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


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


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