As we prepare to bring in the new year we have to pause and reflect on the most amazing and wonderful year we have had. Before I get started on this post, I’d like to take a line or two and thank our good Lord for this amazing and glorious journey we have been on. Through prayer we’ve gotten through some pretty tough emotional moments and with our faith we continue and accept the here and now. This is where we want to be, this is where were meant to be.
The year 2012 brought so many changes, opportunities, and firsts for our family. In deed the year 2012 was a year of many changes. Quitting a job that I enjoyed, moving out of our home, and preparing for our China journey was exhausting. I’m skipping over January 2012 as it was a month filled with excitement, trepidation, & emotional chaos.
February 2012 – Arrived in China on the 1st. Took these photo’s during an outing to get to know the area.
Behind this sculpted and well manicured area is a small park like setting overlooking the lake.
On both sides of these trees we had and continue to have construction. More concrete is going up.
March 2012 – We discovered different modes of transportation. There are regular taxi’s and buses that can be enjoyed as well as these. The 3 photos’ represent the different modes of transportation in comparison with the states.
Hey it gets us from point A to B.
My voluptuous rear is a bit tender after being in one of these for too long.
A fun way to move around in Suzhou.
April 2012 – We took a trip to Hong Kong and fell in love with the island. Our favorite destination was The Peak.
Family Picture – Hong Kong April 2012
Old Tram – The Peak
Going up to the Peak – Hong Kong April 2012
In the middle of the Island Hong Kong.
Hong Kong 2012
From The Peak – Hong Kong April 2012
May 2012 – We took a phenomenal trip to Beijing where we attended a flag raising ceremony at Tiananmen Square, visited the Ming Tomb’s, Temple of Heaven, and The Great Wall of China.
Jinshanling – The Great Wall
Tiananman Square – Beijing China
The Forbidden City – Beijing China
Totem Pole inside The Forbidden Walls
The Circular Alter – Temple of Heaven – Beijing China
Flag raising ceremony at Tiananman Square
Ming Tomb – Beijing, China
Temple of Heaven, Beijing, China
June 2012 – This month brought visitors from the states and a lot of different hot spots to visit. Loads of fun and photo opportunities.
Gondola boat handler – Humble Administrators Garden, Suzhou China
Zhou Zhuang, Suzhou, Jiangsu Province, China
Zhou Zhuang Bridge, Suzhou China
A vintage barber shop still in operation in Tong Li, Wujiang, China
Zhou Zhuang, Suzhou, Jiangsu Province, China
Working the rice patty field, Jhu Jiang Wan, China
Jhu Jiang Wan, China
Jhu Jiang Wan, China
July 2012 – Another exciting time for us. We were finally going home to Michigan and traveling to Indiana and Texas. Yes! We were excited to spend a few weeks in the states!
Back on Michigan soil- There’s no place like home – Caseville, MI
The sun is setting and the light on our barn was beautiful. Glorious! Bay Port, Michigan
Reflections of the setting sun. Bay Port, Michigan
August 2012 – The first two weeks of August were packed with activities. From vacation in South Padre Island, a vacation with my mother & daughter in Texas, to our son’s wedding in Indiana.
Happy – To hear my husband deliver the homily in our son’s wedding.
We are missing Josh from this picture grr… Taylor, Alex, Monica, & Maricella
Our oldest son and his beautiful wife Sarah
Alex and I at the rehearsal dinner
Our oldest daughter and her boyfriend Sam.
Port Isabel Light House – Port Isabel, Texas
South Padre Island, Texas
Happy – To see my mother enjoy simplicity and keep the hot pink rollers alive (oh she will not be happy I added this photo ha ha)
Located on the outskirts of The River Walk. San Antonio, Texas
This is part of the boarder fence found along the international bridge between Texas and Mexico. So many people are eager to cross to the states, to the land of the free, to prosperity only to encounter a more difficult life. The risks the people take and the lives that have been lost have been for prosperity and for a better life. Such a controversial subject and a sad one at that.
This little boy couldn’t have been more than 5 years and was on the street selling back scratcher’s. As you can see he is no taller than the bar top next to him. Las Flores, Mexico
Not putting a coin in the pocket fills my heart with guilt. I can’t resist! It makes me wonder if by not adding a few coins to the hat prevents the children from eating their next meal. I just couldn’t ignore them. Las Flores, Mexico
One of the many tasty snacks commonly found in Mexico is a glass of fresh fruit, spritz with some lime and sprinkled with chili powder. It’s mouth watering!
Do you see the 2 people standing midway on the Mexican side of the river? Hmm wonder what they were thinking?
September 2012 – Big changes for the girls and I as a new school year was about to begin. We enrolled Monica in the Sino-Canada High School a Canadian International High School and Mari is continuing with an online program for home schooling.
…. and of course there must be an Arnold Palmer half & half in her hand…
October 2012 – Small trips to Zhou Zhuang Water Town, The French Concession, Xintandi, and we cooked SPAM for the first time in China.
Old style spinning wheel – Zhou Zhuang Water Town, China
This is Mike’s sticker shock expression. The quaint eclectic establishment came with a price. The Heineken was 35 RMB. gotcha! He only had one.
This artist was making animal designs with what appears to be caramel. Very artistic with a ladle and candy.
Basket Weaver in Zhou Zhuang, China
This man was making animals from bamboo leafs – Zhou Zhuang, China
A great little place to have breakfast and a latte at a reasonable price. The French Concession, Shanghai, China
Frank & Xiaopei – Can they make dumplings or can they make dumplings? Wow, these are so incredibly delicious. Mouthwatering even. I love the pork dumplings more so than the chicken and the flavor is just well it’s just divine!
SPAM – Not something I normally buy unless Mike is with me and he insists. Must of had a tender moment if I purchased it without him being present. I loved the look on everyone’s faces when they saw what they were having. Delight, comes in so many ways, ha!
Wine & Cheese store discovered in Xintandi, Shanghai, China
November 2012 – A second unexpected trip to the states and a wonderful time spent with the family in Chicago. Twenty eight hours round trip on an airplane was a bit rough but very worth it.
A quick snap shot of the family taken by fellow tourist from Taiwan. Great times.
At The Bean in Chicago with our 3 daughters and my daughter in law.
Side view of The Bean. Lot’s of photo opportunities!
Architecture in Chicago
Architecture in Chicago 2
Architecture in Chicago 3
Architecture in Chicago 4
Gino’s East Pizzeria
At Ginos East Pizzeria in Chicago. A fabulous time with the family and the best pizza ever!
December 2012 – A bittersweet month. While we do enjoy China and love the time we have been here, it was a difficult month away from our families. The holiday’s in China are not the same at all. Almost non-existent. We made it and so glad it’s over. These are random December shots.
Mari wanted to pick out perfect cupcake and Monica is asking how much each one cost. Look at their expression. Priceless.
Mari was breaking the rules the posted rules. She didn’t think the elephant moved or talked. We laughed so hard!
Xintandi area in Shanghai had a Christmas fair. The weather was nice and chilly for it.
Our tiny tree and the lights were slowly dying off of it. …
Xiaopei & Frnak with their stocking.
Wei wei joined us for Christmas gathering
The girls with their stockings
Lin and Allison with their stocking
Monica with her Panda hat and attached paw gloves… she’s driving us nuts with it.
Her little sisters contribution to the stocking.
Frank enjoying his hat and scarf
Lin sorting his new spider hat.
Xiaopei enjoying her pearls
Mike sporting those fashionable glasses
Boat in the middle of the road. Nothing is surprising and if you think it can’t happen, it can here. 🙂
As I look back through some of these photo’s and the thousand’s that I have saved I’m reminded of just how truly blessed we really are. Life is good. The miles and distance separate us from our loved ones back home; however, the memories are always in the forefront of our minds and hearts.
We are grateful for all that we’ve been able to do and places we’ve been this past year. We’re looking forward to a new year and new adventures. I hope you’ve enjoyed the pictures just as much as I enjoy taking and sharing them with you. Thank you for visiting our blog and hope you return in the new year.
Happy New Year to you and yours!
The Smyth Family