April 26, 2012


If you know and love Ella, you will love this. And if you are her mother, you will worry obsessively as you project what these personality traits will mean for her in the future.

This is a video of Ella's Spring Preschool Program. Ella will only sing songs "she knows" in public. Despite knowing every word to all the songs, only three or four make the list of songs approved for public consumption. "Twinkle, Twinkle" is on the list. "When You Wish Upon A Star" and "Catch a Falling Star" are not. When Miss Val made a mash up of the three, Ella stuck to the "Twinkle" lyrics and actions and skipped out on the rest.

The video is not great (sorry!) so you have to look hard. She's right in the middle, second row from the back.

Why I love Japan

I did not expect to love Japan. I thought it would be interesting but really I thought I'd begrudge how expensive everything was and wish we'd spent more time in China where it's cheap. Oh how I was wrong. Tokyo made my top 5 cities, easily. A few of the things that stole my heart:

The subway system. It is amazing. It is incredibly complex (four different subway systems with interconnecting lines) yet it is so well-thought out that it is the first subway system I've ever figured out. A few of the great things: when you are trying to decide which direction of the train to get on they give you lots of info. Not just the last stop of the line, but three major stops in the direction it is headed. Very helpful. When you get to the platform there are markings indicating where the doors will be when the train stops, and if those doors are at the front, middle or back of the car. Then, get this, people line up and WAIT for everyone to get off before they try to enter the train. It is organized chaos in its finest. Once on the train there are monitors with all kinds of useful info--where you are, where you are headed, what transfers are approaching. And my favorite: at stops you always know where you are. There are tons of signs posted so you can always see them, no matter where you are sitting. And as a short person bonus, the hanging handrails come in varying lengths. You pay with a credit card of sorts that you wave over the exit and you only pay for how far you travel. Love, love, love.

people waiting for the departing passengers to exit before they enter the subway car

If you have to take a cab, never fear. There are sparkling white lace seat covers, so you know feel like it's clean.

The people are amazingly helpful. One morning at breakfast I got an apple from the buffet. A waiter noticed I hadn't eaten it and asked if I wanted it sliced. Sure. I forgot about it and got up before he came back. He saw me leave and was mortified that the apple wasn't ready. A team of three literally raced around before handing me a sliced, peeled and packaged apple. Complete with fork and napkin. Then apologized profusely for making me wait. The next night the waiter literally fell to his knees and covered his face when told us they were out of the apple strudel.  (We do realize that we may have been experiencing the Westin and not Tokyo. But still.) A different time, while loitering in Patagonia waiting for Ryan, the salesman proffered me a drink and a seat. He chatted it up with me and asked about the snow report in Utah.

The toilets. They warm. They wash. They dry. They play a fan or a flushing noise or music so no one can hear you doing your biz. I want one. On the flip side the only thing I hated about Japan was the Japanese style squat toilets. I think there might be something wrong with me (perhaps anatomically?) because I could never figure them out. Which way do you face and how do you squat so you don't get pee on your shoes? Someone tell me, please!

If people have a cold they wear a mask. I bet Pediatrician's don't do as well they do in the States.

The order.  Everything is spelled out. When you go up or down stairs there are up and down arrows to let you know if you should be on the right or the left. On the escalators EVERYONE stands on the left so those walking have room on the right. If you are with someone you stand in front of them, not next to them, so others can pass. And there are no dogs left unattended. I saw a sign at the park: 'Do not let your dog play here. Children eat their lunch here. Thank you.'

It is clean. I don't know how because I honestly NEVER saw a garbage can on the street (I kept all my trash in my pockets). And the air felt so so clear after Beijing.

Oh, Tokyo. If you weren't so darn expensive I might move.


On Saturday Ryan was done working so we took a day trip to Nikko. It was beautiful. Cold, but beautiful. Luckily for us we found some steaming hot Udon noodles to warm us up.

see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil

April 24, 2012


I loved Tokyo. Maybe it was the contrast from Beijing. Regardless, one of my favorite cities in the world. 

Regular Fortune


*the options were bad, regular or good

April 23, 2012

Beijing Day 2

For my second day in Beijing I was flying solo. I took a cab to the Forbidden City and spent the best 20 bucks of the trip. Meet Emmy: tour guide. Her English was so-so. Her zeal was fantastic.

From here I took a rickshaw ride through a typical Beijing neighborhood and stopped at a tea house. Cool, but probably a rip-off.

I went to the Silk Market and bargained my way through all 6 floors. They even hemmed my pants. $1.50. Sweet. From there I had a slightly sketchy cab ride, but was fine.

For dinner we experienced Hot Pot. Melting Pot, Chinese style. It was fantastic. You make your own little dipping sauce at a Chinese salsa bar, of sorts. Sesame-infused goodness. Then you swish-swish your thinly sliced meats in the savory boiling pot and dip it in your sauce. As the night goes on they fill the pot with vegetables, seasoning and at the end they bring out the Chinese equivalent of tossing pizza dough--"dancing noodles." Yum, yum.

Beijing was fascinating, dirty, polluted, crowded, expansive and definitely foreign.

April 17, 2012

Beijing Day 1

I met up with Ryan's cousin Caroline who is living here in Beijing. She was fantastic and took me to the Great Wall and the Summer Palace.

At the Great Wall I had a singular experience. A 20 something, hip looking couple made the universal "will you take a picture?" gesture. Sure, I smiled back. We did an awkward back and forth dance until I finally realized that they wanted to take a picture with me. Apparently not all the world dislikes Americans :)

the couple who wanted to take their picture with me

A similar thing happened at a small noodle shop. The owner really wanted me to take a picture with them and then have Caroline print it out and bring it back. Ryan and I were hounded at the Bird's Nest as well. My own 15 minutes of fame.

one of Ryan's colleagues at the Bird's Nest
We went to dinner at family style Chinese restaurant. Tons of beautiful food spread out on a huge Lazy Susan.  My aversion to spicy foods saved me from sampling some of the more exotic things (pig knuckle) but I did have some intestine. All in all, though, it was really good.


You know how sometimes you try to plan something, and it just won't work? And then other times everything all falls in place? Well, Ryan had a trip planned to Beijing and Tokyo and somehow everything worked out and here I am in China.
The trip over was fantastic. I had a 9 hour layover in Seattle and was able to get out and see an old friend. It was perfect. On the flight to Beijing I had three seats to myself and slept, read and watched movies. The 12 hr flight was a mini vacation. Funny how kids changes your perspective!

April 8, 2012


One of my favorite things about the Easter fluff (because really, everything besides celebrating Christ's Atonement and resurrection is really just fluff) is the tradition of an Easter Dress. From time to time come early April my sisters and I will get a call or an email or a text...

"Go buy yourself an Easter dress. With shoes. Love, Mom."

You feel a little silly. 33-years old, two kids, and mom is still buying you an Easter dress?? But that feeling is quickly overridden by how much fun it is to get a no strings attached new dress. The typical occasions that warrant a new dress (speaking in Stake Conference/obligatory occasions ie wedding/funeral/work function) are often filled with a serious down side.  But not the Easter dress. Spring wardrobe spruce-up. I love it. And I love my mom for doing it for us. 

I really wanted to get a great picture of us in our Easter dresses, but it was not to be. Not a good one in the bunch. My favorite is the one that is missing our heads. Skills, Dad. Skills. I am just realizing that my shoes (the best part) never made it in. Soft leather orange ballet flats. Next time we'll be put together. 



And in case you were wondering....here's Kimmy and Jamie. They got their dresses from asos and LOVED them.