Saturday, August 21, 2010

Family Pictures 2010

Another year, another round of family pictures that bring a tear to my eye when I look at how happy my boys are and how much they have grown. And this year again, another photographer. We loved Jac who we used last year, but she took a break this summer after giving birth to her second son in May. But we LOVED Tamika Garscia whom we used and would recommend her to anyone in the market for a good photographer right now. Here is a link to her website... She was absolutely able to capture my boys in the moment and so full of life. We scored a beautiful day for pictures and were so pleased with the results. As always, it is impossible to narrow down to my favorites so a link to all 149 images is below.
Password: Jarrett

However is my somewhat shortened list of favorites. Enjoy!

I LOVE this picture of Blake...I see so much more than the picture itself. I think of him looking back at us with this big road (path) in front of him. It seems like such a metaphor for life. Nothing but open road ahead of you and still a need for a little reassurance to let go and run.

Luke with his hand up his shirt. Anyone that has been around him in the last year will know that he is actually hanging onto the silky tag in his shirt. It's his favorite "comfort" habit...he has a little bit of his Mama in him. ;)

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Everybody was Kung Fu Fighting...

Well of course they weren't, but for some reason that song comes into my head nearly everytime I think of anything related to the Asian culture. But again, of course they weren't and I am (and have been for a few weeks) back from my Asian adventure. Overall it was a pretty amazing trip. Professionally and personally I learned so much and am very glad that I had the opportunity to take a trip like this...especially the first class travel part. I traveled with 3 other women from my team and we had such a fun time together...even when we had to bunk up at the Singapore Crowne Plaza Hotel for 4 hours in the middle of the night. Insert note to tell long story another time and only to the people that really care and need some Singapore travel advice. :)

The journey began with a 12 hour flight to Japan, immediately followed by a 7 hour flight to Singapore. Ugh. Thank goodness for fully reclining seats and Ambien. From Singapore we had a much shorter flight to Surabaya, Indonesia where we spent a day with one of our vendors. We visited a factory which was very interesting. I buy furniture so you can imagine that no matter how clean they try to keep the factories, they are still filled with a haze of saw dust and an odor of paint/varnish. The workers were all so nice and were always smiling at us. :) We did have an "interesting" lunch catered in at the factory, but I can honestly say that was the only weird meal I had to eat...well except for some of the airplane food of course. There is a lot of poverty in Indonesia, I saw "homes" that would be deemed unacceptable for a family pet in the US, but entire families lived in them. The main mode of transportation in Surabaya was the moped. Entire families would ride on a single moped (no helmuts of course) with a child/toddler/infant in the front hanging on for dear life. And I mean "dear life"...they drive like maniacs.

From Indonesia we headed to Shenzhen, China via Hong Kong - population 13 MILLION. We spent 4 1/2 days there. We stayed at a Ritz Carlton in Shenzhen and it was fabulous. The city itself is huge. Felt a lot like New York, but instead of all the skyscrapers being businesses they were apartment buildings. There are no real suburbs like we know it. I ate very well while I was there with buffet breakfast every morning and really nice dinners every evening. Oddly enough we ate Italian 4 nights in a row and then ate at an Irish Pub! Target has offices in Shenzhen so we used that for a home base for the rest of our business. We took a couple more field trips to factories outside the city which were interesting. The staff in the Target office were so nice and chaperoned us everywhere. They took us shopping to a "market" and also went with us on our last day to Hong Kong where we stayed before we left for the journey home. It was so interesting to learn about their lifestyle and families and realize how lucky we are. They told us a story about how a factory outside of Shenzhen that manufactures iPhones, employees over 400,000 people. Yes, you read that number right...400,000 people. Most of which live in dormitory type facilities on the premises. They have recently had 12 employees commit suicide. Their government has gotten involved and with some research discovered that some of these individuals had figured out that the company's life insurance policy paid out more than they would ever make in their entire life. Because most of these workers support their entire families (including grandparents, aunts, uncles, etc) they were getting pressured by their families to kill themselves in order to be able to provide more. It is absolutely heartbreaking and disgusting at the same time to think that someone had to make that decision. And to think there are people in this world that are so desperate that they would even consider it. Again, we are so incredibly lucky.

Last day was in Hong Kong where we did some shopping. Hong Kong was beautiful. It is on a harbor and is very clean and again, the people are so friendly. I thought it was interesting how so many people speak English. It is one of their official languages which also means most signs, menus, etc all have an English translation. Other than England, it felt easier to navigate and socialize compared to Europe. I was able to find some great souvenirs for the boys, Kurt and I...and nieces and nephews (J & J - I promise they are coming).

Finally, 9 days later, I was back home! The time change was much tougher on the way back. It was about 12 -13 hours difference depending on where I was in Asia. I was able to call the boys every morning as I was waking up and they were having dinner. It was so weird to have lost an entire day of my life on the way over there and then get one back. I was so happy to see my guys (all 3 of them) and I know they were very anxious to see me! They survived!

I didn't take a ton of pictures, but here are a few that held meaning to me...

I never quite figured out the meaning behind the bicycle and the person on this sign, but this was the entrance to the parking garage at the market/mall and inside was CRAZY!

A view of Shenzhen outside my hotel window. It had a pretty landscape...lots of rolling hills and mountains.

No explanation needed...but this comfort of home was priceless.
A very small view of Hong Kong...multiply this times about a 100 and that is more like the size of it.

An artist at the market painting inside tiny glass beads. He was very good...and so inexpensive. :(

The "Mobile Softee" in Hong Kong (aka - ice cream truck)

Ellen, Penny and Sain - our Target hosts/chaperones

A dragon boat in the Hong Kong harbor
A break dancing contest in a mall in Shenzhen...they could really dance, who knew?

Me thinking I was really special drinking a Chinese beer until I told Kurt and he said he had had it here in the US. I'm sure it tasted better there though! :)

The chicken and duck route to a factory we could not get away from this delivery truck. It was as miserable to stare at these poor birds as I'm sure there life was at that time. :(
Bamboo scaffolding...yes, bamboo. I know it's an extremely sturdy material, but you couldn't pay me any amount of money to climb on this stuff.
up close...