I have a very good reason for the lack of recipe posts lately: Brett’s family came to visit!
For the past 10 days, all 7 of Brett’s immediate family has been with us in China, visiting and celebrating Christmas and New Years together. Brett and I can’t express how loved we felt to have so many people make the tiring trek across the world to spend time with us! And can I just say they did amazing with the extreme jet lag, change in culture and cuisine!
First I’ll introduce everyone to you. If you look at the picture above you’ll see Brett and then me on the left hand side. The continuing on the top row from left to right you have Brett’s Dad, sister Megan, Mom and brother-in-law Dave. In the second row are Megan and Dave’s three kids: Daniel (left) and Nathan (right) are two 5 year old identical twins and Maggie in the middle is 7.
I wanted to share with you all a little bit about our time together since it was so special to me. Prepare yourselves for lots of pictures!
Our time together was a lot more restful for me than I thought it would be. Usually when we do vacations with Brett’s family, most of our day is planned and we want to see everything there is to see around us. This time, I think because China is enough of an adventure in itself, we had a lot more down time. Brett’s family actually stayed in an International Hotel across the street from us so we all had lots of space to unpack to relax when we weren’t together. It usually wasn’t until 9 AM that we would all gather for breakfast at our house. This allowed us all (well maybe not Megan and Dave with the kids) to have 8+ hours of sleep. It also allowed Brett and I to get in our Chinese review before the family arrived. It was so nice!
For breakfast I usually ate my usual oatmeal or avocado on my Homemade Whole Wheat Sandwich Bread. For the family I had also prepared my Family Size Basic Vegan Granola, Deliciously Ella’s Superseed Bread (which was a hit), Vegan Toasted Coconut Chocolate Chunk Muffins and Vegan Banana Nut Muffins, and the kid’s favorite: 5 Ingredient Adaptable Granola Bars, which made with mini-chocolate chips and rolled into ball. They practically lived off those peanut butter protein balls and ate them instead of Chinese food for many lunches and dinners!
For snacks everyone loved my Homemade Whole Wheat Sesame Crackers with my favorite Oil-Free Hummus and my Homemade Dehydrated Apple Chips. Other than breakfast and some dinners, most of their meals were eaten out so they could experience some of the amazing Chinese cuisine that Brett and I have grown to love! Things like Bao Zi (steamed buns), Fish Flavored Eggplant and Knife Shaved Noodles quickly became everyone’s favorites. We were thankfully even able to find some Stinky Tofu (coated in chili and bean powder I might add) for my Father-in-Law the day before they left!
As you can imagine, having a huge crowd of foreigners parading around town was quite the sight for the locals. Everyone was especially drawn to Nathan and Daniel since they are identical twins and Maggie since she has blond hair! The kids did so well though and smiled for probably hundreds of pictures with strangers.
For about 6 of the 10 days the family was in town, we were in our smaller city. One morning we went and watched all the older people doing their Tai Chi and dancing for exercise. We played at the parks a lot. We took them to see the open markets, cut off pig’s heads and all. We went and walked around the wetlands park a couple times. We hiked up a mountain to see temples and monkeys. We basically did life together and it was so fun to see Brett’s family interact with the culture and locals so well.
Below are some pictures of the locals we interacted with and made friends with. The family did really well picking up on some Chinese words and using them to make conversations. Words like Mom, Dad, twins, hello, pretty, how cute, etc. Brett and I really were impressed by their willingness to jump in to a culture so foreign to our own.
The last 3 days of our time together was spent in a larger city. Thanks to Brett’s incredibly generous parents we were all able to stay in some amazing hotels. The kids got to swim. Brett and I got to work out. We slept and ate really well too as this bigger city has more western options. The highlight of our time in the larger city was visiting the Giant Pandas. The kids had been looking forward to seeing the pandas ever since they heard about them. The adults were pretty excited too:)
Due to every map we looked at in the panda park having different numbers and directions, it took us a while to find the first exhibit with pandas that we could see. But after that it was panda after panda, including some super cute, clumsy baby pandas and red pandas. It was a chillier morning and we spent about 3 hours in the park. The kids LOVED to getting to get some stuffed panda bears to take home with them too.
Our time together wasn’t by any means perfect. When you put 9 people together there’s bound to be some imperfections. Almost everyone, except for Brett’s mom and I, got sick. We had conflict that needed to be resolved. We had intense jet lag and tired legs.
But we are all so thankful for the time we got to spend together. It’s so rare for us all to be in the same place and we are thanking God for the ups and downs of our Christmas in China!