It’s shocking how fast the time seems to be passing! I can’t believe it’s the middle of May…it’s Sunday night and we just got all the kids settled in bed, and usually I look forward to this time to plan and prepare for my week… sort of use Sunday night to make lists. Tonight I just feel so tired! My potential-list is very long, and I think that I need the Monday morning momentum to even face it! My mom and dad have been here for a little more than a week now, and it’s been such a treat to have them around. I totally love showing people around here, and introducing them to this crazy life we lead here in China! It’s so much fun, and we have had a great time. we have eaten at all our favorite restaurants, and hit most the major must-see’s… still a few left to check off the list. I think that the highlights have been the fabric market, were we got fabric to make my dad a couple of suits, and my mom a skirt and a shirt and a robe. That alone is a major cultural experience. The traffic and parking and frantic chaos associated with mass amounts of cars, bikes, taxis, busses and pedestrians…oh, and the delivery bikes… which are bikes with either a ‘flat bed’ on the back, or something of a truck bed… these guys barrel through the narrow aisles of the market and slam their brakes and miss you by inches… being with my mom and dad for the first time has totally brought back all the thoughts and feelings I had when we first got here. It’s funny how I have come to accept it, and love it… and am starting to feel more and more confident. I may have mentioned that eric gave me a GPS for my birthday. I have to admit to being intimidated of the little machine… and worried that even a spokes person would not help my map reading skills! But I am happy to report that I am experiencing a whole new world of freedom and confidence getting myself to places I want to go! (kylee you would be SO proud)! All you have to do is look up where you want to go on Google Earth, and then program in the coordinates of your destination! I have driven to the Wall, Forbidden City, and the fabric market… (by myself) not to mention being able to communicate well enough to get the things that we need and order food, and tell the street vendors that we are not interested in more olympic paraphernalia. And although my Chinese is painfully inadequate for living here… I think that I have managed to impress my mom and dad (aren’t your own parents the easiest to impress?). lol…I can understand more than I can say, which I think is typical… but I was a little proud of myself this afternoon when eric was having a conversation with a lady at a small store, and when he was done, I translated to my mom what he had been saying… he looked at me and said, ‘you understood all that??’… (smile)!! I have to hand it to my folks, they have been living it up here with us! We have been going non-stop, and not only are they adjusting to the wacked out body clock situation, and the Chinese culture shock… but they are having to deal with 5 kids worth of chaos!! (giggling, crying, arguing, leaving shoes and books and toys strewn about, and toothpaste mess). On Thursday, we loaded up all the bikes into the JinBei and headed into town for some biking touring. We needed another dependable bike, so eric and dad had gone to the Giant store, and they each got a new ‘folding’ bike. So great for cruising around the city, and even better for loading into the van. AMAZING, the frame folds right in half, the petals fold up, the handlebars rotate and you put a strap around it and can just carry it onto a bus or whatever. My dad is a cyclist, so we was absolutely in his element-the guy could bike for miles and miles. I think we did around 15 miles in all, winding in and out of old alleyway villages, (hutongs), and around the 2nd ring- by Tian’namen, Forbidden City, the Bell and Drum towers… well-all over. It was a PERFECTLY delightful day. Once they got the traffic thing figured out, they agreed that it’s the absolute best way to see Beijing. We had so much fun. Grandma and Grandpa did arrive at a perfect time to celebrate some of our family’s milestones… quincy turned 7 (gasp); connor is basically walking; and cory has learned to ride a uni-cycle. My dad is so cute…he brought with him this movie called “Knights of the South Bronx” with Ted Danson. Of course I had never heard of it, but it’s about a substitute teacher instructing the 4th grade students of an inner-city school how to play Chess. I guess since Colton is in 4th grade, he decided that he wanted to teach him how to play. Now, a week later, Colton and Cory are addicted to Chess of all things! They have just jumped right in and are loving playing the computer simulator on-line and each other and my dad! We immediately had to go to the toy market and buy a chess set (we have never had one) and got a little magnetized set… get this: they are bringing it with us in the CAR!! It’s like it’s a game boy or something. I think it’s great. it’s a wonderful movie, I highly recommend it! I am having another little photo crisis, so I will add photos later. China of course is rocked with the tragedy of it’s largest natural disaster in 30 years. As reports and images of the devastation are released, it just breaks my heart…I think that it would even from a million miles away, but being so close just makes it all that much more real. I can’t even imagine. Natural disaster always just makes you feel so helpless, and scared… at least it does me. we are praying for their comfort, and relief…as well as trying to be prepared ourselves for any kind of emergency situation that may arise. We have always tried to have emergency kits and equipment, but I think that it’s a good time for us (and everyone) to put together really smart 72 hour kits, have plans and emergency numbers, and information available, as well as food and water in case of any emergency. Man, you just never know.