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. 

30 Days of Thankfulness...Day 22

Renee's turn...

I'm thankful for a hew hobby!

I'm the type of person that has lots of interests.  I like to try new things, but the problem is that after I gain a basic mastery or complete one or two projects, I stop and move on to something new.  A couple of years ago, I taught myself how to crochet a basic--let me repeat, BASIC--scarf.  I forced myself to finish 2 scarfs and found it to be quite tiresome.  

Just a couple of weeks ago, Josh's mom visited and I was making another scarf.  I was getting VERY tired of doing row after row after row after row of chains, so I asked her to show me how to do something that would go quicker, be lighter weight, and have those "little holes" in it.  So she showed me how to single crochet and double crochet.  I abandoned the scarf that I was originally making and started one for each of the boys.  One is a checker pattern and one is a brick pattern (both using the double crochet stitch).  Those whipped up SO fast and now I'm thinking that this whole crochet thing may last for a little while...

So, I looked up how to do a Granny Square online...

and now I'm working on some booties. 

I'm completely lost trying to follow the pattern for the booties, so I may have to stop on that one.  I'd love to make these cute little things from Favecrafts for the kiddos though, but I think I'll need to find some help first.

For Preston:

For Aleah:
For Tegan:

Some juggling balls (don't have a picture)

Monday, November 21, 2011

30 Days of Thankfulness....Day 21

Today I am thankful for my kindle and iPod touch. I hope this does not make me sound like a rich snob, because I am not! The kindle was a gift over two years ago, and with credit card points, we got 2 iPod touches for the price of one....

Those things are not necessary, but they make my life so much easier. I love to read, and in China its hard to find English books. Even if you can, they are expensive, not much variety, and you have to store them. We have (soon) will have 5 of us in a small apartment, with no room for a book shelves! With my kindle, I can have almost unlimited amount of books, usually the free ones, and read to my hearts content (in reality who has time to read though..)

My iPod touch is another wonderful gadget, that makes my life easier. I can play games while on the bus, or train. I have train schedules within my reach. I can check FB with the VPN, while in a coffee shop. I can entertain the kids during the long bus and train rides *sensing a theme?* I can take pictures and video of all the cool things I see in China, and the cool things my kids do.
Its not necessary, but I love it......and am very thankful for them...

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Saturday, November 19, 2011

30 Days of Thankfulness....Day 19

I am thankful for drums, and the lessons that I get to take. 

Friday, November 18, 2011

30 Days of Thankfulness...Day 18

Renee's Turn...

I am thankful for that last first date!

On this very day in 2005, my handsome man swept me up for our first "All American Date".  Yes, that's what he called it when he asked me out.  We were living in Xian, China, and an "All American Date" meant going to Pizza Hut--in China, that's some seriously fine dining--followed by a walk around the downtown area, followed by a taxi ride (I'll get to that in a minute) to KFC for ice cream, followed by another romantic walk around DaYanTa, followed by another taxi ride to drop me off at my apartment.    

Now for the taxi story.  We were sitting in the back seat, each on our own sides.  Me being the giddy school girl I was, had my hand laying conveniently on the seat between us.  Josh grabs my hand and says, "Is this okay?"  DUH! THAT'S WHY MY HAND WAS THERE!    It was sweet and I told him that it was fine with me.  

Then in the taxi on the way home, I sat in the front and he sat in the back.  We weren't officially dating and were "just friends hanging out," so we (or I) didn't want to look suspicious to our friends that may be around my complex.  So what did we do?   . . .  WE HELD HANDS THROUGH THE SAFETY BARS SEPARATING THE FRONT AND BACK OF THE TAXI.  We were so cute back then!  

I may as well say it, because if I don't, I'm sure Josh would comment about it. In those days, I loved to wear long sleeve t-shirts.  It was a chilly day and I was quite cozy in my t-shirt.  I only had one long sleeve t-shirt and it just happened to have a mustard stain on it...and yes I wore it on our first date and Josh will never let me forget!

I am so grateful that November 18, 2005 was the last time I ever had to go on a first date!
While we were dating
And still, just as in love today!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

30 Days of Thankfulness......Day 17


I am thankful for the early morning quiet. I am the type of person who gets their strength from the quiet. I live in a noisy country, with some noisy boys, and a noisy dog, all in a small house!
The mornings are what keep me sane. With my coffee, and computer, the quiet mornings refresh me, and prepare me for the day ahead.
I love my time in the stillness, and to watch the sun come up. This is the time where I present my troubles and concerns to my FATHER, and in the early morning nothing seems too hard or difficult.
I am thankful for the early morning......

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

30 Days of Thankfulness......Day 16


Playing Outside
My New Coat

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

30 Days of Thankfulness Day.... 15


(This is getting harder for him, but he is only 5 so its understandable! -Josh's note)


Monday, November 14, 2011

30 Days of Thankfulness...Day 14

Renee's turn...

I'm thankful for amazing teachers!

My ALL-STAR Teachers
Mrs. Wallgren (5th grade)
Mr. Michael Bryson (choir) and Mrs. Lori Bryson (clarinet)
Ms. Carol Walther (clarinet/junior high band)
Mrs. Susan Umphres (8th grade English)
Mr. Marin Perez (9th grade English)
Ms. Dawn Perry (music)
Mr. Arnold Garza (jazz)
Mrs. Celina Garcia (CIS)
Mr. Russ Teweleit (improv)

All of them made learning an enjoyable experience for me.  They saw me as a real person and invested in my life.  They challenged me in the classroom, set an example for me outside of the classroom, taught me to love life, and genuinely cared for me as an individual.  They are people I will never forget!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

30 Days of Thankfulness....Day 13


I am thankful for the University where I work. I wrote all about it a few weeks ago, and you can read about it here.  But once again, I need to mention it. 

I am in my second year at  Hunan University of Commerce or 湖南商学院 Its been a great school so far, and I am planning on being here for the rest of our term, which will give me four years at this school.
Here is some video from a presentation they did yesterday

 I am the first to admit, that teaching in the University setting is not my passion, and not specifically where we feel that we are needed or fit. But I am good at it, and I always sometimesusually, enjoy it and its provides a visa which allows us to live and work here; and for the reason alone I am thankful.
 But I am also thankful for the opportunities that come out of it. Being at this school allows me to connect with a whole group of people, and build relationships that will last. I am still good friends with a student that I had over 10 years ago, so I know its possible!

This semester I am teaching Western Culture, spoken English to English majors, and spoken English to other majors; including tourism and international finance. 

Saturday, November 12, 2011

30 Days of Thankfulness....Day 12


I am thankful for:
Hot Pot

Friday, November 11, 2011

30 Days of Thankfulness...Day 11

Tegan's turn...

I'm thankful for:



Thursday, November 10, 2011


Tegan has been doing a unit on the Native Americans and we've chosen the Cherokee tribe to study.  He's been learning all about their clothes, what they ate, how they got their food, tools, homes, customs, beliefs, and even about the Trail of Tears (basically just the idea that some bullies made them leave their homes and walk across the country).  This afternoon, the weather was BEAUTIFUL.

So I took the boys out to do their favorite thing in the world...
They did such a great job, so we proceeded to do their second favorite thing in the world...
In the end, Tegan and Preston learned more about how the Cherokee lived,
 and we all had a great afternoon of...
...and nothing beats that!
(but the looks from the neighbors came close as they watched us gather sticks and grass clippings)

That's a fishing pole hanging over his head (with a leaf as meat),
and a bow and arrow on the right. 

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

30 Days of Thankfulness...Day 10

Renee's turn...

When one of our boys gets upset because the other is copying him, we tell him that people copy you because they admire you.  Well I admire my husband, so I'm going to copy him and make a list of the little things I'm thankful for.

1.  Butterfingers.

2.  Okra (a recent find here in China).

3.  The 东北 restaurant that has food like what we used to eat when we lived in Xian.

4.  Youtube.  It has been so helpful in making homeschooling more interesting with such limited resources--seriously, the other day it was the only way I could find the text of "Lon Po Po" so Tegan could hear the Chinese version of "Little Red Riding Hood"

5.  Tumblebooks and the free subscription that comes by linking to it through our local library. It's basically an online library for kids.

6.  Maybe I should just say that I'm thankful for the internet...

7.  Running water and electricity

8.  The promise of a cranberry white mocha very soon.

9.  Clothes dryer

10.  Warm slippers

30 Days of Thankfulness...Day 9

I have had a hard time settling on just one thing that I am thankful for. So I decided to make a list!

-I am thankful for forgiveness, and do overs.

-I am thankful for a family that loves me, no matter what.

-I am thankful for my country, for the opportunities it gives me.

-I am thankful for my adopted country, for China.

-I am thankful for taobao
-I am thankful for Holt International and IAG

-I am thankful for two women in Ethiopia who made the ultimate sacrifice for their children

-I am thankful for my coffee maker

-I am thankful for bullet trains

-I am thankful for Coke Zero

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Aleah's Room

We have been working on our daughters room, and its finally done! Yes, we know it will still be a LONG time before she is here, but this has helped us feel closer to her; and plus when we start something we don't stop till its done!

The room had served several purposes:
1. It was Prestons room:

2. The boys did not like having their own room (they had never been alone in a room their whole life) so they shared the same bed up until 6 months ago when they decided they were ready to be apart, and they got bunk beds in the other room.

3. Then it was an office/school room, but who needs a picture of that?

But now, this room is all hers!

Almost everything in here came from Ikea. The wall stickers came from Toys R Us, the pink rugs from the furniture market, and a few toys from Wal Mart. It's been fun making this a girl room, and we think it looks good!

Here is her room: