College Applications, Again

This past month I haven spent time reading and re-reading college applications, yet again — this time for Jessie.   But the time I have spent is nothing in comparison to the hours of work Jessie has put into her first college application.  She is applying in the early decision phase to Carnegie Mellon University, in hopes that God is leading her to join Rachel there next fall.   She has poured over her art pieces; having them photographed in high quality images in order to be uploaded to the online portfolio, writing unique descriptions for each and creating PDF files of sketchbooks and other design-related pieces she has created.  I am so proud of the artist that she is, multi-talented both on paper/handheld mediums and on software applications like PhotoShop and Adobe Illustrator.

Here are Sean and I pictured with Jessie at last spring’s art exhibition at TIS.  Also pictured, Jessie with the wall of her artwork behind and “The Flying Parrot”, one of my favorite pieces.   This piece involved drawing  the parrot in colored pens, then cutting it out and placing it on a new background.  Next, Jessie glued crayola crayons to each tip of the wings and used a heat gun to melt the crayons and give the appearance of flight!

DSC_0735 DSC_0738 HS Art Show - 01 - Version 2


Butterfly Memories

On Saturday while Maddie was at the TIAN-MUN conference and Jessie and Sean were working on robotics, Megan and I spent some time outdoors at the school’s early childhood playground.   Megan has fond memories of playing here in kindergarten.   Hers was the first kindergarten class to use this outdoor classroom after our school’s move in 2012.  That  spring her class helped create a garden which has grown to provide a home for caterpillars, who have metamorphed into beautiful butterflies.  It reminds me of the summer we spent  in South Dakota (2003); the girls raising swallowtail butterflies from caterpillars they found eating dill weed in Grandpa Larry’s garden.

Here’s a view of the garden from a 2nd story balcony.


A walk down memory lane with Jessie (same age as Megan is now) and her caterpillar eating dill on her lap.
Jessie caterpillar

On Site: Guangzhou Factories

Hey guys!

Last week was my Reading Week and we went to China to check out some factories in Guangzhou. I really enjoyed getting to see how stuff actually works and how we can use those things in our designs.

The first factory was a wood lamination factory, this machine (below) took the wood planks and laminated them together to make a full load bearing wall.

This is the view of the control room of a concrete factory we got to visit. They mentioned that they actually add ice to the mix to better bond the concrete mixture.

This is a model of one of the container ships at the Guangzhou International Shipyard. It was really cool to see the model and then go outside to see the gigantic ship being built!

We had to wear our hard hats.. good times.

These apocalyptic cranes are actually out of use and just sit at the concrete factory site. They reminded me of an alien infrastructure invading the Chinese countryside (maybe too much Falling Skies, eh Jessie?)..

Rainy Sunday

Dear Rachel,
This Sunday was a rainy, slow day and it reminded me of all the cozy fall days spent with you last year. After all the work I’ve been doing this quarter it’s nice to finally cozy up and enjoy the rain. I woke up to a much needed cappuccino, chocolate chips pancakes (made by mom), and some family conversation that brightened my morning. The rest of the day consisted of music (my fall playlist, of course), reading Harry Potter, and writing an essay for school. I have to admit, the writing an essay part wasn’t too great but it didn’t keep me from having a great day.

Me and Jessie are hoping to start our fall challenge soon, let’s start it together! And yes, if you were wondering, Megan pulled another front tooth today. Now she is missing three of her front teeth eeek! Miss you tons xoxo!
Love, Maddie

P.S. We need your Pumpkin Latte recipe ASAP!

Tall Buildings

China continues to grow right before our eyes.   Construction cranes line the skies, along with concrete dust in the air and on the streets.   From our 9th floor apartment window we can see the large power plant that generates electricity for the Hexi district in which we live.  Just adjacent to the power plant we have watched a set of tall apartment buildings, one of many in our area, as they rise into the sky.   The first photo was taken in January 2013, and the blue sky pictures was taken in September.  Buildings before



Fall Spirit

today'sgreatJessie, Michael, & Rachel,

Hey guys! Fall is finally starting to arrive in Tianjin and I’m actually really excited! I can’t wait till I’m able to cozy up in a warm, soft blanket and sip down spiced apple cider or pumpkin Lattes. Here’s a little playlist to get us in the mood for pumpkin treats, candy corn, and snugly nights. Hope you enjoy!

XOXO, Maddie

Picture Source

Amazon Delivery in China

Did you know that Amazon delivers in China?  Well if you are expecting a package don’t look for the brown UPS truck to deliver your order.  Here is how one can expect to receive their goods if you live in China!  Most delivery men have a designated spot on a street corner.  We often see deliver bikes waiting near the gates of most university campuses.  Student come out to the street corner to claim their packages.

Amazon order

Joy in the Journey


At our friend’s recent wedding we had this family picture taken.  It is so hard for me to believe that the little girls below are all grown up now.   Jessie pictured below was the same age as Megan is now.  And Maddie, now in 10th grade was only in Kindergarten.   A friend encouraged me today “don’t be robbed of the joys of today because of worry or sadness about yesterday or the future.”  I am challenged to lean on God’s strength each day and have joy in the journey.



From the Studio: Tokyo Protocol, Project 1

My four dear sisters:
Although I have been talking to you four girls more often than last year-it doesn’t seem to be quite enough. You guys seem so committed to C4, so I guess I’ll have to just post here to satisfy you guys! (You know I am a perfectionist and its hard to just post a ‘sketch’ of an idea).

Anyways, I wanted to share a bit From the Studio! Project One of our semester has been quite a challenge, but we got through it and I am proud of what I accomplished.

Our initial idea comes from an interpretation of nature and what it means to be in “symbiosis with nature”. Gigi and I designed an installation for this project that played with gradients and transparency to communicate the idea that you can be hidden in a number of ways and also exposed in a number of ways.

This is a mock-up model we made with tracing paper, bamboo skewers, and pieces of paper.

We decided to construct our installation with wood and fabric of varying transparencies.

The final product was quite satisfying, especially in experiencing the installation. Getting to walk inside of it and explore all of the spaces and different ambiences was really fun!

This is a diagram of how we expected it to work (which, in the end didn’t deliver in quite the way that we hoped).

I put together a booklet that explains more about where our ideas came from and some background.

Just wanted to say to each of you: I love you!!
Jessie: Wish we could share late night chats and work together on our own crazy projects.
Maddie: I need a playlist for working, miss your fun and sassy work vibes. 🙂
Rachel: 加油!我觉得现在你可以明白我的情况多一点。别忘了,我也认识你的情况(studio生活,工作很晚,什么的)不好天的时候,就给我打电话!(and practice your Chinese!)
Megan: I really miss drawing with you (It is so much more fun than drawing by myself).. wish you were around to help me out with some of my drawings!

Robotics: New Update Avaliable

Michael and Rachel:

Today I was shocked to hear that Rachel didn’t know where the robotics class was going for their first competition: Tokyo Japan! Japanese sushi, BBQ, fashion, and robot fighting, here we come.
It is due time for an update on our progress: Michael, I’m sure you will find these robot designs interesting – try to guess which one is mine!


We still have some serious progress to make before our competition in November, so we decided to pull an “all-nighter” at school to finish our work (a.k.a. Robotics Sleepover!). We ordered out Korean Fried Chicken and watched Pacific Rim (the perfect movie for a robotics party). I may have only slept one hour, but after the SAT and college application packed vacation I just had, I needed some relaxation.

Rachel, don’t be horrified by this primitive manner of espresso making. We have to do what we have to do to get some caffine!


Michael, tomorrow we start the main construction on the Vex Toss-Up field and I’ll be thinking of you! I will suppliment this post soon with pictures of our finished field!
I miss you both so much!