Saturday, December 24, 2011

Christmas Eve...

One thing I loved when I was growing up, was our Christmas Eve traditions. We always had fondue, then on to church. Then we went to look at some Christmas lights, and then home for one present.

In China, we can not do all of that. For example, there is no service on Christmas Eve at the legal churches; its not allowed. But we make do. I am sure we could find a fondue pot on tabao, but we decided to change the tradition to hot pot instead! Its basically the same thing....

Then we make and eat our "Jesus Birthday popcorn cake".....

Finally our one present, before the kids go off to bed!

Friday, December 23, 2011

Deaf School # 2

We just got back from the new (well new to us) deaf school for kids. We also gave this school some legos, but we wanted to do more of a party there. In China, doing something fun like a party, is a great way to begin a relationship. We do not want to push our way in, but we welcomed and invited in. We had a lot of fun. Enjoy some of the pictures from this great afternoon!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Renee's 30 by 30

Well, I'm 29 now (I know...I'm still young), and  I've been dreading this day for about a month.  Josh and the boys have made this day such a special treat for me and I'm so grateful for each of them, but this birthday has been particularly difficult for me to be happy about.  I don't know what it is.  I just keep thinking, "This is it; the 20s are coming to an end.  30 is a birthday to celebrate, but 29 really stinks."  So with that in mind, this is my plan to make #30 more of a celebration. 30 things I want to do before I turn 30 (and yes, I've done many of these things before, but want to make an effort to do them again).

My 30 by 30

(nothing particularly grand, but all realistic...I hope)


-have scrapbooks up-to-date (within one major event)
-complete 3 new crochet projects (Christmas ornaments, a bunny for Aleah, a bag for my crochet stuff, nativity set, kid purses)
-complete 10 courses (the people have not been responding to correspondence so I haven't even gotten started...grrr!)
-teach Preston to read
-teach Tegan to play Chess
-hold my daughter in my arms
-bring my daughter home
-stay up late watching a movie every once in a while
-have a kid date with each kid at least once a month
-have an adult date with Josh at least once a month (Alyia had to tag along for a few)
-be able to do 25 real push-ups without stopping
-be able to do 50 crunches without stopping
-run a 5K
-show more gratitude on a daily basis
-wake up to watch the sunrise with Josh (2 days in a row in Thailand)
-read for myself every day
-show my appreciation to Josh every day
-teach someone to crochet
-teach someone to bake cookies
-sit through one movie a week WITH the boys
-read one story/book/chapter per day (other than bedtime) to the boys
-smile at strangers more often
-learn to stay calm in the grocery store
-stop biting my nails and keep it up this time
-have breakfast for dinner once a week
-find 5 new quick and easy "go-to" recipes for dinners (onion soup Chicken, giant bacon cheese maple pancake, potato soup, baba ganoush, apple rice) 
-go on a picnic date with Josh
-not get any new pets (that live outside of a small tank or bowl)
-learn to style African girl hair
-finish projects that I start

Happy Birthday Renee

Happy Birthday to the most amazing Mommy and wife in the world. You are the anchor that holds this family in place, and we would not be who we are, or where we are without you!
In honor of your birthday, here are some snapshots from this past year! 
I love you -my beautiful princess, my STR, my baby girl-
Happy Birthday
Josh, Tegan and Preston!

Monday, December 19, 2011

Deaf School 1

This past  Sunday, we went to the first of two deaf school, and gave out some presents. This is the 2nd year we have been involved at this school during Christmas, and this year we decided to give the school one or two big things, rather than presents to the individual students.
Every time we have played legos with them, they have loved it so we decided some lego sets would be the best thing for them.

We were privileged to get some money donated for the sole purpose of buying gift for needy children, and were able to purchase the lego sets with that money.

This school has about 100 children, though there were only 35 there yesterday. The rest had gone home for the weekend, or had already returned to their home for the Chinese Spring Festival Holiday.

We will to go another school on Friday afternoon, and we will do the same thing for another 50 children. 

Saturday, December 17, 2011


I do not usually blog about the adventures that we have in taxis and on buses, but today was an unusual day in that regard! So here it goes....

We wanted to go downtown to the big, Western mall for some Christmas presents. So we went outside and waited. This being Saturday, its hard to get one, so we waited for a while.
The first one was waiting for someone, and as soon as Tegan got up to it, the driver turned his "open" sign off.  I asked the driver why, and he said he was hungry. Its amazing how he was not hungry until he saw the foreigner, and how his hunger went away when the people next to us jumped in!

Finally another one pulled up to the curb, and a young Chinese girl ran for it. We had been waiting MUCH longer than her, so we explained that we had been waiting, and would be using this taxi. Well, that got the driver in a bad mood. They often don't like to pick up foreigners, as they think we don't speak Chinese and don't know where we are going.
We got in and Renee told him where we were going. He said he did not know....How he does not know the biggest, newest, and fanciest place in town is a complete mystery!

We had driven about a kilometer, with Renee and and the driver arguing about where we were going, when suddenly he let out the clutch, the car started shaking, and he claimed he has engine problems, and we had to get out. I told him no, we will wait for you to fix the car. He turned the key a few times to make the dashboard lights come on, but not the engine. He  then popped the hood, and in a second the car started fine...Clearly his plan to get rid of the foreigners did not work, so he went to plan B; pretending his transmission was not working. Again he said the car was broken, and we could not go. But  I then decided to be helpful and explained that starting the car in 5th gear, then going to the 3rd gear was not the correct way to drive a stick shift; and may have an effect on the problems we are having. Then adding that slamming on the brakes to make the car shake was not good for it. Finally he realized that we were to smart to fall for his tricks, so he waved down another driver to take us.
This other driver knew exactly where we were going, and did a great job. You have to give the first driver credit, he went to extreme lengths, to the point of damaging his taxi, just to get rid of the foreigners!
All part of this amazing life that we are privileged to live in this even more amazing country!

Trust...part 2

A few days ago, I wrote a post about how I was having trouble keeping my eyes off the waves, and looking to my Father for the answers to all my questions.
Well, it has been a few days and I am doing better. Not much has changed, still full of unanswered questions, and still waiting; but I am doing better.
One of the greatest things about my Father is that He is patient, He is nonjudgmental, He understands. So in those moments when I look at the waves, and not on His face He does not get angry. He simply waits until I remember that He is the giver of all good things, and that my life and all that entails is in His hands. 

Tuesday, December 13, 2011


Confession...I am not perfect. I know that's a shock to many of you, especially to me, but its true!  My English teacher in 8th and 10th grade (Mrs. Erickson, she was the coolest English teacher in the world) used to joke that she makes one mistake a year, and was up to year 2015. This was in 1993 and 1995 so you can see why it was funny.

I guess I am having one of those days today, running my mistake count well into the next century. I am having trouble trusting. I am privileged to live an amazing life, but my life comes with a lot of waiting, uncertainity and trusting. Where the support for next month comes I being watched too close....on and on the list goes. And I will be the first to say that my FATHER is in charge, and that I can trust Him completely; but sometimes I forget and like Peter, look at the waves instead of on Him.

Today is one of those days. We are waiting for so much:
Emails from the Consulate in Guangzhou
To hear we have been submitted to court, or have a court date
Emails from a Doctor in Shanghai and Guangzhou (nothing is wrong, just some questions)
To hear if the approved immigration paperwork is correct
Will travel interfere with school
Our tax refund is not back
The tax advocate is not helping or returning calls

Then come the concerns from our daily life....Sometimes its just too much. So my prayer for today is simple, "help me" Help me see the promises that you have given us, help me keep my eyes on you. Help me remember the little things, that show you care about the big things! "help me"

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Christmas...thus far....

Don't really need words, the pictures are self-explanatory. Enjoy!

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

30 Days of Thankfulness...Day 30

Renee's turn...

I'm thankful for my stud muffin!

Saving the best for last!

Here's all the stuff my wonderful husband has done JUST TODAY!  And this is not a special occasion, just a typical day:

-took care of all activities prior to 7am
-did most of the work for getting the boys ready for the day
-taught 6 hours of class (while it's FREEZING with no heat in the classrooms)
-commuted a total of about two and a half hours
-walked a 1.25 miles in the FREEZING rain to pick up Preston from school
-picked up bread on the way home from school
-rescued me from a dinner disaster
-washed the dishes after dinner
-laid out the boys' clothes for tomorrow
-and right now, he ran out to the ATM so we'll have money for the rest of the week
-and he just texted me to say that he's going down to the management office to get some packages that we ordered for Christmas (it's raining and FREEZING outside too!)
-after the boys are in bed, he's going to watch a show with me
*And I know there are many things that I haven't even noticed or have forgotten about*

All of these things he does with so much love and so much heart.  He loves us so much and takes every opportunity every day to serve his family.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

30 Days of Thankfulness....Day 29


I am thankful for the ability to be thankful! I am thankful for the ability to see and appreciate what I have, and how much better I have it than so many in the world! I am thankful for this whole month that made me appreciate even more, the amazing life I get to live!

Monday, November 28, 2011

30 Days of Thankfulness.....Day 28

For the bakery downstairs, and the yummy bread

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Saturday, November 26, 2011

30 Days of Thankfulness...Day 26

Renee's turn...

I'm thankful for Crisco!

I know, real deep, right? 

As a child, both Thanksgiving and Christmas meant pie-crust cinnamon rolls--they may have been even higher on the anticipation scale than presents from Santa!  I think they started out as a way to use up the left-over dough for the pies.  My grandmother would roll out the dough, sprinkle it with cinnamon and sugar, then roll them up and bake them in a log.  And that became the definition of cinnamon rolls.  I never even knew till I was about 10 that cinnamon rolls usually meant a sweet bread that had been sliced prior to baking and topped with icing. 

My mom continued the tradition of our cinnamon rolls, but they were the main attraction--not the left-overs from the pies.  And so I too, am continuing the tradition and I don't hear any complaining coming from the men of the family...

Crisco--I'm thankful for the BIG cans of it!  It's hard to come by in China, but I'm thankful that I was able to use it and didn't have to settle for Crisco-less cinnamon rolls!

Friday, November 25, 2011

30 Days of Thankfulness...Day 25


Today we are going to a different city to celebrate Thanksgiving. While I like Thanksgiving, thats not my topic for the day.
Today, I am thankful for transportation. I am thankful I can take a bus or taxi to the train station, get on and in 3 hours be in a different place. I am thankful I do not have to spend a week walking to get there, or  ride in a wagon pulled by horses.

While we do not have a car, I am thankful that we could get one if we chose to, and that this city has a great bus system. I am thankful that the world is small enough, that seeing my daughter in Ethiopia will only be 8 hours on a plane, and that a good Western Doctor is only 2.5 hours away by bullet train, and that we could be back in Oregon in only 13 hours and 2 stops!

I am thankful for the ability to move, to get around, and be able to see and experience many different places, cultures, and people! I am thankful for transportation. 

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

A Chinese Wedding....

A friend of our took these pictures this weekend at a wedding in Changde, Hunan.