Sunday, March 31, 2013

Week In Pictures

I arrived back in Beijing from my trip late Friday night and I knew I was in for a whirlwind week of fun!

Parent Teacher Conferences and Spring Concerts.
So proud of my two great kiddos!
Softball pitcher and baseball player.
It was a special week! Friends from CA were in Beijing and I got to be a tour guide. It was a great way to jump right back into the language and culture. 
Awesome memories and awesome friends. 

A boy and his noodles. 

The Summer Palace

The Summer Palace.

Candied strawberries at Wangfujing.

Rickshaw ride!

I picked up a magazine to thumb through and look who I found in the upper right hand corner!
(Super Bowl Party)

The Great Wall at Mutianyu.

Spring is on the way!

Happy Birthday to my fifteen year old girl!
There is a reason why it says "I CLIMBED the Wall".

 Next up: Pandas for Spring Break!

Spring at Home

I was able to visit Northern California on the tail end of this trip. It was a treat to have alone time at my parents house and be given time to process our upcoming repatriation back to the states. 

There were many, many highlights of my trip and I only caught a few of them on film. Each day I was able to spend time with close family and friends. It was amazing!

Good friends!

My mom's garden was blooming with freesia, daffodils, hydrangea. 

Yummy hot chocolate with a homemade marshmallow and graham cracker crumbs. 

The LDS Oakland Temple for some inspiration.

Fondue with friends!
Who knows if Northern California will be our home again in the future, but I know the people here will always be in my life! 
I had a great time!

The Beijing Zoo

To be perfectly honest, The Beijing Zoo doesn't have the best reputation. This is why it is a place where I have wanted to go, but was apprehensive. So when a friend came into town and wanted to see a Giant Panda I decided it was a good time to see what the deal was for real.

Getting to the zoo is super easy! It is right off of Subway Line 4 at the Beijing Zoo exit. Also, admission to the zoo is very cheap. It was 30 yuan (approx $4.50 USD) for admission to the zoo and admission to the Giant Panda House. Yes, to see the pandas you pay a little more. The Giant Panda House is near the entrance to the zoo so if you only wanted to see them you could. However, don't be tempted to ditch out quite so soon. There are other cool animals, especially ones you can only see in China, there at the zoo. The big cats are cool and the assortment of Australian animals. 

One of two Giant Pandas at The Beijing Zoo.
You will read many reviews online about the conditions of the animals and zoo quality. You can also see videos online of rude Chinese patrons harassing the animals to get their attention. These are the reasons many Beijingers stay away. 

My take on the zoo...
Everywhere in Beijing places are over employed, meaning there are too many workers for the job. This was the exact opposite at the zoo. The only employees I saw were the ones manning the ice cream/food carts. At other zoos I've been to you see zoo keepers tending to the animals. I didn't see one. I thought this was a bit strange considering we were there for multiple hours. With that being said, all of the animals (except the lemurs) were uncharacteristically sedate. I don't think it was necessarily nap time for the various animals I saw but they were all sleeping or chilling out. After a while it made you feel sad that they were very unstimulated and bored.  
The Snub Nose Monkeys were interesting from the Yunnan Province and Tibet.

 We did see our fair share of people banging on windows to get animals attention. We also saw a man throwing cherry tomatoes at The Brown Bear to wake him up. It worked and the man continued to throw the tomatoes to the bear for food, even when it clearly said to not feed the animals. 

Red Pandas from China

The only sleeping Lemur. The rest were amped up running around.
Should you or shouldn't you visit the zoo?
Depending on how much time you have in Beijing, the zoo is definitely an attraction that should fall below the essentials (The Forbidden City, The Summer Palace, The Temple of Heaven). If you are dying to see a panda in "real life" and know this may be your only opportunity, I would set aside a couple of hours in a morning and crank out the China animals. The zoo is not super large so seeing it does not take all day. 

One thing I wanted to do was hop on a boat (available from inside the zoo) and travel up the river to The Summer Palace. Unfortunately, we were a few days early for the boat to open. It is available spring and summer (April 1). 
I would recommend doing this if you plan on visiting the zoo.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter- Day Saints in China

It is exciting to share a new website specifically to answer questions about our church in China, directly from the leaders.  My blog gets many questions from readers about how Chinese Nationals can participate in our religion. This is a great resource for the expatriates (like me) in China and for those who have questions. Visit the new website here. 

I know that our church is lead by prophetic men who receive their inspiration and revelation from God and His Son, Jesus Christ. This is just another reason I know that they understand the needs of the people throughout the world. 

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Week in Pictures ~ LA Edition

It is no secret that I am here in Los Angeles on a fact finding mission about a possible relocation. Besides China, I have only lived in Northern and Southern California so we are very lucky that those are our two choices. 

Here is a run down of my week 

In true LA style, I started my trip with a celeb sighting on my flight from Chicago to LA.  I watched FAME as a little girl and I watch Grey's Anatomy now, so spotting Debbie Allen was very cool. She was very kind and talked to everyone about the plot on Grey's. 
Debbie Allen on my flight!
I picked up my rental car and was happy when they upgraded me for free! I have had a week long test drive of a Jetta Sportswagon...I love it!
Cute Mom Wheels!
 I headed straight to my in-laws for a few days. After arriving from Beijing I am always in awe of the blue sky. This time I was able to enjoy 80 degree weather, snow covered mountains and big blue skies. Lucky me!

Spring weather in late February.
 If it was an option to move to Orange County I would not hesitate so I was thrilled when I traveled to Newport Beach to have lunch with hubby's boss.
Harbor view from the Rusty Pelican in Newport Beach.
 Though I was having so much fun I missed my family, of course. Luckily we were able to keep in contact sometimes. 

Skype with the girl.
D talking to me on the phone while skiing in Beijing.

A treat for moi!
 On Sunday I headed over to my hotel in Manhattan Beach. Now the real work begins! Each day I had appointments with different realtors in different areas. 
Morning runs on the beach.

My dream house...for just $2.2 million!

I saw...famous houses!

The house from "Father of the Bride" with Steve Martin (Pasadena).
 I saw...famous schools.
The school from "Beverly Hills 90210" (El Segundo High).

I saw...many, many outdated homes that need A LOT of work.
The outside and neighborhood was okay, but the inside was circa 1972! (Arcadia)

 I saw...high performing schools.
Redondo High School. (Redondo Beach)

 I saw...vintage details.
I love floral patterns, but not on ceramic tile.
Original bathroom that I really liked. Circa 1950's.
Original kitchen tile and cabinets...updated in orange?
 I favorite stores!
I am not sure anyone who lives in the US understands the joy I feel when I go to Target!
 I saw...many, many charming homes that were out of our price range.
A quaint English cottage in South Pasadena.
I closest friend from college. We never feel as though we've drifted apart. One of my very favorite friends!

I saw...a friend who had moved to Santa Monica. I haven't seen her in a couple of years and ironically she will be coming to Beijing at the end of this month. Twice in one month, her turf and my turf.

I adorable niece who is a student at Cal State Long Beach. We had the best time in old town Long Beach eating yummy Greek food and chatting the night away. Love her!

 So how do I feel about living in Southern California?

The best part of Los Angeles...

The Strand at Manhattan Beach.

...and the worst part about living in Los Angeles!
Orange and Black forever!
The bottom line ~ I am so proud of my husband who works hard and does his job so well. I am grateful he has a job and has choices of where to go. I have faith that we will end up where we are supposed to be. We will not know our final decision until some details get worked stay tuned. In the meantime I look forward to the next couple of weeks with my mom and dad and our last few months on our China adventure!