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On Four Year Olds

She’s riding on a furry go-cart.  (By herself.  In the middle of a crowded courtyard.  Dangerous play is one of the perks of living in China.)  Just when I said to myself, she’s totally got this, she’d head straight for a planter box or a waddling baby.

4 is a fun[ny] age.  Just when you think they’ve rounded a corner of maturity, they do something that ensures you that no, toddler-hood is not quite behind them.

Just when you think that you can have a rational conversation, something about a monkey is inserted.

Just when you think that they’re capable of verbally communicating their frustrations, they melt down.

Just when you think they’re able to understand that painting on the walls is forbidden, you find a painted handprint… on the wall.

And yet, I wouldn’t wish for anything but her irrational, not-quite-big-kid, level of development.  Alas, there is PLENTY of time for that in her future.

On When You’ve Only Seen The Setting Sun Twice in Two Months

And it wasn’t because you lived in Seattle.  But rather, because the place in which you lived was so heavily polluted by people and industry that the earth wasn’t able to satisfactorily clean the atmosphere.


You get REALLY excited to see a sunset.  And subsequently REALLY depressed about what humans are doing to our planet.

This was the first:

And this was the second (and last):

Where to go from there?  Hmmmmm.  Global warming, yea.  Asthma, yes.  Acid rain, yum.  And here I am, helping contribute to it all.  As a consumer, as a human.  And now I’m really stuck, where do I go from here, what meaningful impact can I have?  I can live as mindfully and consciously as I can, and teach my children the same.  I can be aware of the decisions I make as a human and as a consumer and the impact they have on the earth and its people.  I can use public transportation whenever possible, reuse before recycling, eat mostly plants, love my fellow humans, and not be too hard on myself when I stagger (among MANY other things).

Sick Kids in China Equals Very Itchy Travel Feet

One would think that nightly coughing fits that have your palms sweaty they’re so scary, would make you want to nest and hunker down for the long winter.  As it turns out, this is NOT the case when said coughing fits are experienced while looking out one’s window at very hazy, polluted skies.  All I see are chronic lung problems and dead bronchial cilia.  Both children have had run-in’s with icky respiratory viruses over the last few weeks (croup and the like), but the smaller one, who came to China with a cough, continues the bronchial battle with a cough that resembles something like whooping cough (though I’m 99% sure it’s not).  Each night, he has a cough attack and I assure myself that should it continue, to the hospital we’ll go.  And then I’m reminded of what that will mean.  Surely either steroids or antibiotics, neither of which may totally address the problem and both of which could contribute to chronic problems.  And then I look outside and I’m like, crap, but how are his lungs ever going to heal?  To which my oh-so-rational [irrational] mind starts dreaming up grand places where the air is fresh and the water is clean/at least not full of all sorts of heavy metals.

My 3am, kid-cough inspired travel aspirations, began with rational trips like Hainan (the Hawaii of China) and the beaches of southern Thailand and then morphed into grand visions of climbing Mount Everest (or at least a clean, lush, green hill somewhere far, far away).

And so, I would like to share with you, MY current travel DREAMS:

1)  Taking the Lhasa Express from Chendu, China to Lhasa, Tibet.  AND THEN, traveling from Tibet to Nepal on the Friendship Highway.

2) Trekking around the Yunnan Plateau and somehow crossing over into Burma by land (which is quite difficult).

3)  The Trans-Siberian Railway, from Beijing, China to somewhere in Germany (a not so new dream).

All three are slightly daunting journey’s that would require meticulous planning for adult travelers, now throw a couple of young grommits into the mix and meticulous will turn into leave-no-stone-unturned planning.  Challenging, but possible.  Just like any travel with children; 30% more difficult, but also 30% more rewarding.

Here’s to making these dreams a reality over the next few years, cheers!