CHINA!!!  We spent 12 days in China over Christmas break 2011, and I'm telling you, we had the time of our lives! Because I am making an entire blog book about it, with the 500+ pictures we took, this will be an extremely quick overview.
  There were a few things I really worried about, and all revolved around Jaxon. How would he do on a 12 hour flight? How would he do at swapping his days and nights? Would he be a melt-down zombie all day? Would he even enjoy seeing the sites in China?  All my worries were FOR NAUGHT!  He did amazing on the flight! We took off from Seattle at 6pm our time, and got in at 8am our time, which was then 11pm china time---a little tricky.  On the plane we just let Jaxon stay up and watch his individual screen in the back on the chair in front of us as long as he wanted. There were 100s of kids movies and cartoons to choose from, and he was in heaven. Around 9 he started getting really tired, but couldn't get comfy. At 10 he asked if we would lay a blanket on the floor for him at our feet, which we did, and he immediately fell asleep for the next 8 hours (not super restfully, but asleep) he woke up happy as a clam for the last few hours for the flight and was SO EXCITED TO SEE GRANDMA AND GRANDPA that he could hardly contain himself! We got to the airport and he RAN into Grandpa's arms! Grandpa and Jaxon are really special buddies, and Grandpa was crying he was so excited to see Jax. That night we all stayed at a hotel in Beijing (where the airport is) and shopped all the next day. Jaxon only slept about 3 more hours that night, but otherwise watched his plethora of media options and was fine.  
The next day we went to the pearl and silk market to do some fun shopping! Fun for us, NOT for Jaxon. Every shop is run by an 18-30 year old girl, and EVERY. SINGLE. ONE. fell in love with Jaxon, picked him up, hugged and kissed him, and squeezed him to death. Jaxon was so over it, and started asking the four adults (Mom,dad, grandpa and grandma) to walk all around him so the girls wouldn't see him!

No such luck buddy-SPOTTED!

This is a different girl... she really loved Jaxon... A LOT!

That night we took the bullet train back to Tianjin and my parents apartment because it was Christmas EVE!  We were in the apartment next door. Here is Jaxon with his best buds, in his new Spider Man PJs that he got at the market!

Jaxon fell asleep (Dead to the world) around 7.  At around 2:30 I heard some noise and stumbled into his room to find this-
Jaxon had woken up and was ready for the day to begin! He plopped on his new angry birds had, got a protein bar, and played his leap pad.  We just let him stay up, and play!!!

This is a picture of my parents bathtub filling up! Though I am a lover of baths, I just couldn't do it.  Although I did shower, and it was the same water....

 This is how Jaxon was often found in the cabs in China- SLEEPING!  The poor kids finally got on schedule a few days before we left, but really took it like a champ. He took catnaps whenever we drove anywhere (Grandpa enjoyed a few good naps himself!) and then woke back up and enjoyed the next activity!

Christmas night in an attempt to wake Jaxon up from a 3 hour nap, and also delay his bedtime, Grandpa took him to a meat market! (Totally different than "meat market" here!)   In the bottom left of the picture you can see live fish just waiting to be bought and scaled, but the real gem is Jaxon and Grandpa are holding a giant LIVE bullfrog which we could have bought and had butchered for our dinner.
We didn't-
but we could have!

On Monday we got up and Jaxon, Dave and I went to Grandpa's class that he teaches at the university. Dave and I were chopped liver, but just like everywhere else in China, JAXON WAS A BIG HIT! All the kids had funny questions for him, and Gave him the Chinese name of "Sham-boa" (best English spelling I can think of) Sham-boa is the Chinese version of a Romeo-Juliet type story-- He's very handsome and charismatic!

On Tuesday afternoon Jaxon, Dave, and I flew 3 hours to Xian (pronounced She-Ann) where the Terra Cotta warriors and the very ancient Xian City wall (Different than the great wall) are located.  I had been here before and knew how totally amazing, awesome, and awe-inspiring it is, and DAVE FELL IN LOVE! Dave is a real history buff ,and he seriously LOVED Xian. Jaxon did so great too! He loved looking at everything and hearing the background stories. It was extremely EXTREMELY cold in China (in the teens and 20s with lots of wind) and even inside, we usually always wore ALL of our winter gear!

This was our guide in Xian- Coco- she was darling and an amazing wealth of knowledge! One of my favorite guides I've had in China!

Wednesday morning we started our whirlwind jam packed tour!
Here we are in side pit one of the warriors. It is a fascinating story, and if you don't know it, you should google it!

Our little Terra Cotta Warrior-

Next we went to the Big Wild Goose Pagoda. It is an ancient and still functioning Monastery.  We had another guide just for that temple, and he was amazing. Our tour was 2 hours long, and even Jaxon didn't get bored!

Here we are in front of the gold Buddha.  This is where the monks come to worship/pray and meditate. You can see their kneeling pillow to the left and right.

Our guide took our names and translated the sounds into Chinese words, and gave us Chinese symbol names. 
Dave's closest name sounds were Dai-wu-dah (they don't have the "v" sound) and his name meant
Dah- virtue
Jaxon's closest sounds were Chia-ku-son
Son- Forest
My sounds were Ai-Shu-ree
Ai- Love
Ree- Beautiful

After our amazing tour at the Wild Goose Pagoda we went to the Ancient Xian City Wall. It runs 8 miles long all the way around "Xian ancient City"  You can walk it, jog it, or even ride bikes around on it!
These are the stairs up, to give you an idea how high it is!

Here we are on top of the wall. We were pretty exhausted, but we had about an hour before we had to be at our Tang Dynasty Show and dumpling feast, so we walked for about an hour along the wall. Dave wished we had time to walk the whole 8 miles, but seriously, I might have jumped off had that been the case- I was so tired!  I do think it is extremely beautiful and amazing, and Jaxon says that we were just like Samuel the Lamanite! 

Did I mention we were exhausted?  Jaxon laid down for a rest, and we just let him lay for a while!

here we are in a Rick-Shaw! I think we look pretty cute!

 Next we headed to the Tang Dynasty show and Dumpling Feast. Jaxon had been so excited about this show all day, but we got there for the dinner at 6:30, and the show was at 7:30, and the poor kid never stood a chance! We sat down, gave him some of the food we brought for him, of which he took a tiny nibble and fell asleep with his head on Dave's lap in about .02 seconds. He was out like a light from 6:30-8:30.

This is our first of three rounds of dumplings.  Often the color or shape indicates what is inside- ie- the yellow duck shaped dumpling was filled with- you guessed it- duck!
Here's the deal- dumplings are fun in theory only. They are kinda gross, and all end up tasting kinda similar, unless there is something really disgusting inside (Enter - bean paste filled dumpling!) or delicious (there was only one delicious one, and it was filled with a brown sugar walnut paste...think...pecan pie filling)

The show was really amazing and showed musical instruments, music, dancing, and fight scenes from the Tang dynasty, 1000's of years ago. We were really bummed that Jaxon was missing it!  About halfway through there was a REALLY REALLY LOUD drumming performance with giant drums.  Jaxon sat straight up, and looked absolutely petrified! His eyes were huge and he just looked and looked around trying to figure out where the heck he was! He then calmly climbed into Dave's lap, and enjoyed the rest of the show!

The next morning we slept in, and then met our guide to go to the Muslim market.  It is located right next to a Muslim Mosque. One really interesting thing that happened while we were there is that a Muslim funeral came through the market.  The front guys were carrying the dead person on a stretcher just covered by a sheet!  Then there were probably 30 people following behind.  The first ones right behind the stretcher were "professional mourners" (our guide told us) hired by the family to act so sad that they were kinda out of their minds! Pulling on their hair and clothes and practically screaming their cries.  Behind that was all the family members who were just normally crying. It was one of the craziest things I have ever been 2 feet from!

Jaxon really loves to buy things by himself- give the money, get the change etc. So here is Jaxon making his first purchase with the 100 yuan that grandpa game him- an angry birds game that we all actually had a lot of fun with!

We flew back to Tianjin and the next morning we took the bullet train back to Beijing with my parents for the rest of our stay. Our first stop was THE GREAT WALL! It is truly amazing, and has such a fascinating history-again- Dave was TOTALLY SOLD!  We went to the highest (Geographically) point anywhere on the great wall, and IT .WAS. STEEP!  Jaxon couldn't hack the walking (pretty sure he would have fallen over backwards and tumbled several thousand feet down the wall till it leveled out a little) so Dave carried him. It was FREEZING, but it was a serious work out, and Dave definitely gets the gold star- that was NOT easy to carry Jaxon up!

You can see the miles of Wall behind us in this picture- (and to the right in the red jacket you can see our Beijing guide- Helen. She was lame and very protective of China and didn't tell us the true stories about a lot of the places like my other guides have in the past!)

At the very highest point we stopped for several pictures.  Again we were reminded what an anomaly we were there, and after our own pictures together, and a very long line of people waiting behind us to have their pictures taken with us. I'm not kidding. After about ten minutes of pictures, and Jaxon downright refusing to look at any more cameras, we left (and the people in line were none-too-happy!)

Down the mountain on our way to lunch- Jaxon and Grandpa doing what they do best- SNOOZING!

I think I have reached my picture limit on this more to come!

Really, Christmas?

Christmas time 2011 can best be described as.... A BLUR! With Dave finishing up busy season, and with my calling at church keeping me ON. MY. TOES! And with trying to get everyone ready for our 2 week trip to China, we were BUSY BUSY BUSY!!!  I hate to say it, but to tell the honest truth, I was SO READY for "The Christmas season" to be OVER for us, and just to get on that plane to China and not have cell phone or email access for 2 weeks. That is NOT, I repeat, NOT a good way to go into the season that not only celebrates the birth of our Savior, but also celebrates FAMILY, so next year I have vowed, WILL NOT be like that!
 Our first executive decision was to put up or Christmas decor, but not a tree. Since we would be gone for Christmas (had so much to do anyway!) and wouldn't be back until January, it was just for the best.  We did put up our stocking Christmas countdown (So cute, but no picture. I bought it on Etsy, and Jaxon LOVES IT!)  Every day we did one activity to get us in the Christmas spirit, and we really had a blast with it.   The other thing we did this year was "Elf on a Shelf"  this was our first year, and I didn't know how well it would go over with Jaxon, but it was the HIGHLIGHT OF HIS CHRISTMAS!  It was SO SO SO SO SO SO FUN!  The idea is that our elf, named "Jolly" by Jaxon, watches over us to make sure Jaxon is good.  He reports to Santa at night while we sleep, and then comes back and gets into mischief and we find him in the morning. Jaxon absolutely loved this, and Dave and I had so much fun taking turns deciding what and where Jolly would be the next morning!  There were a couple evenings that we forgot, and one of us would have to keep Jaxon in our room for a "discussion of the days' activities" while the other one quickly moved him)  The first few days I was really ambitious and took super cute pictures...and then... well... did I mention how busy we were during Christmas???  :o)

Day one, Jolly played a fun game of Trouble with Iron Man, T-rex, and magic genie!

Day two Jolly got hung up in the shower...

Day three Jolly was found leading a Dinosaur Parade!

Day four Jolly was just plain tired and made a bed out of the kleenex box!

Halloween 2011

Jaxon is really loving school!  His class is great, and he has great friends, despite the fact that there are 6 boys, and 13 girls in his class!  (UPDATE- all the really naughty boys from his class have transferred! WOOT WOOT!!)  These are pictures from his school Halloween party! I love to go help in his classroom, it is fascinating to me to see how he interacts with others!

The little darling to the right of Jaxon (looking at him instead of the camera) is one of his best friends. They love to play together and she is a no-nonsense gal and I love it! To be honest, If I could pick his future bride at this exact moment, she would be in the top 2 with a little darling from Church!

These next ones are from Halloween night. He wore the mask for about 13 minutes total...just long enough for me to torture him by taking these pictures.  Then it just drove him nuts and he never wore it again! I think that his scrawny little neck coming out of the fake muscles is one of the funniest things I've ever seen!

Yes, I said Valentine. I had this baby in mind ever since he decided to be a super hero for Halloween, and I can tell you, the kids in his class LOVED IT!  It was designed by the uber- talented Lauryn VanRooy, who is for hire for Christmas Cards, invites etc!



In the fall we finally decided it was time for Jaxon to play some organized sports and he chose soccer.  We were SO SO blessed to get on a great team with a great coach and some really really nice kids!  The coach has continued to coach through winter season, and spring season which is about to start, and almost all the kids have continued to play together, so it has been a wonderful social, and athletic experience for Jaxon.  When he first started we didn't have much hope that he would ever be a soccer star, and really just wanted to work on coordination and teamwork.  He was content in the games to run near the ball but never touch it, so we decided to up the anti a little!  We told Jaxon we would give him $20 if he scored a goal- next game, guess what he did???  
After that we told him scoring was just for fun and has team, and he has scored 4 goals in the two seasons so far.  He has come SO SO SO SO FAR in his skill, understanding, and coordination, and we will be sad to see spring season end, because they he and a few others will be too old to play on this coach's team.
Jaxon thoroughly enjoys practice with his teammates as much as games!

What he doesn't enjoy is having his picture taken!

Blurry, but a good action shot

happy player

tic-toc drill

At the games Jaxon gets so excited that if he is not running with/near/after the ball, he can usually be found jumping for joy!!!

This is Jaxon at Goalie. He doesn't actually enjoy goalie that much, becuase he  doesn't get to RUN!!

Running with the pack!