esprit folk tunic

alipyper - siena in the garden

alipyper - siena sitting in the garden

alipyper - siena esprit folk tunic

The end of summer has flown by and I feel a little shell shocked and exhausted now that the kids are in school again. {G} had an amazing time in China and I still have a ton of pictures and thoughts to share from her trip. After she got back we took an impromptu family trip to San Diego for my birthday as a last “hurrah!” as a family. Getting {G} ready for her senior year, {I} ready to start high school as a freshman, and {K} ready to start junior high as a 7th grader has been intense! Today was the first day everyone had all-day classes and I just want to sleep for hours in the quiet house.

But I got pictures yesterday of the finished Esprit Folk Tunic I knit for a friend in exchange for both my boys to attend her week long art camp this summer and they are too cute not to share (this is the first of two sweaters I owe her).  Go here to get to the nitty gritty (please insert Nacho Libre voice here) on what yarn I used and how I adjusted the pattern. I’d really like to adjust the math to make an adult version for me. But that will have to be put at the end of a VERY long list of wip’s and other projects that have to take precedence. I wish I had Hermione’s time turner sometimes.

featured on darlyblog

alipyper - darlybird blog post creative home alipyper

I was featured on Darlybird‘s Darlyblog yesterday. You should go check it out! Thank you Rachel and Allison for the opportunity!

I know that I value creativity in my own life, but it was kind of hard to determine if I had been successful in creating an environment in my home that encouraged creativity in my children. In some ways I think I’ve been successful, and in other ways I think that I’ve been really selfish and unsuccessful. In any case, it was really good for me to think  and write about it. And I’m realizing just now that I never asked my kids what they thought! I’ll do that today. Should be interesting to hear what they think.

g and the terracotta warriors

g and the terracotta warriors
g and the terracotta warriors
the amazing terracotta warriors
the amazing terracotta warriors
the enclosed conservation structure is massive
the enclosed conservation structure is massive
apparently g needed a twirly lemon and orange popsicle
apparently g needed a twirly lemon and orange popsicle

{G} went with her group to Xi’an at the end of last week to view the Terracotta Warriors. What an amazing experience! I thought I’d share some of her impressions of it…

I suppose you’d rather hear about the terra cotta warriors instead of the food, so here goes. I wasn’t sure to expect. People had told me that all of them were unique. I had seen a few documentaries. I thought I had already seen all there was to see.

Boy was I wrong! The whole experience was haunting and humbling. I know you’ve seen pictures and stories before, so I’ll just stick to my thoughts. I think what really struck me were the broken statues. I kept thinking what mass amounts of resources, money, and artisans was thrown into this project. Several of the soldiers were missing heads, a testament to when the dog site was open and people free to take souvenirs. Several soldiers were leaning on their sides or completely smashed, a result of the angry mobs that raided the tombs when Qin Shihuangdi died. The waste made me upset – both the extravagance and arrogance of Qin Shihuangdi and the ignorance and blind rage of the people in destroying such priceless artifacts.

Don’t get me wrong – it was incredible. I say way to go, Emperor Qin, for giving me such an indescribable experience.

In any case, I was glad to hear that a lot of restoration projects are going on, supported by organizations from throughout the world. I also heard that new sites are being excavated, which I didn’t know. Apparently the new sites contain smaller statues of sheep, pigs, dogs, grain, acrobats, money, and women. (Actual animal bones were found as well.)

We were finally able to speak with her on Skype Saturday evening (she had to download the Chinese version of Skype in order to get it to work and she has been so busy with her classes and field trips that she didn’t get it set up until now) and it was so lovely to hear her voice! She is entering her last week in Beijing and is preparing for her finals. It is going by way too quickly!

g and her new friend

dr fuzzles is taking an extended holiday in the mountains
dr fuzzles is taking an extended holiday in the mountains
{g} and Joanna
{g} and Joanna
i wink at you beijing art district
i wink at you beijing art district
{g} laughs as someone dares to put their fingers in the dinosaur cages
{g} laughs as someone dares to put their fingers in the dinosaur cages
art district grafitti
art district grafitti
incredible street art
incredible street art
aww, best friends!
aww, best friends!

I can’t believe that {G} has been gone for TWO weeks! She wrote to say that she is having the best time of her life. She looks so happy in her pictures! Her buddy Joanna accompanied the group this week as they spent time in the Art District in Beijing. Street performers, grafitti, museums, art, and history. Sounds like {G} was in heaven. And this weekend they are off to Xi’an to see the Terracotta Warriors.

She recorded these musicians on the street…Enjoy!

a week in china with #teamafton

g adjusting her gold sparkly sandals before the long flight
g adjusting her gold sparkly sandals before the long flight
dr. fuzzles arrives safely in beijing
dr. fuzzles arrives safely in beijing
g and her chinese buddy
g and her chinese buddy
i wink at you, mao!
i wink at you, mao!
dr. fuzzles at the gate of supreme harmony
dr. fuzzles at the gate of supreme harmony
o! let's ride this dragon turtle!
o! let’s ride this dragon turtle!
g and dr. fuzzles at the great wall of china
g and dr. fuzzles on a misty, rainy day at the great wall of china
dr. fuzzles is super tired
dr. fuzzles is super tired

{G} has been gone a week! We put her on a plane (for her first airplane ride, EVER) in Dallas while we were on vacation. An incredibly lovely Southern couple – thank you, whomever you are! – helped {G} navigate her first international flight and she made it through communist customs without a problem. She’s had a week of intense culture shock and a crash course in learning her relative insignificance in the world. All incredibly valuable things to learn as a sixteen year old.

She brought along Dr. Fuzzles, a small teddy bear that she, {I}, and {K} all loved as a baby. Dr. Fuzzles is in charge of experiencing China for {G}’s 17 year old cousin Afton, who is fighting stage 4 Ewings Sarcoma bone cancer. We love you Afton! As you can see, Dr. Fuzzles is having an incredible time.

Every morning we’re on pins and needles to see what new adventures {G} and Dr. Fuzzles are having.

#teamafton & {g} is going to china!

Baby G meeting her cousin Afton for the first time. Afton totally bear hugged her. It was very, very sweet.
Baby G meeting her cousin Afton for the first time. Afton totally bear hugged her. It was very, very sweet.
L to R: Kaylynne, G, and Afton
L to R: Kaylynne, G, and Afton

We recently found out my 17 year old niece Afton Wallace is battling an aggressive form of Ewing’s Sarcoma. It has been a crazy, scary two weeks. She is in the Vanderbilt-Ingrams Hospital in Memphis, TN and is showing marked progress, but is still up against incredible odds. From her earliest years, Afton has been a cheerful, happy, exuberant, and kind girl. Even now, when she is very, very sick, she continues to smile. If you would like to join your prayers with ours on behalf of this lovely, lovely girl, I would deeply appreciate it. #fightlikeawallace #teamafton #mymissionisremission #aftonstrong #wallaceplaid #cancerpickedthewrongchica

Our last payment for {g}’s trip will be made this week. We did it! I seriously can hardly believe that it’s happening for her. I had a deep, underlying belief that it would happen, but there were many moments along the way when I was overwhelmed with despair at trying to get to where we needed to get. The Mr. would keep saying, “Where’s your faith?” It’s beyond lovely and we owe a HUGE THANK YOU to the many people who have helped us! So many people have contributed something – even if it was just encouraging words – and by contributing you’ve told us that you believe in {G} and her abilities. Thank you. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

Now I’m moving on to the task of outfitting her for the extremely hot and humid Beijing in July. Yikes!

{g} and her quilt

alipyper G peeking over the edge

alipyper G holding her quilt

alipyper happy G with her quilt

alipyper front and back of G's quilt

alipyper G wrapped in her quilt

{G} finished her quilt! She’s super excited about it and so am I. Thank you to Holly LeSué for teaching her the basics and to Harmony for having such gorgeous fabrics to choose from. What a terrific milestone for {G} to reach! She insisted on doing all of it – cutting and putting the blocks together, sewing on the border, doing the machine quilting, sewing on the binding and finishing the binding by hand. I hope that this is the first of many quilts to come. Her Great-Grandma Mangum and her Great-Grandma Wallace would be extremely proud!

We had perfect weather on Saturday and our garage sale was another fantastic success! Thank you again to everyone that donated something to sell. We now have less than $1000 to raise before {G}’s complete trip is paid for (if you’d like to donate to help us reach our goal, you can go here)!! This last month has been very busy and I’m exhausted, but I’m amazed at what we’ve been able to accomplish. I want to think that things are going to settle down, but there is still quite a lot to do in the next 3 weeks before she leaves. I guess I’ll catch up on sleep when she’s in China.

graduation and garage sale redo

alipyper - K and Mrs Benson

alipyper K and his cousin G

We’re done with elementary school! {K} loved his teacher and had a great year with his cousin/classmate {G}. His cute teacher even came to watch one of {K}’s soccer games this last year! We love great teachers that go above and beyond to connect, love, and mentor their students. Thank you Mrs. Benson!

The weather forecast is looking good for clear skies Saturday. That’s good news for our plans to hold another garage sale! We’re slowly chipping away at the amount we need so that {G} can go to China. We had a very generous friend offer to pay for {G}’s flight with frequent flyer points – so now we’re even closer to our goal!! Thank you! Thank you! Thank you to everyone who has donated money or items for our garage sales, who has attended or is signed up for one of my classes, who has ordered cookie dough, and who has been unbelievably supportive! This experience for {G} is expensive, but we feel like it is part of her growing resume for college and her desire to be a Foreign Service Office for the US Government. So, thank you!

You can still donate on {G}’s fundraising site. Everything that is donated on her site goes directly towards her tuition. If the garage sale goes well we’ll be pretty close to paying for her Beijing tuition (payments that we’ve made directly to JSA don’t show up on her fundraising page), but we haven’t started on paying for the optional Shanghai extension. If you’d like to help, we’d love it!

{g} gets an article in the local paper

 alipyper g daily herald article

We’re so excited that {G} has an article about her in the Saturday May 24th local newspaper! A reporter came to the house with a photographer and asked us both about the JSA Junior Diplomat Summer Study Abroad program that she’s been accepted to. You can read the article here.

Fundraising is still in full swing around here. Since returning from San Diego, I’ve been gathering more donated items to sell at our garage sale tomorrow. We’re also selling many personal items that have been sitting untouched in storage for the last 4 years. It’s good to let go and clean out. And if it gets us closer to {G} flying to China, then we’re thrilled. If you’re local and want to come to the garage sale, go to craigslist or to KSL Classifieds to learn where and when and what. The kids are selling kettle corn too!

alipyper boxes stacked and ready

alipyper boxes in the freezer

{K} said it was okay to sell his cookie dough (Well, my cookie dough, really. My own recipes, with the very best ingredients – no scrimping there! – mixed up in my own kitchen) to help {G} raise the money we need, so last week it was cookie dough central at our house. Thank you to everyone that ordered a box! Truly! Last year, to help with {K}’s soccer fees, I thought I might try to sell my own cookie dough. {K} and I decided which flavors to make and then he helped me put together the boxes and affix the labels. The process went really well, and now I have people ask me quite regularly when I’m selling cookie dough next. I’m glad I was able to sell as many boxes as I did to help {G}!

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