Sunday, December 1, 2013

Day 29 of Thankfulness - Good Service

Our trip to Xiamen this week reminded me how thankful I am to get good service from people around  China. Most of the time the service you get is not very good (in my crazy opinion). 

We flew to and from Xiamen on Shenzhen Airlines and they were amazing! The food on the plane was some of the best airline food I've ever had and the attendants were so helpful and polite. On our return trip the main attendant saw that Aiden had fallen asleep and immediately went to get a few blankets to cover him and use as a pillow. They kept coming back to check on him and us to see if they could assist any further. 

At the hotel we stayed at, Swiss International Hotel, the concierge was fabulous as well. Quick to answer questions and look for how best to help out. They were always calling cabs for us and went above and beyond in helping us find restaurants, directions and then telling the cab driver exactly where to go. The lady that helped us find the Mexican Restaurant sought us out on our return that evening to inquire how the food was. 

I know these are small details in the grand scheme are not much, but it meant so much to us. If anyone is ever traveling with in China, I would HIGHLY recommend Shenzhen Airlines and if you are going to Xiamen, the staff at the Swiss International Hotel is wonderful. 

Thank you to all of you who on a daily basis provide good, helpful, quick and wonderful service to all who need it. From the bottom of my heart, I say THANK YOU!!!!! 

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Day 28 of Thankfulness - Burgers and Chick-fil-a!

The food here in China has been a surprising fare. Most of it we really like and have gotten the chance to enjoy food from all over the world. But at times some of the stuff we see or are served makes me very thankful to have a good Cheeseburger and Chick-fil-a waiting on us upon our return to the states.

Our meal at the airport before was wonderful! I had sweet and sour pork with rice. It used the Wuxi style BBQ and let me just say....YUM! 

This week in Xiamen was no exception. While Aiden and I were exploring Wal-mart, we found some stuff that I haven't not seen yet in Wuxi. 

A whole pile of dried jelly fish

A close up view. Anyone want me to bring some home for them???

As for this....I have no idea. I even asked some of the dealers and their wives we were with this week and they had no idea what this was. Doesn't look very appetizing to me though. 

While on the tour with the AGCO dealers we all had lunch. One of the items they brought out to us was "some sort of worm from the sea". This was the best description anyone could give us. And I knew that when most of them wouldn't eat it that I wasn't going to either.

Looks great doesn't it? 

One of the gifts that everyone in our group was buying was dried seafood. It was weird to see but apparently it is super popular and was everywhere. Definitely was not very appealing to me, but I guess it is just like beef jerky, but with fish and the like. 

So, for all of these strange new foods that I don't want to try there are many that I do. Take me to eat dumplings any day! But I look forward with all my being to getting to eat a good burger anytime I want. If anyone wants to meet us at the airport on our return trip next year with either Chick-fil-a or a Royal Red Robin burger I would forever be in your debt. Ha!!!!

Day 27 of Thankfulness - Travel

Aiden and I got the chance this week to tag along on one of Jeffrey's work trips to Xiamen. This city was beautiful! I'm very thankful to have the chance and the ability to join him when we can.

Our room over looked Gu Lang Yu island and the was beautiful!!!! 

Jeffrey had to work one whole day while we were there so Aiden and I did our own thing. The day started out guessed it....a trip to Starbucks! Aiden has learned to enjoy this as much as me, and if you even mention it to him he gets excited. His "treat" is a blueberry muffin and orange juice. Mine of course is either a Vanilla Latte or Toffee Nut Latte.

Enjoying our morning at Starbucks. 

Later that morning we went to the hotel's "heated" indoor pool. We learned it wasn't so heated, but we enjoyed it anyway. Aiden loves to swim. The swim wore him out, so we headed back to the room for lunch and to let Aiden nap. The kid slept for 4 hours. Whew! While he napped I was able to enjoy the beautiful view from our room overlooking the bay.

That night after Jeffrey headed back to his dinner meeting Aiden and I went exploring around the town and found a fun night market next to a nice shopping mall. We explored Wal-mart (which I have yet to do while in Wuxi), found a nice semi import store and then wandered around the local market. I love getting to see all the new and different things to see in China.

Aiden found the Lightening McQueen body washes and was hard to pull him away. 
This is a "Service Library" that I thought was a cool idea...just like RedBox, but for books! 

On Friday, we all went on a city tour with some of the dealers from the conference Jeffrey was attending. This was one of the best experiences touring with locals that I have ever been a part of. This group was wonderful. We explored Gu Lang Yu island and went out on a boat to view an island belonging to Taiwan. It was wonderful.

This is Taiwan...a cool experience to see. 

Saturday, Jeffrey, Aiden and I went on our own to check out NanPutuo Temple and walk around Xiamen University. It was a beautiful morning and one we really enjoyed.

We don't get to do these kind of trips very often so I'm super thankful to have gotten this chance to go!

Day 26 of Thankfulness - Toilet Paper & Soap

Back in the states I don't think I would have ever realized or even said how thankful I am for toilet paper and soap. There is it just common place. If you go to a public restroom (for the most part...) and they are out of either, you just notify someone and usually the problem gets solved right away. But here, more often than not you don't have either. If you do have toilet paper then it is most of the time in one roll outside of all of the stalls so you have to take what you need in with you before entering. Most of the time, I just plan ahead and take some in with me. So thankful 

Soap on the other hand is even less common. I started carrying around with me a small container of hand soap with me everywhere I go so that I can always wash my hands. I confess this notion of no soap in the bathrooms grosses me out more than I care to say. Ha! 

So today I am thankful to have soap and toilet paper in bathrooms around the world! 

Day 25 of Thankfulness - Chen, our Driver

Though at times he drives me crazy, I am very thankful for our driver Chen. Living in China it is not as easy to get around as it is back in the states. Taxis are great and we use them quite often when we don't have Chen, but it is not as easy to run errands using taxis.

I noticed this more last Friday when Aiden and I had quite a few things we needed to do around town that day and Jeffrey needed to use Chen. I was very thankful that we were able to quickly get taxis every place we went, but instead of being able to leave our bags in the van we carted them around in all of the stores with us. Yes, I realize this is a first world type problem and I shouldn't complain, but it just made me more thankful than ever to have a driver.

Aiden loves Chen and for that I am even more thankful. At times Aiden has a hard time with some of the locals as they tend to hover and touch him more than what he is comfortable with, but Chen has apparently learned this and has given Aiden space while still playing with him. More often than not he asks me "Chen help Didi (this is what he calls himself)" to get out of the van. Its cute.

Chen will help me carry my bags into the apartment and helps me practice my Mandarin. If I don't know the name of something or a place, he tells me to get it figured out.

I still really look forward to the day I have my own vehicle and freedom to drive myself, but for today, I am very thankful for our driver.

Day 24 of Thankfulness - Our Veggie Market

We have an amazing fruit and vegetable market close to our apartment. I'm very thankful for this market for many reasons. First, its within walking distance so its super easy to get what I need. Second, because of this we are actually eating more veggies.

If you know me well you know I'm not a veggie eater...I prefer meat and carbs...ha! But having so many fresh options readily available has caused me to try and change my eating habits. Jeffrey takes a carrot and apple each day with him to work, and I have an apple for lunch more often than not when we are home. We love sweet potatoes, pumpkin, green beans, mushrooms and green peppers. The lady that I buy my veggies from knows what I get and typically asks me if I need those specific items as soon as she sees me. Its wonderful to have her know what I want and then to help me find the freshest items there that day.

My veggie lady. 

My fruit lady and her husband are wonderful as well. They will deliver my purchases to my apartment at no extra charge. Fabulous! This saves me from either having to carry all those apples home or to save space in the bottom of my stroller. I realize how spoiled I am to be able to have most everything delivered to me and this is something I will have to adjust to when I get back to the states.

The fruit portion of the market. 
This is my fruit stand. 

Another fun part of going to the veggie market is getting to see all sorts of crazy things. My dear friend Brie has been there when they were selling snakes. I guess they had some sort of "healing" property they way she was explaining what she saw. Aiden loves getting to see live chickens. He always wants one (especially the one that roams freely around our apartment complex).

Chickens and vegetables for sale together at the exit of the market. 

Each day at the veggie market is an adventure. So thankful to have it close by!

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Day 23 of Thankfulness - My Family

Can I just saw how awesome my family is? I am so thankful to have amazing people in my life on both my side and Jeffrey's side of our family. 

We got to spend a wonderful month in the states back in Sept/Oct. Though it was a crazy whirlwind trip that took us from North Carolina to Missouri to Georgia to Alabama and then back to Georgia and North Caroling, it was wonderful. It just felt right getting to be back with family and getting to see everyone no matter where they live. We are so excited to move home next year and get to be back in a normal environment where we can see our families more often (and not all at the same time...whew! Ha!). 

To my family all over...we love you guys and are so thankful for you!!!!!! 

My dear cousin Jennifer and her youngest son Holden. 

My brother Matt and Aiden driving tractors (don't tell anyone he was driving a green tractor!!! ha!) 

My Dad (Ta) and Aiden checking out animals at the Pumpkin Patch
My awesome parents! Words can't even begin to tell you how thankful I am for these two and all they have done for me. They are some of our greatest supporters over here. I get to Skype with them at least 3 times a week...I don't know what I would do without that time to talk to them. Aiden gets super excited when "Mimi & Ta" call. 

My awesome brother Matt and his precious wife Jenn. 

Our nephew (on Jeffrey's side) Ethan. I can't believe he is already in kindergarden! 

Jeffrey's dad and grandparents (from his mom's side of the family). 

Jeffrey's brother Brent with Aiden and Elliot (our other nephew on Jeffrey's side). They loved watching horse videos with Uncle Brent. 

My fun sister in law's Natalie and Kristen. 

Jeffrey's brother Scott and is wife Natalie. 

My precious grandmother. She is my rock in God's Word. Whenever I have a question or need someone to pray with me, this is who I call. She knows scripture inside and out and I love hearing her wisdom. We were so excited that we got to spend time time at her house during this trip home. 

My dad's mother, my Mamaw. Aiden took to her right away and I teared up seeing these moments together. I love my sweet Mamaw. 

Day 22 of Thankfulness - Playgrounds

Today I am thankful for playgrounds. All kids of playgrounds...indoor and out! Aiden loves going to play, especially when his friends go along. 

Right after we came back from the states a new mall opened in town and they have a great indoor playground. This made my day since our last favorite indoor playground has closed. 

Welcome to our new indoor playground....this is probably where we will live for cold winter months that are quickly approaching! 

Fun and different kinda was hard to get him to do anything else. 

This place is great. 

Neil having fun in the ball pit. 

Enjoying the ball shooter

Aiden's buddy Neil...cutie pie huh? 

Here he doesn't even mind when the Chinese ladies want to talk and play with him. 

I am also super excited and thankful that there are great playgrounds like this in the states as well! My best friend and I went to a new place near Mall of Georgia and it was GREAT. This is something I will look forward to for many days playing there with Aiden and making new friends. 

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Day 21 of Thankfulness - Chenglish

I have so much fun with Chenglish over here. I love finding it and laughing at the craziness of it all. Makes me really want to go back to the states and see our version of Chinese to see how bad it is. 

These below are signs from a school here in Wuxi that we went and toured a few weeks ago. There was another sign (I thought I had a picture of, but can't find it!) that said "Hold your hands and watch your feet." Ha! Most of these are all talking about not stepping on the grass. 


Day 20 of Thankfulness - Soku

Today I am thankful for Soku! 

This is another online site here in China that has been wonderful! This is one where they have lots of American TV shows posted. Its fabulous!!! 

Before we moved over here I wasn't sure how we were going to keep up with our favorite shows back home, but that shouldn't have been a worry at all. First we used iTunes to purchase  some of them and then a friend introduced me to Soku. Wow! So amazing to be able to get most of our favorite shows from home and to keep up with them as you guys are able to back in the States. 

Some of our favorite shows to watch on this site are:

Person of Interest, White Collar, Revenge, Criminal Minds and The Big Bang Theory. 

So thankful to be able to watch American television over here, makes us feel like we are right at home. 

Day 19 of Thankfulness - Taobao

Today I am thankful for Taobao!

This is an online website here in China that has EVERYTHING....and I do mean everything! And the best part, they deliver to my door.

Awesome. The best part for me with this site is that I can get most of the import products I love but at a much lesser price.

The one catch is that it is all in Mandarin. Thanks to Google Chrome, I'm able to translate it to English to better be able to search for the products I want. But you do get a much better deal most of the time if you can search in Mandarin and not English. This is another wonderful benefit from my weekly lessons and my English/Mandarin dictionary.

Some of my favorite things to order here are:

Cheetos, Cheerios, Cake Mix, North Face coats, Vera Bradley bags, toys for Aiden and coffee syrup.

Its wonderful!!! I may miss this shopping experience more than any other when we move home.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Day 18 of Thankfulness - 35 months of Aiden

How can it be that in just one month my little boy will be 3??? I just can't believe it. I am so thankful that Our Father has given Jeffrey and I this gift of raising him. 

This past year has brought so many changes in Aiden's life. He has started talking more and speaking in sentences. We have "started" potty training (though he isn't really interested yet). He can last much longer walking and we no longer have to take the stroller everywhere we go. 

Some of his favorites right now are Lighting McQueen and The King from the movie Cars, his trampoline and coloring. He loves to Skype with Mimi & Ta and everyone else who we talk to. The only things he will really eat at the moment is peanut butter and chicken nuggets. At times we can get him to eat other things, but many a night he goes to bed without dinner at his own choosing. Crazy kid! 

Trying out the different kids of tea. I think he likes it. 

Taking in all the sights and sounds of Beijing. 

Flirting with the little mannequin girl. 

A little blurry, but he was having a blast playing with a Chinese boy while Donna and I shopped in Suzhou. 
 Today we celebrated Aiden's best buddy's 3rd birthday. It has been so much fun to watch these two grow together. They love to drive their trucks together and share a love of cars. Such fun friends. 

Aiden and Noah! I hope these two stay buddies forever.

We love you Aiden! Thank you Father for this special blessing! 

Day 16 of Thankfulness - Nap Time

Today I am thankful for Aiden's nap time. Ha! 

This is a glorious time that I can get a few things done around the house, have a conversation with a friend, or even at times, host parties. Most days he still sleeps about 3 hours...I'll take it! 

He is definitely a lover of his sleep and for that alone I am thankful. Rarely does he not want a nap or fuss going down for his nap. But in all of this if we are not at home, he used to not nap at all no matter how hard we tried. Finally, we have over come most of that. Still there are days when does not sleep well outside of our house (mainly in the stroller), but we are getting there. 

Sleeping in the stroller while we explored Tian'anmen Square.

While we were in Beijing this weekend, he did fabulous at sleeping. We were so thankful for those times as it allowed us all to keep going and see more of all that Beijing had to offer! 

Thank you Aiden for taking good naps! 

Yes, he is laying down in the car....yes he is not in a car seat, but this is don't have to here. And he slept great. This was right after we left the Great Wall, he climbed in on his own and asked to take a nap. Ha! I guess we wore him out. 

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Day 17 of Thankfulness - Escalators

Today I am thankful for escalators and elevators. 

Back in the USA I completely took these for granted. Never before (well I guess I didn't have a kid very long in the states either...ha!) did I need to carry the stroller up stairs or lift it over a barrier, or even carry my luggage up/down the stairs. Now that this is a part of our daily life and travels I realize how thankful I am for these modern inventions.  

We are super thankful for you little stroller in these moments, and even more thankful that Aiden walks most of the time so we don't have to carry the stroller much any more. 

At the subway stations around China, some of the older ones do not have escalators so we are forced to carry everything we have up and down the stairs. One good thing about this though is it teaches you (hahahaha!) to pack lightly....something we haven't fully mastered yet. 

Whew! Tired already from carrying all that luggage...but they aren't finished yet. 

The crowd we had to get through to get to the stairs. 

There they go, picking up their luggage to carry down the stairs. 

Look at  my man go! 

It definitely makes me thankful and extremely happy anytime I can find an escalator or elevator. Or maybe this just makes me lazy, but either way I'll take it! 

To the inventors of these wonderful inventions I say....THANK YOU! 

Day 15 of Thankfulness - Blue Skies

Today I am thankful for Blue Skies. 

This may not make sense to those of you living in areas where you see the blue sky quite often, but here in China we don't have many days with clear skies. So when we see a beautiful blue sky we all tend to get a little giddy in our happiness. 

After knowing this, you can imagine how absolutely beautiful we found the skies in Beijing. Its rare to find blue skies, even more so in Beijing with all of the pollution, but God gave us some amazingly clear days. 

Thank you Father for your beautiful creation!!! 

Below are pictures from the different places we went in Beijing. Enjoy the beautiful blue skies with me.

The Great Wall 

Summer Palace

Summer Palace

Qianman gate at Tian'anmen Square

Lama Temple

Lama Temple