Sunday, November 27, 2016

Thanksgiving Break

We had a great Thanksgiving break. On Sunday I met with my friend Rachel and she helped me sew for 4 hours straight and we finished the top of the jean quilt. We ended up tying that in Arco and it was so much fun. That project went by much too quickly. The best part was we were in the garage and we couldn't hear all of the noise and chaos from all of the kids inside the house. Ha.

We drove to Arco on Tuesday afternoon. That evening we ate dinner and had pie and just chatted that night I think. Trisha and her family were there by then and also Kelsey and her family. The kids were extra wound up from being at Granny's and being with cousins. It was really hard to get them to go down that night. I think Gabby, Piper, and Ryan were all up past 11:00. We were able to get them to go to bed earlier than that on the other nights.

On Wednesday we got up and went and walked laps in the church while the kids ran around and got some energy out. Later we tied the quilt. Keaton and Amanda showed up Wednesday night but not after running out of gas and needing Kelsey and Justin to go rescue them. Good one! I will admit I have run out of gas on my drive home from Rexburg as well. We all went to bed earlier that night and Chase couldn't believe that we were all so pathetic and in bed by the time he and Rachel arrived around 11:30 that night after driving for 10 hours. My dad did stay up and wait for him at least. On Thanksgiving my mom was up and working bright and early and had everything ready by 10:00 as usual. We ate at 11:30. Ha. We don't care, we love it. It was so good. I really want some RIGHT NOW. We mostly just hung around and that night we played a killer game of Rage that I was in the lead for about two seconds. Dang you change rage! We watched a movie late that night. On Friday we just hung around a bit in the morning and got packed and left after lunch. Chase, Keaton, and Justin were going hunting and Corbin wanted to go so we let him stay and hitch a ride back to Boise with Kelsey and Justin. I guess they hiked for 4 miles and played a game of "would you rather" with Corbin that he really liked.

Since we've been home we've just been putting up Christmas decorations and watched Christmas movies. I feel like I have to soak in every moment of Christmas time. It always goes WAY too fast.

Scott wrote part Three of his China trip if you missed that, scroll down the blog for that.


Now I need to make and put on the binding. UGH. Ha.

Rage!

Hunters

Putting up our charlie brown Christmas tree.

The kids kept playing right in the way and in my mom's living room (much to her dismay). Luckily nothing was broken again. My mom's glass coffee table has lasted for over 20 years. I don't know how with the amount of children and grandchildren involved.


Chase's birthday was on Thanksgiving. Trisha got a pinata. It was fun!

I was sanding a chair project Saturday and it was messy!

Gabby's cat collage.

Gabby wrote me this card forever ago. Such a cute card.  It sounds like a poem to me. "mom I love you yes I do, love you, you are the best mom, yes you.

Gabby made me a picture frame and then painted a picture to put in it for me.

I love that she can make her own frames.


Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Scott's China Trip - Part 3: Shanghai to Yiwu

We all met for breakfast in the hotel restaurant for my first officially Chinese meal. I had heard mixed reviews about the food in China, but this meal was quite good. One thing that was definitely different was the variety of things accepted as mainstream food items. I decided to make a plate only of items that I did not immediately recognize or that you wouldn’t find in a US hotel restaurant and give it a whirl. Most of it was quite good, especially the different kinds of fruit that they had.

My "all Chinese stuff" breakfast plate. It was darn good! That white, puffy things was filled with a sweet, black jelly of some sort, and that pear-looking thing was crisp, refreshing, and delicious! I ate one every chance I got.

A street-cart vendor near our hotel selling grilled corn-on-the-cob and grilled sweet potatoes. Yum! Later in Yiwu there were a lot of similar vendors selling long wedges of a Chinese variety of cantaloupe on a stick, which were delicious!

video

It was great getting to know everyone after a much needed night’s rest. It turns out the guy who slept through his flight was getting on a different flight and would be joining us later that evening. We were kind of taking things easy as the training technically didn’t start until tomorrow, so I took some time to go and wander around the vicinity outside our hotel. Everything was very clean, but at the same time there was so much construction going on everywhere that things seemed kind of chaotic as well. It was quite humid and overcast, but the infamous Chinese air quality didn’t seem too bad to me at first blush.

We checked out of the hotel and loaded up in several mini-van cabs with all of our luggage to make our way to the train station. I had the chance to talk to Trish, from Arizona, who was there with her two daughters. We swapped real estate stories as I marveled at the endless expanse of high-rise commercial and residential buildings that just seemed to go on and on as we drove the 30 minutes or so to the train station. We got our tickets and boarded the high-speed mag-lev train in Shanghai and headed to Yiwu.

My closest view of downtown Shanghai's recognizable "bottle opener" building, the Shanghai World Financial Center building. For a while it was the tallest building in China (1,614 feet, 101 floors above ground), until it's neighbor (also pictured), the Shanghai Tower was constructed.

A pretty cool bridge over one of the Shanghai area's many, many canals. 

The Shanghai/Pudong train station. Very clean, very nice, very loud, and very very busy.

video

I ended up next to a Chinese guy who was watching some melodramatic action-drama on his iPhone at full volume without headphones. He even mimed to me at one point to switch seats with him so he could sit closer to the power jack. Behind me, Matt sat next to Kerry and the two recorded an interview for Kerry’s podcast collaboration with Mike and Matt called “Easy Residual Income.” I listened in while I stared out the window trying to take in as much of the Chinese scenery as I could. As we zipped along at almost 300/kph I noticed that I never saw a speck of land that could be classified as “undeveloped,” for agricultural, residential, or commercial purposes. It wasn’t until we were about 30 minutes inland from Shanghai and started reaching some of the more mountainous terrain that the steep hillsides and rocky outcrops resisted the comprehensive use of the land. We passed so many canals, a sizeable river, and high-rise after high-rise after high-rise. It seems they build high-rises in bulk as it seemed if you ever spotted one high-rise under construction you’d quickly notice 5-6 more right next to it.  Oddly, many of the completed high-rises looked utterly vacant, and I spoke with Matt and Kerry about the rumors of China’s “ghost cities.”

An impressive-looking mosque in a wide, green area within one of a seemingly endless collection of high-rises. According to the internet there are about 21,000,000 Muslims in China as of 2015.

More high-rises being built in bulk. Views like this were a constant during my trip. It boggles the mind!

We passed by this massive downtown-looking area on the banks of a large river somewhere between Shanghai and Yiwu. We wondered if this was the Chinese Manhattan look-alike that some people had heard of. However, a Google search indicated that the official Chinese Manhattan is closer to Beijing up North, so who knows what this is.

My first taste of China's famously picturesque mountains, about an hour inland from Shanghai.

We arrived in Yiwu after about 90 minutes on the train and made our way to the street to rustle up some cabs. Mike and Matt explained that, unlike in the more cosmopolitan Shanghai, we would be unlikely to find almost anybody that spoke English in Yiwu. This proved very true with our cab drivers and, since we had to spread out across 5 or so cabs (with Matt and Mike being the only ones who had ever been to the hotel we would be staying out), most of us just had to cross our fingers and hope that there wasn’t more than one Marriott hotel in Yiwu. After a fairly long and anxious cab ride, our cabbie pointed to a giant hotel looming in the distance that said “Marriott” on top. “Maria? Maria?” he seemed to ask, pointing at the hotel and looking for confirmation. We gave the thumbs up, hoping that was the right one, and our cabbie cut into oncoming traffic, weaving through 5 lanes of cars, and pulled us into the drop off at the Yiwu Marriott. Driving in China is an amazing experience, and no one seems to take the rules of the road anywhere near as seriously as we do in the US. Perhaps that’s because there’s so much traffic that no matter where you are you never get going very fast. Perhaps it’s just that people are used to driving a different way, paying attention to the other drivers more than to lane markers or traffic lights, and using their discretion to get where they’re going as quickly as possible. In any case, it was always an adventure and sure made you feel alive.

In a "Hindsight is 20/20" moment, Mike and Matt had Jing write up some English/Chinese instructions to use with Yiwu cab drivers after the somewhat nerve-wracking adventure of trying to get everyone from the train station to the hotel in 4 different cabs.

We got checked in and my room was AMAZING. This was probably the nicest hotel room I’ve ever stayed in as an adult. We all met in the hotel restaurant again for dinner and, as seemed to be something of a pattern I was noticing with Chinese restaurants, our food took a long time to get to us. When it arrived, it was great, but man, almost everyplace we ate in China was slower than slow when it came to actually getting us our food. Who knows why.

Mike and Matt told us all to meet for breakfast in the executive lounge on the 32nd floor in the morning and then we would head down to the conference room to start our first official day of Amazon Secrets training.

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Social Outings

This last week has been a fun week filled with lots of social events. On Tuesday night we went to the school's math night and they fed us pizza (didn't have to cook that night, winning). Later I went to the book club meeting at my friend's house and I was the only one to show up, so that was a bust. I had a good visit with her anyway and we discussed The Gifts of Imperfection by Brene' Brown which is excellent by the way. I've been trying to do at least one pre-school craft with Piper every week. We really need to get serious about her letters. I need to work with Gabby too, she is a little behind in reading. It's so much work. Teaching kids how to read is SO hard. It's kind of annoying that just putting your kids in school isn't enough for them to stay caught up on their reading. You have to work a lot at home, which is tedious and time consuming. We will keep on working!

On Thursday night there was a girl's night at my friend Jen's house. It was fun. I'm glad I went, we all just have to push past the awkwardness of the post mo situation. On Friday night my new friend Rachel invited us over for pizza and to watch the BSU game. Ha. Scott and Nate played magic and Rachel and I cut out squares for my jean quilt (I need to finish piecing together by Tuesday so we can quilt it at my parent's house over Thanksgiving). The game was on in the background and I think Nate watched it. The kids did pretty good just hanging out at their house and it was fun. 

Yesterday I went over to my crazy friend Lisa's house because they want my help to decorate their
home. (Not that I can really do that kind of thing). I'm mostly the mediator between she and her husband who are total opposites. No joke Scott and I have helped these two from the brink of divorce more than once. Anyway George seems to listen to me better than his wife and the goal is to help the two meet in the middle somehow because their tastes couldn't be more opposite. Later in the day Lisa and I went on the hunt for some decent furniture at thrift stores (which is like finding a needle in a haystack) and didn't find anything good. It was fun though. That girl is crazy! In between the consult and thrifting I took my girls to a birthday party. Later that night we went to a party with nearly strangers to continue to make new friends. It was a very fun night and the kids loved it and were asking when we could go back. They had a huge house that was very kid friendly and the kids ran a muck the whole night in the basement. Good times!

I've been making rolls and other preparations for Thanksgiving. I'm excited to go home and see my family. I'm thinking some sort of game tournament would be good!






At girl's night Jen glammed me up with fake lashes, make up and do. 


These kids were SO loud the other morning watching Corbin. It was pretty cute though.
Gabby picture

Cutest tea party.
My friend Lisa literally placing her body inside a huge box to dig for something. Ha.

Sunday, November 13, 2016

A Lot of Happenings

I got a message from my mom last Monday, "No blog from you??? NOOOO!!!" Ha. My biggest blogging fan. Let's see what we missed. We went trick or treating. That was very fun. Ryan was adorable. He would run as fast as his little legs could take him to every house, amazingly HE DID NOT FALL. Miracle. Piper was hilarious. She was very concerned we were lost (we were across the street from our house) and she was ready to go home after about 10 minutes, maybe 5. She barely made it. We do not trick or treat for very long, we go down our tiny cul-da-sac and then across the street to a little loop. Apparently too long for Pipes. We love this route, we've done it since Corbin was a baby. It's short and sweet and they still get a lot of candy and GOOD candy. I'm always impressed by the candy our neighborhood gives out. I think because there are few trick or treaters people buy the good stuff. It's great, we love it.

My birthday was on Sunday. We went to Sherry's for breakfast. Later that day Scott took the kids away so I could be home by myself for a bit. I love when I can be home alone sometimes. If I need a break I can always leave the house by myself but sometimes it's nice to be alone at home. That evening I invited one of my friends over with her family to eat dinner with us. It was fun.

Other than that I'm busy with my kids. I'm also trying to make a lot of new friends. I want to still keep my Mormon friends but things are weird and I doubt they will ever be the same. I'm on a couple of local post Mormon facebook groups and I've met some awesome people on there and I've already formed some friendships. I've also had a bunch of playdates with some of my friends from my Christian book club and we are starting a post Mormon book club this week. We will see how that goes. I kind of feel like a misfit toy and like I don't fit in anywhere but I relate the most to post Mormons for sure. We understand each other completely. It's nice to meet with people who totally understand your perspective and don't think you're crazy or that you've been deceived by Satan. Anyway it's kind of awkward to talk about this stuff, but at the same time this is my life and this is what I'm dealing with and I don't want to have this weird secret life. It is what it is. I'm trying to adjust to post Mormonism and it's weird and lonely at times. I feel like my life has been flipped upside down and inside out. It's very disorientating, but I'm also a very proactive person and being happy is important to me. I've had to become a sort of semi-stalker these last couple of months. I've reached out to total strangers and formed a lot of friendships. Scott has been feeling quite a bit better lately. He's trying to find a temporary job until his Amazon business hopefully starts making enough money so he won't have to work a regular job. That's his goal anyway.

Yesterday my friends from my ward took me to breakfast yesterday for my birthday. We went to Kneaders, so good. It was fun but kind of weird. Ha.


The kids were out of school again Thursday and Friday. Luckily the weather has been dreamy this November and we spent some good time outside. Being outside is so good for my mental health I think. Good stuff.

Ryan has been so funny lately, when you ask him to do stuff he's always like "fine, fine, okay." "Ryan will you..." "Okay mom, fine, fine." It's hilarious.

On Friday night we were telling the kids to start getting ready for bed. Corbin said, "Who sends their kids to bed at 7:39 on a Friday night?" Ha. Don't worry we didn't send them to bed that early on a Friday night, (I wish, ha).
Gabby lost her other front tooth. I have to teach her the song "All I want for Christmas is my two front teeth." Ha.

Piper, getting all set up.

Gabby school work

School work

HALLOWEEN!

This was at a Toy Story event at the library.

Preschool

Ryan is at that awesome stage where he won't take a nap but will sometimes just crash and regardless he's a little cranky.

I made these headbands for my friend's baby shower.

I got this table for free and I fixed it up for $5. I had to buy stain, I had all of the other supplies already.

Viola

Birthday breakfast! Yum.

Pumpkin cake! Yum.

Gabby art.

Gabby art

Park time

Ryan eats by the fistfull. He is a messy buddy. Look at that mac and cheese all over his face.

Pipes relaxing in her toy tub.

Park time.


Ryan's face, ha!