Wednesday, November 22, 2006

We're back!

Nicole, on her 7Th grade trip...yummy! OK, more pretty than tasty.
"Look, it's a rare form of crow!" "Oh my! How educational!"

Additionally,Rachel and Nicole each discovered on their trip, that not all budas are fat!
Happy Birthday to Rachel!

Just driving down the street next to this guy...

I have not been able to get on my blog for almost a whole month! I'm so glad to be back! Here are a few things that have gone on while I've been away...

Rachel and Nicole went on their trips the first week of November. They each had a very memorable time. They came back with loads of photos, and some really fun stories. A couple of highlights we heard about: Rachel was the dumpling queen; eating the most dumplings out of all of the girls...17 dumplings. Mike was quite proud. The boy with the most ate 30 something. She also spent one evening ill (not the same evening as the dumpling contest) and made what was described as a "spectacular display" of vomit all over the bathroom floor. She really enjoyed seeing the Shaolin Monks, and visiting a martial arts school. She was quite amazed that they study martial arts for 7 hours a day, and then work on regular studies. She also stood on the mountain that is the "central point" of China. Nicole also had a great trip. They went to a small water town that she really enjoyed, and wants to take us there. Learning about the tea farms was not on her highlights list, though they did walk for a very long time to get there, and she has footage of a funny man teaching them all about tea. They also went to an amusement park, which I am a bit scared to think about. I sometimes feel worried about the mechanics in America, let alone here. All in all, I think they had wonderful trips. We were glad to have them home.

Rachel's 14Th birthday was on the 9Th of this month. Yes, we are getting old. She had a nice birthday. She wanted soup and a cake for her dinner. She got a digital camera that she has wanted for so long. She has been taking photos ever since! I took her and her two closest friends to dinner and for foot massages on that Friday night. We had a great time.

I had an experience recently that really sums up how things seem to work quite often, here in China. I was helping with a charity fundraiser, and having some place mats made. I bought trim at the fabric market, where the vendor told me there were 50 meters per spool. I paid per meter. Well, of course, there were only 25 meters per spool. I had to go back for more. I asked my driver to come and help me. I explained to him what it was for, and how she had cheated me the week before. We certainly knew she wouldn't just "give" us the rest, but hoped to get a cheap price for the amount we needed to buy. He played their friendly argument game for over 10 minutes, and finally got the cheaper price. He saved me 50 yuan. When we went out to the car, he had a parking ticket. Guess for how much???? YUP 50yuan!

We were driving home from church the other day, and saw a man with about 3 or 4 skinned animal carcases tied to the back of his motorcycle. Rachel got a photo (she always has her camera with her). The kids asked the driver what kind of meat it was, and he told us it was dog. Beat that in a grosser than gross joke! We were all disgusted and sad for the dogs, but couldn't act the part too much, because our driver feels it is a delicious specialty. Only served spice, of course.

One of the facts of life, here in China, is terrible plumbing, and constantly plugged up toilets. As all of our husbands had an over-night management conference last night, my two friends, Ginnelle and Julie, and I had a "girls night". They came over after the boys went to bed, and we snacked and visited. Just as they were getting ready to leave, Rachel came down and said the bathroom was flooded! I told them to run home while they could, but of course, they refused. The lucky girls got to watch me stand there in bare feet in two inches of toilet water, trying to unplug the bathroom drain, and unsuccessfully plunge the toilet. I think they were having trouble standing, they were laughing so hard. The best part is that Julie, had never heard of a plunger (how has she made it this long in China without one?). Well, one plungers was cracked, and the other turned inside out. Ginnelle was amazed, telling us she'd never seen anyone who had worn out their plunger before. Just as I was about to give up, Ginnelle found one more plunger in one of the bathrooms, and I tried one more time. It was a good plunger, but I was not! We finally asked Julie's driver to come in and help. After a long try, it finally worked! We were all so happy (of course, they didn't have to stand in the liquid). No worries, Julie brought me some paper towels to stand on so I could slide to the other bathroom and wash my feet and hands. I think the highlight of the evening for them, was when they found Rachel's camera, and took play by play photos! They wondered if they could come back next week for more excitement. They said they won't forget their cameras next time. What they didn't know, was if they'd just stayed a while longer, they could have seen Eli's vomit production! I think Mike arranged his "meeting" accordingly! And no, I'm not posting photos of the "potty party".

Well, this is getting really long. I am hoping that we will have better luck with the website and I won't have to wait so long in between! We love you all, and hope your holidays are wonderful!!!