Saturday, December 29, 2012

Snow in Wuxi

Another new experience for us here in China...SNOW:)

A few friends of mine texted me while at the beach saying they were getting some flurries, but for us this was our first China snow. Yea! ;) 

Before the snow started sticking...

Just started coming down hard enough to be seen. 

It actually was sticking! 

It actually stayed over night...yes I know this is not a lot of snow, but it was cool for us. 

We tried to get Aiden to enjoy it, but he thought it was too cold. Ha! 

Family Baking :)

I so love family time. 

Jeffrey has lots of time off this week so we starting it out right on Saturday by making homemade bread and cinnamon rolls. 

This is a "Ratliff" tradition and one of Jeffrey's (and mine) favorite memories with his mom. Every time we would go back to Missouri she would have glorious fresh bread coming out of the oven. And when she made cinnamon rolls...they didn't last more than 5 minutes. Delicious! 

So we decided that this was going to be one of our family traditions together as well. Aiden loves to help in the kitchen so as soon as I said, "wanna make bread" he was off and running to the kitchen. 

Jeffrey's favorite part is rolling out the dough for the cinnamon rolls. 

Glorious bread that we finally perfected. My dear sweet mother in law tried to teach us forever to get Grandma Magruder's bread right. We always ended up putting too much flour in, but this time we got it right. 

Man were these ever yummy!!! We had to hold ourselves back from eating the whole pan at once!! 

I love creating new family traditions together, especially while in China and our traditions are not always going to be the same here as they are at home. 

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!!! 

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Two Years of Aiden

Can it really be December 18th already? 

My how times have changed in my boy's world. It seems like only yesterday that I was in the hospital ready to give birth, and today he turns 2. 

Please don't look to closely at me, but at my cute little bundle born December 18, 2010.

Some of Aiden's favorite things this year are...

1. Disney's Cars and Cars 2! We watch them over and over. He also has the Lighting McQueen, Tow Mater and Sally play cars that he has to sleep with every night and play with all day. 

2. Play Dough - he loves making pretend food with it. 

3. Spelling his name. He does a great job at this and loves to say it over and over, but his pronunciation of the letter "n" needs some work. Ha! 

4. Fruit - especially apples, kiwi, watermelon and strawberries. He will eat these all day long if I let him. 

5. His Daddy - Wow is my child ever a fan of his Daddy. When Jeffrey is home that is the only person he wants to be around. I love that he loves his Daddy. 

6. The color Blue - he points out everything that is blue and if he had his choice, would only dress in blue.

There is so much more to Aiden, and daily he changes. He is growing up so fast. 

Happy 2nd Birthday Aiden! Mommy and Daddy love you!!!!! 

Friday, November 30, 2012

Its Christmas Time

Its December!!!!

 I love Christmas and am so excited that Aiden is semi old enough to enjoy it this year. He loved the tree as we put it up and wanted to help hang the ornaments. 

As we begin this month of celebration we are going to have Christmas music playing loudly, read the Christmas story lots, and do our best to share with Aiden that Jesus is the real reason for the season. 

Bring on Christmas! 

What is this?

Mama, I think this one should go here.

Wow this is cool Dad! 

Look Daddy! 

Day 30 - Perspective

Is it really November 30th already??? Where has the time gone?

To sum up what I am thankful for this month I think one word will suffice....perspective. We have been in China for almost 21 months and during this time my perspective on absolutely everything has changed. In our ladies study this has been our topic over the last few weeks and it has really made me think. Am I looking at my life through my perspective, or am I seeking to view life through God's perspective? This is totally not an easy venture but I am daily working to look for the good in things and remembering that God has a plan for everything in my life. He is sovereign...I am not.

There are many things in China that are too easy to view through my "perspective" and not try to understand the culture here and embrace the difference. Too often I find myself wondering why people here are not doing things the way I would do them. Kinda dumb right? Ha! From the lady screaming in my face to another worker in the veggie mart to ask for change and not realizing this was upsetting all of us, to the kids on the playground in split pants and praying that as they go down the slide nothing is left behind. I can choose to cringe and get upset (though I have to confess there are definitely times I do this) or I can choose to realize that we are different and we do things differently and in the grand scheme of God's plan for me this is not going to make a vital difference.

One situation like this that I do have to laugh at is the Chinese grandma's who get upset at me that I let Aiden feed himself. Yes...he is almost 2, but I'm not supposed to let him feed himself.....this is something I definitely do not understand. We were at Stuff Mart yesterday and while there on at least 3 different occasions a grandma would come up and try to take the apple slice or cracker that Aiden was having as a snack out of his mouth and proceed to tell me that this shouldn't be happening. Talk about having to count to 10 before you answer...ha! I was not a happy camper over this, but then I had to remember that we are different. My perspective is vastly different from theirs on this, but I can't change the situation. So I must let it go.

I'm thankful that God has brought us here to China to teach me this lesson. This probably would not have been as big of a deal in the states so I wouldn't have the opportunity to grow in this way. God's thoughts and ways are so much higher and better than mine. If I trust in this fact and seek to have the mind of Christ, then my perspective will be His perspective and then I will view the people around me as He does. This is my goal.

So today, as much as situations sometimes drive me crazy, I'm thankful to have the chance to change my perspective.

Bring on December!!!!

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Day 29 - Shopping!

O how I LOVE to shop! I miss Target ever so much and get sooo jealous when I see people going on FB or anywhere else...ha! But since we don't have Target, we have the next best thing...well...I'm going to pretend like its the next best thing. 

Stuff Mart!

This place has been affectionally named this by foreigners because it is full guessed it...STUFF! 

Anything and everything that you could possibly want you can find here. There are 5 main buildings to this place with 3 floors each. Surrounding the main buildings are tons of smaller buildings with different types of shops as well. You could spend HOURS here and still not see everything they have. At times it can be quite overwhelming, but we love it. 

So today, I'm super thankful that we have places that we can shop while enjoying lots of laughter with friends over the fun stuff we see. 

Tea shops galore!

Even some construction going on...this guy had a nail gun aimed right at us. 

Our "shopping buddies". Aiden wasn't so happy at this moment...he wanted out! 

During the week there aren't so many people here, but on the weekends it is PACKED!

Just some of the "stuff" you can buy. 

We have to take our little strollers since they block off the escalators, but somehow the mopeds still make it inside. We about got run over 3 different times today. 

New bangs anyone?

If you look closely, this is a 3 wheel cart driving though. He was honking his horn like crazy to make us move out of his way. 

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Day 28 - Laughter

Laughter...this is something I am continually thankful for. One of my favorite verses in scripture is Proverbs 31:25, "Strength and dignity are her clothing, and she smiles at the future."Other translations have the last part written as, she laughs at the days to come. exactly how I want to live my life. Laughter turns a frown upside down. It makes any situation better.

Rooster tied to a bike....

Chenglish....I so hope one of these wasn't already used. 

I'm gonna kiss the white boy! 
Life in China, daily, provides so many opportunities to laugh. From split pants to grandmas who try to tell me that Aiden isn't dressed properly. From friends getting together being silly or watching our kids do crazy things. In situations that you have to laugh to keep from crying and even in situations where you are so tired that when you start laughing you just can't stop. Laughter is wonderful!!!!

Monday, November 26, 2012

Day 27 - Healthcare

Today I'm piggy backin' off my dear friend Brie's blog on how to be thankful for our healthcare here in China. 

Back in America I do know that I took good healthcare for granted. If I needed to go to the doctor I could call and be seen the same day. No need to stand in line forever waiting just to get in. 

There is this clinic that we pass all the time on our 5K walk. In the mornings there are always a ton of people standing around, apparently waiting to get in. Not really sure the whole reason behind this. 

This week as we walked by this guy on a stretcher was being brought in from out of nowhere in the freezing cold with his head fully hanging off the end. We were a little shocked. 

But this made me ever so thankful that we have the Wuxi United Family Clinic where we have English speaking doctors and I can get an appointment right away! God has truly blessed us abundantly in this. I know that we get great care and I don't have to go into Shanghai to get Aiden's shots. Yea for good healthcare!!!!! 

My camera on my phone was too slow and I missed getting his head hanging off. 

Day 26 - Fireworks....

Yea yea yea....I know what you are thinking (esp. those of you living here in China)...thankful...for FIREWORKS??????? I don't believe you.

Well most days you are right. And as I sit here writing this post I confess I'm struggling to really be thankful for them as they are blasting around our complex and I'm praying that Aiden doesn't wake up.

But...I am really working on finding the good in everything, so I'm going to find the good in fireworks today.

Back in America I LOOOOOOOVED fireworks and they were some of the highlights of my year. My birthday is July 5th so I would always celebrate a day early and pretend the fireworks were in my honor. They were beautiful as they light up the night sky. What an amazing thing to watch...from a far.

See the smoke...that is the fireworks going off right in front of the building. 

These were sooooo loud. 

As soon as this guy would light them he would take off running. 
Here in China fireworks are an everyday event it seems like. I'm never fully sure what the reason is, but the one thing I am very certain of...they are loud! They shoot them off right outside of our building at all hours of the day or night.

I guess if I have to come up a few reasons why I am thankful for fireworks that at times are the bane of my we go.

1. My heart rate no longer jumps through the roots when they go off.

2. Aiden sleeps right through them...PTL!!!!

3. I could probably survive a war zone...these things sound like a war zone.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Day 25 - The Internet

I can't even begin to express how thankful I am for the internet....especially living in China. So much of my life revolves around the internet and I can't imagine what I would do without it.

So here is my list of why I am thankful for the internet.

1. Skype! I love the fact that I get to talk to my family at least 3 times at week...sometimes more. The time difference from China to where they are is just about perfect (as it deals with talk time). I have so say that I have never talked to my dad more than when I have been here. I love it! I also get to skype with Jeffrey when he is traveling. This is great since it allows Aiden to see him as well. And then an another wonderful reason is that I get to keep with my best friend Jenn back in GA. When we talk it feels like I have never left.

2. Facebook! I love getting to keep up with friends from all over through Facebook. Getting to see my family, friends and their kids growing, and even keeping up with friends here in Wuxi.

3. Netflix. This is probably one of my favorites parts of the internet. We love getting to watch American shows and I'm just not sure what we will do when we have to go back to watching TV with commercials and having to wait a whole week to see what happens in a show. I mean...really? Why wait when you can watch a whole season back to back. Fabulous. Now this point leads me right to my next point....

4. Apple TV. When we first bought this I wasn't sure how much we would actually use it, but wow! We love it. We watch our Netflix though it as well as getting to watch our shows that we have purchased through iTunes. Love it!

5. Pintrest. O my do I love pintrest. Finding new recipes...decoration ideas...things to do with Aiden...and so much more.

I could go on and on about how much I love the internet, but I guess I'll stop for the moment. Thank you Father for the gift of technology and giving someone the mind to create all these wonderful gadgets that have made my life in China easier.

Day 24 - My Oven

An oven...who would've thought I would realize how lost I would be if I didn't have one until moving to China. We are so blessed to have it. Now it is much smaller than one in the states, but we have learned how to manage time to get multiple dishes in and out so food is still hot. 

A few of my friends here do not have ovens as this is not a normal Chinese thing to have so I am EXTREMELY grateful to have one. Sure makes cooking in my world easier since 99.9% of the cooking I do is in the oven.

Our little oven that barely holds a 9x13, but o so grateful that it does!!!!! 

Today we celebrated Thanksgiving here at our house with some wonderful friends. We had SOOO MUCH food! Thankfully, this year we were able to find a Turkey...yea!!!! We also had cornbread stuffing, corn casserole, sweet potato casserole, creamy mushroom green beans and homemade rolls. Then for dessert we had Apple Pie, Pumpkin Pie, Pumpkin Crunch Cake and Pecan Pie. And to go on top of the pies we had homemade whipped cream. Soooo yummy and I'm still stuffed. 

Without an oven I don't think we could do I am super duper grateful for our oven. Now if I can only talk Jeffrey into getting a double oven when we move back to the states we will be in GREAT shape. 

Our Thanksgiving meal at our house today. 

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Day 23 - Construction Safety

One of the things that I didn't realize that I was thankful for in America until I moved to China is construction safety. I'm sending a BIG thank you to all the construction workers who go out of their way to do a great job while keeping pedestrians safe. 

Here on the other hand...its a different story. The things we see make me laugh daily and sometimes I just have to stop and shake my head, wondering "what were they thinking?"! But such is life, right? But I'm thankful for these crazy things because they teach me patience, understanding, and just to let things slide. 

Sleeping on the it! 

Or...while you sleep you can leave a big hole in the road where we walk. My favorite part is the ladder blocking part of it off...or maybe its the moped coming right at the hole with no barrier. Either way, we got a good laugh out of this. 

Building scaffolding without barriers.

Just a little wobbly...please don't fall on me!
The day I took this picture it was really windy outside and the scaffolding really looked like it was going to fall any second.  
Exposed wires right above where we walk???

Safety first! 

Don't fall in the hole...

This was my personal you see the hole in the middle of the sign?
The construction workers were ripping glass down right in front of the was flying everywhere.
This is our bakery...the store was still open for business and I needed bread, but I didn't want to get hit with glass so I started yelling really loud while running quickly into the store. Thank you "Aunt Donna" for staying out on the sidewalk with Aiden so I didn't have to take the stroller in the midst of the glass. 

Check out all that glass in the street. 

So, in essence, I'm super grateful that this is not anything you have to worry about in America. But since I'm really working at being thankful for where I am, I have to say that I'm thankful for these crazy events cause they make me laugh. These sightings have also made me more aware of my surrounding and how to watch out for where Aiden and I walk. 

Got to laugh right? 

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Day 22 - My Stroller

Before I start telling you what I'm thankful for today and why, I want to say....


We are called to be thankful everyday, and to give thanks in everything, but today is a special day that is set aside specifically for that purpose. So today, specifically, lets all look for the things we are thankful for....whether we want to be thankful for something or not, look for the good in things. We serve a God who is sovereign and gives us only good things (whether we see it as good or not is our choice, but its all for our good and HIS glory) lets say THANK YOU! 

Another side note...I want to say a big HAPPY BIRTHDAY to my sweet sister in law Jennifer! I hope your day sis is wonderful! We love you so much and miss you more. Enjoy your special day and make Matt treat you right! LOVE YOU! to the post...

You know how yesterday I was thankful for walking? Well I totally couldn't do that without The Bob! When Jeffrey and I were looking at Strollers before Aiden was born it took us awhile to truly decide if we wanted to invest in one or not. My wonderful sister in law has one and that is how we discovered them. Let me just say...they are amazing! I'm so thankful to have this thing here in China where the roads aren't even and you have to go up and down stairs quite often. 

Thank you makers of The knew we were moving to China. 

Love the big wheels on my stroller so when we have to go upstairs I can drag it up easier.
Man do I miss good escalators or elevators that are not blocked off. 

Aiden loves it too. 

I love the fact that it lays down so he can sleep while we walk. 

I'm also super thankful to have an umbrella stroller. This stroller is totally different and so much smaller but it can fit in the back of a taxi easy and can actually fit through the barriers in all the stores. So for days I need to shop or go downtown in a taxi on my own this is the stroller I take. So much lighter and easier. 

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Day 21 - The Joy of Walking

I have to say that one of my most favorite things about the city I live in is the fact that I can walk everywhere! I'm thankful for this fact because it gets us out of the apartment and allows us to explore this new city we call home. There is always interesting things to see and its even better when you get to go for walks with friends. 

When we first arrived in Wuxi this was all I could do. We were living in a hotel with a kid who wouldn't nap without screaming (yea...I needed to get out) so we would walk and walk. Now its a part of our lives, from the 5 K Club on Mondays, to walks to the park or just walking to go get veggies. We love some good exercise. 

From our house we can walk to the playground, a few different grocery stores, Starbucks of course, friends houses, and so many different places to eat. I must say that this is the part about life in China that I will miss more than anything. As much as I really miss driving, I'm thankful that I am forced to walk so that I can get some exercise and enjoy everything about Wuxi. 
So today, enjoy some of the things we see and do as we walk in our city. 
We play "chicken" constantly with the mopeds...who is going to move???
The stroller or the moped?? 

Construction is going up everywhere...who knows what this is going to be but its right next to our complex. 

Toilet anyone???

Walk with a makes the walk much better. 

Starbucks and ice cream always make an evening walk better. 

Or maybe I'll just if only I could get the keys. 

There is so many fun things to see as you walk around our city...come visit me and we'll take a walk together!