Goodbye Summer! 

As summer comes to a close it’s crazy to think about how much has changed in just one season.  We have a perfect baby girl- who is growing crazy fast!! She can stand with minimum support, is mimicking talking, her head is completely supported, and more. Sometimes when I wake up in the morning it doesn’t even feel real. I’m so thankful for the blessing she is to us. She’s my number one cuddle bug! 

      

As we enter into fall I have been thinking of what I want to accomplish. The biggest goal I have for myself is to completely soak in every second. Sometimes I get so caught up in organizing my planner that I don’t remember to look up and experience what I’m doing.  I think I’ve been pretty good at enjoying every second of baby cuddles, but I really want to be intentional about it. I want to appreciate every second I have with my munchkin and husband.  What better time is there then today? 

     

I love the idea of short term, seasonal goals. Do you have a fall goal? Enjoy some pictures of our last family pool day! I’m going to miss that sun! 


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Labor Day Weekend Getaway 

This past weekend we traveled the 414 miles (one way) down to my cousins Stephanie & Joey’s house! It was so much fun to see my cousins, aunt, and uncle. We took the baby and my sister, Makayla, along and had a total blast.  

We got there late Thursday night and basically went straight to sleep. Friday was the perfect lazy day to just hang around the house.  We also made an exciting trip to a nearby shopping center with a Super Target … inside we found actual gold- a pink teepee with a matching teepee for dolls by the doll company, Our Generation. We immediately got it! (And a $4 clearance swimsuit that will hopefully fit Nolie next year). We were so pumped! That night we ate out at a place called the Afton Tavern. It was delicious! Seriously, next time we visit we’re going back. I had a quesadilla and Michael had a burger.  Both were awesome, however, the best part was the giant cookie skillet! Then when we got home we set up our teepee!! Steph and I had a serious blast. It was so fun. 


(Low quality pic, high quality family bonding) 

Saturday we slept in. I needed it after staying up late giggling and talking with Stephanie.  Michael and Joey started our day when they went and picked up some doughnuts. Then we slowly got ready and then headed out to do a low key walk around the greenway at the University of North Carolina. It was gorgeous outside and that made the day incredibly fun. 

 Afterwards, Michael headed off with my sister, uncle, and Joey to a local comic book store! The rest of us headed home for naps. (Man, I can’t believe I’m old enough to be in the group that has to go home and sleep to funaction hahah). Then we all helped to make dinner! Michael grilled chicken and shrimp while I prepped the veggie. Stephanie and my uncle Jon put together an amazing alfredo sauce from scratch.  It turned out nothing short of delicious.  That night we ate a few too many desserts while watching the BYU game- they were destroyed. 

// Aunt Stephanie 

Matching outfits! // shirt & shorts: Old Navy // shoes: Birkenstock // Nolie’s shirt & bow: Carter’s // Nolie’s shorts: Cat and Jack by Target 


Sunday we headed off to church (Nolie screamed every time I tried to sit down, so that was fun.  We spent the rest of the day laughing, telling stories, and just enjoying each other! We grilled dinner, walked the neighborhood, and settled in with the most mouth watering lemon dessert to watch movies. 


(that stank face, goodness child) //dress: Old Navy // cardigan: New York & Company // shoes: Old Navy // Nolie’s dress: Janie & Jack // Nolie’s bow: Carter’s

Labor Day started slow- (are you noticing a common trend)? We packed and then headed out with the cousins to IKEA.  Michael has a serious love for that store – and I can’t help but feel like it’s a lot of fun too!  We picked up a cute play table and chairs that I’m going to DIY for Nolie’s playroom.  We ate in their funky cafeteria too. It was seriously so much fun! It was hard to say goodbye, but we headed home that afternoon.  

It was such a great, relaxing trip.  I’m so thankful that I’m so close to my family! It was an awesome weekend. Shout out to my darling husband for taking us! 

Happy Days 

This past weekend we had a very interesting Saturday! We woke up and got ready to be picked up by my dad to head down to the farmers market. On the way downtown I was informed we were going to make a “quick” stop to “catch” some sort of rare Pokémon.

The weather was gorgeous and the baby was smiling so I thought, why not! (Plus, we ended up having a great photo opportunity). We headed down to the Vanderbilt football stadium. They did some sort of battle and next thing I know we are headed down to a different park downtown. Three hours later we were finally at the farmers market! We made it with five minutes to spare, the milk stand was almost closed!


// shirt: Old Navy // shorts: J.Crew // Nolie’s jumper: Janie & Jack // Michael’s shirt: J.Crew // Michael’s shorts: J.Crew

* Import Flower’s Wall Mural *

After that we swung by 3rd and Demonbreum to Bakersfield Tacos. We placed an order to go and then jumped back in the car and headed down to an Asian Market off of Charolette. We wandered around and had a blast looking at all of the fun items.

The highlight of this stop was when we were wandering around the Chinese section. If you remember, last year I spent part of my summer in China. (You can read about it here). Before I left I asked Michael what he wanted me to bring back. He said he didn’t care, but he was just sad he didn’t get to try all the food. So over the course of the trip I slowly filled my suitcase with different foods to bring home. Some of the things I brought home I had zero idea what they were. I went to a grocery store and just picked out random things from aisles. When I got home Michael was a great sport and tried them all. Well this weekend I recognized one item I brought home that Michael reported to be particularly stinky. At this grocery store there were English translations on the price card. Apparently I brought Michael home pickled jelly fish! For some reason he wasn’t as excited to learn that as me.

The day ended in laughter as we headed home from there. We had such a wonderful time and the weather was perfect. Hot, but not humid. The sun was shining and I was so thankful to be out and about.

The Third Annual Peach Festival 

Yesterday Michael and I took little Nolie to her first little festival! The Peach Truck hosted an event with live music, food trucks, face painting, local vendors, and … PEACHES! It was so much fun. We started off rocky when I accidentally gave Michael directions to the wrong farmers market.  However, once we finally got there it was so much fun. 

There were several local vendors.  We saw some companies we love like the Frothy Monkey and Baby & Company. However, we also were introduced to a ton of new finds! It was a great experience.  

I think the highlight of our time though was buying our bag of peaches! Michael had one for breakfast and said it was wonderful. 

 
I’m so happy that we got to take the little one out on such a gorgeous night. Also, I won’t lie.  It was fun having people gush over the baby everywhere we were! She was so good and didn’t fuss once. She just had wide open eyes watching everything! I can’t wait for next year. I think we found a new family tradition. 

Skittles & Songs in China

Growing up my Dad was always one of my best friends. He understood me in ways other people couldn’t. For example, sometimes he knew I was being contrary because I just wanted to debate. Other nights he would understand that he just needed to pick up my favorite order from sonic. Other days still he gave me his keys and took me to a backroad and sat silently as I drove a little too fast. Somehow he could always tell what I needed when I was upset, and had the patience to accommodate me. My Heavenly Father has that same ability, but on such a personal level it is amazing.

This last July I spent some time in China. It was a totally fulfilling experience. I am so thankful for getting to go and what I learned.  However that doesn’t mean it wasn’t incredibly hard! It was.
In fact, I mentioned before, but for a few days I was feeling really awful. I couldn’t keep any water or anything down at all for over 24 hours. So when I had to board a four hour train one morning, I wasn’t feeling my best. I was also starving!! The only thing I could think about was skittles. Don’t ask me why, but when I thought of things I could imagine eating it was the only food that came to mind! I asked one of the girls to walk over to the little train market with me. Guess what was the ONLY recognizable “American” food in the entire market… SKITTLES. It literally felt as if in that second God was smiling at me, laughing at his poor daughter who just wanted something familiar in a strang land.

The last Sunday we were in Chiba we got to go to a “foreigners church.” It was so comforting to be in a room where I actually knew what was being said. The sermon was dead on to what I needed to hear before going home. However, it was the music that touched my heart! As the service came to a close we ended by standing to sing. First we sang my favorite contemporary worship song, Oceans (Where Feet May Fail) by Hillsong United. I absolutely love it.  One line reads “Spirit lead me where my trust is without boarders. Let me walk upon the water. Wherever you may call me…” 

Never have those words meant so much! But there I was, standing in China, because that is where the Holy Spirit had led me! I cried through the whole song, singing with my entire heart. I was not emotionally prepared for when my favorite hymn began to play next! The song How Great Thou Art (originally composed by Carl Gustav Boberg around 1940).  I felt so loved as we sang these cherished, familiar songs. In that moment I felt exactly like a daughter who’s Father knew exactly what she needed.

Another example was during the second week of our trip. We had just met our groups of kids that we would be responsible for the following 24 hours on a field trip. The task looked daunting. (Especially because our girls were so painfully shy and their English was beyond limited.) I was feeling incredibly discouraged when I noticed one of the quietest girl’s jackets. It had a little badge on the left breast pocket. It read “Fear Thou Not 41:10.” I instantly recognized my favorite scripture in the entire bible… Isaiah 41:10. I instantly was comforted and reminded to trust in God. It was such an unexpected reminder, especially seeing how the girl was not only Buddhist, but also spoke barely five words in English. I’m sure she had no idea what it meant, but to me it meant that God was everywhere and he knew I would need encouragement.

These little examples all attest to my favorite verse. They exclaim that God is with us! He strengthens us daily.  I am so thankful for these little reminders I experienced of Gods endless love.

 

“Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.”

– Isaiah 41:10 KJV

 

 

Speechless about China

I’ve been home from China for almost five days and I still can’t find the words to talk about it. It was such a total different world! There were so many different emotions though out the trip. I experienced so much joy spending time with the kids, but there were also a lot of hard moments. I can truly say that this trip was one of the most difficult (and rewarding) experiences I have ever had.

Eventually I want to talk about the sadness and the hard things. However, for right now, I am just going to focus on some of the really great times! To start, I fell in love with the children of China!!! The culture embraces singing and dancing, so the kids were so unabashed in sharing their excitement through those mediums! I LOVED it!!!!

For example, I was able to lead a group of kids one night in line dances I learned in middle school. They had so much fun, though no one had more fun than me! It was crazy to see their smiles as the language barrier disappeared. You don’t need common language to share your happiness. I could feel the excitement in the air as everyone laughed and tried to follow my lead. (This was the night of the talent show on the island.)


Another example was from our time in Dali, part of the Yunnan Province. We went to a dance school where we taught the kids English songs. They were so funny trying to learn! After they taught us a Chinese game. It was a lot like “duck, duck, goose.” We all sit in a circle and one person walks around the outside carrying a handkerchief. When they drop the handkerchief behind someone, that someone has to get up and chase them around the circle. The initial person from the outside has to try and steal the seat of the newly tagged person. The person left on the outside of the circle then has to go inside of the circle and do a performance. It can be a song, dance, trick, etc. After their performance, they take the hankie and the game begins again. The children and our team had so much fun! People performed songs, little dances, and a few little girls proudly did their splits. All of the team members got to play too. When it was my turn to perform I dropped down into my splits. The little girls went CRAZY! They were definitely not expecting it. It was so fun! (Later, the main dance teacher pulled me to the side and complimented me on my dancing. She saw me playing with the ballet bar and a few girls. I asked her to perform for me- she is a well known dancer in China- but instead, she asked to teach me a few steps. It was so fun! I couldn’t understand what she was saying, however through music and our bodies we were able to speak. God is so great for putting dance in my life!!!)

 My last example (though I could go on for hours), was during our first English camp. We started each morning out with songs. We sang camp songs like Baby Shark and Father Abraham. I also taught them a little primary song from my childhood, Give Said the Little Stream. I made up hand motions to it and the kids loved it! It was so fun watching them try to say all the words. The kids were so dedicated and excited.


So despite the hard things and the definite cultural shock (mostly the food), China was amazing. The kids stole my heart and gave purpose to the trip. I loved every second of their smiles and I am so thankful for everyone who made that trip possible.

I’M HOME! China Recap 2016

I am home!! I am in my country, in my extremely comfortable bed, being cuddled by my adorable two cats. I had such an amazing, life changing experience in China. However, I am so thankful to be home!! 

I don’t even know where to start. So I have decided to just do a little recap of what I have been doing for the past few days. Here’s a little taste of what I experienced! Thanks for all of the prayers and support!
 

Tuesday, July 12th
Meet at TNU at 4:30am!
Fly Nashville, Tennessee to Detroit, Michigan
(four hour layover)
Fly Detroit, Michigan to Beijing, China
Wednesday, July 13th 
Fly Beijing to Kunming, China
Arrive in Kunming late & head to our first host house
Thursday, July 14th
Wake up  & jump a train to Chuxiong
Our first Chinese lunch (fried rice w/ spicy beef, I loved it!)
Check into our dorms at Chuxiong Normal University
Go over lesson plans
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Friday, July 15th
English camp! (We rotated groups between teaching and work crews. This was the day I got to lead activities! It was my favorite part of camp.)
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Saturday, July 16th 
Paint school rooms all day!
Explore downtown with Anna & Sam
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Sunday, July 17th
Paint school rooms
House church (what an amazing experience)
Chuxiong Museum
Hot Pot
Yi Village- dancing and shopping!!
Monday, July 18th
Teach English camps
Get deathly ill by noon
SLEEP and SICKY nonstop
Tuesday, July 19th
(English camps for those not dying)
Lay in bed pondering death
Take the train to Dali
Dinner at Muslim restaurant
Walk around the lake
Check into our (beautiful) hotel. (This was totally the cleanest room & we were on the 18th floor so the view was killer!)
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Wednesday, July 20th
Dance school: teach English songs and games
Make jiaozi w/ kids
Chinese Walmart
Meeting at an English school about field trip
Go to a high school for practical conversations & tour of school
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Thursday, July 21st
Meet the kids early at English school
Natural hot springs and lunch
Ferry to “Thousand Year Old Island”
Field day games
Dinner w/ entire chickens!!! Feet, heads, brains, everything!!!!
Talent show and dance (I taught the kids a classic EFY line dance. They went CRAZY!!!)
Check into hotel with the all wooden roof
Friday, July 22nd
Spend the morning with our kids & hike up the local mountains there
Pack up and ferry back at 1:30
Bus back to Dali & check back into hotel
Group game night & chocolate chip cookies!!
Saturday, July 23rd
Buddhist temple (built 1550) and hike up the mountains
Old town Dali
Pizza at Sleepy Fish (owned by Australians)
Over night train to Kunming
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Sunday, July 24th
International Fellowship of Kunming (church service)
Day of much needed rest
Dairy Queen blizzards!
Monday, July 25th
Fly into Kunming early
Monorail and walking suitcase
Check into hostel
Tiananmen square and political monuments
Downtown Beijing
Chinese market
Wander home via subway station
Tuesday, July 26th
Bus to Great Wall of China
Hike Great Wall and slide down
Subway for lunch
Exploring the Summer Palace and gardens
Got lost in Beijing (very exciting)
Acrobat Show (which we missed almost al of, due to the being lost thing)
Subway back to the hostel!!
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//shirt: Forever21 //shorts: Ann Taylor
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Wednesday, July 27th (my first day that had more than 24 hours in it!)
Final fried rice lunch!!
Check out of hostel
Take bus to airport & final goodbyes to China!
Fly Beijing, China to Detroit, Michigan (only delayed two hours & a two hour layover) 
Fly Detroit, Michigan to Nashville, Tennessee (fifteen minutes early, praises!!)
Get home and run to my darling husband who brought roses, chocolates, and an order of my Mexican takeout, extra ques0. (Seriously, he is so perfect and attractive.)
* small update.  I’ve had about two hours of sleep in the past two days? But the two days were both Wednesday because of the international date line… I think. I don’t even understand how I took off Wednesday at like five and landed in America at like six or something the same day. (That would require sleep, which I’ve not partaken in.) so basically… Please be forgiving of my spelling and grammatical  errors!!