Road Trips With Babies

When I began writing about traveling with babies, I thought it would take one hour tops and I’d have all the information included in one post. However, I spent 2 hours writing while Joanne was napping and I realized that I had so much to say! I may not be the most experienced traveler with a baby, but I had a lot of suggestions and recommendations. I had questions about road trips and airplanes and getting baby gear from one place to the next, so instead of writing one long post with an overwhelming amount of information, I decided to break it up into two separate ones. The first one will cover our road trip experiences and the second one will cover our airplane experiences. I hope you enjoy!

Before Joanne was born, Taylor and I decided that we were going to immerse Joanne into our busy lives 100%. We didn’t want to adjust our lives to fit her, but instead, we wanted her to adjust her life to fit ours (as much as a baby can that is). This isn’t for everyone, but it was really important for us to have her acclimated to a busy and well-traveled life. Taylor and I are constantly traveling or doing something, so we wanted to make that as easy as possible for our baby. This meant Joanne had to be good at sleeping on the go.

During the past 9 months, Joanne has changed a lot and we’ve had to adjust the ways we travel to work for everyone. This post is just going to be the things we do and the tips we have for anyone looking to travel with a baby. Again, I’m not an expert and we’ve been limited with our travel due to the pandemic, but I’ll share what I know.

Also, this entire post is based on our experiences ONLY. Joanne has been a great baby from the beginning and this is all based on our experiences with her.

ROAD TRIP TIPS & TRICKS

The first thing I can recommend to anyone taking a road trip with a baby, is to travel while your baby is asleep. The younger they are, the more they sleep and the less they need entertained. When Joanne was still a newborn (probably 3 weeks old), we went to the beach. It was a 3 hour road trip, and her first long car ride. I think this is one of the best times to road trip with a baby. Newborns eat, sleep, and poop, so a car ride isn’t nearly as awful as you may think. She also didn’t hate the car seat. Around this time, her naps were frequent and she was eating every 2 hours. We chose to leave early in the morning after she’d already eaten and had her first wake window. We loaded her in her carseat as soon as she was ready to take her first nap and she slept most of the ride. When she woke up, we stopped so I could feed and change her. Then, we hit the road again and finished our drive. This never negatively affected her nighttime sleep either. We’ve traveled to and from the beach several times in the past 9 months and we always leave when she’s ready to nap.

We took our next road trip when she was 1.5 months old from South Carolina to Pennsylvania (10 hours). One of the best things we did during this road trip was leave before she woke up for the day. We had the car packed and ready to go the night before, so all we had to do was get in and go. Joanne was getting up for a feed around 3 or 4 in the morning at this age, so we decided to leave whenever she got up for her middle of the night feeding. When she got up we fed her like we normally would, kept her in her pajamas, snuggled her into her carseat, and started driving. We were able to drive 4 hours before she even woke up for the day! This is the best thing you can do when traveling with a baby on a long road trip. You could even do the opposite and travel at night! The key is to spend the most time driving while baby is naturally ready to sleep. Now that Joanne is older, she’s harder to travel long distance with in the car. We leave as early as possible, but she needs more entertaining and she takes fewer naps.

When we pack the car, I like to make sure there’s plenty of room in the backseat and in between the center consul. I like having easy access to Joanne if needed. Sometimes, she just wants me to sit and entertain her. Also, an overstuffed vehicle stresses me out. Going off of this, I think it really helps to have your diaper bag with anything you may need readily available. You don’t want to dig around looking for something when your baby is screaming and you’re flying down the highway.

If you’re feeding your baby formula, you can fill some bottles up with water before leaving. All you’ll have to do is add the powder and mix!

We try not to travel with her on long road trips anymore, but when we do, we have to allow more time or leave even earlier. The last thing I can suggest when traveling by car with a baby, is to give yourself more time than you think you’ll need. If the GPS says it’s going to take 8 hours to get there, tack on an extra 2 hours. Your baby is going to need fed, changed, and time to wiggle. Sometimes, your baby will have a meltdown or a blowout you weren’t anticipating, which will take more time. Babies can sense stress, so if you’re stressed about arriving somewhere at a specific time, they’ll sense your anxiousness. The more easygoing the trip, the better.

Positives & Negatives to Road Trips With a Baby

  • Positive: One of the benefits to traveling by car with a baby is that you can take all their stuff. You can take the pack-and-play, carseat, toys, bottles, whatever they need.
  • Negative: It takes longer and there’s a lot of time spent in a carseat.

Road Trip Essentials:

  • Mirrors – These are amazing because you can see your baby at all times. She likes to look at herself too!
  • Portable Sound Machine This is our MUST HAVE baby item. When people are expecting and they ask us what to get, I always suggest this! Joanne always sleeps with a sound machine and this one is amazing for travel. It holds a charge for like 12 hours! We hang it on her carseat when we’re in the car and we put it around her pack-and-play when she’s sleeping at night. We have the Hatch at home and adore it in the nursery, but it’s bigger and has to be plugged in, so I don’t recommend it for road trips.
  • Portable Baby Dome – With summer coming up, I thought this was a good recommendation for anyone traveling to the beach with a baby. We went to the beach when Joanne was 3 weeks old and we loved using this! It’s breathable, shaded, and has UV protection. You can attach a portable fan to it too!

I think we’re at a point where we can travel easily with Joanne in the car, but I want you to know that this was all a learning experience. Not every car ride is happy and easy. We’ve experienced our moments of screaming and stress, and we’ve used those moments to reevaluate what’s working and what doesn’t. This is what’s worked for us during the past 9 months, but you’ll need to adjust according to your own baby’s needs. Every baby is different, and just when you think you’ve got everything figured out, your baby’s needs change and you readjust. I will say, the more you travel by car, the more flexible your baby becomes. Babies thrive on consistency, so anything that’s out of rhythm can really throw them off. If your baby is use to traveling in the car, it won’t be new and scary and they’ll know what’s happening.

What are your tips and tricks for traveling with little ones in the car?

Let me know what you want to hear about in my next post, all about flying with babies!

A Little Bit of Nothing

Hello there!

It’s been awhile seen I’ve sat down and written anything on the blog. I last wrote about our short trip to Xi’an, but that was weeks ago! I haven’t written anything since then because nothings been happening over here on our side of the world! We have a busy month up ahead, so I thought I’d throw together an update on the little bit of nothingness going on right now.IMG_8957IMG_9167.jpgIt was a struggle trying to come up with a list of things we’ve been doing, because we haven’t been doing anything fun or unique! Here’s 3 random things that have happened since we got back from Xi’an:

1. Taylor traveled to a neighboring city to work at a baseball tournament. There wasn’t much to do in the city he was in, so I stayed behind in Nanjing for a few days by myself. I met up with him at the end of his trip. Untitled design-2IMG_9069.JPG1

2. While Taylor was away, I planned a surprise birthday party for him! He turns 25 this month, but we’ll be traveling so we celebrated early. All our China friends met at KTV (karaoke) and we had a blast celebrating Taylor! ❤ IMG_9147img_9127.jpg

3. I started working again! I’m freelancing for a company that I’ve worked with in the past. I’m so thankful to have something of my own to do!2As I said, we haven’t been doing much over here! We’ve been working hard and preparing for a busy summer. Other than that, we’re alive and well. 🙂 We leave for Phoenix next week, where Taylor will be working with extended spring training for two weeks. While we’re in the states during that time, I’m flying to Chicago for 3 days to meet up with family! At the end of two weeks in the states, we’ll fly back to China together for one month. Then, I’ll fly back to the states at the end of June for the summer. I’ll be bouncing around between PA and SC! IMG_9180Our upcoming plans are a bit confusing, but I’m excited to be in the states for the summer! Stay tuned for some photos of our upcoming trips. 🙂

Thank’s for following along!

 

Terra-cotta Soldiers in Xi’an

Good Morning,

We FINALLY went to see the terra-cotta soldiers in Xi’an! This has been on our bucket list since we moved to China, and we finally made it happen last week.Untitled designIMG_8716IMG_8717Like most of our trips these days, we booked it on a whim. We rode the bullet train from Nanjing to Xi’an on Tuesday morning at 9am, and arrived in Xi’an at 2:30pm. We had the option to fly for the same price (faster too), but we wanted to see the scenery along the way. Also, I was over the whole airport and airplane thing at the moment. I feel like we’re constantly on planes, and I just wanted to take a relaxing ride.DSC_5665DSC_5659Once we arrived in Xi’an, we took the subway to our hotel. We stayed at a brand new Holiday Inn Express and had no complaints. It was located downtown within the city wall and only cost $60 for one night!IMG_8720 After dropping our bags off in our room, we immediately walked to the city wall. The wall was huge, so we rented a tandem bike to get around the whole thing. This was so much easier than trying to walk only a portion of it. It also created a ton of fun memories! Taylor and I laughed the whole way around that wall. 🙂 DSC_5666IMG_8724DSC_5668DSC_5664IMG_8782Untitled design-2IMG_8768IMG_8835IMG_8799IMG_8828-2img_8845.jpgAfter completing the full loop of the wall, we walked to the Muslim market. There’s a pretty big Muslim community in Xi’an, so you have to see the market if you’re visiting the area. We stopped for snacks along the way. 2IMG_8865.jpg3For dinner that night, we ate at an Italian restaurant called Isola del Nord, which was a short walk from our hotel. It was very difficult to find, but worth it! The food was a great way to end our day. IMG_8875

The next day, we were up bright and early to see the terra-cotta soldiers! The soldiers are actually located an hour outside the city and there are a couple ways to get there. You can take the public bus or a Didi (chinese uber). We opted for the bus, which was the cheapest ($2 per person).Untitled design-3This was one of the most fascinating things we’ve seen and learned about in China. The exhibit has 3 major pits that display the terra-cotta figures. What’s even crazier, is that they weren’t discovered until the 70’s!! Pit 1, the largest, was discovered in March 1974. Pit 2 was found the following month, and pit 3 wasn’t found until that June! They were discovered by some farmers who were trying to dig a well for water. While they were digging, they found a few pottery pieces, which lead to the finding of the terra-cotta army. I don’t know about you, but I would love to know what was going through those farmer’s minds on that day. Obviously, they lost their land. :/ DSC_56782DSC_5679The soldiers were created by Emperor Qin Shi Huangdi, who was preparing an army for his after-life. He never recorded anything about his hidden army, because he wanted it to be left undisturbed. (This seemed like a whole lot of preparations for an after-life to me.) What’s fascinating, was that each soldier was hand-crafted differently. There are no two alike. DSC_5691DSC_5675IMG_8918To this day, they’re still uncovering pieces and putting soldiers back together. Uncovering something of this magnitude takes a lot of caution and time. While there are large working areas set up, it’s rare to actually see someone working in the pits. I assume they work at night when the site is closed. I can’t imagine how creepy that would be! Legend says that if you listen closely, you can hear the soldiers talking to one another. 😉 DSC_5740DSC_5742IMG_8921DSC_5736DSC_5718DSC_57131IMG_8915Once we were done walking through all the exhibits, we took the bus to the Giant Wild Goose Pagoda back in Xi’an. DSC_5754.jpgThis is a Buddhist pagoda that was built in the year 652 during the Tang Dynasty. Instead of entering the pagoda, we just walked through the park surrounding it. It was a beautiful day! DSC_5751.jpgBefore heading to our train, we grabbed coffee at a Starbucks Reserve and walked around the Muslim market one more time. IMG_8931Untitled designIMG_8939.jpgInstead of paying for a hotel another night and then taking the bullet train back to Nanjing, we booked tickets on an overnight slow train. Taylor has been begging me to do this since we arrived in China, and I finally caved. I will say, I was pleasantly surprised with our soft-sleeper experience. Here’s a little general knowledge about overnight trains in China:

There are 3 classes: Hard, Soft, and Deluxe.

Hard: 6 bunks per room, no door, squatty potty bathroom, and the cheapest.

Soft: 4 bunks per room, a locked door, seating area outside, western toilet, extra sinks, pillow, slippers, bedding. (this is the one we selected) – see photo below.

Deluxe: 2 beds per room, a locked door, seating, western toilet, private, pillow, slippers, bedding, and most expensive.

IMG_8946IMG_8947We started off in separate rooms because we purchased tickets so late, but ended up in a room together after I got sick and someone kindly offered to switch with us. Although it’s nothing glamorous, we were more than comfortable for the whole journey. The total trip took us 12 hours. We left the station at 7pm and arrived in Nanjing at 7am. Taking this train made Taylor super happy. 🙂 IMG_8950We arrived back in Nanjing well rested with a full day ahead of us! I see more sleeper-trains in our future. 🙂

Would you stay on an overnight train?

xoxo

Living in China Q&A

Good Morning!

A few weeks ago Taylor and I asked our friends and family via social media what questions they had about living in China as expats. Today, we’re excited to answer your questions and share a little bit of our journey! I hope you enjoy this little Q&A just as much as we do.

What are the seasons like in China and when do they take place? This answer is based off our home city of Nanjing, which is located in the southeast part of the country. Obviously, the weather varies depending where you’re located. It was extremely hot and humid between June and September. Although it was still warm in October, it wasn’t nearly as humid. There wasn’t much of a cool fall. Winter arrived in November and has just about ended now that it’s March. The seasons are pretty comparable to the Carolinas in America.2

How do you get around from place to place? Since we don’t have a car or scooter, we have a couple options based on where we’re going. For further destinations, we take the high speed trains/planes. For shorter distances, we can walk (we walk A LOT), bike on the city bikes, take the subway, or take a DiDi (Chinese Uber). Living in a massive city means that we don’t need a car of our own, which is surprisingly nice. It forces us to get up and move. Adventures on the Rocky Trail

How hard is it being away from your one and only amazing sister? All jokes aside, being away from family and friends is one of the toughest things about living abroad. Surprisingly, we see them/talk to them more now though! Isn’t that crazy?3

What do you eat? Thankfully, Nanjing is a massive city that has a ton of western restaurants we can eat at weekly! One of our goals this year is to start cooking meals in our apartment to save more money. However, we don’t have an oven, so I’m trying to get creative. 🙂 1

What type of Chinese food do you like? Authentic Chinese food can be scary, because it’s massively different than American Chinese. You can’t walk into a restaurant and find sweet and sour chicken with a side of fried rice (at least I haven’t). Typically, we stick with white rice and vegetables because it’s safe. We like to eat dumplings, sautéed cauliflower, spicy green beans, garlic crawfish, and pineapple rice! We stick with what we know. Surprisingly, Taylor is a lot more adventurous when it comes to trying new food.Untitled design-8

How do you afford all the traveling you do? We get asked this a lot, and there are a few ways we can afford traveling so often. First, living in China eliminates all the expenses we would typically have in America. The only bills we’re responsible for are my student loans and half of our phone bill. What a blessing this is!! Taylor’s employer covers everything else. Second, traveling is something we both love to do, therefore it’s a priority in our lives. We don’t buy a lot of fancy things and I like to think we live a somewhat minimalistic life. When we do travel, Taylor spends hours finding the best deals and doing a ton of research before we commit. Watch all my travel vlos at reallygreatsite.com

What is your favorite thing about China? Ashley: I know this is going to sound odd, but the freedom we have living in China is unmatched. When we were living in America, we worked our butts off and were drowning in expenses, family, and married life. Now, we’re able to save more money, spend quality time together, see our family more than ever, and we travel often. Taylor: My favorite thing is the ability to live in a culture where things are different. I also enjoy the trains, and being able to pay for everything through my phone. WeChat is huge here! created by dji camera

What is your least favorite thing about China? Ashley: My least favorite thing is the toilets. I don’t like having to squat out in public AND bring my own toilette paper. Taylor: Not being able to attend all the Clemson Tiger football games is brutal! It’s also really difficult to watch all the games because of the time difference. Some nights, I sleep on the couch and wake up at 3am for kickoff.2

What do you miss most about the US, outside of your family/friends/puppy? Ashley: I miss having a full kitchen, speaking the language, and getting my hair done. 🙂 Taylor: I miss being able to drive my own car!

How do you budget all your travels? Like I said above, traveling is a priority for us. We have a separate bank account that holds all our travel funds. We’ve been given random time off since living in China, so it helps to have something saved and ready to go.1

Do you miss being settled in one place? I definitely miss being settled. I like to tell myself that we live part-time between America and China. Living all over the place doesn’t fade Taylor in the slightest. LOL

How much of a culture shock was there when you first arrived? If you haven’t read my very first China blog post, you should go read it (linked here). I HATED being here and wanted to leave immediately. My anxiety was through the roof and I never ever want to experience a week like that ever again in my life. It just goes to prove that prayer is POWERFUL. My heart has steadied and I am enjoying our crazy life. There are so many big and small differences between western and eastern culture. I think I’m going to write a post about all the good and bad differences.IMG_1267.jpg

What’s your day-to-day like? Normally, Taylor works Wednesday through Sunday. He goes into the office around 10am and leaves by 5pm. Sometimes I’ll go in with him and read, blog, or workout. After he’s done, we usually eat dinner with friends and just hangout around the city. This all changes depending on games and holidays of course.

What’s been the hardest thing to get used to? Ashley: Being a minority is a lot harder than I expected. I can’t speak the language and I stick out like a sore thumb. I’m going to start seriously learning the language. I think this will help me feel more at home. Taylor: The language barrier is sometimes difficult. I’m used to being able to communicate with everyone whenever I want.Adventures on the Rocky Trail-2

I hope this little Q&A gave you a better idea of our lives here in China! If you want me to write another one of these in the future, comment down below! I had a blast writing this. ❤

Cambodia pt. 1 – Koh Rong Island

Good Morning!

We’re back from Cambodia! Taylor and I had some more time to kill before heading back to work after the Chinese New Year. This place was high on Tay’s list of places to go in southeast Asia, so we set off for one week! IMG_73411We caught an early flight from Shanghai to Phnom Penh two Mondays ago. Our plane landed at 2:30pm, but we had to apply for a visa upon arrival. Getting a visa upon arrival was very straightforward and took little to no time. I would imagine it’s much busier in the summer so keep that in mind. You will need a small passport photo, but if you don’t bring one they will just copy your passport photo for $5. Once we were done, we took a 15-minute Tuk Tuk to our hotel. After checking in, we dropped our stuff off and headed into the city for some exploration. We decided to have some drinks in front of the Tonlé Sap river while the sun set.IMG_7321IMG_7326 If you’re traveling to Cambodia, your trip will be made easier if you download the Grab app. It’s their version of Uber. Not only is it cheaper, but you don’t have to worry about negotiating with a driver, you can pay through your credit card, AND their vehicle (even Tuk Tuks) are registered. **if you’re wondering what a Tuk Tuk is, it’s the vehicle in the righthand photo below. 2Taylor really wanted to eat at the F.C.C, so that’s where we headed next. Thankfully, it was just right across the street. F. C. C. stands for Foreign Correspondents club and holds a very special place in history. This was the hotel/restaurant that all the journalists from the Vietnam war would stay and write their stories. They had old black and white photos from the war covering the walls, along with various news articles. Oh, if walls could talk…IMG_7328The next day, we had an unexpected long day of travel. At 9:30am we took a van from Phnom Penh to the coast of Sihanoukville. What was supposed to take 4 hours, ended up taking 6. There was a lot of traffic and we stopped twice. We had a ferry reservation at 3 and we missed it. The last ferry of the day left at 4:30pm and we’re super lucky we made it in time for that one. While Sihanoukville is right along the coast, it’s very undeveloped and not the greatest. We sat on the beach while we waited for the ferry.IMG_7352.jpgWe were headed to Koh Rong Island for 3 nights! It’s a bummer that we missed a whole afternoon on the island, but oh well what can you do? Our speed ferry took 45 minutes! IMG_7367IMG_7365IMG_7372.jpgOnce we arrived, we walked down the beach to White Beach, which was an assortment of tropical bungalows that we’d be staying in for one night.4.jpgIMG_7408Untitled designIMG_7374IMG_7407.jpgKoh Rong is a total backpacker island. I was actually shocked to see how many backpackers were there. It would be really difficult to visit Koh Rhong if you weren’t willing to backpack. We saw a few travelers with their big suitcases, and they were struggling to get them up and down the sand. The island is still pretty raw and new, so you have to be willing to “rough it” while here. It’s not for everyone. There are an abundance of hostels to stay in (starting at $6 a night), and also various bungalows! Even though we stayed in bungalows the whole time, there’s not much to them. The electricity on the island goes out two hours a day, there’s no hot water, and AC is rare. Nonetheless, it’s a cool place to stay if you’re up for the beautiful views and the adventure!IMG_7497.jpgIMG_7496IMG_1134IMG_11362The appeal of Koh Rong is how affordable it is. As I said above, hostiles start at $6 a night and bungalows range between $30-$100 a night depending on the place. Not only are the accommodations affordable, but so are food and drink! Fresh fruit smoothies go for $1/$2 and meals vary between $5-$10. This is why the island is a prime location for backpackers who are traveling for several weeks at a time. Their travel funds can stretch far here. IMG_7411783EF95FD-9C13-425C-9A73-9405B23E3998.JPGIMG_7528.jpgUntitled design-3Our second and third nights were spent at the Treehouse Bungalows, which was just a short walk down the beach from White Beaches. We wanted to stay here the whole time, but they were booked during our first night. Our treehouse was simple like the previous bungalow, but situated directly over the water. We had the best view of the sunset, and could hear the ocean waves throughout the night.IMG_7421.jpgIMG_7420.jpgIMG_7419.jpgUntitled design-257179497943__B4C0D4ED-B49A-4A3E-B5AB-8FFF0FC966FE.jpgIt was snowing in Nanjing when we left, so it felt great to be in the sun for a few days! This is considered their dry season, so the temperature is hot. Some of the locals told us that the summers are miserable here. It’s hot AND humid and the bug population only increases (make sure you pack bug spray)! I couldn’t imagine being here with no AC during the summer months.3IMG_7540.jpgIMG_7537.jpgUntitled design-4One day, we decided to take a boat tour. This tour was only $10 a person and lasted 7 hours, so if you’re on a budget, this would be great! We snorkeled, fished, swam, were fed snacks and dinner, and got to swim with the sea plankton. This is a fantastic way to meet people from all over the world. If you get motion sickness easily, avoid this tour at all costs.IMG_7510.jpg13 nights in Koh Rong was the perfect amount of time for us! We were able to soak up some sun and beat the winter blues. When we booked our trip before we left, we booked a return speed ferry back to Sihanoukville at 4pm. We realized that the ferries ran behind on the way over, so we changed our reservation for 1pm instead. I’m so glad we did this because not only was our ferry running behind by an hour, but it dropped us off at a different port because of rough waves. We had a flight to catch to Siem Reap, so this was a wise move!! IMG_7616My next post will be about visiting Siem Reap and Angkor Wat!

xoxo

Christmas in America Recap

We’ve returned to China, so that means I’m back to updating y’all on the blog! Welcome back!

Before I jump into more posts about our life in China and the upcoming adventures we have planned (yay!), here’s a brief recap about our time in America during the holidays! (You can read about the specific timing of our vacation HERE.) Sorry if this post is a little jumbled. We did so much in such a short amount of time, so there’s a lot to cover.

A.R. Workshop Spartanburg, SC-3.jpgimg_0905

During the months of November and December, I visited all my friends and family in Pennsylvania while Taylor was still working in Florida/China! Here are some of the things I did:

img_5091Kicked off the holiday season with a delicious Thanksgiving dinner with my family.

IMG_53081Explored the city of Philadelphia with one of my best friends. You can read that post HERE.

6img_4692Snuggled with Bubba and Riley. a lot.

a.r. workshop spartanburg, scDrank copious amounts of coffee with friends.

img_5575Helped plan our annual Mast-Family Christmas party.

24135a05-5bd1-44af-b36b-1bc800d2a79c.jpgWhen Taylor met me in Pennsylvania at the end of December, he brought Maybelle along with him so she could meet all the other pups! I was in puppy heaven with three adorable yorkies under one roof.

Processed with VSCO with av8 presetimg_5764We celebrated Christmas with my side of the family, then drove down to South Carolina together on the 23rd. (We alternate Christmas each year.) While we were visiting the south for a month, here’s what we did together:

dsc_5855a.r. workshop spartanburg, sc-2Celebrated Christmas with Taylor’s side of the family.

img_6378img_6388Traveled to Dallas to watch the Clemson Tigers play in the Cotton Bowl against Notre Dame.

img_6981dsc_5964Visited Charleston. Twice.

5img_6643IMG_6619.jpg4Processed with VSCO with g6 presetimg_6694Flew to Portland and drove down to Santa Clara, California to watch Clemson win the National Championship against Alabama! We saw the Redwood National Forest and Napa Valley along the way!

3Snuggled with Maybelle.

img_6808Watched a few Clemson basketball games.

2img_6896Participated in an A.R. Workshop for the first time. We made a lazy suzan for the house we don’t have. 🙂 This was a lot of fun though!

In total, I was in America for 3 months and Taylor was there for 1. We’re so thankful for all the friends and family we have who support us on this crazy journey and welcome us into their homes for extended periods of time. We were able to return to China feeling refreshed and ready to conquer the new year!