Thursday, January 3, 2013

Yesterday, Ryan and I rang in the second day of the new year by going on our first official date to a restaurant in China. I mean, we've been to KFC, bakeries, and other little places but not an actual restaurant by ourselves. One of the best things about some of the nicer restaurants is that they have picture menus, and some even have english descriptions of the items. We found this to be true of the restaurant we visited with Megan & her family as well as UBC Coffee (the place we went yesterday). 

My favorite food title I found yesterday was, "Ridiculous amounts of Ridiculous". We didn't actually order it, but one day I think I'd like to experience the taste of ridiculous amounts of ridiculous. Hahaha. When we went to The Second Season Restaurant with Megan's family, I took home a menu for your reading enjoyment. Here are some of my favorite items on the menu (with commentary because I just can't resist on some of these):

* I like to eat chicken feet 
* Mouth crisp
* Beauty skin cold
* Beauty (i need to order this)
* Drunk Bullacta
* Bad Sam Sun (they served the good stuff last week)
* Xiang soil saliva chicken
* Choking sand crabs
* Often credited Luya
* he mango sago Ice Cream fishing (my ice cream went fishing!)
* fresh flowers
* Steamed with Mayweather
* Random firing small fresh: with new year cake
* Li Jijiang River (look ma, i got the whole river)
* Incense pot vegetarian
* The temptation to head (resist the temptation)
* A kilometer tenderloin (really, 1.6 miles of tenderloin?)
* Soup screws
* Green peppers hatching eggs
* The chicken soup braised three silk
* super potatoes (It's a bird, it's a plane, it's..... super potatoes?)
* The sand port radish burn barrel bone (I give up, I guess they're just listing random words now)
* The mother burning of chowder 
* Farm bamboo clothing 
* Feminist food (like Chicken breast?)
* Eat pork
* Finger sauce keel 
* The grandmother burned the pigs feet (mean, mean grandma)
* sausage steamed horse mackerel (horse mackerel? maybe it's seahorse with sausage?)
* want to eat barbecue
* Sea breeze to blow-dry the eel
* New school sizzling black pepper taro (no more old school for these chefs!)
* Nourishing soil chicken pot
* Soil burning wax gourd 
* The home burned disk heads (I don't even know what this could mean)
* Taizhou mountain powder paste 
* Strange face (no thanks, I'd like a familiar one please...)
* His family and New Year cake 
* Egg burned soil surface (it seems like there is a lot of burned dirt on the menu)
* Hand made eight years
* Hard Chinese

I hope these made you smile! We love reading the menus. All of these were copied word for word. hahaha. Anyways, our internet isn't working again, I've spent several hours trying to upload pictures, but this is all I've got. Sorry! Hopefully more will come soon. 

Ryan with his class at a local middle school

The mountain just outside our school

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

O Holy Night


The Star Wars theme track is playing next to me as Ryan blasts one of the Star Wars movies he received for Christmas. Our families know us all too well and got us the best gifts. We are so grateful for the yummy food, warm clothes, beautiful bags and everything that was sent, but even better was the technology that allowed us to spend Christmas seeing them! Yesterday, I realized we've been here for 6 weeks and it caught me off guard. While some things like our students and Chinese food feel so familiar already, I still feel as if I've just gotten here 5 days ago. 

There have been lots of warm reminders of home this Christmas; from the juicy turkey and roasted potatoes we ate yesterday to the ornaments, trees, and nativity that Missie and my parents sent me. We also had the pleasure of hanging out with fellow New Mexicans as Megan's parents and sister arrived yesterday! Last night we hung out talking, while today we spent the morning and lunch with them. Megan's mom even brought us a box of homemade biscochitos. 

While this has all been wonderful and we SO appreciate the outpouring of love from everyone, we also take time to remember our favorite gift we have received—the birth of our Savior 2,000+ years ago when God became man in the greatest act of love. 

We hope all of you have had a great Christmas time and are getting to relax these next few days. We love you!
Ryan and I at the EF Christmas party
Kevin carving the Turkey
Amy's cute PJ's
Gareth's cute PJ's
Christmas Eve at Celtic House Pub (Steve's pub)
More deco & ready for Christmas dessert
Christmas dessert

At lunch with Megan's family. Vinegar Cabbage :-)
Lunch with Megan's family

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Jingle Joys

Christmas is almost here, so Ryan and I are getting in the mood by celebrating advent, drinking hot chocolate and watching Polar Express! We actually found Swiss Miss in the import section of our grocery store, and I just couldn't resist getting a box. I went to turn on my computer (to upload this week's photos) and found out my battery is dead :-( So I'll have to go buy some ASAP. Sorry, no pictures again this week (I'm starting a new trend in picture blogging without the pictures. hahaha).

This week we went to several new places. One is a shopping ally called Shiza ma lu— I'm not sure how to spell it— where there are hundreds of shanties in double rows & everything is really cheap. These little shops are so close to one another that it almost has an indoor feel and kept us from freezing. It got really cold a couple days ago and was probably just above freezing, but the little shops warmed it up to 50 degrees or so. We're doing Secret Santa and White Elephant at our school, so Ryan and I both bought scarves for our people... don't worry, it's still a secret since we're not posting names :-)

There are 3 big industrial districts of our city; Jiaojiang (where we live & the biggest), Luqiao (Starbucks area) and Huangyan. We had never been to Huangyan before, but decided to go on Monday night after work to meet some South Africans and go to an American Pub we heard about. It only took about 30 minutes to get there by taxi and it was so worth it. The Pub is called Steve's Pub and we both got burgers and fries— I felt like I was back in America for a while! I know it's kind of cheating to have American food when we have such amazing Chinese cuisine around us as well as the rare opportunity to try different dishes, but sometimes its comforting to have food that reminds us of home. However, it is a little expensive, so we're thinking of limiting Steve's to once a month (or special occasions... we're planning on going for our Christmas Eve dinner). The three South Africans we met are Kirsten, Tiago (I hope I spelled that right), and Mark. They're really nice and work at a competitor school in Huangyan. It's really good to get together with other foreigners and talk about holiday traditions.

The strangest thing about Christmas here is the freedom we have to celebrate it. I mean, we have freedom to celebrate it in America of course, but there's all the fuss about being "P.C." Here, we tell our fellow teachers "Merry Christmas", and teach it in the classroom, without having to worry about 'offending' anyone. I haven't heard "Happy Holidays" once this Christmas season. Also, our favorite grocery store (Auchan—the big one) was selling a few different cards with nativities and Scriptures on them (Isaiah 9:6... go read it! It's good). And these cards weren't even relegated to the 'religious' section (China doesn't have one). One of our competitor schools is acting out the Biblical Christmas story for all the students and the parents. Its just such a shock to me I guess, to see all this 'freedom' in a land that is viewed as religiously restricting—while I've grown up in a land that restricts my own beliefs for the 'freedom' and comfort of others. I don't want to start a political debate on our blog, but I do think it's important to think deeply about the issues in life and not just pass them by or brush them off. I find great joy in being able to celebrate my beliefs openly while I'm here! I get to rejoice in the birth of my Savior, and God's incredible gift of love, without hearing negativity from those who don't accept my faith yet want me to embrace theirs.

Our apartment is finally all decorated—I'll post pictures as soon as I can—complete with hung stockings, an advent calendar, ornaments, a mini tree, some little presents we've wrapped for each other and our first overseas package courtesy of Aunt Lona and Uncle Dean! This morning we went shopping at Auchan and I found all the ingredients for Stollen (a yummy Christmas bread my mom makes every year). I am so excited to try to make it on my own. I'm not sure if I can, but I'm going to give it a go this Sunday while I'm at work... the school has an oven!

This Christmas season is upon us and I get more and more excited by the day. However, there is a bit of sad news. After arranging our entire Christmas dinner with the other foreign teachers, buying food online, and planning out who would cook what, Ryan and I had a huge disappointment that will probably keep us from participating in work-sponsored holiday events. Some of our dear friends here (that we all hang out with on a regular basis) found out we were having a huge dinner and wanted to join in on the festivities. One of these friends is a guy who owns the bar which our co-workers frequent every week and the other two are sweet, fun people. Of course, Ryan and I were so excited to have them join in, so they didn't have to spend Christmas alone, and so another foreign teacher from EF Luqiao invited them. However, after he invited them, some people in our office took a vote and decided not to let them come. Kevin, the guy who invited them, had to tell them they were not welcome to our dinner because it was "an EF thing". It must've been so hard for him to do that, but even harder for them to hear that. Honestly, I'm ashamed of my co-workers who voted to exclude others. They first claimed it was because of management, but after management gave the go-ahead, they still excluded the others because they thought it would be 'best' for us. We apologized to one of the girls today, but I think there might be a rift between foreigners in our city now. Ryan and I are trying to find a way to patch things up by about inviting them to a Christmas night party at our apt with hot chocolate and cookies.... i LOVE hot chocolate and cookies. If you have any other suggestions, let me know! Christmas should be a time of celebration and unity, not exclusivity. I'm so joyful that God offered His gift of love to everyone and not just a select group of people. My wish and hope for you this season is that you extend love to those who might be hurting and lonely. Christmas is a hard time to be alone and I pray that everyone will find comfort, even if it's in a stranger's smile.

Anyways, this blog is getting super long. I hope you have a warm, snuggly night and frosty, fresh days!   Thanks for always reading our blogs. We love you and cherish your constant support of our adventure. Merry Christmas, see you soon!

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Picture Blog!

Since I just finished a blog earlier today (read it below if you haven't), I decided to post pictures instead of writing a bunch :-) Here they are!

Walking to our friend's apartment

The Pagoda (sp?) on our walk

A co-worker's (Vinnie's) nephew! He's only 2 weeks old. How cute!

At Vinnie's brother's bakery...our favorite place to eat. It's called Sweetie!

A waterfall near the school. At night, they light it up.

My desk is on the left, Ryan's is on the right. The deer own the middle. (Ryan 'borrowed' them from the  Christmas decoration pile and decided to make our desks look festive. hahahaha)

Ryan and Josh. Gareth is in the background!

The office!


This is the hall of our school—its all decorated for Christmas!

This is our demo room when parents come look at the school. We also have teaching competitions (and sometimes class) in here!

A regular classroom

Another demo room with a "Hite Board" (interactive board)

The kitchen

Another typical classroom

The Hite board we were playing around with

Here are the deer again!

This is molly. The sweet, floppy, naughty puppy! (As we speak she is tearing up a pillow. I just yelled at her so she just walked over to the cement and started eating that instead. I don't know why she likes crunching on it—she broke a tooth yesterday—but she does!)

Molly and Ryan again

Walkin Molly in a beautiful city park called Shi Ming Square :-)

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Molly time

This week we inherited a dog. She's initially a cute, fluffy, floppy puppy that melts the heart, but after about 2 seconds of that she turns into a urine machine. When she goes, she goes A LOT. Luckily, we're giving her back on Friday — this was only a short-term dog-sitting gig.

Her name is Molly and she belongs to a co-teacher and the D.O.S (who are dating). Because she's only two months old, her fur still has that fuzzy baby-soft texture. Oh, and she has perfect begging eyes, which makes it extremely hard to say no to her or kick her off our bed. However, within the first 5 hours of watching her (I kid you not), she had peed through both our duvet covers, our quilt, our sheets, and six times on our floor. Finally, I sent Ryan out to walk her while I did 4 loads of laundry (our washing machine is very small), mopped the entire apartment, and barricaded our bed with chairs. When she came back an hour later, she was so excited she beelined it for the bed, hit a chair on her floppy ascent, crashed onto our mattress, got scared and peed. We almost cried. Thankfully, things have gotten better since that first sleepless night, and we managed to get six hours last night before she woke us up wanting to play. For anyone who might be wondering... no, Ryan will NOT be getting a dog for Christmas (I briefly considered surprising him, but now I think we both know it's not a good decision).

Molly is so cute though, and I'll have to post some pictures of her. Unfortunately, my computer is not connecting to the internet (I'm using Ryan's) and all the pictures are on mine, so this post won't have pictures. I'll try again tomorrow though.

Tuesday, we went on a long walk with Molly and a girl we met at another English school here. It turns out she's from New Mexico too! Her home in Rio Rancho is probably only 30 minutes away from my parent's home and only about 45-60 minutes away from the Bell's ranch. I've been humming 'It's a small world' all week long and craving carmel corn from Disneyland. Anyways, her name is Megan and she is super sweet. Her dad is a pastor at a Church in Rio Rancho, so yesterday we had our first Church service of three! It was so fantastic... Ryan and I have someone else in our immediate vicinity that will fellowship with us on a daily/weekly basis. While we aren't saying we can't function without a group of friends whose morality aligns with ours, it is always comforting and encouraging to find those kindred spirits in life who share/understand your worldview. Plus, Megan has a puppy who is also trying to work the wiggles out of cute Molly.

I took lots of pictures of our school last week, so I'll have to upload those in our next blog. The administration team spent hours decorating for Christmas, so now the school looks festive and Christmasy :-) It reminds us a little of home & I've practically memorized the entire Michael Buble Christmas CD. Speaking of Christmas... leave a comment and let us know your favorite Christmas song! Mine is probably Oh Holy Night, Silent Night, and Carol of the Bells. Ryan's favorite is Little Drummer Boy.

We are enjoying life, exploring, and seeing the city sites. Our only immediate needs are prayer for my health and that Ryan's immune system stays strong. I caught a cold about 3 weeks ago (right after we got here) and it developed into something more serious when I lost my voice and now have bronchitis. I've used up the day-time cold medicine I brought and got some Chinese cough medicine last week. Now I'm out of both and still have a deep cough that hurts. I'm bundling up really warm, and hopefully this thing is getting better, but if you can keep me in your thoughts/prayers that would be great! Other than that, everything is going really well. We miss all of you of course, but we know that we have FABULOUS family and friends, and you are living/loving to the fullest. We wish we could give you all a hug... just pretend we did :-) Love you lots!

Wednesday, November 28, 2012


 We've been in China for a little over a few weeks now, so things have settled down and I thought it was past time for a blog! (not that I write blogs often anyways, but hey, I'm going to try to update this at least once a week.)

Anyways, Ryan and I are starting to get into the teaching routine. The great thing about teaching here is that there aren't many restrictions on us as teachers. Although that can sometimes be hard on the kids (we're allowed to kick them out of class if they're being naughty) it can also be good for them. I have a little 3-year old in my Small Star Blue class who is really cute—on Friday I scooped her up in my arms and gave her adorable chubby cheeks some kisses! We're also encouraged to tickle, hug, high-five and chase our students, as showing affection will actually encourage them to learn in our class and endear us to both the students and parents :-)

At first, I was a little surprised about our small apartment. I thought it would be 2 bedrooms, but it's technically a studio (it might be a little closer to a small 1-bedroom). However, now I'm really starting to like it! It's cute and so snuggly! It also makes it easier to decorate for Christmas. Ryan and I went to one of the big grocery stores (Auchan) and bought a mini-Christmas tree, some stockings and a dozen little ornaments we'll hang from the ceiling once we get some fishing wire. We work the weekends, so on Tuesday and Wednesday (our days off), I have Ryan play Christmas music while I practice cooking on our temperamental hot plate. So far in the battle of the hot plate, I think I'm winning... although it has burnt one of my pans beyond use. Ryan is really great with it and hasn't burned a dinner yet! 

One of the first cravings I've had since being here is.......popcorn! (and you thought I would say chocolate, didn't you?) Actually, I'm really surprised that I'm not craving chocolate or sweets—I guess cutting sugar cold turkey wasn't as hard as I first supposed. I don't even know what the deal with popcorn is, I didn't eat much of it in the States even. Weird. Luckily, that craving is starting to subside. They do have mini bags of popcorn in the foreign section of the stores, but each bag is about $2-$3 USD! Crazy expensive (whereas Chinese food is cheap!). Since leaving home, Ryan has craved his Dad's Sunday Spaghetti, mac & cheese, and coffee. Next time we're home, we're definitely filling our suitcases with some coffee to take back!

In all, we are having a blast so far. We usually spend one day of our 'weekend' traveling to a nearby district called Luqiao, where we get to have Starbucks! This weekend, we also went to the street market  and had some dumplings at a little hole-in-the wall place (which is kinda funny, because most restaurants here are literally hole-in-the-wall rooms with a couple of tables and a stray dog waiting for your leftovers).

Anyways, I'll post some pictures so everyone can see our apartment! It's on the 12th floor and we love having a view of the city from our bed :-) Even though I'm typically a big fan of the beige, brown, and tans—I'm kinda boring in my color admiration—our bright blue walls are cheery and I actually really enjoy them. I hope you do to! 
Our front door, pantry, and bathroom door
Our Kitchen
Sink & Electric Kettle
Our Microwave, hotplate and big vent!

Dining room- fridge and table (kitchen is to the right)
Ryan sitting on the bed

Our closet

This is where we usually eat- I love the little table and decorated it for Christmas!

Our TV, which we've actually only watched once

I really like our shower! I feel like I'm in a space capsule

This is for my sweet mom—we have a toilet!

We have a washer (and laundry room!)

Our view

To the right

To the left (the blue lit-up building is an international hotel, where we turn right when walking to school)