Thursday, March 20, 2008

Happy Easter!

Spring is here, and it is turning out to be a beautiful one. The leaves are starting to bud, and it is more and more green. The last week and a half has been busy. Caitlin and Nicole were both in Shanghai last weekend for a volleyball tournament. Caitlin found out this week after practicing so hard that she will get to do her dance in the School talent show. Eli made it through another swimming lesson with blue lips from being so cold! Poor guy. The Chinese hotel doesn't think it's healthy to turn up the heat. Jay is enjoying playing basketball outside. I was really happy to get Mike home last Friday afternoon after having him gone to South Africa for the week. We are looking forward to enjoying the Easter weekend, though we don't get any time off. We are so grateful for our Savior and what he has done for us. Especially for the opportunity we have to be an eternal family. I am especially grateful that I have the knowledge of his great sacrifice as I look around and realise that so many people don't. This year we get to try to make our own egg coloring, and I couldn't really find any Easter candy, but found some candy the kids will like in Shanghai. Luckily, they are pretty flexible these days...

Here is a little walk I took the other day. I just had to find out what the mellow was. As you can see by the little yellow happy face on the tree, it must be a great place!

I thought I may be getting near the "mellow" when I saw all of the trees being planted. They will plant grass and huge trees like this in just a couple of days.

Ah...this must be the "mellow"!

Here is a fruit and nut market we visited last week. In the morning it is so busy you can hardly walk anywhere. While I was here, I had short sleeves on. It was a warm day. One lady with her "sanitary gloves" on for handling the fruit, came over and felt my arm, rubbing it up and down. This gave about 4 other workers the go-ahead to come and do the same. They were asking me over and over again, " Aren't you cold?". They thought it was hilarious when I said no. They are all still in their long underwear and coats or heavy jackets!

Right off of the back of my bedroom balcony, there is a gorgeous magnolia tree that has been in bloom this last week. Nicole took some fantastic photos of it.

Happy Easter!

Sunday, March 09, 2008

March 2008

Wow! A busy couple of weeks! The kids are busy with sports and school. We went to Shanghai last weekend for our district conference, which is just like stake conference. The China International District has now been split into 2. The Beijing District and now the Shanghai District. It was really a special weekend to be a part of all of that. Mike and I were also able to get our temple recommends renewed, which was wonderful. We took the train early Saturday morning, and went straight to the home/church where the Pudong branch meets for interviews. We had a fun afternoon with the children, and Mike went to the Leadership session. I met him there later for the Adult session. The next morning we all went to the conference. The girls were asked to sing in the youth choir right before the conference started. They were pretty nervous since they'd never practiced, but they faked it well. This afternoon Michael took off for South Africa again. He found out he was leaving on Friday afternoon. The unfortunate thing is that we left our passports in the hotel safe last week, so he had to fly out of Shanghai instead of Nanjing so he could pick them up! Poor guy! I was glad he wad able to get them, though.

Well, I thought that this blog, I would write down a few things I've observed this week. These are honestly very typical occurrences for any day, if not the same exact things, very similar ones:

On an early-morning walk to Xixia lake, I could hear every group of people I passed talking about me like I didn't know what they were saying. They think they are so funny, and they laugh hysterically at themselves. I think I've talked about Xixia lake before. This is where they swim every day of the year, no matter what the weather. But, there seems to be a ritual you have to follow to participate. You have to yell really loudly before you jump into the water. I'm not sure why they do this, maybe they just hope the water will get warmer if they yell at it. My favorite is watching the ladies in these little shower-curtain things they put around themselves while they change. Pretty inventive! A man wearing business-clothes and a pair of converse goes jogging by. A woman is singing at the top of her lungs.

The workers came to help me hang some pictures, etc. They used their dirty fingers to put marks on the wall for drilling. Today was fairly successful. They only need to repair one wall, and even though the shelves aren't straight, the stuff won't slide off.

I went for a walk with several foreign women to the Plum Blossom Festival. Every year, my friend Julie and I have gone. At the top of the hill, there are men dressed in old style with the old Sedan-style chairs that they carry. They give rides to people and play music for a small fee. The first year, they begged us to ride, and we had a great time. The next year, they recognised us, and we hadn't planned on doing it, so didn't bring any money. They insisted we still have a ride. Then, this week, the man ran up to Julie and I and practically hugged us! I'm so surprised he recognised us. He just kept smiling and calling us his friend. Julie and I actually had a ride together in the same chair, which I think just about killed them (we were pretty heavy). We did pay this time. We then convinced all of our friends to ride as well, so I'm pretty sure he likes us even more, now.

Driving to dinner, narrowly missing hundreds of people on bikes or walking, my driver hardly takes notice of the girl who is vomiting out of the taxi-window in front of us.

The meal Rachel, Nicole, Caitlin, their friends and I ate: a vegetarian place, where they make fish and hamburger, even sausage out of tofu and who knows what else that isn't meat. It is actually pretty amazing, and entertaining, if nothing else. The man highly suggested a "special" dish...I said OK (I can only claim that I was overwhelmed with the huge amount of food on the menu, and I had no clue as to what it was). This dish was 20.00, pretty expensive to me, and extremely expensive to them. I wonder what they thought when I was the only one who would try the black fungus with flower petals...and that was only because he was standing there waiting for me to try it!

On a walk in a busy area of Plum Blossom Hill, I saw something that looked like an animal sitting next to a lady on a bench. Next thing I know, she picks it up and starts coming it with her pick. It is her wig!

Mike called me on his way home from work, to tell me he was stuck, waiting for 2 cows to cross in front of them. If you've seen where we live, it is a HUGE city. I don't know if I've ever seen a cow!

The taxi that drove through us and another car to drive onto the off-ramp of the freeway.

About one minute later, same off-ramp, a huge bus BARELY missing us, with honestly no less than 100 people stuffed in it.

As we get close to home, I see 2 little 3-wheel motor-carts with families sleeping with all of their belongings in the back. I feel so grateful I am going home to a warm house.

Here are a few random photos:

It was "Bling" day at school last Friday. I really don't think you could get away with this in the U.S., but here, it's lots of fun for the kids.

This is a photo of the plum blossoms that I took one morning. They are really beautiful.

Here is Rachel and her much improved high-school team. They won many of their games in the tournament. Rach is getting better every year!

OK, Kell, this photo is for you. You said there weren't many photos of Mike and I in our Indonesia Blog, so I put this one in. Heidi and Creed introduced us to "lime squash". Lime juice in soda water...yummy!