Sunday, December 27, 2009

First of all MERRY CHRISTMAS to everybody! Since I've been home, things have been crazy and a little weird but I've been meaning to blog again about our adventure coming home and what it was like to leave China. Right now is still not that time :) But I did want to hurry and do just a few things about it.

When we said goodbye, it was a totally new feeling for me. I have told missionaries goodbye, bye to my family and friends for 4 months abroad, bye to high school friends when I go to Dixie and bye to Dixie friends when I go to Provo. With all of these, I have never had the feeling of "This is it! I will NEVER see you again...." but in China I did. It broke my heart and was definetly one of the hardest things I have ever had to do. Be prepared for more blogs within the next few days but for now here's just a couple pictures and little stories!

I was so excited to do presents (after keeping everything a secret for 4 months!) that I couldn't wait any longer! Even after flying for 3 days, I was wide awake and wanted to talk and show my family everything I got. This was the jersey crew when we finished.
The airport ended up being a lot more surprising than I thought it would have been. I thought that just my parents would come, and with the exception of Taylor (who was at work), my whole family was there! It was so good to see everybody and get such big hugs. Mom of course cried :) I was coming down the escalator and was surprised to see a poster, balloons and krispy kreme waiting for me! It made it even nicer coming home! The third and finally surprise is the left hand side of this picture. My neice Keznee was born 15 days before I left and I was only in Provo for about 8 of those days so I hardly got to see her. Ashlee told me that they weren't coming to the airport because of all the germs and stuff and they didn't want her to get sick. Understandable..I was bummed but I understood. After talking with everybody else for a little while, I turned to grab a bag and there was the Brandt family! I was SO excited I screamed. (Sorry again about that Kez!)
Our last meal in China! :) If you look really close you can see a reddish/brown thing off to the side of the cabbage. That is our beloved duck blood :) However, the cooks did pull through for us and made us our FAVORITE meal to send us off: chicken, potatoes and of course mantow, mifan!
This was the last time I saw Colin :( He was so sad and really didn't want us to leave. This was Sunday RIGHT before we loaded up the bus. He went home that Friday night (knowing we were leaving) so when he got back Sunday and saw that we were still there, he was SOOO excited, until we explained to him that we were leaving within an hour. He started crying. "No teacha! No go! No go! No go!" When I took this picture, he kept refusing to smile and you can see how he's holding onto my neck and shoulder. He gave me a HUGE hug after and I walked out of the building SOBBING!
Kelly oh Kelly! This woman is amazing! She spoke english pretty fluently and she was our coordinator between us and the school officials. We would have DIED without her! She was a life saver and our best friend. I hope that everything goes great for her in life because she definetly deserves it! The hardest part of our first airport was saying bye to her with all of US crying and her sobbing.

It's GREAT to be home! I'm definetly missing it though. I think I have more culture shock coming home than what I did when I got there. I tend to cry a little bit at random times. I went and picked up pictures I had printed and totally LOST IT flipping through them! Just you wait...lots of China stories coming up! Or if anybody had 7 or 8 free hours and are bored...give me a call! ;)

Saturday, December 19, 2009

"You bray-kuh my heart!"

This is the common (and overused) phrase of the crazy women at the silk and pearl markets of Beijing. When you try and barter with them, they insist that you are bray-kuh their hearts because we go low even though "we friends, we friends!"

Last night however, this phrase took on a new meaning to me. Last night was the our end of semester/Christmas performance with the kids. We knew that when it was over, their parents would take them home for their winter break, and with us leaving tomorrow, it meant that it was our time to say goodbye to them. What we didn't realize when we started the perfermance,was how quickly they were going to disappear as soon as we were done.

For the last song, half of the teachers were on stage singing Jingle Bells with the kids while the other half of us were "elfs" throwing candy to everybody. I was an elf that ran out of candy before the kids were done and I had wanted to give them some. I knew I had a bag of it in my backpack backstage so I ran to grab it really quick. When I came out, I handed some to MAYBE 4 kids. Looking around, I saw a lot of the other teachers already crying and a nearly empty auditorium. We were so confused and everyone asking each other where the kids were. It was so sad and almost a little chaotic at the same time, everyone desperate to find their kids to hurry and say our goodbyes.

Ask any of the 18 and they will probably tell you it was NOTHING like what we had imagined! All week we were dreading having to say goodbye to them FOREVER, because there's no way we'll ever see them again, but the fact that we didn't get ANY closure to it, made it worse than how sad it would be to talk to them.

Some of them really started to get the idea of us leaving this week. Take Kim's class for example: Tuesday she drew a picture of America and a picture of Weihai and then an arrow that showed how we would be leaving Weihai. They started to get mad and cross out the arrow, telling her no. After that they just got depressed about it. I was helping Shelley the same day and Ruth came in to have somebody take a picture for her. When I walked into her room, Colin came BOOKING it across the room screaming "TEACHAAAA!" and just totally threw himself on me! It totally made my week :) I am definetly going to miss that little guy! He has always been my bud and it kills me I didn't the closure I needed.

Thursday night, Allie, Ruth and I went down to tuck the kids in for 1 last time. I'm so glad that we did! I have the most ADORABLE picture of Dave just grinning and so happy! I was able to spin around with Jesse and Emma again. Ben and I had another "kung-fu" off. It was fun to see everybody else too and see how excited they were to see us!

These kids have been AMAZING and ADORABLE and just all around great! I am going to miss them so much! It broke my heart though the way that things ended with them.

I'm off to finish packing! For as excited as I've been, I'm actually really sad now to be leaving tomorrow :( China has been such a huge thing and has changed me so much. It's sad that I won't be with these girls all the time, and it KILLS me I'll never see my kids again! It's been great though and it'll be good to get home. Both of my bags are 10 pounds over right now....BOOO weight limits!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

..inside the mind of....

So 3 am tends to be the best time to get internet connection in China! Which works out great since I'm much more of a night person anyways. Checking my email tonight, I once again came to a very interesting one. Apparently I don't let people get to know me very well and nobody gets to see the true me...??? WELL, ok then! I used to be an extremely open person to anybody that I was close with, but yes that has changed quite a bit in the last year. So for the sake of the email, I figured I'd do a quick little "get to know" me list of a few very random things about me...

I would rather slit my wrists than go running "just for fun"

I only go running when I'm so pissed that nothing else helps. At this time, it's best to just completly avoid me

I know that good music+good food can fix anything!

I believe that everything looks better in the morning

I live off of Mt. Dew, chocolate milk and pink lemonade

I say I'm fine...I'm lieing

I believe All American Rejects, The Veronicas and Daughtry are the best songs to vent to

I don't care how attractive you are, you still don't get to act like an ass

I have only tried on skinny jeans once in my whole life

I actually really ENJOY driving in the snow

I get super attached to people

"There's never a right time to say goodbye..." (Chris Brown)

I love love like what they have in movies and books.

I'm typically an optimist

I miss my Red Dragon more than you'll ever understand

I used to be very self consious that I have 2 fake teeth

I get addicted to things very easily

I take more pictures in a month than what you will in your whole life

I would listen to Rascal Flatts all day everyday if I could

"....we adore who ignores us and ignore who adores us"

I cry more than I like to admit

I think that rumors have more power than the people that start them care to admit

I LOVE motorcyles, take off on planes and rollercoasters. They make me feel alive

"I'm annoyed" is a phrase I use a lot but I get over things super quick

I am down for almost anything people suggest so if you say it you better mean it

I can think of 2 specific times I've laughed so hard I've peed my pants and countless time that I've cried

I may forgive but I never forget

I have never before tried drugs or alchohal

I have changed between wanting to be a doctor, teacher, actress and banker. The one thing that remains is that I've ALWAYS wanted to be a mom!

I would marry any man on SPOT that got me Rascal Flatts concert tickets

I want to travel to at least 1 country on every continent

I can eat more than you on almost any given day

I LOVE photography and writing

I laugh hard and you can hear me over a mile away

I do not care what other people think of me

I like getting dressed up but I like my sweats even more

I love sports and every single day I miss playing them

I am excited to go to school...for the first time in my life

I am loud and random and spontaneous

I can down Mt. Dew like you wouldn't believe

I know that I'm incredibly far from perfect, but I like to believe I'm becoming better and better

Sunday, December 13, 2009

6 days and counting....

2 posts in 1 night...I'm on a roll! :) I've already watched 8 hours of One Tree Hill today and Allie is sick so I'm trying to avoid our room so I figured why not blog again?

Things are so crazy right now! AHHHH! Only 6 more days and my 4 months in China will offically be over. In fact 1 week from right now, we will be landing in the Beijing airport. From there we will board a plane to Hong Kong. From Hong Kong we go to Taiwan. From Taiwan, to LA and from LA to SALT LAKE! It's 24 hours of flying, and 24 hours of lay overs so it will once again be QUITE the trip!

This week was interesting. It started off as HELL but today I'd say it ended great, with maybe just a touch of sad. We had TONS of chaos Monday and Tuesday morning. Our teaching schedule got changed to early morning instead of mid afternoon and nobody told us that were actually teaching so we were awakened to POUNDING on our doors at the crack of dawn, told the car was waiting for us and that we just had to take off with whatever we had. I HATE mornings as it is. The earlier they are, the worse they are. The "meaner" I'm woken up, the more I want to kill whoever did. And the STUPIDER the reason for the mistake, the more pissed I get why I think about it. Needless to say, there wasn't much pleasant talk in the car that morning.

Wednesday and Thursday were okay but Friday was a BLAST! Ruth and Shelley have been great about making sure that everybody that had a birthday over here, had a great day. Ruth's birthday is Decemeber 29th and Shelley's is December 27th so we'll just be getting home for theirs. We decided to throw them a surprise party here also. We have our big Christmas/end of semester performance coming up this week and Friday we had a dress rehearsal for it with the kids. After that, we all went down to the teaching building to surprise them while Melanie lured them down with a story that the rooms had flooded (Sadly not too far from the truth since this has happened TWICE) It was sooooo much fun! It was a great break to a crazy day and it's always fun when all 18 of us get together because it's pretty rare. Like anything else we do, we immediately started dancing and eating. About 20 minutes in, and Melanie starts up a huge cake fight....OF COURSE! It's a long story but lets just say there was cake alllll over the floor, down the hall, smmmmmeared in Allie's hair and ALL OVER Ruth, Allie, Kim, Melanie, Reili, Shelley and me. An interesting fact about China is that there are very few hours in the day where they turn on hot water for showers. We had no idea what time it was so we all were immediatly depressed thinking that we'd have to go shower in ICE water to get the crap out of our hair. I was against it enough that I was literally just going to wash my face and pull my hair back and sleep with it. I DO NOT do cold water!

However we realized it wasn't as late as we thought it was...THANK HEAVENS! Realizing we had only 20 minutes before it turned off, Ruth and Allie and I just take off running without thinking twice. China is FREEEEEEZING! I honestly have never been more cold in my life! We were in such a hurry and so disgusting that we didn't even think to put on our coats. So we jump out of the building in our t-shirts, into the RAIN and take off running! Our teaching building is at the bottom of our massive hill we have to climb to get to our dorm building. Once we've reached the building, we then have to run up 5 flights of stairs before we get to our rooms. We counted's about 400 stairs and it is hell!

Once we got cleaned up and got back down to the building, we played Catch Phrase with Lauren, Laurne, Reili, Rachel, Kim, Melanie, Shelley, Ruth, Allie and me. This has become a favorite here! We play it a lot and it always gets extremely competitive. We had hauled our microwave down there so we made popcorn and just hung out. Then Reili pulls out this baggy with a bunch of papers in it to play "The Question Game." It was HILARIOUS! We talked about everything from people in our group, to wedding nights to first kisses to getting married 1 week after getting home etc. Really just EVERYTHING! It was sooo much fun! One of the questions was what will your first food be once back in the States? We spent 2 HOURS talking about this question alone! That's how ridiculous we've gotten :)

Kim, Rachel and the Laurens headed back up and we stayed. Back on Halloween the rest of us decided that at some point on this trip we were going to sleep down in the building, for what reason I don't know! China has sound activated lights...NOT pleasant when you're trying to fall asleep and the wind is blowing so hard that it's blowing doors opened and closed all night. Luckily though I'm an extremely deep sleeper so I was out quick and out for the night. UNTIL a little Chinese man awoke us in the morning by trying to get into our room. He was banging and rattling the handle and looking in our little window. It probably would have been scarier if we weren't so tired but none of us cared enough to even get up.

Yesterday and today were also a great days! I'm burned out from typing the last part so I'll just summarize a lot. Last night, we ran into Kelly (school coordinator) and some of the Korean boys. She told us that they wanted to take us out to sing...karaoke! A classic China favorite :) It was SOOOO much fun! I loved watching them try and sing the American songs and was impressed when they actually turned out to have really great voices! I got some great videos I'll have to try and post later. We went to church with the O'Briens for the last time today. DEFINETLY went out with a to expected! It was hilarious and it's one of those "had to have been there" moments for the most part. The Muchada boys (from Brazil) were there and they are ADORABLE! I would love to take them home with me! :) After, we went over their house and had dinner and did a white elephant gift thing. It was hilarious and it was the perfect note to leave on.

This week is going to FLY by! I already have 1 of my 3 bags packed. As excited as I am, it really is so sad to be leaving here. It's had a HUGE impact on me! It's weird to think that 4 months is already over. Friday night when we were talking so long, it started to hit me how weird it's going to be to not have these girls with me anymore. I've learned so much from them and have become such good friends. We've spend 24/7 together (literally) for 4 months, so I can guarantee it's going to seem lonely when I first get home. I'm going to miss them a ton! And don't even get me started on my kids! :(

Run down for the final week:
Monday-cleaning and packing. Pick up DVD's at market
Tuesday-party with the kids. Rehearsal for assembly
Wednesday-hitting up Weihai sites one last time. Kelly's birthday! Going skating and to dinner
Thursday-rehearsal ONCE again! More cleaning and packing
Friday- Christmas performance! The kids have semester break starting that weekend so when their parents come to watch, they'll take them straight home after so that afternoon will be the last time we see them :( Christmas party with US that night before Bree and Reili leave the next morning.
Saturday- lucnh with school officials. Last night in market, hang out in dorms
Sunday-last chance to pack! Load the bus and head out! Final goodbyes with everybody :(

Anybody that even remotely knows me, knows that I do NOT do well with goodbye so this should be interesting.... see ya in 7!:)

My amazing "little" brother!

So I'm late OF COURSE, but I'm still using my excuse of being in China to justify things! :) What can I do when the government hates the world and shuts down the internet access?

December 4th, Taylor turned 18! WOOOOW! That's crazy to think! We have definetly come a long ways. It wasn't too long ago that Taylor was still shorter than me. Now however, he is probably 5-6 inches TALLER! That is almost as weird as the fact that he's gotten so old. With the heighth now in place, I'd say that he is just about officially the older brother, not the younger....

Taylor is an INCREDIBLE example to me! In every way shape and form he is a much better person than me. I can NOT save money, if my life depended on it! Taylor not only does save money but he paid off his own car in a matter of months, at the age of 16/17. I am late to EVERYTHING in life! Taylor is on time and early to everything. My senior year, he actually told me that he'd rather take the bus than go with me sometimes because I was always so late. Thinking back to when me and Brittany were in school together, I didn't care what time she left or if we never went at all, just as long as I didn't have to take the bus!

Taylor is one of the most responsible kids I know. For PROM last year, he took our dads truck and a bunch of fourwheelers on a trailer with a bunch of other kids and I guarantee that my dad didn't think twice about letting him take it. (I have driven that truck ONCE....when Taylor was with me ;) )

If he says that he's going to do something, he'll do it hands down and he'll do a better job than what he had promised or what was expected! I look up to this kid SOOO much! He will never know just how large of an impact he has had on my life. No matter what life throws at him, he has an attitude of "Okay what's next? Bring it on!" He's a lot better than even the friends I have that are 5 years older. I know this whole thing is rambling and all over the place, but I really can't say enough of just how much respect I have for him! He is the GREATEST!

I love you and hope that you had a great day!

Monday, December 7, 2009

I love my dad and "Fred"!

First of all, I LOVE my dad! This one is a given. When I still lived at home, we definetly had hard times and didn't see eye to eye, but since my senior year it's been getting better and better. Today we were down in the cafeteria, having more gosh awful food (eggplant, mushroom, rice, steamed bread and "chicken" that was more fat and arteries than anything else) when good ol' Tim came walking over with ILP mail. Low and behold, I had something today! WOOHOO! It's always exciting to get something and feel like we're still connected to America in some small way. I was even more excited when I saw that it was from my dad: a card for Thanksgiving! It was awesome and it was such a needed boost for today! He said he was sorry because it wouldn't get to me by Thanksgiving, but the surprise of it made it that much better. I loved it! What girl doesn't like to hear her dad say that he's proud of her and glad that she's his daughter? :)

Then tonight, One Tree Hill marathon ended for the night and I thought I'd hurry and check for an expected email (BOO DIXIE!) before I went to bed. Even better than a school email, I got a totally unexpected one from an old friend! I don't know if anybody really reads this besides my family, but I know at least he still does so for the sake of "privacy" we'll call him Fred.

I met Fred a little while ago. We DEFINETLY got off on the wrong foot and remained that way for about a year! It's a really long story how we met, and why we had negative feelings towards each other before meeting, but let's just say that feelings were hurt on both ends within the first 20 minutes of "Hi." However, about a year ago we started to fix things. He saw me driving down Canyon Road and sent me a semi-sarcastic text to tease me and say hi. That little effort started it all.

Since then, we have become a lot closer. Back in April, we went to dinner and talked about the type of people we wanted to be, where we wanted to go in life, what we wanted in life etc. I'll never forget what he said. "I'm only 22 but I feel like my life is so screwed up. I'm no where near the person I want to be." That really hit me because in some ways I felt the exact same. I didn't say anything then, but it was because of my good friend "Fred" that I made some changes in my own life. I haven't seen him or talked to him since I left for China.

I have trust issues with people. On many different levels in fact. When people say that they want to change, (depending on WHAT they're changing) I have a hard time believing them because my history and past experiences teaches me that people never REALLY change. However tonight Fred proved me wrong. Apparently after our dinner that day, Fred really did make a huge change. He gave up drinking. He gave up drugs. He gave up partying. He gave up talking bad about people. He gave up picking fights. He pretty much gave up every negative thing about himself, that he had said before he didn't like.

On top of all that, he's getting baptized next week! I could not be more excited for him! I love hearing how he's changed just through the email, I can't wait to see for real when I get home! So thank you Fred for being such a good example. Thank you for being a good friend. And thank you for proving me wrong and showing me that you can always change no matter what, as long as you really want to! (And thanks for making me laugh with all the other stories! ;) Ever heard that song "Some People Change" by Montgomery Gentry? Yea it's a GREAT one! And now I'm starting to believe it!

Home in 2 weeks! WOOOOHOOOOO!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

209 in 2009

This Thanksgiving was a VERY different experience for me. This is my first major holiday that I've been away from home for. China doesn't celebrate it so on one hand it wasn't a huge deal to miss it because there's been no build up to it so in a way it felt just like any other day. The school was super nice though and took us out to dinner tonight when we were done teaching. I will never be so happy to eat normal, YUMMY, typiically holiday food as what I will be when I get home! As we ate we went around saying what we were grateful for.

When I first found out that I was going to be in China for Thanksgiving, I was extremly disappointed. About a month after we got here, we had one of our talks and I saw that I've never actually thought about just how much I really have been blessed with. SOOOO naturally a little "project" starting forming in my mind. I started September 13th and had to finish it before I went to bed on Thanksgiving: I came up with 209 different things that I've thankful for or never realized that I had before coming here. I wanted them to be as specific as possible. Let me just say that this has been a HUGE eye opener! When you're trying to come up with that many you hit a point where you have to start digging reallllly deep! It was great though! I would reccomend this to everybody. Here are just a few of the things copied out of my notebook that weren't super personal:

#15: Moving to Provo whenw e did. I needed to get out of Price and go through it to gain a testimoney and make me the person I am now. I changed COMPLETLY from that experience! I was rude and immature and I didn't like myself in Helper.Moving made me grow up and have a new view on life.

#8: WASHING MACHINES! Washing machines that do the work for you, where you don't have to haul buckets of water into it. I miss machines that actually got your clothes clean and didn't beat the crap out of them in the process.

#28: I have been able to see a ton of "momumental" places: Pearl Harbor, Alcatraz, Ellis Island, The White House, all D.C. war memorials, Ground Zero, Lincoln Memorial, FOX Studios, Great Wall of China, Tiennaman Square, Washington Momument, Empire State Building, Statue of Liberty and many many more!

#67: My parents always made a big effort to go to everysporint game of mine that they could. There are very few games or tournaments that they didn't make it to. Most of the time, mine would be the only parents there all day or early in the morning. Especially thankful for all the games dad went to since he was busy with work and traveling a lot. He made it to the majority of them and took a lot of time off to be able to do so.

#79: I adjusted to "China life" very quickly. I came here with the mindset that things were going to be extremly different. I knew taht the food would seem weird to me at first. But I have done great with the culture, the language barrier and have been open to different types of food here. With only 1 month left, many girls still haven't been able to do this.

#85: Country music! :) I LOVE country! If I could only listen to 1 genre for the rest of my life, this is what I'd choose. Its almost creepy sometimes how much I'm able to connect with it. I love hw it seems to tell a story or have a real purpose behind some of them. In Helper I listened to 98.3 ALL THE TIME and nothing else. There's still songs taht I hear now that remind me of certain things or people from back then.

#90: I'm really grateful that I have never tried drinking! I tend to get addicted to things fairly easily looking back now. I don't even want to think about the kind of life I'd have if I was addicted to that crap.

#91: I'm so thankful that I have grown up, always having the gospel in my life. I look back now and see all the blessings I've had because of it. I honestly don't know where I'd be without it. It's because of the Church that I do what I do and believe what I believe. My life revolves around it A LOT mroe than I thought it did.

#145: I'm thankful that the church is becoming more and more important to me. I definetly still have a LONG way to go on a lot of aspects of this, but at least I'm making slow progress on it and that I have a desire to change things for the first time in a long time. I think a big part of it obviously is growing up and another part to it is having all "my boys" gones on missions. It's changed my perspective a lot.

#147: I'm grateful I've never seen my parents fight! In 20 years I can think of only 1 time taht I had ever seen them have any sort of significant argument. I still have no idea what it was about but there was 1 night that they went without talking. It's such an example to me how happy you really can be in a marriage and that marriages do still work out sometimes.

Obviously there's A TONNNNNN more! But that will have to do for now. My friends were a big chunk of the numbers. They were always the people I've turned to when I had my breakdowns, or stressing out, or freaking out or going crazy or just having an amazing day! Thanks for always answering my calls at 4 am! Thanks for sticking by me when things were crazy and you didn't even know what was going on in my life. Thanks for just smiling and laughing and going along with my stupid ideas that I randomly get on wims. I truly have the GREATEST friends and am so grateful for each and every one of them!

I left the last 9 for my family: Dad, mom, Ashlee, Jake, Brittany, Taylor, Tanner and Keznee.

To say that we haven't always seen eye to eye would be a huge understatement. But I am incredibly thankful for them and am becoming more and more so everyday! I have had so much fun with them and can really say that my siblings really are turning into my best friends. From dressing up the boys and spraying them with the kitchen sink, to spies in the backyard, to making boats out of bunkbeds, to riding bikes "fast as a boomer", to Rascal Flatts concerts, to random roadtrips to Price, to hitting trees while sledding behind dad's truck, to taking Zoey up to the ditch and the back hills, to Sally Mauro Singers, to driving late and night in the canyon and accidentally turning off the car lights, to driving to school together laughing hysterically, to breakin the van doors, to Sunday night memory lanes and game nights, to sleeping out on the patio every Christmas Eve, to driving around Cedar City blasting the ipod and eating pizza and McFlurries,to Castle Valley Pagenat, to school lunch and swimming, to irrigation days and everything in has been a blast! I don't think I'd survive in a small family! I love you all and can't wait to see you again!

I hope everyone has a great Thanksgiving and takes a little time to realize what you really are blessed with! I've never done it before, but I think that it really is benefical and like I said, huge eye opener!

Monday, November 23, 2009

Bursting with American Pride!

So this is definetly a post that you'd expect to show up during the 4th of July time of the year. But it's on my mind very strongly right now so I figured I'd blog about it anyways.

There's certain times/songs that give me that "I'm so happy to be American!" type of feeling, but it's kinda rare. Some of these moments are at a concert, at Stadium of Fire with the fly overs, listening to Presidents give speeches, watching movies or looking at books about Pearl Harbor or September 11th, certain country songs and of course the 4th of July!

Since being in China, this feeling has come up A LOT! None so much as what it hit me today though. I know it probably doesn't make sense to anybody else, but I wanted to write it down for me anyways!

We're back in Beijing today and our hostel is right on Tiennaman Square. Last night we got talking about how crazy some of the Chinese history is, how odd the government is, the blessings and advantages we have in the states etc. That sparked a little bit of the pride in me but then I quickly moved on to our other funny conversations.

Today we got up and went and toured The Forbidden City. It was so interesting! When we left we got into an interesting conversation that would be hard to relate without you being there. When we got down to the subway we realized that our ride would be about 40 minutes so I decided to pull out my ipod. The FIRST song that came on, I was SOOOOO excited! And so then that one finished and the next one started and it was almost impossible to restrain myself! That's when my "bursting" came out in full force!

Quick side notes: 1 have been in China for about 3 1/2 months now and will be going home in about 3 weeks. I have hit the point where I can't wait to get there! We're playing the game "What will you do first? What boy are you calling first? What are you going to eat? I can't wait to do laundry" etc etc etc. So already "America" and how great it is has been on my mind.

Other side note... a few weeks ago my sister Ashlee emailed me and told me that my brother in law is going to be deployed relatively soon. :( That sucks! Especially when you look at pictures of their 3 1/2 month old baby they just had. I can't even imagine what is going through their minds with it. This made "the war" and all the economic times and scary things right now, totally hit home with me!

So what were the songs that came on? The first one: It's America by Rodney Atkins! It's one of those songs that tend to get me excited as it is, but in the context of today it was just overwhelming in a sense! I'll post the lyrics for those that have never heard it but I HIGHLY reccomend that everybody go and listen to it!

The 2nd song...Only in America by Brooks and Dunn. I LOVE this song as it is, and also another one that gets me excited! It always reminds me of going to Stadium of Fire with my brother and them singing it, while shooting off the firecrackers, broadcasting live to the soliders in Iraq, and the soliders that they had standing up on stage. That alone was an amazing experience! I'll put the lyrics on here too but again...GO AND LISTEN TO IT!

Obviously, living in China has changed my perspective so much and it really has made me realize just how much we truly do have as Americans! There's so many lines in this song that hit me and I'm like yeah that's definetly true. And with Jake, it makes me realize just what it takes to defend it and keep it as good as it is. So to everyone not in the military, support them! I hate when you see people disrespecting them and treating them like crap. The best moment ever was at a parade last year. They had the troops walking through it and this lady spit on one of them. The drill sergant was immediatly in her face but he was fairly calm. I loved what he said to her though and I'll never forget it: "Ma'am you should be ashamed of yourself. Half of me wants to throw you to the ground right now for treating an American SOLIDER like that! I don't give a damn how you feel about the war, but you WILL treat these soliders with respect! They're over there fighting to keep your freedom to do what you just did!" In a way the last part didn't really make sense, but I think I get what he meant. And to those that are in the military, thank you! I really have never realized just how great America really is before I came!

"It's America"
Drivin' down the street today
Saw the sign for lemonade
They were the cutest kids
I've ever seen in this front yard

As they handed me my glass
Smiled and thinkin' to myself
Man what a picture perfect postcard this would make
Of america

It's a high school prom
It's a springstein song
It's a ride in a chevrolet
It's a man on the moon
And fireflies in June
Kids sellin lemonade
It's cities and farms
It's open arms
One nation under god
It's america

Later on when I got home
I flipped the t.v on
I saw a little town that some big
Twister tore apart
People came from miles around
Just to help their neighbors out
And I was thinkin' to my self

It's a high school prom
It's a springstein song
It's a ride in a cheverlet
It's a man on the moon
And fireflies in June
Kids sellin lemonade
It's cities and farms
And open arms
One nation under god
It's america

Now we might not always get it right
But there's nowhere else I'd rather build my life

Cause it's a kid with a chance
It's a rock n roll band
It's a farmer cuttin' hay

It's a big flag flyin in the summer wind
Over a fallen hero's grave.

It's a high school prom
It's a springstein song
It's a welcome home parade
It's a man on the moon
And fireflies in June
Kids sellin lemonade
It's cities and farms
And open arms
One nation under god

"Only in America"
Sun coming up over New York City
School bus driver in a traffic jam
Starin' at the faces in her rearview mirror
Looking at the promise of the Promised Land
One kid dreams of fame and fortune
One kid helps pay the rent
One could end up going to prison
One just might be president

Only in America
Dreaming in red, white and blue
Only in America
Where we dream as big as we want to
We all get a chance
Everybody gets to dance
Only in America

Sun going down on an La. freeway
Newlyweds in the back of a limousine
A welder's son and a banker's daughter
All they want is everything
She came out here to be an actress
He was the singer in a band
They just might go back to Oklahoma
And talk about the stars they could have been

Only in America
Where we dream in red, white and blue
Only in America
Where we dream as big as we want to
We all get a chance
Everybody gets to dance
Only in America

Yeah only in America
Where we dream in red, white and blue
Yeah we dream as big as we want to

Love and miss you all! See you back in "The Great Country" in...28 more days!! :)

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Happy Birthday Mom!

Okay so I know I'm a little bit late, but China likes to hate WHATEVER I'm trying to do on the internet so this is the first time I've been able to get it to pull up. And of course nothing can ever fully work so for now we'll have to go picture-less!

Even though we don't get a long all the time, I love my mom to death!

Reasons I love my mom? The number one thing that comes to my mind about my mom is that she's supported me through EVERYTHING I've always wanted to do! I've played sports my whole life! A lot of the girls I've played with, never had any of their parents came to their games but mine would always be there! Even to the tournaments in Salt Lake that we had to wake up at 5 to drive up to. Then in high school I started to play 2 sports at once! Still, she never missed a game! Not only would she come to games but she'd ALWAYS supply me (and others on my teams) with monstorous piles of food and fruit snacks! She was there for me when I was stressing out and having break downs with student government. She was there for me with graduating and moving away from all my friends and family. She was there for me for all the trips I've taken. She was there for me when I was broke and lent me money instead of letting me fall on my face like she easily could have. Especially now, she's supported me HANDS down with my crazy move to China!

My mom always tries to help me in any way that is possible. Didn't matter if she helping pack a bag for me, gathering food for me, cutting things out...ANYTHING! With all my sports I'd always come home awnry and tired. With so much to do, my mom would have dinner ready for me, then I'd go shower and come back upstairs and she'd rub my back for a little while to try and make me feel better.

My mom has always wanted the best for me. Sometimes I got so sick of hearing the tough love crap or "I do it because I love you" but I'm seeing more and more that she really was right. I'm grateful that she taught me to work hard! She taught me to chase after things that I want. She taught me to earn my own way and do what I have to to get there.

The computer is starting to fade out and shut down so that will have to be all for now...but again HAPPY BIRTHDAY MOM! I love you! Thanks for all the things that you've taught me and pushing me and forcing me to be my best self! Thank you for never turning your back on me. Thanks for the many many many LAUGHS! (Becky moments!) I LOVE YOU!

Sunday, November 1, 2009

I love Chiner!

Hey! So at this point, I have only 7 weeks left here in China! Ahhhh! It's going by so fast! I've just barely figured out how to get onto my blog and of course pictures won't work on it so this will just have to be a narrative of what's been going on here! Just wait for the picture overload after I get home.

Quirks about China:
**As in my title, they add -er onto EVERYTHING! "Let's have a toaster (toast) for your visiter here in Chiner!"
**Diapers are not essential. Instead, pants with holes in the front and the back are used for easy access to the street once "things" start coming.
**Babies are not the only ones to go to the bathroom in the street, adults and children do it also. You learn quickly to avoid any and all puddles when you're out walking.
**The best time for shooting off fireworks is at 6 in the morning.
**Cold and spicy green beans are a regular treat at breakfast. Along with seaweed from a bag.
**Chicken is served for lunch once a feels like Christmas Day every time when this day comes around!
**All of the bad smells in the United States put TOGETHER could not amount to how bad it smells here
**When out walking at the night market you can find all kinds of food on a stick! Anything from bread to chicken fetus.
**There is no place more beautiful than the city of Yangshuo
**On 1 apartment building here, you will find more people than what my whole hometown had.
**The city I'm in has nearly 2 million people in it. 98% of them have never before seen a white person so we are huge celebrities everywhere we go.
**Everywhere we go people love to talk to us, take pictures with us and try to have us kiss their babies.
**The kids here are so different from American kids. They are so happy with every little thing they get. They aren't materialistic about anything and are so grateful for even the tiniest things they have.
**For as loud as they are, they think that we are louder and will stare and gawk at us at even the slightest sounds.
**Clapping is weird and dancing in the streets or shops is un-heard of.
**When it rains, you feel like an arc should be appearing because it DOWN POURS! Streets flood and still the people trudge on ward on their little bicycles.
**The Great Wall of China...most beautiful thing I have ever seen!
**The Chinese people are the most determined and hard working people I have ever met. Even the richest people here have NOTHING compared to what we're used to and still they are so happy and work so hard for everything that they get.
**Apple drinks with floating coconut=the most amazing thing I have ever drank! They could possibly even trump Mt. Dew!

I LOVE it here! I love the cheap DVD's. I love the little kids! (Especially Ringo!) I love the night markets. I love the bags. I love the sunsets. I love the people that we've met and the countless people that literally saved our lives in Beijing. I love the taxi rides and the funny drivers that try and talk to us or dance with us to their funky re-mixed American music. I love how excited we get when we RARELY make our brownies and cookies. I love dance parties on the roof!

Most of all, I love the girls in my group! I know for a fact that I was supposed to be here right now. I have already learned so much from them! It's good to be with people that don't know any of your history and can give you a fresh perspective of things in your life. I love how many nights we've sat up talking and the things we've talked about. I've learned so much about myself and I've grown up a lot. In a group of 16 girls (and 2 guys) it'd be impossible to NOT have personality differences. But everybody gets along so well! We haven't had any major drama or fights or problems and I'm so grateful for that. It can be hard with being together LITERALLY ALL THE TIME, but we're getting through it. I'm going to miss all of them so much.

It's going to be so hard for me to not smuggle a kid home! They are adorable. They are always so excited to see us and love to give us hugs and kisses. They're at a boarding school and the oldest are about 6 so we get to "play mom" a lot and it has been awesome! I love it here! It's crazy to think that I have only about 7 weeks left. Hopefully I'll try to write a little more later.

"The Americans we bar-ty!"

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

"My Life Would Suck Without You!"

I leave for CHINA tomorrow! Oh my heavens I am starting to freak out a little bit! Still very excited though and hardly nervous at all. I can FINALLY say that I am at least moderatly packed at this point (which is good because my mom has been saying all day it's today or never!)

In all of my getting ready to go, there's 1 person I've been talking with a lot, and been thinking about alot. Ericka Shauntel Ahleen (that's really her real middle name!)

Ericka was my first ever roommate, my first friend in St. George and one of my closest friends still. I LOVE HER! She has always been there for me! From crazy nights driving around jamming to music, to talking for hours through the night, breakdowns in the laundry room, crazy roommates, pranking mama Jewels, and EVERYTHING in between, she's awesome for me! She's taught me a LOT and I've been able to talk to her about anything and everything that nobody else knows. I honestly think that she is one of the biggest reasons I was supposed to go down there this year. And a special thanks to her family for taking me as one of their own this year! Here's some of the things that I've loved, things I associate with her, and good times we've had. And at the end there's a small photo gallery, but keep in mind I have HUNDREDS of pictures with her!

-"That was fun, let's do it again in DECEMBER!"
-Sleeping in the back of her truck, FREEZING to death, and praying for the alarm to go off
-Bonfires in her backyard
-Clubbing for Kaylee's 21st birthday and the 911 fiasco to get there
-Flip flop wars and water fights
-Er singing Genesis and Alma for all of Church to hear "Was that very loud?"
-"What their name again?"
-"Unnecessary...." "...and uncalled for!"
-"I've been waking up and my pants are off or gone! ...weird!"
-"CHAN-TEL! We don't even have lamps"
-Easter Bunny Murderers
-Laughing at everybody and nicknaming them behind their backs
-"Don't make me use the bag!"
-Gives you Hell and My life would suck without you
-California Babes
-"Yeah that'd work great...if we lived on a FARM!"
-Ditching out on school
-Locked in our room for HOURS working on myspanishlab with me going crazy and Er pushing me through it lol
-Meeting Archelleta in St. George!
-Shannabee and Er Bear

Creepin on the streets, down the Blvd, and dance parties at Rebel Creek
Fast face in our fort we built in the front room
hahahaha it could have been a worse one Er...
Tag teaming my hair for bowling after work
The night we almost killed Kaylee

Fixing Christmas Lights

Sunday night fun that was hilarious and went on for WEEKS!
Yay for our home teachers thinking we're crazy lol
Camping with smoke in our eyes
Sleeping in the back of the truck, minutes before Casey scared the crap out of us
Cruising in the Greek God truck
Date Night! First time hanging out
And last time hanging out! Saying goodbye (and crying a little) after lunch at Cafe Rio

Thanks for all the great times Er! Can't wait for more when I get home! :)

Thursday, July 30, 2009

happy tears and sad tears at the same time!

ERICKA SHAUNTEL AHLEEN IS ENGAGED! Yesterday morning I woke up, ready to head off to work like any other day. Then I checked my phone and found out that one of my very best friends is going to be getting married! That's the point where the happy and sad tears began. I love this girl! She was my first roommate and my first friend in St. George. At this point she really is like a sister to me. It makes me sad because I know that I"ll be in China for the wedding, but I know it will be beautiful. I could not be more excited for her! Brett treats her the best and they are such a cute couple! I love you Er Bear! ;)

Lunch today to see the ring and hear the story with Mama Ahleen

It's a horrible picture but it is hands down one of the most GORGEOUS rings I have ever seen!

CONGRATS ER! I freakin love you! I'll be sending my love from China

Monday, July 27, 2009

Stacia Lynn...

Stacia is another one of the "Hurricane Crew" people. I first met her a few months ago when she came down for Josh's farewell. I found myself sitting by her again today at Ryan's farewell. I freakin love this girl! BUT, we decided today that we can no longer sit by each other at farewells. At both Josh's and Ryan's we could NOT stop laughing! Any little thing seemed to set us off. At Josh's it was a girl singing, a family in front of us and something he said that reminded us of a story he had told us earlier (which at that point he was crying, and we were all laughing hysterically). Luckily we were in the back though so not many people saw and were distracted. The worst part came later at his house when I laughed uncontrollably hard. For those of you that know me well, you know what kind of trouble and attention that brings! Today though, Stacia was singing for Ryan's so we marched clear up to the second row so that she could get up easier. BAD IDEA! When the Bishop stood up to start things we decided that we were going to do better. We were 2 lines into the opening song when we determined that this wouldn't happen. For whatever reason Stacia was having a hard time reading the words to the song, getting down the beat etc.

I loved it though because I realized that it is literally only the times that I sit by her, that I don't cry at farewells! Granted, it's not very reverent that we're shaking the whole bench with trying to keep our laughter under control, but it's a nice break from just sitting there bawling. I love her and I can't wait to see what trouble our laughing will get us in next! By the way...AMAZING job at singing today!

Shay towering over writing our notes to Ryan
Pretty much melting outside in 109 degree weather!

Sleeping on Shay's tramp the night before Josh's farewell. EVERY SINGLE ANIMAL in Hurricane was going crazy all at the same time!

After the farewell at Josh's house after everybody stopped staring at us and cleared out the backyard to go inside

Friday, July 24, 2009

Starting to slowly hit me....

WOW! So for this last week, it has slowly started to hit me that I will soon be leaving St. George after being here for a year. Even though I still am far from fully realizing it, I'm getting sad about it! Right now, I'm laying on my couch watching 2 of my roommates packing up and loading their cars: Kylie and Adaiza. Adaiza I have known since 8th grade when we both moved to Provo and had no other friends. We were on the same basketball team and have been friends ever since. She's moving back up North for 3 weeks and then she'll be back down here at a different complex. Kylie I met back in May when we moved into the same apartment. She is moving up north to get married.... BOOO! ;)

As is true with everybody you live with, I have gotten to know them both SO well. In fact so well that there are definetly some things that I know, that I really wish I didn't. Something hilarious is always going on when we're together! Usually a fight will break out which results in throwing spaghetti, paper towels, hitting with a bag of cheerios, the blind "stick" thingys, or the always classic slap fights with hands and flip flops. We've had many nights of staying up a lot later than we should have, just talking about everything! We've had breakdowns, lash-outs, hysterical laughing and everything else in between. The most common said phrase in our house would DEFINETLY have to be...."SHUT UP!" As much as I joke around, I really am genuinely going to miss both of them a lot! I really have gotten to know them so well and it's going to be weird this next week to still live here and have them gone. LOVE YA!

We were trying to go to Sheep Creek Bridge with a few boys, and I really thought I knew how to get there. NOPE! We got SOOOO lost! We got clear out in the middle of nowhere with roads that winded around everywhere but we were still laughing and of course had to get out and take a picture.
One of the funniest nights with Kylie...midnight trip to the ER. They gave her a ton of morphine and it kicked in extremely quickly! She sat there staring at her hand moving it up and down slowly and just kept telling me how amazing it looked, how I should just try it etc.

We love to frustrate Ryan! One night we went to Malcolms and realized that Ryan had left his truck outside his house so we decided to take pictures on our phones and send them to him of us because he didn't know we knew where he was. He started FREAKING out a lot more than what we planned on. It ended up being a huge 20 minute chase because we threw his back in the back of his car and took off when they got close. Hilarious night!

Once we finally got to Sheep Bridge, it was so much fun! It took all of us a little while to actually jump (except it took Adazia FOREVER! lol) but as always once we did it was such a blast. Good times with Kylie falling off of the rope, Adaiza taking forever to jump and trying to get videos. Lots of laughs and more pictures from this to come!

Friday, May 22, 2009

springtime :)

Okay so things have been crazy lately! I had spring break, end of semester, then moving apartments and starting to work 2 jobs. SOO finally now I have a few days off so I figured I'd hurry and just throw a few things up for a quick catch up and try to do some more later. :)
Dad was put into bishop again! We already did this once for 6 years when we were all younger, but apparently it's time for round 2 now! I know that he'll do a great job though and it makes me "excited" for him. Last time when he got put in my mom was pregnant with Taylor and now Ashlee is pregnant with her first baby.
The girls at Macoroni Grill. This has to be one of my favorite parts of going home! We go everytime and it's just a given that we go to Mac Grill. GREAT talks have gone on at these tables. :)
This was our last bonfire and dinner before Hillary and Andy moved and we switched up apartments and stuff for summer. Definetly fun and I am so happy I've met these people!
Elder Jon Hammond. Saying goodbye to him was one of the harder ones. I think he is SUCH a great guy and I definetly miss him! People in Florida are lucky though and he is going to do such a great job!
At his house the night before his farewell

Last FHE with our Ward. We had pudding olympics that turned out to be pretty interesting. It was really fun and I LOVE the ward I've had all year. I've learned a lot from people in there.
Crimson Night in Salt Lake at the U. First time in a long time that I got to hang out with Roni and Lindsay and it was SOO much fun! I love those girls and miss them so much!
Ron-me-Linds. This is the first time in a year that I've really gotten to hang out and talk to Lindsay. I LOVE her! She's gone through so much in her life, but she's extremly strong and always puts others before her selt. One of the best people I know!

Monday, March 9, 2009

Some quick updates...

WOW! SOOOO much has happened since I last wrote anything on here! I know it seems like there are a ton of pictures on here but I figured the easiest way to do a 1 month update was just to do some random pictures from some of the bigger things that have been going on and just do little descriptions underneath. ENJOY!

This is when Kaylee and Ericka died my hair red. I decied I was sick of being blonde. Just kidding it was a kool-aid washout. We did a "Dare Night" of D2 (us) versus E2 (neighbors.) It was soooo much fun! We had kissing strangers, licking floors, pole dancing the boulevard and many others that we will just leave to the imagination. Such a blast and tons of memories!

This would be me and Ericka about to take over the invitation to E2. We found these masks at All a Dollar and fell in love...they're still hanging on the wall of our room now.

This was my first time going shooting and WHAT an experience! My very first shot was hand pistol with a lot bigger of a kick than I imagined. Such a kick in fact that it almost took my own head off accidently. I quickly learned to hold on tight!

Me and Dave. We were FREEZING! I was so excited that right before we left, I finally hit not one, but TWO of the clays! :) Which is good because they threatened that if me and Ericka didn't hit at least 1 we would be walking back.

Me and Dave again. I had a hard time not leaning back so he basically held me. Danny was spotlighting in the back and Ericka was photographer.

This was my first time playing fugitive in a LONG time but it was such a blast! The girl next to me (Andrea) gets major props because even though she was having an asthma attack and literally hyperventilating and dieing, she kept on army crawling through the bushes and refused to let us stop for her. Her efforts were in vain though as this picture is in the back of the truck...only 3 houses away from our "destination."

Last time I went home, my friends text me saying they wanted to go tour the Draper Temple. I was going to go hang out with CJ but at last minute went with the girls instead. I am so glad that I did! It is so beautiful and was such an amazing experience to get to see everything and be with friends besides. The couple speaking in the sealing room had me and Jessica in tears. :) Me-Nicole-Gabrielle-Jessica just coming outside after.

Friday night after the last basketball game we did Girls Night at Ericka's parents house since they were gone. This was at our apartment before leaving. We danced and sang our lungs out to Disney songs before our Harmons/Maverick hang out and then off to Winchester. Also a very fun night all around!

Going hot tubbing at "The Rapist Inn." Car ride was fun, but it was the most awkward hot-tubbing experience I've ever had.

Andy has a mini cooper that me, Ericka and Hillary get to drive. SUUUCH a fun car! We drove around Bluff and Blvd. blasting our music and singing and making some new friends ;)

Back seat crew showing just how windy it was. It was a lot worse than this at one point and I was afraid my camera was really going to blow right out of my hand!

After playing sand volleyball. Me-Andy-Hillary-Adazia-Ericka

Preparing to jump. I love playing down at these courts and I'm so glad it's getting warm enough that we can start going again!

Top of the temple at Sunset. B-E-A-UTIFUL!

We had such a nice day last week that we got a group together and went to fly kites and have a picnic. This is us on our "huge" blanket eating our amazing (and freaking expensive) KFC! Notice the shorts and green grass :)

Dixie vs. BYU-Hawaii. This was before a dance and one of our last basketball games so it was a lot of fun. The best though was that Penny's dad and brother came down to watch so I got to see them for a little while. I love that family! They're always super nice, make me feel good and I can't wait for her to get home this summer!

This was my second time going to Rascal Flatts and I LOVE them! They always are so much fun to watch and sound just as amazing live as what they do on their CD's. Brittany won backstage passes and got to go meet them. We also all ended up with the same matching shirts.

Outside the trailors a couple of hours before the concert started. It was us and then Brittany's friend Brooke.