Saturday, September 27, 2008

some more september tidbits...

sorry for the slack job of blogging this month. i have no excuses. i look at your blogs daily. :) here's what we've been doing for the second half of the month!

we were part of the "end of an era" as tawni calls it...the los altos farmers market came to a close for the year this week. we've thoroughly enjoyed our thursday nights strolling down the street eating samples of strawberries, raspberries, plums, nectarines and peaches...and ending with corn on the cob (you'll never see ryan happier than when he's eating this particular corn on the cob) and local indian food. yum! 'til next year...

leah has play dates three times a week while i teach piano. in return, i babysit three different kids during the week as well. meet nora. she is a doll. and leah showed her where her belly button was this week.
leah kept it real by texting all her baby friends on daddy's blackberry...all while staying stylish with her bling. (i know, she needs a haircut...)
leah and jack were entranced by sesame street the other day. it was hilarious.
and then they kissed. ew, gross...kissing cousins!
and i don't want to talk about this...but i will. yah, i got a collection notice from a qwest bill from 5 1/2 years ago! apparently, just before i got married, i called qwest to change the phone bill from my single's apartment to my landlord's name (qwest does have proof of this). the new tenant called a few weeks later to change it into her name. BUT, my landlord never called to accept it into her name or change it to the other girl's name. so....all summer, it stayed in my name and 1) the new tenants didn't pay it or 2) they didn't get the bill because it was addressed to me (and not forwarded on). SO...i got a bill for May-Sept 2003. and because my landlord never called, legally, it is my responsibility. aaaaaaaaaaaarrrrrrrrrrgggggggggggghhhhhhhhhhhhh.

But, the following video makes all my cares go away at the end of the day...yay for leah!

Monday, September 15, 2008 far...

I love, love, love autumn. I just don't think I can say it enough. I love autumn. I love the colors (yes, you can find colored leaves here in California if you know the right spots), I love the weather (yay for jackets!), I love the festivities (yay for birthdays!) and it makes running quite enjoyable. I was even able to live through a solo 16 miler. Yes, I ran 16 miles by MYSELF on Saturday. Three cheers for me!! September has been busy so far and I have been an awful blogger, but here are some updates:
We started the month off with a bang: a trip to Santa Cruz for a Labor Day beach party with friends because Ryan had the day off work. It was HOT!! Leah enjoyed her very first lollipop. Don't worry, Dr. Hauley, we brushed her teeth!See. Her preferred brushing position is on daddy's shoulders. We were successful in our attempts at a real ponytail. Love it! And love those curls! She's such a girl...she always finds her beads to wear. We have enjoyed a few smoothies thus far. I swear Leah drinks more than I do. Notice the beads again. We are trying to help Leah learn to eat with utensils. Some attempts are more successful than others, as you can see. Some of those eating attemps lead right to a bath. She enjoyed her very first bubblel bath this week. I'm not sure that she loves the bubbles to play in...she mostly loves to eat them. We've also enjoyed spending a lot of our time here: in time out. Leah has taken up new hobbies of HITTING, THROWING and BITING! You can't tell from this picture because I had to take it from the front room, but she is completley throwing a tantrum: screaming, pulling her hair, thrashing her body everywhere. She hates time out. That's a good thing.
Hope you are all enjoying fall!

the aforementioned progress...

Yes, ladies and gentlemen, it happened. Leah started to CRAWL this week! She's actually pretty good at it and it all happened so fast. About two weeks ago, she started pulling up onto the furniture (thanks to a new toy I got her that was ONLY allowed on the couch). Then on Saturday, during that pretty sweet 59-0 BYU game, she just up and crawled. She still prefers scooting as she is REALLY fast at that, but it's coming along! Here is a video:

winchester mystery house

Last weekend, I was able to join my good friend, Amanda, and her family at the Winchester Mystery House in San Jose. Bryce and Amanda were taking a family vacation in the bay area and it was so fun to see them!The Winchester Mystery House is a house that used to be owned by Sarah Winchester, the heiress of the Winchester Rifle fortune. She had a daughter die at 6 weeks and her husband died of tuberculosis. She was told that their deaths were caused by the spirits of those killed by Winchester Rifles, so to appease the spirits, she needed to build this house. As long as she was building, she would have life, but as soon as she stopped, she would die. The legend says that you could hear carpenters hammer 24 hours a day from 1884 until her death in 1922. It grew from an 8 bedroom farm house to a 160 bedroom mansion. At it's tallest, it was 7 stories high and is now 4 stories high. Some of that continuous building was pretty ridiculous, as you can see...what else are you going to constantly build for 40 years!?! (As you can see, I used my sweet self-portrait-taking skills learned in China a lot on this little excursion...hope you don't get sick of my ugly mug.)

A cupboard with a half inch of storage space...
Sarah Winchester was only 4'10'', so lots of doorways are really small. Remember: I'm only 5'7''.

Outside of her mansion... I look photoshopped...I'm not.
Stairs that lead to the ceiling...
A beautiful stained-glass window that cost nearly $1500 (that was a LOT of money then...okay, it's a lot of money now...) and should cast a beautiful prism into the room. But, it was installed on the north part of the house where there is never direct sunlight AND rooms were built on the other side of it, blocking any potential sunlight anyway. Hmmm...

Mrs. Winchester was pretty obsessed with the number 13. Lots of rooms have 13 windows or 13 candles in the chandelliers or 13 sections of a wall. All of the clocks in her house are set to 13:13.
She had some pretty cool (and expensive, I was told...) wallpaper...
Me and cupid... the gardens were beautiful...
A "door to nowhere." There was lots of this kind of stuff. Doors that led to walls or that didn't have floors below them so you would have fallen right through!
My favorite part was this sign I saw as I drove away. It's for a mobile home community right NEXT DOOR to the mansion. Kind of ironic...

phsyical therapy

I snapped a few cute pictures of Leah at her latest physical therapy appointment. The actual appointments were kind of frustrating me and I wasn't seeing much progress. So, we held a family fast. (Don't worry if you are family and you didn't know about it...I randomly told a couple of people that Ryan and I were fasting and that's about as big as it got.) But, we are so grateful to those of you who have been keeping Leah in your thoughts and prayers. I haven't made another therapy appointment because of the enormous progress she has made since our fast. We truly feel blessed.

Monday, September 8, 2008

last china post...

i think i covered everything about china that i wanted to share...except my shopping, but i don't have pictures of all of it. rest assured i went shopping. and if there's a next time, i now know what to look for!

here is the culmination of my china posts. i bet you've missed this cute little face, haven't you!? we sure did. she had a great time with her grandmas and grandpas and we're so grateful that they took such good care of her. she sure loves you!

doesn't she look darling in the little dress we bought her? ryan picked blue so it would match her eyes. she got LOTS of comments on it today at church. i think she was a hit in nursery.

love and...don't love

i have kind of a love-hate relationship with china. hate is a strong word, but i'm tempted to use it in some of the following circumstances. below is a list of things i love and things i really don't love in china.

first, the bad:

1. i don't love my long china. normally, i like them. in china, NOTHING is made with an inseam of 33" or that will come close to hitting below my knees. i had to pass up some darling clothes because of these blasted legs. 2. smoking. i hate it. but 99% of china loves it. i'm so grateful for the non-smoking laws in california and utah. i think it is the most disgusting habit ever and i do NOT understand why anyone does it. it's gross. and i hate it. 3. chinese characters. don't get me wrong. they're beautiful and i'm sure some people understand them. and no, i'm not one of those people who goes to a foreign country and thinks they should speak MY language. i just wonder why they had to create a language based on 60,000 characters rather than 26 letters. come ON people. ryan says they were at the top of the tower of babel. 4. brooks adrenalines. again, don't get me wrong. i do love these running shoes...for running. i just really missed wearing my cute shoes. 5. typhoons. i understand they can be very dangerous...but it was bad timing. level 8 means everything in hong kong shuts down. kind of a wasted day. oh'll be a good story later on. 6. squatty potties. don't be deceived. i'm smiling in the picture below because i wasn't actually USING the squatty potty i'm standing over...and it was a clean one. i just didn't know that yet. being a girl is so not fair when it comes to these things. i've been traumatized for life. my running legs did come in handy, though. 7. UMBRELLAS. my number one hatred of china. i thought i hated umbrellas at BYU. people get them out for two drops of rain and don't really know how to hold them without gouging others in the eye...but BYU doesn't even compare to china! first, the majority of people were about a foot shorter than me, which means their umbrellas really were gouging me in the eye. second, they got them out for ONE drop of rain. and third, they kept them out through torrential rain storms (like the one below on the great just can't see the rain...i promise it was there) when the umbrella no longer has a purpose. rain is coming at you from all directions and dripping off the umbrella and drenching you anyway. JUST PUT THEM AWAY! if i'm ever the ruler of anything, there will be rules about umbrellas. and now for the things i LOVE:

1. drinking clean water out of faucets. i couldn't do this in china, so i guess it's not something i love about china, but it's something that i came to realize i love a LOT. every morning. every night. i love faucet water.2. my nikon d80...even though i didn't get to use it...ryan.

3. my new canon sd750 elph. words cannot express my love for this technological device. it is AMAZING. if anyone is considering a purchase of a new point-and-shoot camera, this is the one for you. plus, who doesn't love that retro look?
4. watching julia do ANYTHING to get that perfect shot. lie down in tiananmen square, climb on baracades, go through blockades and fences. whatever it takes. thanks for the great pictures, julia. :) and, while we're on the subject, i also liked watching her dive on subway seats to save them for us (while confused chinese people looked on), yell at people butting in line and push over old ladies at the olympics. hehehe. don't hate me, julia. just too funny to not post. 5. kleenex. those travel size packs really came in handy for the aforementioned squatty potties. that's all i really want to say about it. still traumatized.
6. target. no, i did not see any targets in china. but, that made me all the more grateful for them. i walked through countless shops and markets, which were all very cool, but i still love that one-stop-comfort-shopping good old target offers. i've been there probably 7 times since i've been home.
7. the beach. ryan had never been in the water in china...let alone with a girl!
8. brooks adrenalines. i know i said i hated them...and i did. but i also secretly loved them. i vowed to NEVER wear tennis shoes unless running. i really never do...and sometimes i forfeit comfort for that vow. i almost didn't bring them to china at all. however, i broke that vow in china and, although it made for some ugly pictures, i'm so glad i wore them. they saved my little feet. 9. chinese stars. who doesn't love bruce lee and jackie chan?

10. chinese tea. no, i didn't try it. but that's why it's so great! going to a country that is famous for their tea and then proceeding to tell each and every person who offers it to you that you don't want any sure gives you some strange looks. they were completely befuddled. they definitely thought we were a peculiar people.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

taxi driving 101

as i mentioned before, taxis deserve their own post, so here it is. after being a passenger in various taxis for 14 days, i learned a bit of taxi 101. driving in these cars in hong kong and beijing, you wouldn't think taxis actually abide by rules. but, they do...and here are the ones i deciphered:

1. lanes are optional. you can drive in one or multiple lanes at any time without notifying anyone.
2. honking is cool. even if it's not necessary, you are not a cool taxi driver unless you honk.

3. seatbelts are optional. no, not optional, they are highly discouraged. ryan (who sat in the front each time to talk to the drivers) put on his seat belt each time. the taxi drivers would get so mad at him saying he didn't need it. once, after being rebuked by a driver, ryan said, "i don't trust your driving. i'm wearing my seatbelt!" wow. i thought we were going to prison for sure.

4. because seatbelts are optional, you might find surprises if you wear them. look for the surprise ryan found on his shoulder in the video below. i'm not sure exactly what it was that was left on his shirt, but it wasn't pretty.

5. crosswalks are purely decorational. just cross wherever you'd like.

6. bikers and pedestrians are oblivious and/or fearless and/or completely brain dead. i am not. my blood pressure rose approximately every 7 seconds while in a taxi.

7. when turning left in a left-hand turn lane, the car behind you could very well beat you around the turn...order simply doesn't matter.

8. the shoulder is also a lane. ryan calls this "the right side blind side" (passing someone on the right in the shoulder).

9. there is no "wrong way." in china, there are two ways to drive down a one-way road.

10. if you are a girl taxi driver, you should decorate your taxi so everyone knows you are a girl (see picture below).
this is a picture of us in the taxi we took to/from the badaling section of the great wall. this taxi driver drove us there and dropped us off at noon. he said he would wait until 3:00 for us to take us back. well, we had some setbacks on the great wall including torrential rain storms, thousands of idiotic people, and thousands of idiotic people holding we RAN back to where the taxi dropped us off, arriving at 3:15, we were beyond thrilled to see him still waiting for us. he said another American came and told him he would give him a lot of money to drive him back instead of us...and our wonderful taxi driver WAITED! we tipped him extra. we love him.
and a video for your viewing pleasure. some clarification: taxi drivers, like most chinese nationals, like to spit. this particular driver hocked a good one (you can hear him at the beginning part of the video) and we laughed so hard. in fact, julia laughed so hard that the cab driver asked ryan (in mandarin) if she was okay. to which ryan replied, "she's fine...she's just drunk." niiiiiiiice, ryan. then the taxi driver said to ryan in mandarin, "just make sure she doesn't puke in the car." ha!