Friday, October 31, 2008

Halloween In China!!!!

Believe it or not they celebrate Halloween in China. There is a neighborhood across the street called Jing Shan Villas which is mostly composed of ex-pats. They make it just like Halloween in America. The atmosphere is a little spooky on its own because the trees look like skeletons (seriously). The trees are called Chinese Banyan trees and they constantly grow roots that hang down like moss. Once the roots touch the ground they wrap around the original trunk of the tree, so they end up looking like skeletons. This is a guy we saw in Jing Shan. He's a Chinese Jack Sparrow. He looked pretty real.
As a tribute to The King, I decided to be Elvis. I have these glasses where the sideburns are actually glued to the glasses. Very cool.
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Jonny decided to be a spider. His costume was hard to come by this year, so we got this at IKEA.
Vika of course had to be a Princess.
Nicole wanted to be a chef. We thought this was a good idea because she already had an apron and we got a bunch of chef's hats for $2.
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Halloween decorations

Here's a Martha Stewart idea for Halloween. All through Jing Shan the trees were filled with these decorations. I thought how simple and easy these would be to make. They are like the Chinese paper lanterns that I have seen in Ikea with decorations on them. All you would need to do is paint or attach a witch or ghost eyes and then paper streamers from the bottom. You could even fill them with Christmas lights for a glowing affect.

To make the pumpkins all you would need to do is paint them orange and attach the other parts. They were so cute. I then found out that they sold these here at a stationary store last year so everyone had gotten them then. Unfortunately they couldn't be found this year.

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Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Our Big Christmas Trip to Come

We finally decided on where we are going for our Christmas break and have started planning for it. Drum roll please ////////// We are going to Thailand!!!! We wanted to go there but didn't want to deal with all the touristy atmosphere in Phuket so we found out about an island called Koh Chang where we will spend most of our time.
We will fly out of Hong Kong on December 13 on Royal Jordanian Airlines to Bangkok. After several weeks of searching we found a really cheap fare on Royal Jordanian. Round trip for all six of us came to about $1,300. That is pretty dang good. I never would have thought of flying on this airlines but the middle east airlines had the cheapest flights. We checked into it and it looks like a nice airlines. We'll see.

We will stay in Bangkok the first night and then a van will pick us up at our hotel and drive us to Koh Chang. It is about a 5 hour drive to the island. We will have to take a ferry across but the van service will take us the whole way. The cost is pretty cheap, only $120 one way for all of us. Koh Chang is located in the Gulf of Thailand close to Cambodia. Koh Chang means elephant island so we will be riding elephants there. They have a elephant reserve that you can go on treks through the jungle. They have all the beach activities (except surfing). We got three huts for our family on the beach. They don't have many accommodations for large families so we had to get three two bed huts. We will stay there for 6 days. The following website has more information on Koh Chang and the activities that we will be doing there. Also here is the website for our resort that we will be at

After spending almost a week in Koh Chang we will head back to Bangkok to spend a few days there. Gavin has been there before but over 20 years ago. There is plenty to see and do while we are there. One thing he wants to do is swim with sharks at the aquarium. Some teachers told him about that so now he wants to do it. I'll just watch or go shopping. There is great shopping in Bangkok. We haven't quite got that far in our planning yet.

Hopefully we will see this in Bangkok.

This is one of the beaches on Koh Chang.
We are so excited. This is all we are getting for Christmas this year and I'm not complaining.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

I Have an Oven!!!!!!!!!!

We finally have an oven. I guess it's normal for the Chinese homes to not have ovens here but I just didn't see us living here for the next three years without one. I mentioned it to our director a few weeks ago and he had one ordered for us the next day. A week later they came to install it and now we have an oven. The problem though is that I can't find baking dishes here. People here just do not bake in their home. I have looked and looked all week with no luck. I'll go check Ikea this week because I'm sure they will have something. The other problem is finding the right ingredients to use. They can be found in the American store but they usually cost twice as much. I was so excited to have an oven though. Imagine being excited about something that seems so trivial.
Another problem I found is that they don't have the temperatures on the knobs. This is the knob for the oven. How am I supposed to know what temperature it is set at? My choices are 1, 2, 3, 4, or 5. Low or High. I'll have to do something playing around to figure that out.
Today I finally used the oven. I made Calzones. Not quite the same as at home but we were happy. I had to use the broiler pan that came with the oven. It worked!!!! We have a Sam's club here and I went with some teachers last week. They actually had pepperoni there. It was fun to see all the different things they had. You can buy live fresh crab along with other strange things that I couldn't figure out. It was about a 30 minute taxi ride so I won't go every week but I definitely will return.

I tried to make an apple crisp. I used Chinese brown sugar which isn't quite the same, it was really dry. It was also difficult to convert the measurements to metric and I guessed on the amount of butter. It was o.k. but not as moist as I usually make it.
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My Dishwashers.

This is my high tech dishwasher. It's not as efficient at times but they sure make it fun.
This is our building family relations time. We all have to do it together so why not make it fun?
This is the fun part. The flipping the towels. You don't get that with the automatic dishwashers.
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Nicoles crazy bun

This was our creation with hair today. I wore my hair like this for crazy hair day and it actually looked cute, not at crazy as I wanted. So, today Nicole wanted me to do hers that way for church. It looks like a prom hair do.
My Vika playing in the curtains. She's the one with the crazy hair. She wants us to make it pretty but a few hours later it is a mess. Most of the time she takes it out herself.
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Thursday, October 23, 2008

Spirit Week

It has been spirit week this week at our school. I had a few Asian students ask me why we do this. I explained that it is just a fun crazy thing they do in American schools mostly to promote Homecoming week. I'm sure the locals here thought we were all crazy as they watched us walk to school each day this week.

Monday was blue and yellow day our school colors, Tuesday crazy hair day, Wednesday backwards or mismatch day, and today is bling bling or gangster day for my campus and pajama day for the other. Tomorrow is character day. I wish I had taken picture but I wasn't that organized this week.

It was fun to participate in a few of the days. The first two were easy for me but yesterday I just didn't feel like being backwards. Most students wore their clothes backwards and it just was too uncomfortable for me. I should have worn mismatched clothes but didn't catch that part of the description. Today I really tried to come gangster. I had a pair of Gavin's big basketball shorts on with a large tshirt but the only large tshirt I had was a BYU shirt. It didn't quite fit the gangster look. I put a pair of Jonny's basketball shoes on and left them untied and slapped on a baseball hat of course it was on sideways. I looked in the mirror and looked like a hideous old lady who just didn't have time to get dressed. That was not the look I was going for, therefore, I quickly changed into my normal clothes. Call me a party pooper but I just couldn't pull it off.

The kids have really enjoyed it this week. They always love crazy hair day. It has been interesting seeing the response at the different age levels with spirit week. Since I have a child in each school (Early Child Center, Elementary, Middle, and Secondary or High school) I have observed their reactions.

Vika didn't quite get the whole thing. She had Pajama Day on Monday and thought that was fun but when we tried to fix her hair crazy she just would not tolerate that. She just wanted a princess hairdo. For mix match day, again she would not do it. No way would she go to school like that.

Nicole has loved everyday and that age group usually does. Jonny of course participated but most of the students in the middle school would wait to see what other students did then they would quickly try to throw something together. Rachel is always gungho for these kinds of things and I saw that her age will usually participate. Anything to get that attention.

It has been fun but with limited resources here it was a challenge. Now we know what to bring back from the states so that next year will be easier.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Who's hand?

The other day I took the girls to have our nails and toes done again. When it came time to choose a color to paint them, they handed me a book of over a hundred colors. I picked this color out and as they were painting my nails I noticed that this is the exact color that Oma, my mother, always paints her nails. Then I really looked at my hands and realized how much they look like hers. Why did I choose that color?

I thought about my mother's hands and all that they have done in this life. The hands that held me as a newborn child. The hands that lovingly wiped away my tears when I was hurt or sad. The hands that worked so hard making our home a loving place to be. The hands that baked the homemade bread and cookies that brought comfort to my tummy after school. The hands that felt my forehead when I was sick. The hands that would spend endless hours making beautiful dresses for me to wear. The hands that created masterpiece wedding cakes. The hands that would do magic and fairy dust every night. The hands that spent hours crocheting blankets for my children. The hands that turned the pages of her scriptures everyday. The hands that prayed for me and all her children each and every night. The hands that gave so much love to others. The hands that I love.

Who's hands do you have?

I am proud to have my mother's hands. They have created a legacy here on earth and have taught me so much. I can only hope my hands can do a portion of what hers have. I love you Mom!!!!!!
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Sunday, October 19, 2008

Sacrifices and hardships to go to church.

I have to write this today before I forget about it. After church today I was giving my visiting teaching lesson to a few of the sisters I meet with. They both live quite a distance from Shekou and have to travel about an hour to get to church each week so we try to visit with them once a month after our meetings. One is single and has to transfer from train to bus to taxi to bus to taxi again just to get here. The other is married with 4 kids and they hire a driver each week to drive them here.

The lesson was on the importance of the roles that men and women have and how their roles are different but are for the same purpose in the plan of our Heavenly Father. We had a great discussion on this.

At the end I told them both how amazed I was at their dedication to coming to church each week. I explained to them that in Utah we sometimes took it for granted how easy it was to go to church each week and participate in church activities. They both expressed their feelings about how they are willing to travel or overcome the trials of coming to church because they so need that uplifting each week. One sister is from Korea and the other is from here. They said that living in China is so hard on a person both mentally and sometimes physically. They said that each week as they go about their daily activities and have to endure the hardships here the one thing that keeps them going is the gospel. Their spirits are slowly beaten down during the week and even though they are exhausted at times by the time it comes to Sunday, they know that if they come they will be blessed. They come each Sunday to get that spiritual uplift each week. Without the gospel and church in their lives they both said they would be so lost and unhappy. They told me that if I would live the life of most Chinese people here that I would understand how important the church is to them.

I was really touched by their comments and started feeling guilty about my complaining each week that I have to walk or ride my bike up a small hill for a short distance to get to church. I'm usually covered in sweat and extremely hot but at least I have a church to go to. It only takes me about 10 minutes to get there compared to their hour or so. I will not complain about it again and will show gratitude that I am able to go.

I will greatly appreciate the time when I can jump in a car and drive a few minutes to church but I am so grateful that I even have a church to go to here in China. I do hope that someday we can share the gospel with the Chinese people here. They so need it to bring hope and happiness in their lives. I know it will happen in time, in the Lord's time.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

The birthday girl, ME!

My mom sent me this picture this morning. I tried to copy it but it didn't work too well. This was me about 42 years ago. I have to say I was a pretty cute kid. Not sure what happened since - age, kids, stress, food, lack of exercise? Whatever it was that's OK because I have had a very good 43 years so far. I can't complain. I have a wonderful husband, great kids, good job, security, love, awesome parents and family, the gospel, and I know who I am and my purpose in life. It's great!!!!

I'm sure my parents had to go through a lot with me but they are the greatest examples in my life. If I could only be half of what they are. Thank you Mom and Dad for bringing me into your life and giving me all that you have. You are the greatest!!!!!!!

Today was not only a celebration of my birthday but a celebration of life. I'm LIVING my life and not just letting it pass me by and along with all that is my testimony of Jesus Christ and my Heavenly Father. I feel so loved and blessed. I couldn't ask for more.

My Designer Birthday

My birthday evening started with a nice dinner at Gaucho's Garden Grill in Shekou. It is a Brazilian BBQ, yes Brazilian food in China. It was so good and probably more authentic then Tuscanos in Provo. I love my meat so this was the perfect place for me to go. We've been trying to find a good place to go to get real meat. Most of the other places were way too expensive or just didn't taste right. They tend to put these weird flavors in their food here and I really don't like it in my steak. So, we finally found a place. It costs 95 RMB's per person for all you can eat (about $13.00). Not bad!!!!!
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This is just some of the selection. They opened at 5:30 and we were the first ones there so the meat was fresh. In the picture is bacon wrapped shrimp, sirloin steak, and bacon wrapped chicken. They didn't have all as much to choose from than at Tuscanos but they had what I wanted.
We sat outside in the courtyard right by where they prepare the meat. This is real BBQ. Outside with wood burning cookers.
Of course they had a salad bar and other entrees. This is a plate of some of my favorites. Mashed potatoes, broccoli, fajita steak with bell peppers and onions, sweet peas, and the very tasty meat filled turnover (like an empenada). The mashed potatoes were just how I like them, with real potato chunks and lots of butter and sour cream mixed in. They had cooked meat sprinkled on top which was just really good. As you can see below, I was very happy and full when we were finished.
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I'm calling this my designer birthday. All fake but who would know? My Channel sunglasses.
My Burberrys of London Wallet.
My Gucci bag and Rado watch.
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This is the designer loot. All this for about 550 RMB ($85.00) You can't even buy the sunglasses for that if they were authentic. That is one fun thing about living here, all the knock off brands. They have lots of stores that carry all the name brands. Gucci, Channel, Prada, Coach, Louis Vatan, you name it. So, if any of you want some fake brand name items, let me know and I'll bring them back next summer. If you have a certain style you want, find a picture of it and send it to me and we will try to find it or something like it. I haven't been in touch with fashion for years because we could never afford it but now I can get the fake stuff so why not?
This is the high fashion street where we find all the top name brand items. Doesn't quite look like a fashion street does it? It's our little secret. Now after all these years I can be styling or at least try to be.
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