Our Belongings That Are Still in China

As a mini update on life for the Stevens family, I thought I’d write about something we always get asked. As many of you know, we came home for Christmas vacation in December of 2019 (WHAT?!) and we’ve been here ever since. The virus pushed our return week back by a week, then another week, another month, we had a baby, and we’re still not back. If you’re interested, here’s the breakdown of our current situation.

If you didn’t know, you need a visa to enter China. Unfortunately, our visas expired in September, keeping us in America even longer. China isn’t currently letting dependents into the country (meaning Joanne and I), but Taylor has been working on getting another visa for himself through his work. The process has been long and slow, so we’re still waiting. Taylor will hopefully get everything sorted out with the company and return soon.

Our apartment complex from above, in Nanjing

As you can imagine, neither of us were anticipating such a long stay in America! We packed our bags for one month and ended up staying for over a year. When I came home, I was pregnant and it was winter, meaning I had nothing to wear once spring hit and certainly nothing to wear once I was postpartum. We had a life in China. We had an apartment in China (we technically still do). Because of this, so many of our belongings are still…you guessed it…in China. Whenever people realize that all our belongings are still there, we get one of three responses. The first is always, “what do you have there?” The second is, you don’t need any of that stuff because you’ve been living without it for so long.” The third is, what do you miss the most?” I’ll answer all of them here for you.

Our apartment is to the left, along the river.

What is still there: Everything! HAHA. We have all our clothes, shoes, books, souvenirs, luggage, makeup, xbox, hair straighteners, medicine, contacts, bibles, cameras, jewelry, blankets, and MORE. Anything you’d live with in your home is in our home in China. Sometimes, I forget what’s still there, but then when I’m looking for something specific and I can’t find it, I realize that it’s in another country. Sigh.

We don’t need any of it because we’ve lived without it for so long: This is one of my biggest pet peeves. It literally makes me cringe when I hear these words. I can’t stand when we get this comment for several reasons. One, most people who make this comment (or all) have never been in a situation like this, so they couldn’t possibly understand. Two, how would you feel if some of your most precious belongings were just sitting in an apartment that you couldn’t get to? Three, it’s just insensitive. I understand that it’s probably true, I can in fact live without these items, but it still hurts. We have a lot of valuables there.

What do we miss the most: When I asked Taylor, he said he misses his xbox, a specific pair of shoes, and our scooter. (Do you think our scooter is still in the parking garage or has it been stolen???) We also have a fantastic wine collection from our travels that we’d both like back. I really miss my bible the most. I miss all the other items too, but if I could go back and repack my bag, I would bring my bible home. Taylor gave me that bible for my birthday in 2019, so it’s really special. Taylor has several bibles here in America, so he’s not missing the one he took to China.

Scooting through our apartment complex.

Thankfully, we emptied the refrigerator and took out the trash before we left HAHA 🙂 But in all seriousness, we have some great people in China who are keeping an eye on our things and we hope to get them back soon. The worst case scenario is that we have everything shipped back to America.

I hope we can be reunited with our belongings in 2021!

I Can’t Believe We’re Still Here

Hi, Everyone!

The other day I was thinking about how much I missed writing on this blog. I haven’t written much recently (and for good reasons). I just had a baby (beautiful baby girl!) and Taylor and I have been “stuck” in American ever since Christmas. The two of us have been joking about how long we’ve been here. We came home in December with one suitcase between the two of us because we thought we’d be returning in 4 weeks. It’s been 7 months! For those of you wondering, Taylor can’t return to China because they aren’t allowing any foreigners to enter the country. So we wait. With all the chaos happening in my life, I finally feel like I finally have a grip on things and have time to sit and write.

Recently, Taylor and I have been reminding each other how EXTREMELY BLESSED we are. We came home when I was 20 weeks pregnant and we’ve gotten to experience the most luxurious maternity leave ever. Taylor was here before Joanne was born, here to help me recover from a tough post-labor, and we’ve gotten to spend 2 amazing months together loving on little Joanne as a family. This virus has been horrible for so many, but can I just say how much of a blessing it’s been to us? We will always thank God for choosing his timing. Seriously, we’re in awe.2I went back to work this month and Taylor is still doing what he can remotely. Add taking care of a newborn on top of this (as if we didn’t have enough on our hands), we decided to buy a 1984 Yellowstone Camino to renovate! We found her on Facebook Marketplace and fell in love after touring her in person. The camper was in fantastic shape and we’ve enjoyed having something to work on together. Some of my best memories as a child are from camping trips with my family, so I’m thrilled to continue the tradition with Joanne! IMG_5650IMG_5642Although the camper was in good shape, it was outdated. IMG_5605IMG_56091Currently, we’re about halfway through with the renovations, and I’m so excited to share the before and after pictures with you once everything is done! Here’s a little sneak peak…IMG_6124It’s going to look so incredible when it’s finished! We’re planning on taking the camper up to PA to visit family in the beginning of August, so it needs to be at a good stopping place, if not completely finished by then. Life is never dull around here! 🙂 Stay tuned for more camper renovation updates!!IMG_6179Talk to you soon! ❤

Visiting the Yellow Mountain

Happy November 1st from China! I can’t believe Halloween is over and we’re entering the Thanksgiving and Christmas season already. Taylor and I have a lot of exciting trips coming up during the next few weeks, so be on the lookout for those posts! In the meantime, here’s a short post about our trip to the Yellow Mountain a few weekends ago. 🙂

Taylor and I had been itching to take a small trip somewhere new in China, and we thought it was the perfect time to visit the popular Yellow Mountain. We’d heard great things from other expects and Nanjing locals who’d visited in the past, and they said we’d really enjoy it. With the temperatures dropping and the changing leaves, we thought it would be the perfect time to head to the mountains for a weekend together! Facetune_21-10-2019-15-19-43

We took a train to Huangshan (3 hours) and then caught a bus (45 minutes) to the bottom of Huangshan Mountain (yellow mountain). Our total trip took about 4 hours, and it was simple to get there. Once we got off the bus, we grabbed some water and waited for our hotel shuttle. We stayed at the Huangshan Mountain Resort and Spa, and it was perfect! It was situated in the mountains and near the park we’d be visiting the following morning. This was the beautiful view from our hotel balcony! We could even see the stars at night, which I’ve never actually seen in China before. IMG_1846.jpgUntitled design

After visiting the Purple Mountain last year (why are all the mountains named after colors?), I assumed the Yellow Mountain would be comparable in layout and difficulty. I was VERY wrong. While the Purple Mountain is pretty flat and easy to get from one point to the next, the Yellow Mountain is literally one hike after the other. If you’re a big hiker, you’d love something like this! We took the sky car 10 minutes up the mountain, where we were met by A LOT of people and A LOT of stairs.IMG_1850.jpgIMG_1852 We found out the hard way that there are not flat surfaces on the Yellow Mountain, rather a bunch of staircases. The views were incredible from the top though! You could see nothing but mountains. I’m so happy we got to see it on a clear day!DSC_6476DSC_6492DSC_6494DSC_6487

I wanted to add the photo below because it really puts things into perspective. There are people who live on the mountain and their only job is carry the food from one point to the other… and some of those stair cases are STEEP. I was tired just carrying myself, I couldn’t imagine carrying food for the restaurants and hotels. If you ever find yourself complaining about your job, just remember this. DSC_6483

When Taylor and I were looking at the map, I told him the only thing I didn’t want to do was climb the highest peak in the park. I just didn’t have the energy to climb that amount of stairs and it looked terrifying. Long story short, we got our location on the map wrong and ended up climbing the highest peak unintentionally. The staircase path was extremely narrow and there were so many people that we couldn’t turn back once we realized we were going up the mountain instead of around it…DSC_6516DSC_6537.jpg*smiling through the painDSC_6529DSC_6532

This was one of the scariest and most high intensity hikes I’ve ever done in my life. Thankfully, the view made it worth it at the top. Also, aren’t these photos beautiful? Thank you Taylor for taking the camera because I couldn’t breathe and take photos at the same time. Ha! 🙂DSC_6508DSC_6554

There was a hotel at the top of one of the peaks and I’m still trying to figure out how guests are supposed to get to it…DSC_6550-2

We sat at the top of the peak for about 30 minutes, because neither of us wanted to move another inch. While we were up there, we decided to call it a day and head back down the other side. Neither of us had the energy to climb anymore stairs, and we were getting hungry. Thankfully, the decent down was 10x easier than the climb up. DSC_6513DSC_6559

We picked a great time to visit the Yellow Mountain because the weather was cool, the sky was clear, and there weren’t as many people as there could’ve been. Don’t get me wrong, there were a ton of people there, but it could’ve been so much worse during a peak travel time. Taylor and I would like to visit the Yellow Mountain again, because while we were there all day, we didn’t even see half of it! At the end of the day, my apple watch said I’d climbed 100 sets of stairs, and I couldn’t imagine seeing even more in one day.

We packed up and headed home the next morning, and we were really impressed with our weekend getaway to the mountains! 🙂

 

Summer 19′ – Home, Waco, and MLB

Hey there!

Long time no see! I took a bit of a blog hiatus this spring and summer, because Taylor and I were busy and I was soaking up every second in America with our friends and family. The two of us were hopping all over the place this summer, so it’s a bit confusing to keep up with. Here’s a breakdown of what went down during our crazy summer vacation!

I started my time in South Carolina for a bachelorette party in Charleston. IMG_0049Untitled design-5

…and I spent a lot of quality time time with Maybelle! She’s living her best life with her grandma on the farm. ❤ Untitled design-4img_1238.jpg

Afterwards, I flew to Lancaster for 6 weeks. Thankfully, my parents let me invade their space for a majority of the summer. 🙂 IMG_0394.jpgUntitled design-3IMG_0308IMG_0946img_0177.jpg

I went to my best friend Katie’s beautiful wedding and watched her marry her soulmate, Jon. I was also reunited with my best college gals! This night was filled with loads of dancing and reminiscing, which is exactly what I didn’t know I needed. I left the wedding feeling so much joy for Katie and Jon, and thankful for sweet friendships that the Lord blessed me with years ago.  IMG_0269Untitled designIMG_0234

For a long weekend in July, I flew to Waco with Lindsey and Lacie for a girls trip to Magnolia! We chose the perfect time to visit, because it was the annual warehouse sale weekend. The sales were so good that Lacie and I had to buy an additional checked bag to get all our things home. Ha! If you want a separate post on Waco, let me know. DSC_6096.jpgUntitled design-2.jpgimg_0614.jpgIMG_0464

After the Waco trip, I flew back to Lancaster for the last half of my time there. During the time, I celebrated my dad’s birthday, my 27th birthday, welcomed my best friend Grace’s new baby boy into the world, and enjoyed my final days in my adolescent home. My parent are selling their beautiful home in a few weeks and building something much more manageable within a few minutes away. I’m excited for the change, but it’s always bitter sweet saying goodbye to a place you’ve known as home for so long. DSC_6118.jpgimg_0988.jpgimg_0406.jpgUntitled design-7IMG_0439

At the end of those 6 weeks in Lancaster, I flew back to South Carolina to meet Taylor and the China MLB team! They were playing in a few tournaments here in the States, and stopped at Taylor’s house for a team cookout! This was one of the coolest days of my life. It was surreal to have both of our worlds come together.DSC_6191_1DSC_6178.jpgIMG_1098DSC_6169DSC_6180

Taylor and I spent the next two weeks in South Carolina jumping between family and watching the China MLB team play in America!IMG_1185Untitled design-6

At the end of August, we parted ways again and I headed to Seattle for a cruise to Alaska and Taylor headed to LA for a mini vacation with the MLB staff. I will write a separate post about my Alaska trip! 🙂

At the very end of August, we flew back to China! 🙂

Oahu, Hawaii – Days 1 & 2

Aloha!

I’m so excited to write this blog post, because it’s about a trip to one of my favorite places in the world! Hawaii! This is my 3rd time visiting Oahu, and it never gets old. I was recently there in July for a week, so you can read about that relaxing trip HERE. Although this was my 3rd time visiting the beautiful island, it was my first time traveling there with someone!IMG_7991.JPGLet’s start from the beginning shall we? Taylor and I decided to visit Hawaii last week because it’s: a) a place I love and b) one of the only states he hasn’t been to yet. Airline tickets typically range around $700-$800 round trip from America, but we snagged tickets for only $400 round trip from China. We flew from Nanjing to Shanghai to Honolulu. The Shanghai to Honolulu flight was only 8 hours, and wasn’t full. Before boarding, we asked the attendant at the gate to change our seats to single rows by ourselves in the back, so we could lay down. Untitled design-2It was important for us to sleep on our flight, because we arrived in Honolulu at 8am and hit the ground running. After going through customs, we picked up our rental car and drove to my cousin’s apartment. She was away for work, so she let us stay at her place for the week. We’re so thankful! We changed into our swimsuits and started driving up the east coast. IMG_7957IMG_7992img_7978.jpgIMG_8012Untitled design-5After stopping at several lookout points and absorbing the beautiful views around us, we stopped for lunch at Kona Brewing Company on the harbor. We shared a few appetizers and enjoyed the warm weather. We ordered chicken wings, pepperoni rolls, and seafood soup to split. The soup was okay, but everything else was wonderful! This is a great spot to stop at if you’re in the area. Untitled designOnce our stomachs were full, we hopped back in the car and continued driving. img_8015.jpgIMG_8017How cute was our car? 🙂 If you’re visiting Oahu and looking for a less touristy beach, I’d recommend driving to Waimanalo Beach. It’s in a residential neighborhood, and there’s always free street parking. I think the sand and water are nicer too. IMG_2067-2DSC_0013-2We also stopped at Halona Blowhole Lookout so we could experience that small beach too. IMG_80011IMG_7999Untitled design-3After a day in the sun, we ate dinner at California Pizza Kitchen in Ala Moana, and then headed to bed. We were exhausted from a full day of traveling and exploring! (Just as a reference, Hawaii is 18 hours behind China.)IMG_80204

On our second day, we got dressed and packed our bathing suits for the road. Our first stop of the day was Pearl Harbor. We drove up the west coast and arrived at Pearl Harbor within 30 minutes. This is somewhere you absolutely need to visit if you find yourself in Honolulu. DSC_5625DSC_5614DSC_5628I visited this National Park during my first visit to Hawaii, but I was only 17. I’m really glad I had the opportunity to go back, because I didn’t fully grasp what I was learning the first time. They were doing renovations on the Arizona Memorial, so unfortunately we weren’t able to walk through it. However, the boat drove us around and it was free of charge. I really appreciated this. DSC_5608DSC_5621DSC_5610After a morning of learning and remembering, we got into the car and kept driving up the west coast. We stopped for a quick lunch at Island Plantation. This is a locally owned place and they had a great lunch menu! Untitled design-4The west coast of Oahu was really cool! The mountains were stunning, and it felt like we’d transported to a completely different island. The weather was cloudy and stormier, but we had a great time. IMG_8035IMG_80512.jpgLater that evening, when the sun began to set, we drove back to Waikiki and ate dinner at OMG Tacos. This place was sooooooo good. It’s very similar to Chipotle, and it was exactly what we needed after a long day. This would be a great lunch spot if you’re staying in Waikiki. IMG_8055.jpg

After eating, we went back to the apartment and called it a night. I hope you enjoyed reading about our first two days in Hawaii. The second half of our trip will be up soon! Make sure you’re following A World of Crazy for notifications about the next post.

xoxo

A Short Work Trip to Taiwan

Happy Sunday!

Taylor and I have been hanging out in Taiwan for the past couple weeks, and we just returned to Nanjing. We’re in the middle of figuring out some complicated Visa bits-and-pieces, so the two of us were flown to Taiwan for work purposes. This was our first time visiting Taiwan, and we had a great time.

Our flight out of Nanjing was super delayed, so we switched from a flight to Kaohsiung, to a flight to Taipei. Thankfully, it was only a short 2 hour flight. Once we arrived in the capital though, we had to take a 2 hour train ride south, to Kaohsiung, where we stayed for the next 10 days.1IMG_78482After breakfast each morning, Taylor got picked up at our hotel and headed to the school. While he was away, I would hang out at our hotel. I caught up on reading, worked on the blog, and watched TV. I’m not one to go out and about in a city I’ve never been to all by myself, so I didn’t do much.4IMG_78731During the evenings, we would eat dinner either around the hotel or downtown. Taiwan has some great night markets, which we spent one night exploring together.2We also found out that there was a Costco in Taiwan (PRAISE), so we had to go. The food menu was almost exactly the same as the American stores, so we ate dinner there for a little taste of home. We didn’t have our membership card on us, but I wish we did! I would’ve loved to stock up on snacks to take bake to China. 3IMG_7864We weren’t exactly tourists during our 10 day trip to Taiwan, but we’re thankful for the opportunity to see another country!IMG_7874I’m sure we’ll be back one day!

xoxo