Wednesday, October 31, 2007


After I finished writing that last post, I went to take cookies out of oven... burned. Really?!?!?!

The Cursed Hands of Midas

I will never forget it...

Last spring I bought a mirror to have so I could put on my eye makeup a little easier. 2 kuai. Good investment I thought. 2 days later I knocked it off my desk and it shattered into crazy amounts of pieces. As I was sweeping it up I thought to myself,"It is a good thing I am not superstitious."

I am beginning to rethink this whole bad luck thing though. As of late I have the hands of Midas, but not in a good way. In the past 2 weeks the repairman has been to my house 4 times. He will be coming again tomorrow. Toilet, sink, lights, you name it.

Last week while making hot chocolate I fell in my kitchen. I put one foot on the little rug and it slipped out from under me. I ended up with one leg in the kitchen and one leg in the dining area. That was some major pain.

Yesterday I decided to cook an easy dinner with the pre-packaged meals they have begun to sell. All you have to do is throw it in a wok. I cooked one package and started another one when I noticed that it had a funny texture. I had bought intestines! Threw it out and send Brad to the restaurant to get some food. (A little reminder of the banana pudding incident of August 2006.) I also burned my thumb yesterday while trying to scrape pumpkin from the shell. Burning hands is not new to me, however this burn was a whole new level. (Thanks Dawson once again for the aloe you gave me last birthday! It has turned out to be the most practical gift anyone has ever gotten me.)

Today I put batter into a blender which I have done successfully 4 times this term. Peach came in and said blenders scared her. I said no worries. My blender then proceeded to spew pumpkin soup all over the dining area, floor, water cooler and both of us.

Did I tell you that I did laundry yesterday? Well I hung all my pants up to dry and this morning they were all still soaking wet. I got to wear a skirt on one of the coldest days so far. 3 people have already told me I should wear more clothes...thanks.

My English skills have gone to the wayside. (Just ask the other Yichangren.)

It is raining now and I have class in a few minutes. Please pray that I don't lose my life between here and the W building!

In conclusion, maybe there is some truth to this whole mirror 7 years bad luck thing.

Monday, October 29, 2007

The Art of Doing Good

We are all busy people. Sometimes we get so caught up in all the things going on around us that we forget to take the time to do something nice for others. Think about how much it makes your day when you get a letter in the mail, you find a little surprise someone left you, or you get a hug on a day that has been very tough. Wouldn't you want to give someone else that same feeling?

There is probably someone you have in mind when it comes to doing things for others. They might even appreciate the fact that you thought of them. However, wouldn't it be the greatest compliment to hear "I can tell (insert name here) loves God because he/she treats others so well." Shouldn't our motivation to do good come from our love of the Father?

This week I am challenging you my friends to do something good. Don't do it to be acknowledged. Don't do it to get another star in your crown. Do it out of pure love. You might be surprised at how doing "good things" can creep into your lifestyle once you start. Whether you have 10 minutes or a couple of hours, something simple can mean a lot.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

The Making of a Mermaid

The choosing of a Halloween costume is never easy. This year I even looked in America for a costume while I was home. I came very close to being Wilma Flintstone and then an angel. However, it was in the shower one morning I decided to be a mermaid. (Could have been brought on by the many trips to Starbucks in Xian. Did you know a mermaid is the logo for Starbucks? I always thought it was a goddess.)

So how does one become a mermaid? Well, it all started with a sketch. I took my sketches, my sweet friend Chen Tao and headed to a tailor. I found a green fabric which looked like shiny scales, picked some green netting and choose purple cloth for my starfish. After much debating with the tailor about how best to make a mermaid, we decided he would measure, I would piece together, he would sew and I would finish by sewing on the star. Cost 35 kuai. Finished within a week. Strong.

Next, I took a mosquito net my mom had sent me last year to make a shaw. I cut it to pieces (sorry Mom, but it turned out great!!!) I painted some shells and crabs and hot glued them to the netting. Then I took ribbon (also from the net) and glued it to both ends so the netting would not tear. I thought it was pretty fab, except that when actually wearing the black outlines rubbed off onto my skin. Opps!

Now this was not a scandalous party and me being the sweet girl I am ;) I wore a white t-shirt and used a pink scarf as the top. I used a ponytail holder in the middle of the scarf to give that "fitted" look. The scarf did fall down a lot so I ended up having to use safety pins midway through the party.
What is a mermaid without curly hair? Kim and I paid a visit to the hairdressers next to our favorite restaurant. Almost 2.5 hours later, we emerged with super curly hair. I put starfish pins in my hair which I made from the same fabric as the star on my waist. The outfit was complete with my trusty pearl earrings and necklace.
And that my friends is how you make a mermaid...

Friday, October 26, 2007

Finishing the week Undetermined...

So here was the rest of the week...

Wednesday: After my students left, I sat down for awhile to read on my book. I am currently reading The Kite Runner. (Amy was kind enough to edit it for me because I almost threw up and one point.) I am really enjoying the rawness of this story that is set in Afghanistan. I digress... after reading my book, I met up with friends to watch Nightmare Before Christmas. I think that should be required of all people right before Halloween. Then I came home and my friend Peach ended up staying the night. We stayed up til 2am!

Thursday: Class in the morning went well. I am really enjoying my students this semester. I ate lunch with 2 students and then came home for a nap...Yes! I slept for about an hour and a half. I got up to start preparing for the second mass of students coming over this week for dinner and a movie. They were supposed to come at 4pm. At 6pm I sat with no students, 6 pots of spaghetti noodles, and smells of sauce coming from the crock pot. Can't forget the 6 loaves of bread, buttered, garliced and toasted. (Insert chirping crickets here...) I went to Amy's for dinner. Kim and I went to McDonalds to grade outlines and tests with an ice cream reward! When I got home I painted a shirt for Sports Meeting (keep reading) and then decided I had to find my camera cord. (Why must we decide to do such trivial things so late at night?) At 10:30pm I found my cord in a drawer I know I looked in a million times. This was after I cleaned my office (again!), my bedroom and my cupboard for horrors. (You know everybody has a catch-all. Mine is just exceptionally big.) I settled into bed with my book and I must have fallen asleep before 11. Good.

Friday: I got up at an insane hour to finish my shirt. Sports Meeting is a big track and field day that all students may participate in. There are no classes that day. For once there is a sense of unity among the students. Because I had so many students in it this year I thought I would do something special to cheer them on so I painted a shirt. I painted a shirt in Chinese! It says I love my students. So at 8am I show up with Katie and Kim to Sports Meeting at right away found my students. They loved it! They were excited that I even came. At the beginning of the meet there is a parade of all the colleges. I was pumped because I know every single kid in my college. That is pretty unique and I am really fortunate. The college of international communications only has 3 classes of students right now and I teach all of those kids. It is great because I see them so often I can build some relationships that the other teachers can't because they have so many different students. Anyways, I was really proud of my students marching in the parade and then running in so many races. It was a good morning! After sports meeting, Amy, Kim and I went shopping to get some last minute costume items. I came home and made lunch for Jumping and myself. Nice stir fry! We watched the movie Reign Over Me. I also really enjoyed this movie because it was a good character study of someone who was really suffering from emotional pain. Then we trekked back out to visit our gym that we joined last year. Our gym has been closed for a few months now, but they are reopening this week. It feels like a real gym now! Lots of treadmills, elliptical, bikes for spinning and even a hot yoga room! That is pretty exciting. After looking around I opted to come back home. While the others worked out, I was painting and putting finishing touches on costumes for my friends and me. I also reheated the spaghetti dinner for the foreigners to eat. They got home, we ate, listened to Brad read books and played ASAP card game. I ended my evening in my living room were I fell asleep working on my costume. All in all a busy but very good day...

3 naps and 1 night going to bed before 11 (although 2 more night were very close!) was the outcome of my determined week. That is pretty good for me. My friends are making a 3 times a week to the gym rule. Can you imagine? Me committing to something like that 3 times a week! I can't even go to bed before 11pm or take a nap that often. I will still work on this sleeping thing and then we will THINK about going to the gym that often...

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Ways To Make Beth Turn Red

Did I mention that STD was a vocabulary word in my students' book? Our Chinese class was canceled this week because a Nobel prize winner was on campus. He invented Viagra. My response to students... ask your parents. This is one college professor who is too young for such things.

Almost Undetermined...

So it is Wednesday. Mid- way through my determined week. Here is how things are going...

Monday: Classes went well. I was invited to go eat with some students for lunch which I really enjoyed. I am really bonded with some of my students from my "bad" class. Then with all sincerity of taking my nap I came home and laid down. I woke up in a panic. "What?!?! I slept in my clothes?!?!" I looked at my watch 4:30pm. Sigh of relief. Panic again... I had slept for 3.5 hours! People were coming to eat bread bowls and soup which I had not made yet. I called Kim who quickly came over and we pulled off a pretty decent dinner. Because we had so few for our study I took the time to study my new Chinese with Katie and talked with Jumping a little. It turned out to be quite a useful time! (Try saying shizijia 3 times fast. I can't even say it once correctly.) I typed up a little gift and then was in the bed by 11:30pm. Not so according to plan...

Tuesday: Class went well. Had a nice lunch of leftover pizza and listened to Brad read a book. I ended up traveling out to White Market to buy some items for dinner and then rode home with the most unpleasant man I might have ever met. I was in tears by the time I got home. Then I made tortillas. This is a much easier said than done project. However I was pleasantly surprised at the experience. It was much easier than most times. Then my day continued in a downward spiral. The school vetoed one my class plans for no good reason at all. The water was turned off for two hours (right when I was making dinner...) Then my sink broke altogether. My toilet died. I had to go to a neighbor's house. You try explaining toilet in a language you don't know. (I am admitting right now I have lived in China for over a year but can't say toilet. I can say crab... "pangxie") Without a sink and toilet and company coming over I called superwomen Katie and Kim. We ended up taking dinner to their house. Thank goodness it was taco night. That made everything somewhat worth while. I came home and started cleaning my office and desperately looking for my camera cord (still MIA). Crashed about 11:30pm.

Wednesday: Solved the problem with my school. (Thanks Amy for the backup!) Class went really well today. A kid said I looked like a mother and I gave him a hard time about it. Student thought I was really upset and wrote me a wonderful apology letter. Opps! My lunch date canceled so I sat down with potato soup and Gilmore Girls.Nice. Got dinner for girls weekend booked at about 1/4 the original price. Super sweet. Then while I was out talking to Peach, my student called. A group of about 20 were coming over for dinner and a movie. They were supposed to come at 4. It was 2:45. I ran home and threw everything out in a cupboard. While cooking my sink really fell apart. A flood started! (Did I mention my toilet was still not working???) I called desperately while my students watched the movie. The Madame (our repair lady and Brad's future wife...just kidding...sort of) came over. She stood watching the repairman while I tramped through the water taking garlic bread in and out of the oven while my students watched a movie while two of my male students were sleeping in my bed. (Only to be found out later and will be the first to class from now on or will have quite the punishment which I have not thought of yet.) Anyways, flood drained, toilet repaired, movie finished, spaghetti delish, students gone and Beth sits down. Ahh...What happened to that determined nap? (My toilet is broken again.)

Some days you just feel like this... Still in good spirits though considering the chaos that had been my week. Maybe even back on the path to determined.... ;)

Sunday, October 21, 2007


Monday- Classes in the morning, bread bowl/potato soup dinner, Study
Tuesday- Classes in the morning, big dinner, Study
Wednesday- Class in morning, Chinese study, class over to my house for movie and dinner
Thursday- Class in morning, class over to my house for movie and dinner
Friday- Class over to my house for movie, Sports Meeting
Saturday- biggest and best Halloween bash ever!!!

Throughout week: food shopping, finish costume, study for GRE, study Chinese, lunches with students, write letters, work on girls weekend, Gilmore Girls (let's be know I am going to watch it), make copies, etc.

This is a busy week, but this morning I wake up a little more determined. Determined to take the time to have Study/Quiet time everyday for myself. Determined to take at least a 15 minute nap. Determined to go to bed before 11pm each night. My life in general should be a little more quiet, a little more still. I need to rest so I don't say things like "Let's spray..." instead of "let's pr-y." (Funny yes, but not so much when this becomes a constant part of your life...) For this week I am determined to do this. Please help hold me accountable.

(Just so you know that I don't do this things out of obligation or I feel like I have to... I really do enjoy cooking and such... I just need to be a little more balanced.)

Saturday, October 20, 2007

It's The Small Things

So I am just sinking and burning on technology these days! I have lost my cord that hooks my camera to my computer. Really stinks because I have some classic, never-going-to-live-that-down pictures to post. I will clean my office tomorrow. ;)

I did lay claim to some new domestic diva skills today.

This morning I proudly finished sewing on the star on my Halloween costume with a local tailor. He made the skirt and I got to sew on the star. You can tell what he did and what I did, but it was a moment that we shared and could appreciate the work. (I was appreciating his minutes of work in what would have taken me days and he was appreciating the fact that he will never again agree to let a foreigner use his sewing machine!) Just a little work to finish the rest of the costume...

Yichang has McDonalds, KFC and a Pizza Hut, but you know what they don't have? Panera... so we decided to bring Panera to Yichang. Katie and I started our quest about 11:30 this morning. We attempted to make bread bowls. At 6:30pm Amy and I put in the last pan of bread bowls. Altogether we made 7 bowls that might fit 3 spoonfuls of soup in them. They are bread bowl texture worthy. Strong. Also, made pumpkin cream cheese muffins, but due to extreme amount of time baking bowls did not cook yet. They will sit in my fridge for the night and smell my kitchen up tomorrow. :)

Just a little note to my sisters (Emily, Caitlin and Hannah)... Tonight I watched Casper (well a little because I fell asleep), but I digress... I missed you three girls like crazy! Remember when we used to quote that movie all the time? I used to freak out scared. Emily and Hannah would quote Fatso. Caitlin would just laugh, not breathing at all of us. Those were some good times! Wish I could have watched it with you all this year. Miss you.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

The Joys of Technology

What did the world do without internet?
After having no internet for almost a week, the problem was solved. Someone had just pulled the cable out beside my door. 1.3 seconds to fix... 1 week to wait.
I did not realize how much I use my computer. Kind of sad actually.
Now my blogger is in Chinese. This might get posted.
What did the world do without internet?
They were a lot happier.

Monday, October 15, 2007

final day

Back online again...

Okay so our final day in Xian, we met up with our friend Yuanmin. Yuanmin used to work at our university, but a few months ago her husband moved to study in Australia. She is currently in the process of moving. We thought it would be a good chance to spend some time with her before she left. So we met our sweet friend and her nephew at the south gate of the old city walls.

Once climbing the stairs (everything has stairs you know...) we rented bicycles. Yuanmin was very excited and showed it over and over again. Amy though was a little nervous because she had not ridden a bicycle since her childhood. (You know that saying "it's like riding a bicycle" well sometimes it does not come back so easily...) Anyways, for over an hour and a half, all five of us biked all the way around the city on the wall. Even the last 10 minutes were a little torturous to me because I just climbed a mountain the day before. I was so proud of Amy because she really looked fear in the face. I was also relieved that we had gotten there early. When we first got on the wall, there was hardly anybody. By the time we left though, the masses had arrived.

After our bicycle excursion, the five of us headed off to Muslim Quarter to have lunch and do some shopping. Amy and Brad practiced their new Chinese phrase ("I will not pay anything over 1 dollar." Yuanmin had some good Conversations. I was particularly fascinated by the caged cricket (think Mulan...) We all bought some good Thoughts written in Chinese calligraphy.

So how could one end such a good day? With a good cup of coffee. This time we went to a new Starbucks. This particular shop had a huge window where you could look out on the Bell Tower and watch the busy streets of Xian. It was so packed that it was not as enjoyable as the Starbucks sanctuary we had found earlier in the week. Alas, it was Starbucks and we don't have one in Yichang. It was the first Starbucks experience for Yuanmin and her nephew so that made it also worth the trip. Introducing Father and good coffee to the world... That should be my aim in life...

Thursday, October 11, 2007


So my internet is down... In the office using this in Chinese... Sadly can't finish my Xian blogging until mine is fixed... Hopefully that will be soon. Hopefully my Chinese is good enough that this will get posted... Until my connection is fixed... signing off...

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Hua Shan

When I told my Chinese friends that I was going to Xian, most everybody said we should go to Hua Shan. ("Shan" is the Chinese word for "mountain".) Sounded like the perfect day trip!

On Tuesday Amy, Brad and I got on a bus and headed east for 2 hours. Upon our arrival, we broke out the Lonely Planet and expected it to be an easy beginning. Not so much... They wanted us to buy 10RMB tickets to ride a bus to another site and then 100RMB tickets to climb the mountain. 100RMB?!?! Sounded a little pricey for hiking something not man made. Plus Amy was going to ride a cable car up so we did not understand why she had to pay something now and later. After milling around the parking lot and asking people for advice in our broken Chinese (we were a little proud I have to say... so much Chinese!) we stumbled across a couple from Mexico. They had a guide with them so they did not know anything themselves. We found someone else to help us, but were intrigued by the Mexican couple and their guide. The guide was a Chinese girl who spoke Spanish. A rarity indeed... We enjoyed talking with them for awhile. I can honestly say I have met some of the most interesting people since being here in China.

Anyways, back to the mountain... we ended up paying for the tickets and getting on another bus. The bus took us to the cable car depot which turned out to be where we began our climb too. The views even at the bottom were pretty amazing. I have never been around mountains exactly like this... more like just cliffs. We said goodbye to Amy who had to go wait in the longest line (hour and a half) to go up the mountain. Brad and I set out on the Soldiers Trail for a morning of climbing.

Even from the beginning of our climb the views were pretty good.

We did take opportunities to stop and enjoy the views. (aka. Brad stopped to wait for Beth who was dragging behind!)


Some parts of our climb were pretty dang vertical. The safety was not record high. We had to hold on to chain links to help climb. It was a pretty cool sight though being so high and vertical. Brad said it felt like the movie "Cliffhanger."

I was very surprised when I saw how many people especially families were on the mountain. At the summit the amount was crazy! Whatever happened to fun family vacations to the zoo and such? I cannot imagine my father dragging all of us girls up a mountain side for fun. I should not have been surprised that Brad ran into a student. 1.3 billion people in China and Brad sees someone he knows...

After a sweaty 2 hour climb Brad and I reached almost the top. We had a quick bite to eat with Amy and then proceeded to finish the rest of the hike. It was a nice trek.

The hike up was well worth the views from the top. We were worried about the fog because it was pretty bad when we first got there. By the time we reached the top though most of the fog had burned off.

When you start getting close to the top, you will see vendors trying to sell ribbons and locks. At the top of the mountain you see the locks on chain. It is almost like a prayer for health and safety for your family.

Once we finished enjoying our views, we took the cable car back down the mountain. I was not truly proud of this climb until I saw from above what we had accomplished. I think this may have been the highest hike I have done!

All in all one of the best days in China...

Terracotta Warriors

Xian is home to the world famous terracotta warriors. Some even say that they are the eighth wonder of the world. (I did look this up on Wikipedia, but found nothing mentioning this fact. The website is pretty cool though. ) So of course, because "everybody's doing it" we go see the soldiers for ourselves.

We decided to go through CITS (the main tourist agency in China) for a tour. Of course, there were surprise stops along the way. For example, we stopped at a factory where they make soldier replicas for tourists. It was kind of interesting to see how the soldiers were made, but at the same time frustrating because we could have been seeing the real thing. Not to mention the fact that even though they said you could buy here and save money it was a lie. 5 kuai outside in the parking lot of the real museum as compared to the 150 kuai at the factory. We did get to make fun pictures in fake soldiers uniforms. :)

When we finally got to the "real" site I was amazed at the size. There were 3 pits that we looked at. Some had more soldiers uncovered than others, but overall just amazing. To think that each soldiers had a different face and characteristics. To think that this was discovered by farmers who were going about their own business... over 8,000 terracotta men! To some degree I thought this trip would be a little boring, but I was wrong. It gave me a lot to think about and a lot to see. Sadly, I did not get to hear the whole history from our tour guide because I was too busy snapping pictures. Maybe one day I will snag a good book about it. I did enjoy seeing the warriors up close though. Pictures can't do it justice.

Monday, October 8, 2007

Milk Eve/ National Milk Day

Our first day in Xian we decided to map out our week and chill. Because it was Milk Eve we went in search of the perfect cup of milk. We headed to Metro (the German Supermarket.)

Now you all know my quest for milk is not something I take lightly. While the milk we found was no Beijing pure stuff, I would rate it 4 out of 5 stars. The first gulp has a bit of an aftertaste but if you just keeping swallowing then it changes a little. Take into consideration it was in a bag. It was however cold and could have an expiration date so I was happy.

The struggle to actually drink milk turned out to be more of a struggle than we thought. Because the milk was in a bag, but in my quick looking I found no straws. Brad and I used nails, teeth, strength of two people, but we were not getting into the bags. Finally, this sweet Chinese woman who had been staring at us for the past 10 minutes comes over to help. She breaks out her keys and goes to town. We drank milk... Heavenly!

After downing a bag as fast as we could we got ready to head back to the hostel. Instead of keeping all the bags in the original box we decided to put them into a backpack. Guess what I found at the bottom of the box? Straws... opps! The rest of the week the milk was much easier to drink.

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Good Things...

The latter part of this week was super encouraging. I have met more and more people lately who are really getting out in the world and making a difference in the lives of others. Found out about a student group on campus called JIA (Chinese for family) that goes to villages and work with people who have Hansen's disease. On the train from Xian was introduced to a guy who works for World Vision in China! In Wuhan yesterday heard about some orphanage work going on in Changsha area and work in the pink light district in Beijing. I met some students from Wuhan University raising money for a family in Wuhan whose daughter just contracted AIDS. Pretty incredible the things that are going on here in China.
Another example of Good Work is a restaurant we discovered at the end of last term called Aloha. Aloha serves up some excellent Mexican food and real milkshakes. I am talking about peppermint Oreo ones! The place is run by some really sweet Sisters. They have teen groups come in from all around the world (US, Korea, etc.) to help serve food and Share with others. The ladies came because they saw a need and they took their talents to fill that need. Wish I could write more, but pretty interesting story. Mrs. Janie (one of the owners) is having knee surgery this week so please keep her in your Thoughts. They will also be celebrating their one year anniversary on October 18th. Hopefully this will be a long running work.
My sweet friend Katie is great about finding Good Works and encouraging others. Sadly her birthday was this summer when we were all in the States. We wanted to do something special for Katie because she is so special to us, so where better to celebrate than Aloha. Well worth the four hour drive! Happy Late Birthday Katie! Love you!!!
Xian post coming soon...