Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Lovin' those Huckleberries

On Sunday we drove up 90 and picked Huckleberries. Mark as a kid would pick Huckleberries with his grandparents when his family would go visit them in Idaho. I had never had any until we moved to Washington but have heard him talk about them our whole marriage. I've heard about how they turn eggs green if you have them in pancakes and eat them with sunnyside up eggs and the Huckleberries get in the egg yolk. Or something gross like that. When we moved here and started hiking we realized that they grow all over in the wild. They are purple, juicy and yummy. From what I've heard from others, the Huckleberries you pick in lower elevations are more red. We found a place up 90 last year and picked a bunch and made jam and used a lot of them for shakes and also pancakes. We decided on Sunday to go back to our spot and pick again. When we got up there, there were others cars in our spot and people were picking berries. We were not happy. Our secret spot was taken. We drove up the road a bit more and pulled over. Kiah had taken homework and was too busy to pick with us. Sofi picked but they went straight to her mouth (none in the bowl), and Miles helped Mark and I. Miles was so cute. He sang a song for me about Huckleberries and how he loves them. He also told me that "Huckleberry picking season" is his favorite season. So cute. He lasted for a while with Mark and I. Sofi was in the car with Kiah and Miles worked his way back to the car as well. Mark and I picked quite a bit. My hands and nails were a deep purple by the time we were done. Sofi's tongue and teeth were purple as well. The area we go to has bush after bush full of berries. We had friends over Monday night and had Huckleberry pancakes and the fixin's for dinner. For dessert we had Huckleberry shakes. It was yummy and well worth the drive up the mountains. It's a good tradition even if in the end it's just Mark and I picking and the kids in the car staying warm. It just gives Mark and I more berries to eat.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

In Awe

The other night while sitting and watching the Issaquah High School football game I had a moment where I was in awe of our surroundings. I realize I was only in China for a short time but being in Beijing and experiencing a huge city like that was intense. I lived outside of Taipei(which is the capital of Taiwan)and Taipei is a fairly big city, but Beijing is like no other. It could be overwhelming at times, yet you could walk down a small alley and not hear the sound of the city and forget all about it for a minute. Back to the football game though.
As I sat there watching the sunset and looking at the crowd and the field and breathing in the crisp clean air I thought about what I had just come from not quite a week ago. That I really do take it for granted, the wide open spaces. The clean air, the trees and the fact that we really don't have traffic compared to theirs. I think I felt some culture shock coming back from China and again I know I was there for a short time but it's so intense and so different that it really effected me. In a good way. I went to Germany when I was 17 almost 18. This was before the wall came down in Berlin. I went over with my high school to live for just 2 months, it was an exchange program. For one week of the trip went took a train to Berlin. One of those days we spent in East Berlin. I will never forget the way it looked or the feeling it evoked. It was drab, grey and depressing. We met with a group of LDS teenagers in one of their homes. That part of the day was the best part. We had to meet in a home because they were not allowed to practice their/our faith. They had so many questions about America and about being LDS teens in America. When we left I remember all of us (about 19) gave them our left over money. The money you change from West Berlin money into East Berlin money has to be spent, you can't take it back across the boarder.I remember it only being a small amount that we gave them but they were so appreciative. The reason I write about this is because I think a part of me thought that China was going to look and feel like East Berlin did. Drab, sad, depressing, stifling. I was happy to see that it was clean, people are happy, they are active,and so friendly. I know that life isn't the best there for everyone. The majority of the people are poor. They seem to have something though that makes them smile all the time. Maybe they have an inner hope that those of us that haven't had to struggle like they have,have. Maybe it's years of determination,and trying to make the best of what they have. I loved that people were outside a lot. The older people, like grandparents were out a lot with their grandkids. They seem to take care of the grandkids quite a bit. They had them at parks, at the stores, walking around sites. People seemed to be enjoying what they have and using it as much as they could. I saw sadness and felt it. Yet I left being surprised more by the happiness that I saw and came home being extremely grateful for all that I have. Wide open spaces, clean air, safe neighborhoods,good schools, our church and our friends here. Most importantly my family who brings me happiness and gives me that inner hope.

Monday, September 22, 2008

I've been tagged

My friend, Heather tagged me:

20 Years Ago:

1. Coming back from living in Taiwan for 4 months.
2. Attending USU in Logan,Utah
3. Studying German and Sociology at USU
4. Thinking about going on a Mission

10 Years Ago:

1. Moved from Utah to California
2. Looking into adoption after trying to get pregnant for a few years
3. Learned to quilt
4. Not aware that soon we would be adopting cutie Sofia

5 Years Ago:

1. Adopted Miles
2. Sent Kiah to Middle School (boo hoo)
3. Looking into moving to Washington
4. Trying to lose weight

3 Years Ago:

1. Getting use to the rain and living in Washington
2. Learned to Knit
3. Sofi started 1st grade and then it was just Miles and I all day
4. Broke my ankle backpacking and still had to hike out

1 Year Ago:

1. Sent Miles to pre-school (sad, but yeah also)
2. Kiah started High School
3. Was still in my 30's
4. learned to crochet

So Far This Year:

1. Turned 40
2. Mark and I have almost been married for 20 years
3. Went to China
4. family has been safe and healthy. such a blessing.


1. Ate dumplings at a yummy restaurant in Beijing,China
2. Took a taxi to the Beijing airport
3. Flew for 10 hrs from Beijing to Seattle
4. hugged the kids for the first time in 12 days, yeah


1. Woke up too early due to jet lag
2. Hanging out with Miles
3. Get to run tons of errands due to being gone for almost two weeks
4. get to take Kiah shopping to get her ready for Homecoming

In the Next Year I’ll:

1. work hard at getting in shape
2. read books from the new york times book review list(something my brother has been doing and he's read some really good books from it)
3. Reach out to my brother Kyle that I'm not so close to and try to form a better relationship with him (I only have two and need to try and be close to both)
4. Find somewhere to take a cooking class

I tag Mark,Shellee,Amy

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Last blog from China

Some last minute thoughts on China and my trip here. Since living in Asia before I've known how kind and loving and funny the Chinese people are. I had forgotten how many times one hears "Hello" out of the blue by kids and teenagers and sometimes even adults who love to say it to you. Or other times you will walk past someone and most likely the only English they know they say which is usually "hello how are you?" If I were to reply they wouldn't know what I was talking about. I usually say something back in Mandarin and they smile back. I love when an old man or old woman (like around 80 something)will smile or say "hello." I was saddened to find out that only 50 million people in all of China are in the middle class and the rest are either the poor or rich. 50 Million out of 1.3 Billion. That's staggering. It makes me very grateful for all that I have. I have loved all the historical sites I've seen. The people I've met like our guide Rosemary and some of the people that work at the Amazon office here in Beijing. I believe they would give you the shirt off their backs if you needed it. Beijing is huge and at times overwhelming. Yet you can get lost in a Hutong(the old alley's and area's of the city)and not hear the chaos of the city. That's where you feel peace and actually are able to walk a little slower and see the faces of the people.
I've loved the food we've eaten, well most of it. I've had hairy crab which I didn't think I'd like (only the shell is hairy not the crab meat)but I did. I've had duck hearts,little shrimps that you eat whole eyeballs, shell and all. I've eaten so much mutton I don't care to eat any again. China or maybe just Beijing seems to be big on Mutton. I've had dishes that look beautiful and dishes that don't. I burnt my hand on a hotpot so bad I wouldn't be surprised if it was a 2nd degree burn. I told Mark it will be my souvenir from China. I miss my kids like crazy. I can't wait to get back to them. It's funny because the day before coming to China I was so antsy and couldn't focus on anything because I was so excited,it's been the same today but instead it's because I can't wait to see my kids. I want to hug them all and talk to them. I want to have little hugs from Miles, Eskimo kisses from Sofi and hugs from Kiah followed by a long talk. It's been a great trip. One I will never forget. Traveling is wonderful and something everyone should do if possible but being with family is irreplaceable. Goodbye China, Hello Issaquah.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Steep StacThe guide that had taken Beth and I around the Forbidden city took some of us out to the Great Wall on Friday. We went to the Mutianyu section which is about 2 hrs east of Beijing. There is a section of the wall that most people go to here in the city named Badaling and during the Olympics the bike races went past it. We wanted something less touristy and farther out. I'm glad we chose Mutianyu. Rosemary was an awesome guide. She got us a Mercedes van(airconditioned, thank goodness), there were four of us, we were gone about 6 hrs and it cost us 53$ total. Though walking the Great Wall was no easy feat, and at times I thought I might die from pain and sweating so much, it's my second most amazing thing I saw here next to the Forbidden City. I'm glad we weren't here during the Olympics because Rosemary said that it was crowded and 90% of the visitors were westerners. We decided to get there when it opened at 8:30 and there were hardly anyone there. It was quiet and peaceful, well as peaceful as it can be when you are in pain. Let me explain the steps as best as I can. None of them are the same. Some are only 7 inches wide and 2 inches high, then you would go not very far to where they were about 2 1/2 feet tall and about 7 inches wide. This being The Way is Steepstraight up the whole time. Not flat until you got to the towers where you got a little break. I went about 1/2 a mile which doesn't sound like much at all but when you consider that in that in 1/2 mile I went about 500 feet straight up, steep the whole way, and then had to go back down, it was intense. Mark, Ankit and Kyle decided they wanted to go on farther and then go to this one section called the wild wall where technically you aren't suppose to walk on. I think they missed the sign that said danger, prohibited. Rosemary (who normally doesn't walk where I walked to, she usually just waits back at the open air tram that we took up)and I waited for them. She told them that we would wait and see them in an hour,Posing on the Wall they were back in 15 minutes. She didn't know that Mark and Kyle are avid hikers and that Ankit where go wherever they go. On the way back from the wall Rosemary took us to a Mongolian hotpot restaurant. It was so yummy. I burnt my hand on the hotpot which wasn't so great and later Rosemary bought me some medicine to put on it that smells like Soy Sauce but it helped. We ate tons of food, had our own private room and it came to 28$, for 5 people. The Wall 53$, the food 28$, the Soy Sauce cream for my hand 1.80$. Hanging out with Mark and some friends at the Great Wall, Priceless.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Loved the Forbidden City so much I had to see it twice!

After the situation with Walmart Beth and I headed over to the Forbidden City. At USU I took Asian History classes, I've read many Chinese books fiction and non-fiction about the Ming and Qing dynasty. I've been fascinated by that time period for a long time and the thought of being able to see the Forbidden city brought butterflies to my stomach. Pure excitement. Mark had told me that if someone approached us outside saying that they could be a tour guide for us and if it seemed reasonable, to take it. A woman approached Beth and I outside the East wall and her fee was a good price and her English was very good. Her name was Rosemary and she knew her stuff. I don't know if you've seen the movie "the last Emperor" or not but there is a scene towards the beginning. PuYi, the last Emperor goes running out of one of the big halls out to where all the Eunochs and guards are and they are all bowing to him and it's in this huge open area.
That place was amazing. The whole area is more than 7.4 acres. Even though I loved seeing those grand area's, the carvings,the Lion's and the big buildings. It was when we got to the outer courts and saw where the concubine's and the Emperor's living quarters, that I really enjoyed the tour. There were less people, it was cooler(that day was very hot)and it more interesting. We saw more of what their every day life would've been like. The tour ended in the Imperial Garden. It was the only place that you felt that the last Emperor (who was chosen to be the Emperor when he was only 2) had a place he might have been able to run around in a be a kid. It was beautiful. It was one of the most peaceful places I have been to here in Beijing. It was a nice end to the tour. Rosemary was a great guide. I felt like one of my dreams had come true. To see the Forbidden City was up on my top 10 list of things I want to see in my lifetime. One down 9 more to go. I went again with Mark a few days later. We didn't get a guide and we took our time. We started out at the Imperial garden, which was a nice way to start it. It was fun to see it with Mark. We took our time, we'd stop, take photo's(of course), have a drink, sit in the shade(again a hot day, but beautiful blue sky),eat a bit. Just nice and relaxing.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Embarrassing moment in Beijing!

I might embarrass myself for posting this experience but here it goes. On Monday I needed to head over to Walmart (yes there is a walmart in Beijing)to buy products of the female variety. When my friend Beth and I got there we went into the store but found out real soon that it was more like Macy's, high priced and fancy. Yes once again this is just Walmart, no Mary Kate and Ashley clothing being sold here. We went back outside a bit confused and wondering where to buy the feminine products. All around the city they have information booths set up for the Olympics and have kept them up for the Paralympics. Most of the people speak some English. We made our way up to the Information booth wanting to only ask where a pharmacy might be. There were about 5 women and one teenage boy in the booth. Lucky for me the only person that could speak English in the booth was the teenage boy! We asked where a pharmacy was and he wanted to know what we needed. We said medicine and he wanted to know what kind. He would not let it go! Beth asked if any of the women could speak English and the guy kept telling us he could help us and kept saying "I can help you, trust me." Beth in all her glory said " we need feminine products" then the teenage boy replied " oh you mean padsssssss(litterally drew out the ssssss forever)." It was embarrassing and hilarious. We were then informed that if we went behind the fancy Walmart there was a Walmart grocery store and I could buy the "padsssssss". Then the teenager turned to the women spoke some Mandarin and they all laughed. It was a great moment in my trip to Beijing. We went to the right Walmart where you could buy anything from live turtles (for turtle soup) to feminine products (thank goodness). We had to walk past the information booth on our way out to get to the subway and the whole group smiled and waved at us. I swear the teenage boy had an extra big smile on his face. I'm sure he had a good story to tell his friends. It was comical if anything. One to go down in the books or in a blog.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Burnt Offerings

Today we had a bit of a late start but in the long run it all worked out fine. It allowed Ankit and Jason (guys that Mark works with) the chance to get out of the office and go sight seeing with us. First we took a taxi to eat at Old Beijing Noodle. The food was yummy, even the alien looking fish with small shrimp coming out of it's mouth. I think our waiter was a bit bugged by us, oh well. We ate, we paid, we left. We walked to the Temple of Heaven which was very near. It was massive. It covered a space of 640 acres, or 1 square mile. We didn't see the whole area even though we were there for 4 hrs.
The Temple of Heaven was used by the Emperor as an animal offering Temple for hopes of good harvests. I'm not describing it very well. If you want to read about it I'm sure you can get a much better description online somewhere. There were a few things that really stood out to me and took my breath away. The first was how many trees there are on the grounds of this Temple. I'm surprised that through time,pollution and just plain old disregard for nature that there are so many. I'm not very good at guessing but if I had to I'd say there are well..... A LOT! More than I have seen outside of just nature, row after row, after row. When you are in a city of pollution, major high rises and more and more buildings than you can imagine, to see that many trees cared for is very impressive. The second thing that took my breath away was the Hall of prayer for good Harvests. The Hall sits on a three-layered white marble round altar. The marble is rough and worn from the weather and it's beautiful. There were other things that were beautiful but those two things jumped out to me the most. If you look up the Temple online most likely the Hall of Prayer for good Harvests will be the photo they show. It's supposedly the most famous temple in the world? Mark got some great photo's if you want to check them out on flickr. It was a great (hotter than I would've liked it to be)day!

Saturday, September 13, 2008

"First ever Vegetarian Restraunt in Beijing"

Today my friend Beth and I went to see a Lama Temple in Beijing, a Buddhist temple. I being naive didn't know what the Lama meant but it's Lama as in the Dali Lama. The Temple was smack dab in the hustle and bustle (well everything in the city is in the hustle and bustle)of the city, yet when you stepped within the courtyards you couldn't hear the sounds outside at all. It was beautiful. After being out in the heat and craziness of Tienanmen square the day before, it was a treat to walk around the Buddhist Temple which was shaded and very peaceful. It took us about 3 hrs to walk through the whole Temple. That specific Lama had a lot of rooms. One room is where he studied mathematics, another numerology, or one he studied esoteric s (which was a bit funny when outside one building they accidentally spelled it exoterics). He was quite the learned man. The last building had an 80 ft. statue of Buddha carved out of a single white sandalwood tree. We weren't allowed to take photo's, which with my little camera I wouldn't have been able to capture the grandness of it anyhow. It was very impressive. The feet were huge. It was 3 stories high. After we went through the whole Temple we were a bit hungry. Across street was an alley that boasted the "first ever vegetarian restaurant in Beijing" we thought we would give it a try. It ended up being really good and our food was around 4$ a person. Cheap. The thing that was funny though is that on the menu, on the first page of this vegetarian restaurant, were lamb kabob's. The second page had a dish with beans and sausage. There were vegetarian dishes but half the menu consisted of meat dishes. The food was amazing and cheap and it was another great day in Beijing.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

19 Years later, wow!

I'm back in Asia(China) with Mark and I feel like a kid again. Well not a kid but I feel giddy and excited to be here with him. We lived in Taiwan the summer after we got married. We lived in a town near the International airport, Neili. It was a fun summer, we had other friends from the US living there as well and we all hung out together. All of us owned scooters and at times we would be driving down the back roads at night looking like a scooter gang.We taught English privately and in schools. Last night after arriving in Beijing we went out to eat dumplings and it brought back so many memories. I also ordered a coke, which they opened up the can and poured it into my tall skinny glass for me. All these things, along with smells, the heat, the HUMIDITY have brought back memories. Great memories. I miss the kids, true. Yet here I am with Mark. My love, my best friend the person I experienced Asia with 19 years ago. I feel excited, safe, giddy, youthful (except I'm sure my feet wont feel youthful after all the walking),and happy(despite the 11.5 plane ride). I will have to post a photo when I get home of Mark and I when we lived in Taiwan the summer of 1990. We had a great time. I had a high school student there that still keeps in touch with me, Jericho. We met great people. Saw amazing things. Rode trains, buses, scooters,taxi's and all at times(not always) holding on for dear life. Asia is an experience like no other and one that everyone should experience some time in their life. The Asians are hospitable,funny,proud,caring and curious. Which can make for a very interesting adventure. I will keep posting. I will sign off with a big smile on my face!