Tuesday, August 4, 2009


We have been back for almost a week, and we haven't slowed down. We landed at about 4 am, and I stayed awake unpacking and putting everything away. It's been good to just be able to hang out at home and visiting with friends we haven't seen in a while.

I mailed myself 2 large boxes of things a few days prior to our return. Well, last Friday, one of the boxes arrived. I haven't seen the other one, and I'm a little upset. It had my ice tea bags, no pudge brownie mix, volleyballs, and some other essentials from America. I have James on it though, so I am hoping the box surfaces. Otherwise, I will be petitioning friends/family to send care packages!

The girls start at ISB next Thursday. I am excited for them, and know they are too. Samantha is moving to East Tennessee, to finish school at ETSU. She will actually be closer to family, but away from friends. Selfishly, I am excited - I had planned to spend some time in Virginia and DC next summer - so we have a place to stay. It always good when a plan comes together.

Not much else is going on - the girls are busy with youth and hanging out with friends. We have had friends over for dinner and gone to other friend's homes. Summer ending is a little bitter sweet.

Tomorrow night, the girls are supposed to bring a dessert to their youth night - pretty sure one is making something from a Dr. Seuss cookbook and the other is making a kitty litter cake - I'm sure pictures are to follow.

I sure miss everyone!! We did get a Vonage phone, so I have been talking to my mom every morning. I missed that daily ritual - from when we lived in California.

For those of you who know I've been on the man hunt for white gravy - I made some from scratch. It was pretty good, but I spoke with the manager of the grocery store here, and he said some should be arriving the end of the month - Sydni is super excited.

I hope everyone's summer is winding down nicely, and reentry to school won't cause combustion.

Be blessed!

Sunday, July 19, 2009

The Skunk Story


So, here's the promised story of the skunk in California....

The Ferrante & Teixeira boys wanted to go swimming at their Nana's, and I volunteered to chaperon... I opened the cover on the pool, and the boys swam for an hour or so. When they decided they were done, I had them get out and went to close the pool. While I was holding the button down that closes the pool cover, I started smelling a skunk. I told the boys to get their stuff and head in the house. It quickly got worse - the spell was so strong it burned my nose. I ran in the house as soon as the cover was closed. I was in the process of telling everyone in the house there had to be a skunk outside, when the girls started yelling "there it is!" The skunk was climbing out of the pool, out from under the pool cover. It's tail was stuck on the cover, and it was steadily spraying the side of the pool. It must have been hung on the cover, and drown when I was closing the cover. Once it broke it's tail loose from the cover, it began staggering to some shrubbery. By now, all 8 grandkids, plus my 3 girls were outside. Papa sent Shelby to get a 410, and Ryan shot the skunk dead. He and Shelby preceded to get a feed sack and scooped it up and hauled it off.

It was an exciting afternoon, to say the least...

Museum


 We have had a great time with our family this month. I love spending time with all of them.

Today we went to the Houston Museum of Natural Science, to see the Terra Cotta Warrior Exhibit... it was interesting a fun. My mom, Shelby, Sydni, and I went to the Forbidden Gardens, which is here in Katy. It is a miniature replica of the Forbidden City and the Warriors. We learned quite a bit about the Qin Dynasty - and it helped us at the HMNS...

We all purchased masks for 92 cents, and had the best time taking pictures... My mom and sister were laughing so hard they were crying. I just know the other people in the museum thought we were crazy...

We will head back to California for a few days, and then on to Beijing. 

Be blessed...
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Saturday, June 27, 2009

It's been a while...


Hi everyone! I know it's been almost 2 months since my last post... Mid May, PRC shut down all blogging... I can only assume it was in preparation for the Tienanmen Square Massacre 20 year anniversary. I read an article yesterday, where PRC called this whole event a "Western myth." Seriously?!?!?! wow...

Well, just a few days prior to the girls and I heading this way, our hot water heater went out. The valve (whatever that is) had to be replaced. Remember, there's no going to the local hardware store to get the part and replace it in a few short hours. For 3 days, we had to go to the club house to take hot showers. We were 5 star camping!! lol... During this time, one morning about 3 am, Matt and I awoke to the smell of burning electrical. Oh man... all of our power shut off, and we had to light candles to see if we could find where the source was. Matt called the "butler" (management office), and they sent a worker. Amazingly, when he got to the door, he asked Matt if he had a flashlight - really?? Preparedness - at it's best... So, the guy used one of the candles, to look at the electrical power board (how safe is this???). The short of it is, our landlord had turned our a/c units to "on" instead of "auto," when he was looking at the duct work; thus burning up the motor in one of the units. The hot water heater and the a/c were repaired on the same day. just 3 days before our departure.

It has been so wonderful to be on the Central Coast of California and see all our friends. The girls have spent large amounts of time at friends houses, riding horses, and just enjoying their summer vacation. We leave early next week for the 2nd leg of our summer trip. Skunk story to come soon! Waiting on pictures to put with it - more to come!

~Be Blessed!

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Happy Mother's Day!

I want to first and foremost wish my Momma a very Happy Mother's Day. I had a wonderful 30 minute visit with her yesterday, via Skype. Thank the LORD for modern technology! I sent her a blue hydrangea plant, and she received it Monday. Again, thank the Lord for modern technology.

I have had a most wonderful Mother's Day. Matt bought me a plant that is almost a Texas Bluebonnet. He said it was the closest thing he could find. =o) The girls made me cards, and I got a wonderful spa day. We went to church, and out to eat with friends afterwards. It has been a wonderful day.

The past week has been pretty uneventful, as we are in a regular pattern of schoolwork and such every day. On Thursday, I have a Bible Study I go to in the afternoons. Well, the girls decided to have a fun session of "fine arts" involving 1 mac, 1 empty basement, and 3 crazy girls. I have laughed at their videos till I cried. I must say, they are creative. It reminds me of YEARS ago, when my sister and I would drag our mom's 8track stereo player out on the front porch, get 2 bar stools, and put on our gogo boots. Mind you, we lived out in the country, so no one would drive by for hours. We entertained ourselves often this way. Guess the apples don't fall far from the trees, hu? lol

They did finally put down the floor in our basement. It is in the process of being cleaned-up. There is cement all over the walls, doors, and even ceiling in some places. They came and put the pool table up yesterday, and replaced some of the wall paper. It's almost done. I'm sure it will be finished about 2 days before we leave for the summer. Matt will get to enjoy it.

I have told you we have an Ayi, which is basically a house keeper. Since the week we arrived, I had one "lined up" that cooks. The family she works for is moving back to the states mid-June. Meanwhile, we hired a lady to work for us until the one that cooks is available. Well, our new Ayi is coming here every Saturday, until her family leaves. OMG!!! She is an amazing cook. Now, I'm not that bad of a cook, I just hate having to decide what I am going to make, figure out what I don't have, and go to the grocery store to get it - and this process usually starts at 3 in the afternoon. So, for all you OCD organizational freaks, NO - I don't plan well. Anyway, our new Ayi makes not only Chinese dishes, but Western food as well. We are so excited. However, she doesn't speak a lick of English, so yesterday, I spent the afternoon, sitting on a bar stool saying phrases to her in Chinese. She would laugh and either correct me or say "hen hao," which is "very good." It is sad, when I know more Chinese than she does English. It was a great day though, as we were able to communicate - and work a calendar schedule for when I'm gone over the summer. Matt will still be here in China, and if I didn't make things clear, he may starve. Well, no. He won't starve, because every restaurant within 10 miles delivers.

I had a "school assembly" last Sunday, over dinner. I am having a hard time myself, staying focused on finishing school. So, it is even worse for the girls. We are back on track, and plowing along nicely, or so I think. It could be one of those whole "living life upside down" moments, but we will finish.

We are looking forward to coming home for the summer. But honestly? I am NOT looking forward to the plane ride. I may take 2 very large sleeping pills and have the girls wake me up when we get there. I am going to go shopping soon, for things to bring home. If any of you have things you'd like for me to bring back, please email me. I'll do my best. For those of you who are at SLOCA, there are great map and such on Chinese Ancient Civilization. I am quite excited. I bought one today, and am going to have it framed. hahaha, which reminds me. I also have a copy of the US Constitution, which I am going to have framed and hang it up in my house.

Have a great Mother's Day (all you mothers)!

~be blessed!

Thursday, April 30, 2009

it's been 2 months already...

This week has been a pretty calm week. Matt was out of town and Samantha was babysitting for some friends, who took a trip to Vietnam. They are both back home, and I am thankful. It was a little too quiet for me.

We have been here 2 months now, and it doesn't seem possible - yet it seems like we've been here much longer. We are settling in nicely, and everyone has their own daily routine. The basement still isn't completed, but the cement is dry enough for the girls to go to the media room to watch movies and play Rock Band. Oh the priorities of life.

I must say, I am glad baseball season has started. When we lived in California, my mom and I would watch the Astros "together" via our texting on our cell phones. Well, I am so happy to report we are still watching them "together," but it is through email. We email back and forth several times in one game. I am also watching the Angels, when I can get them on tv. Our Direct TV (on our Slingbox), is out of Southern California, so many of their games are blacked out. boo! This is a picture of my brother, mom, great aunt, and grandmother at an Astros game. My mom emailed me from her blackberry during the game. I guess she wanted to rub it in. lol

The latest exciting event in our family is we got a dog. He is a 2 1/2 y/o Golden Retriever. In the shelter, they called him Pong Pong, which is "fatty" in Chinese. I would not call him "fat," but maybe "plump." lol... the Canadian family that adopted him from the shelter named him Coolio, after the rapper. Now, those of you who know me well, KNOW I am not about to call a dog Coolio. So, the girls came up with Cujo, which is the antithesis of his nature, as the dog doesn't even bark. He is so docile. The girls are in heaven. They have a rotating schedule for where he sleeps. hahahaha...

Today, Samantha and Shelby went shopping with a Chinese friend. They were going to take a subway and go to some Chinese market place. I am sure they are having a blast.

Tomorrow is Sydni's slumber party, for her birthday. We put it off a couple of weeks, because our floor was supposed to be finished. HAHAHAHAHA... How could I have forgotten we were on China time. Tomorrow is a holiday, so it will be next week - again. lol

It's beginning to warm up and rain a little here and there. Sort of reminds me of Texas.

Well, I'm off to my Bible Study... we are studying the book of Luke. I enjoy the study, as well as the time shared with friends.

Several of you have mentioned you have tried to reply to my blog. Yeah, I'm not smart enough to figure out how to change the options to allow them. SO, please email me. I miss hearing from you all.
Be blessed.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Korea Trip


We just returned from our visa trip to Korea. In preparation for the wonderful tropical weather we expected, we bought warm weather clothes - which we ended up not even taking. It was cold and rainy the entire time we were in Seoul. The wind was blowing terribly, but the flowers were so pretty! Aside from the police, which were everywhere - it was a nice semi-crowded place.

We were determined to shop less this trip, and take in some historical sights. When we landed Monday, we were all so exhausted, we went to the hotel and slept. The next day, we were up and ready to see the sights. We walked to a palace, which was close to our hotel, only to find it was closed on Tuesdays. We returned to our hotel in hopes of getting tickets to a Korean show, but all 3 shows at all 3 locations were booked. We then decided it was time to shop.

We took a taxi to the antique district, and looked around and shopped. I was on the hunt for some marriage ducks. Now, if you don't know what these are, Google it. I found some, and was quite pleased with myself. Sydni bought this huge OU Sooner blanket at the first market we went to. She carried it around the rest of the shopping day. Of course, Samantha and Shelby went in every store on both sides of the street. We found an Outback Steakhouse nearby and had a wonderful lunch - wow we miss their bread!! In our dogie bag, the waitress put 3 extra loaves for us! On with more shopping, The girls found clothes, shoes, and stuff to bring back to people. After getting Starbucks, Sydni and I took a taxi back to the hotel, and left Matt and the other 2 girls at the shopping area.

This morning, we woke up to pretty blue skies - in time to head to the airport. We sat in the airport for 3 hours - which gave me ample time to watch the Astros online, catch up on our YouTube addiction, and eat Dunkin' Donuts. Now, I'm not the biggest fan of this chain, but a donut is a donut, when you can't get them where you live. There were people carrying boxes of them on the plane back to China.

We had a good time, but I am ready to stay put for a while... well, until we come back home!!! See you soon!

Be blessed!

Friday, April 17, 2009

Sydni's 13!

Yep... our baby is now a teenager, and we officially have no "little kids" left in our home. We took Sydni to Hard Rock for her birthday, and she had a friend come along. The International schools in Beijing were having their Battle of the Bands finals, so we were fortunate enough to hear music, to accompany our dinner. The only thing we forgot was ear plugs. Most bands were good - it was just loud... wow, that sure made me sound old. ha!


Of course, the construction is still going on in our basement. A friend of mine from back home, sent me a cartoon from the Houston Chronicle, which depicted our house at the moment. I have added it to this blog... My Ayi even laughed at it.


We will be going to Korea the beginning of next week, and the construction company is supposed to lay the flooring while we are gone. I cannot even begin to express how happy this makes me. Sydni is wanting to have a slumber party for her birthday, and I convinced her to wait till next weekend, so they can have the basement - and media room. Matt bought her a 3 man tent (pops up), and she is going to have several girls spend the night in it. I cannot wait to see them packed in like sardines. They will have a good time, I'm sure.


The driver's ed book is..... I don't even know how to describe it... They will take 100 questions from the 1,000 in the book - seriously? Most of the questions you have to memorize the answer, because American logic gives you the incorrect answer- if that makes sense. James is convinced I don't need to drive here - can't imagine why. Matt told him I was a bad driver in the States, and he should be worried... lol... funny, haha... I have decided that if I fail the test twice, I won't retake it. I have a friend who took it 3 times before she passed... I don't want to drive that much anyway...


I have spent the past 2 days buying flowers and planting them in my back yard. I found some beautiful blue hydrangeas, which James had never seen before. I also planted roses, marigolds, a lemon tree, Mexican heather, and other various types - I was so excited! Samantha worked right along side me, and was just a great help - and I really enjoyed having her share my love for working in the flower bed. I think she enjoyed seeing the
fruit of her labor. Now, if they will just live!


Volleyball - is anyone surprised we have found a little volleyball club her
e? lol... Shelby had her first practice last night. I think she enjoyed the good hard workout and "real" volleyball. We have been playing at an adult open gym, which is very much old school volleyball (more my speed than hers or Samanthas). The coach at the school she is attending in the fall has also invited her to practice with them. So, she's getting ample opportunities to play volleyball.


I am beyond excited!!! I found a ladies golf club, which plays every Thursday here in Beijing. I plan on bringing a set of my clubs back with me this summer. We were told there weren't any public courses (which there aren't), but this will allow me to play once a week and have fun with other women. YAY! It will be all about the fellowship for me, not how well I play. =o)



Matt and 2 of his friends have begun working out 3 morning a week. He has asked me to join him, but I assured him 6:00 only hits my clock once a day - and it's not AM! We are all becoming very active and doing many activities. We bought tennis rackets and are going to start playing at least twice a week. This should prove interesting for me, as I stink at tennis.



Well, I didn't think I had much to say, but I guess I did. We are all doing fine - had our last round of shots this week. We are anxious to return to the states for the summer. I enjoy hearing from all of you!


PS: Our "slow boat" stuff will arrive next Friday - Woohoo!

Be Blessed!

Monday, April 13, 2009

Easter

I hope you all had a wonderful Resurrection Day!


The construction going on in our house is moving along. From about 8:30 - 6 EVERY day, there are workers in and out of our house. Can I just tell you, there are several little old men, carrying bags of sand down the stairs. I am sure they make at least 50 trips each, per day. They are mixing the cement by hand and laying it in the rooms. They are supposed to be done with all of it by next Saturday - we'll see. I am tired of the smell of mud mixed with old water... blech!


Friday, we ended our "Beijing Tour," with the Forbidden City. I think every other person in China had the same idea. It was super crowded, but an amazing site. In Katy, there is a miniature version of the Forbidden City - as wonderful as that is, it pales in comparison. I am anxious to go back and take more time to go through the museums. I think we were the only Westerners I saw - and laughed when Chinese people would come up to Samantha and want to take their picture with her. They are amazed to see blonde - blue eyed people. I think many of them were from the country side. The terra cotta statues are about 1 1/2 hrs. away, by plane, so we are hoping to go see them someday soon.


James brought his daughter over Saturday, so we could meet her. She is so cute! She is an English major at a University here in Beijing. She will begin teaching us Chinese next Sunday. We took them to eat (Chinese food), and then came home and played badminton. I laughed so hard! James is the bomb! I think he and Matt could totally dominate a senior badminton circuit! ha! James has quick swings, and put the hurt on Jaycen, when they played 1 on 1. This is a picture of us with him and his daughter. He's always smiling, so I am not sure why he looks so serious here. =o)


We spent Saturday night with some friends eating good American pulled pork sandwiches, potato salad, and cheese cake... The kids dyed eggs - had a good time. We are so blessed to have such wonderful friends, having only lived here a few weeks. It is something you can't describe - this experience has been something that is amazingly indescribable for me. We are a blessed family.



Oh yeah, Matt picked up Shelby from the airport Saturday evening. I don't think she was ready to come home. This picture is of her at the airport - only Shelby. I am amazed at how the Lord is expanding our friend base - each one of us. She took over 2,000 pictures while she was there - I am not surprised. She is going to start playing with a club volleyball team here this week. They play other Chinese team
s and adult women's teams. Should be a lot of fun! She is beyond excited, imagine that!


Sunday, Shelby was up and out of the house by 4 am, to go to the sunrise service at the Great Wall. I can only imagine how incredible it was. I am hoping to go next year. Samantha and I were singing at our church, so we couldn't make it to the wall. The jr. high kids did an incredible stick routine to end our service - I cried - it made me so thankful for the cross.
We didn't know where to get a ham, so we ate a family favorite - curry and rice. Afterwards, we had a huge badminton game (yes, our activities are limited... lol), and then Matt took Jaycen to the airport. I think he had a good time here - I hope he did. We saw so many things while he was here. I can't wait to have more house guests, and share the wonderful (not to mention hundreds of years worth of) sites here in Beijing.


We spent the rest of the evening catching up on all the American shows we have recorded this week - on our slingbox. Can't wait to watch baseball!!



Today, we are reentering the school zone... as I type this, I should be getting everything together. It's hard to stay focused. I would rather go buy some pretty flowers and plant them in my flower beds. Our landlords gave us the keys to another house they have in our compound, so we can go do school there in silence. It's tennants won't move in until the end of this month. Our landlord wanted us to have a nice quiet place to do school work. Isn't that just sweet! (the girls didn't think so) ha! Between hammering, vacuuming, and people walking through our house - it's a little distracting.



I hope you all had a great Easter! We sure did. We have purchased our tickets to the States! We are on the countdown! Can't wait to see everyone!



Be blessed.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

the Temple & the basement



We had a great time at the Temple of Heaven. The entire walk, I just kept thinking of the Emperors who'd trod on the same grounds. It was impressive. The weather was wonderful, and it was an interesting history "field trip." When we left the Temple, we went to 2 very touristy markets. This is where Shelby has a good time bartering with the vendors. She wasn't there to help, but Matt was. Jaycen left with 3 pairs of shoes, only wanting to buy 1 - he didn't have the number to call to complain about harassment... lol... tonight the kids are going to the Chinese Acrobats, and tomorrow we are going to the Forbidden City.

On to the basement.... WWWWEEELLLLLLLLLL, they have now removed ALL of the wood floor in our basement, which is quite a large area. They have pumped most of the water out, and are tearing out the framework that held the tongue & groove flooring. They have decided to fill the space with concrete and lay tile in the common area, and pergo-type wood in the 2 bedrooms. Smart move. As I said before, we really like our landlords, which isn't the case too often here. They feel so bad about all of this. They gave us the keys to another home they own in our compound, so the girls and I can go over there and do our schooling in quiet. Sydni was disappointed - lol...

Now that it is a few days until Easter, I realized all my plastic eggs are in our "slow boat" stuff, and I won't have them in time. I am now on the hunt for plastic eggs. I think I may have found a place that might have some. We are going to some friends house Saturday night to eat pulled pork sandwiches, potato salad, etc... and let the kids dye eggs. Samantha and I are singing Sunday - I hope it's a great service... Shelby returns Saturday night. I cannot wait to see her. I am not too sure what I'll do when she goes off to college. This is bad enough.

Hope you all have a good day. It is continually getting warmer. Our heat/ac will be changed over Sunday (no, they don't celebrate Easter here), so we have the windows open. I think it's nice, but the family is a little warm. Definitely need our summer clothes from the "slow boat." Hopefully we will get our stuff soon.

Be blessed.

Monday, April 6, 2009

You won't believe this!

SSSOOOOOOOOO, since the day we moved into our house, I have told Matt our basement smells moldy - and the baseboards looked rotted. Today, our landlords (whom we like) had people come over to repair the baseboards. They told us there was water damage a few years ago, but it was all fixed. WWWEEELLLLLLLLL, the began lifting up the wood floor, and there is about 2 inches of water - not in just one spot, but under the entire floor! I had to journal it on here, I didn't think anyone would believe me!


I have about 8 men and several women in my home - the front door is standing wide open, my landlords are here giving orders, and there is hammering,vacuuming, and mass Chinese conversing = all going on at once. They are vacuuming the nasty black water into a 5 gallon bucket, and a lady is carrying it up a flight of stairs and flushing it down a toilet. Modern technology at it's best. One thing about it - they create a lot of jobs! If this goes on for an entire week, I don't know what I'll do. Now that they've ripped up the floor, I remembered where I put all the Easter stuff... of course, down in the closet in the basement! hhhhhhmmmmmmmm

Oh, did I mention there is also a guy rewallpapering our bathr
oom (or he was till the gal started pouring the nasty black water in the potty!) AAANNNDDD they are cleaning a chimney and spraying for bugs... Just a normal day in my life.

They said it would take 3-4 days to get all the water out, and replace all the rotted wood. I am not sure, but I think they are going to put marble down, hoping it will keep all of this from happening again. RRRIIIGGGHHHTTT!! The kids all left - to get massages, Matt is downtown at a meeting, and I am holed up in my room. At least we are on Spring Break and not trying to do school with all the noise and distractions.

Ok, now that you've all had your laugh for the day. We took Jaycen to the Great Wall today. The weather couldn't have cooperated any better for us! The sky was so blue, and you could see the wall for .... well, I'd like to say miles, but I doubt it is literally miles. A long way! Today was a national holiday, so there were so many people, but it wasn't too bad. Jaycen and Samantha rode the big slide down, and Sydni and I took the ski lift down. We bought a few things from the vendors, met some people from Washington state, and got a little sunburned. We had a great time!

We've heard from Shelby. However, only that she's alive, having a great time, and wants to pierce her cartilage. Not sure what I was expecting, but again, at least she's letting me know she's alive. I'm sure she'll have tons of pictures on Face Book sometime next week.

I think we are going to the Temple of Heaven tomorrow, and shopping at the crazy markets downtown. Fun fun!

Ok, I am going to find some Tylenol, glass of wine, and a good book. Not really, but it sure sounds good!

Be blessed!

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Spring is in the Air!


I spent a few hours this week, planting beautiful flowers. I have never lived anywhere where winter sets up camp and stays a while, causing all plant life to either die or look dead. When we first arrived in Beijing, I was certain every tree would never have a leaf, and the grass would be eternally brown. In the past week or 2, things are coming to life. I have watched a beautiful Magnolia tree blossom outside Matt's office window. We have several fruit trees, which are taking on life-like tendencies - I am so excited. I decided I was going to plant some flowers in our yard - to give it color. Up and down the street outside our compound are many vendors selling all sorts of plants, from daisies & roses, to lemon trees and ground cover. It is truly a beautiful sight. James took me and of course, negotiated a great deal for me. My Ayi asked if she needed to help me, I told her I loved to work in the yard. Well, James told her - he then told me he said I was a "professional." ha! I told him if they all died (which was very probable), we'd go buy more and she could plant them. I have included a few pictures of my "art work."

James's birthday was this week. Samantha and Sydni decided to make him a cake. They baked a chocolate cake with lots of chocolate icing. He was so surprised! The next day, he told them his wife really liked it. I am not sure Chinese eat sweets like this - I'm pretty sure they don't. But, he said they ate little servings. I told him I didn't know of any woman who would turn down chocolate - he agreed!

Today begins a 3 day holiday - Tomb Sweeping. I had James give me the "skinny" on this. It's where the people make a sacrifice to their ancestors. Mainly fruit and flowers. I thought it was interesting. My Ayi asked for Monday off - Driver didn't... interesting. Next week we will have Spring Break. Jaycen is in town, and we are going to do all the touristy things in Beijing. I am hoping to go to the Great Wall, Forbidden City, Summer Palace, Tieneman Square, among other things. Of course, we will take Jaycen to our 2 favorite shopping places. We've learned a few more phrases - so we will get practice. =o)

We have truly made some wonderful friends here - we are so grateful. This would be such a different experience, if people hadn't reached out to us.


Next week is Easter - I hope you all have a wonderful holiday! I know, for our West Coast friends, Spring Break is around the corner - have a blast. Sydni and I were supposed to go to Washington DC, with her school. We will miss being there - but, we will be enjoying the Chinese history.


Be blessed!

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Update



Shelby left for Thailand yesterday. She is going with some of our church staff to do a youth conference. She will be home the day before Easter. I am excited for her, but realize it's just one more step to her complete independence. Alas, they do grow up, hu? Unlike Samantha when she traveled, Shelby has sent me update emails - letting me know she's alive and well. =o)

When we moved to California, Matt & I had to take a written test to get our drivers license. Well, we are going to have to do the same for China - ugh! I almost failed the one in California!!! The book for the Chinese license has almost 100 pages with about 8 questions per page. The thing is, some of the questions are absurd - well, not so much the questions as the answers. Well - not always the answers, as how the people implement the answers. Let me give you an example - One question was regarding how you pass other vehicles (going the same direction). The answer is on the right. Well, here they will pass a car, which is in the right lane, using the shoulder of the freeway - never slowing down. There's another question about where to drive on the road if there's no median. Surprisingly, the answer is the vehicle must run in the middle of the road. UUUMMMM, what about the oncoming car?? Needless to say, I have a lot of studying to do. I am so thankful for James - I honestly don't think he wants me to drive either. I am always gasping at what other cars do on the road. He just laughs at me. He has had his license for years, which is not too common here - AND he's not a horn honker. Yes, there are questions regarding horn honking. I am convinced once you get your license it doesn't matter how you drive, as long as you don't have alcohol in your body. At the toll booths, they have a breathalyser to check. Honestly, it's a good concept to keep drunk drivers off the road.


The girls had a great time at camp - even Samantha. I think she came home sleep deprived though. She starts her new job today - she will be a TA teaching American History to Embassy kids. How cool is that going to be? I hope she has a good time.


Sydni came home from camp so excited about life. She has some really good friends here in our compound, and they are always doing fun things together.

Matt bought a badminton net, rackets, and shuttle cocks... set it up in the back yard, and we've had so much fun playing. None of us are that good, so it makes for a ton of laughs. Our neighbors dog "talks" to us the whole time. He doesn't bark, just "talks."

I have enclosed pictures of Coke and M&M's from here - yay for us! There are times you just need a "fix."

I hope you are all having a great week. Be Blessed

Saturday, March 28, 2009

It's been a month!

This morning, I am sitting in my kitchen, with all quiet in the house. All 3 girls have gone to youth camp. Samantha is a jr high counselor and the other 2 are in their perspective camps. It is kinda weird. They won't be home till Sunday afternoon, so Matt and I are on our own to pass the time - we are so used to the "free entertainment" they seem to always provide. Maybe we can put away our referee jerseys for a few days. =o)

This week has been kind of uneventful. I survived the week with Lucy, our new Ayi. I think Matt has decided he doesn't need quite as many clothes, because she washes every day. She cleans like a maniac. I think I've died and gone to heaven! I have found a Samantha has fallen into a pattern though. She holes up in her room, for most of the day, so Lucy won't go in to clean. I think the neatness is too much for Samantha to handle. There are a few things I told Lucy not to do, so the girls still have some responsibilities. We'll see if she covers for them.

For those of you who have Face Book, you may have seen that I paid about $20 USD for a bottle of Downy Ultra. I honestly didn't calculate the US currency exchange for it, until Matt and I were at the counter and he told me how much it was in USD. He is the one who loves his clothes to smell Downy fresh... I may rewash all the sheets Lucy washed yesterday, just so I can have that smell - fresh! It is so true - you don't really appreciate what you have until it's gone.

Thursday night, we made burgers and french fries. They were so good. The buns were a little hard on the outside, but soft on the inside - a far cry from Mrs. Bairds bread. I have yet to find hot dog buns, and most of the sliced bread crumbles when you try to fold it. We have had some great international food here, and by that I mean anything not Chinese. Last night, Matt and I ate at a Mexican restaurant, which is quickly becoming one of my favorites. They make their chips and tortillas fresh... oh their fajitas were awesome!

I am going to end with this - yes, they do have peanut butter here in China: Jiff and Skippy. That was a question I had been pondering prior to moving here. I am slowly stocking my pantry - it's overwhelming to me. Maybe, in the future, I'll hire a cook who can shop for me and make great Western food! Something to work on, for sure!

Be blessed!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Mid-Week update...


I thought I'd slide an update in today - but nothing great has happened. Just life as normal. Monday, our Ayi Lucy started working for us. We were told she spoke and understood a little English - hhhhmmm, pretty sure she doesn't ~ at all... ha! I am thankful to have James here, who has become my personal interpreter. Yesterday, in passing, I told him I didn't think Lucy understood my English, his response was, "Uh, no. I talked to her yesterday and she doesn't understand anything you say." Now, I know I carry a little Texas twang, but come on!!! It's not THAT bad!! I am going to really try to work with her (Matt likes that she presses his hankies and t-shirts), but I'm not sure how she's going to work out. In trying to bridge the gap, I printed off laundry directions in English, went to a translation site, and had it translated into Chinese characters - I'll let you know how it goes... lol

Monday night, Shelby, Samantha, and I went to open gym volleyball. We rode our bikes to the school, which is across the street from our compound and where the girls will go next fall (ISB). We have used our ipods so much since we arrived. Between riding our bikes and in the car and plane. Anyway, there were enough people for 4 teams - none of us were on the same team. It was fun, but different. For those of you who know something about volleyball - they ran a 4/2 with the setter in the middle. Poor Shelby, it took her a few rotations before she figured out she didn't have to run all over the court. I kept passing to the wrong person. It was great fun though. We will definitely go back next week. On the volleyball note, Shelby started spring training today (7 am). I am curious to see how it went. She rode her bike to a friends house and they walked to practice together. I'm sure she had a great time, just because it's volleyball.

The girls are going to youth camp this weekend - and Samantha is going to be a counselor. hahaha, I'll get back to you on that one. We found the coolest sporting goods store ever. It's the Chinese version of Academy and Sports Chalet. All 3 girls needed sleeping bags for this weekend, and Matt will need one for his men's retreat next weekend. The men are going to stay in a cabin overlooking the Great Wall. How incredible is that going to be?

We are still having fun in school. It's going well and no one has fallen off "the wagon."

Matt is working from home still, trying to get the company paperwork finished, so he can start "working" for real. I say this in no literal form whatsoever, as he is working from 7-10 every day. He gets up and does work on Texas afternoon time, works on China time all day, and finishes up on Texas morning time. I don't see how he does it... well, they DO have Red Bull here.

I am off to "translate" more things for Lucy, will write more later. We miss you all - would love to hear from you! AND send pictures!

Be blessed!

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Hong Kong






We returned to Beijing, after spending 2 1/2 days in Hong Kong. However, I must first back up to Wednesday, after the Great Wall. Once we returned home from the Wall, Samantha was surprised with tickets to see the Chinese Acrobats. All 5 of us went to Hard Rock (which has become our new birthday celebration place), and then the Theater to watch the show. It was so incredible! It had several "acts" in the show, and many were similar to Cirque del Soleil (I'm sure I misspelled that). Before the show began, we were sitting in our seats, which were in row 7 - oddly enough no one sat around us - the row in front and behind us were empty (thinking we needed our cootie shot last week). I know 8 is a very lucky number here, so I assume that row was empty bacause the price of the tickets were more expensive - but that is just a theory. Anyway, these ladies waved Shelby over to them and wanted to take pictures with her - of course this made Shelby's day. When she came to sit back down, Matt (how only he can do) shook his head from side to side and waved his arms and said, "I am Lindsay Lohan!" Now, if you've never seen Jeff Dunham, you won't think this is nearly as funny as we did. Look him up on You Tube... lol

So we left bright and early the next morning for Hong Kong - we arrived there around lunchtime, checked into the hotel and began our quest for "normal" food (which has become such a relative term for us)... We found an Outback and thought we were in heaven! We each got "normal" food for lunch. Afterwards, we did a little shopping. Being tired (and cranky), we decided to turn in early and get a fresh start Friday. We began Friday's shopping about 9:00 am and finished at about 7:30 pm... After dinner, Matt and Samantha went on a quest to find a pair of running shoes, and returned to the suite about 3 hours later. During the day, we made 3 treks back to the hotel to unload our loot and use a nice clean toilet. Until you've traveled abroad, you won't truly understand the love of a clean "sitty" potty. In Beijing, they use "squatty" potties. Anywhere we go and need to use the toilet - we ask the "sacrificial lamb" if it's a "sitty or squatty." If you're lost, Google it - I'm sure it's there.

I can honestly say, I don't think I have ever shopped for an entire day - and I am positive Matt hasn't. Given our cell phones didn't work in HK, we stayed together all day. Can you imagine what Matt looked like with 4 ladies following him? He was in one store looking at brief cases (of course all 4 of us were with him), and the lady asked him if he had 2 wives - the look on Matt's face was priceless! He quickly said, "Uh, no... I can't even keep up with the one I have." I laughed - I suppose, given China has a 1 child rule, she thought he had 2 wives and 1 child each... Anyway, it was funny.

My feet were more than sore, but it was worth it to have a great time with Matt and the girls in a new favorite shopping place. We also had to buy another suit case to bring our "loot" home. We originally took a carry-on each, but with the extra bag, decided to check all the luggage in, for the return flight.

I recommend everyone visit Hong Kong at least once in their lifetime. It was so much fun, and we didn't even get to go to Disneyland or the Oceanic Park.

Be blessed.

Monday, March 16, 2009

the Shots have begun!


SSSSOOOOO, I added this beautiful picture because I miss the sun sets from back home. This is a picture Shelby took on the way home from a volleyball tournament. It is one of my favorites... Enjoy the view! (It is helping soothe my pain) =o)

All 5 Jacksons ventured downtown Beijing today, for our first round of shots. As it turns out, we will get all 6 we need over the course of 3 or 4 visits. We all got the first round of Rabies shots (NNNOOO, we don't have it - just don't want it either!)... I don't think we are all getting all the same shots at the same time. Some of us are opting to get some of the shots back in the USA this summer. Matt and Shelby are getting their Typhoid shot here - which is a thick gel shot - EEEWWW! The rest of us are holding out to get the gel caps back home - duh! The reason Shelby is getting the shot is because she is going to Thailand in a couple of weeks. Matt is getting it because he travels all over China. We are all getting other shots as well. It wasn't too bad. Sydni had herself in tears before we ever entered the office - the mind can be so cruel!
We went and ate at an Indian restaurant afterwards, and it was so good! After being in a doctor clinic for over 4 hours, we deserved a treat - AND we went to a dvd store and bought a boat load of movies. Tomorrow, we are going to get foot massages and pedicures ~ we deserve it for being such great patients! On our way home, we were in the middle of traffic - at a light. The people in front of us got out of their car and did an authentic Chinese fire drill... We laughed so hard. I wonder what they call that here? hhhmmm... We will be leaving for Hong Kong very early Thursday morning. We thought about going to Disneyland there, but heard it was geared towards little kids. So, instead, we are going to another park (I forget the name) with better rides. We are going to do some shopping also (of course)... School is going well - we are trying to wind down the quarter... Or dining room table seats 8, and has been converted into a huge classroom table... lol... James should be bringing us mouse traps so we can finish our unit on simple machines and move on to light - yea for us! I hope to do a couple of dissections while we study it. Have a great week ~ it is full of Birthdays for us, as Samantha turns 21 Wednesday. We will celebrate big in Hong Kong! Be Blessed!

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Shopping - downtown

Friday afternoon, we girls decided we'd have James take us to one of the shopping markets downtown. Samantha wanted a pair of crocks and we were going to just make a fun day of it. I believe everyone should experience a Chinese shopping mall at least once in their life. It's indescribable - shoppers from everywhere in the world, about 1,000 booths, and vendors pulling at your arms. When you first walk in to Yashow, there's a sign that gives a number to call if the vendors are pulling on you or coercing you to buy things you don't want. Sydni thought that was funny, and I think she entered it into her cell phone for future use.

On our way to the mall, James (our loving driver) gave us a lesson on how to barter with the vendors. I think Shelby took great notes - because she haggled with those women unrelentingly. Once inside, I found a purse I liked and asked how much it was - the lady gave me the price and my eyes must have bugged out, because James started rattling off Chinese... He turned into a man on a mission... It was way too much stress for me, but he loved it. I turned to walk away... about 5 minutes later, he came and found me and said he got the girls down to about 1/4 the price. hahaha! I asked him if his wife liked to shop. He said yes and so did his daughter - that is why he has so much experience in bartering. I laughed so hard - he was enjoying it so much!!!

Shelby found a pair of shoes she really liked. James asked the lady how much they were, and on a calculator she put the price. I was standing a little distance from them, but could tell by the look on his face it wasn't a good price. The lady gave Shelby the calculator and asked her to put a price. Shelby was about 1/5 of the lady's price. The lady gave another price - gave the calc. to Shelby - who promptly put the same price she did the first time. This went on a few more times, with Shelby never wavering on her price. The lady would tell her in English, "you put different number," and Shelby would just put the same price. She ended up getting the shoes for about $1 USD more than her original number she gave the lady. James was so proud of her. He said she has it figured out - and she can eye quality products.

On our way out the door, Samantha spotted a sweater she liked. The lady wanted WWWAAAYYY to much for it. Samantha, being the nice person she is, only offered 1/2 of the price (Shelby offered about 1/4)... the lady spoke very good English. She wouldn't budge. Samantha haggled with her a while, James came over and haggled - both ended up walking off. Just as we were exiting, the lady grabbed James's arm and led him back to her booth. I don't know why, because I don't think she changed her price. James came back to where we were standing and suggested Shelby go try. By now, Samantha is back over there. I think Shelby insulted the lady with the price she gave. Samantha was shocked as well. The lady put a price on the calculator - and told Shelby not to say anything. HA! Of course, she did. I think they ended up giving much less for the sweater the original price Samantha would have originally paid.

Shelby bought a black cashmere scarf too. The lady told her she was a hard bargain and was breaking her heart. lol... Afterwards, Samantha bought a scarf too - from the same lady. One thing is for sure - we will revisit the booths we bought from.

All in all, we probably spent less than $100 USD, and bought several other things as well. Sydni bought a purse too, but she is like me and let James haggle the price - He's good!

I think we are going to a different mall next week. James thinks they are "field trips." I guess in a way they are learning something related to math. Yes? lol

P.S. we didn't buy any Crocks. lol

Blessings.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Hi!

I just wanted to throw this out there.... I found a Cold Stone Creamery VERY near our house today! I let James know - if he wanted to make the girl's day, to take them there... he laughed. We were at a mini mall (new and very nice). He told me Sydni taught him a new word yesterday, "high heel." I laughed. Samantha was looking for a new pair of Crocs, and he told her he'd take her to get some downtown. She asked if it was Ya Show, and he said, "No, that is where the tourists shop. I will take you where they have good prices." I am curious to see just what those prices are, because Ya Show has pretty darn good prices! lol

It is supposed to rain today. Shelby went to school with a friend - they walked. I am hoping the rain holds off till she returns. If not, I told her to call James to bring her home. hahaha... I hope you're following that... (home, James). Oh well... I'm a little corny.

I am going to try to find an Ayi today. Wish me luck. I hope to find one that can clean well and cook. There are so many out there. I want to hire one that will "fit" our family, as James does.

Have a great day! PS, we do get American Idol, so I'm keeping up. Yea!!!

Blessings!

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

The life I live

Here's the latest on our life:

~ I think Matt and the girls have almost recovered from their horseback riding expedition. Unbeknown to them, it was English saddle riding. They have blisters in places I didn't know you could get blisters from riding. HA! Poor guys. They had fun and learned a thing or 2 about how Chinese view horses - WAY different from the states.

~ The girls have begun swimming at the club house daily. They ride their bikes there and back. I guess we have PE covered for now. I have to share a funny story about it: Samantha told Shelby to swim a couple of laps "freestyle," and Shelby began. After a few strokes, she turned to her side and swam, and threw in a few other strokes as well. Samantha couldn't figure out what she was doing and asked her about it. Shelby then responded with, "I am! You said it was free style, and I am doing different styles." I thought it was funny. It may not sound as funny on here, but it was hilarious.

~We have our driver, and his name is James. We absolutely love him. He speaks very good English. He has a daughter, and has a great deal of patience and understanding with our 3. We are excited to be able to go and do "mini field trips" with him.

~We are in the throws of homeschooling. It has been interesting and fun. Samantha is really helping with some of their work. It is a joy to have all 4 of us work together on things. We are going to make a mouse trap marsh-mellow catapult this week - simple machines. =o)

~Hope you all have a great week! More stories later, I'm sure. We will be getting all of our shots next Monday. This is a huge thing - I think we will reward ourselves with pedicures or something!

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Sunday Afternoon

Well, I thought I'd take a break from my laundry, and give a quick update.

Shelby, Sydni, and Matt left about an hour and a half ago to go horseback riding in the mountains with some friends. I hope they have tons of fun. Shelby took her camera, so I'm sure pictures will turn up on FB soon.

Samantha left about 20 minutes ago, to meet a friend who lives in our neighborhood. They were going to take a taxi to somewhere and get massages. I hope they have a good time.

I am enjoying the day at home. I haven't had a lot of "home" time, so this is good. I just wish we had an Ayi already, so I didn't have to do the laundry. For those who don't know, an Ayi is a housekeeper. We have one lined up to begin in June, who also cooks. I hope to get a temporary one soon.

Our driver starts tomorrow, so that will be wonderful for us girls. We will be able to go and do more easily, and not have to take a taxi or wait for Matt to be available.

Have a great Sunday!

Be Blessed!

Saturday, March 7, 2009

IKEA


I had my first IKEA experience yesterday. My girlfriend, Tammy, told me about how entertaining it is to go there after lunch and watch the people take naps on the beds and other furniture. Well, today we went to buy things to "set up house" for me. We happened to go right at lunch time. WOW! It was great! I told her, shopping in China is like shopping on Black Friday in the US, every day. It's great! We found everything we were looking for, which is quite a feat here, except a paper towel holder. lol... I am sure I can find one somewhere. But, I wanted to share a picture of someone in IKEA ~ enjoy!

Today, we are going to visit friends. I am sure it will be tons of fun. Tomorrow, will be church - they are having a lunch afterwards, and then who knows ~ maybe we will all get foot massages.

Blessings.

Friday, March 6, 2009

It's been a week!


We have been in China a little over a week - wow! We have settled into a school routine, learned how to order groceries online, bought bikes - we should survive! =o)

Wednesday, Matt, the girls, and I took a mini tour of the school the girls will attend in the fall. (Samantha stayed home to meet the grocery delivery guy.) They really liked the people we met and the school is incredible! Shelby is excited about volleyball next year, but I think she kind of wishes rugby wasn't the same season. They will be touring during school one day next week.

They have each made at least one friend who goes to both our church and ISB. Sydni went to jr. high youth with her friend Wednesday, and Shelby rode her bike to h.s. youth and back with her friend. I am so excited they are getting connected so quickly.

I have been so amazed at the women here - Expat women. I have been taken in and made to feel like I belong here and have been a friend of theirs for years. I went to a BS yesterday, and it was so good. I feel very welcomed, and know the girls and Matt do too.

Today I am on the quest to find a kitchen trash can. You'd think it wasn't that hard, but it is - at least for me. Wal-Mart didn't have one. Samantha's bed will be delivered today, and we will be busy doing all sorts of things today & this weekend. Shelby is wanting to have a friend over this afternoon - maybe a wii/ps2 evening?.

All in all, life is pretty much the same, only a different location. We miss everyone back home, but are really glad we're plugging in so well here.

Blessings.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

School - Back to reality!


We started our first day of school today. Reentry was minimally painful - I am sure the novelty will wear off soon. One thing about it, they are motivated to get their work done, so they can hop on those new cruisers and mill about town. Our landlord is picking them up soon, and they are going to get pedicures. They will take a taxi back to our house when they're done. That should be interesting. =o) I have ordered some groceries and things via the internet, and it is going to be delivered soon. Wow! I wish they had this in the states... it is great! Everything is available - from cleaning supplies to fresh produce. They are even starting an electronics department. It is so wonderful! I want to give a huge thank you to Heidi Frago for doing Skype Math with Sydni. It is no secret that I don't "speak math," so when we decided to finish the year homeschooling, I was a bit in a panic as to what to do. As it has worked out, Mrs. Frago is able to do math with Sydni during the evening (which is our morning). How wonderful! Thanks, Heidi! Tomorrow, we are going to tour the school they will attend in the fall. We will ride our new bikes over and see what the campus looks like, and hopefully meet some of the faculty. I will get back to you on how that goes. Our landlords came by today with this HUGE basket of fruit: pineapple, strawberries, bananas, dragon fruit, and some other stuff I didn't recognize. They also brought organic sweet potato chips, which are so good! What excited me most was he showed me how to work the dishwasher. It is a European make - and I didn't have a clue how to work it - not to mention the words on the front are in Chinese. Our landlords are funny - a nice couple who spent many years in the US. I begin a Bible Study this Thursday - I am excited about it. The women are wonderful, and they are going through the book of Luke - a chapter a week. What a wonderful way to get into the "meat" of the Word.

I hope you are all enjoying this blog - it has been fun to write.

Be blessed.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Shelby's 15!



Today is Shelby's birthday - the first of all of ours in China. I brought box cake mixes and icing for all the birthdays, so today I am going to make her a cake. It will be interesting, because I can't find round cake pans, so we are making the cake in a rectangle pan. =o)

We went to one of the markets this morning and bought UGGS, tennis shoes, and jeans (Diesel & 7's). It was great fun, and I am so thankful to have Tammy as a great friend. She has given us so much - advice on getting around, interpretation books, letting us use her driver, loaning shoes to Sydni, you name it - THANKS TAMMY! I can assure you, without the hospitality we've received, this would be a totally different adventure.
This is Tammy and me outside the Addidas store. Also, Samantha and Shelby trying on jeans in the market.

We went and bought bikes today too. It was great fun, picking out our bikes. I was intrigued by each of the colors the girls decided on and their bells - must have a bell in Beijing. Tammy's driver brought us home, and went back and picked up our bikes. We are ready to travel!

After we returned home, we ordered Papa John's Pizza - oh so good! Tonight, we are going to the Hardrock Cafe, to celebrate Shelby's birthday.

I think the girls are going to get massages, manis, and pedis tomorrow. We will ride our bikes and get Starbucks first. Before we do, we will begin school. fun fun!

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Our 1st Saturday



We have made it through the first week (half a week) in China. We are really liking it here thus far, I hope it continues after we begin school next week. lol Reentry could be dangerous!

Today, we had a few kids over. They are children of a couple of Matt's business associates. They loved the Smarties candy we had (we had to hide it, or we'd be out), and loved the grilled cheese sandwiches we fixed. They have been in our media room ALL DAY playing Play Station 2. I think they watched a movie for a little while. Two of them can understand and speak English, which makes it fun. Matt's printer was delivered today - interesting... Thankfully, the kids were still here, so I had my own mini interpreters! It was hilarious, because they kept laughing at me, saying, "You don't speak Chinese?!" lol... They interpreted what the delivery guy was telling me. They weren't too happy, because they had to pause their game and wanted to get back to it. After he set the printer up, Shelby walked him to the door. He said something to her, and all she could say in Chinese back was, "I don't understand." We will survive! ha!

We have been invited to dinner at the home of an American family, which lives in our neighborhood. He is another one of Matt's business associates. It will be nice to sit with a family who has been here a while, yet understands where we are in this whole transition. Being that we don't have a car, we will walk to their house. It's just a couple of blocks. I've got my parka ready to go.

We are very tired, as we have been going and doing every day, from morning till evening that we have been here. Since we arrived, I am usually ready to go to bed about 6-7, but haven't made it earlier than 9:30 - 10... The jet lag hasn't been too bad, but it's catching up. Sydni asked if she could stay home tonight, which tells me she is VERY tired - she doesn't like being home along.

Tomorrow, we are going to visit a church here close to our neighborhood. We live hear 2 of the largest International Schools and there is a feel of "small town" to the area. We will catch a shuttle there, from the club house at the front of our neighborhood. We are excited about attending. I will get back to you on how it goes. They seem to have quite a bit going on within our community - men's prayer, women's Bible study, youth, worship, etc.

I sent Matt back to Wal-Mart today with a list of things to purchase. He called me and told me he would NOT be going - the traffic is 100 times worse than a week day - and there are a million more people than on a week day. I can only imagine, as it was packed the other day when I was there. Guess the girls and I will take another "field trip" next week. lol

We watched "Snow Buddies" in Chinese, and watched "Becoming Jane" in English earlier today. We have cable, which enables us to get ESPN, Hallmark, HBO, Cinemax, and other stations. There is also "The Price is Right" in Chinese!!! lol There is also a Disney station in Chinese. We definitely aren't bored!

Have a great weekend!

Blessings

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Wal - Mart China style


Today, Matt had a meeting downtown and wanted to show us girls his new office. He dropped all 4 of us girls off at the Wal-Mart in downtown Beijing. Please remember none of us speak the language here. Well, the girls have learned a few words which proved very handy today, like hello, excuse me, thank you, and where's the bathroom. We grabbed 2 buggies and off we went. We had quite a long list and a few hours to kill, so we used the time to explore the store. Interestingly, most things have the English words on the product and the signs where things are. We found just about everything we needed, from laundry detergent, comforter, vases, to a dust mop. After killing a couple of hours, we were ready to check out. In China, you must pay for the plastic bags, if you want to use those and not reusable bags. We decided to buy about 10 reusable bags, so we pointed to the bags and held up 10 fingers. The checker lady understood. We paid for our items and loaded them back into the buggies only to get to the door and realize you can't take the buggy outside. So, we began to gather our things, and I hear Samantha say, "Get your stuff and let's go." I look up and she has put 3-4 bags, including the comforter bag on the dust mop and has it flung over her shoulder. I guess it was exhaustion or jet lag, but I got tickled and began crying laughing. This poor young boy came over and was trying to help me put the vases in a bag to carry. Now, you must know - Chinese people stare at blonde blue eyed people insufferably as it is, it is even worse when they are standing in the middle of Wal-Mart crying. Ha! We made our way out to the street and had to sit and wait on Matt to pick us up. I was still crying when we sat down on the bench and put our bags down. It was a fun time shopping with the girls. I guess it's safe to say that Wal-Mart is Wal-Mart, wherever you go. Afterwards, we went to Matt's office building and up to his floor (46th). Samantha and Shelby were up against the glass wall looking down at the ground and over the city - it's quite a view. Sydni wouldn't go closer than 3 feet from the window. They had a good time taking pictures. For dinner, we ate dinner at a great restaurant around the corner from our house.

We are having a great time - miss you all.

Blessings.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

We're Here!!

Well, after checking 13 bags, only 1 was rummaged through. We made it through security without a hitch and sat for a couple of hours at our gate, waiting for the largest plane I've ever seen.

The girls befriended the cutest little boy, who was about 6. He drew them a picture and they had great fun with photo booth. It helped pass the morning time. The flight was good and the food was surprisingly very good. Samantha slept about 13 of the 14 hours we were on the plane. Sydni stayed awake until about 4am (CAL time), and Shelby slept a good portion of the flight.

When we landed it was 28* and still dark - it was dark all 14 hours of our flight. After piling all our luggage (18 suitcases and our backpacks) on the little carts, we made our way to the people picking us up.

I was met with what is quite possibly the largest bouquit of yellow roses I've ever seen. One of the men Matt is working with brought them - have to be 3 dozen. I will post a picture soon. (I haven't made it to my camera yet) We ate breakfast (very Western) and came back to start unpacking. All the girls claimed their rooms and began putting things away.

We have had people in our house all day, from meeting, to the landlord. None of us has gone to bed since our sleep on the plane. I am hoping this will put us on Beijing time quickly. Samantha and I went and took a tour of the Club House - WOW! It is amazing. Can't wait to utilize it!

Well, that's about it for today. We are going to get cleaned up and go eat and shop for necessary items.

Oh, I almost forgot. It snowed last week 3 days, and there is still snow on the ground. Also, the rivers are frozen and the ducks are walking on them. Looks funny. I am thankful for the heat inside the house, that is for sure!

Be Blessed!