Sunday, November 27, 2005

Thanksgiving Photos

Happy Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving was a very interesting day for us. The children had school, and Mike was supposed to have work. Unluckily, Mike had to work all last Saturday, but luckily, his boss said he could have Thursday off. So Mike, Eli and I went on some errands. Jiang took us to try Chinese Noodles. They were very yummy, but it took me a while to get over my "etiquette" training enough to "slurp" them like the Chinese do. Ok, I never did get it right. But, I tried. Mike caught right on! We picked up the kids from school, and went straight to Purple Mountain. We thought it would be the perfect place to think about the blessings we have been given. It was beautiful. We were able to ride to the top on the cable cars, and then have a family prayer of Thanksgiving before riding back down. It was lots of fun, and even when Rachel and Nicole got a little embarrassing on the ride down (singing show tunes and yelling hello to everyone in different voices), we were so glad we went. I remember Lori and I being the exact same way! Sorry Mom and Dad! We had our Thanksgiving Dinner at a little Chinese restaurant where we had pineapple duck, crispy tofu, fried rice, and a couple more dishes. We weren't feeling overly adventurous that night. It was a very strange, but very Happy Thanksgiving.

On Saturday, we celebrated Thanksgiving with our church group. I was able to get 2 turkeys (a rare and special treat) and was in charge of the desserts as well, being the only one with an oven. My friend Sharon came over Friday evening, and helped me. Four huge pans of apple crisp, and six pumpkin pies. There were 7, but somehow when we got there, there were only 6! It was a mystery. We called the driver....Not in the car. We called our Ayi...Not in the fridge! It was the mystery of the missing pie! Well, when we got home, it was in the fridge. So...Either the pie was sitting somewhere else when we called, or...She didn't know what a pie was. Who knows??? It worked out well in the end, because we have pie for our dessert tonight! Everyone was very sweet and appreciative of the food, and it was fun to see how happy everyone was to have a "real" Thanksgiving. One Chinese girl gave me a bouquet of paper flowers that she had made!

At this Thanksgiving time, we are so grateful for our many blessings. We are especially grateful for our family, and good friends. We are grateful for the influence that you all are in our lives. Here, in China we are grateful for the amazing and friendly people here. We are grateful for new things to see, and do. We are grateful for a broader outlook on life. We are extremely grateful for the comforts that we enjoy, as we watch these humble people work so hard for their day to day existence. We are grateful to family and friends who stay in contact with us and make us feel cared for and loved. We are grateful for the gospel, that is the same no matter where we live. And we are grateful to have a Heavenly Father who listens to our prayers!

A couple of things that happened this week...

Rachel, Nicole, Caitlin and I went to the movie theater to see Harry Potter 4. It was really fun! We went with the young women, who were nice enough to invite everyone who wanted to go. The only disappointment was that they only had the strange sweet popcorn they always make here. We wished for our salt and butter. There were cell phones going off every couple of minutes! I thought how upset people would be at home. But it was fun to go to a movie after so long.

On Thursday I saw a huge group of people in the park ballroom dancing! It was awesome! There are always cool things going on at the parks in the mornings. Tai Chi, exercise groups, etc. I always wonder what they would do if I went and joined in!

I bought a Christmas tree this week. Of course, there are no real trees. And barely any fake trees. The one I got (the only place I know to get one) is the old kind where you bend out the branches, and they come in silver or green. It looks just like that tinsel stuff. Crazy! We will decorate it tonight.

So...My friend Yvonne Yu, brings me a newspaper today, at church. She says..."Lonnie you are famous"! And there I am in the middle of the page. I am buying the Christmas tree. Eli is standing next to me. I didn't even know they were taking my photo!

Monday, November 21, 2005

A busy week...

This last week was a busy, but good week. The busiest was the weekend. I am the enrichment activity co-ordinator (there aren't "official" callings in a group, so we are all co-ordinators). We had a sleep-over at my house on Friday night. It was lots of fun. My home is about 30 minutes from town, where most everyone else is located, so the taxi rides are expensive out this way. Some of the University students had been wanting to come and use our oven, and hang out, so we thought it would be a fun thing for the girls. Even a few married sisters came! There were 14 of us on Friday night, and another few came on Saturday morning for a Chinese cooking class put on by two of our Chinese sisters. Wow! What a feast! They made eight dishes, if I remember right. I'm going to make an attempt at one tonight. So...We'll see how it goes. The BYU group is leaving in a couple of weeks, so we will be back to our small group. It's been wonderful to have them here. The children have had a "real" Young Women's and Primary program. We have made some neat friends. The Christiansens, the BYU professor, and his wife, brought their five kids and a cousin. It has been wonderful for our children, and the other two children in our group.

On Sunday, was the Young Women sacrament meeting. Rachel gave a nice talk on Knowledge. They all sang a pretty song, as well.

This next week is Thanksgiving, and ours will be an interesting one. On Saturday, we will have a nice Thanksgiving Dinner with our church group. I mentioned before I'm the only one with the oven, so I'll be busy! Luckily, Sharon Christiansen will come over and we'll do it all together. Much more fun!

You should have seen me trying to tell my driver that I was going to Metro to buy 2 turkeys last Friday. I was picking up 2 turkeys (a rare and special treat) that I had reserved for the church group next week. I was trying to figure out how to say this in Chinese, and I had told my driver that I was picking them up. Before I knew the word for turkey, I was trying to tell him "big chicken",because that's all I knew how to say, and I was gobbling and everything. Ok, Chinese people gobble differently than American people...Just for your future reference! He must think I'm such an idiot! He miss-understood (which is easy to do cause there aren't turkeys here in China) and was asking me if I was getting a man or a woman. I was so confused, I kept asking," A man or woman turkey? I don't know if it's a man or a woman, but I think maybe a man" (do we eat male or female, or both????)and finally, when he drove up to the front, where they were selling live roosters and chickens, I understood. He thought I was buying 2 live chickens or roosters! I felt bad cause the people were so excited when they thought I was going to buy two live roosters from them! Then I had to explain to him that I was getting them inside the Metro and that they were frozen. That was a challenge in itself! It was so funny! You should have seen Wan (our Ayi) and Jiang helping me carry them in the house! They were pretty amazed! I found out today that our driver, Jiang, has never even seen what a live turkey looks like...Only the big frozen thing he carried in the house!

You've probably guessed by now that our driver doesn't speak more than about 10 English words. I'm sure it would be most entertaining to watch us try to communicate! I am most often glad about this, because if he could speak English, I don't know if I would have the motivation I need to even try to learn this crazy language!

Sunday, November 13, 2005

A Beautiful Day at Purple Mountain

This is a photo of Eli with his Dragon Kite...and then Rachel's Birthday.


This has been a good week. I decided to write down a few things that stand out in my memory...

On Monday my friend Julie and I went for a walk on Purple Mountain. It was beautiful! A man on a motor-scooter rode up next to us and asked in very broken English "I take you". (he wanted to take us somewhere and then charge us like a taxi) Well, we said, "No thanks" in our best Chinese. He ignored us. Julie had learned the word for exercise. She tried it (though, I don't think he understood through her thick Australian accent!). But, he definitely knew we weren't interested. Where, we wondered, would he fit the both of us even if we wanted a ride? Of course many Chinese families ride all together on a motor-scooter. But he wasn't your average small Chinese guy, and we definitely aren't Chinese-size women! Anyway, he followed us for fifteen minutes! He just rode along side of us while we walked to the place she wanted to show me, which was a newly built road, built around a large tree. Maybe he figured it out by then, or maybe he just went home for lunch...

I had a life altering thing happen at the end of last week...Our computer broke down! Boy was I unhappy about that! But don't worry, someone came to fix it on Tuesday morning. A man that spoke NO English, and I'm assuming read no English. Anyway, he wasn't able to fix it (surprise), but called our land management man to translate to me that he wanted to take it with him to their shop. Of course, I had no other options... Well, he hoisted the huge thing up, and I walked with him to the front gate so that they wouldn't think he was stealing our computer, expecting him to climb into a taxi. Instead, I watched him lug it to the bus-stop! Not to fear...He apparently made it back into town, cause they dropped it off to Mike's office two days later, and here I am.... They had to replace our hard-drive. The ironic thing about the whole incident is that we have Microsoft Office software on it's way here(with the help of my dad) because we didn't want to be dishonest and get the pirated version. But...There aren't any english versions other than pirated-versions of XP here(so they tell me), so they loaded one on our new hard drive! But don't worry, we'll be legal again in a month when our Office Version gets here!

Wednesday was Rachel's Birthday! Wow...I have a teenager! I think that's supposed to make me old. Well, don't tell Rachel this, but I still feel like a teenager myself at times...So who is the parent here? Surely not Mike! (he's been giving me a hard time today, so I feel no remorse for that comment:-) Anyway, she had a nice day with lots of E-cards. She wanted Hamburgers, which I did my best with. Nothing I make here seems to turn out quite right. But, luckily, we are much less picky these days. I did find some hamburger, yes, scary, but we try not to think about it too much! Mike and I took her out last night to dinner, which was really enjoyable. Then we took her to get a foot massage. It was a double success. Awesome feeling feet, and several Chinese young men who kept commenting on how beautiful she was, and were certain that she was at least 19. That's all ok, as long as her 6'5" father is next to her! Success! She is really growing up into a beautiful young woman inside and out. We are proud of her.

Thursday was the happy day we got our computer back! And...Mike was asked by his Chinese co-workers to be Santa at the work Christmas Party! HO HO HO (he really shouldn't give me a hard time right before I write on the blog)

Friday night Mike and I went out with our friends from the BYU group to a Tibetan restaurant. It was quite the place. The food was great. Our friend was able to speak Chinese, and the owner brought us each a photo of a neat landmark in his home city. While we were eating dinner, I watched a large rat crawl around outside our window. Funny how I wasn't really upset by that. I must really have come a long way! On our walk back to their apartment, we bought some of this huge granola bar cake thing. These men sell them in the street. They are Weigens, apparently from a Muslim tribe in middle-Asia. He just cut off a slab for us. It is surprisingly delicious! Every kind of nut and dried fruits with honey, from what we can tell. Yummy!

On Saturday, it was so beautiful! Apparently here in China, the government will proclaim it is winter when the weather has been down to a certain temperature for five days in a row. Normally the fall is about 35 to 40 days, and this year it is 50 and counting! So...It's still fall. It has been so nice. Saturday afternoon we wanted to enjoy what could be a last nice weekend, so we went to Purple Mountain. We went to a place where an emperor had huge stone animals carved to line the way to his tomb. It was tons of fun. The kids were able to run around, and there were so many beautiful things to see. My children left feeling like world-famous models! Every time we would stop to get a photo, there would be several people stop and take photos of us. I'm talking those big fancy cameras with the huge lenses. Some would ask, others just took. Several times, Mike had to wait cause everyone else taking photos were in his way. I told him to take pix of them taking pix. Pretty hilarious. Wow, we must be gorgeous! (or strange)

Saturday, November 05, 2005

Happy Birthday Eli

Eli is four years old! He had a fun birthday. We had a friend party for him on the afternoon of the 31st. He had a good time, but honestly, he was more interested in his gifts than the party. I guess that's about right for a four-year old. Later that night (Halloween night) Nicole, Eli, and a friend went out for an impromptu "Trick-or-treat". We hadn't arranged anything in our compound for trick-or-treating, but I guess some of the German kids did it the year before, so I think some of the school teachers were expecting it. They went around the neighborhood, mostly sticking to the foreign crowd. They came back with a most interesting cache! There were peanuts, mandarin oranges, tomato flavored suckers(yes tomato!), and some Chinese coins. There were also some interesting flavored squash or pumpkin seeds from Korean friends. I think they also got a couple of normal-type suckers and candy. They felt it was a success, so who can argue!

On Tuesday, Eli's actual birthday, Eli and I decided to have a special lunch at McDonald's, and then head to a park to fly the new dragon kite he got from his friend for his birthday. When we went to the park, there wasn't much wind, and got no-where with the kite. So we took a walk around the park. Well, soon, some of the older men started flying their kites. We went to watch. There were several people with small children trying to get Eli to play with their children (which is not unusual)so he was, of course, showing off. We decided to try our kite one more time. We were pitiful! A woman came and tried to help. Then one of the old men came to try to help. Pretty soon we had a group of about seven people trying to make our kite fly. It was hilarious. They tried and tried. In a final blaze of glory, our kite soared for an exaggerated 20 seconds. Everyone clapped! Our kite was declared unflyable, and everyone went on their way. Apparently our kite was made for decoration, not actual flying. While it was a kite failure, I counted our afternoon as an inter-cultural success! Eli, I think, was just tired of all of the attention.

That night, we had a birthday dinner of Chinese Noodles (glorified top ramen), and a special chocolate bar cake. I unwrapped our special US imported candy bars, layed them on a plate in a fancy array, stuck in four candles...And TA DA! I've never seen the family more excited about birthday cake. We split up the candy, and ate while Eli opened his presents. I'd call that a Happy Birthday. The only sad part is that Eli somehow got into his head that he was going to go to the big-kid school (the International School) now that he is four! Well, at least he still has something to look forward to...