Sunday, September 30, 2007

Mid Autumn Festival

On Tuesdy, it was the Mid-Autumn Festival. It corresponds with the full moon and, I think, the fall equinox. There was a big festival here at Clifford Estates. There were fun carnival games and those big, blow-up bouncy castle things for the kids to play on. A lot of the Chinese teachers were in charge of booths with games for the kids. Britton got to see his teacher and play her game. It was hard for him though because he had to pick up little bead things with chopsticks and place them on a paper. He tried really hard though.



There were tons of booths that were selling all kinds of different things. Britton bought a two-sided light saber that also comes apart in the middle so it can be 2 light sabers. It was fun just to be out as a family in the evening.

Suite Life

We live in a hotel. There is a front desk and a lobby and people to open the door for you when you walk in or out. There's even a breakfast buffet service every morning in the lobby. About half of the teachers and their families live in our building and the other half live in another hotel in a different part of Clifford Estates. So, on each floor, there are one or two apartments that people actually live in and the rest are hotel rooms. Sometimes there are big conventions so there are a lot of people staying and the lobby is full and the elevators are crowded. But, mostly, it's just the regulars--the teachers and the hotel staff. It's actually really fun. It reminds me a bit of "The Suite Life of Zach and Cody". My kids have little inside jokes with the people at the front desk. And they are friends with all the other kids here and just go from floor to floor on the elevator seeing who's available for playing. There's one guy at the front desk that is really friendly and loves playing with my kids. He jumps out from behind the desk and yells, "Haley!" when she walks by. And if he ever comes up with repair men to our apartment (which has happened almost daily lately while we're getting our new internet hooked up), he chases Haley around and plays with her. He also has little jokes that he does with Britton everyday. It's fun to have people you see everyday who are friendly and nice and greet you with a smile. They are so helpful when we have questions about things. We are really spoiled here.

What Not to Wear

Our elevator has mirrors on all sides, so it gives you a 360 degree view of yourself. It reminds me of the show "What Not to Wear" when they make the person put on their clothes and go into that room of mirrors and see exactly what they look like from all angles and directions. So, everyday, as I'm leaving for work, I get to check myself out in this way. Unfortunately, probably most days I would qualify for going on the show. I really need to get some new outfits for my wardrobe.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

I'm such a nerd sometimes.

Last night I had a dream about the electron transport chain and making ATP out of ADP. Weird. I have not thought about those things in years. The worst part is when Britton came in and woke me up from the dream, I was actually really disappointed that I couldn't keep dreaming about it.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Girl's Night Out

Last Saturday night, Melanie, Rina, and I went out for a Girl's Night Out. First, we went to the hot pot restaurant. It's a really fun place. There are big pots of boiling broth in the middle of the table and then you order meat and potatoes and other vegetables and things to cook in the pot. It's really fun and I end up eating a lot of things that I normally wouldn't even dare try--like lots of different kinds of mushrooms and tofus. It takes quite a while so it's a fun place to just hang out and talk.
Second, we went and got manicures and pedicures. This was my first time ever doing this in my life. I know, it's hard to imagine. I am a very ticklish person and my feet are my most ticklish part so I don't really like people touching them. And it was really hard to not just pull my foot away while the lady was washing and smoothing out my feet. There were a few times when my whole leg flinched because it was tickling me so bad. I had to hold my leg down. It was pretty funny. The manicure was great though. I really liked the results of both though so I may try to do it every so often, even though it is hard for the pedicure part.
After that, we went to get ice cream cones from the grocery store. Mmmmm.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Sunday, September 23, 2007

My Dancing Princess


I just love this picture of Haley! This morning she made me move our coffee table so that she could twirl around and dance while she watched her Barbie movie, "12 Dancing Princesses". When we bought it, we didn't realize that it was in Chinese, but she doesn't mind one bit because she can still dance along with the girls in the movie.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Another Game of Tag

I copied this meme from Wendi's blog. It was fun to think back to what I was doing. And I tag anyone who wants to do it.

1.) What I was doing ten years ago: September 1997, Provo, UT--I had been in the MTC for about a month with about a month to go. I loved the MTC. It was a time of so much learning. I just soaked everything in.

2.) Five years ago: September 2002, Orem, UT--We had just bought our house and were just getting settled. Britton was 5 months old. Jason had just passed his Private Pilot exams. I was a stay-at-home mom and I can't remember what job Jason had, but I think it was doing siding. I also just started babysitting Davis once or twice a week.

3) One year ago: September 2006, Orem, UT--I just started teaching preschool for Britton and Michael. It was so much fun be able to teach them and play with them and plan field trips. A lot of the things we did revolved around our preschool themes. I was still serving in the Primary and loving it, probably just starting to write the program for the year. Britton started his soccer league with Jason as his coach and Michael was on his team. I was tutoring a lot and playing a lot and just loving life. The BYU football season had just started and we got to go to all the home games.

4.) Yesterday: September 20, 2007, Clifford Estates, China--(This is much more detailed than probably anyone would want to know, but I'm writing it for myself so I can remember what an ordinary, average day is like) I got up at 5:45 not so much because I had things to do, but because it's habit. I checked my email, read my scriptures, took a shower, got dressed. At 7:00, I woke Britton up and got him breakfast (French toast, as usual) and ready for school. 8:00 I was out the door and off to school. I rode my bike for the first time in a long time because we finally got a seat for the back of it for Britton. I taught 3 class periods in the morning before lunch. The first two ( we7A and 7B) were in the computer lab because they are working on projects. In the one (7C) right before lunch, we played Jeopardy. They loved it! They were so attentive the whole time. When I got home, lunch was ready and waiting for me. So nice. I love that. After hanging out with the fam for a bit, I had to head back up to school. I had two more classes. In the first one (8A), they worked on projects. They are writing children's books about insects--some of them are very good. They had to research an insect and then make up a story about it based on facts about the insect. In my last class (8B) of the day, we picked insects for their projects and then played insect pictionary to help them learn all the insect names in English. It was so much fun and they really got into it. After school I had a meeting with the Chinese science teachers to try to coordinate our curriculum. It was the first time I've met them so that was good. I had to have my TA translate the whole time because they don't speak English. After school, Jason took Britton to a modeling agency for a commercial that he's going to be in with Jonas. So, Haley and I took the bus and went out to dinner. We tried a place called "Andrew's Cafe and Bakery". It was good and they spoke English (always a plus in my book!) We walked around the shops a bit afterwards and I bought some pictures for my livingroom. I'm so excited. I've been wanting to personalize my house a bit so it doesn't feel so much like a hotel. I'll post some pictures later after we hang them. When we got home, the boys still weren't back, so I took Haley for a bike ride. It was dark and the moon was out and it was a bit windy. It was so much fun. So relaxing to just ride together and let the wind blow our hair. When Jason got home, I ran to the gym for the last half hour before it closed. After that, I just caught up on some school stuff and then watched Heroes. We bought Season One here and I'm only a few episodes into it. I'm liking it a lot, but it's much more gorey and dark than I expected.

5.) 5 snacks I enjoy: These are the snacks that I like that I can get in China: Dove dark chocolate bars, Pringles, Kinder Bueno candy bars, chocolate chip cookies, vegetable cracker stick things.

6.) 5 Things I would do if I suddenly had $100 million: pay my tithing, pay off my house, invest most of it, buy Jason a van so he'll stop bugging me about getting one here, buy plane tickets for my friends and family to come visit me

7.) 5 locations I would like to run away to: Thailand, Vietnam, Philippines, Bali, New Zealand

8.) 5 bad habits I have: procrastinating, making a mess when I eat, wasting time, eating too much, eating too many treats

9.) 5 things I like doing: jogging, playing games, traveling, watching football, writing

10.) 5 TV shows I like: Gilmore Girls, 24, Friends, Lost, Heroes

11.) 5 things I hate doing: fighting, folding laundry, going to unneccessary meetings, making phone calls, being late

12.) 5 Biggest joys of the moment: teaching Haley--she's so interested in learning things right now (letters, math, etc), riding or walking home with Britton everyday, Dove chocolate, the nice weather (it just started cooling off here and it is perfect weather), planning our vacation in a week and a half.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Another game of Tag

I copied this meme from Wendi's blog. It was fun to think back to what I was doing. And I tag anyone who wants to do it.

1.) What I was doing ten years ago: September 1997, Provo, UT--I had been in the MTC for about a month with about a month to go. I loved the MTC. It was a time of so much learning. I just soaked everything in.

2.) Five years ago: September 2002, Orem, UT--We had just bought our house and were just getting settled. Britton was 5 months old. Jason had just passed his Private Pilot exams. I was a stay-at-home mom and I can't remember what job Jason had, but I think it was doing siding. I also just started babysitting Davis once or twice a week.

3) One year ago: September 2006, Orem, UT--I just started teaching preschool for Britton and Michael. It was so much fun be able to teach them and play with them and plan field trips. A lot of the things we did revolved around our preschool themes. I was still serving in the Primary and loving it, probably just starting to write the program for the year. Britton started his soccer league with Jason as his coach and Michael was on his team. I was tutoring a lot and playing a lot and just loving life. The BYU football season had just started and we got to go to all the home games.

4.) Yesterday: September 20, 2007, Clifford Estates, China--(This is much more detailed than probably anyone would want to know, but I'm writing it for myself so I can remember what an ordinary, average day is like)
I got up at 5:45 not so much because I had things to do, but because it's habit. I checked my email, read my scriptures, took a shower, got dressed. At 7:00, I woke Britton up and got him breakfast (French toast, as usual) and ready for school. 8:00 I was out the door and off to school. I rode my bike for the first time in a long time because we finally got a seat for the back of it for Britton. I taught 3 class periods in the morning before lunch. The first two ( we7A and 7B) were in the computer lab because they are working on projects. In the one (7C) right before lunch, we played Jeopardy. They loved it! They were so attentive the whole time. When I got home, lunch was ready and waiting for me. So nice. I love that. After hanging out with the fam for a bit, I had to head back up to school. I had two more classes. In the first one (8A), they worked on projects. They are writing children's books about insects--some of them are very good. They had to research an insect and then make up a story about it based on facts about the insect. In my last class (8B) of the day, we picked insects for their projects and then played insect pictionary to help them learn all the insect names in English. It was so much fun and they really got into it. After school I had a meeting with the Chinese science teachers to try to coordinate our curriculum. It was the first time I've met them so that was good. I had to have my TA translate the whole time because they don't speak English. After school, Jason took Britton to a modeling agency for a commercial that he's going to be in with Jonas. So, Haley and I took the bus and went out to dinner. We tried a place called "Andrew's Cafe and Bakery". It was good and they spoke English (always a plus in my book!) We walked around the shops a bit afterwards and I bought some pictures for my livingroom. I'm so excited. I've been wanting to personalize my house a bit so it doesn't feel so much like a hotel. I'll post some pictures later after we hang them. When we got home, the boys still weren't back, so I took Haley for a bike ride. It was dark and the moon was out and it was a bit windy. It was so much fun. So relaxing to just ride together and let the wind blow our hair. When Jason got home, I ran to the gym for the last half hour before it closed. After that, I just caught up on some school stuff and then watched Heroes. We bought Season One here and I'm only a few episodes into it. I'm liking it a lot, but it's much more gorey and dark than I expected.

5.) 5 snacks I enjoy: These are the snacks that I like that I can get in China: Dove dark chocolate bars, Pringles, Kinder Bueno candy bars, chocolate chip cookies, vegetable cracker stick things.

6.) 5 Things I would do if I suddenly had $100 million: pay my tithing, pay off my house, invest most of it, buy Jason a van so he'll stop bugging me about getting one here, buy plane tickets for my friends and family to come visit me

7.) 5 locations I would like to run away to: Thailand, Vietnam, Philippines, Bali, New Zealand

8.) 5 bad habits I have: procrastinating, making a mess when I eat, wasting time, eating too much, eating too many treats

9.) 5 things I like doing: jogging, playing games, traveling, watching football, writing

10.) 5 TV shows I like: Gilmore Girls, 24, Friends, Lost, Heroes

11.) 5 things I hate doing: fighting, folding laundry, going to unneccessary meetings, making phone calls, being late

12.) 5 Biggest joys of the moment: teaching Haley--she's so interested in learning things right now (letters, math, etc), riding or walking home with Britton everyday, Dove chocolate, the nice weather (it just started cooling off here and it is perfect weather), planning our vacation in a week and a half.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Haley

Today after watering her plant, Haley said, "Mom, does dirt come from Oreos?" Now I know why she is always eating dirt :)

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Tuesday Tell All

One of Wendi's friends started doing a "Tell All Tuesday" on her blog so I thought I'd join in.

For this week, we are supposed to write about all the places we have lived.

For the first 5 years of my life, I lived in what we now refer to as "The Provo House". It's the cute little house across the street from Kiwanis Park. I don't have a lot of memories from that time period, but the ones I have are good ones--our patchwork carpet in the back room, the secret hideout from the floor of the backroom pulling up, walking to Wasatch Elementary to watch movies in the summer, taking dance lessons around the block, starting elementary school, the Bookmobile, our strawberry patch and raspberry bushes in the backyard, and so many more. It was a fun place to start out my life.

From age 5 to age 18, I lived in Kearns. That is where I grew up. I don't even want to begin to record any memories because there are so many. But, I loved growing up where I did. I have so many friends still from those days. My best friends. I'm glad that my sister still owns the house we lived in because it's fun to visit and see old faces and relive some of the memories.

From 18-21 I lived in Stratford Court #302. Ahhh, the memories. Over the course of 3 years, I had the best roommates anyone could ever ask for. They are still my lifelong friends. Living in the condo was one of the funnest times of my life. There was always something fun going on and an adventure to be had.

When I turned 21 I went on a mission to Marseilles, France. I lived in Marseilles for 5 months, Albi for 5 months, and Aix-en-Provence for 6 months. I can't even begin to describe my feelings for these 3 cities. They are so much a part of me and who I am. I know the streets inside and out, probably better than anywhere else in the world. I discovered myself while serving in these three cities and there's a part of my heart that will always belong there.

Provo House Take 2--After my mission, I lived with my old roommates in the Provo House. It was fun living in a house instead of back at the condo--it felt more mature or something. But, it was nice to still have my great roommates. And we still did just as many fun things.

Provo House Take 3--I think I really like the Provo House! On December 16, 2000, I got married. My roommates moved out (well, at least some of them--Melissa stayed with us for a few weeks after we were married) and Jason moved in. I am so glad that I got to start out my married life in the same house that I started my life in. It was such a great place to live. Jason could play volleyball everyday at the park and it was so close to school for me. All of our friends were already used to hanging out there, so it was perfect.

In August 2002, we bought our house in Orem. We both fell in love with it the minute we walked through it. The neighborhood is so great and we have made so many friends. We love our big yard and how close we are to my parents. We will probably have that house forever.

In August 2007, we moved to Clifford Estates in Panyu, Guangzhou, China and that is where we are currently. This was a HUGE move for us since we've both lived in Utah our whole lives except for time spent on missions. It's only been a month, but already we're adjusting to life here and loving it. It has already been such a good thing for our family. I am so glad that we decided to get out of our comfort zone and shake things up a bit.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Walks with Britton

One of my favorite things that I get to do everyday is walk to school with Britton. It is about a 10 minute walk from our apartment to school. I really enjoy the time that we get to spend just walking and talking. It's so fun to see how his little mind works. Somedays, I'm just drilling him on how he needs to act at school or nagging him to hurry up because we're late, but most days I just try to walk slowly and enjoy the moment. He stops to examine dead bugs on the sidewalk being eaten by other bugs. He notices and takes in things all around us, things I would probably just pass by. Almost everyday he wants me to tell him which plants are poisonous on the way to school. (The very first day of school, Jason and Haley walked with us too and Haley picked a plant and started putting it in her mouth, I told her not to because it might be poisonous, so since then, Britton has been really concerned about which plants are poisonous.) Finally, I had to tell him that probably none of the plants are poisonous because they are planted right next to a school but that it still wasn't a good idea to put plants in our mouths if we don't know what it is. He still seems to bring up the plants at least once a week though.
Jason picks Britton up during lunch and takes him back after lunch because his lunchbreak is an hour longer than mine. Britton rides on Jason's back on his bike the whole way home. It's quite the spectacle. Here in China, people use the craziest transportation--bikes, mopeds, golf carts, tractors, anything with wheels. And they pile as many people on as possible. I've seen whole families on one bicycle or moped. Or they carry HUGE bags of garbage on their backs or ladders or other big things that we would never carry on a bicycle. They just strap it on somehow. So, we thought we would fit right in with Britton on Jason's back. But instead, everyone stops and stares and laughs when they ride by. It's pretty funny.
Yesterday on the way to school, Britton told me all the names that he and Jason have for the different roads on the way home. There's "bumpy road", "crickity crackity road", "smooth road", "speed bump road", etc. It was so cute.
I'm glad that Jason and I both get to be so involved with Britton's first year of school experience. And that we both get to spend a special alone time with him on the way to and from school.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Teacher's Day Celebration

Here in China they have "Teacher's Day". Normally, they have a celebration for the teachers on Saturday and they are required to go to it. If you ask me, the best way to honor teachers is to give them a day off, not make them work an extra one. Anyway, this year, they did the celebration on Friday night instead which was a lot better than working on a Saturday.

For the secondary teachers, hey took us to Shiqiao to a karaoke bar for a buffet dinner and karaoke. It was really quite an interesting place. There were several different floors and lots of different karaoke rooms. The Western teachers were all in one room with our TAs on the 3rd floor. The buffet was either on the 2nd floor or the 4th floor. It was hilarious watching all of the Western teachers at the buffet as we wandered around trying to look for something we could eat. We couldn't even tell what half the stuff was. In contrast, the Chinese teachers all had several plates that they were piling as high as possible. I ended up getting some things I thought I would be able to eat--potatoes, salad, zucchini, and an egg roll. The potatoes weren't really potatoes at all, the salad had a really nasty dressing on it, and the zucchini was marinated in something that was really spicy. I did like the egg roll though. For our second attempt, we went to the other floor and we were a bit more lucky. They at least had some ham fried rice and orange chicken (although I have to admit, I prefer Panda Express to the "real" thing). We also found the dessert table. I'm a bit afraid to even try Chinese desserts because they are never what you expect them to be. But, they did have a chocolate fountain so I figured anything dipped in chocolate had to be good. That wasn't so much the case. The marshmallow things were okay but I wasn't too fond of the different breads that they had.

As far as the entertainment went, only the TAs were really into the whole karaoke thing. I think the Chinese people love that sort of thing. However, after my collegues had a few drinks in them, there were a few who performed. It was quite interesting seeing some of them singing "Summer Lovin'" and "Friends in Low Places". The most entertaining thing of all though was the videos that they had to go along with the singing. They had big projector screens in each room that would play the song with the lyrics, but it never had the corresponding video to go with it. They had cheesey Chinese videos to go with the songs. And they usually had nothing to do with the songs. For example, during the "Thong Song" they were showing random scenes of different people including babies and old people. Not really what you think about with that song. Anyway, it was an interesting night.

Jason and I left around 7:00 pm. (What party animals!) My team leader said we were required to go, but not required to stay. So, there was some shopping that I wanted to do in Shiqiao, so we left and took advantage of the time we had with a babysitter. We wandered around town for a bit trying to find where we were. It was a lot of fun just walking the streets at night. It's quite a big city, but I think of it as small because it's smaller than Guangzhou. We ended up not being able to find our way to the part of the city that we were familiar with. So, we had to call for help. We were actually just about a block away from the road we needed, but we wouldn't have known to go that direction without help. It was a really fun night just being able to explore and be with Jason.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

In Search of Candy

I had to get some candy for some of the students in my class and I didn't have time to go to the supermarket, so I just stopped by the 24 hour store on the way to work. I have such a hard time buying things here still because I can't even tell what it is. I looked all over the whole store to try to figure out if there was anything that was actually candy. I know this sounds silly, but I really couldn't tell. So, finally, I grabbed three bags of things that resembled wrapped candy. When I got to work, I examined more closely and found a small paragraph on each package that was in English. I think all of them are actually candy, so I did good, but nothing that I would ever want to eat. I got some licorice tootsie roll type things, green tea marshmallows, and coconut milk candy. Sound appetizing to anyone?

Name Changes

I just had one of my classes and some of the kids changed their names. James is now Lebron James, Kevin is now Kevin Garnett, and Brandon is now Brandon R. Zuckerman (after Charlotte's Web). How cute.

Bribing the Children

Saturday I went shopping with Mel and Shane and I went crazy buying toys. It felt like Christmas. I just couldn't resist because everything was so cheap. They have these knock-off lego sets and bionicles. Since those are Britton's favorites, I stocked up. I also bought some stickers and when I got home I made charts for my kids to earn their toys. They have both been having a hard time obeying, so they got a sticker every time they obeyed the first time they were asked to do something. It worked like a charm for the first hour or so until Britton started manipulating the system and purposely doing bad things so that we would ask him to stop so he could be obedient. What a clever little kid. We had to modify the rules a bit, but their behavior has still improved quite a bit. And by yesterday, they had both earned their first toy. Britton picked a Spiderman bionicle and Haley picked a big Disney princess padded floor puzzle. (Both things probably cost about $2 each, but we won't tell them that)

Britton's Formal Uniform


On Wednesday's the kid's have flag ceremony or something so they have to wear their nice uniforms. I think they are so cute. What a handsome guy!

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Ramblings

Life is crazy and it doesn't seem to slow down. The last few days have flown by.

Tuesday, Jason got to sub for the first time. He was in the 4 year old class. I asked him how it went at the end of the day and he said, "Fine, but I think I would prefer secondary". I'm sure he had fun though. He was singing "Shake the wiggles out" later on in the day and said he did it with his class. I wish I could have been a fly on the wall watching him as he figured out what to do with all the little ones who don't really understand him. Afterwards, he got to talk to Dr. Zhang for a while and he is going to give Jason's name out for any students who need tutoring and pass his phone number along to the team leaders for subbing. I think he'll be able to work quite a bit while we're here.

I'm finally starting to get a feel for my students and their level. Now I can start really planning and getting some things ready. Most of what I planned from before is a bit too hard for them, so I'm going to have to push it back. Yesterday was a bit eye-opening for me when I started some of the science stuff for the first time with the 8th graders. I just planned some things with vocabulary that was way over their heads. So, now I think I know more of what kinds of things to do with them. I get so excited about things that I'm planning and forget that they really do need to just go over the basic vocabulary words before we can do some of the fun projects that I have in mind. I guess it would probably be good for me to imagine trying to do all of the assignments in French or something and that would give me a better idea of what I'm asking of my students. Their English is probably better than my French, but it's still probably a good guage for me.

Today is a long day for me. I teach 5 classes but I don't have any preps because we have a staff meeting during one and a meeting with the Chinese teachers during the other one, so it's a lot different than I'm used to. I was going to stay at work during lunch to prep but I was starving and thought it would be a nice break to see my family. Well, Jason and Haley are asleep and Britton is upstairs playing with Jonas. So much for hanging out with them. At least I get a chance to blog for a moment. All the prep time that I thought I was going to have is slowly dwindling as they schedule clubs and staff meetings, etc. It seems like Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday I don't have really any time to prep. Luckily, Monday and Tuesday I get several hours. For clubs though, I get to do girl's sports. I'm excited about that. We're going to see how many are interested and then decide which sports we want to do. I know badminton is huge here, so we'll probably do some badminton tournaments and then volleyball and basketball for sure.

Well, I need to head back over to school.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Student's Names

All of the student's have English names that they have chosen or their parent's or teacher's have helped them choose. It's so funny to me some of the names. For the most part they are pretty standard--John, Jenny, Mary, Fred, Ben etc. But, some of them are quite unique and creative.
Here are some of my favorites:
Z
Horizon
Otto
Ricardo
Francesca
Uki (since when is Uki an English name?)
Kira
Zyla
Twinkle
Ria
Kobe Brian (I can't bring myself to tell him that it's Bryant, not Brian because he seems to be such a big fan of Kobe's)
J-Hizzle (What?)
Po
Keroro

Anyway, it's kind of fun to see what they come up with. As far as learning their names goes, I'm actually doing quite well. Last Friday, I made my classes mix up and line up at the back of the room and I went around saying their names. If I didn't get it right, they got candy. They really had a fun time with it. They were trying to hide their faces or take of their glasses so I wouldn't recognize them. Out of my 3 eighth grade classes (about 90 students) I only missed 6 kids total. So, that's not bad at all. Way better than I would have expected. And that was only my 2nd time with most of them.
So, I thought that I pretty much had a handle on the name learning thing, and then Monday my 7th grade classes started and I've got 120 more faces to learn. We'll see how I do today with it.

Things I Don't Like About China

This list is in no particular order.

*The humidity--it is soooooooo humid here. I'm sweating all the time. Luckily, we have air conditioning, but I still walk to and from school twice a day. This morning at school we had flag raising ceremony and it was the most miserable thing ever. We had to stand in these lines outside in the hot sun while they had speeches, the national anthem, and some different drill commands. I'm sure it was a nice ceremony, but it was all in Chinese. They did have a translator for the speeches at least. The whole thing was only about 15 minutes long, but everyone was literally dripping in sweat. Most of the guys backs were drenched from the sweat and you could see through their shirts. It was disgusting. I'm not exaggerating at all either. Even all the Chinese people were dripping and wiping the sweat. I thought it would never end.

*The smell. I'm not really sure what it smells like here, but it doesn't smell good. I don't know if the moisture in the air holds the stench in or what, but it seems to always smell funny. It's funny because sometimes we'll be walking along and we just walk into a gross smell. My kids will comment, "I just smelled something bad." Our bathroom also always stinks. I don't quite know what it is, but it smells like sewer or something. Jason said it's because our sink doesn't have a pea trap, but I don't even know what that is, so I'll just take his word for it.

*Not being able to understand or communicate with anyone. There are only a few times when I'm glad that I can't understand people: 1)when I'm walking down the street and a group of toothless men are smiling and saying things to me and 2)when someone is trying to sell me something. Other than those few instances, I really wish I spoke Chinese. (or everyone else spoke English)

*Leaving Haley at home every morning. Okay, this doesn't really have anything to do with China, just that I'm working, but I still don't like it. Everyday Haley asks if she can come with me. It breaks my heart that she can't. She's told me that she doesn't want me to work anymore and that she wants me to stay with her "forever and ever". It just kills me.

*The alphabet. I feel like I'll never really be able to explore or get around by myself because I have no clue what anything says. I can't even look it up because it's a different alphabet. A lot of the signs have the pinyin (English alphabet) underneath, but not all. The other times I've visted foreign countries, at least they use the same alphabet so it didn't seem as hard to navigate and familiarize myself with my surroundings. The Chinese alphabet is just so overwhelming to me. Last Friday night, we went exploring to find a restaurant to eat in. Mel and Shane weren't with us and we forgot that they always order for us. When we got to the restaurant street in Clifford, we realized that none of the restaurants had English menus. We felt so silly that we couldn't even go out to eat. And some of them had pictures but you couldn't really tell what it was or how much it was. Finally, we found a restaurant with an English menu and that's how we picked to go there. It wasn't the best food, but at least we could order.

*Jason wouldn't be happy if I didn't include this next one--the slow internet. It' s not even that slow, just not fast enough to watch TV from home during peak hours. Fortunately, most of the things we want to watch (BYU football) come on in the middle of the night or early morning hours here. We got to watch the season opener last weekend. Go Cougs!

*Our family and friends aren't here. So, when is everyone coming to visit? We miss you!

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Our Backyard

My kids think the courtyard here is our backyard. So, they think it's so cool. They think we have a swimming pool, playground, and lake all in our backyard. It's cute. Here are some pictures of our "backyard".