Sunday, December 23, 2007

Party Time!

My sister hosted a Christmas party for all the women from her church. It also doubled as a baby shower for 2 ladies. She had the place decorated very nicely and ready for Christmas.

I met all her "lovely" friends (my sister uses the word lovely a lot). :)

Ashtyn got to stay at the party because she LOVES babies so she was supposed to look after the other kids that came, but only one came but he wasn't feeling well, so he stayed with his Mom and Ashtyn got to hang out with all the ladies and even hold both babies.

There are many wonderful people that go to their church. I've had a great time getting to know them all a little bit.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Band Concerts, Christmas Plays & just hanging out

Since I arrived in Penang a day "early" I was able to catch all but one of the kids Christmas school activities (actually, we still have another play of Jackson's tomorrow, too). This was Ashtyn (obviously not posing nicely for the picture) and Sydney before their band concerts. I thought they looked so nice all dressed up. Syd hates her Thai outfit, but I think it's beautiful and she wears it so well.

Ashtyn's band played many Christmas songs and they did very well. I heard her practicing at home last night as well and for this being her first year, she sounds great. I knew what every song was that she was playing. :)

Sydney's been in band for 3 years I think, so their class played a few harder pieces. Her conductor said that one of their songs was the 2nd hardest piece he's ever conducted. I do have video of both girls playing (as any proud Aunt should), but I'll save those to show to my parents separately. :) Psst - see the guy behind Syd in this first picture? He's got a HUGE crush on her, but she says he's too stalkerish. hee hee

And then Jackson's class was in charge of the elementary school chapel one day and they did the Max Lucado (I think) story about the sheep that all the other sheep made fun of but his friend, the cow, always told him he was special and he ended up keeping baby Jesus warm in the manager. It was very cute.

We've also just done a lot of hanging out. Here's us at Baskin Robbin's.

Here we are at Chili's Restaurant before going to see the movie Enchanted (which is very cute and endearing). The pink haired lady is my sister, Jodi and across from her is her friend, Tracy and her daughter, Kenya (who is Ashtyn's best friend. Ashtyn's the tallest in her class and Kenya's the shortest. They are very cute walking together).

Jackson is a very loving little boy, but usually when my Dad's around, good luck getting Jack's attention. Well, since I'm here by myself, Jack and I have hit it off quite well and him and I are best of buds. Is it being a bad Aunt when you're playing so hard with your nephew that he actually pukes? Oops! Sorry, Jack. Next time we'll wait until at least an hour after supper. You'd think that puking when you're not sick would freak him out, but he got cleaned up, looked at me with a huge smile and wanted me to start chasing him again. So funny!

Ok, this is a nasty picture of me, but Sunday afternoon (after our quiet time), Craig, Jackson and I put together the Canada puzzle they got as a Christmas present from friends back in Canada. The pieces were nice and big so it wasn't too hard.

I had to put this picture in because I CANNOT believe how Sydney is growing up so fast. I literally just stop and watch her quite often because how can she be 14 1/2 already??? This picture was taken at a Christmas Banquet they had at their school before I got here, but I had to show off how beautiful she looks. The banquet was a Sadie Hawkin's event (where the girls ask the boys to go) and Syd didn't know who to ask. She has SUCH a huge heart and didn't want to hurt any of the 5 boys who like her (hee hee, so cute!), so her parents told her to ask a guy who is strictly her friend and there would be no pressure. She asked a SENIOR!!! Way to go, Syd! :) They had a lot of fun together and in this picture she's wearing his hat. Isn't she beautiful?

That's all for now. I'm off to the pool. :)

Thursday, December 13, 2007

My arrival

Here I land in Penang, Malaysia and I'm all excited to see my sister and her family. My sister had emailed me before I left saying that she would have to pick me up from the airport and we'd go straight to my niece's band concert. I emailed her back and said, "Are you sure the concert will still be going on that late? I land at 8:30 pm and by the time I get through customs, get my luggage and we drive from the airport to the school, it'll be at least 9:15 or so." I didn't hear back from her, so I figured she'd know better than I would.

Side note: I had sent her my itinerary back in August when I bought the ticket so when we talked about a week before I left and she asked when I arrived, I didn't have my itinerary in front of me so I told her to check the one I emailed to her.

Well, I got through immigration super quick, then waited for a bit for my luggage, but as I was waiting I could see through the glass where all the people were waiting to pick up their loved ones. My sister is quite tall and usually has some funky colored hair and I didn't see anyone through the glass that matched that description. Finally I got my luggage (which I was a little worried about because I had checked it all the way through from Vancouver so I didn't even see it in Singapore) and I walked through the doors to the waiting crowd. Nope, didn't see anyone I recognized. Hmmm, maybe they decided to go to the concert and pick me up afterwards. Ok, I'll just go wait outside for them. I had my People's Sexiest Man Alive issue, so I didn't mind waiting. 10 minutes go by. 15 minutes go by. I literally started looking around to make sure I was at the right airport, but then I remembered that my luggage made it here and it had been sent straight through, so I must be in Penang. At the 20 minute mark, for some reason I thought to myself, "What if they thought I was flying in tomorrow!"

Luckily I had my address book in my backpack, so I fished it out, changed some money so I could use the pay phone and I called their house. My niece, Sydney, answered the phone and said, "Hi Auntie Fiona! Aren't you in the plane flying right now?" "No," I said, "I'm at the airport." "Which airport?" Syd asked. "Your airport," I answered. "WHAT???" Syd exclaimed. "Ok, I'll call my Mom." And she hung up on me. Alrighty. I wasn't sure if I should call back in case she didn't get ahold of her Mom and she certainly couldn't call me back, so I thought I'd wait. 10 minutes go by. 20 minutes go by. 25 minutes go by. At the 30 minute mark, I figured I'd call again and see what the status was. My bro-in-law answered the phone and said that my sister was on her way. He then asked me, "So, are you early, or did Jodi screw up the time?" I slowly answered him with a smirk in my voice, "Weelllll, I'm not early. Tell her I'm waiting outside for her." He said he would text message her and let her know.

I again pulled out my Sexiest Man magazine and continued reading the funny article about Matt Damon and the clips sent in by Ben Affleck and George Clooney. It really is quite humorous which makes Matt that much more endearing. Anyways, the whole time I had been waiting, as people would pull up to the area where I was sitting, they would honk their horn, I would look up, it wouldn't be them, so I continued to read. I figured they would honk when they drove up as well. No such luck. My sister tells me now that she brought my niece along with her because she didn't think I would be as mad if Syd was in the car. Apparently they were praying the whole drive to the airport that I would forgive them and that this wouldn't start off the trip on the wrong foot. Now, if you know my sister at all (my niece is cut from the same cloth), she can get a bit spazzy. They say that the prayers got really loud and excitable and Syd kept saying, "But Auntie Fiona HAS to know we're excited to see her. We just thought we'd be seeing her TOMORROW!!!"

Well, they were in such a frantic, spazzy mood, that Jodi pulled up, sent Syd into the airport to look for me, but she ran right by me and I had my head down because I was a little engrossed in my magazine. Jodi watched Sydney run wildly through the airport (it's all windows) and then every once in awhile she would stop, look at her Mom and do the sign with her arms like, "I don't know where she is?" So, Jodi turns the car off and goes running in herself, except she runs upstairs where there's a coffee shop in case I went there. She said they had been praying so loudly in the car that they didn't hear her phone when Craig text messaged her to let her know I'd be waiting outside.

Meanwhile, I'm sitting outside and hear someone drive up and honk. I look up, it looks like their car so I stand up. Just as I stand up, I get jumped on from the left ... it's Syd the kid. "We've been looking all over for you! Now my Mom's upstairs looking for you." I said to her, "What? Where did you guys park." She points to a vehicle seriously 20 feet away from me. They both ran right by me. Finally Jode come downstairs, we all hug it out and I say, "Sheesh! I fly all this way. The least you could do is meet me at the airport."

I wasn't mad at all (although if she thought I was going to be so mad and hold a grudge, apparently I need to do some work on myself) and we had a spazzy ride home telling the story from both of our perspectives. Jodi had thought I was coming in on Dec. 11 at 5:30, while really I came in on Dec. 10 at 8:20. She doesn't know where she got that date from, and we're not even going to try to figure it out. By the time we got back to their house, it was after 10 pm, so luckily she had wanted to be ahead of the game and she had already made up my bed for me. Now I needed to get some sleep for all the concerts and plays coming up in the next few days

But I'm here and I have another story to bug my sister with. :) Love you, Jode!

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Vancouver to Singapore

So, here's the first leg of my trip. Picassa doesn't collage the whole picture, so my head got cut off in the first one. The first 3 are of me all packed and ready to go at the Vancouver Airport. Thanks Bren and Natasha for dropping me off. The middle 3 pics are: a picture of my plane (best airline EVER - movies galore, tons of TV shows, CDs to listen to and video games to play. I wasn't bored for a minute). It was a beautiful day for a flight as you can see from the view of the North Shore Mtns. I had really great meals on the plane (but a little weird times to eat, but I'm not complaining). This was my linguine with chicken meal. Last one in this row is from my stopover in Seoul, Korea. Took 10 1/2 hours to get there from Vancouver. Last 3 pics are just of the in flight map to show you how close to Singapore we were.

This picture is from the bathroom in Seoul. Bren had told me that when she was there, in the bathroom stalls they had a button you could push that would play music to drown out any noise you were going to make. :) Well, I thought that's what this was so I pushed the button. Instead, it played the sound of a toilet flushing REALLY LOUDLY! Of course I couldn't turn it off, so I had to wait it out and had a little chuckle. Etiquette Bell? I think not.

This first picture is when we were 6 minutes from landing in Singapore. Even though it was in another language, I could tell that it was 22 degrees outside ... at 11:00 pm at night! Sweet! Speaking of sweet (nice segway, hey?), the lady beside me on the plane brought these Krispy Kremes all the way from Seoul (and maybe from beyond that. I didn't ask where she was from). A lady after my own heart ... except that she didn't share. :(

When I went to my stopover booth at the airport, guess who checked me in? I don't know if you can read the last picture above, but it was Jackie Chan! I almost said, "Your name's Jackie Chan?" but realized he probably gets that ALL the time, so I just smiled to myself, thanked him and walked away.

I had a nice sleep in my hotel, then went downstairs for breakfast. Can you believe they had a chocolate buffet for breakfast? Ok, ok, it was yummy! As I was sitting there eating, I looked up and couldn't believe my eyes. On the TV was the 2007 Grey Cup! What? I didn't even watch the Grey Cup when I was at home in Canada, and here I was watching it in Singapore. Too funny.

The rest of the day I had the privilege of hanging out with my Bible school roommate, Lisa and her daughter, Thizbe. Her hubby, Steve and son, Emmett came to say hello and then the guys parted ways as they didn't want to hang with us shoppers. :) I can't believe that 14 years ago I was standing up for them in their wedding. We had a good laugh thinking about Bible school days and if someone would've told us we'd be hanging out in Singapore, we would've thought they were crazy. God's plans can be so different than what we think they're going to be.

We had fun going to the touristy places and of course stopping at Starbucks for a drink. Seriously, is there anywhere that Starbucks isn't?

Then we walked through this beautiful, swanky hotel called The Fullerton Hotel. They had amazing Christmas decorations up. Even though it was hard to think Christmas was coming in the 30 degree weather, the decorations were a good reminder.

As it started to rain, we didn't even mind because it was a very warm rain, we decided to stop for lunch along the river. It was a wonderful day and hopefully I'll get to see them again on my way back home.

This is me in front of the famous Merlion that all the tourists get their pictures in front of.

Ok, one more bathroom picture. This was in the Singapore Airport and is the most BRILLIANT idea I've seen in a bathroom yet. You wad up a bunch of TP, stick it under the slot at the bottom and press the button. Cleaner spritzes out and you can clean the toilet seat before you sit down! Isn't that great? Sometimes those toilet seats can be nasty, so I thought this was very smart.

Just over a one hour flight and I will be in Penang with my sister. Stay tuned for a funny airport pick up story. :)

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Waiting patiently

Here I sit at 1:51 am trying to keep myself awake so that maybe I'll be able to adjust to the time difference better when I get there. There's nothing left to do but shower and shave my legs, but I'll do that closer to when we have to leave. I can't wait to get on the road and in the air. Did I mention that Singapore Airlines is THE BEST airline and I can't wait to see what movies they have waiting for me at my seat. Only 6 hours to go!

As I sit here and wait, I was thinking about all my blog friends and how great you've been at wishing me a wonderful trip (even waking in the night to realize you forgot to say goodbye ... thanks, Lovella). I'm hoping to have a bit of time to update my blog a couple of times when I'm away, but I can't promise anything. I've heard there will be lots of Christmas plays/band concerts and such to go to the first week and a half, then my sister and I are taking off on a little side trip for 3 days, then there's Christmas, then we're all taking a drive up to Thailand for New Year's, then we'll relax for a couple of days and then I'm on my way home! Wait, how did that fly by so fast? I'm not even there yet! Ok, back to thinking about you all. Thanks for your holiday best wishes and prayers for safe travels. I'll leave you with this.

This morning as I was waiting in line at Tim Horton's, I saw the sun rising over Mt. Baker. This picture doesn't do it justice (especially with the beautiful power lines in there), but it was awesome. It was so cool to remember to take pleasure in the beauty God has created.

As the sun was rising, this song was on the radio. I'll just quote the chorus.

We are the reason

That He gave His life

We are the reason

That He suffered and died

To a world that was lost

He gave all He could give

To show us the reason to live

Thank you, Lord, for giving us a reason to live.

Monday, December 03, 2007

Hanging with the Super Heros

Last weekend I got to go hang out with a couple of super heros ... and their brother (the one on the computer).

These next pictures may look like I'm standing on them, but I'm the one on the floor and they are going for AIRPLANE RIDES!!! Man, little boys have energy! All I kept hearing was, "Chase me! Get me!" After a little break, the next chasing session would begin. After about two minutes they were asking, "Can I go bareback? I'm SO hot!" So funny! They were all sweaty and red. Scrawny little guys.

After their brother was finished with his computer time, we put on a play. Oh, I wish I could show it to you, but I think it's just too much video. They would have this whole thing planned and as soon as I said, "Action!" they were all quiet. So funny. We did 5 different scenes of the King in the castle and the Good Knight coming to defend the castle from the bad guys. These were the bad guys.
I'll have to make copies of the "scenes" for their Mom. Too cute. Good times. Thanks for letting me hang out with you guys. :)

Last week I also got to hang out with my cousins (although not super heros, still just as fun).

My cousin Taraleigh (middle) was in Vancouver taking a course, so my other cousin, Janelle and I drove in to meet her and we went to Macaroni Grill for supper. It's so fun to relate as adults now (although we can still giggle like little girls).

Well everyone, I don't know if I'll get any more posts done before I leave on Saturday (I'll try to update once or twice while I'm gone), so I hope everyone has a glorious Christmas and remembers why we really celebrate. Although this holiday has been commercialized to death, Jesus is the Real Reason this holiday started. Don't forget to be thankful for Jesus becoming human and coming down to earth. The greatest Christmas gift you'll ever get is the gift of Eternal Life.

Merry Christmas!

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Christmas get together/gift exchange

Last night "the girls" had our Christmas get together/gift exchange at Natasha's. Fun was had by all. :) Merry Christmas, my friends.

Natasha's Charlie Brown tree was very cute (I'm stealing Keri/Kori's cool idea of taking pics of the ornaments).

Can you see me in the reflection of this bauble? I wasn't trying to do that, but I thought it looked kind of fun.

And this is what I woke up to this morning.

It's very beautiful, but it better be gone by next Saturday when I need to get to the airport!

Sure am glad I have a 4 x 4 if I need to go out for something.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Birth, Death and a bit of an update

Last week my friends Dwain & Lori welcomed a beautiful new edition to their family. Lily Marie Faith is a first daughter for them and a little sister for Ryan and Jacob. This family has grown to mean a lot to me over the years and I am very happy for them. I got to see Lily when she was just 7 hours old and I felt privileged to be able to hold her, smell her and give a celebratory toast to her. Look at all that hair! Isn't she great? I can't wait to watch her grow up.

Lori was very smart in thinking of a way to break Lily in with the boys. She told the boys that when the baby came, "it" had a present for them. When they came to the hospital, Lily gave her brothers this present and they said something like, "She's going to be the BEST little sister EVER!" So cute!

Have fun buying little girl clothes, Lori! ;) Bring on the pink!

Also this week, my friend unfortunately lost his Dad. I debated whether to put these two things in the same post, but it just shows how unpredictable life can be. Lily was a bit of a surprise for Dwain & Lori, but they welcome her and love her with all that they have. My friend wasn't expecting to lose his Dad either, but God decided that it was his time to go Home. It's a good reminder to let the ones we love know how much we love them no matter how young or old they are.

Which is why I want to thank you all (whether I hang out with you or simply know you through this blog) again for your prayers. Work has gotten MUCH better. They have gotten me some help so I don't feel quite so overwhelmed, which is great, however, training someone can be awkward because technically she's not my assistant. We are equals and I want her to feel that, but it's mostly me who has to train her so I feel like I'm giving her my grunt work. I'm hoping that we will feel more like team mates soon and that I won't get the looks from her that I feel I'm getting when I bring her new work to do. Yes, these looks may only be in my mind, but it can make it uncomfortable none the less. For the most part it's great because some of the pressure has been lifted and yes, I'm sure the fact that I leave next week has helped a lot, but I know that God has answered your prayers, so thanks again!