Friday, September 30, 2011

A Few Pics from China

In case it's been awhile since you looked at my blog- here is our most recent story in a "nutshell". On Sep. 3, Ron traveled to Beijing, China to work there for a month. On Sep. 14 he was in the hospital having surgery to remove his appendix and part of his large intestine. His appendix had ruptured, but it had ruptured on the side that is insulated with a layer of fat. That layer contained the infection until the surgeon was removing the appendix. The appendix was so infected that part of his large intestine was also infected. Since the surgery was more complicated than a normal appendectomy, his stay in the hospital was almost 1 week. (He was released from the hospital on Sep. 20.) I left Houston early in the morning on Sep.17 and arrived in Beijing on Sunday afternoon, Sep. 18. After they released Ron from the hospital, we stayed in a Marriott hotel until Saturday, Sep. 24- then we flew back to Houston. On one afternoon I went to the Forbidden City and on another afternoon I went to the Great Wall of China. The hospital, the hotel, and the office building, where ConocoPhillips is located, are all in the northeast part of Beijing. Here are a few pictures from there.


At the Great Wall.


There are several places in China, where you can go to the Great Wall. The location that we went to, was about 1 1/2 hours from Beijing. It is one of the more "touristy" spots. On the way "up" to the wall there is this small cobblestone street lined with small markets of "stuff". I did buy a few items here. The amazing thing is that each little stand has exactly the same items as the others. There is great competition between vendors to persuade a customer to buy from them. Of course lots of bartering!! And of course, as soon as they spot an American tourist (with money :), the price goes up!! I prefer Wal Mart, with a bargain price (?) posted right on the item. hehe
(I will post some pics. later of the treasures, I brought home :)

This is the building were ConocoPhillips is located there.


A couple of restaurants on the street between the hotel and the office building.
The one on the right is a Dairy Queen. The streets are very congested with cars, taxi cabs, bicycles, and pedestrians.

This was one of Ron's favorite restaurants- they serve Chinese dumplings here. Ron is pretty adventurous about trying foreign foods- I'm not so good at that. He was very patient with me, and let me be "picky".  

This is the Marriott, Beijing Northeast.

The reason I took this picture, is because Beijing is an interesting combination of prosperity and extreme poverty. Just behind this sign, near a very expensive, skyscraper hotel, is a "shack" community. You can just barely see one wall of the neighborhood, behind this sign. From the street it is hidden behind some trees, but from a window in the hotel, several floors above, it can be seen clearly. Basically, just walls, no windows or doors. I'm not sure if they have running water or electricity there. Many of the bathrooms in Beijing (even in the restaurants), are simply a hole in the floor- no toilets.





A couple of pics. from the Forbidden City. A place filled with history, tradition, superstition, and symbolism.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Happy Birthday

Happy Birthday...you know who you are :) hehe
There is a card in the mail, but I've had a few distractions this month- seems like I've been late on everything. We love you and wish you another great year.

Monday, September 26, 2011

The Lesser of Evils

For me to go to China, was like choosing the lesser of evils. I couldn't decide if it was harder to stay home or harder to go. I've only been on one "over the ocean" flight before, and I was pretty nervous about the whole thing. But after Ron told me to come, I was running strictly on adrenaline and all of the events of the past two weeks have been very surreal for me. For someone who used to love to sleep- that has been hard to find these days. I arrived in China on Sunday afternoon. I stayed at the hospital with Ron on Sunday night and Monday night. There was a sofa bed in his room- at least it barely qualified as a sofa bed :) Monday night was better than Sunday night- I just slept on it as a sofa, rather than pulling it out to make a bed. (On Sunday night I actually didn't spend all that much time on the sofa bed anyway- I mostly sat in the chair). Ron was released from the hospital on Tuesday afternoon, then we stayed at a Marriott hotel there. On Wednesday afternoon I went to see the "Forbidden City".
On Thursday, I went to the "Great Wall of China". 


Here, I am standing at the "Great Wall".



It was an amazing site to see, but while I was standing there, I just kept thinking, "How did I get here?!!" The events of the days before that were just a blurr. I am really glad that I went though. My relationship with Ron is even stronger now. (and we had a good relationship before) Besides we are going to have a long and happy marriage now...

because I touched the spot at the "Forbidden City", that grants that :) hehe

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Miracles

We have had a few miracles in the past couple of weeks ;)
There were two that happened last Friday when I was preparing to go to China. In order for me to travel last weekend, I needed to get a visa application filled out and turned in to the Chinese consulate here in (downtown) Houston by 10:30 am. I woke up about 5 am and decided I needed to call Ron again and talk about me coming to China. I didn't spend a lot of time on the phone with him, but just as soon as he told me to go ahead and come, I moved into "high gear" to get everything ready and get downtown by 10:30. There was a lady here in Houston, at ConocoPhillips, that was helping me with the application and my airplane reservation. There could have been all sorts of delays in that process, but as it turned out, I made it just in time. (Then, I was able to return, downtown, to that office and pick up my visa at 2:30pm.)
The second miracle happened while I was out running around doing the "visa thing". I arrived at my store about 3:30 in the afternoon.When I got there, there was a card on the counter with phone numbers of several people that live in Beijing. When I asked mom where it came from, she said that there had been a lady in the store earlier in the day that lived in Beijing. While she was in the store, she mentioned to mom that she lived in Beijing. So mom, told her the WHOLE story about Ron's surgery and me preparing to go there. As it turned out I didn't actually need those phone numbers, but it sure was comforting to have them in my purse. And, it was actually her husband that got in touch with someone from our church there, to go and give Ron a blessing, on Saturday evening. Some times it's a very small world.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

We Are Home

We are back from China. I have been home long enough to take a shower, start doing laundry, and get my "blog fix". I'm not ready to post much yet, but I have been catching up on what the kids have been posting during the past week. In the next couple of days, I'm sure I can can come up with several posts about our experience. I have a few pictures from the past couple of days. (I didn't take any pictures while we were "hanging around" at the hospital :) In fact, a couple of things that seem funny now, was when I arrived, there in Beijing, last Sunday. One of Ron's co-workers from ConocoPhillips came with his driver to the airport to pick me up. I was somewhat nervous about how we would find each other. But Ron told me that they would have a piece of paper with my name on it- "just look for that". And (here is the funny part), they realized that it might be hard for me to spot them, but it would be easy for them to spot a white, American woman, traveling alone. They were right. Then when we arrived at the hospital, that first hug from Ron was pretty emotional (I had been waiting for that for 4 days and especially during that 13 hour flight from SF to Beijing). We were all crying. The funny part was that he hadn't shaved since he arrived in China- so he had his grey beard and he was wearing blue pajamas with  "big purple flowers" printed on them. (I guess his other choice was pink pajamas with purple flowers on them- at he chose the blue ones.) 

Friday, September 16, 2011

Going to China

I am going to China tomorrow morning- arriving there Sunday afternoon-  coming back whenever Ron can travel. There were a few miracles today that allowed this to happen :)

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Conference Call

Thanks to Sam, we (all of us girls and I think Micah and Sam were in the background- not sure about Daniel) talked to Ron. Audrey and Sam got him on the phone, then mom and I joined. Then Annie, then Ashley, then Alison. We all got to hear all of the (gory) details of his surgery. It was 10pm here (8pm in CA and 9pm in Utah) and 11 am in Beijing. He also had three of his co-workers in the room. I'm not sure they could hear us, but they could at least hear Ron's side of the conversation. I'm not sure how he felt about the whole thing, but it was fun for the girls. I'm sure it was good for Ron to hear each voice (even though he did most of the talking :) I think his co-workers probably got more details than what they would usually get in a conversation with him. On another note, to have all of us girls as his audience, it was tough to get much sympathy from 6 women who have been through childbirth, Csection, gall bladder removal, hysterectomy, spleen laceration, cancer removal, and joint replacement.  hehe These "guys" just don't have much opportunity to experience blood tests, CT scans, IV's, bowel problems, nausea, and surgery. All jesting aside- Ron (and all of us) are feeling very grateful that he was able to get quick medical attention. His situation was very serious and in need of immediate attention. We are hoping for a quick, uneventful recovery.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Clinging to my Cell Phone

It was a night of clinging to my cell phone. Ron left on the 3rd of Sept. to go to Beijing, China for a month. Last night I received a call that he was in a hospital. They were doing tests, thinking he had a problem with his appendix. At the time of this call they were getting ready to take him to another hospital for a better test and possible surgery. Since I am a novice on such experiences, I hadn't even asked the name of the hospital. And I had a vague idea of what hotel his was staying in, but not specific information. Within a few minutes, I had sent text messages to three of the girls, an email to Mike, and a phone call to Annie. Within an hour, thanks to Sam and Aud (and thanks to email, google maps, google search, and the Internet) we had determined the hospital, the hotel, and email addresses for three branch presidents there. Branch Pres. Johnson (Beijing First Branch) replied, saying that the Elders Quorum pres. worked at ConocoPhillips and someone would go to the hospital. (that didn't happen before the surgery, but I'm sure someone will be going there soon). Thanks to google search, I was able to find the Beijing Marriott Northeast and the phone number on the website matched a number in my call log, on my phone. (that info. helped us feel like we were in the correct part of Beijing for the hospital and the church branch). Then we waited...
We thought we were going to get a call about the test results in a few minutes, but that turned into 2 hours. Then surgery was scheduled and a 1 1/2 hour surgery with 30 minute recovery room, turned into 4+ hours. Finally about 7:45am (here- which was 8:45pm there) I talked to Ron. They had removed his appendix and part of his large intestine. He will be on antibiotics for 5 days and probably be in the hospital until Monday. I don't expect to hear anything else now until later this evening, when it will be Thursday morning there. I sent mom to work and I am going to (try to) go back to bed for awhile- it was a long night :)

Budget Problem !

Here is something that one of my friends posted on FB. It's one of those "not so" funny things-

U.S. Tax revenue: $2,170,000,000,000


Fed Budget: $3,820,000,000,000

New Debt: $1,650,000,000,000

National Debt: $14,271,000,000,000

Recent budget cut: $38,500,000,000

...

Remove 8 zeros and pretend its a household budget -

Annual family income: $21,700

Money the family spent: $38,200

New debt on credit cards: $16,500

Outstanding balance on credit cards: $142,710

Total budget cuts: $385.

Monday, September 12, 2011

The Highlights of my Weekend

The bridal market was in Dallas today. That was a perfect excuse for me to go see Sam, Audrey, and Eli. I drove there on Saturday evening, arriving late, and we stayed up until almost midnight. Sam and Audrey had BLACK and yellow balloons, and gave me a video webcam for my birthday. On Sunday they cooked some great shrimp tacos and panna cotta with raspberry sauce (for dessert). Since Annie is trying to convince me to not eat french fries- that may not be a problem. On Saturday evening I ate some french fries that had so much salt on them, I was afraid I was going to OD on salt. (Probably cured me from ordering french fries again :) Tonight I ordered a hamburger without lettuce and onion. Normally I don't order any dessert, but I ordered an apple pie. Good thing, because after the hamburger, I was trying to get rid of the onion and lettuce taste. I should have checked my order before I left the restaurant- my hamburger had only lettuce and onion on it :) I maybe cured of hamburgers now too.
(both Saturday night and tonight I was eating in the car. I got 9 hours of quality(?) driving time in Ron's car).  
I spent about 9 hours at the bridal market. I ordered prom dresses for spring. Also a few accessories, a few shoes and some other dresses.
Here are the highlights of my weekend...
(besides, these are the only pictures I took ) hehe





This picture is for Al, so she can see how cute the flags are that she made for Eli's room.


Monday, September 5, 2011

I Must Say...

we are hooked on the blogs. I realize that we are putting alot of family info. out there in (inner or outer :) public space- but it is amazing that our kids can move half way around the world and right away we are connected. We are able to see out their front window, see their day at the beach, and see Nicholas on his first day of school. We can stay updated on "unusual" things and "every day" things. We can see celebrations. We can see inspiration. We can see old friends and new friends. Technology is amazing.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

This and That

A week ago, we had 8 towels hanging in the bathroom. A week ago, we had all the bedrooms full and Ron and I slept on the sofa bed. A week ago, we had toys every where, dessert everywhere, luggage everywhere :) 
Then Sam, Audrey, and Eli went home. Then Mike, Carrie, Nicholas, Ryan, and Cheerio went to Angola. Then Ron went to Beijing, People's Republic of China. Now there is only my towel hanging in the bathroom, I guess I can sleep in whatever bed I want, the toys are put away, the dessert is (almost) all gone, and the luggage is gone.
The only things that I enjoy when Ron is gone, is I can eat whatever I want, go to bed and get up, whenever I want. Last night I went bed about 10pm and got up at 7:30am. I had "this dream" that I got up at 3:15 and drove to the airport at 3:30, then returned home at 5:30 and went back to bed. Oh... wait a minute I really did do that- Ron's flight was at 6 am. hehe
I had a busier than normal week. I helped with a Young Women's event on Wednesday evening. Some of the girls modeled dresses from my store. We displayed some of the wedding dresses and I gave a talk for part of the program. On Thursday evening we had our quarterly Relief Society meeting. I had several responsibilities for that. Both events turned out well. On Friday I took a day off from work. I thought Ron had the day off too- but it turned out that he needed to finish up some things at the office and he needed to go play basketball at noon.
When Mike and Carrie and the boys were here, Ryan played with our "bouncy car" and our "ball pit".  Nicholas went swimming.... in the hot tub in the air conditioned porch. It was too hot to do anything outside :)





Thursday, September 1, 2011

They Made It

Mike, Carrie, two kids, a dog, two car seats, two strollers, a couple of back packs, a couple of carry ons, a cooler of meat, and about 30- 70 lb. bags, all made it to Luanda, Angola.
What an adventure.

(These pictures were at our house right before they left. Mike has pictures of their Luanda house on his blog.)