Thursday, January 10, 2013

A Chinese Engagement

Sorry for the wait everyone!
It has been a very busy 6 months since the summer...
for a brief update:
I was in school, barely surviving my first Human Anatomy class
(in which I proudly received an A-)
Along with scrambling to find time for family, Blake, and basic personal hygiene.
So, I'm sorry to say that my blogging responsibilities were forced to the bottom of my to-do list.

But I'm here now!
With many pictures and stories from my latest adventure visiting Blake's family for christmas.
Oh, did I mention that his family now lives in Shanghai, China?
So needless to say, I had a very interesting and amazing holiday.
The Newman family were so generous and welcoming, and they are always a blast to be around.
Thank you Kathleen and Tom for everything!
Love and miss you guys. 

I may be cheating a little this post,
I did not take most of these pictures.
But dont worry, you won't be disappointed.
The Newman's seem to have a knack for photography.

And we were off!
It only took Blake, his sister kelly and I about 15+ hours to arrive at the Newman home.
Don't worry though,
I pretty much slept all 15 hours.
Yeah, I have talent.

In the states, it's a commonly held joke that Asians are notoriously bad drivers.
Well, it never held so much truth until I experienced the streets of Shanghai.
They pretty much just do whatever they want.
And always seem to be in a rush for some reason.
Luckily, there are alternative transportation such as subways and scooters.
(scooter's often have a lane with a divider separating it from the cars)
I know it seems very glamorous, but dont get the wrong idea..

It has it's disadvantages.


Even though being in mainland China was absolutely amazing
the best part was honestly just getting to visit with the Newman family.

Kathleen, Wang Aiyi (Their nanny of sorts growing up), and me

Blake's brother Davis and sister Carli

(Carli, Kelly and me)

Davis and Tom

Dont get me wrong though...

I missed my family like crazy.
Love you guys!
(Just couldn't handle not being in the Christmas morning photo)

The common theme of this trip was similar to most trips I take;
we were always eating!
Believe me though, i'm not complaining.
(The bing above was especially delicious!)

(Blake's sister Kelly)

The most memorable meal though was during our visit to Bejing
 at a middle eastern restaraunt called
A Fun Ti

They had live dancers, musicians and games.
Even though they mixed up our order, like twice;
it was one of the best nights of the break.

At one point of the night Blake, his brother Luke and I got 
pulled up on stage to be a part of a game.
It involved holding hands and hugging strangers,
I'm pretty sure that the only reason we were able to stay in til the final round is that all the chinese nationals all wanted to touch the "beautiful" white foreigners
(which is better than the dozens of chinese trying to sneak taking pictures of us)
Being the attractive blonde man that Blake is he won a special prize....

He was such a sweet heart about getting a sexy dance from a seductive belly dancer.
What the video doesn't show is:
At first he just tried to avoid dancing with her and focused on the snake.
Eventually the MC told Blake to dance with the girl and he immediately looked for me in the crowd and mouthed that he was sorry, while slowly trying to distance himself from her.
Once the dance was over, the MC turned to Blake and asked what gift he would rather have: 
the Beauty or the Snake
He replied by pointing at me and saying, "I already have my beauty so I will take the snake."
(He just really knows how to melt my heart)
They didn't allow him to have the snake though.
He got wine instead.
We were all disappointed.

When we weren't all stuffing our faces though, we travelled.
First on the adgenda was to explore Shanghai.
I sadly did not document much.
I wish I would have taken a picture of the markets.
They are honestly just like a maze with alleys and alleys of stores stuffed with merchandise.
If that is overwhelming enough, vendors will sit outside yelling at you to come into their shops
with promises of "cheap" prices.
One that I often got was, "pretty girl, nice girl come my shop; I give you special price!"
then continue to try to sell me an item worth only 30 renminbi for 760 renminbi.
By the end of the trip; Blake and I made up a philosophy one must
always follow when haggling prices:
If your starting price doesn't offend them, you're not doing it right.

Along with shopping we went to an acrobat show.
which was amazing.

Also, some of you may have noticed the ring I picked up along my travels...
3 days before Christmas, Blake took me out on date night to visit the Bund which is a settlement along the river that foreigners built grand building to serve as Shanghai's financial center.
(little did I know then what would take place in that tall tower behind us)

In the tower there is an observation deck that allows a 360 view of Shanghai's skyline.
Blake knows me too well.
I am obsessed with twinkling lights
(to the point that christmas lights are my favorite things about the holiday season)
So to be up there, with this view felt like a little piece of heaven.
Once I felt satisfied enough to avert my eyes,
I settled myself in front of a plaque displaying all of the buildings of the Bund
(which I was earlier fantasizing of living in someday)
Pleased to figure out the names of the specific buildings I was swooning over today,
I almost didn't notice how uncharacteristicaly quiet Blake was being.
I felt guilty.
I was so distracted by all the amazing things around me, I wasn't being a very attentive date.
In attempt to be more considerate I ask him if everything was ok.
 Quickly, he mumbles that he is great and herds my attention back to the plaque by asking which building I liked the best.
Excited to share, I start on a long ramble of, "I like this, this, oh I really like that, this...."
I became completely engrossed with my list.
To get my attention, Blake placed a box on the plaque that 
displayed the most beautiful ring i've ever seen and just simply asks, 
"well do you like this?"
That got me to shut up.
I was first afraid to assume to think this was what I suspected it to be, 
so for confirmation I snuck a peak at his face.
He used this as his que.
He got down on one knee.
and said the sweetest monologue of love, committment and companionship.
how could I say no?

I loved it.
It felt so foreign as he slid the ring on my finger.
 I have never owned anything so nice before.
The ring is perfect, the proposal was perfect, and he is perfect.
I love him 
 I am so lucky to have such a tender, considerate, and loving guy to share my life with.

Then it was Christmas

(luke and kelly)

The Newman family has 3 main Christmas Eve traditions:
1. Waffle dinner (Due to it being their first christmas as a poor newlywed couple, Blake's great grandparents           made waffles). 
2. Open Christmas pajamas from Grama and Grampa Newman. (So sweet of them to have included me!)
3. A talent show that ends with listening to a recording of Great Grampa reading the tale of snubby nose.

On Christmas day, we opened presents.
The Newman's spoiled me. 
We also got to skype Blake's sister Paige, 
who is currently serving a mission in Taiwan

That day we got on a night train heading for Bejing

Of course, we visited the Great Wall.
So amazing.
Naturally we went a little crazy with the photos.

So much fun.
My favorite sight in the Bejing area.

We also went to the Forbidden City
Which was a bit harder to enjoy because it was freezing outside!
Notice Blake's robber's mask.

The infamous Dragon Turtle..?
I look at him and imagine it making a sound like Chubaka.

To get our minds off the cold..
We got a little goofy...

Hey, they said it was good luck to rub the door knobs. 

Next on our tour was Zhou Zhuang
which is one of the oldest water town in southern China. 
I loved it.
I went camera crazy. 

In the town there was a cute little temple.
This tree was completely covered with these red ribbon 
Which are prayers.

The town even had an authentic Chinese Opera

Before heading home to Shanghai,
we stopped and stayed in what is pretty much Blake's home town

Unfortunately I was sick this day, 
but Blake and the rest of the kids got to visit their old school.
He even found his old volleyball picture. 
Afterwards he felt the same I often feel when I think about high school
It's hard growing up and seeing the world go on without you
isn't it?

When we went to church that Sunday
Blake was so excited because they still used the podium 
that he and his father built for the ward. 

It still had his name written inside of it too.

While in China, I saw some very innovative and creative things...

(cards made for everyday of the year)

(beautifully wrapped crackers)

...and some weird things.

Leather coat of arms? sure, why not.

Oh my.
This hat.
Glad that got left behind,

Well see ya next time!