Friday, December 19, 2008


Merry Christmas to all of our dear family and friends!

This year has been wonderful for us. Here are a few highlights:

Isabelle is 7 years old (almost 8 she reminds me). She is loving the second grade where she excels in everything she does! Isabelle loves reading and has read most of the American Doll series (which are fantastic) and is almost finished with a series about fairies. She has been taking dance this year and has fun group of girlfriends that get together once a week to play and do crafts. (Isn't she beautiful?

Taylor and Isabelle both did the Diamond Kid Triathalon in June, and just completed the Las Vegas Kids Marathon where they ran all 26 miles over a 10 week period. They got to run the last mile through the actual finish line.

Taylor is 10 and surviving 5th grade. He has a great teacher this year who does fun projects which Taylor enjoys. He took art classes and had a nice gallery showing, and was selected for the Lego Robotics team at school. Besides that, scouts and training for races has kept him quite busy. He and some neighborhood friends love to play in "Ookalaka Land" which is a big empty lot at the end of our street, eventually to be a school. They have fun finding buried treasures and keeping their fort free of enemy invaders! He is almost as tall as his mom and will probably pass her up before his 11th birthday.

Suzanne has kept busy with a variety of things. This summer she worked for the United Spirit Association cheerleading camps as an Athletic Trainer. She got to travel to California, Utah, and northern Nevada for a week at a time to treat all sorts of cheerleader injuries and ailments! Next month starts competition season, so she can see all of the pyramid practicing pay off! Also Suzanne is on our neighborhood HOA board, and the Mountains Edge Social Committee. She has kept active running two more half marathons this year (which makes one full, right?) One in Bryce Canyon and one at Valley of Fire (North of Las Vegas). She has a great group of running friends to keep her motivated. Staying involved in the school, our church, and our community really make life rich and full.

The highlight of the year for Danny and Suzanne was their trip to China in October. You can read all about it on this blog. It was a once in a lifetime trip! The whole family took a great camping trip through the National and Utah State parks this summer (also on the blog) and had a great time hiking, biking and water rafting!

Danny has enjoyed having a full year of teaching under his belt. Starting over this fall was still challenging, but a lot less stressful after having gone through it before. He has spent a lot more time doing research and writing and just sent off his first paper for publication. He has great coworkers and students that make going to work fun! Danny is also part of the Mountains Edge Running and Cycling team, but sticks with the cycling side of things. In addition to riding part of the way to UNLV everyday, he loves to go out with the guys a few times a week to the rugged trails that surround our area. He is so thrilled about his early Christmas present, a brand new custom mountain bike. He is just putting the finishing touches on it and can't wait to go wild!

We feel trully blessed this year. We have been able to spend a lot of time with family. We had a great week at Disneyland with the Petts, and had the whole family stay with us at Thanksgiving. We get to see the Youngs a lot more regularly and it is great to have them nearby. We miss dear friends that are so far away, but invite you all to come and visit us any time!

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

(PS: It is SNOWING today in Las Vegas...really snowing big flakes that melt when they land!)

First sledding trip of the winter

Today we are in Caliente NV and we went sledding with cousins and grandma.

Not what it's cracked up to be

I hear from people all the time how great it must be to be a professor on a 9 month contract.  Here is what US News and World report had to say about my job.

Of course "physical therapist" made a more desirable list:

Wednesday, December 10, 2008


Yesterday I entered my "mid-thirties"! Oh boy!

I had a really nice day:
Started out with a good workout, and then came home and got back in bed (Isabelle told me the night before, "Mom, when you get back from running, will you get back in bed...and don't eat breakfast!) So it was chocolate chip pancakes in bed, calls and texts from friends and family, then a brand new Mac (Yeah--no more frustrating crashes) from my hubby, lunch and shopping with Karen, fantastic friends showering me with love and gifts all day, and a double date dinner at a delicious Italian restaurant with Danny and the Morgans. Absolutely perfect day.

Here is a pic of my PERFECT new apron from my friend Marissa. Shout out to her!

(As if I needed a BIGGER computer, but it runs so smooth and doesn't have all the glitches the last one had. The kids can play on the old one all they want, but they can't touch this!)

Thanks to everyone who made my, I mean 35th birthday special.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Today they came to the university and interviewed me for a short news clip. Check it out.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

A Bit Busy...and Tired

It was so great to have so many friends follow our blog during our trip to China. Everyone has told us that they felt like they got to have a bit of our Chinese experience. It made it more meaningful for us to share it with everyone while we were away.

Since we got back 3 weeks ago, you can imagine I have been a bit busy playing catch-up...and also training for the most grueling half marathon I have run!

It was at Valley of Fire state park...which was beautiful, and it was PERFECT weather. But, the whole race was a series of hills. Steep ones. I finished with my second fastest time, which should feel like an accomplishment, but right now it is tainted by how difficult it was! Taylor ran the last 100 yards with me.

This is a group all from our Mountains Edge Running/Cycling team. It is so great to have a group to train with and share in the experience!

There were also 3 of our friends that ran the 10K portion of the race, but were gone before we finished. Good job to all of my is time for the HOT TUB!

Friday, October 31, 2008


Any guess what that number stands for?
a. Was it the number of dumplings Danny ate while we were in China?
b. The number of grams we added to our weight?
c. The number of kilometers we traveled in China?
d. The number of KFC restaurants we have seen here?
e. The number of steps we took to get to the top of the GREAT WALL OF CHINA!!!

This was a sight to behold. We are so glad to have this happen to us on our very last day here. It has been such a long and adventurous trip, but we have been anticipating this day from the beginning. I mentioned it was a beautiful autumn day. The sky was blue, the air was crisp, and the colors of leaves were turning all the shades of fall.

This is an inscription that says, "He who has not climbed the Great Wall is not a true man" I am glad we can BOTH say, we are true men...especially since I beat Danny on the way up.

This was the beginning when the steps were small and even...This did not last for long. I think they got more careless and tired and the steps started becoming so high that my short legs could barely get up them!

Just when you think you are close to the top, the wall turns to the right and keeps going up!

I couldn't believe that after a half hour of hiking, there were tables set up with people selling their souvenirs...Can you imagine that commute each day. We were sweating and huffing and puffing. We could tell the air was a bit more thin. We were so high up in the mountain at this point. The view back down was incredible. You could see Beijing skyline which is 45 miles away! Look how steep it is. I cannot imagine being the poor men who built this wall.

And then, you finally get to the top, and inside the tower you see this stair case:

Each step was about 18 inches apart and kind of sagging in the middle. It was a bit perilous.

Here is the view of the loop from the top of our side of the mountain. It goes down across the valley and the water and up the other side, just not as high.

Here we are back down the the beginning. We got up to the 8th tower..I don't know if you can even see it from the view. Going back down was a bit easier but my knees were killing me, and Danny's legs were shaking like jello.

Tonight we had to go get massages so our legs wouldn't feel so cramped up while sitting in a small airplane seat for 13 hours! What a fantastic experience. Never would we have believed we would be at such a world famous wonder. I remember seeing pictures (or slide shows..groan) when I was younger of my Grandma Pett in China. I always thought it was so amazing that she got to travel to so many wonderful places, never thinking I would be there one day too!

It is hard to describe what this trip has been like for us. Through the wonderful technology of the blog world, we are so glad so many of our friends and family could share it with us. It has meant even more to us because of that. Also, spending 2 1/2 weeks together as a couple, celebrating our 12 years of marriage, has been magical. Thanks to great parents that would take our children, and especially to Mr. Cyrus Tang who made our wildest dreams come true!

Ming Tombs and Peking Duck

Today was a BEAUTIFUL autumn day in Beijing. We were picked up by Dr Xue and his wife who drove us up into the mountains to see the Ming Tombs. There are 13 of the 16 Ming emperors were buried in various places in these mountains. Most of them are not excavated, but we went to 2 different tombs. They have palaces (like the one behind us) and tall head stone markers high on a hill.

One of the tombs is open. The Dingling Tomb contains one emperor and his two "consorts". You descend 27 meters into the earth and there are large tunnels and huge marble doors to protect the coffins. There are 3 large marble thrones (just in case they want to sit on them!?) And several large boxes next to them...proving you CAN take your riches to heaven.

After a very long day, we went to one of the most famous restaurants to eat the most famous Beijing dish, Peking Duck. It is roasted in a brick oven over a wood fire, it was DELICIOUS. We told Dr Xue that he saved the best meal for last (at least in my opinion). The man behind us brings the whole roasted duck (yep, head and all) and slices it in front of you. Yummo. What a way to end our trip with a good taste in our mouth ( literally).

This restaurant is one of the largest in the world. It can seat 2000 people. It is 4 levels and it is run so efficient, your food comes out quick, and the staff was so polite. What an enjoyable day!

Thursday, October 30, 2008


We said goodbye to Wujiang and Mr. Tang on Wednesday and flew from Shanghai to Beijing. We were taken to our hotel (a beautiful full service Holiday Inn) and ate a DELICIOUS dinner. We were pretty exhausted after travel and we had a big day ahead of us.

We went to the Imperial Palace, the Forbidden City. It was huge! It kept going and going. We had done some reading about it, and had watched some movies about emperors that lived there, so it was really interesting to see.

Inside one of the courtyards:

These are the back doors to one of the throne rooms:

Then we went to the Olympic Village. I watched every single second of the Olympics that I could, and at that time we had NO idea we would actually be going there to see these areas. It was almost magical. We got to go inside and see the "Birds Nest". I never imagined I would stand inside it and look around. I have to admit I almost got choked up.

Inside, they had on display all of the different costumes from the Opening Ceremonies. Danny made fun of me because I had to photograph them all, but I was so excited about seeing them. I will soon make a slide show so you can all see them too.

Then of course, the WATER CUBE. This wasn't open, but it was cool to see. Both of these structures are very close to each other. Then we went down the LONG Olympic walkway, saw the Gymnastics and Basketball venues, the Olympic village, and so much else. It reminded me of being in the middle of the 2002 Winter Olympics in SLC. So much excitement, even though the games are over.

After that, we drove to the Summer Palace, where the Empress would spend her summers. I think it would be better during the summer, you can see I am feeling a bit chilly! As the sun was going down, it was cold. Again, so many buildings, each for a separate purpose. A lot of it hundreds of years old.

There was a large lake on the property, and we walked all the way around it. The taxi driver told our guide, a very nice graduate student that took us around all day, to enter in the west gate and exit the east gate...however, the east gate was a few miles...past all of the different palace buildings, and around the garden and lake, and out the back gate...however, it was now 5:30 PM, and there was not a single taxi to be found. Our friend (we can't remember his name) was so flustered, and we walked along this rural road until we finally found a bus that was going towards a busier area!

Luckily we found our way to the restaurant where Dr. Xiue and his wife were waiting for us at a nice chinese restaurant. They did a good job of ordering some good chinese food for us to share. Now it is late, and we have another busy day tomorrow before we head home.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008


A must read:

Mr Sun (runs the Foundation in China), Stella Liang (runs all of the Foundations world wide and lives in Las Vegas) Mr. Cyrus Tang (Entrepreneur and Philanthropist)

The Cyrus Tang Foundation Motto:


Mr. Tang came to America in 1950, attended college and started a small steel business. It has grown into a many very successful businesses.

A tour of SKD, (automotive tooling) one of the businesses that is in 4 countries worldwide.

From the beginning, Mr. Tang wanted to find ways to give back to society and help others also to serve.

The Cyrus Tang Foundation is just one of three foundations. The main focus is education, especially to those in rural areas.

This darling little girl in rural China has a sign that says that she doesn't want to be different from the children in the city, she wants to go to school. The Foundation, CTF, has helped to build hundreds of schools in Rural areas. There is also training for teachers, and adults in the area to keep the school running.


Mr Tang always gets the local government involved in the process, and now the national government has taken over the plans and is rebuilding rural schools on its own...which is part of the goal is to help others become self sufficient.

Now most of the focus is on scholarships. Hundreds of college, high school and primary school scholarships are given each year. The main requirement for these scholarships is that the recipient has to find ways to serve and give back. Many of the college students become mentors for the young children in rural areas. They write letters telling the young children how important going to school is. They provide good examples of what an education can do.

The main purpose for Mr Tangs' 6 week long trip is to have reunions with all of the alumni from the college scholarship program (they all call him "Grandpa"). He told us tonight that it is the most rewarding thing to come and see the success stories of those that were recipients, and also hearing the stories of the ways those people were able to give back.

This is only a small portion of his contributions. He does these things quietly, without a lot of name recognition. He would rather others get credit. It has been so inspiring to be here with him these two weeks and see some of what he has done. What an example to follow of the "Best kind of giving".

For more information, check out:

Monday, October 27, 2008

Embroidery Institute

This is the Embroidery Institute in Suzhou. This handicraft is so amazing. They have to go to school and train for several years, and if they are good enough, they get to work here. The pieces that are produced here are high quality and often large pieces that are commissioned for special buildings, or people. From a foot back, you cannot even tell it is stitched-it looks like a photograph.

Click on these photos to see them up close.

This lady has a drawing of a tiger and from that, she will copy that with thread on a cloth.

Even dow to the very last whisker. So fascinating to watch.

This group of ladies were working on a commissioned piece for some government building. A bamboo forest. Bamboo is straight (honest) and Chinese people also believe that bamboo represents the modesty, strength, and never gives up because it continues to grow taller and taller. It will take this group of ladies several months to finish.

These women were laughing and talking and seeming to really enjoy themselves. There was plenty of natural light so they could detect the difference in each of those green threads laying there!


Danny and Friends Mountain Biking