Pics from the East


4 to a room

On August 14th, when we moved into this apartment, we put all four kids in one room.

The sleeping arrangement is as follows:
Schäfer – top bunk
Sianna and Selah – bottom bunk
Senna – crib

(Eventually, Schäfer will have his own room, but at present, our butcher block counter-tops are drying in his space.)

We decided that after 16 months of being in our room, it was time for Senna to join her sisters. Hubs purposefully put the crib together in the girls room. (It’s too wide to move from room to room.)

We warned the kids that they had to be very, very quiet when Senna came into the room. First I would nurse and rock her, then I would gently place her in the crib.

Enter: a teachable moment.

Between the giggles, the loud whispers, the sudden thirst that needed to be quenched and additional excursions to the bathroom, Senna woke and released her frustration through a very loud cry.

Schäfer tried to coax her with lullabies while Sianna and Selah filled her crib with lovies and extra blankets.

Nothing worked.

Eventually, Senna wore herself out and went back to sleep. The biggies were mentally worn out too.

These days, when I bring Senna into the room, all is quiet. Lesson learned.

In other news, last night Senna decided to grow up just a little bit more. For the first time, she slept through the night.

After 1 year, 4 months and 24 days, this Mommy and Papa slept through the night too.

High fives all around.

Summer 2014 // Over & Out

Suddenly, summer ended.

I was quite caught off guard by it all.

Yesterday, on a hunch, I thought that Sianna’s Chinese school might be starting up.

After a text to the principal, it was confirmed. Come Monday morning, Sianna would be back in Chinese school for 1/2 days.

Also this week, we will go to see which Chinese grade school has been assigned to Schäfer.

Yesterday, it rained. Today, it was 73 degrees.

Goodbye summer.

Summer 2014 never looked the way I thought it should. In June, we started summer off right with a lovely trip to the beach.

But then July was consumed with getting our new apartment transformed into a livable space.

Contractor: Would you like the walls straight?
Hubs: Yes, please.

We moved out of our space on July 31st. We thought we were going to a friend’s apartment for 3 days. We stayed there for 16 days while Hubs worked daily to get our new apartment liveable.

At present, we are still without kitchen counters, 4 kitchen cabinets, a hot water heater, Schäfer’s bed, and every single closet needs straightening.

Even though we moved from 90 square meters into 140 square meters, we have too much stuff. So instead of shoving it all someplace, I’m trying to minimize. How can it be that we have so much stuff that we rarely use? (Hubs: I made a VERY efficient closet in our old apartment. Like Mary Poppin’s handbag really.)

In the midst of this consuming move, summer came and went.

Senna started walking independently. She squeals and flaps her arms when she sees ice cream.

Selah started bringing home bundles of wild flowers and fresh grass. She likes to play alone with her Little People and animals for 2+ hours.

Sianna started writing her own name. She still prefers coloring and cooking in her kitchen to anything else.

Schäfer started pretending he’s a pet dragon and Sianna is his master. He spent hours listening to 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, Narnia, and Story of the World Vol 2.

This was the summer of sand castles, ice cream, The Box Car Children, The Complete Tales of Beatrix Potter, and all 4 children sleeping in one room.

This summer was fast and precious. It takes with it the sweet time when they were 7,5,3 and 1.

Our Last Night in Apartment 28-12

For the past two years, we’ve lived on the 28th floor in a 90 square meter apartment. Tomorrow, we will transition to a friend’s place while our new apartment receives some much needed attention… the concrete walls are finally straight, but the kitchen is not installed.

I find myself feeling very bittersweet about this transition.

Squeezing 6 people into a two bedroom apartment has been hard at times, but it has also given us plenty of opportunities to be unselfish with our space and our things.

This will be the last time that Schäfer shares a room with his sisters. In the new apartment, he will have his own space.

I’ll miss the chatter.

I’ll miss their natural togetherness.

This morning, over breakfast, I told the kids that I was sad that they would no longer be together. Schäfer asked if they could have slumber parties on the weekends. His sentiment warmed by heart.

Top 5 Things I’ll Miss

1. The lighting. Our living room and dining room have floor to ceiling windows – as do the bedrooms. We never turned on a light here. Our days were flooded with natural light. So much light that my books faded and we had to get an additional set of blackout curtains for the kids bedroom.

Hubs: We live on the 28th floor with a pretty amazing view of the lake and mountains. I’ll miss incredible sunrise devotionals from my couch and eating dinner to sunsets framing the mountain range.

2. Across the street is a small track that is open to the public if you wear sneakers. Years ago while running down a public street, I was bitten by a dog. I have loved having a safe place to run. This spring, I ran off 4 sizes. Bye Bye baby weight.

3. Once we get to the first floor, we are only a 1 minute walk from the second largest open market in our city. So at 4:30pm, I could literally go downstairs and figure out a plan for supper.

4. In this kitchen, we had our first ever bar space where the kids could sit on stools and watch me cook. I loved having them close enough to lick the spoon, but not right next to me – though sometimes that ended up happening too.

Hubs: The new apartment has a bar too. :)

5. Of course, I’ll miss having the kids all in one bedroom. There’s just an innocence and sweetness to childhood.

Top 5 Reasons I’m Glad We’re Moving

1. Our current apartment is laid out almost like a small condo with the bedrooms upstairs. Unfortunately, when the apartment was designed they did not cut out a large enough area for the stairs so they are quite steep. (Hubs: Like Navy ship steep.) Most children fall down them when they visit.

2. There’s isn’t much space for the kids to have a quiet place to play. If Selah is in the kids bedroom with her Little People spread out, then Schäfer has to take his Lego to our bedroom. That leaves Sianna downstairs with Senna who mostly takes things apart.

3. We do spend quite a bit of time waiting on the elevator. Our building has three elevators, but it can get really crowded – especially when school is in session because all the kids come home for lunch. The new apartment is on the first floor. No elevator.

4. Our new apartment has some grass and a space for the kids to run. At present, when we exit our building we are in an urban downtown center. There is no place for the kids to ride bikes or run.

5. We currently live next to a hospital: the ambulance sirens and congested traffic honking is non-stop.

I’m off to pack another box.

The America Awards 2014

We’ve been back in China for 5 months and 2 days. Part of being back has been processing all that we just experienced while spending 6 months in America.

Whew. We had some fun!

And so we present to you: The America Awards 2.0
A USDA certified organic, flax seed, omega 3, pro-biotic experience.

best chicken: Chick-fil-A
best mexican: Olivia’s
burger: In-N-Out
sauce: Chick-fil-A’s house sauce
best meat: Hubs smoked brisket
chai: Peet’s with a nod to Trabantcoffee in Seattle
best quick lunch: $1.50 hot dog + drink at Costco
most unexpected dietary love: Great Value cinnamon almonds
most unexpected deliciousness: Theo chocolates
calories I’d do again: yogurt buffet
wish we could have eaten: Hodad’s Burgers in San Diego (line was a block long)
thankfully, we did not enter: McDonalds, Burger King, Captain D’s, KFC or Subway even once.

best movie: Hubs took Schäfer to see “Planes” -  his first movie in a theater
new-to-us reality TV show: Storage Wars & Amish Mafia
also new to us: watching TV on netflix
hmmm…: Hubs and I never saw a movie together. I don’t think there was anything I wanted to see.

best airport play area: Seattle (though we would vote Singapore if we could)
place we should have gone: Mexico
so glad we: went camping at Wollawa Whitman National Forest
wish we could have stayed longer: California Redwoods
most treasured item lost: baby stroller
theme parks: Disneyland, Sea World, San Deigo Zoo & Safari Park, Legoland
total states visited: 10

items completed: March Field air museum, San Deigo Safari Park, Space Shuttle Endeavor, pumpkin patch, Oak Glen Apple Farms, hiked Mt. Rubidoux, Legoland, Disney at Christmas, ate at a famous cupcake bakery, Sea World, San Deigo Zoo, USS Martin

we didn’t get to: Sequoia National Park, the Grand Canyon, or Mexico

exciting news: the house we stayed in had a pool!
best news: the house we stayed in had a lawn service

biggest return culture shock: how many people make debt a pet
price of gas: $3.59/gallon
thing I thought I would do, but didn’t do: print photos and put together albums
biggest surprise: how many parks and events were free
best public service: the library

best generica shopping: Target
best discount: Target dollar bin at 70% off
best coupon redeemed: Kohl’s stack-able coupons
Hubs best find: jerky-gun
Sandra’s best find: craft supplies at Michael’s + 40% off coupon!
best weight saver: Kindle
best sale: Old Navy
favorite place to shop: Goodwill
new-to-me: Erin took me shopping on the last day of a consignment sale where everything was 50% off – Wowza!

best weather: August in Oregon
most anticipated event: Christmas Day
best food on Christmas day: smoked brisket
best post-Christmas event: after Christmas sales
wish we could have done…: snow skiing

Sandra: clean public bathrooms with changing tables
Hubs: Prime shipping from

This concludes our 2nd edition of The America Awards.
A low-carb, zero grams trans fat, 7 vitamins and minerals, certified fair-trade experience.



Watching • absolutely nothing. I’m ready for a new season of Downtown Abbey.

Listening • I’ve found that I like to listen to podcast when I run. I know some people listen to them when they fold laundry or do dishes, but my kids are always asking me something so running is the one time

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Movie Stars for 10 minutes

On Tuesday, we went down to the police station to renew our residence permits. When we returned home, a friend called to say that the police station is making a movie on Friday and they wanted our family to be in it.

Hubs politely declined since he had an important appointment on Friday afternoon. Our

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