Saturday, December 27, 2008

America the Beautiful

What a nice change from China to come to U.S. It's so CLEAN here! The snow-capped mountains as you fly into LA are breathtaking. I do love it here. Efficiency and order are actually valued. Nobody is peeing (or worse) in the street, there are no horrid smells to assault your olfactory senses, the meat you buy you can be fairly sure is actual meat and not a former pet. There are restrooms in the restaurants and stores and malls - AND they have actual western toilets (not holes in the floor), toilet paper, soap and paper towels. People wash their hands, for the most part.

When we wanted to special order something at a restaurant I started to stress out immensely, wondering how we were going to explain what we wanted. Lo and behold, the waiter understood what we wanted the first time around! NO LANGUAGE BARRIER! I can take a shower in water that doesn't smell like feet, and not have to worry if I open my mouth by mistake when I shower. I can DRINK TAP WATER! We can drive here. I can turn on the radio and hear beautiful, normal music. I can turn on the TV and understand what they are saying on every single channel (yes, I can speak Spanish, ha ha). Nobody stares at us or wants to take our kids' pictures...we blend here. Everybody blends because everybody looks different - so different - here. It's such a beautiful country.

I can go to any website I want to and download or listen to whatever I want - there is a Chinese firewall that is pretty effective in not allowing many things through, whether due to censorship or copyright laws. Either way it can be a PITA (Pain In The #$%) to listen to a music sample or even go to a webpage that discusses personal freedoms...but in the U.S. it's something most people take for granted.

When we drive, people for the most part obey the traffic laws and respect each other. People bump into you and say "excuse me". When you sneeze somebody will say "God bless you."

Don't get me wrong - I do love China and I love living there. It's exciting and interesting and in some ways, more simple than living here. But what a lovely, fantastic treat to spend some time in my home country. Americans, you've got it good. Please don't ever forget this. With great personal freedom comes great responsibility. And it's a good thing.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Greetings from Sunny California!

OK, not really. It's been gray and rainy and COLD here! Who would have thought LA would be so cold...ah, well. We are enjoying our little family reunion immensely here - us, my mom and her husband, my dad and his wife, Tim's mom and her sister. Too bad our respective brothers couldn't join us...

We went to Disneyland the past few days, and did a tour of LA, which was really cool. We hired a private van to take us around, which was nice. Of course we made the pilgrammage to the Hard Rock Cafe, where we assaulted our parents' ears with a loud lunch, he he he. We saw the Walk of Fame, Hollywood, Rodeo was cool. And Disneyland Cali is really nice - we have finally been to every single Disney park.

Now we're in San Diego. Photos to come!...

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Field Trips and Holiday Concerts!

Andrew's grade took a trip up my mountain one day so I decided to join them. We really had a nice time! Can you find my son?

How about in this photo of his class singing for their holiday concert? He just looks so sweet to me!

Alex's drama club did a hilarious version of "I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Clause" dressed as elves. Sorry for the blurry pictures - my camera is temperamental...wonder where it gets that...
And here is Alex's samba band performing as a warm-up for the older Elementary School kids' concert.

Here is Alex doing his solo in "I'll Be Home for Christmas". That kid has the drama/music/performing bug! Wonder where he gets it...

Here is Ella getting ready for her big show. The preschool kids sang a few songs and did a crazy dance. It was lovely.

Then they got to hang out with Santa for a bit. My girl was so brave she actually sat on his lap! Originally we agreed to maybe a high-five or some other minimal-contact interaction. You go, my Power Ranger Girl!

Santa gave her a present.
HAPPY HOLIDAYS from the kids' school!