an original gingerbread creation

Our girls have grown up thinking houses with yards were such a novelty, since they have lived in tall cement apartments since they can remember. So of course, we decided to create a different kind of Gingerbread Home this year....a high rise apartment building out of yummy graham crackers. It was so fun to see how high we could build it...well, until we had used almost 2 entire boxes!!

Can you see the awning we built too? 

Here's a close up of the front door (dan yuan) and the short dog that our neighbor lady would take for a walk everyday (the green tootsie roll).  It was good to remember these little things together, and laugh about our memories of home. 

And here is the demolition:  
(which actually looks like many buildings in our city, and reminds us of our Ice Cream Factory that was officially demolished in February 2012.  sniff sniff.)


holiday crafting....

for the newest family member (cousin) ....due in Feb 2013!!

These are my new favorite crafty gifts.  I buy onesies at the 2nd hand store (nicer ones, of course) and create a fun felt character on the front.  I made some for a friend last summer, and I hope she enjoyed them.  I searched online for images & ideas -- while trying to stay neutral with the gender, since we are all going to be surprised with this soon-coming-miracle!! 

 I also made a bunch of these child-sized aprons for a certain birthday girls' party this month, and I got pretty fast at whipping these out -- so I made a few for gifts too.  These two were sent to cousins in Ohio! 
The girls made these simple owl ornaments - even Sydney (5yrs) stitched her own!  I really love working with felt, as it holds its shape & position so well.  I love how they turned out!
These were made with dried pinwheel pasta and lots of glue!  ...then painted white and strung with some ribbon & beads.  Simple but fun!
Not sure if these are quite visible, but we just used a brown cardboard star (from the craft store) and used colorful tissue paper to paint on with glue/mod podge to cover the entire star. 

So there you have it....some of the fun gifts & crafts we made this year!!


Jesse Tree part 2

Christmas crafting has come and gone in this house, but its been a good 4 weeks of sewing & such with the girls.  I attempted to make Jesse Tree ornaments last year and only finished about 10-15 of them.  This year, I added a few more to the collection, and I imagine I will finish them next year.  I never realized how intricate of a project I was undertaking, but I am having a great time piecing together each ornament and making it our own.  The kids really love hearing the stories & lessons along the way too, which is the MAIN reason I am making these!  This year the girls each took turns reading during our evening family time, which makes it even more sweet.  I love hearing them read aloud, and finding lessons we can learn from this rich Story!

Anyhow, here are the most recent additions to our tree:

Rahab & the spies

Ruth & Boaz



David - shepherd & king



Ezekiel - God's word is our food!


Zechariah & Elizabeth

Watching & Waiting

On the back of each circle of felt, I stitched the book & chapter of the reading for that day, which is what has taken me so long to complete these ornaments.  I really enjoy coming up with my own design for the front, but the tedious part of stitching words isn't my fave.  Anyhow, it has been so fun & therapeutic to make each of these in the evening after the girls are in bed.  I have about 6-7 more ornaments to complete this project, which I will hopefully attempt next Christmas (2013). 


a different Christmas....

Its that magical time of year again.... 
Twinkling lights, ornaments & crafting, hot cocoa & gingerbread, wrapping presents & warm slippers.  Yet this Christmas is already drastically different than all of our previous Christmases, as we will be missing mom (Rachel) and we aren't in China, our beloved home for the last 7 years.  It has been about 2 months since mom passed away, but the grief continues to come in waves, especially when a holiday arrives.  There is a huge peace in knowing that she is no longer in pain, and at rest with her beloved Savior, but we continue to miss her deeply.  There is such a huge hole without her here, in so many ways.  She was such a go-getter: she made things happen.  She would organize events, gatherings, meals, and she was the life of the party!  We are living in HER old home now, where countless memories surface of past Christmases spent with babies, cousins, aunts & uncles, and ALWAYS piles of presents.

Mom was always a gift-giver.  She loved to watch her granddaughters open a special gift from her.  It brought her so much joy.  She gave extravagantly, yet always fairly.  We (as parents) didn't always make it easy for her to exercise this internal desire -- we limited gifting in certain years, which really felt like the right decision back then.  We still like to keep gift-giving simple and practical, and focused on others, BUT this year (2012) we both feel different.  Different, in that -- we feel like we want to fill in the gaps where mom would have been.  Like maybe, if we buy extra gifts, it won't feel like she is really gone, or if we give extravagantly like she did, it might still feel like a REAL Christmas.  I know this sounds contradictory, but everything does when you lose a loved one. 

It's also hard for me (in a somewhat selfish way), because mom knew how to bless ME.  She knew that I didn't ever get many gifts, and she would always ask me specifically what I wanted - and make sure she got me something that I would never have bought for myself.  She was the first one to bug me for a list (especially when we were overseas) - and she made sure she got the exact item.  She really did want to bless me.  I am not sure if we should have stifled this desire in her - we tended to have high ideals as parents, wanting to shield our kids from materialism & greed.....but her gifting really came from a pure heart.  I am just now realizing that.  It makes me want to give generously and abundantly and specifically - to bless someone who I really love.  She was amazing like that, and I hope we can live out her memory without attempting to fill the hole, but just remembering the JOY that she had in blessing others.  Even though this Christmas will be different, I want to cherish it - and cherish the years of memories I have with mom.