Category Archives: Around the worldpress amazing race

Mr. Owl visits Tokyo, Japan

Hi Christina,

Mr. Owl made it to Tokyo and was sad to see that all the beautiful cherry blossoms, called Sakura, had blown off the trees just the day before… But, he found many other interesting things to explore:

First he visited our local international school K-12, CAJ or Christian Academy in Japan.

 

Next he found some other beautiful flowers along the street, but nobody here spoke much english and didn’t know the name of the flower…

img_4866-3

But he didn’t let that stop his exploring:

He visited a shop known as “hyakuen” shop. Literally meaning 100 yen shop (dollar store…) and found some gorgeous hair stuff for girls.

img_4867-2

Next, he found the best view of Fuji he could find. Unfortunately the clouds covered the great volcano but on a clear day, the photo he stuck himself to shows the view – literally – from this exact spot.

img_4868-1

Very exciting, though a tad bit scary, so he rushed off to some genuine Japanese “conbini” (convenience store) bento lunches:

img_4869-1

Far too much sushi, onigiri and nigiri rolls to choose from… oh, what is an Owl to do…

He got full and will be on his way to his next destination very soon. But he will need to take in some jetlag and fill his stomach with all sorts of other Japanese foods he would like to try, such as shabu-shabu, udon and nabe pot.
Greetings from Tokyo 😉

The children loved looking at the photos of Mr. Owl in Tokyo. They were especially intrigued with Fuji — A VOLCANO! Here are a few more things that the children wanted to share with the blogosphere. Mr. Owl coincided with the children learning a bit of Japanese history in their history book. They learned about the Yamato Dynasty, which united Japan and is the oldest dynasty in the world! The first Yamato emperor to rule was almost two thousand years ago and there is still a Yamato emperor to this day. The first Yamato emperors had a lot of work to do to unite all the differing clans back then, so they borrowed many ideas from China and Korea. However, they wanted to be considered equals with China and so they called themselves “The Land of the Rising Sun” and China was called “The Land of the Setting Sun” in an effort to say that Japan and China were equals.

image

The children’s history book also suggested we try making a Japanese meal, so we went for it. We made Osumashi -Clear Soup, Gohan -Rice, Goma-ae -Sesame Seed Dressing, which went on steamed green beans and Yakimono, this was how we prepared our steak. Cooking in the “yaki” method in Japan means that the dish has been cooked over a very high heat. This cooking method allows the outside of the food to get crispy and the inside juicy. We used the Beef Teriyaki recipe given, but one could use the “yaki” method to cook other types of meats, fish or vegetables.

image

We cut our steak into very small pieces and marinated them overnight. Then we skewered them and grilled them over very high heat. The children definitely loved the entire meal and we will certainly be adding this into the mix of menus for the kiddos!

 

We had such a wonderful time seeing Mr. Owl’s visit to our fellow blogger, Lene, over at Wrestling with Faith – Dancing with Jesus.  We are thankful that she was kind enough to participate in our little Around the Worldpress Amazing Race, which began as a genius idea over at Cyranny’s Cove. Mr. Owl has now travelled from Montreal, Canada to Michigan, USA to Xitang, China, to Lugano, Switzerland with a surprise visit to Campione and Varese, Italy and then Tokyo, Japan. PHEW!  He has sure been crisscrossing our world!  He has racked up an amazing total of 19, 113 miles or 30,760 km!  WOW! But he has only been to six countries (although he is on his way to a new country this very moment!) If you want to participate in our little Around the Worldpress Amazing Race by having Mr. Owl visit you in your country, just drop me a comment or message me through the contact form and we will send Mr. Owl to you. It is just the cost of postage on your part, and hopefully some photos before you send him on to his next destination.

 

Screen Shot 2017-04-26 at 4.12.55 PMScreen Shot 2017-04-26 at 4.13.18 PM

 

 

 

Mr. Owl’s Switzerland Journey Comes to an End – Part 4

We have been participating in the Around the Worldpress Amazing Race with some fellow bloggers. The race began from the genius idea over at Cyranny’s Cove. So far, Mr. Owl has traveled from Montreal, Canada to Michigan, USA to Xitang, China, and to my dear childhood friend in Lugano, Switzerland. My friend Shawna, and her daughter Sylvia, have written some lovely letters to share with us along with some fascinating photos! There are four parts to Mr. Owl’s journey in Switzerland. You can view Part One here, Part Two here, Part Three here, and today we enjoy the final, Part Four. ENJOY!

Hello again!!
It has been super fun to have Mr. Owl hang out with us, but he had to go on to the next place on his itinerary! I am going to miss this little owl, so I gave him a kiss goodbye. 🙂

Switz1
Before he left he saw a picture of some kids he knows…….

Switz2
He is all tucked in and ready to go!

Switz3

So we say goodbye from beautiful Lugano, Switzerland.

Switz4

Love in Christ,
Shawna

Below shows the course that Mr. Owl has taken around the Worldpress so far. He has travelled from Montreal, Canada to Michigan, USA; from Michigan, USA to Xitang, China; from Xitang, China to Lugano Switzerland; from Lugano, Switzerland to Campione, Como, and Varese Italy and then back to Lugano, Switzerland. This adds up to a whopping total of 12,177 miles/19,597 kilometers. His next destination is Tokyo, Japan where he will visit a fellow blogger at Wrestling with Faith – Dancing with Jesus. We will see what Mr. Owl is up to in Tokyo in the next post. 🙂

Screen Shot 2017-04-22 at 5.01.43 PMScreen Shot 2017-04-22 at 5.01.27 PM

We continue to look for more people to join in our fun race. If you would like to have Mr. Owl visit your country, please don’t be shy, just leave a comment below or message me through my contact form, and we will arrange for him to visit YOU.

Mr. Owl’s Surprise Visit to Italy! – Part 3

We have been participating in the Around the Worldpress Amazing Race with some fellow bloggers. The race began from the genius idea over at Cyranny’s Cove. So far, Mr. Owl has traveled from Montreal, Canada to Michigan, USA to Xitang, China, and now has made his way to my dear childhood friend in Lugano, Switzerland. My friend Shawna, and her daughter Sylvia, have written some lovely letters to share with us along with some fascinating photos! There are four parts to Mr. Owl’s journey. You can view Part One here, Part Two here, and today we continue with Part THREE. ENJOY!

Hi there!
The surprise is that Mr. Owl went to another country! Italy is so close to where we live that we go there quite a bit. The first place in Italy that Owl went to is called Campione, it is a small village that is surrounded by Switzerland. Here are the flags-

Italy1
It is a beautiful place.

Italy2

Owl also went to Como, Italy with us for church on Sunday.

Italy4

Alessandro Volta is from Como, and he invented the battery. Just think about how much his invention has effected the whole world!!!

Italy5

In Italy, the money is called euros.

Italy6

The last place Owl went with us in Italy was to a shelter in Varese. We went to see Jackie, a rescue dog. Maybe you guys could say a couple prayers that Greg will let Jackie live with us:). Isn’t he a cute little guy?

Italy7

We have been having some cool adventures with Mr. Owl, but in part 4 we have to wrap it up and say goodbye so he can continue on his journey!

Italy3

❤️❤️❤️,
Shawna

We continue to look for more people to join in our fun race. If you would like to have Mr. Owl visit your country, please don’t be shy, just leave a comment below or message me through my contact form, and we will arrange for him to visit YOU.

Mr. Owl’s Switzerland Journey – Part 2

We have been participating in the Around the Worldpress Amazing Race with some fellow bloggers. The race began from the genius idea over at Cyranny’s Cove. So far, Mr. Owl has traveled from Montreal, Canada to Michigan, USA to Xitang, China, and now has made his way to my dear childhood friend in Lugano, Switzerland. My friend Shawna, and her daughter Sylvia, have written some lovely letters to share with us along with some fascinating photos! There are four parts to Mr. Owl’s journey. You can view Part One here and today we continue with Part TWO. ENJOY!

Hi again!

Switzerland’s flag looks like this-

Shawna2

The money here is called Swiss francs and is abbreviated chf. One, two, and five francs are coins.

Shawna3

Paper francs start at ten; they are all colorful and pretty.

Shawna4
Here is the view from our apartment balcony. The mountain on the right is called San Salvatore.

Shawna5

Here is a pic from the top.

Shawna6

In the next part we have a small surprise in store:)

Shawna1
Love,

Your friends in Switzerland

We continue to look for more people to join in our fun race. If you would like to have Mr. Owl visit your country, please don’t be shy, just leave a comment below or message me through my contact form, and we will arrange for him to visit YOU.

Mr. Owl in Switzerland!

We have been participating in the Around the Worldpress Amazing Race with some fellow bloggers. The race began from the genius idea over at Cyranny’s Cove. So far, Mr. Owl has traveled from Montreal, Canada to Michigan, USA to Xitang, China, and now has made his way to my dear childhood friend in Lugano, Switzerland. My friend Shawna, and her daughter Sylvia, have written some lovely letters to share with us along with some fascinating photos!  There are four parts to Mr. Owl’s journey and we begin with Part One today. ENJOY!

Hello from Switzerland!!!
Mr. Owl has been here for a couple of days and we are having a great time! That is Sylvia holding Mr. Owl. switzerland1We live in Lugano, Switzerland. It is a beautiful place with a pretty lake and mountains all around.

Switzerland2

In Switzerland it is already very nice outside, and there are flowers all around.

Switzerland3

There are many statues and sculptures. Who is this guy?

Switzerland4

There are many beautiful churches. Here is one that is close to Sylvia’s school.

Switzerland5

Part 2 is next with more fun information about Switzerland!Switzerland2

Your friends,
Shawna and Sylvia

We continue to look for more people to join in our fun race. If you would like to have Mr. Owl visit your country, please don’t be shy, just leave a comment below or message me through my contact form, and we will arrange for him to visit YOU.

Providential Relationships and Mr. Owl’s Journey in the Around the Worldpress Amazing Race

A few weeks back my pastor did a sermon on Providential Relationships. I’ve been thinking about this ever since, and how often it seems that God places just the right people or circumstances into my life at just the right time. Mr. Owl’s first destination on his journey in the Around the Worldpress Amazing Race began because of this very kind of relationship.

As I said in my first post ever, “How do you do it?”, often at the start of a journey we can’t see where it will end. As we look back though, we can see the path emerge. We can begin to understand the why and the how of being led in certain circumstances.

Some people may call this fate. Some may call it coincidence. I prefer to think of it in terms of God’s providence. One of my favorite life verses is:

And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.— Romans 8:28 NASB

Personally, it is such a hope-filled verse.

God is working behind the scenes, directing all things towards His purpose. He takes our free will into account, yet He is the one in the driver’s seat. He is working it ALL, the good, the bad, the ugly, towards His divine purposes even when I don’t believe it, or I don’t see it, or I don’t understand it at the time or this side of Heaven.

And so it is with my own story. And so it is with my adoption story. Before I even came back to God, He was working in my life preparing me for my calling to adopt my children. I didn’t know what was to come, but He knew. Now as I look back, I can connect the dots. I can say, “Ohhhhhhhh, now I understand. Now I see. Thank you, Lord”. To connect all of the dots leading up to our adoption would take several posts, so I am going to focus on the dot that led to Mr. Owl’s first destination on his Around the Worldpress Amazing Race.

My family had moved from California to Michigan and I opened a home-based preschool for a few years when my first son was very young. As a new baby Christian, only coming back to the Church after many years as an atheist (THANK YOU church janitor, with your sweet and simple consistent invitation to your church. Your short, providential relationship, one where I don’t even know your name, changed the course of events for my entire family!), I felt a strong call to make it a Christian-based preschool. This was the first big stepping out in my faith for me. The first child that God placed into my care was without a doubt in my mind, a powerful providential relationship for both of us. Caring for her absolutely prepared me for adopting my children who did not know English, and it also proved to be a much-needed, powerful care placement for my first student as well.

This lovely girl, we shall call her Jewel (for she is a gem!), came from China to America at the tender age of four and spoke no English. Her Chinese parents spoke Chinese to her at home, but they desperately wanted her to learn English and to connect with the English-speaking children of her new city.  Wanting the very best for their daughter, they enrolled her in one of the most expensive, top reviewed childcare centers in the city. Jewel spent three months there and learned ZERO English words. She seemed to withdraw from the children and the teachers there, and her parents were concerned. They began their search for a new care setting for their daughter.

Through a series of what I prefer to call God’s providence, Jewel’s mom “happened” to catch a post that my Christian realtor had lovingly offered to post on her blog about my moving into the area and beginning a Christian preschool from home. What are the chances? This is the ONLY contact I got from that post, but of course, I am convinced that was THE contact I was supposed to make. Jewel’s parents enrolled her as my very first student. We were all a little concerned. She was older by a year than my son. At the beginning, it was just the two of them (until other students enrolled) and obviously they were opposite sex, would they make a friendship? There was also the concern that she did not speak English, and although my background was in teaching, I had little training in ESL methods.  But what I DID have, was FAITH, HOPE, LOVE,  and DETERMINATION.

This proved to be enough. And of course, God’s will never fails.

Early on, Jewel’s mother shared with me that Jewel told her my son was the nicest child she had ever met in China or in America. That is what she needed the most. She needed unconditional love in her childcare environment. She needed trust. She needed those caring for her to be reaching out to her in intentional, loving ways, despite language barriers.

Caring for Jewel taught my family the lesson that it doesn’t matter if we speak the same language as the person we are with. Everyone understands the language of love. Everyone understands a smile. Everyone understands a hug. Everyone understands a hand held out to help up a fallen person. We don’t need to speak the same language to feel these things, to understand these things, to trust these things.

Jewel quickly learned English, and our family was amazed at how fast children’s brains can learn new languages. She has grown into a lovely young lady, already taller then her mom. She excels in school, plays the violin and piano beautifully, and swims competitively.

Jewel’s family were the very first people to offer to help in our Around the Worldpress Amazing Race. We sent Mr. Owl to Jewel’s grandfather in China, who enlisted the help of a local second grade girl. She is the daughter of Jewel’s mother’s childhood friend who was touched to hear about our adoption story and wanted to help with the project. Following are the two letters the little girl wrote back to us. The English translations are below.

OwlPic1

To Mr. Owl: Wish you a very pleasant journey and happiness forever.

OwlPic2

To my family and future hosts: Dear friends, I am very happy to have a chance to introduce you to my hometown: Xitang, China. I hope you’ll like it.

Below are the wonderful photos of the little girl in Xitang, China holding our signed letter and Mr. Owl. If you are wondering how to pronounce “Xitang”, you can click hear and listen to three different audio recordings of people pronouncing “Xitang”.

ChinaGirl1

My children were in awe to see her holding THEIR letter with Mr. Owl, in this new, distant land. They peered over the photos to see what they could spy in each.

ChinaGirl2

They quickly realized that it must be somewhat cold there right now, due to the warm jackets, yet their trees have green leaves. They also noticed that there seemed to be a lot of water there, with boats and homes and/or businesses that were right on the waterways. Once we looked up Xitang, China we learned that it is an ancient, scenic water way town with nine rivers that criss-cross throughout it. Due to the beauty of the town, it has been a popular tourist destination as well as famous for landscape paintings.

ChinaGirl3

Looking at the photo below, my children all jumped and yelled “those look like pelmeni she is eating, but in soup!” Pelmeni are somewhat like a ravioli almost, filled with meat, and are commonly eaten in Latvia and Russia with sour cream, ketchup or vinegar.

ChinaGirl4

It is amazing to me that even though our world is so large, at the same time it is so small,  especially in this day and age where technology and the internet can connect people across the globe in seconds. We should never underestimate the power we have to connect with others. We each have a story within us, and our stories can inspire, help, encourage, teach and lift others up. We should be willing to allow God to use us in other people’s lives, as well as to allow God to use other people in our own lives.

Screen Shot 2017-03-24 at 6.06.10 PM

The Around the Worldpress Amazing Race was born from a genius idea over at Cyranny’s Cove. My connections with her in the blogosphere also led to my new favorite pair of travel socks, because you know, God’s providence can even lead you to discovering some really awesome travel socks, if you let it. So starting with Cyranny’s Cove over in Montreal, Mr. Owl traveled to our family in Michigan. From Michigan, he travelled across the world to Xitang, China. So far the total distance is 7,726.42 miles or 12,434.47km. He continues his journey, now currently en route to an old, dear friend of mine in Switzerland. From there, he will travel to Tokyo, Germany, Nepal, Latvia, and finally back to us in Michigan. This is of course UNLESS more of our DEAR READERS, which blog stats show us come from more than 80 countries across the world, agree to join in on our fabulous project. Just drop me a comment or email me using my contact form and YOU could have Mr. Owl come for a visit and share your country with us!

Finally, THANK YOU LORD, for bringing people into my life at just the right moments. May I always be brave enough to listen to Your urgings and promptings. I would also like to say THANK YOU to Jewel and her lovely family. Thank you for sharing your gem of a daughter with me for the short time I was able to care for her. She taught me life-long lessons that impacted an entire family and helped bring four orphans home forever. THANK YOU to Jewel’s loving grandparents, I know how involved they are in their grandchildren’s lives, and I am thankful that they have offered to help in our little project. THANK YOU to the little second grade girl in Xitang, China for sharing her stunningly beautiful hometown with us. Thank you and your mother for taking the time to bring Mr. Owl around Xitang and share your photos and letters with us. We loved your photos and your letters and we wish you peace, love, happiness and many blessings forever!

Screen Shot 2017-03-25 at 1.40.13 PM

image reprinted with permission from hearlight.org, see here

Friends, don’t be shy— join our Around the Worldpress Amazing Race

This is my ten year old checking out my different blog stats. He discovered and showed me something new today– how to find my “all time” stats. I thought I could only view them by year or day. Thanks, kiddo!


As you may already know, we are participating in the Amazing Around the Worldpress Race created by Cyranny at Cyranny’s Cove.  We are trying to send Mr. Owl of #TeamOwl to as many countries as possible. Our all time stats, that my smartie pants found for me, indicates this blog has touched the fingers of people across 77 different countries overall!

I am honored and amazed. We even discovered we can download the data and print it easily!  So fun!  We are going to mark each country on our world map! 

My smartie pants checked the stats for yesterday’s blog post introducing our race and discovered we had readers from the US, Philippines, Turkey, India, Latvia, Canada, Germany, Argentina, Ghana, Switzerland and Romania.

How cool is that?

screen-shot-2017-02-05-at-11-23-18-am

screen-shot-2017-02-05-at-11-23-31-am

The power of the internet to take our large world and bring it to the fingertips of each other is fascinating.

There is plenty of time as we begin this journey with #TeamOwl to join in and share your country with my kiddos!!! Just drop a comment or leave a message on my contact form. We are all excited for the journey Mr. Owl is about to embark on.

So far Mr. Owl of #TeamOwl has reached two countries

  •  1. Canada
  •  2. USA

Tomorrow he embarks on a long journey to

  • 3. Latvia
  • 4.  China
  • 5.  Switzerland

Who is going to be our next countries?  Could it be YOU?!?!  Please join us! 

Around the Worldpress Amazing Race

Hello friends! We have been invited to join in an amazing “Around the Worldpress” race with fellow blogger at Cyranny’s Cove.  She made these fun little critters and thought up a race to see who could get their critter to travel more miles/kilometers around the world. Being a homeschooling mom with children who are fascinated by my blog’s stats, especially the ones showing all the countries where I have readers, (THANK YOU AMAZING READERS!) I thought this would be a fun project to include the kids on to see how far we can get #TeamOwl to travel. (You can see Mr. Owl in the photo below!)

teamowl

#TeamOwl originally came to us from Montreal, Canada to Michigan, USA. I know the overall point is total miles/kilometers, but I would like to twist it to see how many actual different countries we can hit. The children and I are are going to pin a world map with every country we can send #TeamOwl to, and learn some facts about each country #TeamOwl visits. So far, we have #1. Canada #2. USA. Next stop up is #3 Latvia. Could you be next?

Would you be willing to play a part in our Around the Worldpress Amazing Race, or know someone who would?

It is quite simple.  Here’s the lowdown:

  1. Send me your address (or the address of your friend/family member who has already agreed) in my contact page (this will keep it private).
  2. I will send #TeamOwl to YOUR country (or the country of a family/friend who has agreed to join in).
  3. Once #TeamOwl has arrived, please visit this link and let us know, as well as Cyranny’s Cove, who is logging all the miles.
  4. If you are SUPER DUPER cool, take a photo or two or three with #TeamOwl in your country and send them to my email and/or a few facts about your country and I will include them on my blog posts.
  5. I will write a blog post every time #TeamOwl travels to a new country and will include your photos (if you allow), facts, and if you are a fellow blogger, I will link to your site also.

I am very excited to start this project with the kiddos.  Maybe #TeamOwl will travel the world. Maybe he will only visit a country or two…it’s all up to you my friends. All it takes is a few minutes of your time, and the cost of a postage stamp (#TeamOwl is very small and very light).

If you are IN – then comment, send me your address, and LET THE RACE BEGIN!  🙂 (we are already quite behind since we were gone to Latvia…here are some of the critters on the move already!

#TeamElephant

#TeamDonkey otherwise known as “jack”

#TeamMonkey otherwise known as “moe”

#TeamLion

#TeamFoxie

#TeamGiraffe

And again, to follow the race, visit Cyranny’s Cover link here, which is following them all by map!

I want to thank all my readers out there!  It is amazing to me see how many different countries my blog touches. It is inspiring. Help me share that inspiration of how big our world really is with my kiddos, and come join in some fun with us for the cost of postage stamp!  🙂