Thursday, May 25, 2017

Around the World in Twenty Days. First Hawaii, Shanghai and Dubai

If you asked me what would be on my bucket list of favorite things to do, it would be to take an adventurous trip around the world, stopping to give a couple of speeches to some terrific families and  see some of our favorite people, namely our children on the way and not get jet lagged! During April, I got to check that off my list!  We circled the globe in twenty days with six stops, three days in each place and got to see four of our our Eyrealm families on the way. It was a wild idea but we already had commitments to give speeches in Shanghai and Dubai and we realized that we just as well include those in our chance to see our kids and grandkids and make it a party! :) 

So away we went on April 6th! Our first stop was Maui, where we reveled in that unique Eyre family. Their kids are growing up so fast and we love every chance we get to immerse ourselves in their lives! Jonah, who a champion worker trimmed all the banana trees on their property and we did what we could to hand him the tools and drag limbs to a pickup place. 


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I love having a little Grammie Dates with their adorable children! Po is precocious and no end of entertainment! I loved soaking in her personality and interesting reflections on life during out walk through the town to get her favorite  yummy doughnuts.  


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Elsie is an artist. The things she creates are astonishing! When she’s not buried in a book, she’s always coming up with the next creative idea. We had so much fun taking a walking tour of the numerous art galleries in her sweet little upcountry town. 


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                    And this Grammie Date with Superman was magical!  This child is pure delight! 


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This teenager below is one of the most proactive teens you would every want to meet!  She is a champion swimmer, a brilliant student and has taken self-reliance to a whole new level!  When she was nine she earned the money to buy and take care of her own horse. When our grandkids want to participate in special programs that are expensive, we invite them to write a grant for Richard and I explaining why they want to participate in the experience and what they think they will learn from it. Ana has written some pretty remarkable grant proposals through the years but she outdid her self on this one. She had a power point presentation ready to show us. It included info about a summer program that involved a one-week educational and activity session for teenagers this summer. It knocked our socks off and she was grated matching funds which means that if she could come up with half the funds, we would provide the other half.  And she will. Such a fun girl!

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Jonah was born four days after my birthday while we were living in England in 1977. He was born by emergency C-section because of a placenta previa with a 50/50 chance to live so we've always had a special bond! Since a big birthday was coming up for both us we went to our favorite place to eat in  Maui called Mama’s Fish House. It was an evening we won’t forget with these two beautiful people. How we love them and admire the life they have created together. As you can tell they still really like each other, five children and lots of wild adventures later!  This is two remarkable people. I love this picture!



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This food is about as good as it gets!  This was my meal which consisted of lobster bisque and a couple of crab cakes. Mmmmm!


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We found some time to enjoy the beach and what is under the water. Jonah owns the equipment so they can go anytime, anywhere. They saw some amazing things, as usual.


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Then we were off the Shanghai. This was about our 4th visit there but each visit has been short and since there are endless things to see and do, we tried to cram in as much as possible in our three days there. It is such an astonishing city….a credit to the entrepreneurial spirit of the Chinese people. A mecca for business and a thriving metropolis! Our 72 hours there included a  speech to a Young President’s Group at the Coal Harbor Club in Shanghai. Here we are on the deck with a beautiful yacht behind us as well as the incredible skyline/. There are fascinating stories about those two tall buildings behind us that I’ll have to relate later. Interestingly the backstory has to do with the combative relationship between China and Japan.



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Our gourmet lunch with our host before our presentation that night provided some incredible food!  And some pretty “interesting" food too….i.e.  Sheep’s Lung Soup which had bits of cauliflower- looking items floating in the broth among other strange looking items. I did my best to get it down before our host told me that it wasn’t necessary to eat the solid particles. The Chinese just believe that the broth from those sheep's lungs is very nutritious for their lungs!  Should have taken a picture! Here is one of the courses:


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The food just kept coming! I thought that we ere done after the first three courses but it went on to about twelve.. What a meal!

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                                                        These are still the most effective brooms!

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The Langdon Hotel in Shanghai is to die for! The rooms, food, decor, service, breakfast buffet were all spectacular! One of my favorite things were these massive statues outside the Hotel. The title of this delightful creation is O My Balloon!  It just makes me smile!


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And here are four lovely Chinese ladies having a sweet reunion at this beautiful fountain at an open air mall across the street from the hotel.


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                                      And some fun advertising outside a lady’s clothing store.

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Well… some issues are the same worldwide!  Kids get together to hang out and end up staring at their phones Who knows maybe they’re texting teach other! :) I have never seen such an amazing collection of high-end stores anywhere in the world. There I a lot of money in Shanghai… a LOT!


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We somehow managed to get to this lovely park only one subway stop away from our hotel. With not one word in English anywhere in sight, we were lucky to find our way,  thanks to a very helpful person who spoke pretty good English and was good at pointing the direction we should go.

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What a city of glass and steel! This metropolis houses 27 million people! We went to the top of the building on the lower left and saw an amazing city scape and enormous housing projects as far as you can see!

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And on to Dubai!  We had been invited to come there by a woman named Gina who has become a great friend. About three years ago she heard us give a talk in Dubai while we were on a speaking tour there, When we got to the part about creating a Family Mission Statement and How to Avoid the Entitlement Trap in our speech, she got a great idea. She happened to be in Tal’s church congregation in Switzerland and we got reconnected. Even though she has since moved to South Africa with her family, she is always anxious to get back to her home in Dubai and asked us to come back and help her do a presentation to a large group of friends who are part of  the Young  President’s group. How serendipity is that?

She thought it would e so fun to go into depth about specific ways to teach some family systems. She arranged for a working art gallery in Dubai for the event, where parents came with their kids to learn more about what it takes to create  a strong family. One of the projects for the day was a hands-on project to create their own Family Vision Statement on canvas!  A terrific collection of families came to enjoy the day.. The majority of the families were Muslims but there was also a fascinating variety of Jewish families, Christian families and Sikh families.

                                                           
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Gina created a terrific questionnaire to help families interact in a fun way. Here’s a little closer look:


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 Richard created this diagram on canvas to create a visual for our message. It was such a fun day with some wonderful families!


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And here are some of the Family Vision Statement creations. Pretty good thinking after families put their heads together!


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                                                       And some of the cute kids that created them!

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The city of Dubai is DAZZLING!  Sort of Las Vegas on steroids with a lot of class. This is a three story fountain with sculpted divers everywhere “falling” down the massive wall. A dazzling sight accompanied by the sound of a gigantic waterfall.

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And here we are standing at the base of the Burj Khalifa, the tallest building in the world, twinkling in the night. We’ve already been to the top so we enjoyed the dancing fountains which are about four times more elaborate than the ones at the Bellagio in Las Vegas. A fun night in Dubai. 
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One of the participants in the workshop who was there with his family is a man who is essentially one of the “Giants of the City.’ !  He and his family were the force behind creating a Sihk Temple in Dubai. He invited us to tour the temple the next morning which just happened to be Easter Sunday. We were delighted! Our new friend sent a car to pick us up at the hotel. There was a huge traffic jam on the way there, mostly cars returning from Christian churches which were also in the area had been unexpectedly been closed because of the horrific bombing at the coptic Christian church I Egypt recently and made authorities think that terrorist might choose another Christin church to bomb on Easter Sunday. When we walked in the door of the Sikh Temple this crowd was anxiously awaiting a special wedding ceremony. 
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It was hard getting around the crowd to the manager of the Temple who was waiting for us in his office. They dressed us appropriately and we were thrilled to observe that fascinating day at the Sihk Temple. We have always loved the beliefs of the Sihks and have grown to admire many fine Sikh families in our travels. 
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As we were being escorted through the rooms, we were led through a tiny room where, to our surprise, the beautiful bride sat in silence in her spectacular dress. Her hands are places on some sort of mat so that the gorgeous henna on her hands wouldn’t be smudged. We were a bit embarrassed to stumble on to her sitting but she welcomed us with a smile and was proud to sho off her beautiful hands. Actually I think it released a little of her tension surrounding her big day!

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The Sikhs have a strong tradition of love and kindness for everyone…any religion and any belief, including non-believers . Their temples are prepared to feed thousands of people every day at no charge. Usually this temple feeds about 2000 every weekday The previous weekend, they had served 17,000 people. The beautiful Golden Temple run by the Sikhs in Northern India feeds 70,000 people a day. People from all walks of life, sit on the floor and enjoy a simple meal together. We enjoyed some great Indian food and loved what we learned from our guide about these generous, gentle and unique people. It was a memorable Easter Sunday!

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                                    This is the size of the pots that are used to prepare the food…..

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And this is food that is simply dropped off every day by anonymous benefactors to add to the supplies to feed the crowds. It’s mind-blowing!

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Although there must be some, I’ve never talked to anyone in Dubai who didn’t really admire, appreciate and support the ruler of Dubai, Sheikh Mohammed, the King of Dubai. He is such a grand example what a difference a just and compassionate ruler can make. The Dictator Assad comes to mind. He is the force behind all the amazing  robust economy of Dubai. Our driver told us that he drives his own car and doesn’t get mad at people who honk at him for going too slow. :) This plaque hangs in the hall of the Sikh Temple.

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The architecture is beyond description!  This is just.a tiny drop in the bucket of the thousands of buildings, all with creative architecture that abounds on every side in Dubai. Every time we go, there are a hundred more buildings finished or in process.

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There is not only one, but two “Chrysler-like” buildings in Dubai which are almost lost among the buildings that crowd the sky. 
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We drove out to The Palm Jumerirah which is a pretty unbelievable gigantic area of reclaimed land that juts out into the oceanin the shape of a Palm Tree. It was a monumental project created by the government, started in 2001 and opened in May 2009. It is actually earth moved to this space in the shape of a Palm. Go figure because I can’t. We drove up that “palm trunk” to the tip of the fronds and there we found Atlantis…the Hotel and Mall. Who imagined that how did they make it happen? Her it is on Google Earth. 
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We walked through the Mega Mall there, which is beyond amazing! When we saw this shop in the mall, we knew that we were definitely in the land of DATES!

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One of the big attractions other than the Hotel and Mall itself, is a gigantic aquarium!  Richard found this nice chair where he could watch the wonders of the occupants of the beautiful blue water in comfort! 
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This is about as big a window to the underwater world as you could find in all the world although the one in the Singapore Aquarium rivals it.

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                                            This cute sting ray stopped by to give us a smile:  
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                                         This glass creation by Chihuli stands in the central lobby.
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There’s almost nothing that you can’t find here in this dazzling mall including one of our favorite restaurants.


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Needless to say we had a pretty exciting 72 hours here, The vast variety of cultures create a dazzling melting pot!  At the malls we were fascinated to see fully covered Muslim women with eyes peering out from slits in their black headscarves, with a couple of sun-bronzed Australian guys in T shirts and cargo shorts a few feet behind. I love it! 
We left this space-age looking airport excited to fly on to meet Charity and Ian and Moses in Moscow….coming next!  Congratulations if you made it to the end of this one. So much to record for this exciting trip!

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Thursday, May 4, 2017

Three Glorious Granddaughters

Well, I’m back!  After having my computer stolen and struggling with a new blog program that made posting so hard that I was almost ready to quit , Richard gave me a new computer for my birthday and our great Josh set it all up of me and even found a program that I can use offline to prepare the blog and then post when I get back to the Internet. I am so happy!

BUT I’m at least a month behind on posts that I really want to do for the sake of our family history! We have just been on a little trip all the way around the globe with seven stops that were so fun and I’m exited to get that trip documented. 

First, however I just have to post about a very fun two and a half days on a Motor Home Trip with three dynamic granddaughters!  Because we have so many grandchildren, we love to get kids together in small groups around the time that they turn twelve for a three day trip when we we can just have fun with them!

We started calling it our Motor Home Trip because the first two were really trips in a Motor Home. Yellowstone Park was our first trip with our three oldest grandchildren. Then we went in another, smaller Motor Home with the next three kids to Lagoon, which was only three hours away and a place that Richard and I swore we would never got to again the last time we took our motley crew on a muggy hot summer day with cranky, hungry, quarreling kids. With some trepidation we traveled from Idaho in our Motor Home for a couple of days that turned out to be more fun that we thought was possible!. Everyone loved it!

This year we realized that time was slipping away and we had three girls who were 12,13 and 14 and ready for their big trip!  The “Motor Home” turned out to be an airplane ride to a place that was easy for everyone to converge on in a short amount of time. So Eliza came from Salt Lake, Claire came from Phoenix and Hazel came from San Francisco where I had flown from the night before at the conclusion of our Eyrealm Mother’s Retreat. Destination: Las Vegas!!! 

Even though there is a lot of nasty stuff going on there, there is also a plethora of good, fun things for kids and I have to say that everyone had a fabulous time, including us old grandparents!  Here we are at our very reasonably priced room at the Treasure Island Resort. Do you think everyone looks excited enough, especially Grandfather?  

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We picked them up one at a time at the airport late at night on Thursday so they could finish their day at school and the next morning we hit the road to see the spectacular Jungle transplanted to the lobby of the Mirage Hotel next door to our hotel. Can you think of three cuter girls? 

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                                                                                                  They took advantage of a photo shoot with everything they saw along the way: 

 

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We headed across the street to see the canals of Venice at the Phoenician and they were delighted with the beautiful fake blue sky with clouds overhead as well s the gondola drivers singing their hearts out along the way: 

 

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                                                                        The amazing show called LOVE was playing at this casino and the girls had a pretty great time in this 0 part of LOVE! 

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                                                            The Wynn Hotel was next with it’s amazing flower-bedecked Merry-Go-Round and a lighted hallway perfect for dancing, which they did! 

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                                                                                                  You couldn’t ask for better friends! 

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                                                                                        Or more spectacular fake sites!  Like these chandeliers from the ceiling….

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                                                                                                                                ….And these Mosaics on the floor! 

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                                                                                                         They immediately fell in love with even the raucous rest rooms! 

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From there it was on to an appointment at the Las Vegas Eye, better known as The High Roller!  It’s the gigantic roller coaster thing that gives a spectacular view of that enormous collection of “stuff”! We had a private booth with great music which provided a great place for a dance party! 

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And some time for reflection about the ability of man to believe that he could build anything that he could conceive. Let’s face it, this is not quite like building the pyramids but it’s pretty incredible, even if it is a monument to glitz! 

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From there we headed to the Bellagio to see the waterfalls dancing to music. We just missed a show so we went inside that incredible lobby to see all the amazing Chihuly glass flowers in the ceiling of the lobby and the always incredible display in the exhibit hall behind. It was a pretty spectacular Japanese exhibit: 

 

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Eliza was dying to put out her hat and dance over by the fountains to see if she could make some money!  Claire, who has had lots of dance experience thought it was a great idea and Hazel, a pianist at heart opted to watch. Sure enough some hippy guy gave them a silver peace sign which they were delighted about and immediately threw it into the fountain for good luck! 

That night we took them to Mystery, one of our very favorite Cirque du Soleill shows ever!  We ere all blown away!  Richard and I had seen it when it first came out but so much had been added with truly astonishing acts of skill to perfection! The girls were thrilled to the bone! 

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The next morning went to a tour of The Avengers that Richard had arranged. We all thought it was going to be very different but the girls had fun anyway with a few of their “favorite” Super Heroes.”  

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We spent some fun time both days at the hotel pool where the girls spent a lot of time creating synchronized swim routines that was pretty amazing. They were almost ready for the Olympics by the end! Wish I knew how to post video! (That’s my next project)! 

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After working up our appetites at the pool we went to a Las Vegas Buffet, something everyone needs to experience at least once!  On the way over to the Mirage, we were cautioned by Eliza not to drink water or soda before we ate or we wouldn’t be able to eat enough to get our money’s worth!  Good advice Eliza! 

                                                                                We ended the fun at the Mirage Shark Reef and Zoo which was a perfect ending!  

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Look at that beautiful White Lion in the background!  These animals have a pretty good life for a zoo animal! Beautifully kept grounds made it look like the lap of luxury. And since they haven’t ever known anything else I guess they are pretty much enjoying being fed and royally cared for but don’t quite know how much to appreciate it!  :) 

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                               Sigfried, who is the one the one who was mauled by a lion in one of their famous shows…and survived…was there signing autographs! 

And then it as back to the airport. It think the flight on their own was one of the highlights of the trip actually. As I always say, “Do something every day that scares you!” It was a 2 1/2 day adventure to remember!  Not only did we have a load of fun, we all got know each other in a way that only happens in small groups in places that are open to conversation. These girls are going to be so fun to watch as they continue to grow into their teen years and learn how to learn and love in a meaningful way! 

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                                                                                   We are lucky to have these three stars as part of our family!