A job well done...not quite

Do you ever feel like you have just enough time to do everything on your list poorly?
yeah. me too.

China Trip #3

Finally- the reason I came to China.!

The next day me, my dad, and his Chinese business partner/ interpretuer (thank goodness) drove 2 hours away to Juo Ji. This is called the town of ties...

here are several tie factories we passed in town...

Seriously, you cannot cut out any more middle men than this...unless you are going to go the cotton fields and bargian prices for the materials to make the fabrics. The ties are not just constructed here, the material is made here....and on that note...let me just say that safety standards in China are not quite up to par with those of America...we walked right into the giant factory floor where the fabric was being made. Huge machines making fabric with gigantic moving parts...all which could gobble you up an spit you out as a beautiful necktie if you got too close...but guess what? the door was wide open, and as we walked right in to walk around and look at the machines and what fabrics they were spitting out, we were greeted by several smiling faces and sweeping gestures as if to say, "please, make yourself at home with this monsterous, man-eating machines!" Which of course...we did!

Monster machine...

We were taken up to the 5th floor...

...and greated graciously by the owner of the factory. They had been expecting us, and escorted us into the conference room, and immediately piled about 30 books...each of about 100 pages which each held 6 swatched of fabrics...so lets see If I can do my math better this time (Amber...) 30 x 100 x 6...so only about 18,000 fabric choices to choose from! They also had a couple large show rooms with bars of their most popular and trend-setting ties actually made up to look at.

We had a very specific list of numbers, colors, and seasons we were shopping for, so we pulled out the list and got to work.

Me-"Okay, now we need a tie that is mostly blue."

Chinese Translated back to me" Here are 7 books of blue ties"

Me- "here we go..."

My Dad: "I think I will go look at the samples in the show room..."

And in the end I would tag a few of my favorites in the books, my dad would come back with a few of his favorites from the showroom floor, and we would debate/discuss until we settled on one. This might sound like a tedious process...and to be honest, my dad found it a little tedious, (and his partner/translator found it A LOT tedious) but I was feeling the pressure! What if we picked materials that no one liked? Luckily (hopefully!) my dad and I make a pretty good team! He is an..older man...and most of his ties are navy blue...when he's really feeling wild it's navy blue with a red pin stripe! I on the other hand buy ties for Dave that are purple, pink, paisley, etc, and I LOVE THEM! (Luckily, so does Dave) So together my dad and I met somewhere in the middle (hopefully) some tending more to my side, and some tending more towards his.

Hard at work... (see those blue books...just a few of the many swatch sample books...)
Some ties left over from the last group/company that came to haggle...

A sneak peak of a few of our selections... (these we were still deciding over, so some are a go, and some went the way of the Dodo...)

Hard at work...

A small part of the "show rooms"

PS- see this awesome, orange, paisley tie in the bottom left corner...4 from the left. I lobbied VERY hard to have this be our orange tie selection, but my dad put his foot down... too flashy he said! What do you think???

So after all the materials were picked we had to discuss sizes, lengths, and what the tags would say. Well...my dad left that mostly up to me, while he started doing magic tricks for the factory workers. You may think that in making an investment like this, he may want to be accutely imvolved in the WHOLE process, but you would be wrong. He really loves slight-of-hand and seeing the wonder on the workers faces as he did his tricks. This girl in particular was so amazed, that he finally broke down and taught her a trick. He showed her over and over again, and made her promise never to tell the secret to anyone. He said he would test her the next time we came back to see if she had perfected the trick.
...I'll be honest... I'm not sure she understood a word he said...and you really shouldn't take an emphatic head nod and "Okay! Yes! Okay! Sure!" as any sort of agreement with someone who doesn't speak your language!

We were then escorted to the owners office...

and told to make ourselves comfortable while they brought a car to take us to lunch/dinner (just like with the pearl guy...) This put us in a little predicament...because it was getting late and we needed to drive back to the town we were staying ( and where we had left my mom) but it would be rude to not let them treat us. The partner/interpreter helped us out, and it was decided that they would send someone quickly to Kentucky Fried Chicken (3rd time eating it now...) to bring us lunch. We used the internet to check email while we waited, ate, and then headed back-

Ties ready to be shipped somewhere in the world..

Anyway, on the drive home I saw some GORGEOUS scenery of rice and tea fields. China (at least this part) is very hilly/mountainous...so they use a terrace system to grow tea crops right up the mountain. It is so beautiful...but does not make me envious of whomever has to water, weed, and harvest those crops!
That's it for China #3...more tomorrow!

*** China Disclaimer***

Just wanted everyone to know...I REALLY enjoyed my trip to China....I mean, Aside from the 70 hour trip home, the dehydration, and severe puking...it was really great! I had a lot of weird, crazy, unusual experiences...but for me, that's where the fun lies! So, as I blog on about the rest of my trip...just know, I'M REALLY GLAD I WENT!!!

China #2

Let's see. That night after we pearled ourselves out...well, not really, my dad could talk/shop pearls the rest of his life. And I gotta hand it to the guy...he knows his stuff. It's kind of his hobby (in the 3 days he's been home) to go around to jewelry shops, see how much they are asking for their pearls (which he shows them in explicit detail, are MUCH WORSE QUALITY than his own) and feeling VERY good about his own purchases, and subsequent sales...

I digress. That night we ate at the hotel restuaurant, which was very nice and clean, and also specialized in live seafood...like every other "nice" place we ate at the entire time. I took some pictures of hilarious mis-translations on the menu...too good to pass up!

Shrimp with eyeballs... a favorite of my parents
Mom and I...

My wonderful parents!

"Broken Burning Flesh Vegetables" Now if that doesn't sound good, what does???
"Burning wax Gourd Family" Ummmm...another delicious sounding dish!!

Chicken...always a safe bet, right? WRONG! On top, the foot...inside... EVERYTHING ELSE!!!

I forgot to include this yesterday. Sometimes the pearls grow into the oyster shell, so it looks like this. They are not salvagable as pearls. But some of the prettiest jewelry I saw came from Mother of Pearl...which is the shell. I was looking at some jewelry in one of the shops and the Chinese lady said..."Uh...that is made from Pearl's Mommy"

This statue was in our hotel lobby. And everywhere we went had something like this. Every single one had a plate of fruit at Buddha's feet. Now, I am certainly not trying to be disrespectful with this question, but I really don't know... Obviously, a Buddha statue does not actually eat the fruit...so is it someones job to go around each night when no one is looking and take the fruit, to make it look like he ate it? Or do they just replace it each day, hoping that one day he will be hungry enough to eat it...and on that fateful day...there better be fruit at his feet!!?!?!

Day two we drove to...well...darn, I can't remember the name. (interesting side note...about 2 hours before we left the last city to head for this one, my head started to hurt, then pound, then...I have never felt pain like that in my head before. I was sure I was having a brain Anurism, I really mean that. (it was VERY humid where we were, and I didn't drink hardly any water...I'm sure it was extreme dehydration) I I laid down and thrashed for an hour before we had to leave in the oldest, bumpiest minivan you ever saw in your life. I threw up several times outside the van, then inside the van, but had about 3 seconds to grab the $10 bag of Walmart Beef Jerkey I had bought to puke in. Bummer about the jerkey...but...better than riding in a puke car for two hours) My mom gave me some Chinese headache medicine, which I threw up, and some more, which I threw up again. I rode the whole way with my head on my moms lap, bouncing about while she squeezed my temples as hard as she could....not pleasant!!!)

Anyway, this new city is the import capital of the world. And I promise you, I have no doubt, that unless you bought something homemade, then it came from this city in China. FOR REAL! Huge...building after building of anything in the world, one building for Christmas decor, one for leather, one for Kitchen Supplies, one for Shoes, one for watches...etc. etc. etc. You have to buy in Bulk...as in, by the 1000's. I don't care whether you bought something at Nordstroms or Walmart- it came here first. All different qualities and varieties...In this city were people of EVERY nationality...except America really...Didn't see (more like hear) any Americans the whole time. LOTS of Middle Easterners, some Europeans, and Some Africans. We didn't buy much here...you can buy ties in bulk...and we actually came to this city to see what the current trends in ties were, and to pick up some jewelry clasps. We bought a couple odds and ends from shops that would sell their "Stock" item if they had more in the back. Everything they had out was just to show what you could buy in bulk.

One Aisle (of 1000s) of one of 5 floors of toys.

Can anyone help me with what this possibly could have been mis-translated from? seriously??

Just An idea of the types of things you could find here... Each of those things listed in English had their OWN BUILDING!!! (Yes, one whole building for zippers and buttons!)

"Christmas Decor Building" I really wanted to go in but we didn't have time! Boo... Not that I need 1000 of any particular Christmas decoration...but it would have been fun to see...

You see this all the time...

This is hard to read but it was the sign in the all the taxi's...my favorite part is "No Psychotics or Heavy Drinkers allowed in this taxi."

One last tidbit...you saw people selling baskets of these fruits EVERYWHERE in China. I found out from the nice Isreali woman that I shared a plane ride (and a good cry) with, that it is only grown in this part of China, and only is harvested during June. They look like they have been rolled in little seed-beads, but they tasted delicious. Kind-of like a cross between an orange and a strawberry!

More tomorrow...

Trip to China #1

I know I started this story at the tail end...but now I will highlight the trip starting at the beginning!

I flew to LA and stayed the night- no problem

Flew to Beijing to meet my parents (14 hour flight)- no problem. Unfortunately this was a day flight...when you start during the day...even though you are in the air well into the night...it's hard to get your body to register that it's night time and get some rest. So I slept a wopping total of 3 hours on the plane, and arrived in Beijing at 4pm China time, but 3am Arizona time.
Met my parents in Beijing and flew to Haung- Zho- No problem. This was a 1 and a half hour flight and I slept the whole time.

Driver picked us up in Haung Zho and drove us 2 hours to Iy-Wu. All along the way are oyster beds...as Iy'Wu is the Oyster capital of China (the world I think...?) but I missed them all as I was totally konked out again.

Arrived at our Hotel at 10pm China time, 1pm Arizona time. Parents went out to KFC (first of 4 times eating there on the trip...no joke...) I was so wasted I fell asleep in my room and they just brought me some nuggets.

(this sign was in our hotel lobby, the first of SEVERAL hilarious mis-translated signs. This one is blurry but says, "Please keep cleaning" I assume it means, please keep the lobby clean!)

Next morning we got up early and went to the first of two pearl shops that my dad works with. (He is importing pearls, in case I didn't mention that along with the neck ties) There were MILLIONS of pearls in there...it was so crazy. Bags and Bags and Bags (see pictures) My dad was picking up some orders, and also picked up a few other things that we saw and liked. Let me just say this...I am learning a thing or two about pearls...and a nice set of pearls that you would buy here in the states...it has been marked up at least...gosh, how do I say this mathmatically correct...uh...the original price has been doubled at least 20 times! Also, if you would ever like a tutorial on how to tell if your pearls are "nice" just let me know...I've been learning a lot!

Guy opening an oyster...yep...this is were your fancy pearls start...right here with Mr. Cigarette!

The inside of the Oyster he opened. Did you know they can grow several pearls in one Oyster? (Neither did I!) Don't worry, they use the shell for jewelry also, and eat the meat...no wasting here!)

Bags 0f pearls...this is just one teeny tiny little shop among thousands mind you...

Up close...one bag. Unsorted...so they haven't separated the "good" from the "bad" and the colored from the white.

Next we went to the hub of pearl activity. A giant Building with at least 1,000 shops...all selling...you guessed it...pearls! I saw almost no on there shopping, and had no idea how 1000 shops all selling the same thing and no one shopping could stay in business...found out it is because almost all of their business is done over the internet. We went to the other shop my dad does business with and haggled for about 2 hours. I mostly interpreted the lady's poor English for my dad (I have NO idea how he survived there for a year...)

After making quite a large transaction in China, it is customary for the person receiving money to invite the person who just shelled it out, to lunch/dinner. The husband invited us to meet him at noon for lunch, and there was really no polite way to decline, and no way in heck of telling what we would be eating. He drove us in his car (he must be RICH! because hardly anyone has cars) and took us to a very nice restaurant...where he invited us to "pick out our lunch" while I can't say it was very good...at least you can say it was fresh...here are some of our options...


Snakes...couldn't tell what variety...
Crayfish I think...shrimpish

Baby turtles

And a Chinese favorite...EELS!!!

Sorry to say...I was going to try to be adventurous on this trip...but turns out I'm just a wuss. Turns out my parents are too...so here is what we actually ate...

From the picture these looked like Eggroll type things...they were actually stuff with something very long and stiff...not sure if it was animal, vegetable, or mineral. The outside wrapper was also quite tough... and VERY spicy!
A bland soup with Tofu in it. BY FAR The best item at the meal...
Shrimp/crayfish with ALL bodyparts still attached...including eyes!
Extremely soggy green beans that were actually quite good if you drank a gallon of water after every bite...5 ALARM SPICY!!!

Oh, I forgot to mention, after he took us to lunch, he got us seated...and left! I guess it is tradition to by someones lunch, but rude to eat with them! Strange! We called his cell phone when we were done and he picked us back up.
I guess "That's It" (as if that is not enough) of my first real day in China! More to come...still have days 2 and 3!

70 hours of traveling later, I'm back in Arizona!

Yes you read that correctly.
No, I am not lying.

Let me start by saying that this trip was extremely awesome! Not "awesome" as in "WOW! That was some Awesome sightseeing and historical touring that I did while in China!" More like, "I am full of Awe of many things after that trip to China!" There are at least 100 things I want to blog about, all of which are "awesome" but first I have to tell about my last 3 and a half days!
On Wed. midday we headed to the airport in Huang-Zho. I was flying to Beijing to catch a flight to LA, and my parents were flying to Tianjin, where they live, to pack up and get ready to head back to the states also. So, I was seriously NOT worried at all when we said our goodbyes and went to separate terminals in the airport....here is an exerpt from the first email I sent Dave about this day...

All around, this day has been pretty sucky. Rode a bus for two hours from Iy'Wu to Huang- Zho, said goodbye to my parents and boarded my plane. Sat on the tarmac for an hour before having to unload and wait in the airport. Beijing was having a dust storm so we couldn't fly there. I'm not going to lie...I shed a few tears. I wasn't even trying to cry...the tears just kept rolling down my cheeks. I knew I was going to miss my flight in Beijing to LA...which means another day away. I cried with a nice Israeli women, because NO ONE from Air China spoke English, and EVERYONE from Air China was doing their very best to ignore us, and our tears. Then some Isreali guys who spoke Hebrew, English and Chinese finally got someone to help me. He first got the story in Hebrew from the Isreali women, who told him my whoas of missing my flight out of Beijing as well. He then preceeded to yell at any and all of the AC staff in Chinese until someone finally helped us (with his translations) Of course I missed my flight to LA...

Once in Beijing, 4 hours late, I was jerked around for 2 hours before finding someone at Air China that helped me re-arrange my ticket (couldn't get out until the next day at 9pm) and get me set up in a hotel. Let's just say this hotel is for people who are stuck at the Beijing airport, and they are not trying to do anyone any favors as far as customer service is concerned ...because none of us will ever be staying there again if we can help it. By the time I got into my hotel room it was 2:30 am.

Here is an exerpt from my next email to Dave...

I slept till 9 this morning...since I didn't get to bed till 2:30. At least I am feeling well rested. I don't think I am going to leave the hotel. Does that make me a major loser? My parents are staying in Tianjin to finish up packing... Im sure it would not be a big deal to take a taxi downtown to the pearl market and buy some cool stuff, but I just worry (you know me...) in a city of 15 million, a girl who speaks no Chinese could get pretty lost. Plus I don't have a ton of money...and I worry about getting stuck or some other unforseen expense again! My experience in Haung- Zho of total lack of understanding and no one giving a rats rear end scared me a little...
I got downstairs to ask about Breakfast just as it was closing, so they let me in, but there wasn't much left. I had shrimp fried rice, two dinner rolls, and a some watermelon. I think there is complimentary lunch, but who knows? My luggage had to stay at the airport unless I wanted to wait a few hours for someone to try to find it (since it was supposed to be checked all the way to LA) so I have no toiletries, toothbrush, make up, hairbrush etc. I do have a chance of clothes though, so that's good. There is a complimentary toothbrush and comb here, so I guess I will be okay.

Why in the world this crappy hotel had a computer in every room, I will never know, but it is how I kept myself occupied for the next 10 hours, since the television didn't work, and no one could understand what I was trying to tell them when I explained it. Here is an experpt from my next email to Dave...

Wow. The longer I am here, the stranger my experiences get... I went down to see if they had complimentary lunch. The conversation I had with the front desk is a funny story itself, but remind me to tell you later. Anyway, I was taken to a tiny room (smaller than Jaxon's bedroom I think) with 3 small tables...one against each wall. Both were occupied, one by an older chinese guy, and one by an older chiense guy and a monk. They sat me down, and then totally ignored me for 10 minutes (I watched my watch). The Chinese guys were all talking and staring at me...and I had nothing to do but look at my hands. It was very uncomfortable! finally I started asking, "Can you help me?" they would smile and bow and run away. Well, the two other tables of guys left (they had been eating MOUNTAINS of food) and they brought a young (20-30 yr old) Chinese guy into this small room (mind you, there is a very large restuarant room where I ate breakfast) and sat him at my table! There are two empty tables in this tiny room, but we are sitting together-across from each other at a tiny table...! They ignore him too. then a European group of 3 comes in, they are sat, given menus brought drinks, and totally attended to. WHAT THE CRAP?! So 15 minutes has gone by and I am getting a little frusterated. I say, "Excuse me!" And I spread my hands and open my eyes wide like, where is mine???" She looks scared and runs away. So I try the same thing with the next girl that comes in (bringing food to the Europeans) and she too runs away. About 4 minutes later, they bring in the tiniest plates to me and the Chinese guy. It is boiled cabbage on one, and stirfried cauliflower on the other, and a bowl of rice. Then they leave. Now I get it...those other people are paying for their meals....and let's just say Air china doesn't fork out the big bucks to accomodate it's clients! Ah well, I ate my rice and cauliflower, skipped the cabbage, and just had a granola bar in the room. In his defense, I think the young Chinese guy at my table was even more uncomfortable than me. So we left about the same time, and get in the same elevator. I go to the 5th floor and him to the 6th- of course, total, uncomfortable silence. I went to my room, and of course, now my key card doesn't work! So I go back to the elevator, and catch it on the way down..guess who is back on? Even he had to smile a little at this. Guess his key card didn't work either!

Okay, I'll try to keep it short from here. I went to the Beijing airport 3 hours early just to be safe. Got my boarding pass, had a "Coke Light" and a good book, and settled in. After 3 hours I realized we were no where near boarding, and came to find out our flight was delayed. Two hours later we were in the air. Flight- not bad. Arrived in LA at 8:00pm on Friday night...wouldn't cha know...the exact time my SW flight was taking off for Phoenix. After retrieving luggage, going through customs, and security, and a bus ride to a new terminal, I was at the SW ticket counter. No more flights out to Phoenix...on ANY AIRLINE. Dejected, I took a tram to the nearest Airport hotel and checked in for yet ANOTHER night away from home. Ate dinner alone at the hotel bar, and watched TV in my room until 2:00am (which in my defense was 5pm China time, and I had slept about 9 hours through "The night" (China's night) on the plane. My wake up call came bright and early at 4 am, and I was back at the airport. Caught my SW flight no problem., and Dave picked me up at the Phoenix airport at 9:15 am...just 4 hours later, we went back to pick up my parents who had left China 2 days after me! As a final note, I did make $200 dollars on the SW flight home, but that my friends, is a story for another day!
Happily home-

"Leavin' On a Jet Plane..." and falling out of chairs

See ya next Friday...I'm off to China!

And one last tidbit...today Jaxon and I met Dave for Lunch at Crackers (YUM!) Jaxon fell out of, or with, his chair 4 TIMES! Yes, that's right, 4 TIMES!

The first time, the chair fell over backwards and he fell with it. He landed on his belly and cried because he was scared/embarrassed. EVERYONE in the restuarant was concerned for us.

The second time this exact same thing happened, he jumped right up, laughed and said, "OOPS!" through a very red face. EVERYONE in the restuarant was concerned about our parenting skills.

The third time Jaxon was sitting on his feet and tried to hop off his chair- so he fell right over the side and splatted on his belly. The two men next to us said, "You really outta get that kid a safety net!" EVERYONE in the restuarant was concerned about Jaxon's equalibrium.

The Fourth time he was sitting on his knees, and when he went to get off his chair, his foot got stuck in the back, so he fell out onto his head/face, with his foot still stuck in the chair. This time the guys next to us said, "What on earth is that kid drinking?" EVERYONE in the restuarant was hoping we were leaving, and that we weren't going to be sueing over any damages done to Jaxon during lunch!

NEVER a dull moment!

The Boss and Bee Stings

( imagine Jaxon being reprimanded...don't remember what for...)
M: "Do you understand???"
J: "YES! I understand! I'm THE BOSS of understanding!"
M: "What am I the boss of?"
J: "You're the boss of putting me in time out!"
..."Oh yeah, and I'm the boss of spilling EVERYTHING...and your the boss of making cookies with me....but I still get to help stir!"

And I got stung by a bee this morning, right on the big toe. I was actually kind of excited, because my sister is petrified of bees, and is ingraining the terror in her children, so I was excited to show her that I only got a little welt, and didn't die...even a little.

Oh my heavens! Proudest mommy moment ever!

Last Monday we had a family night about the scriptures. We gave Jaxon his own Book of Mormon, and also got a picture book of Mormon book with simplied versions of the stories to read at night. We talked about how important the scriptures are, and ever since we read one verse from the Regular book of Mormon, and then one story from the simplified version.
Today Jaxon and I were playing in his room. He picked up his "Daddy" (regular) Book of Mormon and started "reading"

"Henny Faddur loved his family. Then he found Nephi, then they got the brass plates, then they left. Nephi was a baby but then he grew up. His brothers tried to kill Nephi and then he ran away."

baby tie?

Does anyone (within driving distance of my house) have a baby tie (that you like the length) that I could borrow for a week? I just need it for measurements, so color etc. doesn't matter. I will be taking in to china with me, and in return, I will get you a new baby/toddler tie along with your old one to be given back when I get home!?!
( I need like baby baby...0-12 months, not the 2-4T Children's place...)

New Jaxonisms

Jaxon has really been outdoing himself lately...vocabularily speaking. (Is "Vocabularily" a word?) Anyway, here are a few of my favorites-

J-"Mom, you're just lovely!"
M- "Thanks Jaxon. Do you know what lovely means?"
J- "Ummm...nope!"
M- " It means pretty. Do you think Mommy is pretty?"
J- "Oh? No...."

"Ahhh Flip!"
(Where he heard the expression "flip" is beyond me! Dave and I don't use it...though he has let "Crap!" fly a few times which we are trying to curb- but when he said "Flip!" we couldn't even tell him not to say it anymore, because we were silently shaking with laughter and hoping he wouldn't see us!)

M- "Jaxon, we need to put your shirt on! You can't go into the store without a shirt, that would be too silly!"
J -(Hands out wide) "Yeah Mom! I would be an ABOMINATION!!!"
(He got the expression from Lilo and Stitch...but I'm pretty impressed he re-used it in a fairly appropriate situation!)

M-"Jaxon, do you want a jelly sandwich?"
J- "Nahhh...I'm good."
("I'm good"?????- priceless!)

A few recent cuties:
helping mom make cupcakes...

Helping me grind wheat for bread...(I know, I'm a real suzy homemaker)

Trying to watch Television with his new Spider Man Sunglasses on...

No really, I'm not kidding.

Today, in the first 10 minutes of my 5 hour photoshoot, (more to come on that later) I stepped in a hot, steaming, freshy, mushy, green COWPIE!!! No, that is not a joke. Nor is the fact that I stepped in said cowpie with FLIP-FLOPS ON!!!! Now, it doesn't take a genius to figure out that a 4 inch pile of cow poo will go right UP and OVER the sides of a 1/2 inch thick flip-slop.

gross. seriously, stickily, stinkily gross.

Luckily, Farmer Casey was kind enough to hose my foot/shoe off. But don't worry, I was a trooper too---I stayed in the corral for several more minutes to get my shot before leaving to have my foot/shoe sprayed.
Did I mention it was gross?

Welcome Alexis!!!

Just had to show off a few pictures of my newest, gorgeous niece Alexis. (Lexi or Ali, but NOT ALEX!) Ali-girl is the daughter of my brother Ryan and his wife Emily (who Ryan met because she was one of MY best friends in HS...he went to HER graduation dinner and NOT mine...but let's not get into the unpleasantries...!!)
I love this girl and her two big sisters dearly, and I always imagine that if I ever have a little girl, she will look a lot like this little beauty!!