Sunday, August 27, 2006

Play Ball

Mike had promised the boys all week to ride bikes to the school and hit some balls and play catch. Jay has a strong arm, and he was worried about the windows in our neighborhood:-) The boys were beyond excited. Jay had planned out what he, Eli, and Mike were going to wear, down to the caps. The boys came in at 6:20am, ready to go! They were disappointed to have to wait. Well, I thought that Mike would want to take the boys himself, but I was mistaken. I was quite honored to be included in this male ritual, that is until I learned why I was invited. Mike was to be the pitcher (obviously, he doesn't remember I played pitcher on the 53rd ward women's softball team 15 years ago...Or maybe he does) Eli the catcher, and Jay up to bat. I, was apparently brought along to be the outfielder. Yes, the outfielder on a full size pitch. And, did I mention that Jay hits hard? Well, I certainly got my exercise for the day!!!! We started our playing, when the guard came over to ask us to move our bikes. You need to know, that there were no cars in the parking lot. He wanted us to take them all the way over to the back of the school to the bike park. We made a compromise and parked them in a parking stall. This way, he didn't lose face, and we didn't walk our bikes all the way over there for nothing. We had a great time playing. You know, everyone got a turn to hit, except me. I wonder if I'll be lucky enough to be invited again??!

** I think it should be noted that Mike and I saw a bike with three huge TV's strapped on the back. I realize that the record is 4 TV's on a scooter, but points need to be given for a man-powered machine, so a special category should be made.

Jay, Caitlin, Nicole, and Rachel were all asked to speak in church today about how they grew spiritually over the summer. All of the girls wrote their own talks, and all of them did a great job. Some of the BYU group came this week, so there was a larger crowd than expected. Instead of the 15 of us that had been coming, there were about 20. Anyway, their talks were full of experiences they had with all of our family back home this summer. Thank you for being such wonderful examples, friends, and mentors to all of us. We love you!

Sunday, August 20, 2006

The first week of school...

This has been a very eventful week for us. We started it with Jay’s seventh birthday last Sunday. He is very happy to be seven. He had some great celebrations in Utah with Grandparents, and we had a cake and some presents for his birthday, here. On Saturday, Mike and I had taken him for a pizza lunch, which was fun. Jay is growing up so fast. He is such a sweet kid. We all love him.

On Monday, school started. On Sunday, Michael had given each of the children the traditional Father’s Blessing, and everyone felt ready. Every one of my children is in school all day now! This is one of those days you don’t really see coming so soon. Eli was so happy to go to the same school as his brothers and sisters. He has loved every day so far. The first day, I had to insist I take him. He was sure Jay could just drop him off! I don’t think so! I had shed my tears Sunday night before I went to sleep, so I didn’t make a scene and embarrass him on his first day. I was worried about being lonely. I was so busy this week, there was no time for loneliness!

The children all had a great week. I think they are all looking forward to the many activities they have coming up. They all signed up for their after-school activities for the first quarter. Eli is doing a group game class, and a cooking class. Jay is doing Student Council, and a basketball class. Caitlin is doing scrap booking and computer club. Nicole is doing Student Council, volleyball, rugby, and yearbook. Rachel is doing Student Council, volleyball, and rugby. They will all stay busy! Rachel, Nicole and I started our running training this week. We get up Monday, Wednesday, and Friday and go at 5:45 for 45 minutes. To start we are running one minute, and walking the next. We will keep building on that.

The first while after we got back, I was struggling to adjust to the China scene, again. I didn’t expect this, as I had been doing just fine before the summer. But this week, I really have overcome my first initial culture shock. I think it really did the trick when I went running on Tuesday morning, after the kids went to school. It was already really quite hot, and so humid, but I really thought I could do it anyway. I ran my favorite route, to the cemetery. First I ran past the little cottages, usually so full of life. They were all rubble. I was saddened by this, and realized how blessed I am to be in a large beautiful house. They are filled with transient people from the country, and when the construction is finished, they move on. I ran past an old man who just looked right at me and laughed (crazy lady). I ran past the dump baking in the humid heat. Wow! That was potent. I had to move out of the way of a man and his water-buffalo, walking down the street. There was a woman pulling her greens for sale in her handcart, and a man pulling an old beat up window AC in his. By the time I got to the cemetery, the old me was back! I was happy to be here in China. The place where every sense is awakened, and something to learn around every corner. Of course, I had to walk home, because I don’t think I had an ounce of liquid left in my body with that heat!

I started a very challenging exercise class this week, joined a great charity organization, started on the school parent committee I’ve agreed to be on, and had lots of fun with my kids after school. I also found a great Italian Ice-cream shop, and while Mike and I were on our date, were lucky enough to run into the Nanjing Police Talent night at the park. At least, that is what we think it must have been. We saw about 20 policemen marching and doing fancy drills with their whistles. Wow! It was really hard not to laugh. Later, some of them sang, and then there was a brass band. We wondered if there was an unusual jump in the theft- rate that night.

We are all ready for this next year, and look forward to the adventures it will bring...

Summer 2006 Photos

Like I said, I didn't use my camera near enough this summer, but here are some fun shots we did get...

Rachel and Nicole's young women project they did this summer. Special thanks to Becky, Catherine, and Grandpa Russon!
Snug as 3 bugs.
Give me 2 thumbs up buddy! (We actually saw someone say that on an episode of Maguiver we watched today!)
Hanging out at the Pineview Campsite

Happy Birthday Chad! Hi Karly!
Look Dad, I'm driving a Ford!
We love cousins!

Summer Photos

Here is a great photo of our attempt to "swim" in the Great Salt Lake!
Here are some fun pics of the alpine slide. Nicole!
Erin (Nicole's friend from Michigan)
Jay, Anna, and Amy
Lonnie and Jay
The ride up the mountain was great!

Sunday, August 06, 2006

We had an amazing summer!

We just got back two days ago, from visiting family in Utah. It was such a wonderful trip. Six weeks of fun and playing! Michael needed to stay and work, so the first four weeks, we stayed at my Mom and Dad's house, and split the time between my family and Mike's. We stayed with his parents for a while when he came. We did so many fun name a few, there were trips to St. George, the Alpine Slide, swimming, Cherry Hill, Lagoon, shopping (this should be in italics...there was a lot of shopping), birthday parties, yummy food, waterskiing and camping, girls camp, the big young women's project, family reunions, parades, a 5k and 10k, training for the runs, did I mention shopping, or eating? The list could go on and on. Obviously, we had an incredible summer. The best part was just spending time with our family. It is always my favorite thing to spend time with our brothers, sisters, and parents. And the children sure do love their grandparents, and cousins. It is so much fun to see them all growing up. We feel so blessed to have been able to spend a large period of time just getting to know everyone more. We also had a visit from Nicole's friend Erin, from Michigan for 10 days. That was so much fun. We kept her very busy, and it meant so much to Nicole.

Well, I know I have some pictures. Not near as many as I would like. I was so terrible at remembering to bring my camera on all of these fun things. Anyway, I still haven't found it in my unpacking. So, pictures will have to come soon. We had a long, long, trip home. The children were very good, and it was wonderful to have Mike along to help. There is just no way of getting around the journey, but it was definately worth it. We came home to our new house. Poor Mike had to go to work the next day, so he was off, and we got busy with the boxes, and suitcases. The children have been such good sports about all of the work. We've made good progress with a lot of the boxes, and the 14, yes 14, 50 lb. suitcases. We used up every pound! Luckily, Mike has elite statis, so the couple of bags we went over, weren't charged to us! I'm hoping to finish up the house this week before school starts.

It took me a little bit to get back into the Chinese speaking again. Luckily, it's coming back pretty quickly. Mike and I went to the store yesterday to get some food and stuff for the house. I think I had gotten used to the smells after being here for a year. Wow, were they potent yesterday! And the crouds! It's impossible to even describe them. We're back!

We had a terrific summer, enjoying our family, friends, and the ease of America. Just the break we needed. I feel like we are ready for another year of China. Is China ready for another year of us????