Sunday, December 23, 2012

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas from our home to yours!

Sunday, December 2, 2012


As is our tradition, we celebrated Thanksgiving on the Saturday after Thanksgiving.  This holiday is not celebrated here and many of us must work on Thanksgiving.  We had a huge crowd with lots of food.  If my count is correct, we had 28 people  (including kids).  I can not think of any traditional Thanksgiving food that we were missing.

This picture was taken after the turkey and chicken had already been picked over.  Also do you see the little girls hiding under the table.  They found a cozy spot to eat their dinner.

Good food and good company!

Sometimes the holidays can be hard and we miss our families and American traditions.  But on good days like this we wish you were here instead of us being there!  We are very thankful for our many, many blessings.

12 years old!

On November 9th, 2000, I met one of my favorite people in the whole world.  Now, twelve years later, that tiny 7 lb. 13 oz chubby cheeked baby is almost as tall as me!  

She had a good birthday.  She had her friend Bliss spend the night, and they stayed up until the wee hours of the morning.  
She requested a plain cake with chocolate icing.  The cake looked great, but I do think it was lacking something in the taste department.  It was made from scratch.  However, Hallie loved it and I guess that was the most important thing.
She is growing into a lovely young lady and she makes us very proud.  Happy Birthday Hallie!


As you know, this November the United States had a presidential election.  Four years ago right after we did not get a chance to vote.  We thought that we would not be able to get all the paperwork finished in time for us to vote in that election.  This time, we made sure that it happened.  We wanted to vote in the Primary, but that did not happen (we got some wrong information, and missed a deadline).

We even watched all (but one) of the presidential debates.  We voted by absentee ballot and Jake carried our  ballots back and mailed them into our county.

This is a picture of Jon filling out his ballot.

If you look very closely, you can see the book that Jon is using as a desk is "Put me in the Zoo".
We are grateful that we had the privilege to be able to vote, even when we are so far away.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Instant Apple cider!

I am so excited! I made up a recipe.  I am not completely sure how I came up with this idea.  I think I may have actually dreamed it or at least thought about it as I was falling asleep the other night.

Hallie LOVES hot apple cider.  She was really excited when I said I was going to make it for our Halloween party.  I usually make it with apple juice, other ingredients and spices in the crock pot.  I guess I could share that "recipe" sometime but I am really excited that I figured out a way to make some instant cider.  Now we can enjoy it one cup at a time without having to make a huge pot.

I did some searching on the Internet and found a couple of recipes, but they all called for instant tea.  I didn't want spice tea.  I played around a little and came up with this recipe.

The good thing about this recipe is that I can find the ingredients here in China (except maybe some of the spices).

The bad thing is I am not sure if you can find all the ingredients in the US.  But if you live in the US, you can find instant cider packets.

The main ingredient is apple instant drink mix.  I used the Nestle brand because it is a little cheaper, but the Tang brand would work well too.  I am not sure if you can find anything like this in the US.

I also used some Orange Tang (Nestle brand) and Lemon Tang.  You could use some lemonade or leave out the lemon stuff.  

 Mix together 1 1/2 cups of apple Tang (or Nestle) drink mix
!/2 Cup of Orange Tang (or other brand) drink mix
and 1/4 Cup of lemonade Tang
1 to 1/12 tsp of cinnamon
1/4 tsp cloves and
1/4 tsp. allspice
I also added a pinch of ground ginger

Mix well
 Store in an air tight container

To make a cup of cider, use 4 teaspoons of mix and add boiled water to a mug.


Let me know what you think.

Instant Hot cider:

11/2 (1.5) Cups of Apple Tang
1/2 Cup of Orange Tang
1/4 C. lemon Tang
1-11/2 tsp. ground Cinnamon
1/4 tsp. ground cloves
1/4 tsp. ground allspice
pinch of ground ginger

Mix well and store in air tight container

To make the cider, use 4 teaspoons of mix and add hot water.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Hardin Halloween

 Halloween is one of those holidays that China does not always seem to "get".  It is catching on, but slowly.  Jon has to work late on Wednesday (he gets home at 6) so we just planned to go to Pizza Hut. It has sort of been our tradition.  The kids dressed up in their costume and se headed out.  We started to take the bus, but it was super crowded, so we took a taxi. Even without walking the whole we, we were seen by many people and the kids did get more attention.  They loved it though, because it was on their terms.  Eryn even went out of her way to wish some security guards a Happy Halloween.

Liam was there, but he was sitting next to me and it was harder to get a good picture of him.
The next day we had a "mini" party at our house after Trick-or-treating with Margaret and some neighbors.

  Eryn is not unhappy here, she is just playing the part of an evil witch.

Liam was a skeleton (I made the leg bones with tape)

here, you can see his face.

Thanks to Shelly for bringing the hat and green face paint!  I am happy to report that she is no longer green, but her eyebrows are still a little darker.

She is the Wicked witch of the East--before the house fell on her and she lost her shoes to Dorothy.

Our front door.

Three witches riding together

The whole group that trick-or-treated.

Brownies, cupcakes,  apple cider, and good company

Happy Halloween!

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Searching and Calling

A couple of weeks ago we had a visitor at church.  His name was Danny and he looked Chinese, but he was from Malaysia.  Danny is backpacking across China and Asia.  He is a member of  This is organization where you sign up and can stay with people for free (often sleeping on the couch).   Danny was here in Hangzhou on a short stay and was staying with James and his family.  James works for the government.  While spending time with his host, Danny asked James if he thought there was more to life...and they started talking.  James is searching.  In the past James had met Shelly (Xiao Li) on the train  and they had also talked about God.  James told Danny that he knew a Christian and Shelly got him hooked up with our group.
Danny mentioned James, his host, during the pray request that Sunday.  Then just as service was over, James showed up.  We all went to eat lunch together.  James has a son about Liam's age.

We invited James and his family to movie night that week, and they came! Liam and Kevin had a good time together.  Then the family also came to church the next Sunday.

James story is not finished.  I believe that God is calling him.  I think it is amazing to see how He is using others to get James to where he can learn more about Him.  Please pray for James and all of those who are in his story.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

spice organization

 This past week was a holiday week in China.  Jon did not have classes all week, and we did not have to go to our other job at the Elementary school.  We decided not to travel anywhere, because almost all of China also had the week off too and many of them are traveling.  We spent some quiet time together as a family and got some projects done around the house.

One thing I wanted to do was to organize my spice cabinet.


This is a mixture of things I have bought in China and things I brought or had sent to me from home.

I wanted to use some spice risers but have not seen anything like that in China.  Jon told me that he could make me something.  This is what he came up with:

These are two boxes that held some tea that we were given as a gift.  They are super sturdy boxes.  Jon connected them together with some scrap wood and screws. 

We also added another rise out of some scrap Styrofoam.

I covered the foam and box with some contact paper.  I decided to just leave some of the box in its original state for contrast and so that we can open the boxes if we ever want to hide anything.  Like piles of cash or something.
This contraption went into my cupboard and all I had to do was organize the spices and other bottles.

 I added labels to each of the spice bottles so I can quickly see what each jar is.

 Ta da! It looks much better, and hopefully I won't have to pull everything out the next time I need some nutmeg.

Can you tell that we don't believe in running out of peanut butter? Yep there are 4 jars of peanut butter!

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Pray for our meeting

Tomorrow is Sunday and this could be our last time meeting for worship in our apt.  This year one of our goals was to move the Sunday meeting out of our apartment.  We feel this would help them become more independent from us foreigners.  The goal was to meeting somewhere else by the end of the calender year.  So far we are ahead of schedule. 

Friends of our group have offered to let us use their office space for our meeting on Sunday.  We are excited about this.  Of course as with any type of change, anything could happen.  Please pray for our group and this transition.  Pray that it will be exciting and a chance to grow even more.  

This week is a holiday weekend, so we expect that attendance will be way down because many people are traveling or having family get togethers.

Next week should be the first Sunday in the new meeting place.  I am sure someone will blog about this first meeting in the next few weeks.


A common complaint among mothers-to-be (aka pregnant ladies) is that once they start showing, their belly seems to be public property.  I have heard many stories of total strangers laying hands on their bellies.  I don’t guess I ever had that problem, or else I have blocked it from my memory.  And before anyone asks, no I am not pregnant.

But I do wonder what it is about my children that makes people here think it is ok to touch them.  

Sometimes we walk down the street and random people try to stop the kids and they grab at their arms.  And they often touch their faces and hair.  Some days it can be hard to deal with. For the kids and parents!

It is hard to know what to do.  I don't want the kids to be rude, and I don't to be rude, but what do you do when a total stranger touches your face?

I understand that I am dealing with a  very  different culture, and that my kids look very  different than most kids around here but it still seems very rude to me.  

I don't mean to be negative.  Most of the time, things are fine when we go out.  We just run into some "touchy" people every once in a while.  And they are always friendly and usually are unaware, that their actions are strange to us.

It is just one of those things that we deal with living as an outsider in this culture.

Sunday, September 23, 2012


Isn't funny how quickly we get spoiled.  The weather is still pretty warm here.  Today is supposed to be up to 81, and we think that is pretty hot.  But just a few weeks ago we were in the upper 90's and would have loved temps in the 80's!

I know that we are very blessed to have a household helper, an ayi.  Xiao Jiang has worked for us for nearly 4 years now. We love her.  She comes three times a week.  She cooks lunch for us, and washes dishes, cleans and straightens the apartment, and does laundry.  Also, she will watch the kids for us, so Jon and I can sneak out for a little time alone.

Keeping up with all that stuff is harder and takes much more time here in China, so it is really nice to have help.

However, Xiao Jiang has been having headaches and the doctors wanted to run some tests.  They even put her in the hospital to run these tests.  So far the tests have come back good.  But they do not know why she is having headaches.

She has not been able to come to work for nearly 3 weeks now.  Jon and I are able to keep up with most of the housework, and most of the house looks ok, but we really miss her.  We also miss being able to go out without the kids for a little while.  We think that if she is unable to come back to work for us, we may just not get another ayi.

Please pray for her.  Pray for her health and for the doctors.  I pray that they will find a way to help her headaches to go away.

Friday, September 7, 2012


I have been thinking about writing about this subject for some time now.  Actually there will probably be several posts that will fall into the category "crunchy".  

What is "crunchy"?  I came across this term recently, and I realized that to some extent it does describe me.

Urban Dictionary says crunchy is:

Adjective. Used to describe persons who have adjusted or altered their lifestyle for environmental reasons. Crunchy persons tend to be politically strongly left-leaning and may be additionally but not exclusively categorized as vegetarians, vegans, eco-tarians, conservationists, environmentalists, neo-hippies, tree huggers, nature enthusiasts, etc. 

Also used to describe establishments where alternative foods and products are sold, i.e. natural food stores. 

uh, well maybe not.... At least not by this definition. But by some definitions, I lean to the "crunchy side" my lifestyle is not really for environmental reasons, although some things I do (or want to do) would be considered "green".  

For the record, I am not a liberal. I do not buy into all the global warming stuff...politically I am Libertarian.  However, I think it would be great to have solar or wind energy.  If and when we build a house, I would love to put solar panels on it.  

If I were to have another baby...I'm NOT going to, but IF I did, I would probably use cloth diapers.  It is not for environmental reasons, I just think it is better for the baby (less chemicals) and actually cheaper.  

I am not a vegan or vegetarian, but I don't eat very much meat.  I live in China and sometimes the meat here is just gross.  I just skip it to avoid gagging.  I don't like organs or bones or other stuff like that in my meat.  I eat less meat when I am in the US, because it is cheaper, and I don't want to shock my body too much when I am there for 6-8 weeks.

  The stuff in the news recently, about pink slime, is really disgusting.  Not because they use other parts (I eat hot dogs and stuff, and just don't think about what is in it), but because they treat the stuff with ammonia.  Gross!! And that is coming from a girl that lives in China. 

I do want to grow some of our own food.  I loved having fresh eggs when we raised chickens.  When we return to the US or have room, we will have a garden and chickens.  

I think much of our food is overly processed.  Whenever I can, we will make or grow our own food.  But that does not mean that we won't drink soda or eat chips sometimes.  

Being overweight is pretty rare here in China.  Although, I do see it more than we used to.  If a kid is fat here, often people will say it is because they eat too much KFC.  I think that many people here are thinner because they eat less processed food than we do in the US.

I think that modern medicine is great.  But I do feel that Western medicine lacks some things.  I like the idea of holistic medicine and some folk remedies.  I wish I knew more about some of the traditional Chinese medicine.  I like the concept, but I admit that I am very skeptical about drinking a tea with some dried creature in it.  But things like Ginger and peppermint can really settle one's stomach.  

Lately I have been reading a lot about essential oils, and I do think that they have some health benefits.  I also love the way they (some of them) smell.

I have several ideas for blog posts that may fall into the “crunchy” category, but before that, I wanted to share some of my rambling thoughts on the subject.

Bad parenting? or just fun?

 I can remember buying candy cigarettes when I was younger.  They were these chalky tasting white candy sticks.  They were not that good, but they were funny.  We liked to eat them on cold days, when you could see your breath.  We would pretend that we were smoking. I thought that it was fun to pretend to smoke, but I never wanted to really smoke. I have never thought it was cool.

 Nowadays, you can't buy candy cigarettes in the US.  But in China, it is a different story.

We found these at the local grocery store.

Chocolate! maybe these will taste better than the yucky chalky ones of my childhood.

We waited for a cold, wet day and then we passed them out to the kids. 

 Yes, we were at a bus stop too.  There were lots of giggles from the kids, as they tried to see their breath.  We did get a few strange looks from some other people.....

Then, they unwrapped the chocolate, and they were gone very quickly.

One lady exclaimed, "oh, it is chocolate!"
Naw, we really gave our kids cancer sticks...

Now, our kids know they dangers of smoking and they don't think it is cool.  They do think it is gross and nasty.  But they also really like chocolate.

So, would you give your kids candy cigarettes? Or am I just a bad parent?

Monday, September 3, 2012

Summertime review

We left China on June 13 for two whole months in the US.  It was a long trip, but mostly uneventful (the way we like it).  We arrived in Memphis near midnight and spent the night at a nearby hotel.  The next day Jon's parents, nephew,  and niece picked us up.  We have so much luggage (5 people)  that they borrow the church van to haul all of us back to Henderson.  Hallie took most of these pictures.

Home sweet home (for a little while)

Jack's is one of our favorite places to eat.  We also enjoyed Mexican food, BBQ, and Taco Bell (and other places)
Nothing beats a real biscuit

and sweet tea!!!  We also drank a bunch of Dr Pepper.  I really enjoyed the ice too! We ate a lot of ice this summer.

The kids enjoyed playing outside (no school).

 We worked on teaching all the kids to ride  bikes.  They are not ready to ride on the road in China, but they can all balance and stay up.

 Both of the girls got their hair cut (for Locks of Love)

Hallie went to MSYC and made some new friends.

We spent time with old friends.

We got to spend two whole weeks in Hixson and our Clear Creek family (love these girls).

Someone had a birthday and we celebrated at Chuck E. Cheese.

We enjoyed spending time with family and friends this summer, we were sorry to see the summer end, but we were anxious to get back to our life in China and our work here.  We hope to see you again next summer.