Jessie Ready for the VEX Robotics Competition in Japan

DSC_0180Jessie and Sean are in Tokyo this weekend for the VEX Robotics Competition.   This will be Sean’s first time to take his robotics team to compete.  They have worked very hard since the beginning of school designing, building, and programming their robots.   Mostly this will be a learning trip, since other teams at the competition are well experienced teams.  Sean was blessed to have our school’s Japanese family liaison accompany them to Japan to help with logistics and translation.  Jessie designed a t-shirt for the team, using her graphic skills.  Can you find the hidden words, “TIS Robotics?”

Lunch date with my favorite Senior at TIS

Amidst college applications, AP classes, social engagements, and her rigorous competitive robotics class demands, it’s hard to get a few minutes with Jessie this year.  I’m so proud of her diligent and determined spirit, but have to admit I’m a little sad that my time is slipping away.  Today we had a nice lunch date, then a walk home on this gorgeous fall day.   I must take each moment I can to enjoy her.

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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!

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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

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



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.



Megan’s Scipmylo Team Wins

At this year’s Scipmylo day, Megan’s team won a pizza party for being the individual team with the most points.  Megan enjoyed the elementary field day of bag races, 50 meter dash, water balloon toss, long jump, etc., while I spent the morning photographing the event for our school’s media relations.


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At the end of the event, I asked a friend to snap a photo of us two.  Megan tends to not smile with her teeth these days, since she is missing her two front ones.


Bridal Shower

The week before Susan’s wedding I organized a bridal shower for her.  This is another event that is not typical of a Chinese bride.   Although the recipe for the cake and frosting are both Rachel’s, and tasted great,  I can say that my decorating job is not nearly as pretty as hers.  Luckily Maddie was there with the inspiration to put little icing stars on the heart to add some final touches.  Maddie also found these cute printables that we used to decorate.DSC_0087



Susan has worked as the elementary princial’s assistant, so most of the elementary teachers on our team know her well.  We had a great turnout of ladies to bless Susan in her upcoming life with her new husband, Rock (his English name).

Toilet paper brides maid dresses game
Jessie and Maddie made a quick appearance at the shower to help me decorate and take photos.

Megan is Flower Girl for Chinese Wedding

Wedding traditions are different in China than in Western cultures.  Most Chinese weddings are held in a fancy restaurant.  Guests are seated at 10-12 person large round tables with nearly table-sized lazy Susan, in the center are bottles of Coke, Sprite, juice, red wine and baijiu (Chinese alcohol).  Wedding favors like candy and cigarettes are also located at each place setting.   Fireworks are set outside the restaurant just before the bride comes into the banquet hall.   There may be a few words given by a friend or MC, then a tea ceremony with both sets of parents, then a digital photo presentation of the couple’s story, then the bride and groom will begin to make their way around to greet guests at each table.   Servers will begin to bring out very unique Chinese dishes.  Guests will pour baijiu and toast with the couple as they come the the table, then each guest at the table will hand the bride and groom a red envelope with money (this is their gift).  At some point the bride will disappear and change out of her wedding dress into another banquet dress.  Then continue greeting guests until the couple has made their way around to each table.  The bride may change dresses 3, 4 or 5 times during the celebration!

Our friend, whose English name happens to be Susan, got married this past weekend.  She and her husband are believers and wanted a more Christ-centered Western-style wedding ceremony.  A very talented event planner at our school helped to organize a beautiful ceremony in which Megan was the flower girl.    The location was a new “wedding chapel” type place with outdoor courtyards.

The guests were so surprised when the fountains started up forming an archway for Susan to walk down.   DSC_0085
Maddie captured these neat photos with water droplets from the fountains.
Exchanging of rings and vows.

Wedding cupcakes for the guests

Megan and Susan