Sunday, December 28, 2008

Happy Hallie

I mentioned that Hallie was much happier in the thanksgiving list. I thought I would elaborate. She was not really unhappy to be in China, but sometimes she thought she was. When she was very tired and something happened, she would sometimes say “I wish we were back in America”. Sometimes she would complain and say she missed America. It was starting to rub off on the other kids too. She was not like that all the time, most of the time she was a normal 8 year old girl (that lives in a foreign country). We had to talk to her about her attitude and how important it was that she at least seem happy.
Thanksgiving Day was hard on her. She cried because she missed the Annual Hardin Thanksgiving breakfast (never mind that they did not do breakfast this year). We have had to talk to all of the kids about not dwelling on what we don’t have or are missing, but being thankful for what we DO have. Sometime after that she had a turning point. When we had our Thanksgiving celebration, she said that it was a “great Thanksgiving”, (it might have had something to do with the 5 rice crispy treats she ate).
She has two friends now. One I already told you about, and the other I will write about in another entry.
The other day on the bus, some students asked if she liked China, and she said yes! Before she would only say, it was ok. She says now she is used to China. We are very thankful that she (and the other kids) are adjusting and feeling “at home”.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

A picture of Hallie and her friend

This is a picture of Hallie and her new friend. Her English name is Vanessa and even though she is a month younger than Hallie is is a good head taller than her. They had (or at least Hallie did) a good time this past Wed. during English corner. I hope they can spend even more time together.

Friday, December 5, 2008

An answer!

I have been asking all of you to remember several specific things. One is that Hallie wants a friend. There are times that she really does feel lonely. This past Wednesday night we went to the required weekly event, "English corner". Sometimes the kids really like this time, but lately Hallie has really dreaded it.
The teacher in charge of English corner was there that night and she had her daughter with her! Her daughter is only about a month or so younger than Hallie. She stayed and they played together. There were a few awkward moments, but they managed to find a few games that they could play without really talking. I tell you, it was so great to hear Hallie laughing and giggling with a friend!

They just moved to an apartment close to campus. Michelle said her daughter has been feeling a little lonely too because most of her friends are in the city. She invited Hallie to come and play with her sometime. I really hope this works out. It really seems like an answer to a prayer!

Also we will probably do something with a nearby school and our kids will be able to participate too. He is really REALLY good!

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

I got tagged! I am supposed to pick out the 4th folder of pics, the 4th pic. and then tell 4 things about it. Did you know that in China the number 4 is bad luck? Seriously...the word for 4 (su) sounds like the word for "death" (which I don't know). But I will do it anyway....

1. Hallie took this picture with her camera.

2. This is Piper Harris and Eryn

3. This was taken at a send off party in Milan before we left the US

4. Piper is the one person that Eryn keeps saying she misses!

I am not sure if I can tag anyone Steph I don't have that many folks on my list.

Sunday we had our church Thanksgiving meal. We planned it for Sunday because most of us have classes on Thursday and Friday. Saturday, we went with the ……on a trip down the Grand Canal. We did not even try to find a turkey this year. We figured that goose and Chicken would be much easier. We did need to find a place to cook the goose because our oven would NOT be big enough. Jon took a student and arranged for a restaurant to bake the goose. Sunday morning dawned and Jon went to the market to get the goose. Yes, it was alive when he picked it out, but they did butcher, pluck, and clean it for him. Then he took the goose (head and feet connected) to the restaurant. However, they said that it was too big to fit in their oven too! We got someone to help us and they ended up frying the goose for us. They did have to chop it in half first. We also ordered some chickens from that restaurant. The meat was really delicious. I made corn bread dressing, rice crispy treats (no leftovers) and chocolate oatmeal no-bake cookies. Cecily made red jello salad, sweet potato casserole, and pumpkin pies (yum yum). The Beamons ( a family that lives in the north of the city and worships with us) brought green beans, corn, and mashed potatoes. Josh and Yan brought the drinks and some Chinese short ribs. There were no left-overs there either! After the meal we sat around and drank some hot cider and nibbled on desserts before and after our regular Sunday meeting.
This all sounds normal and not that amazing, but to us a large real Western meal is a huge treat!
Hallie said that it was a great Thanksgiving! ( she did eat FIVE rice crispy treats!)

We are thankful that we are in China but we are also thankful for a taste of home.
The spread of food!
The meat, chicken and goose!
Pumpkin pie
chocolate oatmeal no bake cookies
rice crispy treats (covered)

Friday, November 28, 2008

One hundred days!

We have been in China 100 days now. It is a little strange that I know that, but I counted it! Does it seem that long?
Not long after we arrived, I was chatting with the kids and somehow 100 days came up. Some schools have a special day when they have been in school 100 days, so I thought it might be fun to plan something special for our 100th day in China. I counted on my calendar and today Friday, November 28, 2008 is the 100th day since our arrival. I had plans to do a bunch of things today, but with my teaching schedule the only thing we did was count 100 chocolate chips and put them in cookies. We also stirred the batter 100 times. The kids wish that they could eat 100 cookies. Maybe we should count another 100 and have another celebration again in the spring.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008


I am pretty scared of rats. In the past I have had nightmares after hearing people just talk about rats. Why anyone would want one for a pet was beyond me. When I lived in China 10 years ago, I would occasionally see one, alive or dead. I did not like it, but I did start to get over my fear and was just thankful that they were outside and not in our building. Since being in Hangzhou, I have not seen a rat. I am sure they are here, but I have not seen one. We live next to one of the school cafeterias, but there are often cats and even sometimes some dogs that hang out after dark. I am thankful that I have not seen one. I might scare the kids if I screamed.

We have been preparing for winter around here. Jon has been plugging holes and drafts and things like that. He said that he needed to find steel wool. We were looking for something like that in the store and I mentioned not seeing any rats or mice. Then Jon admitted that the other day he heard a noise in the kitchen. When he went in the kitchen, he caught sight of a tail! The tail was disappearing through the hole that the washing machine drains. (the machine that we rarely use, since we use the one in the other “kitchen”) The hole is larger than the drain pipe, and we know that mice and rats can fit into very small areas. Jon plugged the hole with some aluminum foil, but that didn’t do any good.

Well, I am sure you can guess what is coming…

A couple of nights ago, I heard a noise and thought that one of the kids was up. I got up to check on them, but everyone was sound asleep. I kept hearing the noise, and could not go back to sleep. The door to the kitchen was closed (thankfully). I knew that I was hearing a mouse or rat. Now, often people will call mice “rats”, but do you know the difference? Mice are tiny, and rats are NOT tiny.

There was no way I was going to go into the kitchen! Finally I thought that the critter was on the counter (it wasn’t, but I thought it was). That was when I woke Jon up. He made some noises at the door and then went into the kitchen. He wanted it to run away so he could plug the hole and have it trapped in our kitchen. It worked. We figured out that it was indeed a rat!

How do we know? Well, because it got into my Pop Tarts! Yes, I know that mice probably like Pop Tarts too, but could they get a package off a shelf and then drag it all the way across the floor? The rat ate about half of a package of chocolate Pop Tarts, one bite from a brown sugar Pop Tart and part of an apple. I really hope that it had a bellyache!

Jon plugged the hole at about 4 am, and so far we have not seen or heard anything.

When we were at a large store the other day, Jon thought that he would ask about traps or rat poison. We have an electronic translator feature to our cell phones, so he typed in “rat” and then made some gestures like a trap and then dead (drawing his finger across his throat and then sticking his tongue out) to a store worker. Without much hesitation she pointed to the large cleavers and knives! We all laughed at that, and then she told us she did not think that they had anything like that. I am sure we can find some thing else, but in the meantime, my Pop Tarts are in a locked container!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Well, it could have been worse.... Jon had class until 5 and then he had class again at 6:30, so I thought it would be easier to eat at home....but nothing is as simple as it should be in China.... I knew we had eggs and some ham and cheese, so I decided to make omlettes.

We only have an electric hot plate thing to cook on. It uses magnets to make ferrous metals is pretty cool technology if you are not trying to cook on it. The first pan I grabbed did not work (wrong kind of metal). Of course I did not realize it did not work until after I dumped the ham in it. So I got out another pan, but it immediately burned some of the ham! I took it off the eye and knew that I would need to clean the pan or else the omlettes would taste very burnt. About this time, Jon came home and suggested another pan, that was in the drawer. I forgot to look in the drawer...who keeps pans in drawers...oh they do in China. That pan worked better and I cooked the ham some and then moved on to the eggs....

I remember my mom and grandmother always telling me to crack open an egg in a separate container than your mix (or the other eggs). I almost forgot that advice....but it could have been worse...on egg number 5, I cracked it, but something seemed off...I noticed the smell and the green liquid about the same time. I am glad that none of the yuck landed in the other eggs. I am also very thankful that I did not open the egg all the way!! I can only imagine what I would have found. The smell was the worst part! I kept smelling it all night even way after I took out the garbage and scrubbed the kitchen.

Well like I said, it could have been worse. I started to cook the eggs, but the silly hot plate thing either gets very hot or not hot enough... finally they were cooked enough to add the ham and cheese. However, the omlette fell all apart. So I called it Topsy-turvy omlettes and the kids were excited. It was covered in cheese (a rare treat). The kids gobbled it up. Then I made one for Jon and me. It was ok, but I did have trouble getting it cooked all the way. I ate two bites, and it tasted fine, but I still smelled that other egg and had lost my appetite for eggs!

Everyone was still hungry, so when Jon went to class and took out the garbage, we got a snack at the cafeterria next door. I scrubbed the kitchen and washed the dishes, at least I could do that right!
Like I said, it could have been least we did have something to eat. I think tonight, we will go out to eat!

Friday, October 3, 2008

We got Mail!

We were told that we had a package, so Jon stopped by the post office after his class. I went on home and relieved the babysitter. After a little bit, I heard Jon come in and he sounded out of breath. I wondered why, because it was not that hot. When I walked into the living room, I saw what he was carrying! We did not get one package, we got FIVE! It was like Christmas morning at our house! Some of the packages were things that we had left behind in the US, but some were some new surprises. Thank you so much!

Friday, September 19, 2008

How to cool down in China

Today was super hot. I am not sure why it felt soooo hot, but it was! The fountain was on after our class, and we have been promising the kids we would let them play in it, so we finally let them. They had a BLAST! It was funny to see the students notice the kids in the fountain. A couple of guys even got brave enough to stick their hands in, and one put his head in the water. We were not the only ones that were hot today!

Monday, September 15, 2008

What a day!

Yesterday, I made a short video of our apartment, however I cannot get it up loaded. My computer keeps freezing up wherever I try to put it. So for now, you will have to be satisfied with still pics. I will add the video when I send a video home. I will take some still pictures of the apartment today after my class.
For now, I will tell you about my day.
It all started about 4:30 or 5 with Jon waking up with "China belly". Fortunately he was able to go back to sleep and was OK the rest of the day. We had planned to go to Century Mart to get groceries in the morning. We did not get going very early (liked we had hoped). We probably left the apt. around 10. Instead of going to the close one, we wanted to go to the better and bigger one. We took a bus to the end, but form there it fell apart. We needed to take another bus, but were not sure which one, so we walked for a while. Eryn was whining, Liam peed his pants, and Jon was mad. Finally we got on a bus and just watched out the window, we rode it one stop!
Once we got there, a student called Jon to meet up and look for furniture (mostly bunk beds). We did not realize that it would take us that long to get there! So we hurried through and then Jon went to meet the student and I stayed with the kids. We went to Subway to eat. What a treat! Then we took a taxi back to the school. It was my first time solo with the kids in China. It went well, and the taxi driver and I communicated well enough. We talked about the kids and Michael Phelps.

As we approached our building, I realized that I did not have the keys. Jon had them and he was still at the furniture market. The kids and I waited out side the building for almost an hour. Thank goodness for cell phones. Jon came back. He did not buy any furniture because he did not have enough cash with him on this trip! But he knows how to get back and can take more money
next time.

We were wondering if this was going to be a wasted day. We took quick naps and then went out to eat with Frank, a brother. We were running a little late, but it was ok. Once we met up with Frank, we got in a taxi. Then Liam started to feel carsick. We were close to the restaurant, so we got out. He soon felt better.

We had a great dinner! Beggar's Chicken was a hit with the kids until the noodles came. The kids loved it. They also liked the pancake things that came with our duck. The kids were full and happy!
As we left the restaurant, we ran into a sister that Frank knew. We walked with her and her 8 month old son by the lake. We watched the water show and then took a car back with Frank.

We are excited that we found some more foods that all the kids like! So we ended up having a nice finish to a day that was not so good earlier.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

First Day

The guys came to paint our new doorway today. We are assuming that we will only get one coat of paint. We are ok with that because these guys always seem to make a mess. They track stuff all over the floor, and we can't communicate with them very well, it is frustrating. Now that the doorway is finished, I need to get the pictures up....
We will probably finish moving over to the "big apartment" this weekend.

I had my first class today. It went pretty well. Jon had an afternoon class where only one student showed up! So he brought her back to our apartment and we visited with her, and she played Uno with the kids! What a way to improve her English. We are excited about these smaller classes, because they could be a way to share more important things.

That is all from this side of the world today.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Wed. Sept.3

Things are going pretty good as far as our housing. They came today and smashed a hole in the wall for our door way. They just used a sledge hammer. I did not hear any power tools until they cut the wood (or whatever they used) to frame the hole. In a day or so, they will come back and paint it all up. I will post pictures then.

The last couple of days have been hard because the kids have been sick. We think it is just getting used to the food and all. We have been thankful for our two bathrooms. Right now the bathroom problems have stopped, but Liam has been running a fever. When the fever is down (from meds.) he acts fine. Hopefully we will be able to get out again tomorrow.

Jon starts his first class tomorrow. We signed our contracts with the school today. We are looking forward to finally settling into our apartment and getting a routine down. Keep us in your thoughts, especially next week when all our classes start. Love y'all!

Monday, September 1, 2008

We are alive!

We are finally on line! Right now, however, the Internet is painfully slow. I think it will take a little bit to figure out how to do a few things. For instance, Blogger is working fine, but most of the tabs are in Chinese.
We are no longer jet-lagged. We are in our apartment and not the hotel. Which is nice, because we have hot water showers when ever we want and we can wash clothes! It was sunny today, so I washed 3 loads of clothes and they dried. If it is still sunny tomorrow, maybe I can catch up with the laundry.
We have two apartments. It is good, because that means we have 2 washers and two bathrooms, but the apartments are across the hall from each other. However they (the school) has agreed to cut a door way between two apartments next to each other. We hope that that does not take too long to complete (or begin). We are a little more settled, but still cannot completely unpack yet.
The kids are doing well, and having fun, except they are pretty tired with all the walking we have been doing. Today we did not go out anywhere and Hallie actually did some school.
I have a ton of things to post, so check back often.
We love you guys!

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Bike Wreck!

H. was enjoying “her” bike. But she did not have a good day with it today. She was trying to ride it on the porch and fell off in the bushes. She was fine, but the other kids freaked out!

Then a few hours later, she went out and was going to ride the bike in the driveway. She failed to notice that the drive way is a pretty steep hill. So she went down the driveway, and could not stop! She ended up on the other side of the median in the road! We heard her scream, and then Liam ran inside to tell us that something had happened. Jon carried her back inside and we cleaned her up. She is pretty scraped up, but that is all. She has scrapes on her knees, hands, elbow and face. She also has some pretty road rash on her face.

She told me at breakfast, that she is going to stay inside today.

Bike Parade

Every year Hixson (Clear Creek) have a bike parade for the kids. Usually it is in the church parking lot. This year it was at a park. Mr. Bobby found some bikes for the kids. So Jon and H. went to Wal-mart to get training wheels and things to decorate the bike. They got stuck in traffic, but make it home in time for us to put the wheels on the bike and decorate it.

She made it once around the track and then one of her training wheels fell off!

After the parade, the kids ate popsicles and played on the playground.

Friday, June 27, 2008

We are in Hixson

We are in Hixson, TN now. We are staying with Bobby and Carol Golden. We are staying in their basement. It is a very large area. We have two bedrooms, a bathroom, a kitchen, washer and dryer, and a large living space. It is the perfect set-up for us. We feel very comfortable here.

This is the view from our front porch.

Mr. Bobby (our host) bought the kids fishing rods. We have not gone fishing yet, but the kids have practiced casting almost every day in the front yard.

They have also enjoyed the Golden’s swing.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

School's Out

School is out (and has been for almost 2 weeks now). H. finished school the same day that Jon was finished. The first Monday that no one had school, we went to the zoo in Memphis. It has been a tradition the last several years to go to the zoo right after school is out.

For the last several years we have been a member of the zoo. We have a yearly pass. It is so worth it for us. If we go to the zoo just twice on the pass, it pays for itself. It takes less than 2 hours to get to the zoo, and once we get there, we don't have to pay for anything else. We often bring the waggon and a small cooler with snacks and lunch.

This time we got to go into the butterfly exhibit. The butterflies didn't open to the public until the next week, but for members it was open.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Locks for Love

We were super proud of H. yesterday. She got her hair cut for Locks of Love. She ended up getting about 12 inches cut off. Her hair is now at her shoulders, were it was past her waist. Her new hair cut looks great and she loves it.

I must admit, I was pretty nervous about it. I had a fear, that she would not like it, but that was silly.

Yes, it was her idea. Ok, maybe not her idea, but definitly her choice. We had suggested that when she deciced to get it cut that she should donate her hair. But I promised her (and myself) that I would let it be her choice.

I actually remember crying in a hair dressers chair, when my mother took me to get my hair cut. So I was never going to do that, but it was becoming quite a pain to take care of. I suggested to H. that she might think about getting it cut before we go to China, and before this summer.

She got up Tuesday and wanted me to call for an apointment. She was so excited! She told me that she is going to let it grow, so she can do it again. She practically giggled the whole way to "Lookin' Good". She said, I can't believe that after months and months, it is finally happening. I think she was more excited than scared.

Mrs. Brenda cut her hair. Mrs. Brenda is the only person (besides me) that has ever cut her hair. She also has cut all three of my kids' hair for their first haircut.

We are just so proud of her!

Thursday, April 17, 2008

I was told yesterday, that my blog was out of date. I need to blog some of our trip to China. I will try to get to that soon. But today I will tell about yesterday.

For some time now, when I told Hallie it was time to start school Liam and Eryn would say they wanted to do school too. I finally got a Pre-K book for them to work on. They both did two pages yesterday. I think they enjoyed it. I can tell that Eryn is going to be similar to Hallie. She loved doing the "work". Liam on the other hand, had a much shorter attention span. He needed more encouragement. He did just fine, but lacked confidence.

I will be ordering school materials for next year pretty soon. I have it mostly figured out. I am just waiting to hear exactly what the family is going to leave us in China.

Ok, I will try to update this blog at least once a week. I will work on some stuff this weekend too. Thanks for reading

Friday, March 21, 2008

High Seas (part 2)

Here is a picture taken of me and the girls in Progresso, Mexico on St. Patrick's day.
This is our wonderful waiter Albert, fom the Phillipines, playing with Liam and Hallie.
Eryn playing in the window of our stateroom (cabin). Look how blue the water is!

The High Seas

Joe and Beverly took us on a cruise. We sailed out of Mobile, AL last Saturday. From the very begining, things did not go well. We were supposed to board the ship between 2:30 and 4 that afternoon. However, the ship was delayed in arriving because of fog and was not ready for us to board. We waited in a parking lot for more than three hours. We finally got to board and ate supper. Then we went to bed. The next morning, I did not feel well. I was having trouble with motion sickness. After I ate a little breakfast, I felt better. Sunday was "formal " night. We all dressed up for supper. I will add some pictures of that.

This is a picture of Liam all dressed up eating a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. We had a great waiter. He took extra time with the kids. He brought them extra treats and played games with them. Hallie got to eat rice two nights at dinner. She also got a steak, which she loved!!

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

This is our family blog. We have another blog, but that is the team's. This is just us. Mostly it will probably be about the kids. I hope that it will sometimes be funny.

Today was a decent day. One incident of note was that Eryn painted her own fingernails and toe nails today. She was on my bed when she did it. Surprisingly she did not get any nail polish on the bed, her hands and feet were a different story!