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!"