Thursday, December 27, 2007

Quick updates:

1. Christmas was good, Malachi's stuff seems to have doubled and we're not done with it yet.

2. John finished his fall semester and the next day started his winter math class. He starts his spring semester before this math class finishes.

3. Our friends are coming in town tomorrow morning and leave Tuesday afternoon.

4. I may post pictures of Christmas and our friend's visit some time after that.

Merry Christmas everyone and Happy New Year!

Monday, December 17, 2007

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Challenge Accepted

My girlfriend Bethany said that her friend challenged her to Blog seven things about herself that are interesting and that are mostly unknown. Since I'm an open book to anyone, this may prove to be a true challenge.

1. The night before (sometimes up to a week before) an event I'm very excited about, I have a very hard time sleeping. This has been going on for years and years and I've yet to try to do anything about it.

2. I love photography. I took four quarters of it in high school and got a D one quarter because I didn't turn in work. My skills have decreased quite a bit, but I'd love to pick it up again.

3. I've had three surgeries in my life but I only have two scars.

4. I love to read, however, if the book isn't full of action I have a hard time getting through it.

5. I'm writing a book on being a child of divorce. It's very, very far from completion but I feel like sharing about my experience and finding out how others coped with it.

6. I love to dress up...for about an hour. Then I want my jeans and t-shirt back.

7. I had migraines when I was a child and again when I was 22 years old. God healed me of them the second time and I haven't had one since (I'm now 26).

Those things seem small, nothing very big was revealed but I have to say that I dug deep for them. I really am an open book.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

More Pics

Some pics of the family visiting last month.













Thursday, December 6, 2007

Two (2) years old now.



Can you believe that Malachi is two years old? I can't! It doesn't seem like that long ago when he was born. And on the other hand it feels like we've had him as long as we've had our six year marriage. It's hard to remember life with out a child. It seems foreign to be able to sleep in until noon, go where ever you want with whom ever you want with out thinking twice about whether or not it's smoky or too loud or if they serve anything that Malachi will eat.

Seeing friends of our without kids sometimes make me mourn those days. Then I see Malachi do something cute or achieve something new and those feelings melt away. I love him so much that I wouldn't give him up for anything.



His birthday party was a great time!

He had all of his friends here both young and old - and by old I mean our age :) He had a great time kicking around balloons with his friends and having lunch with them. He also really, really loved the cake that mom and dad made for him.



As you can tell from the cake we had an airplane theme because right now he loves airplanes! He got some great gifts and really just had a good time with his friends. Thank you to everyone who came!

Here's everyone singing happy birthday to Malachi!

video


Some fun pics from the "airplane/terminal" decorations:






Some people pics:

Me and Zoe


Rylan


Elijah


Issac


Joanna (Isaac's mom) and Steph (Zoe's mom (Joanna helped me a lot with the party, thank you so much!))


Miss Gina and Danielle (the baby in her belly was born on Monday - she's so cute!)


Velda and Simeon

Valerie, Raul and Me


Rob, Jill, Me, Danielle, Rylan, and Joanna


Raul, John, and Malachi

Thanksgiving was a good day for us. We had lunch at 1:00 with our friends Chris and Holly and then Ben and Sarah came down at 5:00. They were here until Saturday evening (as previously blogged about). They got leftovers from our lunch with Chris and Holly. There was so much food after Thanksgiving that both couples had substantial leftovers even after large plates were made up for Ben and Sarah.

The day after Thanksgiving was Malachi's actually birthday. Rick and Mickey came down for the day, so the seven of us were all together. We had a great day as a family and Malachi got one of his best presents ever. His piano with microphone! He loves that gift! Fortunately for me he doesn't over do it.

I'm no longer sick and we're coming into a busy part of the season for me. Luckily though, it'll be over a week from Saturday (but I have at least five things going on between tomorrow night and then.

Love to all!

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

change of mind

I decided not to get checked out for bronchitis. I did some research on it and bronchitis can't be treated. So why waste money going to the Dr for him to tell me that he can't do anything for me. I did read though that if you have it for six months you should go see if there are any serious health problems related to it.

Only five months and one week to go!

Monday, November 26, 2007

still sick

I am still sick! My brother-in-law and his wife decided to come down for Thanksgiving weekend. They arrived at 5:00pm on Thursday and left at 5:30 on Saturday. It was a short trip but we had a really good time. My cold was the worst it has been since I got it over three weeks ago. It improved on Saturday and again yesterday but I'm still coughing. Another week of this and I might get checked for bronchitis.

I really don't feel like doing the whole picture thing, but I will upload pics and maybe vids from Malachi's party.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Long awaited update

Some of you have been asking for an update. I have been sick for over a week and my son got the cold not long after I did. Combine that with being pretty busy and not really recovering I haven't really felt like updating my blog. I'm still a little sick and I'm still pretty busy, but I feel like an update is now way overdue.

Anniversary:


John and I celebrated our sixth anniversary on Saturday. I seriously can not believe that it's been six years. On the other hand - it feels a lot longer than that.

We decided that this year instead of one person planning the whole day of celebrating that we'd split it up. John would plan the first part of the day and I would plan the second. I had a really good time planning my part of our day. I knew that Mickey (my mother-in-law) was coming to babysit and she was going to spend the night so we had no restrictions on what to do.

So I got up that morning at seven and got ready for the day. Malachi woke up when I was doing said task and it was perfect timing because he and I needed to leave at 7:45 to go to the airport to get Grandma. He was very excited about that. After I got Mickey from the airport we went to the grocery store so she and Malachi could make cookies and so they could have meals while we were out.

When I got home John took me to breakfast at our favorite breakfast spot - Mama's Daughter's Diner. We had a big breakfast because we knew that the next meal would be dinner. While we're at breakfast I see a cop at our next table and as she walks by us to leave I shiver at her gun and say I don't like guns - because I'm scared of them. On the way home John says that he want to tell me what we're doing because of something I said at breakfast that would indicate I might want to back out. I told him I didn't want to back out and that I can't think of anything that he would plan that I wouldn't want to do. So he didn't tell me what we were going to do and I was more excited about the surprise activity.

After breakfast we went back home and John went to the store. He got back and said it was time for us to go. So when we're in the car on the way to his event he said he had something for me in his pocket. I reached in and found a bullet. I got really excited that we were going shooting because I've wanted to go shooting for a long time. When he went to the "store" after breakfast he really went to a friends apartment where he borrowed a gun.

We got there and had to wait for a little bit but we bought our targets and ammo and paid our range fees. Then when a couple of security guys left we got to go in. John taught me how to shoot and showed me a couple of shots. I had no stinking idea how loud it was going to be. John tried warning me but I still jumped a foot off the ground the first few shots. Even after I started shooting it was surprising me.

But to my surprise I wasn't that bad. It took almost 30 rounds for me to be able to have at least an eye open. for some reason, after I aimed I would shut both eyes then squeeze the trigger. It was a little scary for me and I was shaking after the first couple rounds, but it got easier as I went. I shot about 40 rounds and had a really good time. I was on a huge adrenaline rush after I left and we stopped to get DQ to help calm us down. It worked, by the time we got home I was completely off my rush and I was super tired because it turns out that shooting is a bit exhausting.

We decided to go see a movie because we needed to pass time between shooting and my activities. We went and saw No Country for Old Men. It was a good movie. I would see it again sometime.

After that we stopped at home to pick up the picnic lunch that Mickey made. And we drove over to our old apartment. Before we got out of the car I told John that one of the best dates we've ever been on was my senior prom when his mom made a picnic for us and he took us to all the places that were special to our relationship (where we met, where we first flirted, where we had our first date and kiss, etc.) and I wanted to duplicate that date with places that meant something to us here in Texas. I wanted to go where we stayed when we came down to TX the very first time on vacation. We made some friends that I hope we'll have for life but unfortunately I didn't contact them in time and we didn't make it up there. So instead we started out at our first apartment. Fortunately for me we know the people that live there now and I gave them a call to see if it would be ok to visit the inside of the apartment instead of having to stare at the bedroom window from our car. So we went in and saw our first TX apartment.

She was sitting in the living room eating dinner and that was a little weird, but otherwise it was pretty fun to picture it the way we had it and to go over some memories. We moved from there to our picnic in the family picnic area outside the apartment.

After our picnic we "walked to school" like we did so many mornings the two years we were students. We laid on the steps at the main building and talked about our many school memories, the good teachers and the good, famous, and not so good special speakers.

We "walked home" and got in the car and drove to our apartment in Grand Prairie which is where we had almost my whole pregnancy, started playing WoW and had our first and only auto break-in. It was also our first home with Malachi. We have some pretty great memories there.

After that we went to the hospital. There are some pretty emotional and physical painful memories there, but it was definitely an important place in our marriage. John pointed out the room I stayed in and the room I delivered in. I was glad that he did that because I didn't remember :) We then walked by the doors of the NICU (can't go in when we don't know a baby - which is fine by me!). I'm so glad that that chapter of our lives is over and Malachi is a perfect little two year old!

We had one more stop. The first four John figured out so I was really happy when he couldn't figure this one out (I had one surprise for him at least). We headed to Starbucks - that's right...Starbucks. Last year after John finished his second year at DBU John and I had a fear that we weren't moving in the direction that God had for us and we wanted to consult with our Pastor and have him pray for us. That meeting really helped us to set the course we're on now. It also was where John pulled of his best prank. You'll have to ask him about that one.

We got home in time to see our son before he went to bed - which made John really happy. It was one of the best anniversaries we've had in the last six years and we both had a really great time. I have no idea how we're going to top it next year :)

So...this ended up being really long, I'll make other updates short:
We've been sick - John's better, I'm almost better, Malachi's still working on it.
Malachi's 2nd birthday is on the 23rd - next Friday, his party is on this Saturday, it's going to be awesome! Please pray that everyone's done being sick by then!

Love you all!

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Best fake-out ever!





The people at church who know me were very confused, surprised, and dumb founded when they saw my costume last night. I had so much fun doing it. I almost didn't find a shirt, but my girlfriend found one that fit the pillow. I look really big too!

Malachi went as a Cowboy but he just had on overalls and a plaid shirt. His overalls say Little Cowboy on them. He wouldn't wear his hat for very long so daddy ended up wearing it most of the night. The weather cooperated with us - I never had to put on long sleeves. People in our church really get into the harvest festival - I had a really great time.

BTW in case you ask, no I didn't get pictures of Malachi. Maybe when his outfit is washed I'll get one taken and put online for y'all but he didn't really dress up special.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Randomness

One thing you'd learn if you got to know me (or sat near me when I talk to mostly anyone) is that I LOVE my son. And I really, REALLY want to have another child. I want Malachi to have a sibling (it will be a boy because that's what's in our family and we're confident the only girl we'll ever have is the one we adopt from China) and I want to expand our family. There's one thing we want to happen before we try for another one, but it's not a very easy thing. Please pray that my desire for one thing will lessen so my goal will be easily met. That's all I'm going to write about it - when you pray God will know.

Malachi's upper molars seem to be affecting him much more than the lower ones and taking much longer. He's very sensitive right now, so I'm trying to not make him angry. It's not easy to do that with a two year old.

OMG he'll be two in less than a month. I'm very excited about his birthday party! We're doing an airplane theme - gonna be fun!

Friday, October 26, 2007

Saw the White

One of the things about your child teething is that before the tooth cuts (the act of coming through the gums) you can see the tooth right under the gums. I was told this by someone when his third or fourth tooth was coming in over a year ago. Last night I tried to get a look into the top of his mouth - which is a lot harder than getting a look into the bottom of his mouth - and I saw white under his gums on his upper left side. That made me very excited! I didn't get a look on the right side, not enough time :(

Malachi is very excited this morning because he gets to see Grandma!! Grandma hasn't seen him since they brought him down after our trip, so she also is very excited to see him. She called a couple of weeks ago to ask if she could come down and then immediately proceeded to offer to babysit. Free babysitter = awesome! It didn't take long for me to accept this offer.

There was a couple living at Courts of Praise (my apartment complex on campus) a while back that used to do free babysitting and us for them also. It was a great arrangement and she was available a lot. Since they've moved away finding babysitters hasn't been the easiest.

John and I tend to plan things last minute so we're usually looking for babysitters for that night, or even in a couple of hours, or couple of minutes. Most people aren't like us and don't wait to make plans, so they're busy. We're usually pretty excited to find one when we're in that kind of situation.

Any who...John's getting ready for work, Malachi is using his corn popper to "vacuum" the apartment and I'm writing to y'all hoping that you'll get some great insight into our lives.

I'm so happy that it's Friday! Oh! Speaking of Friday's I'm starting to volunteer for my worship Pastor today. I'll go to the church on Fridays and put the musician's music books together. Should be a pretty easy job. Today I'm happy to have Grandma with us so she can keep Malachi occupied so he doesn't play his wonderful songs on the piano for an hour or two.

Ok, I think that's it for now.

Love to all!

Watch this video and watch the awesome Chinese woman do this exercise. I say in the video that it's not attached, and I mean it. This is awesome.

video

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Malachi's sick?

**Disclaimer there are a couple of references to a normal human function that is quite icky.**

I don't know anymore if he really is sick, or if he has symptoms that make him seem and look sick because he's going through a normal two year old process. Which process, you ask? The horrible (for him and us) process of teething.

Last week I noticed that Malachi had two more teeth on his bottom jaw. I wondered to myself how long they'd been there and why I didn't notice them before they were almost completely in (brushing his teeth doesn't happen as much as it should and his mouth doesn't stay open all the way for long before he notices that his toothbrush tastes like bubble gum and it's a lot of fun to chew on the bristles). I noticed Monday while he was crying that he didn't have his upper two year molars yet - so I realized at that point that we had more teething coming up.

This morning when I was feeding Malachi breakfast he cried really hard after getting a spoonful of oatmeal and cried pretty hard after getting a second one. Then he didn't really want to chew much especially after it hurt real bad to chew the raisin he put in his mouth. After the raisin incident I realized why he was crying this morning. It wasn't that his tummy hurt or he had nausea it was because his upper gums hurt when he chewed. I sighed in relief that I figured out what was wrong and decided that at the store we'd get some Popsicles for the gums and some Pedialite because his nutrition level hasn't been that great the last couple of days, and I didn't expect him to eat much today either.

As I was driving to the grocery store (yay Wal-Mart!)I called my mom to let her know he was teething and she pointed out that the symptoms he had yesterday and Monday night could have been caused by teething. I told her that it had already crossed my mind yesterday but I quickly put it out of my head because he'd never had symptoms this bad from teething. Sure he'd get a cold and a fever, but he has never vomited because of it before.

So at the grocery store (yay Wal-Mart!) I got the Pedialite but passed on the Popsicles because the box was sticky when I got to the register and I really didn't feel like walking all the way back to the frozen section (in the back at this Wal-Wart) after I spent a ton of time just trying to find a fruit bar that wasn't sweetened with Splenda - I was finally relieved after I had found the only box - and so saddened that I couldn't get it at the end. I might have also picked us up a treat in the bakery. Something that I knew he wouldn't have a problem eating.

When we did get home he did quite enjoy that treat and some grape flavored Pedialite. And he's now sleeping soundly, hopefully he'll sleep well.

My rug in the living room is still drying out and the scent of the week's events aren't all the way out, but we're working on it (and by we are I mean I am). It really is great to be a mother, I wouldn't give it up for the world but I could do with out this part. God bless single parents who don't have a loved one to snuggle with at the end of the day to help you forget all the icky trouble.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Malachi's sick.

I wont get into too much detail. Just please pray for him and mommy who's alone at home taking care of him (daddy's at work and goes straight to school after).

Monday, October 22, 2007

The long awaited update

A couple of people have asked for updates, so here goes:

Not much has really gone on in the last couple of weeks. My girlfriend had her second baby so last Wednesday her first son (Simeon, 2) came over at 6:00am and was with us until 5:15 pm. Thank God my father-in-law was in town that day. He basically took care of Malachi while I took care of Simeon. Even with all that help I still was exhausted by the time he left. That same night we saw our friends Raul and Valerie after they got back from their wedding (Boston) and honeymoon (Jamaica). We got to see pictures from their honeymoon and their table cameras from their wedding. It looked like they had a great time. I'm so happy for them (and so sad that we couldn't make it to the wedding).

Malachi's progressing greatly as he always does. He astounds us with something new almost every day. He can now carry on half of a phone conversation all by himself, it goes something like this:

(phone ring noise here, optional)

"Hello?"
"Hi!"
"I'm fine"
"Bye"
laugh

All of this takes place without someone on the other line. When you do put someone on the other line, he may ask how you're doing, or he may reply to you asking him how he's doing. Otherwise, he probably wont do any of the other cute stuff.

I'm still working for my Pastor. He has an assignment due next Monday that is killing me with worry. He needs to have it in Turabian format and I'm so scared that I'm going to screw something up and screw up his grade. Lucky for me John can bring home a packet from school that's all about Turabian.

My women's retreat went really well. I had a ton of fun and was really blessed by many women. Funny retreat story: I put on makeup before I went and when I got there realized that I had forgotten my makeup remover. I asked around and couldn't find any from anyone. The next day when they were handing out prizes, my name got called. I was actually praying that my girlfriend's (Diana - who's not from my church but came with me, we had a great time together) name would be called, but it wasn't :( When I opened my prize I noticed that it was a Mary Kay sample bag with two different moisturizers, a lipstick case, and guess what else...that's right...makeup remover! I looked at Diana and said something to the effect of "now that's irony." It's a good thing they included tissues in our check in gift bag because the second day was full of testimonies from women and it was a teary eyed time.

I'm looking forward to the next couple of months. We have a lot going on:

Oct.
a date on Friday

Nov.
our anniversary on the 10th
Malachi's party on the 17
Thanksgiving the 22nd
Malachi's bday the 23rd

Dec.
Christmas the 25th
our friends Josh and Bethany come to visit on the 28th or 29th

I don't think we have anything before Christmas in December yet, but maybe I'm forgetting something.

We're already preparing for Christmas in the choir. It's been fun to sing Christmas songs (although we're not doing the traditional ones at practice yet). I get to learn a new but old Christmas song. One song that I never really learned was It Came Upon a Midnight Clear and we're doing that one. I think it will sound really nice with the choir.

The weather is finally cooling down here - yay! We've got rain and 60's for the next three days but after that it's going to be sunny and in the 70's that sounds perfect!

Well, when I start to talk about weather, I know it's time for me to be done.

Love to all!

Monday, October 8, 2007

writing, church, Malachi, retreat - not in that order

Yesterday's church service was awesome! The Holy Spirit really spoke to and through people. He certainly spoke to me and I’m excited to see the effects of it over the next few months. I’ll wait until later to post about it so that I can make sure it all comes true and so I don’t have to eat my own words later.

God’s really been speaking to me through his written word lately and today wasn’t any different. Since we have the women’s retreat on Friday and Saturday I veered off my normal reading and did some reading that the Women’s Pastor suggested to me. I’m glad I did because the Lord not only spoke to me but gave me some words that could be very encouraging for the ladies at the retreat if I get the chance to say something.

Speaking of the retreat, I’m very excited to go on it! Our Senior Pastor’s wife and I along with three other women make up the worship team and I’m excited and scared at the same time. I just pray that I remember the words and the notes. I want to glorify God with my solo and the rest of the singing I do. I know that any skill I show will only be because of him working through me. On this past Saturday I went to a woman’s house and a bunch of women worked to put stuff together for the retreat. Every woman will get a gift bag when they check in with some great stuff and each woman will get gifts and there are prizes galore. I had a great time with the women putting those things together.

After we put Malachi down for a nap yesterday we rearranged our living and dining rooms. I love doing that, I love changing up the place where I live. I’m so very happy that John did it (he really didn’t want to) and I’m so happy he did such a great job with all the video and sound equipment. Our living room looks homier and our dining room looks bigger. He had an awesome idea for a decoration in our dining room and we’re going to do it (another thing I’ll post about after it’s done) and I can’t wait.

Today I’ve been cleaning up the mess we made while rearranging so the rooms are really coming together – I’m just so excited about it! Since we’re probably going to be in this apartment for another three years (if the school lets us (there’s supposed to be a two year limit, but they’ve never enforced it)) so the homier it is the better. For Christmas I may be asking for gift cards from places like Home Depot and Michaels and such so we can make our visions for the apartment come alive.

Malachi’s been doing great lately. He’s showing how smart he is and how much independence he wants. I seem to see him as a follower, but at the same time he’s a follower that wants to do his own thing. It has been a little challenging but I think we have it easy compared to a lot of other parents.

I’ve started doing some work for my Senior Pastor with the stuff he writes for his Masters Degree at SAGU (Southwestern Assemblies of God University). I’m so glad that I’m privileged enough to read the stuff that he writes because he’s such a smart man with great insight into God’s Word.

Ok, I think that about sums me up right now :) I hope everyone had a great weekend and has a great week!

Friday, October 5, 2007

Christian Halloween?

From a friend that graduated at Christ for the Nations with me. Her father wrote this:


We Christians have an uneasy relationship with Halloween. Most of us have fond memories of Trick or Treating as children. Then about 30 years ago, many pastors and parents began to back away from the observance of the holiday.

That reaction against Halloween came as Satanism and Wicca became more popular. Rock groups in the 70’s and 80’s began openly worshipping Satan and the demonic element of Halloween suddenly seemed too much for Christians to participate in.

This same period gave rise to Rock and Roll seminars as evangelists traveled from church to church playing records backwards and warning against the subliminal demonic messages in the songs. (By way of personal observation, contemporary rap music played forward is far more destructive than anything Zed Zeppelin ever produced backward or forward.)

For Christian parents, the retreat from Halloween was a Catch 22 guilt trip. If we allowed our children to Trick or Treat, we feared we were desensitizing them to evil ideas and entities. If we didn’t allow them to participate, we felt we were depriving them of fun that all of their friends were enjoying and they would thus develop a complex and rebel.

While most Christian parents are aware of their ambivalent guilt feelings, most are not aware of the true history of Halloween. Here’s a short version: The early days of Christianity saw thousands of believers martyred for their faith. They were thrown to the lions in the Roman Coliseum. They were burned at the stake, tortured, crucified, and even forced to freeze to death on frozen lakes.

In 610 A.D., the church designated a holiday to honor these brave Christians. It was called All Saints Day. All Saint’s Day was also called All Hallows Day. The night before was supposed to be a time of cleansing, prayer, and preparation for the holiday. All Hallows Eve eventually was pronounced Halloween.

Originally the day was May 13, but in the eighth century it was moved to November 1 to compete with a pagan ceremony of the Druids and Celts called Samhain. Samhain was the celebration of the dead.

In the succeeding 12 centuries, the holy and pagan roots of Halloween have been alternately emphasized. At times it seemed the pagans had taken it over, at other times, it seemed the church had stamped out the demonic element of the celebration.

My point is that Christians do not need to be the least bit apologetic about celebrating Halloween. Certainly we should refrain from dark costumes and symbols that celebrate the dead, but there are countless ways to make the holiday fun for children and adults alike.

One such example is Cornerstone Church’s Hallelujah Party at the Grove Civic Center. For 20 years, Cornerstone has offered a safe and fun alternative for children of all ages. Pastor Bill Lay and his congregation have done a wonderful job serving our community in this way.

If you’d like more information on this topic, I recommend a Focus On The Family book entitled Redeeming Halloween, Celebrating Without Selling Out.


Pastor Steven G. Dyer

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Some things I'm thinking about





-training for a 5K run or something of the sort that isn't too big for my first run
-Christmas presents for my son and I and making lists for family
-my anniversary in 5 1/2 weeks (six years!)
-my son's two year birthday just two weeks after that
-my next China blog - deciding what to do since the two most important are already done

Friday, September 28, 2007

Don't get excited!

But I'm starting to dislike TX weather, A LOT. When we moved down here I was so excited to get away from the MN winters. But this summer I was miserable. It's kind of weird because last summer was hotter, but this summer sucked big time. It makes me want to move home. It's almost October and it's still really hot out.

BUT I really love my church and would be so sad to leave it. Plus John has a great job, we wont find rent (utilities included) this cheap anywhere, and we're probably only going to be in the states another two or three summers.

Ok, I can deal.

We're doing well here. We might go to a Greek festival tomorrow. That would be cool.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Food



Sara enjoying a plate of pork dumplings.


Many people have asked us about the food. It was awesome! We took pictures of almost everything we had. Sometimes we forgot until we only had a few bites left, but we still took pictures. We had a wide variety of food, but there was almost always meat of some kind. There was almost always white rice, sometimes they were replaced with dumplings or fried rice. White rice comes in bowls for each person. Fried rice comes like the other dishes, piled up on a plate for everyone to share.

When eating out the Chinese order one dish more than the number of people at the table. So when there was four of us we'd order five dishes, plus our rice. One time we had eight or nine people at a table and we ordered like the Chinese. It was a great time to taste different dishes.

We didn't have American food until we met up with some American's on our fifth day. That day John told me he was proud of me that I never asked for McDonald's and I told him that I hadn't wanted any. The food in China is so good that it took some American's living in China to get me to eat McD's. We met them at Starbucks, then had lunch at Subway and it was so late when we finally got to their town that night that the only thing open was McDonald's.

We did end up having McD's four times on the trip, sometimes it was just because we needed something real quick. We had KFC once in our last city - they call chicken sandwiches burgers, I was a little confused. Thankfully John knew that and helped me out.

I'll show y'all some pics of our food. It looks just like the Chinese food in America, it just tastes sooooo much better!



A plate of dumplings. We also had tea, sunflower seeds, watermelon (not pictured) and a fruit a little bit like an apple, but with a pit and a little drier.



A plate of green beans in the foreground, in the background is our Kung Pow Chicken, to the left of that is a bowl of white rice and in the bottom right corner is potato strings. We also got sweet and sour pork that night. In the green beans they had the mouth numbing spice. They use it in really spicy dishes so they can eat it with out their mouths hurting too much. We tried one little pellet and it made whatever part of the mouth it touched numb. I didn't like it at all. John thought it was ok. (3 people = 4 dishes plus rice)







This was our most expensive meal in China. For both of us it cost about $50. This was our Beijing Duck meal that we shared with Philip and Doris (the Canadian couple). They brought out a whole duck that had been cooking over a fire. They first cut off the skin and we ate that, dunked in either sugar or plum sauce - both tasty. Then the cut off the meat. We put meat into little "pancakes" with some plum sauce, onions, peppers, or garlic. You roll it up and eat it like that. It was a really tasty dish. We also had some asparagus and mushrooms, some beef, and a cold dish with duck, beef, fish and asparagus and pickled radish. That was a great meal.





These were the dishes we had at a Muslim restaurant. Unfortunately I didn't like the contents in one dish and I didn't like the sauce on the other. But we did have good lamp kabobs and flat bread at that meal.



This is the meal that I thought was ok and John hated. He said it tasted like frozen breaded chicken that they fried up and threw in some sauce, poor John. He didn't even like the fried rice that night.



This is egg and tomato fried up together. This is a very common dish in China. This version of the dish was really good, but it was sweet. It's not normally like that. We had it another time and it wasn't sweet. I didn't like it as much that time.



This is our meal on a train. We bought the Oreo's and Chips Ahoy cookies beforehand and then I got the ramen noodles on the train. They are very common to see on trains.



Oh yeah - we ate at T.G.I. Friday's one day for lunch.



This meal we have (clockwise) beef on the left (bones included!) then chicken (this was really good) snap peas and bread dumplings (also really good). You can also see tea on the table. We had dessert dumplings at the meal and we also had white rice.



This was a pretty good meal. There's a plate of vegetables, I remember not liking that. We had some good dumplings and a pork dish I really liked. John had this in Tianjin when he went before and he remembered liking it. You put the pork and some onions (that are hidden by the pork in this pic) into the square pancake things, roll it up and eat it. That was very, very tasty. You can see part of John's friend Jason in this picture. They met when John was there nine years ago. We took him to T.G.I. Friday's after dinner for some dessert. We had a great brownie/ice cream dessert and Jason got to have his first brownie. He was a little confused at first, but I think he liked it.



This was a meal that I didn't like very much. We left ordering lunch up to Jason (that was a mistake), we did tell him to not get fish (good idea for us). But he still got dishes that I didn't like. I'm glad that John liked the meal. Starting in front of Jason and going clockwise: pumpkin fries, beef (with fat and bones), cold dish with noodles (tasted like bologna) and cucumbers, eggplant with shrimp. The eggplant dish was the worst for me because the skin was really chewy and hard for me to swallow. I learned that I should always make some suggestion that I like so I'm guaranteed to have something I enjoy.



We ate at McDonald's in Tianjin where John and all the guys took all the girls eight or nine years ago. This is where I learned that in China a small is still a small. It was kind of nice. I also learned I don't really like Big Mac's anymore.



We toured the Tsingtao (pronounced Ching dao) brewery and got free beer and beer peanuts in the middle of the tour. John liked the beer and nuts. I tried the beer and didn't like it (no surprise) and we kept my packet of nuts for a friend back here in the states. The end of the tour puts you into their restaurant which is their beer plus some fried fish snack things. We got more free beer there. It wasn't a weak beer and John hadn't eaten much that day. If we had a car, he would've been handing over the keys. Not that he was drunk, but he was feeling it.



This is the ice cream sundae we got. Well, it's the end of it anyway. The ice cream was on a bed of watermelon - it was strange at first, but it was pretty good. That night we went to a Chinese/Brazilian fusion restaurant. We got only Chinese food because the Brazilian food was mostly seafood on a grill. We had some really good chicken and some pretty good friend rice with pineapple. Unfortunately the fried rice also had shrimp and this shaved stuff on top that I really didn't like. But if you went around that stuff it was pretty good.



We went to a German Restaurant in Qingdao called Monnemer Eck. The food was really good and the portions were HUGE!


Well, that's the end of my food pictures. I hope you guys got nice and hungry for some good Chinese food. Unfortunately to get some good Chinese food, you'll have to go over there.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Sara's Top 10

Preface:

Ok – so this is really, really long. It took a day and a half to write, it shouldn’t take that long to read. Hopefully this is the longest blog I’ll have about our trip. I do plan on writing more blogs about it though. Some blogs to look for are: food, friends, lodging, teaching, sightseeing a miscellaneous blog about what doesn’t fit into those categories, and I might publish an honorable mention blog for things that I just couldn’t fit into the top 10 but need to be mentioned. I hope this blog answers some questions you might have for me and I hope this gives you good insight into our trip.

I’m so happy to be home and with my son again. It took him a little while to adjust, but we’re definitely into our family routine again. John’s cold has gotten better and he’s no longer suffering from jet lag. I’m still trying to get over it, hopefully I can get a good night’s rest tonight (I’m writing on Friday night at 10:00pm). I’m very happy to be home, but I’m looking forward to eventually living and working in China. Continue to pray for us and our future there, that we’ll listen to God about how and when to go and that the way would be provided.



John and Sara in Tianamen square with the Forbidden City behind them.

Thursday September 20th, 2007

This is not an easy blog to write. There were so many parts of the trip that I loved. However I did come up with a top 10. This is my top 10 as of Thursday the 20th. This list is subject to change with my mood and my memory progression.

1. Teaching at the University Day 7



John and I visited some friends who live in Qinhuangdao and teach at Yanshan University. We got to talk about ourselves for about 30 minutes and then the students asked us questions. I told the students that my three priorities are John, then Malachi then myself. They seemed a little surprised that I put the two of them in front of myself. I told them that I'm a very selfish person but that I'm working on not being so. They had a pretty good grasp on English so they were easy to talk too. They asked us three questions, unfortunately I only remember two: they asked me who Malachi loves more and they asked John how it's possible to start university after not going right after high school. In China you have to go right after or you don't go at all. They were very surprised that John is 26 and still in university. They were so much fun to talk too and the reason it's my number one is because I realized that's how I'd like to spend my time in China. I've heard from our friends and others in China that university students are very curious about God and the Bible. I'm excited to be a part of their search some day.

2. Temple of Heaven Day 5



We saw a video while we were visiting a friend in Beijing. It was distributed by the Christian Broadcasting Network so there may be some bias in it. However I really felt moved by the information I found out and hope it's mostly true, I plan on doing more research into it. The video claimed that once a year when a certain Emperor ruled in China he would have a special ceremony at the Temple of Heaven. He would purify himself for a week prior to the event by fasting from food and women. He would then perform the ceremony which included asking for forgiveness of the sin of the people of China. He would make an incense offering and would sacrifice a calf that was perfect. The Emperor did this because he believed that the God of Heaven was the God above Gods. When I heard about this history I was amazed that it even existed in China. I don't think you'll be able to find a Chinese person who knows about this now. I'd love to tell the Chinese people about their history, and use that somehow to reach them for Christ.

3. Jingshan Park Day 1



This picture is taken from Jingshan Park, I couldn't find one taken of it. This is a view of the Forbidden City.

This park has three pagodas that take a lot of climbing to get to. I was somewhat against going because we had already done a ton of walking that day and I didn't feel like climbing a mountain (it's probably a hill but the word mountain is in the title of the park (I think)). After we left the Forbidden City we had a Hutong tour (by pedicab) and lunch so I decided that I had rested enough to climb the mountain. We did so and it was an amazing view from the top. I'm so glad we did it. After we went down from the top we stopped at a bench with very few people around (this was hard to do) and we sat and prayed. We prayed that God would speak to us about how we're supposed to be there in the future. We prayed for safety for our trip, safety for Malachi, grace for us and Malachi so we wouldn't miss each other too much. We sat there and prayed for a couple of minutes (I had to get up because I was being eaten alive by mosquitoes). It really meant a lot that John wanted to do that with me. I felt very included in the decision (of what to do in the future) making process. We didn't make any decisions at that time, but knowing that John wants me to hear God about it helps me to feel loved.

4. Nankai University Days 8-10



This is a picture of John in front of a dorm building that he stayed in eight and nine years ago.

The reason that this is my number four is because it was great to be walking on the ground that a little 17 year old John was walking around. It was so awesome to think about that. He still knew his way around the University and would tell me when he and his friends would take a certain route that we were taking. He tried to bring me to a small street on campus that had restaurants and shops, but they'd demolished it and put up a huge modern building. That made John really sad because he wanted to take me to a specific restaurant for a specific dish. This selection for number four leads me straight into number five.

5. Sweet and Sour Pork Day 8



This is the meal that I picked as my favorite. We had it at the Foreign Guesthouse Restaurant on the Nankai University Campus. We stayed a building over from it so we decided to try it. I'm so glad that we did. In my food blog I'll explain more about Chinese and how they order, but this time I'll just tell you about this meal. We ordered Sweet and Sour Pork and Egg Fried Rice. John had Sweet and Sour Pork in Tianjin before and was hoping this is what we'd get because we'd already had it two times on the trip and neither time was it the way he liked it. We were so pleased to find they prepared the one that he wanted. The meal was so good, I'm craving some now. Some of the food in China was weird and I couldn't do it. This was a perfect meal for us - therefore, it was my favorite. Oh by the way - sweet and sour sauce is not anything in China like it is in the states. John supposes it might be because a lot of the foods in American Chinese restaurants is actually from the South part of China. I don't know, but I know that the stuff in America doesn't even compare.

6. Day 2



Day 2 in China was awesome! We shared a taxi to the Summer Palace with another couple, Philip and Doris, that stayed at the same Bed and Breakfast as us. They're a Canadian couple (I know, I know), but he's originally English and she's originally Austrian. They still have their accents even after being in Canada for so long (over 20 years I think). We ended up spending the whole day with them. We only got one picture of them and I'm so sad about it, it's of them walking away from us. The day consisted of us walking only a small part of the Summer Palace. We walked the Long Hall (the whole Long Hall which ends at the Marble boat), we went through the second palace gate, climbed to the Hall of Dispensing Clouds and then climbed to the Tower of the Fragrance of Buddha where there was a huge Buddha statue. We definitely worked out our glutes that day :) While we were taking a rest at the Summer Palace we pulled out our pictures of Malachi to show Philip and Doris. One Chinese person cought a glimpse of them and then all of a sudden there were five or six Chinese women hovering over those pictures. It was very surprising, and very flattering. After that we had a Taxi ride with a crooked driver then took the Subway to Wang Fu Jing (a large shopping street). In this section of the underground they had some electric ads that flashed at us between stops. It was quite interesting to see. We then stopped at the Grand Hyatt for coffee and cake and then made our way to the street. We did some sightseeing and a little shopping and then made our way to a restaurant for Beijing Duck. This was an elaborate and tasty meal; but it was way too much food and it was really, really expensive. Unfortunately for me I didn't like some of the stuff that we got. But because there was so much food I still left needing to be rolled out. We got a taxi back to the Bed and Breakfast after that. It was already after eight when we got home, but we weren't done yet! John and Philip and Doris went to a massage parlor while I rested a bit at the B&B. John made foot massage appointments for 8:50pm and Doris stayed there for an 80 minute full body massage. We got into the massage a little late (they forgot about us) and had a wonderful time. It started with a tea soak. While that was going on they massaged our shoulders. After that they massaged our feet and lower legs. It actually hurt pretty bad on my bony areas (ankles and knees), but it was so worth it. It was really cheap too. It ended up being less than $13 for an hour for two people! I'd like you to try to find something that awesome that cheap in the states - you wont. We'd already had two full days of walking and climbing in Beijing so it felt great and it was a great way to end the day.

7. Standing in the Ocean in Qingdao Day 10




It was the Yellow Sea actually, but its part of the Ocean :) While planning the trip John asked what city out of two that I'd like to go to for the last couple of days. I picked Qingdao because of the beach. I was so excited to go to the beach. Unfortunately we didn't bring our suites because I thought it was supposed to be cloudy and cool that day. It turned out to be sunny and warm and we walked to the beach so we were hot! It would've been great to go in, but it was still quite refreshing to stand in it. I ended up walking to a point where the tide was coming almost to my jeans, they got a little wet from the spray. I stood there for probably three or four minutes. That doesn't sound like a long time, but depending on what you're doing three or four minutes is a long time. It was so nice to cool off in the Yellow Sea after a long hot walk. Plus...I love beaches! It was still China though, I saw two boys over the age of three running around butt naked; quite an interesting site that is.

8. Being humbled by the Chinese women Day 10

I have no picture of this, thankfully. John and I had just been shopping in an underground "mall." This mall consisted of five or six shops that pretty much had the same stuff. I tried on some flip flops and decided not to get any. As I was walking away, I thought they were being more persistent than normal. I wasn’t looking back, but they were yelling at us and following us. Finally a woman who was ahead of us who looked somewhat angry pointed at someone behind us. John suggested that I just look back. So we turned around and lo and behold she had my tennis shoes in her hand. Thank God that they were honest enough to keep pursuing me, and thank God that John finally suggested that I look back. It’s not that I didn’t have shoes on, but after I was in the water I kept my flip flops on because I didn’t feel like putting walking shoes on yet. Boy am I glad that I didn’t leave my shoes there. If I’d remembered and gone back, I still might not have gotten them back.

9. Day 11 and 12



When planning our last night in Beijing we had decided to get a hotel by the airport so that we wouldn’t have far to travel the morning we went home. We needed to do more shopping on Wang Fu Jing so we thought maybe a hotel in that area could take our luggage while we shopped so we didn’t have to take a taxi out of Beijing and then back into Beijing to shop. I eventually suggested that we leave our luggage at the Hyatt. So after we took the train from Qingdao to Beijing and the Subway to Wang Fu Jing we walked to the Grand Hyatt with our luggage and I sat next to the coffee and cake place while John went up to ask if they hold luggage. He came back a few minutes later and said they don’t hold luggage. We lugged our luggage over to the restrooms (across the huge lobby) and while I was washing my hands I thought it would be great if we could get the cheapest room here so we wouldn’t have to do so much driving around. I knew he would say no but I thought if I didn’t ask that I’d be sorry. So I asked him and he said that the room at the other hotel was already paid for. I wasn’t too disappointed I wasn’t really expecting him to say yes. However, he did tell me that there was a café on the 7th floor so we could get a snack (we were both very hungry). After we got out of elevator John joked that we could knock out the other couple that rode up with us and take their key. We were heading in the direction of Club Oasis thinking that that was the café, when all of a sudden John stops in front of room 714 and says “or we can take this room.” I reply “how would we do that?” thinking that he was joking. Then he says “with this key.” I start jumping for joy right in the hall of the Grand Hyatt Beijing. It was awesome! The room was the cheapest room they had, but it was SO nice! It is by far the nicest hotel room I’ve stayed in since our honeymoon (there have been a lot of hotel rooms since then). We had a wonderfully western bathroom that even included a tub! I took two baths that night, once before dinner and once after. It was the first soft bed of our stay (for some reason Chinese people like their beds really hard). This was such a great surprise for me. When John and I and our friends were at the Grand Hyatt for coffee and cake I commented that it would be really nice for us to stay there – that night John went online and made the reservation. He said it was so hard for him to keep it a secret almost our whole trip. I’m so happy that he did and I’m so blessed that he did that for me. I really felt loved that night.

10. Taxi ride to Beijing Airport Day 12



This is a picture of a toll booth on the way to the airport.

The reason that I picked the taxi ride to the airport is because it was by far the nicest taxi ride we had. Taxi’s caused some difficulty in the trip. I’ll discuss it more in my “transportation” blog, but having a really nice taxi ride to the airport made a big difference on my feelings as we left the country. It helped the day to start out right and we had a really good travel day until we messed it up by reading on the plane in Detroit. The taxi was a newer car that was clean and in good shape. He had the air-conditioning on and some very nice Chinese music (without singing – which is sometimes good). It was a little too pricey, but I think it was worth it, and we were able to get rid of our last Yuan which we were a little worried about. Put that together with my #9 and it makes for a great last couple of days in China.