandering back up to the fort. Trent and I decided to buy tickets to go inside while my parents, both having seen it many times, were content to wait for us outside.
Trent and I went in and watched the reenactors fire off several rounds and follow commands I remember my dad using when I was a kid… “forward march!” “Shoulder, arms!” “About Face!”  And we watched them clean and re-load their muskets just like my dad used to do in our back yard.  I took lots of cool pictures of this part… only to later realize that NONE of them had recorded because my stupid camera is broken and won’t hold the SD card in (it keeps popping out).  Apparently it wasn’t clicked in far enough, so all those cool shots were for naught.  😦  After the demonstration, we walked around the grounds, exploring the different displays and taking in the different presentations (how they did laundry, what going to the doctor would have been like, etc.).  We really enjoyed the time there and it went by faster than we realized!  We finished by watching them shoot off the cannon and then headed back outside to meet my parents.

me with the soldiers Trent with the drummer boyDSC00889 IMG_8196 IMG_8197 IMG_8198 IMG_8204

Our next stop… Lake Harriet.  Minnesota is obviously known for its lakes… our licence plates alone boast at least 10,000 of them (even though there are actually far more than that).  The Twin Cities have some great lakes that are fantastic for walking/running/biking/rollerblading/any type of physical activity.  We decided simply to walk.  Not too long into our walk, we all had a “hankering” for a snack.  It had been several hours since we’d eaten breakfast, so we decided on ice cream!!!  We all got mint-chip (not something I ever got in China) and walked while we enjoyed our treats.

double ice cream

Right off of Lake Harriet there are some beautiful rose gardens.  We walked through them and enjoyed looking at all of the different kinds of flowers! There is also another “Rock Garden” across the street that we enjoyed walking through.  It has a nice man-made waterfall and is very serene and peaceful.gardens

At the end of our walk, we were all hungry again, but this time for some real food!  We decided to go to TGI Fridays for dinner.  We all had delicious meals and finished with my personal favorite- the brownie obsession!  SO GOOD.

Fridays with mom and dad

After that, we swung by my sister’s house so that I could change into some pants before heading to my siblings’ softball game (whatever defenses we can take against mosquitoes, we do).  Now when I say “my siblings'” softball game… I really mean that this is basically a family affair.  This was only a men’s league, so technically my brother is the only “official” sibling on the team, but my brother-in-law is also on the team, as is my sister’s boyfriend, as is my brother’s “boyfriend” (my adopted brother) and my brother-in-law’s brother.  Lots of brothers.  My sisters were both there- Christie is the official score-keeper and Jackie is the cheering section.  It was a great night for softball and Steve (my “brother”) hit two home runs.  Pretty exciting stuff.


After all of that, we can say that we were pretty exhausted!  But it was a great day!  Thanks mom and dad!

Leave a comment

Posted by on August 3, 2015 in Uncategorized