Sunday, July 27, 2014

Smokin' Hot Anniversary...

Now that I have your attention, let me explain myself. First of all, if you have been following my blog, you know that my anniversary was last month, but since I was heading to China that day, we held off on our celebration. With the girls heading off for a week of camp, and Josh being a counselor there too, Kellen took care of the dogs and we headed for Leavenworth this past week, a beautiful Bavarian styled town, nestled in the Cascade Mountains.

Smokin' hot you say?  Well before you think that is TMI, I'm talking about the forest fires in Eastern Washington right now. Some of the highway as you descend the pass into Leavenworth was and still is closed. On the upside, the traffic was nearly obsolete, best we have ever encountered heading east.  This photo doesn't do it justice, and this was shot from a moving car, but the smoke caused quite the haze.

But making the trip over was totally worth it. It was warm and beautiful, and again, on the upside for us but not for business, the crowds were smaller than normal. You can see how all the buildings are reminiscent of Bavaria, and the flowers are gorgeous. The ice cream's not too bad either!

Mike had made reservations at a quaint family ran hotel, Pension Anna, right downtown and within walking distance of the action. One of my favorite shops is the Christmas store, Kris Kringle. It reminds me of a Christmas store we shopped at when we went to Oberammergau, in the heart of Bavaria, back in the 1990's.  Since I did not take my camera, this selfie, from Mike's phone in front of the store, will have to suffice.
Day two was much cooler, but that worked for us, since we were going mountain biking. We biked on a newly made trail that had some beautiful views of the area.  Despite the falling rain, we stayed fairly dry under the canopy of the forest.




Our warm summer weather definitely was on a break.  After our bike ride and a quick shower, we opted for a brats and Bavarian pretzel lunch, next to some warm coals.

That night we watched a live performance of The Sound of Music in an amphitheater situated on the same hill we had biked that morning. What a perfect setting for the musical, if it wasn't for the rain! Yep, shortly following the intermission, buckets of rain came down, but the show went on!  Fortunately we had checked the forecast, and purchased the $1 poncho they sold at the entrance. They did their job and kept us dry. Not so much for the performers though, as they were soaking wet. A worker even came out and mopped the stage during a scene change, after one actor slipped and fell. It made the evening even that much more memorable though. No pictures of us in our ponchos, as it was dark by then, but here we are in yet another selfie, at the start of the show...

The following morning, as a much needed rain for the fires continued to fall, we headed home. Thanks babe for a wonderful 26th Smokin' Hot celebration! Looking forward to our 27th...


Sunday, July 20, 2014

Ragnar #3...

Friday and Saturday Mike participated in his third Ragnar Race. The first two years he actually ran on an Ultra Ragnar team, which means they are six member teams instead of twelve members. That team was comprised of the same men, and very competitive. This year they decided to take it easy and run on a more relaxed twelve person team. Meet team Schweet and Schweaty...

By the way, Mike is the only male not running with his wife. Talk about pressure! Good thing I had the excuse of having a bad back this spring. Maybe next year???

Monday, July 14, 2014

We Believe That We Will Win...

Yesterday we had to load up two cars to get the entire family +2 girlfriends to Seattle for the Seattle Sounders vs. Portland Timbers soccer game, the first time the whole group got together for anything. It was also the day of the World Cup final game, so a nearby park to Century Link Field, home to the Sounders, was a gathering place to watch Germany vs. Argentina on the big screen, then a pregame rally for the night time rivalry.  Fans then paraded from the park to the stadium. We left ahead of the festivities so we could keep tabs on the girls, but here is a view from atop the stadium as the parade drew near. Mind you, this was just the beginning of the long line of fans..
Nope, not smoke from a riot! It's blue and green Sounder spirit!

All decked out in our gear...

The view from our seats...
The crowd at a soccer game is very high energy! There were over 63,000 fans in attendance chanting "We believe that we will win."  The club section of highly insane fans cheered and played their instruments the entire game. Since Portland and Seattle are such a close rivalry, they had their club section of 1,000 or so, chanting the entire game too.  After the game the band moved outside to entertain the crowd, lots of whom were sticking around. I have a deeper understanding now of the soccer crazed around the world. You really can get caught up in the atmosphere. I am glad to have experienced it without all the hooligans!

Our cheers of "We believe" turned out to be true, as the Sounders dominated, winning 2-0. Can't remember the last time I was in Seattle at 10:00pm, and not freezing cold. It was still in the 80's as the game finished. This is not my photo, and our view from the stadium was looking out at the water, not Mt. Rainier, but just as beautiful. This was taken the same evening...

We enjoyed the game immensely, and are looking forward to taking in the whole experience again before the end of the season.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

No, Not the Marines...

Although it may look like Joshua has joined the Marines, I assure you, he has not. Just about a month before he heads back to school. I think summer boredom has set in...
Before

During
Almost

And despite the look on his face, he really does like it, especially in this hot weather we have been experiencing.



Friday, July 11, 2014

A Family Affair...

Want to know the secret to overcoming jet lag and a 15 hour time difference? Re-roof your house! Yep, the first morning I woke, upon return from China, was to the 7 am pounding of hammers on my roof.  And since I was in charge of the cleanup crew, I had to join them.

You see, our roof was the last in the neighborhood to be replaced. Since it was still "working," we hated to replace it just because everyone else had (you know, giving in to peer pressure).  But it was time for the ole' shake to go.  Since we are home most of summer, we have a difficult time justifying paying someone else to do the job (like when we paint our house too), so with the help of a good friend in the construction business, we decided to make it a family affair.

Before...
See the bundles of shingles in the white packages? Josh made 108 trips up the ladder carrying each 45 lb. bag.  Thank goodness for healthy young men in our house! He had two teeth pulled so got out of doing some of the work, but I think he did his share...
Notice the pile in front of our door? It was like this all around our house. This is where the girls, Kellen, and I came in...

When we finished, we had this truck completely filled. I did the majority of the work in this photo the first day...

Progress...

DONE! We are really pleased with the final results, as well as with our savings. We also realize why roofing contractors charge so much. Did I mention this week was hot?....
Good teamwork Crebbin family!

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Wrapping It Up....

I have been home now for four days, so ready to wrap my head around the trip and finish the blog posts.  This was the first time I have not been able to access my email from my laptop (click here to learn why I learned why I could only use my gmail ap from the Ipad), so was unable to download my photos to send to Mike. Any posted were sent from a team mates Iphone. Journaling was cut short, because I was doing so on my ipad, which makes it a bit more challenging especially when exhausted.

I'm going to try and fill in the parts of the story that were left off or not in detail.  I will try to to not ramble too much and let the photos speak for themselves...

Since we had an early morning flight, it allowed us to spend an afternoon with the kids that wasn't on the agenda. I was warmly greeted by Min Yer, once again. She is such a girlie-girl. She loves to have her nails painted, carries around a purple wash cloth, and loves to be photographed in front of the flowers. I won't tell you how many flower pics I have of her!


Stephen, ChenChen, Robin and DengDeng out for a walk, something they always ask to do.


Sweet Oliver recently had his bilateral cleft lip repaired, but not yet his palate.

Ed and DengDeng share a talent for art. Here DengDeng was coloring in Ed's dragon.




Getting precious Lily out of her crib.

ChenChen always looking for a ride!

First craft; tissue flowers and butterflies to brighten the place up. Even the nannies participate.


On the square next to our hotel. Our team's redhead was the most popular for photos. We told her she should charge and use it as a fundraiser for next year's trip!
Day Two started off at the fossil park, which was posted about already. When we returned to our hotel, we crashed a beautiful wedding party! Turns out they typically have two parties; one with the bride's family, where she wears the white dress, and one with the groom's family, where she wears red.

The bride's other dress on display.

We wanted photos of the couple, but they insisted we get in the picture!

Ed's buddy, whom we saw on our walks every day. He loved it when we stopped to greet him. He was especially happy later in the week when we left him with a Polaroid photo.

A rare smile from Sarah. She even sang quietly to herself this visit, something I have never heard her do in my years since meeting her in 2008.

Sing spends most of his time jumping on the trampoline or playing in the ball pit.

I love this shot of ChenChen, as he is always staring intently into anything with a reflection, such as eye glasses or a camera lens.
Jian is such a risk taker. He loved it when Raya would scoot him around, the faster, the better!


Feeding time from some of my favorite nannies! Lunch this day was dumplings and congee.
Ying and I picked out some umbrella strollers for the orphanage this afternoon. We hope they continue to be used when we're gone. We used them at the park and for walks on the grounds of the orphanage.

Group photo at the park on Day three, which I already posted about while in China.

Following the morning at the park and being followed by paparazzi (this time official), we did some bubbles and more crafts with the kids.


I also presented the director some blankets Erica's mom made, along with some pillow case dresses students at my school made for MLK Day of Service. I can't wait to show my students these beautiful models....







After our morning trip to the Buddhist museum, we made tutus, which is always a hit with kids and adults alike.

Lunch with Sally, our new Chinese friend with the Canadian accent, in the striped dress.
Since the sidewalks were washed clean by the rain, we redecorated with some sidewalk tattoos. Well, at least three grown men did!

Claire, one of four new children at the orphanage since last year. She has a severe skin disorder that has her skin all flaky. She also has difficulty focusing her eyes. They insisted on us not holding her the first couple of days, as she was covered in cream, but I think they got tired of us asking;)

David, a new young man with cerebral palsy.
PARTY TIME!!!  We celebrated with the upstairs kids by giving them Pop Rocks. Always a fun reaction when they realize what's going on...

Getting lunch ready...


And face painting....



Finally, birthday cake, and watermelon, and lychee nut, and banana, etc...



And our least favorite, saying goodbye...
A rare, priceless smile from Michael. Best shot of the entire trip for me!

Another new boy, Nick, sharing a moment with Lauren

I gained a new respect and bond with Liu this trip.

The new director lights up whenever she sees Wu Ping.

Two sets of beautiful eyes!

Hugh and I kicking it back in the ball pit and taking selfies.

Min Yer's other best friend, Ying.

Love this photo of many of the nannies in their Go.Be.Love shirts that many people in the states generously sponsored.

The team, right before we left.

Group shot

Always tough to say goodbye. The next morning we headed back to Beijing to meet up and swap experiences with the Fushun team. We checked into our hotel and walked and shopped around the Tiananmen Square area.  Saturday we headed to the Mutianyu section of the Great Wall. The area has really grown since I first went there several years ago.  There is now a new base area with shuttles to what was once the parking lot. This was a great improvement, as there was very little parking. However, on the downside, the local farmer's shops are being removed. Our guide told us that some of them wore shirts stating "Give us back our land." Sadly, I don't think they will be there next year...
The tram I rode up in posted its' claim to fame; Bill Clinton once rode in it.

The entire two groups. You are supposed to see part of The Great Wall behind us, as we are on top of it, but as you can see, it was a bit smoggy that day!


Me thinks they were a bit tired afterwards!

Shopping and an acrobat show both came later. Neither disappointed!  Sunday we left without a hitch, but us Seattle group had a 28+ hour trip on our hands! Once again I am happy to be home with my family, sleeping in my own bed even though sleep is totally messed up these days. As always, I have brought back a little more of China in my heart...