Thursday, November 27, 2008

Turkey Day!!!

Happy Thanksgiving

It's Thanksgiving today but it just feels like another day here. We didn't get the day off from school today because we are at an English speaking International school and the Americans are few in number. We will have a turkey feast on Saturday with the other teachers and their families from the United States.

It seems strange to think that all you back home are preparing for your big Turkey feasts or leaving to visit family. It makes me sad to know that I am missing out on all the fun festivities with family and friends BUT that doesn't mean that I am not grateful for the many blessings I have in my life. Today is a day to show gratitude and it isn't all about the fun and food, although I love that part of it. It took me having to move half way around the world to realize the real meaning of today.


I couldn't let this day go by without expressing my gratitude to my Heavenly Father for all that I have been blessed with.

I am so grateful that I have the gospel of Jesus Christ in my life and that I am able to have the church here in China. We are under strict rules here but we are able to meet together as a branch and be uplifted each week.

I am so grateful for my testimony of the Savior and the sacrifices He has made for all of us.

I am grateful for my family and that I have such a loving husband who has supported and loved me no matter what. A husband who has been patient as I have grown and developed into who I am today. He is a wonderful father to the kids. I am blessed to have four healthy beautiful children who bring such joy into my life.

I am grateful for my parents who have raised me to be who I am. They have been a great example to me. I am grateful for my brothers and sister who have taught me so much throughout my life.

I am grateful for the beautiful world we have and the opportunities that have come to my family to explore and learn about the different cultures throughout the world.

I am grateful for the freedoms we have in America. The freedom of speech, religion, and life. Living abroad has made me realize how lucky and blessed we are in America.

I am grateful for life!!!!

Hope you all have a great Thanksgiving.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

The Scarves

I have a new love. Scarves!!!! The chinese women wear scarves all the time. Mostly because they think it is cold which it really isn't but I think they are really cool looking. There is a little kiosk at Sea World with these beautiful scarves that I have walked by several times the past few weeks. I kept saying "Oh someday I'll stop and buy some". Well, I finally made someday happen. I thought they would be expensive but they were only 30RMB (less than $5.00) each. I was only going to buy one but I couldn't help myself because they were so cheap that I ended up with five. The girls and I put on a fashion show today and took pictures to show the different ways to wear them. They all had to get into the action.
Around the neck.

As a head dress.
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Vika loves to play with them. I'll probably have to get some just for her.
I know this is a girl thing but we really love our new scarves. They are a great accessory for my blah colorless wardrobe.
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Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Family Pictures

Yesterday I found a CD I brought of some old family pictures. They were so fun to look through that I thought I would share them. The slide show on the side bar that says Old Family Pictures will take you to the photo album. My kids got a kick out of seeing some of their cousins looking so young. They bring a smile every time I look at them and remember all the good times we have had with family. Hope you enjoy them too.

We seem to be getting into a normal schedule here. The kids stay busy playing with friends and are involved in lots of activities. Jonny is on the Rugby team and is really enjoying it. It's a good replacement for football. We do miss going and watching the games at BYU though. Rachel is involved in the school play right now and is busy with school. Nicole just finished soccer and is now doing cheerleading along with Tae Kwon Do. Gavin is busy coaching the High School basketball team and is looking forward to their season starting in a few weeks. I'm just busy with school and everything else. We are really enjoying our time here. We are looking forward to our Christmas trip to Thailand.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Hong Kong Youth Temple Trip

Today we went to the Hong Kong temple with the youth in the Branch to perform baptisms. This was Jonny's first time going to the temple. The youth have to be twelve to go and he just had his birthday a few months. We took a bus from Shenzhen this morning and then had to walk a few blocks in Kowloon to get to the temple. As we were walking we had to cross several streets. Jonny came to a six lane street where we had to cross to the middle of the street before crossing the other way. He looked to the left before he crossed the street as you would in the states. The problem in Hong Kong though is that they drive on the other side of the street. He didn't even look to the right and walked right out in traffic. The light had just changed so the cars were just starting to go but he was one lucky boy that he didn't get hit. So, lesson learned. When you are in Hong Kong look to the right before crossing a road. Actually you should look both ways.
It was pretty neat to be at the temple today with Rachel and Jonny.
This is the youth in the Shenzhen Branch (our branch here). The two girls in purple in the front were visiting the temple today with their parents. They were from Mongolia. They were waiting for their parents in the foyer when we got there.

This is unbelievable. They build the scaffolding with bamboo. They say it is really strong but I don't think I would want to try it.
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After the temple we walked a few blocks to this mall. It was six stories high. They don't have department stores here so each shop was a different designer. It's a girls shopping dream. It's not the cheapest place to shop but it was fun to walk around and look. Rachel did find some cool things.
That's a long way down. This is looking down from the fourth floor. My knees starting shaking just holding the camera over to take the picture. I just kept thinking, "please don't drop it, please don't drop it"
Gavin was pretty happy to find some Adidas shoes. He has found that he is able to find more of a variety of shoes here than back home. Sometimes he has to pay more but he has been able to find what he needs. Jonny was getting a little bored of it all.
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Rachel was in a girls dream walking around the mall.
Jonny is standing on the border between Mainland China (Shenzhen) and Hong Kong.
So after a whole afternoon of shopping in this huge mall with designer stores everywhere, living a girls dream, what did I bring home?

BOOKS!!!!!! I have most of these at home but didn't bring them. They are for my classroom here because how can I be a Reading teacher without books?
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Friday, November 14, 2008

The Hair Wash

This is the result of a night at the salon. Rachel and I went to get our hair washed. It's not just a wash it is a whole experience. They have you lay on your back on a massage table with your head over a sink and they wash your hair for 30 minutes. Not just a wash but a massage. While they are washing your hair they massage your head, neck, shoulders, and upper back. It is heaven. After the wash they wrap your hair in a hot towel and place a hot pillow under your neck and the body massage begins. They start with your shoulders and arms then move to your legs. Yes, your are clothed so it's all clean and fun. No kinky stuff. I couldn't help but laugh when they massaged my thighs. It tickled and the girl kept saying relax but I kept laughing. After 15 minutes you roll over and they massage your back and legs. So we had a whole hour of pampering that was absolutely heavenly. Next they move you to a styling chair where they blow dry your hair straight. I have never seen anyone dry our hair that straight with a brush. No flat irons or curling irons. All the styling is done with a blow dryer and small round brush. After an hour and half of pampering your feel pretty good. The cost? Only 25 RMB ($4.00). I think we should open a place like this in the States. Of course we would charge more but it feels so good. What do you think Vi? Could you do that? This will be a place that we take anyone that visits. It's something everyone should experience. Even those who are less fortunate in the hair department.
My beautiful daughter and I after our night of pampering.
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Sunday, November 9, 2008

The Real Mandarin Oranges

These are absolutely the best oranges ever. I saw these in the store and wasn't sure what exactly they were. A friend had them so I tried one and they are the sweetest little oranges ever. I've only had mandarin oranges out of a can and never really thought they came from a real tree.
They are really tiny. This is Vika's hand holding the orange so you can see how small they are. They peel easily like tangerine and you can just pop the whole thing in your mouth. The kids just love them.

This week has been pretty busy. We had parent teacher conferences Wednesday and Thursday night. It was just like back home. Most of the parents spoke a little English and if they didn't they had an interpreter with them. They were late nights but we had Friday off to compensate for the time. I went with some friends to a Stationary Mall. It was huge and I didn't get through the whole thing. They had everything from office supplies to toys. I got some cool Chinese Christmas cards. I hope I can get them sent out to people back home. We'll see. I also found Christmas decorations and even a Christmas tree. I was told to get the Christmas things early because they won't last. We went to a shop that was starting to set their Christmas things out and asked the guy what else he had. He took as a few blocks away and to his warehouse and let us go through what he had. It was so cool. We spent about two hours there and I came home with some actual Christmas decorations and a fake tree. I'm excited to get them up even though it doesn't really feel like winter here. It finally got down below 70 degrees last night. I actually felt cold for the first time since we have been here. It's been a nice day the last few days and hopefully it will last.

Saturday Nicole had her last Soccer game. She'll sign up for Basketball next. Near the soccer field is a park with these people doing this thing above. I have to find out more about it because it was so cool to watch them. They had two sticks with a string that they would throw and catch this spinning top like thing in the air and then catch them on the string. It was really fun to watch but looks really hard.

After soccer we walked back home through Old Shekou and did a little shopping. All along the street they have food vendors. There are certain things we like to get every time we go. They have a pizza type bread that they cook right there on a large grill. They are really good. We got some more DVD's to add to our collection. By the time we get back to the States we could probably open a rental store with all the movies we have. They are all pirated so you have to be careful because some of the copies aren't very good. We got Get Smart about a month ago and you can hear people laughing in the background because it was copied from a theatre. I actually saw the new Bond movie on DVD. We've learned to wait until they actually are released because it will be a better copy.

Later in the afternoon Gavin and I went to see the new James Bond movie. Yes, they have movies here in English but they are pretty expensive. We decided to splurge for this one. It was great to be sitting in a movie theatre again. The only thing I missed was the popcorn. They have caramel popcorn which is good but I really miss my buttery, salty movie popcorn. The movie was great.

Last week I was feeling pretty domestic and decided to put my oven to use. I finally found baking pans at Ikea. I had gotten two bread pans so I made bread. I was really missing my wheat grinder and Bosch mixer. I had to resort to the old fashion way of kneading the bread by hand. I gained a new appreciation for the modern conveniences we have. I really got an arm workout. It turned out really good though. The family loved it.
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Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Our New House Pet

This is our friendly new house pet, the gecko. We have seen them outside our front door on the porch but we woke up this morning to one on the wall upstairs. Of course the girls freaked out until I told them it was a good thing because it will eat all the bugs, especially the spiders. We have had lots of tiny jumping spiders in the house. A few weeks ago Rachel woke up before any of us and came down stairs to find a huge wolf spider on the floor in the family room. It was the size of a Tarantula. Gavin killed one that size about a month ago. He said it was like killing a small mouse. Of course Rachel didn't kill it and it ran under the couch. We haven't seen it since but it may still be there. Anyway, we decided to keep the gecko in the house so it will eat all the small bugs. The last few nights Rachel and Vika have woken up with spider bites all over them. Whatever spider it was must have been pretty mad because it bit them several times in the same area, so this is our revenge. He's kind of cute isn't he?
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Long Day

We have a long day today and tomorrow. It is parent-teacher conferences so we have to be here until 8:45 today and tomorrow. We teach all day and then have to meet with parents all night. Not a fun day!!! But we get Friday off for our extra time. I'm hoping to get out to the antique district and find some cool chinese antiques.

We are watching the elections closely here. Even though we are half way around the world we are still Americans and have a vested interest.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Flip Flops to Church

These are my church shoes. Now before you go into shock let me explain. I know that we have been told to dress our best for church and we even had this discussion this last summer with our friends in Utah about wearing sandals to church. No, I'm not rebelling but we actually get to attend church in our bare feet. As you all know, the Asian custom is to not wear shoes in the house, well, that goes for church too. We have to take our shoes off at the door and for the next three hours we are bare foot. Where else could you do that? So, we wear shoes that are easy to take on and off. It was a little strange at first but of course I love being bare foot so it didn't take me long to get used to it. What will be strange is coming back to the States and having to wear shoes the entire time. Ouch!!!!!

Today was an interesting day at church. We finally received the Relief Society General Broadcast on DVD, so we watched it during the last two hours. I was pleasantly surprised when they announced that the choir was from the Alpine and Highland Stakes. I saw many familiar faces singing of past students moms and colleagues from school. It made me rather homesick. I couldn't help but think that if we had bought that house in Alpine instead of coming to China, that I could have been singing in the Conference Center for the RS General Broadcast in the presence of the prophet. I became a little tearing eyed remembering beautiful Utah and all the people and things I love there. It was fun to see those familiar faces on TV as I sit here half way around the world.

Another cool thing at church today was they had our Primary Children's Program and they sang "I Am a Child of God" in Mandarin. I was so touched to think that it didn't matter what language it was sung in, it still had the same spirit and meaning. I have to learn it myself so that I can always remember that feeling and that we are all His children, no matter what language we speak or where we live.
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The Suit

Gavin had a new suit made for him here in Old Shekou. They have tailors all over that you can go to and have anything made. He has wanted to have a suit made and finally did. We went last week and they have a book with swatches of material to choose from. Then you choose the type of suit from a magazine or catalog. They measure you and a week later you have a suit. I was pretty impressed with the details and workmanship. I thought he looked pretty good in it today for church. It cost about $120.00 for the suit. That's pretty good for a tailor made suit.

I had some things made at another tailor shop for the girls and me. I had gone a few weeks ago to a place called Dong Men and they have a mall of fabric. It was amazing how much fabric they had. It was about the size of a large Walmart but all fabric, sewing supplies, and tailors. I could have gone wild there but I just got a few pieces of fabric and brought them back to a tailor here closer to us. The skirt Nicole is wearing and the outfit Vika has on (skirt and shirt) were a few of the items made. They do a great job on copying things but I didn't have anything to show them for these so they were made just by my explaining. It's a fun thing to do but I don't think I will have too many things made. It really isn't that much cheaper. I probably will only have things made that I know I can't get or find here. The suit though was a great deal.
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More Halloween Pictures

Here are some more Halloween pictures to show that it really wasn't much different for us here. Above is Nicole with her gang from school.
This was at a friends house. The streets were packed with Trick or Treaters. Lots of fun.
The guards at Jing Shan all had witches hats on. This was the best picture I could get.
Just a few more of our friends here with Gavin (Elvis)
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