Monday, December 24, 2012

Friday, December 21, 2012

Happy 9 Years!

December 21, 2003
From 2012-12-18

And just for fun, lets go back a little further:

Prom 2001
From 2012-12-18

I feel honored to have shared nearly half of my life with this Godly man!  I thank God daily for the wonderful husband and father of my children with whom He has blessed me.  I love you, Nathan.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Just To Make You Smile...

As always, Lizbeth is just talking away, but her thought processes and sentences are getting much more complex.  She keeps us amazed and laughing, that is for sure!  Here are some funny and sweet things she has said recently:

The kids share a room at night and their beds are right up against each other, allowing Lizbeth to crawl into his crib via hers.  After the kids had been put to bed (they often take quite a while to actually fall asleep) we hear Matthew crying.  Nathan goes in to check on him and the conversation goes as follows:


L: Daddy, Matthew's sad.

N: Why is he sad, Lizbeth?

L: Because I stepped on his head.


A few nights later a near repeat occurs, only I go in to check on Matthew.  When I open the door to their room, I see Lizbeth quickly dive out of his bed into hers and bury her head in the covers.

Me: Lizbeth, why is Matthew crying?

Me: Did you step on his head again?

L: No!

Me: Did you fall on him?

L: No!

Me: Well, what happened?

Me: Was it an accident?

L: Yes!  Yes, it was an accident!

Me: Well, what happened?

Me (at this point knowing that she caused his injury): Lizbeth, you're going to get in trouble if you do not tell me what happened.

L: I bit his finger!


One afternoon Nathan and I were having quite an emphatic conversation.  Not arguing, teasing each other a bit, but a little annoyed with each other regardless.  Awhile later Lizbeth asks me, "Mommy, are you angry?"  Teasing, and without thinking, I say "Only if your father keeps lying to me!"

Lizbeth exits the kitchen and goes up to her dad, "Daddy, you shouldn't lie to mommy!"

Needless to say, I have to watch what I say!  


For Nathan's birthday I purchased a keyboard for him.  Wanting to see if Lizbeth understood the concept of a "secret" I showed her a picture on the tablet and asked her if she thought we should get it for daddy. 

That night, as soon as Nathan walked in the door, Lizbeth exclaims, "Daddy, you have a new piano!"

Guess we'll have to work on that one :-)


This morning I found a pile of very neatly laid tissues on the floor.  I scolded Lizbeth for wasting tissues.

L: But mommy! My telephone wanted to take a nap!

Sure enough, underneath the "blanket" of tissues was her toy telephone. 

Saturday, December 15, 2012


I know this post is WAY behind, but I wanted to get it up anyways.

This year I finally did what I've wanted to do for a long time...I hosted Thanksgiving for some Chinese friends.

To be honest, I don't know if I've ever hosted Thanksgiving ever.

I was a bit daunted by the idea, but I was determined none the less.  Unfortunately, none of my American friends were able to do it with me, and Nathan had drama practice all day.  He got home after the first of our guests arrived.  I did have a British friend help me by bringing a sweet potato dish, rolls, and sausages.  I also had my Chinese helper during the day to help me clean, watch Matthew while I cooked, and wash the amazing amount of dishes I made...over and over again.

Anyways, it went pretty well.  Three couples and a mom came.  I made WAY too much food, but that's much better than the alternative.  My plan was to keep things simple, not go complicated on anything.  My turkey was a literal miracle as when I pulled it out of the fridge after being in there defrosting for 3 days the bottom half was still a literal ice block.  As in block.  Of ice.  I did everything you're not supposed to do (ran hot water directly into the inside to melt the block of ice quickly, prayed A LOT, and started preparing it before it was completely thawed) but somehow it turned out perfect.  As in a professional chef couldn't have done better.  I couldn't either.  Truly.  It was a miracle.  I don't know how it happened.  Unfortunately I forgot to get a picture before they began carving.

From 2012.11 November

I lucked out as the day before Lizbeth's preschool had a Thanksgiving lunch and they had a ton of extra stuffing so I snagged some instead of trying to make it from scratch.

For cranberry sauce I was able to locate dried cranberries and then reconstitute them by boiling them for a few minutes and adding disolved corn starch.

From 2012.11 November

On top of that I had candied carrots, salty carrots, green beans with bacon, apple sauce, two loaves of home made bread, a store bought sweet bread, sweet corn, apple sauce, pumpkin pie, chocolate chip cookies, carrot cake (which also turned out AMAZING), and banana bread. 

From 2012.11 November

Happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012


A few months ago I was inspired to start crocheting again.  I quite enjoy the art, but seldom find the time for it.  A sister of a friend introduced us to the idea of crocheting from plastic bags.  You cut the grocery bag into one long skinny strip of plastic and then use it as your "yarn".  Unfortunately, novelty wears off on me quickly and after the first two weeks I haven't touched it very often.  I do hope to finish it soon though.

This jump back into crocheting reminded me of the blanket I tried crocheting when I was pregnant with Lizbeth.  I would take the earlier staff bus home because I was so tired all of the time, then would sit on the couch and crochet and pray blessings into the blanket as I worked.  Unfortunately this is another project that didn't get finished.  So...even though it's been almost 3 years since I started, I pulled it back out and took a go at it again.

Lizbeth was quite mesmerized.  She wanted to help too.  I joke that it is taking me so long to finish her baby blanket she'll have to do it herself.

From 2012.11 November

Matthew loves the string too.  I let him tangle himself up in it a couple times before I decided untangling him was too much work (and maybe not the best for the yarn).  Not until I took some cute pictures first though :-)

From 2012.11 November

Tuesday, November 13, 2012


This kid has some great eyes.

From 2012.10 October

And still blue for now.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Pumpkins and Halloween

Halloween isn't a Chinese holiday, so we don't celebrate it overly much over here.  However, our community does host a harvest festival, and I thought it would be fun to carve a pumpkin (that I had picked myself!).  Sorry these are late, but our communication lines have been a little messed up lately.

From 2012.10 October

From 2012.10 October

From 2012.10 October

From 2012.10 October

From 2012.10 October

I wanted Matthew to experience the textures too :-)

From 2012.10 October

From 2012.10 October

From 2012.10 October

From 2012.10 October

Friday, October 12, 2012

Hair Cut

Lizbeth recently had her first hair cut (well first since I shaved her head at 4 months).  Since her hair is a bit odd, very curly underneath and very straight on top, I decided to let a professional do it.  I was really impressed both by how well she did and by how prepared the salon was for a little kid.  Lizbeth was delighted and stayed amazingly still through the whole thing.  She still likes to tell people about her haircut and it's been almost a month!


From 2012.9 September


From 2012.9 September

From 2012.9 September

From 2012.9 September


From 2012.9 September

Monday, October 8, 2012

Solid Foods

As mentioned recently, Matthew finally convinced me to start him on solid foods.  I was trying to wait until six months, but he would scream through dinner and tried to grab anything I put in my mouth. 

Funny story, I actually decided to start him on solids once I realized his thrust reflex was completely gone.  He showed me this by delivering a significant piece of McDonald's wrapper in his diaper one day...what a great mom I am :-)  I honestly had no idea he had actually gotten a piece of it in his mouth the day before.

He took to actual solid foods like a duck takes to water.

From 2012.9 September

From 2012.9 September

From 2012.9 September

I think he likes it :-)

He now cries when we go out for dinner and I forget to take a little something for him too. :-)

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Happy Moon Festival

So I've been here for 4 plus years and I still have very little understanding of all the Chinese holidays.  I've even read books about them, but since they are generally based on the lunar calendar, and therefore change on the common calendar I'm used to, I have an even harder time keeping them straight.

But, every year, at the end of September or beginning of October we have a week off of school.  Usually it is filled up with conferences and the like but this year was unique in that we have a true break.  It's been great having Nathan home all day.

Anyways, it's a combination of their national holiday, October 1st, and the mid autumn moon festival.  Because of this, you usually eat and give lots of "moon cakes", a traditional treat that many foreigners don't actually like too much because they often put what we think of as strange items in the middle, like bean paste or egg.The outside cake part is also very dense and rich.

A big part of our school is teaching the students Chinese culture, so all of the classes spend some time making them in their Chinese class period and then hand them out to teachers and take them home to their families. Since this is the first year I've been eating gluten, it is my first year to actually participate in the desserts!

I was super impressed with how well they made them, and so professional.  Look at the fun wrappers and impressions. 

From 2012.9 September

From 2012.9 September

The school usually tries to make them fairly foreigner friendly, and Lizbeth and I certainly enjoyed sharing them for dessert and breakfast!

From 2012.9 September

Thursday, October 4, 2012

I'm Back!

I've had every intention of giving you all a good picture post as both kids are just so adorable and I haven't had any pictures on here is SOOOO long.  However, I haven't been able to reach blogger long enough to post in weeks!  So, here's a quick update, and if I still have a connection, I'll do my best to follow it with some pics.

Matthew is nearly 6 months old (next week!)  He's very close to being able to sit, just started rice cereal, is always hungry, and still wakes up 2-4 times a night...needless to say, we're a bit exhausted, but he makes up for it with his adorable grins and constant enthusiasm for people.

Lizbeth is just about potty trained (again!)  You may remember she was potty trained 7 months ago, and then gave up on it.  Since then, we've had serious issues with poo in the toilet, but we may just about be there.  We just started a sticker chart yesterday and if she gets to 100 she gets a bike!  She has been wanting one forever but with our tightened finances we have been waiting.  We were going to get one for her 2nd bday but her poor little legs weren't long enough to reach the peddles of any bike we could find.  We're actually probably going to get her a balance bike, but we'll see.  She is super excited and we hear a lot of "I go poopy, I get a bike!"  Every 10 stickers she gets a smaller prize, like icecream out or a small toy.

You might also remember that Lizbeth had her photos done last spring by a Chinese company.  They were super eager to use her again and have even added me into the mix.  If you want to see some very Chinesey advertising (look at the English on the pics) go to:

You can click on the pics of us to open up the series.

And since I'm not posting any real pics, I'll paint an adorable word picture for you of Lizbeth tonight.  A sweet relative of ours gave Lizbeth a beautiful pair of pink leather cowgirl boots this summer.  Lizbeth LOVES them and wears them every chance she can.  We don't usually wear shoes in the house, but today I caught her marching around the house in just the shoes and a pink and white pair of panties holding a meter long stick she found a few days ago.  So cute, but probably wouldn't post the mostly nude 2 year old here anyways.  :-)

Hope you are all doing great!  We miss you!

Friday, September 7, 2012


So, here we are in Korea.  Tomorrow we head back to our sweet daughter-oh how I miss her!

Our time here was quite different than I expected.  By the time we flew in, picked up our rented phone, found the bus, sat on the bus FOREVER because of the rainstorm and traffic, missed our stop and walked back from the next one, it was 8:30 at night.  Add finding our place, dropping our stuff, and eating dinner it was quite late by the time we crashed.

The next day, Wednesday, we headed out about 10:00, wandered around, found a Dunkin Donuts for breakfast and began navigating the subway to find the hospital--suddenly we were nearly late!

We met with the neurologist and he was very knowledgeable.  He felt due to the combination of migraines and the brain "lesion", as they kept referring to it, there is quite likely a hole in the heart allowing blood to pass from one side to the other where it really wasn't supposed to...and allowing tiny blood clots to head to the brain.  In order to get all the testing done quickly, he opted to admit me...and I've spent the past 2 1/2 days in the hospital now!  So much for seeing Korea between appointments! (And thank goodness for good insurance!)

Well, after all the testing, they have found that indeed I do have some blood going where it shouldn't, but they can not find the hole.  Further testing would require an invasive procedure and at this point the risks outweigh the benefits.  Therefore, for now, I am to do my best to prevent headaches through lifestyle changes (avoiding dehydration and migraine triggers, and making sure to exercise regularly).  After I am done nursing Matthew, I will go on some type of blood thinner, probably a small amount of Aspirin a day, to prevent clots.  Then in a year or so we will redo some testing to make sure nothing has gotten worse.

How do I feel?  Relieved that it is not something scary such as cancer or MS.  A little bummed that all I can do is treat the headaches.  So glad to be headed back to Lizbeth.  Relieved that we're not dealing with surgery right now with two little ones!  In some ways it feels like this was an expensive way to find out very little, but in other ways it is such a relief.  Thank you for all of your prayers!  We have been blessed in so many ways through this time!

Monday, September 3, 2012

And More Doctors...

 A few weeks ago our family was battling an awful virus that's main symptoms were a high fever (103 and above) and feeling terrible.  Really terrible.  It also seemed to hang around for a couple days, then go away for a day, then come back again for a day before passing on to the next person.  Lizbeth got it first, then passed it on to Matthew and me, finally Nathan came down with it :-(

However, for me, this seems to have triggered what I thought was the world's worst migraine.  Turns out it was worse than the world's worst migraine.  After a nearly sleepless night of feeling as though my head was going to explode, I decided to go to our international clinic and hope for an opening since they were all booked up.  Long story short, four blood tests and a urine test later everything came back normal.  Too normal, since for how sick we've all been something should show up in my blood.  The doctor doesn't really have an answer for that.  As for my headache, it continued on until about 5:00 PM.  They rushed a CT scan (which in Qingdao means it takes two hours instead of two days to a week) which cleared up concerns of an aneurysm (thank God), but did have a couple anomalies.

Last year I went to this same doctor about some visual auras I had during both pregnancies.  They ran an MRI (in January) that didn't really explain the auras but did show that the right side of my brain has a section that shows a strange ab-normality.  The MRI can't really show us WHAT is wrong, just that SOMETHING is wrong.  It looks like it is either a problem with the lining of the nerves or a lack of blood flow to the area.  He was concerned about it but I saw two neurologists here in China that suggested I follow up with an MRA (it looks at your brain blood vessels instead of tissue).  This came back normal which ruled out the number one concern, a brain aneurism, so no one was overly worried.  He ruled the auras as painless migraines.

Well, this CT scan showed that the ab-normality may have worsened, possibly causing the increase in moderate headaches I've had and the massive one I had after getting sick.  They ran another MRI so that they could compare apples to apples which still showed the same problem, but does not appear to have progressed a considerable amount.  Regardless, he recommended I see a western trained neurologist to see what is going on.

He is not giving any suggestions as to what this might mean, and I have no idea.  Everyone seems very confused as we've never heard of such a thing, especially since the MRA doesn't show any blockages or anything.  He really doesn't seem to have any idea, though he's not mentioning any possibilities if there are any.

So...tomorrow we head to Korea to see a neurologist.  Lizbeth will stay here with some good friends of ours that live two floors below us.  Matthew, of course, will go with us.  Hopefully we will get some answers.  Please pray for our family as we are about to be apart for the longest we have been.  Lizbeth is very excited to stay with our friends but is also scared about us leaving.  She cried a lot as she went to sleep this evening.  I am very emotional about leaving her, but trying not to show it so she isn't more scared.  I'm also nervous about the trip.  As of this morning, our flights were booked under the wrong names and the Guarantee of Payment from our insurance had not even been started...both seem to have been cleared up but I will feel better once we are there and see the doctor.  

Thank you for your Thoughts and concern!

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Being Nice to Friends

This morning I woke Lizbeth up and told her we were going to school.  We talked about the friends she was going to see.  There are a total of three other girls in her class and no boys.  The conversation went like this.

Me: "Today you can go play with L and C and A!
Lizbeth: "L cries at school."

We took a moment to talk about cheering up our friends, bringing them a toy, saying nice things, ect.

Lizbeth: "C cries too sometimes."
Me: "That's too bad.  Does A cry too?"
Lizbeth: "No...well, when I PUSH her she does!"

It was all I could do not to laugh out loud.  Talk about honesty.  We then had a conversation about not pushing our friends.

Monday, August 20, 2012

1st Day of School

Our school has opened up a new class, for 2 year olds.  Yes, two.  Turns out this is a very common thing in European and other non-American schools. 

Because our school really believes children should be at home as much as possible with their mom, but wants to meet the needs of the community, the schedule is completely flexible (meaning full days, half days, every other day, ect).  Therefore, we have chosen to put Lizbeth in for 3 half days.  This gives me the chance to get a little shopping done with just one tag-a-long and her the chance to "go see friends" as she is constantly asking to do these days.

She was supposed to start last week, but due to a fever that's going around, we had to postpone her first day to today.  Due to that same fever, now passed on to Matthew and me, I wasn't able to take her, but Nathan had fun taking his little girl to her first day of school.

Monday, August 13, 2012

A Little Bit Dry

So we're in the midst of potty training.  You might know from talking to me that Lizbeth was completely potty trained for more than a month back in February.  Then about a month before Matthew was born, she became bored with it, and we had to keep upping the incentives to get her to go in the potty.  About when Matthew was born, she gave up on it completely and when he was two weeks old I did what I thought I never would and put her back in diapers full time.  (This was after she had wet her pants four times in an hour in a shopping mall.)

Since then, we've talked about it a lot, but haven't pushed her to use the toilet.  She is fascinated with bathrooms so if she is in a new place, she'll go just so she can see the new toilet.  She also loves going at her preschool because they have tiny toddler sized toilets.  But it wasn't until just a couple days ago that she became interested again in staying dry, and as long as I remember to ask her every so often (and use some bribing too) she will stay mostly dry (poop is another story though, unfortunately).

Today during her "quiet time" (more on that for another post) she told me she needed to use the potty.  I forgot to have her go before she got in bed, so I wasn't surprised.  When I told her she could come out to use the restroom, I noticed she was walking just a little funny, but not waddling as much as she usually is when she wets her pants.  I asked her if her pants were wet.  She said no.  I asked if they were dry and she said no too.  I asked if they were a little bit wet, and she said,

"yes, but they're a little bit DRY too!"

She was right. 

The good news is that she is starting to control her bladder again on her own, stopping herself from wetting her bed.  What a clever kid.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

The Greene Family

In October we are about to accept a new member into the Greene family as Nathan's brother will marry.  Unfortunately, we won't be able to be there, but we did get to spend time with him and his fiancee last Christmas and for several days in June and July as we traveled around America.

For simplicity's sake, we just had Lizbeth call Amanda "Aunt Amanda" since she will so quickly become official.

The other day we were talking about our last name with Lizbeth and listing off different "Greenes". Mr. Greene (daddy), Miss Greene (Lizbeth), Nainai Greene, Great Grandma Greene, Uncle Luke Greene. Lizbeth immediately says "Amanda Greene!"

We were both so impressed by Lizbeth's ability to make such connections and it was fun to know Amanda has been fully accepted into our family.

So excited for you guys!

Saturday, August 11, 2012

A Link

My friend had a link to this tutorial on her blog and I just thought it was the coolest thing.  Definitely want to do this some day...

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Finally some pics...

The problem with not blogging all summer is that there are WAY too many pictures to choose from.  I think we seriously took more than 2000 pictures. 

Since I'm running out of time during the short period both my children sleep at the same time (and I still need to prepare dinner) I'll keep the pictures to just Dallas right now (even though it's out of order, it's the easiest *s*)

I'll try to catch up the others soon.

It's nice when our east and west meet :-)
From 2012-08-09

From 2012-08-09

And when our best friends' kids can meet our kids.
From 2012-08-09

Lizbeth did great meeting so many of our friends.
From 2012-08-09

Best friend of Nathan's from his freshman year in college.
From 2012-08-09

Sometimes we did have to bribe the kids with electronics...I love how Mattias looks like, hey how come theirs is so much bigger?
From 2012-08-09

Got to see most of our friends from our small group so many years ago.
From 2012-08-09

Loved being back at one of my "homes" and seeing my daughter there too.
From 2012-08-09

Lizbeth was exhausted on the way back to Austin...which was a good thing because of the next photo.
From 2012-08-09

This is the storm we had to drive through.
From 2012-08-09

(what not to do--leave north dallas headed south on a friday at 5:00PM during a severe thunderstorm with 65mph winds...)

But it did lead to some awesome pictures.  I call this one, "Coming Out of the Storm"
From 2012-08-09

From 2012-08-09