Sunday, February 26, 2006

February 26, 2006

Jay and Mom in "Holland".

Here, Jay is learning to make pasta in "Italy".

A pose with our Super-bowl party maniquin.

On Monday, I went for a walk with a couple of friends around Mochu lake. That was an experience! We saw fishermen with big nets, and lots of jumping, smelly, fish. We saw lots and lots of Tai zhi going on, we even saw a huge choir singing at the top of their lungs. They meet there quite often, apparently, and just sing together for fun. They all looked so happy. There were people practicing their instruments, and people exercising. And there was a sign that said," NO SPEELING". ??? The unfortunate thing, is that I forgot my camera! But the good news, is that I'm going to Mochu lake tomorrow morning, and I will NOT forget it this time. So, I guess there is some reason to come back and check out the blog next week now...

Rachel and Nicole started their sports this week. Nicole is playing volleyball with the middle-school, and Rachel is on the high-school soccer team, due to a shortage of interested girls. They are both having a good time. I was able to go and see Caitlin and Jay at school during their "open day". It was fun to see the things they are working on. Eli was busy at home washing dishes with milk, working on his alphabet, and scaring his mother for about 25 minutes when he snuck out to the "neighborhood junkyard" (as he told me). Apparently, it's the place the workers take all of the trash until the garbage truck comes. I found out that morning that it is a popular spot with the kids. He won't be scaring Mommy like that again! Mike was informed this week by a fellow male Chinese employee, that the female Chinese employees have decided that Mike is the best-looking man in the office. I could have told them that!

This Saturday was International Day at the school. Every country represented by children at the school, did a room. There were 19 countries represented. This year the theme was "something your country is known for". There are six families from the U.S. We did a Superbowl theme. We didn't have much in the way of Superbowl decor, but we pulled in couches, and had popcorn, Oreos, Pringles, and pop. We couldn't find any football footage, so we showed part of a football movie over and over. Not the best room of the day, but considering none of us had ever been to International Day before, we didn't do too bad. The kids had a great time getting a passport book stamped, and seeing and tasting things from different countries.

Today, Mike and I were supposed to speak in Church. Well, Caitlin's ear has a stubborn infection that is resistant to the antibiotics, so we have to take her in every day to have her ear treated. Of course, the time that the doctor was in his office on a Sunday was 11:00, right when church starts. I think this is the last time I'll prepare early! Because, on Friday, when we found out about the Sunday doctor visit, I happened to have more done on my talk than Mike. I was the lucky one who got to stay home and give my talk, and Mike took her to the doctor. Bishop McMullen gave a fine talk in Michael's place (from the Saturday Morning Conference Session), and it was very thoughtful of Mike to pair me with someone I know, since he couldn't speak with me:-)

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Not in Thailand Anymore

It has taken a while for my brain to realize I am no longer on vacation. The kids started school, and Mike started work, the day after we got home. We were right back into life. We were at the doctors' office three times this week. Rachel, Caitlin, and Michael all three had ear infections. Mike's were the worst. Both ears, in front and behind his eardrum. OUCH! They think there was some bacteria in the pool, and getting on the plane right after, cinched it. Don't worry, they still thought it was worth it:-) We were also there for more shots. I don't think I knew there were so many different kinds of vaccinations.

Caitlin and Rachel are both getting ready for the school talent show. They are both doing dances with different groups of friends. They have been practicing hard. Jay is getting ready for the lower-elementary school production. Nicole started drum lessons. Eli is plain bored. Who wouldn't be after all of the entertaining that went on in Thailand? Who can compete with trapeze, swimming, and ice-cream three times a day? He is getting pretty creative in entertaining himself around the house, though. When not sneaking into everything to scavenge treats, gum, etc. from any room in the house, he was found making a giant sling-shot with one of those elastic bouncy-ball things you hook to your wrist. He stretched it tight between the stairs and the door, and flung pens across the room. He was also found repairing the broken elephant that I brought from Thailand with his chewing gum. While on time-out for sneaking into the Valentine treats I had hid for the kids, he said (right after a big lecture on not getting into things anymore), " Mom, I'm just going to turn around and face the wall." He proceeded to sneak into the pack of gum he had been hiding. Little Sweetie...

Mike took me to dinner for Valentine's Day, and bought me beautiful roses. I'm not sure if I will get in trouble for sharing this, but he also agreed to 3 ballroom dancing classes. A couple we know from work asked if we would go to some private lessons with them, and I guess Mike felt really bad for his friend, and said OK. I don't care about the reasons...I think it's about the best Valentine ever. Mike hates to dance. So, we spent 30 minutes learning three salsa moves...Over and over and over again. I left thinking it was the shortest class I'd been to (and that we didn't learn much. The men left thinking it was 15 minutes more than they could take (and I don't think Mike remembers the moves)! I thought Mike did quite well. When asked how it went...He said he survived. I guess it was too much to ask that it was fun.

Today, we had two people from the manager's office at our complex come to the door right before church. They speak NO ENGLISH. They spoke so fast, it was hard for me to make it out! But they told us that the fireworks we did on New Year's Eve broke the window of our Chinese neighboor down the street(now, we didn't do many, can't figure out how it made it through the tree and into their window, not to mention that there were fireworks coming from everywhere) and that we needed to go apologize. So Mike and I went over, and apologized, which really meant tell them we would pay for the window, and everyone left happy (I think). It was a bit weird. This all happened at the same time people were arriving 40 minutes (?) early for church. Now, I figure I need to be ready a good 30 minutes before church starts, just to be safe. So you can see how I needed a good 10 more minutes to have the house ready! I guess they are all going to have to love us for who we are:-)

Sunday afternoon is always nice, to rest and recuperate for the coming week. We watched our weekly family Macgyver episode ( a special tradition since Mike bought the season at the DVD store), learned important survival skills from him, and had plenty of Light-saber fights with our plastic Star Wars toys (of course, very restful, Sunday-like fights). Now it's time to read the boys a story, and put them to bed. That is when we can take a deep breath, and start another week...

Monday, February 13, 2006

Thailand pics

The beach

We visited this Budhist Temple

After the big show

Eli, getting his groove on

Amazing Rachel flying on the trapeze!

Fun in Thailand

Nicole hitching a ride with an ox.

Here is where we went snorkeling with Caitlin

I didn't turn this photo, cause it changes the dimensions. Our Elephant ride.

Here is a picture of Mike holding Eli on his shoulders

Fun with Monkeys

Some Beautiful Sunsets

Our trip to Thailand

We got back yesterday from a week-long trip to Phuket Thailand. We stayed at the Club Med resort. We thought it must be pretty close to heaven! We left on Friday morning,and went to Shanghai and then left early Saturday morning, arriving at our destination Saturday about 8:00pm. Because the next day was Sunday, we wanted to try to keep the Sabbath day as holy as possible. We weren't sure how the kids would take it, seeing everything there was to do, but we actually had a really nice, restful day. We went on several walks, and played some exciting rounds of Uno. It was a good day to make plans for the rest of the week. There were so many options, we had to plan carefully, so we wouldn't miss one of the fun activities that Club Med had to offer.

Michael, Rachel, Nicole, and me, decided to get our open-water scuba licenses. I don't like to admit this, but I've always had a fear of oceans. I'm ok to play in the shallow waves, but maybe I watched Jaws or National Geographic Specials one too many times. I am so glad that I didn't let my fears stop me! The four dives we went on were some of the most beautiful scenes I have ever seen in my life! One of the days we went to the Phi Phi Islands on a boat, and did our dives there. The coral, and tropical fish were breath-taking. It looked as if everything had been set-up just for us to see, like in a movie. Rachel and Nicole loved it! They worked hard, and we were very proud of them. And Mike, well, he's wanted to do this forever, so you could say it was a dream come true for him! Thanks to a very patient Italian scuba instructor named Lucio, we all did it!

Caitlin, Jay and Eli were excited to join the kid's club. They were able to do things like trapeze, Bungie bouncing, archery, games, swimming at the beach and pool, and many other things. With them in the kid's club, Mike and I were able to do the scuba-diving. We spent four days in all. Three of the days were a couple of hours in the morning, and another couple of hours in the afternoon, and the last day was an all day trip to the island. Between our scuba classes, we were able to lay on the beach, lounge around the pool, and even try out the trapeze and bungie bounce as well. Rachel did so well with the trapeze that she learned two catches! (where she flew in the air and was caught by someone on another trapeze)

There were shows put on by Club Med every night. Two of those nights, the kids performed. They got to wear costumes and had face paint and everything. We were all shocked to see Eli really getting into it! He has never been the performing child. He's always the one hiding behind his mom, in those moments. Shocking, coming from a family of "let's make up a show and perform it" children. But don't worry, I think he's getting ready to take center stage.

Other great things that went on, were playing with monkeys, riding elephants, Thai massages, coconut milk drinks on the beach, the huge fantasia show with over 200 dancers and 30 elephants, a snorkeling trip with Caitlin, the girls getting their hair beaded, hours and hours in the pool (my children couldn't get enough! Jay can swim quite well now, and Eli is an expert doggie paddler!), and of course we got in a bit of shopping as well. The girls made good friends with another family from a different city in China, and that made everything even more fun!

There was a different theme each night, for the dinner and show. The food was incredible (though we weren't sure if it really was incredible, or if we have lowered our expectations on food), we're going with incredible, and all we could eat. I think that Eli pretty much survived the week on ice-cream cones.

Well, I think that you might say, we felt we were in paradise. It was a wonderful vacation! We are all back at school and work today. I think we could all use a rest now after our vacation, but it's time to get back to life. And work of all of that food we ate! So we'll treasure our memory of our vacation in paradise, and get back to real life.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

A few more pictures of our Guang Guang (stroll)

Mike took a picture of some of the people taking pics of the kids. We counted at least eight.

The "pose" for the photo shoot.

Confucious Temple

Trying new things

Jiang, fixing us our Lunar New Year dinner.

Us, enjoying our Lunar New Year dinner.

Tons of great lanturns at Confucius Temple.

Our Korean dinner.

Tomorrow we head off to Thailand. We are so excited! I wanted to write about this week before we leave, because I will have too much to write about Thailand, I'm sure. The children have been out of school this week, and Mike hasn't had to work long hours, because of the Chinese New Year. The children played with the few friends that are still in town. Nicole had a great time talking to Erin, her best friend from Michigan, this last week, and I got to call and wish my Mom a happy birthday! I won't mention her age. A special day was when Jiang, our driver, brought us some Chinese New Year specialties that he had made himself. I know I mentioned before, that much of the celebrating is done by cooking as a family. Jiang made special dumplings and spring rolls, and came over to our house to cook them for us! They were so delicious! The spring rolls are only eaten during the New Year celebration, not at any other time of the year. The children just gobbled them all up!

On Tuesday evening, we went as a family to a Korean restaurant. The children had never tried Korean food, and since Mike went on his mission to Korea, we thought it would be a good experience. They loved it! I am really surprised at how expanded our children's ability to try and even like different foods has become. They especially liked the Korean barbecue. They are even starting to be able to peel the shrimp here in China, like pros. This entails removing the head, legs, tail and all. It can be very disconcerting to have your meal staring at you! Later that evening, we went to the Confucius Temple to see the special New Years Lanterns and Vendors. It was really fun. We bought a Chinese yoyo that wasn't too hard for me to do when the man started it for me. When we brought it home, we found it is near impossible. But Mike isn't giving up! Maybe he'll be able to get it and teach the rest of us.

On Wednesday, we planned to go to Hunan Lu to see the Dragons, and Drums, etc. Jiang had found the time and date in the news paper for us. Well, when we got there, he was told that it wasn't going to happen. We never found out why. But, it didn't really surprise us (lots of things are like that here). We still had a good time walking around, and the children all got those special artistic caramel suckers. We had a whole group of people taking photos of the children. Some followed us down the whole road. I think my girls thought they were on a runway!

The fireworks haven't disappeared yet. They go off every night. Last night, there was an influx of fireworks at 12:00 again, and then we were treated to another gigantic round at 5:30 this morning. Apparently, there is a special part of the celebration going on. We hear that the last day of the vacation, which is Saturday, is the biggest yet for the fireworks. We won't be here to "enjoy" all of the smoke and noise. We were wondering if they just use that day to get rid of all of their left-overs. Who knows?????