A Few Things

Saturday was Zachary's birthday. Whoop. He's 27 years old this year! And he rocks it. Good bye year 26, hello 27! I am so, so, so very thankful this man was born! I could fill this post with all the reasons why I'm thankful to have him as my partner, husband and best friend, but I'll spare you the mush. Let's just say, I hecka love him and praise God for the man he is! We had a great day celebrating him, which included lots of presents, lots of fun, and ended with mustaches and margaritas. So, as far as birthdays go, I think he can say it was a good one! Can't wait to show you what Zachary looks like in a sombrero and a mustache. Nor can I wait to show you how well a black mustache brings out my "ombre" hair. ;) I will show those to you Readers as soon as I get the pics. Not to worry.

A few things while we've been away. Just some random, useless, goodness, if you will.
There are so many great coffee shops in Qingdao. I love all of them for different reasons. Some are cozy, some have great views, great desserts or the best comfy chairs.  So often in China you have an idea of a feel you want in a place that you're going to eat or relax in and it ends up being decorated with stiff chairs, and red and black decor. But one thing the majority of coffee shops in Qingdao do well is the decorations and atmosphere, surprisingly. I loved this antique lamp to help cozy our table at a local coffee shop, Luna Cafe.
 Speaking of decor, I love this coconut decoration my mom bought for us from Belize. :)
The cube sculpture down the street from our house in front of the Diamond Sports Stadium. Really, I told you, this is just a post of random useless pictures & info. But still fun, ya?
Game night at Starbucks! We took some of our high school students to Starbucks and taugh the BS, Presidents and of course, Catan, which they loved. Students after our own heart. And of course what's a game night at Starbucks without plenty of coffees and cheesecake. :)
Chara's so sweet trying to help us clean up her toys.  She got it close to her toy basket and up off the floor. This little dog and a brown moose are currently her faves.
Church family, minus mwah.(taking the pic) #blessed #thankful
Trent and Angie. New Texas friends! It's always nice to have more people to reminisce about Tex Mex with.
The birthday man child, and I. He's obviously the looker of the fam. :)
Fashion shows are all a plenty here in China. Walk through any department store on a weekend and you'll see wedding shows, watch models, car models and more wedding shows.
Qingdao got a Gap! I was super excited about that when I saw the construction sign up. I checked it out after it opened a few weeks ago and had my excitement bubble deflated after seeing the prices. For China, the prices seem ridiculous to me! I'm not a big Gap shopper, so maybe they're always that expensive. Too expensive for this H&M girl. But still. Qingdao got a Gap!
The other day we took a taxi home which was in desperate need of gas. Since the gas station is on the way to our apartment our driver stopped in. In China, when pumping gas, everyone must get out of the car. There is an attendant to pump your gas for you and you must pop your trunk and hood, or as my South African sister would say, you have to pop your boot and bonnet. :) Strange. I still don't understand why they do it this way here.

That's all the randomness I have for you today. We just got back from walking Chara to Starbucks down the street and playing Scrabble on the patio. It was lovely. So thankful for the nice weather & a great night. Love you friends and fam. Muah.


Pretend Like it's the Weekend

Reader, today I sit here blogging to you naked. TMI? It's 3pm. The bed's undone. The dog's all kinds of lazy. The husband is humming worship songs. The cooler of crabs our neighbor gave us that we ate last night, still warms our bellies. The laughter from friendships & stories told from last night still fills my ears. The day ahead of me is a blank slate with every possibility. It's an awesome day.
You know what kind of day that is? A vacation day. Praise the Lord, Hallelujah. I don't even know what to do with myself, except stall a little longer from taking that shower, because you know what? I can! I've got nowhere to be. And it's nice.

Loves, I hope you have  an awesome day! I hope it feels like a vacation sort of day.

Also, Say a little prayer for my sweet friend Linda, who is moving to Canada tomorrow to finish the last 3 years of high school... As you can imagine, she's all kinds of nerves and excitement!


While I was Perusing the Underwear Aisle..

I love to walk grocery stores here and just zone out. I don't know why. That sounds extremely lame when I write it down but it's really not so lame when you can stumble upon donkey skin or Hello Kitty toilet paper or really any of those fun China surprises. Although, I dragged Zachary along to E.V.E.R.Y. grocery store in Donying 2 years ago to do it and he still thought it was lame. But that's beside the point.

So, last night after I scored a gajillion shirts for only $1.50, (heck yes! And let me just say Chevron, my first chevron at that, was involved. So it was good. Real good.) I started doing the roam the aisles of a Chinese grocery store and see what you can buy see game. And the underwear aisle did not disappoint.

While, I totally forgot to take pics of the entire aisles of bedazzled A cup bras, (seriously! I can't find any bras here that fit! It's dissappointing I mean, come on, who wouldn't be disappointed if they couldn't purchase a properly fitting bedazzled Mickey mouse bra?!) I stumbled on something even better.
                                                                 Underwear Size: Fat
I guarantee you that this guy has no idea his picture is on the front of a  Chinese brand of underwear. It is 100% possible and probable that this company straight up google searched "fat man" (not me saying it!) and found this picture. I mean check out that terrible 'copy, paste' job, the guys body is covering "underwear." Come to think of it, that really looks like the guy from Jurassic Park. Doesn't it? 
 So, you don't really dig black undies? No need to fear. FatManPants are here.
Ya. That straight up says, "FatMan Pants."  FatMan pants come in a nice grey and red striped or red and blue striped boxer brief selection. But wait! There's more.
'FatMan Pants' also come in a nice panty version, a "FatMan panties" of sorts. Grey and black striped or black and white striped. Go for black guys, it's more slimming. Unless you want that, cough, area to appear larger, then definitely go for the light grey. Guys, if you feel uncomfortable buying underwear with large men on the front, just go for the ones with the wolves.
These underwear for the "fat man's body"will really make you feel at one with nature and part of the pack.

And there you have it folks. A small glimpse into the culture in which we live in, who has no reserves calling 4XL underwear (that are probably more equivalent to an American size 2X) fat man pants. Or calling you "very fat" if you've gained a few lbs, or saying that your clothes are "verrrrrrrrry big". No qualms about it. Just a normal thing to say to your friend here. No big deal. If only they knew they were being big jerks and I want to hit them in the face.


Hey There.

Yowza. I can't believe it's been 10 days since I've last blogged. You know what that means? That means a whole-lotta goodness has been happening in our life to make us so busy! Goodness like starting back to school. Lesson planning. Classroom decorating. Event planning. Event meetings. Amazing-awesome-and-refreshing said event. I'll tell you all about said event later this week when I have the el-picturos. For now, let's just catch up on a few things. Like, how we're obsessed with Lost.
It would be super awesome if the picture above was the reason I've been away for 10 days.
Instead, it's just a segway picture into talking about The Island. Dun dun duuuun.

Oh my goodness. I know. I know. We're late to the Lost train. But now that we're on it, we're on. That show. You guys. Really? It's just so good. Good in a suck you in, kind of way. The writers were so clever and they knew exactly how to lure you in for the next episode and the next and the next. Zachary and I, since starting to watch it a month ago, are on Season 5. Ya. We're getting through it fast. We've had days of Lostcomtosis and Lostoverdose. But alas, 2 more seasons and we'll know all the secrets to the island, and we can put Lost behind us,right? Ha! Ya, right. I've heard we'll never know the secrets! Oh, the suspense! Also, let's just be clear, Lost is not the amazing-awesome-refreshing event I referred to, and has not kept me from blogging. I mean we don't watch it that much.

Also, to be clear, The Office is still my all time favorite show. I would choose The Office over Lost any day.

So, when I started writing this post, I really had no intention of talking about Lost the whole time but I'm tired from my totally awesome weekend that I'll tell you about later, so I'm gonna go.

Looooooove you Reader.


Themeparkin' it up in China

This summer we had the chance to check out FantaWild FunLand with our summer school students in Chengyang, a district of Qingdao. I love Amusement parks in the States and thankfully it was just like any other theme park, except there were no funnel cakes or any of that calorie-filled theme park goodness. Instead there was stand after stand of the same choices- a chicken burger or a fried chicken wrap. It wasn't the worst thing we've had in China but we sure did miss funnel cakes!  It just felt wrong to be at a Theme Park and not see  people holding liter cups in their hands with Superman figurine on top.
I was STOKED when I found out we'd have the opportunity to ride roller coasters and rides that make you dizzy, my favorite! Catherine and Justin (former roommates, bffs)  came with us to FantaWild and Catherine later posted on my love & endurance for all the dizzy rides! Okay. I mean just didn't really post all about me but she mentioned it. So, it's legit. I'm a dizzy rides King. Or queen. Whatever. I love them. I rock them. I'm awesome. ;) 
 Zachary was a good sport and  played with me on the teacups. :) These have always been my favorites!

It's sooo fun to be wild at Fanta Wild. Catherine and I gettin' crazy.
 The theme park had a giant Disney World castle replica. More like a Disney World copy. Shameless.
Us with our students.
It's always easy to get confused or lost in China, especially when there are signs pointing to nowhere or signs with no explanations. 

Some signs are crystal clear, though. ;)
 The flying frisbee is always my favorite! What about you? Do you love it?
Zachary, Helen and Jasmine
             Jasmine and I
Posing with the rabbit for my Chinese Year. The Year of the Rabbit.
Zachary with his Chinese animal, the Year of the Tiger. 

The Swings!

I held on to my IPhone with a death grip to get these photos! Zachary thought I was crazy.

Towards the end of our day, we got lucky and caught a Chinese acrobatic show. We couldn't understand everything, since it was in Chinese, but we think it had something to do with The Monkey King, an extremely popular character in China.

Everyone waiting patiently for the show!

Glimpses from the show
 They were so good but so young! They were so cute waving at us after the show!
It's always vital to have a Sock World shop at an Amusement park. 

We had a great time at FantaWild DreamLand! If you live in or near Qingdao, we highly recommend it!! 


How's China?

A few months ago my dear friend, April, from 10,000 Smiles interviewed me on living in China to feature in her blog. I thought I'd share with you my answers. :) Happy Wednesday! 

-Why did you move to China?

 We moved to China because we love living overseas, love new cultures and love Jesus. We felt Jesus call us to China, to serve and love Chinese people. 

- Do you feel safe living in China? Why?
I feel fairly safe living in China. In general, the crime rate is much lower than the States. I have found that most people are friendly and eager to talk to you. The Chinese are warm people and are interested in the life of a foreigner. The only times where I have felt uncomfortable, not necessarily unsafe, but uncomfortable, is when people are sneaking I Phone pictures of me or staring at me, and not smiling back when I smile at them. These situations are probably out of how interesting and unknown I seem to them, though. 

-What steps did you take to becoming an English teacher in China?
Zachary, my husband and I, both graduated from University with a bachelor's degree, which is one of the first steps to becoming a teacher abroad. Most places and schools require that you have a bachelor's degree. To enhance our resume and our skill, we both completed a 120 hour TEFL certification. The number one requirement to being an English teacher abroad, is that you speak English! If you speak English you will most likely score a job in an Asian country! 

-Can you describe a typical day for you in China?
 Our work week looks a lot like the American work week. We work 8am to 4 pm or 5 pm. The difference between our day and the American work day is that we are surrounded by Chinese speakers, have to use squaty toilets at school, are served Chinese food, including pig organs at lunch, and have to taxi or bus our way home from work. :) We really enjoy these differences though! 

-Specifically what do you like and dislike about living in China?
We like the humbleness of the Chinese culture. We have found humble hearts among our Chinese friends that we really love. We also enjoy, though sometimes frustrating, the slowness of the culture. It is much more relaxed and operates at a more peaceful pace than several cultures. We dislike the corruption in the culture. The Chinese business, work and money culture runs deep with strings attached, pressure and expectations. This is very hard for a foreigner to understand or bear. This corruption has encouraged us all the more to be people of peace and light in the hard places and relationships we encounter, though. Tons of people find it hard to live in China because of the dirtiness, trash and the closeness/pushiness of the people. We have found this to be humbling. Of course these things are uncomfortable and difficult at times, but they remind us that we are but man. It's easy to forget that in the States where you don't often have to encounter your trash, dirt, or even your neighbor. But here, it's in your face and reminds you that even Jesus has dirt on His feet. 

-What comforts do you crave living in China?
We crave Mexican food! Chips and salsa! A bath tub in our house! A car! Family dinners. :) 

-How do you keep your relationships strong back in the States?
 I am terrible at keeping up with relationships back home but have worked hard to keep our life here updated on our blog. Having an I Phone has also helped tons! From my Iphone I can keep up with friends via email, skype, Instagram, twitter and text free on the go! 

-Why should an expat move to China?
An expat should move to China if they want to experience culture. It's difficult to come to China and stay in a bubble. The cultural differences are around you all the time. It's completely different than life in the West and is great for growing, shaping and changing your world view! Come to China if you enjoy vacations! With our job we get two months off in the summer and a month in the Winter! It's the perfect time to travel! 
This has nothing to do with the post. It's just a random cute little corn and carrot duck Zachary made that I thought I'd share with you. :) 


Since You've Been Gone

Actually, since I've been gone, but that's just not the way Kelly sings it and I have her song playing in my head right now, and I'm singing to it. I'm full on belting it. All in my head, of course. I'm in the school office right now and I already draw enough attention being born from the grand ole' US of A, so I'd rather not draw more to myself by showing off my totally awesome singing skills.  I mean, then they'd probably start asking me to sing for every event the school has. Parent meetings, conferences, city events, where would it stop?! It'd be ridiculous, you guys, and ain't nobody have time for all that.

"Since you've been gone!!! I can breathe for the first time! I'm so moving on!!! Ya. Ya. Thanks to you..." Sing it with me now. "Thanks to you...now I get, get what I wannnnnnt. Since you've been gone."
Reader, just so you know, since you've been gone, more like since I've been gone, has not provoked any of the emotions of Kelly's song in me. On the contrary. I've missed you terribly. :)

But I'm baacccck. And excited. Except I need some inspiration. Any blogging ideas for me? Are there any questions I can answer for you about us? This blog? Our life abroad? Teaching abroad? Anything. You ask and I'll answer. If I get 0 comments and 0 suggestions, that's okay. I'll just assume you want to know everything about everything and keep blogging about that. ;)

These past two weeks have been full. Good and full.We spent countless hours preparing for the new school year, which has, as of yesterday, come upon us. I love the first days of school! Especially for Grade 1 students (which is kinder here). They are just so excited and pumped up to learn!

Yesterday, Catherine (coworker, sister, former roommate) and I were walking to the school cafeteria and one of the Grade 1 boys yelled, "Lao wei!" Which means "foreigner." He yelled it, tapping his buddies and pointing, as if they didn't already know that they would be getting foreign English teachers at this school. I laughed  and told him, "No, Say,  'Teacher,' 'Teacher.' " I said it slowly, helping the little guy out, to which he loudly yelled, "Shen me yi si?!" (What are you saying!?)
The kid doesn't even know the word teacher. They're blank slates people.

Another student, who I named Jean today, told his Chinese teacher that he didn't need to speak English because he was NEVER going abroad and he didn't have an English name because he's Chinese, of course. Clever little guy. Today, I got him to say point zero words in English. But I got a head nod and a Chinese 'xing' of approval at his new English name. So, we're progressing. By the end of the year my goal is to have him to be able to recite the entire first 4 books of Harry Potter and like it. ;) It's all about that quality education really.

I forget that all children are not like the Chinese and Korean children I've taught the past 3 years. They are alike yes, in that they all love to play and laugh and are kids. But I mean I forget that other Kindergarten and Primary school students can have conversations in English and can listen to you and respond to what you are asking, even when you only say it once and there are few hand motions involved. I saw an American woman and her 5ish year old daughter at Starbucks the other day and the girl started talking to her mom. Like a real conversation in English. And I flipped. I thought she was a freaking genius or adult in a child's body for a good 30 seconds before realizing, that "oh duh" kids actually have thoughts and ideas at that age. We can call that a symptom of reverse culture shock.

Okay. Enough rambling for today. It's just been so long! There's so much to say.

Until tomorrow,
Looove you Readers. Thanks for being so awesome.
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