Monday, March 31, 2008

I'm back in the PRC

Today it was back to reality for us: back to school, back to work, back to Chinese lessons and dropping off and picking up children. Walking up the hill, down the hill...
Everybody here is still a bit tired. Andrew's teacher called at lunch; he was claiming to be "miserable" but couldn't quite put his finger on any body part that was actually giving him trouble. He ended up eating lunch with his teacher and staying for the rest of the day...I later found out three kids called mommies from that one class alone. I guess we're not the only tired ones.
I went to Alex's class today and read with some of the students - they have a parent come in each week to listen to a student read aloud, one on one. It's nice to be in his classroom and listen to the kids reading.
Ella was excited to go back to school, though she did ask to go to the beach instead. She was tired today but not tired enough for a nap. We laid down together and watched a Little People video this afternoon, but she didn't fall asleep (I nearly did). So at dinner tonight she fell asleep eating her gingered carrots.
It's nice to be back into our routine but I sure could go for another iced coffee with spicy crackers, with a cool ocean breeze blowing through my hair.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Sweet memories and sad realities

The kids had fun at the beach...

Our last night there we saw a show with dancers and drummers...

This is what the resort looks like...

This is what Cebu looks like outside the resort...

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Wish You Were Here...

Can you see the ocean in the background? The beautiful, blue ocean? We took a kayak out this morning with Ella and saw some cool fishies.

Tim went snorkeling today, too, and saw more cool rainbow fish.

We had WESTERN lunch outside in our bathing suits listening to Jimmy Buffet (and the Pina Colada song).

The boys have long sleeved shirts on because they are at the Adventure Zone, which is outdoor games, swimming, lunch, crafts and indoor play on the huge climbing playground. They were pretty jazzed to go this morning.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Yesterday we got into the dual-plate car (can go between China Mainland & Hong Kong) to head to the airport. We had an uneventful ride there, and a nice plane ride to Manila, then had to wait in the (hot) plane while they boarded people on a bus, took them to the terminal, then returned to pick up more people. One bus for a HUGE planeload! We were supposed to have over an hour layover but after getting through customs, security, baggage claim, more security, and more customs, and paying our 200 philippine pesos per head, we RAN to catch our connection to Cebu. Cebu reminds me a lot of Mexico - probably due to the heavy Spanish influence here (sadly as a result of the Inquisition).
The Shangi-La is BEAUTIFUL and we were upgraded to a lovely, large executive suite. The food here is WESTERN-influenced and delicious - salads (!!!) pasta, vegetables, and - I know, it's not really Western - curries. I've been obsessed with curries and Indian food lately, much to the chagrin of my children. At dinner we ran into our old neighbors from China who moved back to Germany last summer. They had just been visiting in China (we saw them throughout the week at our school) and then came here.
We took a lovely evening swim, had a great sleep, and are ready for our adventure to begin!

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Happy Easter from the Behlings!
In church here this morning (where we sat listening to a message for 45 minutes until I thought my bottom was going to fall right off) we said "He is risen! He is risen indeed!" in Chinese. I wish I could remember how we said it to share with you; sorry.
Days like this I sure do miss my old church and my funny, thought-provoking, challenging pastor who did his sermons in about 8 minutes. And I missed (so much) singing "Jesus Christ is Ris'n Today" with the trumpets and big organ and such. But, I was able to share Easter fellowship with a whole bunch of passionate Christians from all over the world, and that, my friend, is one of the reasons we're here - and very, very cool. Now we're getting ready for a big dinner with a big family - 10 people from one family (including in-laws and a niece, 5 kids, mom and dad). Should be fun - the ham smells terrific. Have a blessed Easter.

Friday, March 21, 2008

The Gold Medal Goes To...

This week was the Reading Olympics at our kids' school (the Olympics will be in China this year). There were all sorts of fun reading activities all week, and the school provided athletic headbands to all students. Since my Alex was the only one in his class to wear his all day, all week, he was chosen to represent his class in receiving their gold medal at the awards ceremony today. Andrew, too, was selected in his class to receive it - that was mighty cool to see both my boys so proud and grown-up!
Andrew's grade "hosted" the awards assembly, and my boy had a little speaking part. He did great! I would have photos but my camera was missing for a few days. Luckily, I complained to my dear friend Kelly that it was missing and she said "Oh! It's at my house!" because we had thrown a baby shower there last week. I was SO relieved because I thought it had been stolen! Yay, Kelly!
This weekend kicks off spring break for us, and on Tuesday we will be heading to Cebu, Philippines. It's supposed to be a lovely beach resort, adn I'm looking forward to just sitting on the beach and relaxing! I WILL be posting photos of our trip because Kelly found my camera!
It is Easter weekend and I sure wish I could have attended Good Friday services today. I did, however, go out for fish n' chips which is as close as I can get to a Friday Nite Fish Fry, for all you Wisconsinites (go, Badgers!). And I will be going to church somewhere on Sunday, not sure if it will be here or in Hong Kong. Apparently there is a bit of a flu crisis going on in Hong Kong - not sure it's a good idea to head over there to mingle with a bunch of other people in a room...probably we'll stay here and worship.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Have your people talk to my people...

My lovely and talented mommy (whom I miss dearly!!!!) has a website that has pictures of our house on it. If you are interested in seeing where we live, shoot me an e-mail and I will pass on the link to you. If you can't e-mail me, you are probably not someone who needs to see the pictures OR you have lost my e-mail. In the case of the latter, just comment here that you would like to see them and I'll send you the link. If you know my mommy, just ask her for the link. Okee dokee?
Have a nice day.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Baker's Anonymous

This morning I was running to grab a cup of tea and a danish before my Chinese lesson. I ran into some friends I haven't seen in a while - one basically started my cake business. She's been here for 5 years and my cake was the first "real" cake she'd seen or tasted in China. The other friend is the one who organized the dessert event I catered last month - all based on her love of my cake. So, I sat down with them for a chat and mentioned I'm taking a break from cakin' for a while. They looked disappointed so I said that, of course, I'd still fill orders for them since I know them and they're easy to please. They were very supportive about my decision.
About 5 minutes later, one of them turned to me and asked if she could order a cheesecake THIS WEEK for her family! It was really funny, to me, because she was completely serious. So, what did I say? I said YES! I admit it - I am addicted to baking!

Sunday, March 16, 2008

It's Sunday...guess what this post is about??

In church today an adult was baptized and a little girl was, also, whose parents became Christians only about 2 years ago. I was struck by the realization that most of the people in my church here have made a conscious choice to be Christians. Most did not grow up going to church with their parents or even the whole twice-a-year-Christmas -and-Easter thing. They own their faith in a way I think many in the U.S. don't. It is interesting how living here is making me claim my own faith, as well. It is not easy or cheap to get to a church sanctuary. Many of my friends are not believers, and those that are pose new questions or beliefs for me to sift through and weigh. I am forced here to be active about my faith, not passive. It would be easy to just put it all on hold until I return to the U.S. where it's easy and even expected I go to church.

Many U.S. Christians grow up going to church with Mom and Dad and just sort of assume it or take it for granted. That's what you do on Sundays. Many businesses close (though not as many as it used to be).
In China and Hong Kong, however, Sunday is just another opportunity for business. Everything is open on Sunday mornings. It would be very easy to choose not to go to church, to get shopping done or go out and do just about anything else. That's what a giant majority of the people do. It is just another business day.
But my church is packed full of people who are joyful and exuberant about their faith - it's fresh, new, chosen faith. When we sing, many people raise their arms in physical worship, along with their voices. It is a very inspiring place to be on Sundays. We make a joyful noise as well as a joyful picture.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

She's Crafty*

*Author's note: "She's Crafty" is a song by the Beastie Boys. It is not about knitting, decoupage-ing, sewing or scrapbooking... : O

I had my first knitting class today. I have started to knit a spa washcloth out of wonderfully soft cotton and bamboo yarn. I'm so excited! I've always wanted to be one of the crafty people! Can I be in the club now? Do I have the right to shop at the craft stores and look like I know what I'm doing?

We also had student-led conferences at the kids' school today. Each child took us through their classroom on a tour and showed us what they've been working on this year. They each read to us from a "just-right" book and showed us their portfolio. It was really impressive to hear from them how and what they're doing.

My hippie son got a buzz cut today. Now he looks like a serious rock star. Alex...dude. He looks much more like a boy now, too!

And I had Chinese class. I ran into my teacher grabbing a treat at Starbucks ("Shim-ba-ke" in Chinese) so we gave her a ride to my house and I tried to have a lesson with three kids and a husband milling about. Not especially productive, but it did give us quite a bit of conversation material!

Sunday, March 09, 2008


Today I had great intentions to get the kids up, get everybody ready and head to Hong Kong for church. Then I started to think about the huge ordeal it is with two adults and how much huger of an ordeal it would be with only one adult. So, I decided to scrap the Hong Kong plans and attend the local church here. I have not been especially impressed or pleased with the local church - that's why we go through the huge ordeal to get to a Hong Kong church. Today was okay - I've been told it's much better now but it's pretty much the same as last time we went. It was really nice to worship once again with others after going the past few weeks without. And the boys had a nice time at Sunday School. It was good - much better than not attending worship services at all.
After, we went out to lunch with some friends - a buddy of Alex's and his parents. They then took Alex home with them for the day and I took Andrew and Ella to the playground. It was a nice day. We had a very quiet supper without Daddy or Alex and then got snuggly on my bed, watching "Little People" videos. It was a nice Sunday - family, friends, fellowship, food. I feel full and at peace. Church sure makes a difference in my Sundays, regardless of how it get it!
I am ready for Tim to come back from the U.S. (tonight!) and for another busy week. God's peace to you!

Friday, March 07, 2008

Cake, Schmake.

Last week I had to cancel a cake order because Andrew had to go to the doctor in Hong Kong...he's fine now but there was no way I could physically get that cake done and still take care of him. So, Thursday night, the same woman (who I've never met) calls again for a similar cake for a bigger party for her daughter. She needs it on Saturday. I said "Sure!"...even though I had planned on NOT doing any cakes at all this week because Tim is in the U.S. and I'm busy enough with the kids. Of course, I had already agreed to do 2 dozen cupcakes on Friday and another cake for someone else for Saturday. Apparently, nobody got my mental memo that I would not be doing cakes this week. And, I apparently have trouble with the word "NO."
Sadly, I looked in my pantry this morning to start my cake baking and decorating and found it to be lacking severely in icing ingredients (that's "FROSTING" for you yankees). And the import stores have been out of the icing sugar for a few weeks now. My supply was used up with the cupcakes and the first cake.
So, I had to call this woman and tell her - AGAIN - that I couldn't get her cake done. I'm thinking I'm not supposed to make a cake for her. I'm also thinking I need to learn how to say NO because I didn't really want to do these cakes in the first place!
The cupcakes are completed and delivered and have been devoured by 4-year-olds. The other cake is done but I'm really not happy with how it looks. At all. I had no ambition or creative juices this week - they were all sucked up by other stuff. I think it turned out waaaaaay too girlie for Todd...what do you think??
I think I need a break from cake-makin'!

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Slacker Blogger

Man, am I lazy or what! I mean, is it really that hard to post a little something every now and then to let you know what's going on here? Maybe tell a little joke, say something dazzling or at least thought-provoking? Apparently, yes, it is very hard for me. Because I've been so busy. Doing what? I don't really know...
I have been doing cakes, of course. Last week I finally finished my big catering job. It started out with me providing 7 courses of desserts for an art and jewelry exhibit. Oh, I was so nervous I wasn't sleeping! Then we went down to 5 because we were doing it at a restaurant and the owner of the restaurant needed to do a couple, too, just to keep her products visible. Then somebody goofed on the menu so I went down to 4, which was very manageable. It turned out really great; I was pretty proud of myself for getting everything done and delivered and tasted and enjoyed. So, that had been taking up a lot of my time and attention. So glad it's over!
Later that week I filled one order for 120 cupcakes and did another cake the following day. This week I only have two normal-size orders to fill, so far.
We have officially passed the year mark (Feb. 18)...I supposed I should have blogged then, too. Ah, well, we were too busy celebrating that year of living in China...not really. I must say, that in the past year I've become more used to living waaaaaay over here, not driving or listening to the radio, not seeing my especially loved ones, and not watching U.S. t.v. (which is actually quite refreshing). I have become more fluent in Chinese to the point where I think I could survive outside of my little expat bubble. I have become much more used to and appreciative of Chinese culture, and I sure have learned a lot about Asian culture and the rest of the world. I have met many good friends from all over the place, and some super-good-soulmate-type friends from the U.S. I have dived more deeply into my faith since I have to really claim it here and sift and winnow it a bit, and also I have had to rely on it much more than I have in the past. I have come to really appreciate so many things we take for granted. I have come to appreciate and rely on my family even more than before (didn't think that was even possible). And I've certainly grown, opened up, and learned a thing or two about priorities and needs in life.
I've been playing trains and babies with Ella, who is a joy and a riot and is learning so quickly; and the Wii with my boys, who are also a joy and a riot and sometimes really crabby and sassy and sometimes so loving it makes my heart hurt. We have been playing "Boogie" which is a dance Wii game. It has a bunch of good old songs (like Jackson Five "ABC" and the so-tired "YMCA") which my boys have discovered...again and again and again...and again.
I've been reading like a woman obsessed...or at least really in need of a good learning experience/escape. I've just finished "Eat.Love.Pray" which I enjoyed and which opened me up even more for further exploration. Now I want to start meditating. I'm sure that will happen since I am so reliable with other things in my life, like my blog. And I've read "The Last Chinese Chef" which is a good read and teaches you a bit (just a bit) about Chinese culture and food and guanxi.
I've been reading my friends Meredith's and Michelle's blogs daily, usually thinking "Boy, that woman is clever. I sure wish I had a blog. A clever one, at least" and laughing and crying with them virtually, and appreciating their honesty, openness and updates.
I hope things are well with you...thanks for keeping up with us! Peace.