Goodbye Carmans BBQ

Today our friends had a BBQ in our honor. Not everyone was able to attend b/c many are on their home leave, but the people that showed up were super cool people.

We’ve sure enjoyed our time getting to know each and every one of you. We look forward to seeing you again someday!

Sent from my Windows Mobile® phone.

“We Love the Greenes”

About 3 years ago we met the Greenes. We were selected to be their host family for their arrival to Qingdao. I still remember seeing the stress in their faces as they got off the final mode of transportation from their long ride from the US. I tried to comfort them by telling them that staff housing was quite adequate here in Qingdao. We were all surprised when we walked in to their closet of an apartment to discover quite a few problems with the furniture and what-not. We still joke today about my spot on their carpet where I would lay down because there really wasn’t any other place to sit.

We’ve come a long way from that point together. We’ve added three children between the both of us, and spent lots of time together playing Madden and board games, and eating lots of meals together. They no longer need us to function (and haven’t for a while now) in China. They’ve pursued the language and the culture with open arms. We’ve really appreciated their love of China.

There is so much more to say about the Greenes and the blessing they have been in our lives. But to put it consicely, they have been true friends to us in Qingdao. Greenes, we will miss you terribly. I look forward to hanging with you again and finding a special place on your carpet where I can sit.

Notice in the picture Anna is wearing a shirt with the word “Love” on it. She purposely picked out this shirt. When she picked it out, she said, “I want to wear this shirt because I love the Greenes”. Very well put, Anna. Very well put.

Sent from my Windows Mobile® phone.

Out with our Neighbors

Since we’ve been living in Qingdao we’ve enjoyed living in the same apartment. In most places getting know your neighbors beyond the stairway/driveway head-nod is a challenge. Despite living literally 10 feet away from our nearest neighbor in this 6-floor apartment complex, it is still a challenge. That being said, we have gotten know a couple of families that live in our stairwell. One in particular has really been cool to see develop.

Bob is a high school senior this year. Over last couple of years, Bob and I have been able to hang out to practice his English. We’ve done tutoring, hanging out with friends, and even playing the board/card game,Dominion. From time to time Bob’s family takes us out to dinner.

This last year has really been special for Bob. He’s on a special track through his high school to study abroad. Bob put in his applications to several universities in the States and hoped for the best. I was thrilled to hear that Bob got accepted to Purdue University in West Lafayette! It’s been fun being able to tell him about Indiana. He’s off for college in August. For you Indiana friends, I might need you to show him the sights.

Another cool factor is that Bob has a little sister about the same age as Anna. They enjoy hanging out together and chasing each other.

In the days since we’ve decided that we would move back to the States, every time I hear Anna speak Chinese I feel a bit regretful about the decision. It’s almost certain that Anna will completely lose her Chinese within 6 months to a year. This year in particular her Chinese fluency has increased incredibly. It’s so cool to be able to watch her converse so easily with her Ayi, teachers and friends.

Here’s a video that shows her hanging out with Kun Kun, Bob’s sister, when they took us out for one more dinner this evening.

The Movers are Here!

The movers have arrived! Not sure how they do it in other countries, but here it is full service. We’ve got a big pile of stuff completely n packed and mostly uncategorized and the movers are do it all! I’m pretty sure in the states you have to pack it all up yourself.

I remember when we moved from Dongguan to Beijing we decided to mail about 7 boxes. JK packed them really nicely. We got to the post office and they proceeded to unpack and examine every single item. Then they packed it in their own boxes. It was a 2 hour affair.

Anyway, as far as moving such a large amount of stuff, I definitely prefer the Chinese way.

Sent from my Windows Mobile® phone.

Daddy Date: The Last in Qingdao

Anna and I took a break from the packing up and went Yogurt Garden. It’s a self-serve yogurt place. Kinda cool (if u like frozen yogurt).

Afterword, we rode our bikes around the marina and Anna had me take pictures of her.

Here’s some of my favorite things she said on our date:

  • “Okay, see those flags over there? We’re gonna go over there and you’re gonna take two pictures of me there. And then we’ll take some more pictures somewhere else. Okay?”
  • “Daddy, you’re so cool.” (I was showing her how far I could lean over on my bike.)
  • (Taking pictures)
    Anna: “Send them to Starbucks.”
    Me: “Huh?”
    Anna: (With exasperation) “Send the pictures to Starbucks so mommy can see them.”
    Me: (Thoroughly confused) “She’s not at Starbucks, she’s at home.”
    Anna: (Obviously agitated) “No, send them to Starbucks so she can see them at home!”
    Me: “Oh! You mean Facebook.”
    Anna: (With a smile) “Oh, you’re right, I mean Facebook.”

Sent from my Windows Mobile® phone…and edited on my PC 🙂

Eastern Hymn Cover

Ever since I heard David Crowder’s “Eastern Hymn”,  I wanted to do it. I finally got the chance last Sunday. We obviously didn’t get it perfect; the location of the camera wasn’t able to pick up the bass and hardly the drums which are key elements of the song, and it was a bit “*pitchy”. But anyway, it was super fun to play with some super cool people!

This was also a special day for us since it was our “goodbye” to the fellowship that we have been a part of for the past 4 years. We’ve really enjoyed being part of such a cool fellowship and having the opportunity and encouragement to use our gifts. This fellowship really has been our “home fellowship” for the past 4 yeas. It has been the place that we have felt most comfortable and yet challenged. It is the fellowship that we have been at the longest. We will also remember and treasure our time at QICF!

*Some of my musical friends have issue with the word “pitchy” as made popular by the American Idol Judge, Randy Jackson. My use of it here is dedicated to those friends… 🙂

**To hear the original by David Crowder *Band, click below:

Anna the Baller

The last couple of weeks I’ve been helping out with Qingdao Youth Basketball League. It’s for kids Kindergarten to 5th grade. There are two leagues – Jiaozi and Baozi. Jiaozi are typically smaller than Baozi, that the younger league is Jiaozi.

Even though Anna’s a couple of months too young, I registered her to play. She’s been having a good time and looks super cute in her Nuggets uniform.

Acting silly while Daddy sets up

The first week we worked on Skills and Drills. And the second, we did Skills and Games.

She’s been doing really well with it…except the first day she had a broken nail and said, “Daddy, I can’t practice anymore. I’ve got a broken nail.” It made me want to shout in a high-pitched, Tom Hanks-like voice, “There’s no broken nails in basketball!”

On the second day, the game had been going on for about 5 minutes and Anna asked me, “Daddy, what do I do?” I said, “You know how when you hold a ball at home daddy steals it out of your hands?” She nodded. “That’s what you do…steal it out of their hands.” She smiled really big and ran after the person with the ball.

Stretches before practice

Anyway, it’s been super fun to be Anna’s and the rest of my cool team’s coach. What can be cuter than watching a bunch of 5-7 year-olds playing BBall?

Excited about QYBL!

For more pics, check out the QYBL Picture Gallery.

I was again shown the honesty of the people of Qingdao

Yesterday all of us went out to eat at Subway (the newest Western food joint in town) then to Computer City. Computer City is a 6-floor building with new & used computer stuff (Daddy’s playground). JK needed her phone, but couldn’t find it in her clothes and bags that we were carrying. So, as a good husband always does, I called it to help her find it. Instead of hearing it ringing somewhere nearby, a lady answered it. She said that she found it in a taxi just outside of Computer City and that we should come and get it. She gave us the address of her location and we went and got it.

This is just crazy! We had heard of such kindness in Qingdao, and have now experienced it two times. When we lived in the South, if you left something in a taxi or lost it on the street, you could pretty much write it off as a loss. Taxi drivers – or the next passengers of the taxi – rarely if ever return lost items. More than one of our friends in the South lost very nice guitars to the “terrible taxi trunks”, forgotten for only a few seconds, but never to be seen again. They called the taxi companies. They offered rewards. But never was anything returned.

In Qingdao, however, we’ve even heard of iPods getting returned. In our own experience, JK lost a wallet on the side of the street. Someone looked inside, found an address the he recognized and took it there. The address was on a receipt from Anna’s kindergarten. The kindergarten called us and told us to come and get it.

Here’s the best part, in all of our experiences here in Qingdao, no one has ever tried to get a reward out of it. We’ve tried to give one but they have only refused*. What is it about Qingdao that people are honest and trouble themselves to return lost items?

*It should be noted that when we recovered JK’s wallet, it was missing a couple hundred RMB (about 30 USD), but that doesn’t take away from that effort of the person that brought it back. If he took the money, then I guess that counts as his reward. Either way, we were happy to have her ID and bank card back.

Happy Birthday, A-Mae

Anna Mae is now 4 years old! What an exciting time in all of our lives. Anna is so full of life and happiness. She’s also developing in her memory and emotions. The other day she saved a cookie from school for mommy to eat (a feat in itself to get it home in one piece). Mommy didn’t immediately eat the cookie, and the next day Anna reminded mommy of it by asking, “Did you eat the cookie yet?” When mommy said no, Anna said as she visibly became emotional about it, “But I saved it for you!”

Anna got to have 3 birthday parties!

Her Chinese school threw her a birthday party.

She celebrated alone with mom and dad.

And then we threw her a party with her friends at the house.

Oh, and Jacquelyn made a cake that was simply out of control!

Some Observations about the Party Scene

For JK’s birthday I thought I’d take her out on the town. There was a band in town called Immaculate Machine. (I forgot the name, though, and kept telling people we were going to see the Immaculate Conception.) The band was from Canada. What they were doing in China, I have no idea. Their music was quite good. I always wonder what motivation rock bands have to go out on tour. This band didn’t seem to be in it for the party scene, or money, or hookin’ up. They seemed genuinely interested in the music…which is nice. Overall it was a good night. We had a fun time together.

While talking together, we made the following observations:
-Neither one of us have really experienced the party scene before
-Neither one of us particularly like it
-Both of us think it is quite smoky
-We both enjoyed the music
-We’re usually in bed by the time the headline band hits the stage
-I think we’ll do it again, sometime

Immaculate Machine’s website:

Jeremy, The Police & The News

The other day some friends and I were invited to hear the local police explain how they can help us foreigners in case of a dispute. A local news crew was there ready with their cameras. We all sat down at the table while the police woman explained that if we have a dispute we can call the police and have a “sit-down” with the other party to resolve the problem. It is actually quite nice knowing that we can do that. After I volunteered to translate for English-speaking foreigners, the news team asked me why I volunteered.

Now, I’ve never been interviewed by the news before. I had no idea who to look at. To make things more confusing, it wasn’t the reporter that asked me the question, it was the cameraman. Should I look at the camera, the reporter, or the cameraman? In the end I looked at the cameraman. Is there a standard protocol when being interviewed?

Obama nothin’, I can make the front page too!

A couple of weeks ago Obama made the the front page here in China when he won the election. Well, it turns out that it’s not that hard to do! (For those of you who have kept up with us, you’ll remember that I made the newspaper another time as well.)

I recently took the HSK (Hanyu Shuiping Kaoshi – Chinese Proficiency Test). It is nick-named the “Chinese TOEFL”. Over 600 students took the test at Qingdao University. In my particular class I was the only “Western-looking” student, as everyone else was *Korean. In fact, on my way to and from the test I didn’t see a single “Western-looking” person!

The HSK test is quite difficult as it is only in Chinese characters. There were quite a few questions that I just had to guess at. I have to wait 50 days before I find out the results. If you don’t see me blog about the results within 2 months, that means I probably didn’t do very well on the test and am ashamed to tell anyone about it 🙂

PHOTO CAPTION: Overseas students take the “Chinese TOEFL”

*The Korean population is Qingdao is huge!

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Olympic Torch in Qingdao

The excitement is growing here in Qingdao as the Olympics are getting closer. This past Monday there was an Olympic torch relay through Qingdao. It started at the sailing center and turned down the main road that passes in front of our apartment complex. It continued down and around Qingdao and ended up at beach #1 where it went on a sail boat across the way back to the sailing center.

As you can see in most of my pictures we couldn’t see very much because everyone was waving flags, but just to be there was so exciting. It is interesting to be here as the Olympics come. I think that the local government did not want the crowd to be too large, so they told most people to stay inside while the torch relay was going on. They bused almost all the spectators in from around town. That is why they are all dressed alike.
There were actually suppose to be two other torch relays in the nearby area but for some reason or another they were canceled. So what happened is all the relayers came to Qingdao and were going to “run” in this one. All together there were 259 people that carried the torch. So instead of running 2 km they each ran 50 m (about 130 feet). So each relayer did not actually do much running.

Where we were standing we got to see the fire pass from one relayer to the next. Unfortunately, all the flags & cameras were in our way so I can’t say I saw that actually happen. But after watching it, Jeremy & I were both very excited to see the Olympics, so I think the purpose of the relay did it’s job.

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Annual Goodbyes

If any of you have lived overseas before, you know saying “goodbye” to friends is an annual occurrence. This year is especially rough for us as some of our closest friends are headed back to their home countries or new assignments. Although we’re extremely happy for our friends who are turning a new page in their lives, we’re a little offended they didn’t consider our feelings…

To all of our friends who are leaving, we’re super excited for you. You will always be remembered by the Carmans. Thanks for all the good times we had together.
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The Storm

by Jacquelyn Carman

As we were taking our evening walk the wind was blowing pretty strong causing rather large waves to crash up against the rocks. As I watched I was thinking, this is exactly how I have felt the past few days. Waves tossing me this way and that . . . how can I with stand all the turmoil. Then words from the song “Beautiful Lord” by Leeland came to my mind.

When the storm is raging all around me
You are the peace that calms
My troubled sea
And the cares of this world
Darken my day
You are the light that shines
And shows me the way
Oh, the beauty of Your majesty
On the cross You showed Your love for me!

Beautiful Lord
Awesome and mighty
I’m captured by this love I see
Beautiful Lord
Tender and holy
Your mercy brings me to my knees
It’s Your mercy that has made me free
Beautiful Lord

When my sin is all that I can see
Your grace remains the shelter that I seek
And when my weakness is all I can give
Your gentle Spirit gives me strength again
And oh, the beauty of Your majesty
On the cross You showed Your love for me

And I am lifted by Your love to sing!
It’s Your mercy that has made me free!

You’re beautiful, my Lord
You’re beautiful, my Lord

Spring is coming . . .

The weather is turning from cold to warm and sunny. Last weekend it was cold enough that we had to wear our winter hats, coats and gloves. It was cold, wet and damp. I was getting depressed fearing that the warm weather would never come. Today, to my great pleasure, it was warm enough I didn’t even need a coat. The wind is still blowing pretty strong but it is not bitter cold any more. Anna & I went to beach today and were able to enjoying the shinning sun and the blue sky. Soon the flowers will begin to bloom!!

REALLY Snow @ the Beach

Now I can say that I have really seen snow on the beach. Anna looked at it and really wanted to go down and play. I thought that cold wet sandy snow did not sound like fun at all. So instead we splashed in the slushy puddles and just looked at the snowy beach.

Olympics coming to Qingdao

The day we arrived home from our trip to the states our helper told us that the Olympic center was open to the public. So after Anna laid down for a nap we took a nice walk along the beach and saw where the Olympic sailing will be held this summer. It is very simple but pretty. It has a very nice view of Qingdao’s skyline. Walking around I could only imagine what it is going to be like this summer, very crowded with no where to move except into the ocean.

We were not too sure what these buildings are for but we each had our guess. We are guessing that the one in the air is for judges or cameramen. The one on the ground I think is like a lobby for the contestants. But whatever they are for I thought they looked pretty cool. Jeremy thinks they look old and retro and should have come up with a better design.

But it is kinda cool that we live so close (about a 5 minute walk). In the following blog I took some pictures of where our house is compared to the sailing center.

Our Home by the Olympics

In these two pictures I am standing at the Olympic center where the sailing will occur here in Qingdao. In the top picture you can see a building on the left that Jeremy and I guessed would be for the judges. If you look far to the right you see a bunch of apartment buildings with red roofs. That is the complex where most of our staff lives. We don’t live there but we live literally right behind those buildings. (There buildings are taller than ours so you can’t see them =( )

You can see now how close we are to where the Olympics will be held.

Snow @ the Beach

It snowed the Friday before Anna & I left for America. I was so excited to have my daughter play in the snow. Unfortunately, the ground was not cold enough for the snow to accumulate. I was sad that the snow did not stick but it looked really beautiful all day as it was snowing. I was a little bit jealous to find out that our friends who live 45 minutes inland had 3 inches of snow and were able to build a snowman. Oh well, we had fun on our little walk in the snow. I’m hoping it will snow while we are in the States!

Jeremy B-day ’07

Annual Birthday-Bowling-Bash!!!

Not only did I (Jeremy) lose to everyone (except the 10 year-old girl), but I had the single worst night in my extensive once-a-year bowling career.

Question: Why do I choose to bowl on my birthday? I suck at it.

Answer: There’s nothing better than lowering my self-esteem as I gain 1 more number to my age, and, yet again, lose the battle with the receding hairline.

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*Note the tall guy mercifully covering my score.

Lame, lame, lame

Last week I kept getting a message all in Chinese as I would try to access web pages. Randomly this message would pop-up when I tried to get to google.com, yahoo, or whatever. It would automatically redirect to the Chinese message just for a few seconds before again redirecting to the desired website. The first few times I just ignored it and because it only flashed for a few seconds I really didn’t have time to do anything about it. I saw that it was from our web provider (Here in China there is only one company who can give web service, by the way.), so I wasn’t really worried about it being a virus. I finally got the bright idea to quickly copy and paste the message the next time I saw it. Now, remember, there was seemingly no method to the pop-up randomness…so I brushed up on my shortcuts (ctrl+a = “Select All” & ctrl+c = “Copy”) and did my normal web surfing. Finally, the message popped up again.

Well, I was able to copy the message. I did my best to understand the message…it had a lot of words I’m not too familiar with like “modem”, “router”, and the such. After my choppy translating work I came to the conclusion that I was way off because what I thought it said couldn’t be true. So the next day I went to work and had a Chinese person translate it for me. It turns out I was right! The message said something to the effect that I was breaking the service agreement by plugging into a router and using multiple computers on my internet connection. Again, let me emphasize the “my” in that last sentence. The message continued by saying that if I continued to “violate” the service agreement they would shut it off completely. What??? I can’t use multiple computers on my own internet connection? What’s up with that?

This creates a serious problem for us. For one, we really love having wireless connection in our house. Secondly, we do have multiple computers – desktop, laptop, work-issued laptop and most importantly, our new Skype phone that we paid way too much for. (Yes, the Skype phone does count as a computer according to the Internet company.) Thirdly, it’s just the plain principle that someone is telling me how I can and can’t use my own internet service that I pay for monthly.

Wait…it gets worse.

I had the previously mentioned Chinese person call the company to get details about the “service agreement”. It turns out that we can pay more to allow use of the router – RMB 30 PER COMPUTER!!! That’s just ridiculous. By the time we paid for all the computers we would have doubled our monthly fee. I’m willing to pay a bit more…but double??? Again, I reiterate…that’s just ridiculous.

I’m not sure how this one is going to turn out. I’ll have to let you know. No matter how it turns out, though…this is just lame, lame, lame.

Underwater World

We have been trying to get around Qingdao and enjoy the sites while the weather is still nice. So on Saturday we went to the Underwater World. It was pretty neat. It started off with a museum (which we didn’t learn too much since everything was in Chinese), then had a large part devoted to salt water life and ended with a small section for fresh water life.

They had a large aquarium that you went under while riding on a people mover that was not more impressive then any other aquarium that we have been to.

My favorite part was there huge cylinder shape aquarium that was surrounded by smaller aquariums (pictured above with Jeremy’s silhouette). Anna was not as scared as she was when we went to Polar world, she got up to the glass and enjoyed looking at the fish.

The creature that fascinated me the most was the spider crab. This thing was huge! But I didn’t get to observe it as long as I might have liked since Anna was ready to be done and go home.

Qingdao Polar World

Our first sightseeing in Qingdao was to Polar World. We were very excited to take Anna, I don’t think she shared the same excitement. I really enjoyed taking her around to the different “cages” and pointing out the different animals. We would find the animal’s eyes, nose, and mouth. She was a bit scared when the walruses swam by. Being a little kid you don’t know that the glass will keep you safe. All she knows is that this huge animal is swimming right past her and could probably eat her up in one swallow.

We did not know when the dolphin shows were so we got to Polar World right after the last showing in the morning started. So we walked around the place first (a couple times) then eat lunch and then waited a little while longer for the first afternoon showing. Anna was getting a little bit cranky because it was about her nap time. But it was definitely worth the wait. Anna loved every minute of the show! Jeremy & I also thought the show was very good, the best we have seen here in China. The park itself was not that impressive. I thought it was a little bit over priced for what they had but the show was very good and worth seeing.

Qing Dizzle Baby!!!

Well, we’ve made it through our first two weeks of living in Qingdao! We apologize for taking so long to make a post about it, but it’s been pretty crazy with the whole moving in-unpacking-starting a new job-working on my MBA-going shopping, and of course going to the beach like everyday!

Jacquelyn has loved her newfound freedom of being able to walk to the beach and major shopping places.

My new job is going great! For those of you who don’t know, I am the admissions director for Qingdao MTI International School (QMIS). I have a lot to learn, but I think it is going to work out well. I’ve been working very closely with the previous admissions director for these past two weeks.

Check this out…I get to hire a secretary! Isn’t that awesome? No more getting my own coffee! Obviously I’m just kidding about the coffee, but it is pretty exciting about getting a secretary. QMIS is in the midst of renovating a new campus and we’re already busting at the seams. I’ll be moving into my new office by the week’s end.

The first picture posted in this post is the view from our apartment…kinda. You really need to stick your head out of the window to see the ocean, but hey, we aren’t complaining! In the second picture you can see Anna throwing rocks into the ocean. She absolutely loves it. It’s like having a giant sandbox in your backyard.

Well, that’s all for now. Please do come see us! We’d love to show you around.