Sunday, December 8, 2013

It's Beginning to Look a Little Like Christmas

I officially hate fake Christmas trees.  Fake Christmas trees are like little stickers on fruit.  It's taking something where the whole point is that it's alive and using something synthetic instead.  It's taking something pure and processing it.  Nothing says Joy to the World like plastic.  When you're looking for a symbol of hope and eternity, instead of a real evergreen, why not choose...plastic.

Unfortunately, real Christmas trees cost $300 here and likely last about 3 days.  And it turns out that little palm trees don't really have anyplace good to hang ornaments.  So.

We set out to find the family's 2013 Christmas tree, not by tromping out into the woods or bundling up for the crisp air of the tree lot but by piling into a pink taxi.  Lucy and Theo sang carols all the way to the mall.  When we got there we could see the display of trees in the back corner, so we wound our way through the aisles until we were gazing up at the soft glow of electric Thai Christmas.  There were three models.

"How about this one?" Chris suggested hopefully.
I hesitated. "Wait, I want to look at the others. What if the next one is perfect?"  I walked around to the back of the display- best to check them out from all sides.  It was hard to connect the trees on display to the jumble of boxes underneath, so I started calling out the serial numbers from the tags.  "2810...317..."  Theo's ears perked up.  "317?  I LOVE the 317!  Please can we get the 317?" (He started to cry, and wrapped himself around one of the boxes that he thought was a 317.)

"I don't know- Chris is our ceiling tall enough?  Maybe we could cut it off at the bottom?  Theo, what about the 2810, have you looked at the 2810?

In the end, we got the 317, climbed into another taxi and Chris slid the long box through the window and onto our laps.  At home the tree is perfect.  Too perfect, and I both love it and hate it.  But topping it with a nebula that Lucy made at school made me happy, so I am content.

I think this means Elroy the Lion is officially part of the family

Sunday, November 24, 2013

let's see, what have i seen..?

so tim and i went to see the black crows the other night.  it was good, and it was sweet to only have to go 15 min to see them.  i thought for posterity, we should get a master list going of the concerts, etc. we have seen.   ready, go..

beth:  simon and garfunkel, linda ronstat, milivanili, stone temple pilots, red hot chili peppers, toad the wet sprocket, they might be giants, black crows, ziggy marley, jewel, sheryl crow, otmar leibert, U2, steve miller.  i saw les miserables, miss saigon, phantom of the opera, secret garden, newsies, stomp.  i also saw barishnakov dance, if that counts.

sarah: millivanili, linda ronstat, nsync, johnny lang, chris issac, wynonna judd, chris doughty
les mis, phantom, newsies, romeo & juliet

carrie:  Toad the Wet Sprocket, Jackson Brown, Paul McCartney, Steve Miller Band, Crosby Stills and Nash, Linda Ronstadt, The Austin Lounge Lizards, The Young Dubliners, Steve Poltz, Marc Cohn, U2, Taj Mahal, Gin Blossoms, Barenaked Ladies, Indigo Girls, Lyle Lovett, Paul Simon, REM, Neil Young, Martin Sexton, John Hiatt, Patty Griffin, Nancy Griffith, Steve Earle, Clem Snide, Wilco, Elvis Costello, Jack Johnson, Ben Harper, Ani DeFranco, Big Jack Johnson, Andrew Bird, Old 97s, Cake, TMBG, M. Ward, Joshua James, Pete Yorn, Moody Blues, INXS,

Claire: Ray LaMontagne, Martin Sexton, R.E.M., They Might Be Giants, Leona Naess, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Adrian Legg, Stone Temple Pilots, Jon Bryon, Gregory Alan Isakov and the Freight, Of Montreal, Taj Mahal, Jack Johnson, Mason Jennings, Blind Boys of Alabama, Ben Harper, Bob Dylan, Andrew Bird, Jonny Lang, The Brobecks, Nothing Ever Stays, The Swell Season, Big Jack Johnson, Jonah Smith, Corby Yates, Travis, Brandi Carlile, The Fray, Weird Al Yankovic, Jack's Mannequin, The Shins, Regina Spektor, Ivan and Alyosha

Rachel:  Johnny Lang, Maroon 5, Andre Rieu, Coldplay, Yo Yo Ma, Gunter, Martin Sexton, Andrew Bird, Ivan & Alyosha, Brandi Carlile, Airborne Toxic Event, Imagine Dragons, Joshua James, They Might Be Giants, Cage the Elephant, Muse.
As far as other plays and performances, I've seen Stomp, The Complete Works of Shakespeare, Les Miserables, The Lion King, Wicked, 1776, Arsenic & Old Lace, The Tempest, Much Ado About Nothing, Twelfth Night, Romeo & Juliet

Vivian: Stone temple pilots, Red Hot Chili Peppers, REM, Martin Sexton, Aquabats, Custard,  They Might Be Giants, Jack Johnson, Mason Jennings, Taj Mahal, Jonny Lang, Corby Yates, Nada Surf, Zurich Philharmonic?
Also:Twelfth Night, Othello, A Mid Summer Nights Dream, Beauty &the Beast, Les Mis, Phantom, The King and I, Riverdance, Anything Goes, A Tuna Christmas (you all forgot that one!), Alice in Wonderland

Sunday, November 10, 2013

A Sampling of Hal

Feed me, Seamour.

Last week was International Day at the kids' school, which is really saying something as there are 66 nationalities represented there.  It was pretty fun- the day starts off with a parade of nations, which involves a lot of people milling around and yelling things like, "Where are the Bela-russians?  Has anyone seen the Bela-russians?!" The American kids wore T-shirts with American flags on them, which is kind of a national costume, dontcha think?

Then there was an assembly with cultural perfomances, including K-pop by the Phillipinos, a Shakespeare reading by the Brits, and Thai national dancing.  After that it was on to the food hall, which also happened to be where I volunteered to help.

Folks, let me tell you, that food hall was one of the more amazing things I have ever seen.  Turns out that:
moms w/ free time + disposable income + national pride + private school competitiveness= food sampling that is off the hook.

There were forty nations represented, with tables overflowing with free homemade ethnic food stuffs, and the kids could wander around and eat whatever they wanted.  The Danes were making crepes.  The Belgians had a chocolate fountain.  The Japanese were molding sushi to look like pandas.  The French were complaining that they couldn't serve wine.  It was like a Chris Gregory Willy Wonka heaven.  The Americans did ourselves proud by making...popcorn.  Which was all that the kids wanted to eat in the first place.

Actually, that kind of sums up the whole day.  The parents were thrilled.  The kids, underwhelmed.
Theo's class.  Kids from India, Spain, Brazil, Italy, Singapore, Denmark and Thailand.

The assembly- Americans in blue, Malaysia in black, and the Netherlands in orange.

While I was stuffing bags full of popcorn, the French were busy serving quiche and pate'.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013


Khun Moo is terrified of Chris.  I first thought something was a little funny the day I was telling her that Chris would be returning from our vacation early, so for a few days it would just be the two of them here together.  She got very nervous looking, took a deep breath and said,

"I prefer that he stay out there and not talk too much, and I stay in here and not talk too much either."

Well, OK, Chris would prefer that too, so no problem.  But then I started noticing that she ducks down and averts her eyes whenever she comes out to put something on the table by him.  And two nights ago when he walked into the kitchen and she happened to be in there, she squeaked and fled immediately.  And LAST night I got this text, from her in her room:


So she wanted to ask me a question, but she couldn't because she would have had to walk past Chris working on his laptop at the table.

I mean, I know Chris is always screaming and throwing things and yelling and stuff, and there was that personality quiz that advised people to keep at least six feet away from him at all times, but really?

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Candyfest 2013

Halloween is not a big deal in Thailand, but our apartment complex manages to celebrate it anyway.  Which means that last Saturday night we climbed up (and down) 39 flights of poorly-ventilated stairs, making this the sweatiest Halloween that I personally have ever experienced.  At two doors per landing, the kids got a pretty good haul, although because the place is so international it is funny to look at the variety of stuff that they got- all sorts of unrecognizable fish crackers, Danish gummies and Korean jello shots.

Here are a couple of blurry photos of the costume parade around the yard, Chris and I in costumes that lasted about 5 minutes, and Athena and Indy.

 Can you tell what we are?

Friday, November 1, 2013

a little bit of heaven

me - "so colin, what is your favorite part about halloween?"

colin - "dressing up and candy.  what is your favorite part?"

m- "watching you be so happy"

c- "do you think jesus will come to halloween?"

m- "um, nope.  i think he is busy."

c- "where does jesus live?"

m- "in heaven."

c- (gasps incredulously) "at sarahs!?"

m- (laughing) "what?!"

c- "where sarah lives- that's heaven!  that's awesome!"

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Thai bits

- We live in a place where the waterfall comes on each day at 0745.

- The other day I forgot to make the conversion in my head and only after I got home did I realize I'd just spent $10 for a box of Golden Grahams.

- One day I said to Chris, "That's a lovely bunch of coconuts."  And he thought I was kidding, because, you know, a lovely bunch of coconuts.  But I wasn't.

- Theo just asked me if he could trade his CTR ring for a Ninjago Lego set.  I'm not sure what to make of that, but I don't think it's good.

- Hopefully a man is coming today to drill holes in the concrete walls so I can hang pictures.  It costs 100 baht (3 dollars) per hole.

- We went on a jungle hike up the side of a mountain in a rainstorm and found this amazing cave with a little pagoda inside of it.  It was really beautiful, and the kids were really tough and covered with mud at the end.  Fun.

- Theo is a mosquito's personal brand of heroin.  The other day we watched a movie in a little room at the beach hotel and I stood over him the entire time with the  mosquito-zapper racquet clutched in my hands like a samurai warrior, making big sweeps over his head and killing two or three at a time.  It was extremely satisfying, in a mother bear sort of way.

- My computer is not electrically grounded, so the keyboard buzzes my hands when I type.  I have ordered a grounded transformer, but until it arrives I have wrapped the keyboard in saran wrap in a weak attempt at insulation.  I have typed this entire post with my feet off of the ground.

Kitty on My Cake and I Want to Touch It.

Brought to you by the 'Asians are a little crazy' category comes the 'Cat Cafe,'  a place a few streets over from us where you can order snacks and eat at little tables while you play with the restaurant's cats, which roam freely around the room.  Apparently if Thailand has a Health Department, they are occupied with bigger concerns, because this all seems very much on the up and up.  We did have to wash our hands, change out of our shoes, and wait in line for 20 min before being allowed into the restaurant, however.

Cat-themed hot chocolate.

No doubt about it- kittens are cute.
Theo fishing for cats.

Monday, October 21, 2013

A perfect quote

"For though I’ve often lost faith in myself, I’ve never lost it in my family . . . Ours is the only club I’d ever wanted to be a member of." - David Sedaris

Friday, October 18, 2013

Immortalized in Epic Verse

Last spring I invited my friend Katie to come to the Banff Mountain Film Festival with me and Carrie, but at the last minute she had to cancel. I told her that due to such a terrible betrayal, her friend status was in serious jeopardy. She begged to get back into my good graces, and suggested that a poem lauding my praises might raise her in my estimation. I agreed that that might help, and just yesterday I finally received said poem. I thought I would share:

Rachel, the Brave
A Poem by Katie

Dear friends of old, lendest me your ears
For a story of bravery-- a girl with no fear.
She arrives in our story from a faraway coast
With an impressive record of 96 milkshakes to boast.

Our heroine began to cast her new aura.
You see, on a sunny Saturday she drove into the flora.
Soon discovered was fame on a place called the web
A fair Princess with buns, why, she’s a celeb!
And next, there she stood, with a bow and taut wire
Our brave heroine became the girl on fire.

Across great waters she ventured on
The advice of a fortune cookie was her new dawn.
Through castles and churches our heroine strolled
And paid homage to that blessed saint who cast off slithering foes.

The Isle was not to be her last hurrah
For the Far East (and her mother) beckoned from afah…
Through mountain and Plateau her sights did not lack.
Why, she was found even on back of a yak.

A debt to be paid this prose finally speaks
(Tragic it has taken one-too-many weeks.)
In short, dear friends, our heroine has a name not flashy.
She is known by no other than Rachel freakin’ Ashby.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Home at Last

To paraphrase Vivian quoting Lisa Simpson: Home is has its grandeur and its follies, but mostly it's the place where all our stuff is.

After 9 weeks in a luxury hotel with the breakfast buffets, daily maid service and dinner brought to the door on silver trays, we couldn't get out of there fast enough.  In the end, we wanted a place where all of our stuff was.  A few updates from our new home, at the Natural Park apartments.

- Ms Moo has moved into the small room off of the back patio and works like crazy. I think she would be happier if I would tell her specifically what to do but I just can't do it.  Partly because I can't order her around, but also because I'm just not that organized.  When I told her recently that the kids and I would be gone for a few days, so it would just be her and Chris, she said, "I prefer he stay out there (meaning the main part of the house) and not talk too much.  I stay in here (meaning the maid's area) and not talk too much either." Chris thought that sounded good too.

 - We bought a water cooler.  I was very resistant, seeing it as an unnecessary expense and maybe a bit silly.  I was wrong.  The whole family LOVES the water cooler.  I told Lucy to think of a good Greek name for it, so she and Theo christened it 'Atlanta the Water Queen'. 

Lucy, so happy to have her things.

Theo's room.

View from living room. So unique for Bangkok, to have any green.
Atlanta, the font of all things cold.

Kitchen- You can see Khun Moo's door through the window.

I think we're going to be quite happy here. 

Friday, October 11, 2013

and there was light and the light was good.

look what i learned how to do!

Friday, September 20, 2013

i miss carrie.

the end.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

..and this is our quest- to seek the Holy Grail of doughnuts.

Just before we left Georgia, we were hanging out with friends, waxing nostalgic for the best things of Atlanta.  Ah, the greenery, the cute neighborhoods, DragonCon.  "And Sublime Doughnuts," sighed my friend, Amber.  "Oh, yes,"  agreed Rachel.

Wait, what?  Where is this?  Sublime who?  Even Rachel knows about this? How did we miss this?

In a panic, we looked up their hours.  Already closed for the day.  Maybe we could get there before we went to the airport in the morning?  Bakeries open early, right? Sadly, no.  Bad Gregorys, no doughnuts. We were leaving Atlanta with a major stone unturned, and there was nothing we could do about it. 

But wait!  Just as hope died, Rachel sat up straight.  "I just remembered something.  I think they have another location, let me check...yes, here it is..'Sublime Doughnuts now opening second location in...BANGKOK!"  Seriously, what are the odds?

So, of course, we had to go.  Not to bore you with details, but we looked, and looked.  We used up a date night to search for it.  We told some friends about it and THEY used up a date night to look for it.  We tried calling. We Googled it.  We Facebooked it.  We hauled the kids downtown to look for it again (Doughnuts!  Kids! Doughnuts!  Keep walking!).  Our friends emailed the corporate office and got more directions.  And Saturday, we got ANOTHER babysitter and went out for our third attempt.

The directions told us it was in Fortunetown, a gigantic 5 floor mall that took up an entire block.  We asked at the mall inormation counter (Sub-lime? Sub- lime Do-Nut? No?) We decided to walk it anyway and started in the basement.  We passed Dunkin Donuts.  We passed Krispy Kremes.  We passed TWO Mr Donuts. By about floor three we decided maybe they meant the mall across the street, so we ran through traffic in the doughnuts.  Back to Fortunetown.  The Fourth floor was a technology fair, with no food stalls in sight and we'd been going for two hours.  Dejected, we were headed home, when suddenly...around a tiny corner...surrounded by iPad knockoffs...


Only one problem:  They had no doughnuts.  At this point, we weren't leaving.  We staged a doughnut sit-in.  And sure enough, eventually a little cart rolled up and there they were.  Pretty tasty, but it might have been easier to fly to Atlanta to get them.  Here are the empty shelves:

And here are the pesky little guys in the flesh.  Sheesh!

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Hiring Khun Moo

Ever since I realized we were moving to Thailand I have been doing a lot of soul searching about the morality of hiring a housekeeper.  The thinking went like this:

- I like Thai food, and a Thai housekeeper would make better Thai food than I would.
- Chris wants his shirts ironed.  By someone who is not me.
- Every apartment we were shown had maid's quarters, and every foreign family we have met has hired a maid.
- If there is a place for someone to live on our back porch, and someone who needs a job that wants to live there, then it seems like a good thing to help someone out.  This is way more efficient than donating to a charity.

- I am inherently lazy and should not pander to that side of me.
- My children will think this is normal.
- I don't really want another person hanging around the house with me during the daytime.

So last week I read an ad in the US Embassy bulletin recommending Khun Moo as an excellent cook and housekeeper and who is honest and a "very quiet person who will respect your family's privacy."  I figured that sounded as good as anybody, so I called her up and we agreed to meet, Saturday at noon.

Saturday morning I was nervous.  I read and re-read the embassy pamphlet, "Questions To Ask In A Maid Interview."  We cleaned up the house to show that we're very tidy people and will be easy to take care of.  I bathed the kids.  We practiced formal greetings in Thai, and had the children march out of their room to bow when I whistled, a la The Sound of Music (their idea, not mine).  I bribed them to act like they like each other.

When she arrived, the kids were champs.  They bowed, said 'Sawadee Ka' and departed, holding hands, to sit on the couch and read books with their arms around each other.  Chris and I sat with Khun Moo at the dining room table.

"First of all," she said, "I am 55 years old.  Is that too old for you?"  Chris and I exchanged eyebrow raises. "uh,, um we like 55.  55 no problem."  She went on, "I am 55, and I can't walk around the mall with the babies all day, then cook dinner, then walk to more malls at night.  I work for you 7am to 9pm, no problem, but no walking all day in malls."  I reassured her that I don't really like malls.  Or walking.  And that if I was going walking in a mall, I absolutely would not want her coming with me.

A glance at the children shows them sitting in a beam of sunlight, Theo's head on Lucy's shoulder.  I try not to giggle.

In broken English, her story came out.  No children.  Husband died.  Has worked as a housekeeper for many, many years.  Can't keep up with the mall-walking like she used to.  Would appreciate being able to live in our tiny maid's quarters.  Happy to watch the kids one evening a week.  Says she likes to be by herself, and promises not to gossip with the other maids in the building.  Kind of reminds me of Mom, if Mom were a tiny Thai woman in polyester pants.

So, we hired her.  I have no idea what she's going to do for me all day.  Apparently I need to pick up the embassy brochure entitled, "How to direct the servants what to cook for dinner every night."  Also the one called, "We Don't Expect You To Have a 14 hr Workday."  Also need to start looking into the legalities of sending her to live with Beth once we move from here.  But when I sent her a text offering her a job, she wrote back, "thank you. for your kindness."  And it seemed like we were doing the right thing.

Monday, September 2, 2013

a beautiful day

what a nice day we had!  we went hiking with 3 of our favorite families.  mom came!  here are some fun pics..

don't be jealous, carrie.  just think of it as homework for next summer.  i know a new place to take us.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

pain and foolishness

"Pain and foolishness lead to great bliss and complete knowledge, for Eternal Wisdom created nothing under the sun in vain."
Khalil Gibran 

so this is an accurate transcription of me and jack doing homework:

me:  ok jack.  read this 
jack: this?
m: yes.  this right here.
j: right now?
m: JACK!
j: ok! ok!  sheesh.  'when is your birthday?  write it on the line."
m:  so when is your birthday?
j: may 9th
m: ok write 'may'.  right here (me pointing).
j: should i draw a capital M?
m: yes.  right here.  go.
j: i like M's with curvy tops, not pointy.
m: that's fine.  capital M, with curvy tops.  right here.  put your pencil right here.
j: (draws an M)  
m: ok what's next?  a and a y?
j: did you know that my friend dillion can do the monkey bars and he SKIPS ONE!  it is so cool.
m: JACK!  finish your homework!  A and a Y!!
j: ok.  then can i have a cookie?
m: no.  you already had one.  now you have to finish this page of homework or you will sit in that chair for a long time.
j: (writes an a and a y)

 in case i have lost you, or you have fallen asleep, he has now written the word 'may'.

m: jack!  look here.  HEY!  write a 9 right here (me pointing).
j: with two dots?
m: (confused)
j: MOM!  with two dots or no?!   you NEVER LISTEN TO ME!!! 
(he throws his head down on the counter and cries)
m:  what are you talking about?!  i don't know what two dots you are talking about.


(me walking away)

j: MOM!! i am sorry i need your help!  mom mom mom.
m:  jack.  it is asking you to write a nine.  it is just like a backwards P.  remember?  write it.  
j: do i leave a space?
m: (trying to find my happy place) where?
j: between the Y and the 9?
m:    yes.
j: (he writes a 9)

m:  ok.  what does the next question say?
j: 'tell about something you like to do".....


same conversation 3 hours later with an exhausted, crying darcy...

m: what genre is this?
d: i don't know!!
m: well it is 3 pages long.  is it a novel?
d: i don't know!
m:  it is three pages of paragraphes and story.  is it a poem or a short story?  darcy!
d:  i don't know!

this year might kill me.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

summer 2013

theo not jumping in on the group cannonball
oaxaca's with dad and kathy
Auberry volleyball
Campsite triumph!
theo calling me "my beth"
Road trip to SLO for "Much Ado" with Mark and Bry.
rachel and mom's trip to china/tibet
party barge! Gwen driving the boat.
Making a birthday cake for Mark Porter
river day at squaw leap- colin jumped off a high rock!
the moving company moving everything to Thailand EXCEPT carries shoes
baby hal's face when trying a lime
gordon's chocolate cake
v beating c in armwrestling. Badly.
playing "beat the parents" board game and...the kids beating the parents. twice
watching much ado about nothing, indiana jones, and Star Trek.
carrie throwing a "boy party" while beth was at girls camp
Searching for missing chickens that didn't actually exist
Sitting in the tree outside of the Prather post office, eating Little Debbies
mom home from china!!
smoothie bar at dad's house. Natural beauty additive.
jerry throwing the aerobie for the jumping kids to catch in dad's pool
bro's in law rowing the canoe very stalwartly
vivian giving darcy a haircut
Theo's hair in general

"Why does my mouth taste like plastic?" - Lucy, shortly after her first Little Debby
"Roller skates!"- Connor Dunkle
"my thumb was not as powerful as i would have wished" - ShamaraWhittington, volleyball
"get your own feet!" - darcy's friend sleep talking at camp
"I can handle the violence, I just want there to be some logic involved."-Lucy, on playing with her brother.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Averted Adventure

Did you know our mother was on the verge of eating a scorpion, and that it was only due to my prudent intervention that she didn’t?
I had all these intentions of eating something crazy when we went to what is popularly called ‘Snack Street’, a collection of little side streets in Qingdao with vendors offering everything from sea urchins and lizards to grubs and other indescribable objects. Maybe I would have a fried grasshopper, or a starfish. Because, you know, I am an adventurous youth and I like to do exciting and unique things. But after walking around the alleyways observing the squishy, tentacly, oozy, and/or antennaed specimens, my enthusiasm for the exotic dimmed. “You know what Mom? I actually think I’m good”. My stomach was feeling decidedly queasy, and I didn’t have anything to prove, after all. I was confident in my adventurousness. At least...that’s what I told myself.
After a while of wandering we got to a stand that some of the craziest things yet; and worst of all, there were scorpions. Three different sizes – big, bigger, and the kind you see on horror movies. They came pre-fried on a stick; unless, of course, you wanted to pick out your own live produce from the open tubs full of scorpions at your feet. Now, a single Auberry-sized scorpion gives me the heebie jeebies, much less a whole tubful of monsters as big as my hand that were currently devouring live insects that had just been fed to them. Ugh. After watching in fascination a while, we walked on.
“So Mom, if you were to eat something, what would you pick?”
“Oh, I’m going to go for a scorpion.”
I kind of laughed because I assumed she was joking; but when I looked over at her I saw she was, inexplicably, serious.
“!” I gasped in horror.
“Yeah, come on!” She said.
“Oh no! Heck no!” And then out of morbid curiosity, “What size would you get??”
“Um, one of the biggest ones probably...”
“Oh Mom, NO!!”
As you know from the first sentence, this story ends happily – Mom did not eat a scorpion, thank heavens. I had to use all my powers of logic and rhetoric to dissuade her...because, you know, I am a responsible adult and I don’t let my mother do outrageous and irrational things. But after walking out of that alleyway, I wasn’t quite as confident in my adventurousness. At least...not in comparison to my mother.

Welcome to China

Mom and I were worried about how I was going to find her on my first day in Qingdao. When my plane was scheduled to land, she had to be on campus teaching her I was going to have to take a taxi to get to her. But there were a few things that made this complicated: 1) there were a lot of ‘bad’ taxis that I was going to have to be on guard against so I didn’t get scammed, 2) I didn’t know any Chinese to tell the driver where I wanted to go, 3) even if I could get them to understand “Qingdao University”, mom wasn’t at the main campus, but at some lesser-known one, 4) even if I got to the right campus, how would I find her building? 5) what if my flight got delayed? 6) neither of us had operating cell phones. Mom had told her classes that I was coming but that she was worried I wouldn’t be able to get there in time, so not to get their hopes up that they would get to meet me. Luckily, through a lot of pre-planning, printing of maps, backup plans, and a wad of Chinese cash from Chris, I was able to evade the eeevil taxis and direct the good taxi driver right up to the doorstep of mom’s building.
I walked up the stairs and through the hall straight to the classroom number mom had told me. I looked through the door window, and there she was! My mother, who for a year now had been separated from me by literally the entire world, was now standing there on the other side of some flimsy wood and glass. Suddenly I couldn’t stand it anymore... I threw open both double doors, involuntarily struck a victory pose, and the room immediately erupted into thunderous applause and screams from 25 cute little Chinese girls. Mom whooped and ran over to give me a hug, while every single one of her students whipped out their camera phones and started taking pictures of our reunion. Talk about an entrance!
Thus began my experience with stardom and the Chinese paparazzi. First everyone wanted a picture of me and mom together. Then all of them wanted individual pictures of them with me and mom. And then a picture of them and mom, and then of them and me. And then small group shots. With about 25 students in the room, this took some time, and I started getting kind of giggly while I was posing for picture #97. Then one of them tentatively raised her hand and asked me if I would sing a song. What? A song...right now? Seriously? Yes? Uh...ok? So I did. Why not. I think some of them videotaped me. Some asked for my email. Then class was over, and they all seemed sad to say goodbye to me, and I was definitely sad to say goodbye to them! But then the next class came in, and the whole process started over again. They were so nice and sweet and charming that I didn’t mind, but I sure felt bemused the entire time.
My view
And then things kicked up a notch. We walked to a restaurant, where I got introduced to mom’s third class of the day and a whole bunch of authentic Chinese food. Some of it was really delicious, and some of it not so much (I recognized almost nothing, except for the fish - they were easy to identify only because they still had heads and fins). As soon as people slowed down eating, the plates were cleared away and the karaoke microphones were brought out. Mom had warned me that this was coming, and the way I visualized it happening was that I would sit back and enjoy the show for the most part, and maybe work up the courage for one song, just for the sake of the experience.
The students had other things in mind. They pressed the microphone into my hands for the very first song. I tried to respectfully decline, thinking they were just being polite by offering to let me go first...they weren’t. They were insistent. So I sang My Heart Will Go On to a very enthusiastic crowd that sang along with me and cheered when I finished. I laughed and said, well that was fun! And tried to hand the microphone to somebody else. No no! they said. We will find you another English song. No no! I said, that’s enough for me. But while those kids are just delightful, they have wills of iron. So I went all out. I don’t know how many songs I sang. The details are fuzzy, but I remember having a moment where my rational mind rose from the depths of a 42-hours-of-no-sleep fog and was really confused by what what going on and wondered how exactly I found myself to be singing Toxic by Britney Spears at the top of my microphone-enhanced lungs to a room full of cheering Chinese college kids.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Get some sleep, honey.

A text that I got from Rachel tonight after her return from China:

"carrie!  I've been missings you too.  It was weird to come home to an empty home. Lets twlk tomororrow m....i don't know what I was trying to type there but what im informing Your majesty is that am on ambien currently and making plenty of miatakes so we should warn her about talking tomorrow so I can sleep"

"That's not chicken-winging, that's turkey-winging!"-Lucy

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Gordon celebrates a Master's!

Gordon's mom came out for a visit, to attend Gordon's Commencement ceremony, and maybe to see Hal.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Maybe it's time...

Saturday morning, Carrie and I are lounging in my bed, playing with Hal. On the ceiling above the bed are two tiny photos of me. One is from the Young Single Adult ward photo directory (3 years old), and the second from my most recent passport application (from 2.5 years ago). The best way to explain the existence of this "shrine" is to remind you of our penchant for seeing how long something can stay somewhere (e.g. the Christmas ornament we had hanging from our ceiling fan for two years).

Anyway, Theo comes in, and notices the pictures. But at that size, and that far away, it's hard to tell who it is.

"Why are there pictures of Aunt Beth on the ceiling?" Theo asks.

"Um. Because Gordon likes looking at them," is my best answer.

Eyebrows up.

Then in a sing-song voice:

"Gordon likes looking at a GI-RL! Gordon likes looking at a GI-RL!" as he dances out of the room.

I'm really hoping he forgets this whole episode. Otherwise, as he gets older and reflects on this memory, his view of our family could get really complicated.

Monday, June 17, 2013

lost and found

So don't get me wrong I love my sister Carrie and she's coming to visit really soon (yeah!) but every time she dose she leaves things behind for example: clothes (hers and the kids), the airplane toys that are no longer new and exciting, toys in general that make noise, things that wont fit back in the suit case, the nice razor attachments in the bathroom, PETS you get the picture. So normally I don't mind I use the things and their fun but lately one of those discarded toys has found its way to the surface and says the lovely phrase "Thunder cats hooo" which is not necessarily a bad thing I like the Thunder Cats but when the button is held down or pushed repeatedly 10 time you might get a glimpse as to why it was left behind.  As I'm sitting here at my computer and no one else is around I hear from the other room "Thunder Cats Hoooo".  Thanks Carrie.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Board in Auberry

I liked these pics I took with photo booth

Monday, June 10, 2013

on tour in china

so mom had been sending us pictures like this, as an example of her life.

but thanks to a leak, we now have pictures of  what she is REALLY doing in china..

anyone else think that mom looks like a hot rockstar?!  

Friday, May 31, 2013

Five Nights in Bangkok

This picture kind of sums up our trip, with Chris awake, researching international schools at dawn, and Bangkok out of our hotel window.

"Bangkok is a place with lots of good options and no perfect ones."-- a colleague at Chris's work

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

get out of THAT, if you can.

tim had a length of cotton rope in his truck, so tonight he did terrorist training with his scouts.
tied them all up and let them work it out.  then they all tied him up!
 it was a big hit.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013


Beth mentioned the other day that she thought Baby Hal took after Baby Darcy. What do you think?

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Coo Coo Ca CHA!

Once upon a time, Vivian made the worst cake I've ever tasted and I made fun of her about it.  She then embarked on a baking streak the likes I've never dreamed of and is now producing double layer chocolate cakes with strawberry puree filling that look like this:
 In contrast, here is a picture of the birthday cake that I made for Chris a few weeks ago.  To be fair, it's supposed to look like Thailand, which isn't the easiest shape to copy, but still.  Also, the chicken head is supposed to represent Bangkok, and is not in fact a monster rising from the deep as Viv suggested when I showed it to her.  Sheesh, has anyone in the family ever even SEEN a chicken?