Sunday, December 30, 2007

Best Christmas Card of 2007

I received this Christmas card from one of Brad's students who came over to my house once for dinner...

"Merry Christmas!! May be this is your first time to celebrate your national busiest festival in China, there is not so much jolifications here, but our your best Chinese friends want to send our heartfelt benedictions to you and your family. I hope you have a great time in Yidu and your family have a wonderful festival.
You are very fair and kind, I can use a Chinese idiom ( 贤妻良母) to describe you, it means you are a virtuous wife also a eximious mother, you have this typical visualize on your body. Hence I want to thank you for your goluptious meal.
I don't know what your like and what presents to give you, I just write this card and let brad replace me to give you."

Friday, December 28, 2007

Christmas 07

I think this picture captures Christmas 07 perfectly!

On Christmas Eve, Katie, Kim, Amy, Brad, and I built a palette on the floor of Brad's apartment. We had every intention of watching "It's A Wonderful Life", but you know us... we just talk and talk instead. Amy begged to open presents just like all normal kids. (So cute!) We did look at pictures of Katie's hometown in Christmas lights. Katie gave me some new pjs. (What a great tradition!) Then we all fell asleep side by side.

On Christmas morning, we woke up and opened stockings. Everyone got homemade stationary and bagels! Then we sat down to a delicious breakfast on the palette. About 9am we started opening gifts and did not stop until 2pm! It was not because we all went overboard shopping, but rather each gift was thoughtful.

From Katie and Kim, I got a new lamp for reading in my bedroom. They also are getting my IPOD fixed which has been broken since leaving to come to China the first time. (Major props for remembering this!!!) Kim gave me some yummy brownie mix and Katie gave me some kid art. (Post more on that later...)

Brad and Amy's gift had me rolling in the floor literally. They made me a choose-your-own-adventure book based on my life in the future. Options included opening a bakery here in Yichang, opening a "Bread and Breakfast" and having 12 children none of which had the name Kermit. They are pretty witty people.

While at home this summer, I fell in love with the Plain White T's song "Hey There Delilah". (Thanks Caitlin who would sing at the tops of her lungs with me!!!) Sometime I made the comment that all I wanted for Christmas was for Brad to learn to play this on the guitar. (This was when we first got here mind you...) Well, he did better than that. Amy and Brad wrote a song called "Hey There Beth Quarles"!! Not only did they write it, but they went to a recording studio with Kim and made me a CD. Brad played guitar and all three of them sang. I laughed because it was so funny. But it also made me cry because it was just so thoughtful. What great friends I have!!!!

Other great gifts included:Frosty Friends and China ornament, potholder and books from Mom, organizer and pot holders from Nana, potholder from Aunt Nancy (seeing the theme?), stationary and notebook from the Smiths, and a letter delivered on Christmas Day from Aunt Sue. Thanks everybody!

After unwrapping presents, we watched half of "It's A Wonderful Life" before dinner. We met up with many of our Family and friends here at our beloved UpDown Dining Hall. After a nice Chinese Christmas feast, we came back to Brad's to sing, share Christmas story and play White Elephant. I think I got the best gift at the party. I won a martial arts show from Chen Tao's boyfriend.

This post cannot do Christmas Day justice at all. Other than the fact that I missed my family in the States, it was beyond perfect.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Belt* Belts It Out...

For those of you who don't know, pastimes in China are quite different from America. That is especially true in the university setting. While I was in college I spent a fair amount of time at working part time jobs, going on road trips, playing board games with friends, trying new restaurants, going to see movies and the every now and then running at Radnor Lake or dancing in Centennial Park. My students don't work, spend 24/7 in the library, play WOW (or some computer game) and for a really good time they go to KTV.

I shudder even thinking about going to KTV (Karaoke for those Stateside). I was not blessed with musical genes. I don't like the sound of my own voice. I can think of a million other fun things to do besides KTV. My students have been dying for me to go with them so a couple of weeks ago I folded. Because taxis are so crazy here I thought there was still a good possibility I could die on the way thus solving the whole singing problem. Nope.

While cramming into a little room with TV and huge karaoke machine, I began to realize just how much my students love singing. I was excited... maybe I could get out of it because they liked the spotlight so much. Nope. To add to my despair they turned on Britney Spears' "Baby, Baby" or whatever that song is called. I got to fumble though the song. They clapped and wanted another one. Shoot me now.

After looking through their English song choices, I made my selection. I found the perfect KTV song. One I will use forever from here on out. Avril's "Boyfriend". It is super fast, more chanting than singing and the Chinese love it! (Note: make sure to bleep or cough in those not so nice word choices) You will go home singing it too.

After 2 hours of singing, explaining "My Humps" probably is not that great of a song and being ogled at by the hundreds of other KTV patrons, I got to come home and crawl into my bed. KTV for 2007 check.

Mark belts out "God Is A Girl"

Kitty sings ballad to her boyfriend

Amanda acting all camera shy...

Spending time with my students makes it all worthwhile!

*Belt is one of my many nicknames that for some reason has stuck


I am crawling back out of my hiding place... Nah, Google applications such as Blogger have not been working on my computer. Thus, I have not blogged. Sadly, now I have tons to catch up on...
Should have some free time tomorrow to start typing away. Check back later to hear about spa adventures, White Elephants, KTV, and the most amazing Christmas. (I still might cry if you ask me about it.)

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Elf Day

Today is Elf Day!!!! :)

Each year before Christmas I take one day where I am not too busy and do as much as I can. Normally I will pick a place for lunch, finish up whatever shopping I have left, grab some hot drink, go home to Christmas music, write cards, create some gifts, wrap, make something good for dinner and spend the night watching a Christmas movie. A magical, Christmas making day all to myself... Elf Day. A tradition of 4 years.

Elf Day is America was a little different. I would go to Panera or Baja for lunch. Hit Target and Green Hills Mall. Peppermint Cafe Mocha from Starbucks. I could also find all supplies I needed with little to no trouble at all.

Elf Day in China consists of noodles, running all over town looking for something as simple as wrapping paper, calling people to translate some word, hot milk tea, dinner that is just mediocre and freezing in the confines of my own home.

However, wherever, Elf Day is spent, it is special to me. Christmas is my absolute favorite time of year. Many people can get bent out of shape because it is such a commercial holiday, but you know what? With Christmas comes joy for so many people. It is a day marked on our calendars where you can have a reason to show people that you love them. It is commercial because we make it that way. This year while shopping I challenge you not to get caught up in the busyness of it all, but to think about what would make some one's day. Don't see it as a list, but thoughtfully spend time thinking about the people you are shopping for. While wrapping gifts or writing cards, take the time to pr*y over each person. Do something outside of your comfort zone... make a gift for someone you don't know very well. Finish your Elf Day by reading of the love that was given to us from someone greater than us. Remember Christmas is about love and nothing more.

One class to go until Elf Day 2007 begins... :)

Saturday, December 8, 2007

"We've Been Spun"

Things I have done the past couple of days...

Last night Amy, Brad, Kim and I went to a spinning class at our gym. The other three are very good about going to the gym on a regular basis. I am very sporadic. The class was pretty good. I did break my bike, but the second one did great. I had a little competition going on in the back of the room with another not-so-kind lady, but it was good because it made me work harder. Probably go back to spinning class again at Sprots...
Yesterday morning, we made banana pancakes. This is kind of turning into a weekly event which I love! We all met to discuss plans for going to India. I am really excited about this, but please keep it in your Thoughts because there are lots of things still of concern.
Friday night I went to a student's house to make dumplings. They were delicious! We even made dessert dumplings. Sugar and jellybeans on the inside. A little too sweet for my liking... It was a good time though.
It is another Sunday morning here which is my favorite part of the week. Soon I will be headed over to the girls and meeting with Family. What a great thing...

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Quiet Week and Quiet Thoughts

I am well on my way to completing one of my New Years' Resolutions. When I do I will blog about it. Just a little excited because it is the first one I have ever kept!

We are planning our trip during Spring Festival. Right now it is looking like we might go to India for 2 and a half weeks. I have been told they have real milk there so I am okay with that. Will post more on that later.

Kind of quiet week.

I woke up early this morning while it was still dark. No reason really. It is nice to sit wrapped in my blanket, drinking hot milk tea, Christmas light twinkling, a little music in the background and just talking to Father. I have so much to be thankful for and so many worries/stresses to turn over. I am not so good at that last part.

This is a good time to be here. With Christmas just around the corner it makes it easier to talk to people about our Lives and our Father. I have always loved Christmas and don't get me wrong I do miss driving around Brentwood looking at lights or perusing Target's decorations aisles. But I love Christmas in China. Explaining to people what we do on Christmas. Hosting parties for students to play White Elephant. Baking lots of good food. Caroling and having people think the foreigners have lost their minds. Spending time with my teammates and making Christmas, a time that could be hard being away from home, very special. Sharing what Christmas is really about with everybody. A "tender Tennessee Christmas" is great, but a Crazy Chinese Christmas is pretty fabulous too.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

The Goings-On of Domestic People

Breakfast- Homemade bagels and pumpkin pancakes

Lunch- nothing

Dinner- Fried Noodles (not bought, but made)

Dessert for tomorrow's lunch- Peppermint Cake Roll (my first roll cake ever made!)

Shopping- new fleece blanket for bedroom; fabric to make Christmas cards

Errands- long shopping trip with friends; post office; dropped off pictures to be developed; grocery store run

Around the House- washed millions of dishes; ironed Christmas table runner and skirt; met repairman to fix water heater; entertained 3 random guests; blogged; emailed

Relaxing- watched The Nanny Diaries but fell asleep the last 5 minutes

Thanks to other Domestic Divas- Kim "The Perfect Pancake Baker" Gaugler, Amy "Roll Cake Advice Giver" Pratt, Katie "My Chinese is So Good" Mcgunninal and Brad "Mailer of Christmas Packages Ahead of Time" Ellis (so I guess Brad would not be a diva... what would he be called?)

Just another day in China...