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


Thursday, March 12, 2009


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!!!


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


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.


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.


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!