China’s Pagodas

On my Spring Trip, this year, I visited two pagodas in the cities of Hong Zhou and Tong Lu.  Until I went on the 8th grade Spring Trip I had not fully appreciated China’s beautiful Pagodas.  I learned some fun facts about Pagoda’s on my trip this year as well.  Firstly, did you know that Pagodas must have an odd number of levels?  Additionally, that all Pagoda’s must be a geometric shape? I never knew how much I liked Pagodas untill I visited them on my Spring Trip. Because we saw so many (well two) Pagodas on our Spring Trip, one of the activities we had in group time was to construct one ourselves! We were put into groups of fives and sixes for construction.  Our “rubric” was that it had to stand without help (of course),  we have to have an odd number of levels, and that it must be a geometric shape.  We had a bunch of plastic cups, chop sticks, cardboard, scissors, and tape.  So I came up with the idea of cutting the top’s of the cups off and then cutting them so that they became one curved “sheet” of plastic then taping a few together, end to end, to make a circle.  Then put cardboard as well as chopsticks taped together, to make the levels.  It was almost as tall as me with four flags symbolizing the nationalities of our group: Dutch flag, American flag, Chinese flag, and the Korean flag.  I thought it was by far the best, but unfortunately we only got 2nd place because it was a bit unstable 🙁 . I definitely learned a lot about Pagodas on my Spring Trip and look forward to seeing more of them in China!


Pagoda #1



View from Pagoda #1, beautiful!



Me at Pagoda #1. Look at those green trees!



My materpiece of a Pagoda! (It really was the BEST!)



Close up on the flags, amazing 🙂



Pagoda #2



My artistic pictures 🙂



Me at Pagoda #2


New Friends

During the Spring Trips I was able to become new and closer friends to many of the Asian girls in my grade ( instead of hanging out with the American girls I decided to try a new group of girls). I was able to room with them and sit with them on lots of our bus rides. getting to know these girls is a really fun experience for me. I got to learn about their culture and hobbies. getting to know new friends allowed me to have lots of fun learning and just hanging out!


Waiting to leave a hotel.


On bumper boats.


At our last destination, a beuatiful park.


Spring Trip Aquarium

On my Spring Trip I went to an aquarium. I got to see many different kinds of animals, it was very neat! During the time at the aquarium I could walk my with friends. I also went to a dolphin show. That was also very cool! I was able to hang out with many people I didn’t normally get to and got to know them more. Outside the aquarium was a park with statues and rides. I enjoyed getting to spend time out in the sun with friends. This was an amazing experience to get to see all the animals and their habitats.


This is me at the Dlophin Show with my friend Jenny.


In the aquarium.


Lijiang Rest Stop

Beautiful morning in LiJiang; we let the students sleep in, packed and made our way along the narrow streets to a café. Breakfasted on potato omelet, Yunnan black coffee, and a puffy-fried Yunnan flat bread with honey.


My shoes are so filthy I have to stop and buy flip-flops.


Here’s guy with his Ram — take a ride or if only a picture it is about 85 cents:


10K feet above sea level

This day we left Woodies making our way down to the river by way of a switch-back gravel path. At the river, a ferry picked us up and we were carried to the other side.We walked through a countryside village stopping at one house to eat before being picked up by the bus.


We arrived at a mountain (sorry, I can’t ever remember the Chinese names), our goal was to go to the peak (10,000 feet above sea level).


A ski-lift carried us two-by-two up above pristine nature: the strong scent of pine scent in the cool air. We see dots of flowering bushes here and there – and to our amazement we spotted a mountain lion.


At the top were sprawling meadows with Yaks grazing at 10,000 feet.


Another 3hrs to a hostel in LiJiang. We had a devotion, movie.  After we got back to the hostel I played Texas Hold’em with the students till we were too tired to hold our heads up …and finally crashed in our bunks.

Six Hour Hike

This Naxi family house where we stayed at had two bathrooms and cold showers which presented a good opportunity for my students to maintain a positive attitude [I didn’t hear any complaints as they knew better than whine around me].  Everyone was on the bus by 7am after breakfast of rice porridge spiced with chili peppers along with mantos (a Chinese bread baked in a steamer) and hot milk.


We were so exhausted, yet our goal today was to complete a 6+ hour hike through the Yunnan nature area near the famed Tiger Leaping Gorge.


The scariest part was the beginning where everyone crossed an area of falling rocks. This was very dangerous, two times falling rocks barely missed hitting us. I’m not sure why the highway department had not built even temporary rock shields for the pass? Like what are they thinking?? Not just hikers pass there, but road workers, food, water, supplies, and even gas for vehicles!


The entire hike was beautiful, but the best part was a half-mile ledge on the edge of a cliff. The path was about 3 feet wide and a beautiful 40-foot waterfall showered down very cold spring water.


I don’t remember being on a more scenic hike: a blue sky, puffy clouds, and snow-capped mountains above us; a raging river below and rock rising on each side.


We finally reached our hostel: Woody’s guesthouse.


Spring Trip Week for Mom

The week, that I had been sort of dreading, because the kids and Sean are away on spring trips, turned out to be a huge blessing to me.  I had been struggling with some emotional ups and downs as the long cold winter dragged on.  We didn’t get spring-like temperatures until the first week of May!  And knowing that the kids and Sean would be away for an entire week didn’t help my emotions.   So I set to work on my knees and in my mind with organizing things to keep me busy.  To my surprise this week has gone by so quickly and has been a refreshing break away from the daily duties of cooking dinner for 7, helping with homework, laundry, being a listening ear, and the list goes on for us moms.Here’s a tidbit of my week:Friday – Picnic dinner at back yard playground with Tami, Megan and other friendsSaturday – Baking Party with Chinese teachers from TIS, pick up package from grandma and grandpa Headrick, dinner out at White Market Muslim restaurant with other moms who are home aloneSunday – Church, helping Maddie pack and getting her ready to leave, indoor picnic at Stacia and Susan’s house in Jiu Hua Li due to rain (so nice to get in touch with others who I don’t see as often), Maddie left at 9 pm for her overnight trainMonday – Taxi on enclosed three-wheeler motorcycle to E-Mart to meet Audrey O. for hair appointment, quick shopping trip to E-mart, to TIS for a couple of hours of work, bus home with Megan at 3 pm, quiet rainy evening at home, watched Beth Moore introduction to Esther study


Three wheel scooter taxi driver

Tuesday – US shopping list exchange get together at Kids and Moms Cafe play place, taxi back with Daniel W. (catching up), unexpected visit with Lauren, met at Trash Mountain playground to play with Kim and Isaac, ate Ice Cream at Aaron’s Kitchen, hiked up to Pagoda at top of Trash Mountain, walk back to Kim’s for dinner, arrive at home 8 pm, exhaustedWednesday – Baked scones for Beth (new baby arrival), met with Angie F. and Ayi to discuss summer duties, to work at TIS for my cooking club, and dinner over at our Chinese teacher’s home with he and his parentsThursday – Shopping for gifts at Ancient Culture Street, pick up Megan at school at noon, shower and prepare for my Baking Party with Malysian and Chinese sisters, dinner with MelindaFriday – Bus to school with Megan, Maddie arrives home in early morning!!  Back to work for Admission’s luncheon, Jessie arrives home!!  Night with my two sweet middle girlsSaturday – Sean, Michael and Rachel arrive home a varying times.  I know Michael is scheduled for 1 pm, not sure about Rachel, and I think Sean will arrive after 6 pm (his trip is pretty far West)


Megan and her friend Isaac

Whew!!  I am so blessed to have had such rich fellowship each day.  Thanks be to HIM!

Dinner with Zhu Laoshi

On Wednesday, Megan and I were invited to our Chinese language teacher’s apartment, Zhu Laoshi (laoshi means teacher).  He also tutored our kids last summer during their school vacation.  Zhu, Megan and I departed from school at 4 pm and taxied to his meager one bedroom apartment shared by he and his parents.   We arrived to find his mom and dad preparing jaozi, the popular Chinese dumpling.  His mom also prepared a tofu and cilantro salad, stir fry vegetables with egg and pork, a roasted chicken, and sliced sausage, pumpkin cakes and other dishes.  Megan liked the sausage best.  I enjoyed the vegetables.  The black one you see with the cauliflower is one of my favorites.  It is a fungus, I believe, called mu guar.


Megan played with Zhu’s dad.  Although she couldn’t understand a word he said, he teased her with a snapping game and watched her draw pictures on a paper.


Here is Zhu Laoshi with Megan and his parents.


After we returned home, I received a text message from him.  Here’s what it said, “Thank you for coming.  My parents said that today is the most happy day for them in recently years.  We hope your whole family come next time, our door is always open for you.”   I was so touched knowing that Megan has brought joy to others.

Naxi Villiage

Overnight train from Kunming to Lanzhou:  this is a new experience for me, but not bad at all!  Bunks 3 high, narrow aisles, Chinese people everywhere, waking up on arrival.We stayed in a countryside house of a Naxi (minority group) family. They (with neighbors help) cooked a meal of 12 dishes (by Naxi tradition 8 served on plates, 4 in bowls) afterward they put on a show with traditional Naxi costumes and music. They invited our group to join them and learn one of the dances.


Kunming Amazing Race

While it had only been 72 hours since we left Tianjin, to me it seemed we have been there a week. The bright blue clear morning sky was speaking to us about the day ahead.

Before the Race – Deaf Industries Center 

First we visited a business started to support the skills and industry of deaf-mute people in the area. These people are typically disadvantage as their intelligence and abilities are severely underestimated. A couple of foreigners came here several years ago and have since established a self-supporting business in building furniture, clothing, and other giftware. They are currently challenged by a law that requires their factory’s neighborhood to be demolished. We are pr-ying for the huge expense of moving, not to mention loss of productivity during that transition.


Amazing Race

This Race was so fun!  Reminded me of the television reality show Amazing Race. If only there was a camera man following our conversations and experiences, I’m sure you would find our adventure interesting. Here are all the things we did:

  • Asked an old man to teach us a Chinese song
  • Attended a class at one of Kunming’s Universities
  • Bought flowers and gave them to a Chinese who did us a favor.
  • Donated a portion of our spending money to a beggar girl who had no legs.
  • At dinner we ate boiled peanuts and street corn (none of us had these before today).
  • Found out from a street sweeper how much they made (and gave him a sandwich).
  • Got a picture of our group in front of a state church building.
  • Gave a snack to a child without schoes
  • Got a picture of a trilingual sign.
  • Helped an old lady cross the road.
  • Stopped at a barber shop an got a Chinese-style hairdo.
  • We organized a simple English corner for Chinese students.
  • Participted in some old people’s gymnastics in a park
  • Taught soem elementry kids an English son.
  • Visited a Chinese Kindergarten and took pictures with the children as a group
  • Interviewed a minority woman carrying her child to find out how she got to the city and what she was doing.


As a teacher my role was only to chaperon the team’s hunt, however it was difficult for me to stay completely in the background.

Some thoughts about the students in my group…

In my team I was surprised that how well the group worked together. Despite each student being stretched in areas of weakness, they shined in their own way.

Jason kept accounting of the money (we had a budget of only 40 dollars handling translation duties as his Chinese is really good.

 Jinny handled the map and most of the talking. She seems normally shy but came out of her shell today. She is Korean but has a gift for communication. This was proved out time and time again when people would listen and answer without asking for clarification. Especially going from province to province this is a rare thing especially knowing that she is a foreigner.

While Karen is a novice in Chinese, her outgoing personality made up for it. She never hesitated asking questions or directions from Chinese people. She is confident and so easy to work with she fit in quiet well. 

Jed is especially logical quickly assessing alternative paths and talking through the best solution with the team.

Ike gave off energy to the group – sort of a passion for the win – not to mention giving a good dose of humor. He seemed to be the best kind of lookout noticing many items before the rest of us.

Michelle managed the list, providing us continuous updates of what we had completed and what was left. She reminded us of things to look out for and was good at balancing the discussion of “what next” with valuable input and assessments.)