Merry Christmas, to y'all! (This picture is actually from Thanksgiving.)
Well, how was everyone's Christmas Eve?
Ours was great. Grandma, grandpa, Nathanael, Naomi, and Boone came over for the afternoon and evening. It was very very fun. Nathanael was having cracking jokes and laughing the whole time...he's a funny brother-in-law,....I like 'im. :)
While the turkey and everything was getting cooked, Caleb played checkers with Nathanael. Nathanael let Caleb win. Afterward Nathanael played chess with me......and guess who won? I'll let you guess. :)
Then we had a delicious dinner with broccoli salad, mashed potatoes and gravy, turkey, yams, and wine. Yup.....but I didn't have any......schucks. :) Everything tasted really good!
After dinner we all sat down in the living room and dad read the Christmas story and gave a little mini sermon. Then we went around the room sharing the things we were thankful for, one at a time. The whole time Boone was talking or flapping his arms or kicking his legs or looking around curiously or just being plain ol' cute.
Then we opened presents since everyone was there. I got the newest Josh Groban cd, Noel, a batch of jigsaw puzzles, World War II videos from grandpa, some audio CDs on christian film-making from Vision Forum, and more.
I got Nathan a cool calendar of sporty cars to have at his work. I got Alexa an eggnog carton all to herself, and Caleb a wooden model pick-up truck. I also got little Boone those foam alphabetical things that you fit together in order. Before I know he'll be able to say the alphabet. :)
We had a wonderful time. We all got food of some sort from dad. In the picture below Nathan is eating lemony spice cheetos.....they were pretty good! Dad and Alexa made a Jungle village for Nathanael and Naomi.....as seen below.
This morning we went on a scavenger hunt that dad had written clues for. Normally, we would hunt for our stockings, but we didn't have stockings this year......I don't know why.....I guess we couldn't find them in the attic. So this year, we hunted and found envelops with money in them. We each got money from dad. Thanks Dad!!!
Well, that's how our Christmas went...hope you all had a wonderful Christmas!!!!
On Saturday the Deems, us 3 older Sleadd kids, Dillon Holst, Jachin Scott, Ellie and Kolton Anderson, and Alex Goldman all went up to Portland for an Lincoln-Douglas debate Round Robin. From Clarion speech club there were 6 debaters, 4 timers, and 2 judges. We got up at 3:30 in the morning and met the Deems and Holsts at Wal-mart at 5:00.
Then we headed out.
2 red vehicles: Clifford and our Astro van. I slept for about the first hour and a half. At the end of my nap I was half awake and dreaming at the same time and I dreamed we were about to run some long haired guy over. That kind of woke me up. Haha!
The ride was very interesting after that. Dillon and Dylan got into some heated debate about Iraq and Isolationism in general. We all pitched in our 2 cents and argued with them.....more like 222 cents. Haha! It was one of those informal debates where everyone's just trying to scrounge up random evident to support their case....and speaking loudly at the same time. Haha! 'Course with everyone doing that, the van was pretty noisy.......so Nathan flipped on the radio. And a talk show happened to be on, discussing Iraq and whether or not we should keep our troops there. Which has a lot to do with Isolationism; the LD debate resolution. Ironic.
So we made it to the church facility at about 10. Tait, Dylan, Alex, and I lead worship and then we began the debate rounds. There were 4 other debaters from Seattle.
I'm so glad I went because I was a little unsure if I wanted to compete in debate. In short, I was a little nervous about the whole ordeal. But now I know it's tons of fun and it's not nearly as scary or hard as I thought it'd be.
I'm also really excited because I got 2nd place! And Dylan Deems got 1st! Yippee! I feel like I was just lucky or something. I couldn't believe I actually placed higher than all the better, more experienced debaters.
Here are some random pictures of the trip.
Creighton rockin' out on the church drums.
The ride home was pretty wild, as you can see.
We stopped for pizza on the way home. It was really good! We also went for a walk there in Jefferson city.
My polite brother. Rather discreet I might add. :)
Dylan the Dude!
The Nerd of the Debaters
Tait. I love his hat!!! I am going to get a fancy hat like his to wear everywhere. Yup!
On our last day in Hong Kong we went to the Ocean Park. We saw sharks, fish, and a dolphin and seal show. It was very fun and the last thing Kelly and I did was ride 'The Dragon'. It was my first roller coaster ride and I was a little nervous that I might get sick or freak out and make a fool of myself. For Kelly, roller coasters are just a breeze. She took the very front seat. I did the same. From there it was all hoots and yells. I'd do it again if I could. If you want to see how the ride went, click here- http://www.oceanpark.com.hk Click on Park Explorer, then click the Headland Rides link. Click on The Dragon video.
That evening we took a ferry across the bay to a swing dancing place. At first I was really nervous because everyone there was a lot better than me. Kelly is REALLY good! As the evening went on I was about to watch how the pros did it and learn from them. By the end of the dancing I had loosened up and was having lots of fun.
Some tips (from Kelly) on swing dancing (mainly for leads)-
It's been awhile hasn't it? So much has happened and I've learned so much!
Gosh, I don't know where to start. Hmmm.....
The best part so far has been in Juizhaigou and Chengdu. With an awesome woman named Susan as our guide. She is such a friendly person who can speak excellent english. She normally doesn't do tours but she and Sue(the lady who organized the whole trip) are great friends. Kelly and I immediately became friends with her. She was very organized and flexable. By far the best guide we've had. She works for herself as a travel agent, arranging hotels and things for tourists. Because of that she had a lot of connections and everyone new her so we were able to get away with things other groups wouldn't. She's also really funny. Goofy. I like goofy. I also miss goofy a little. There's no Alexa here in China to laugh at my morning hair and point out how my nose sticks out. Haha! That's the kinda thing I miss away from home. I'm glad my cousin Kelly was able to come along....she laughs at my gooniness.
While on the road Susan would tell us alot about Chinese history and traditions and so forth. Some of the beliefs the Chinese have, to me, are absolutely absurd. The chinese are very superstitious. 8 is a good luck number. Crows are bad luck. Lots of of superstition. They're also very proud of hosting the 2008 Olympics. It's everywhere on signs and souvenirs.
She taught me and Kelly some Chinese and I have them all written down. Neehaw means Hi. Zow means Good morning. May nwie means pretty girl. Shuaiga means handsome boy. After learning those we were able to understand what a lot of chinese were saying as they stood looking at us. Kelly's blond hair sticks out here because nearly everyone here has black hair. At a silk factory we visited, a chinese girl, who worked there, told me in english that her friend wanted her to tell me that she thought I was "very cool". I said thank you(which is Shayshay in chinese) and grinned. I was wearing my leather jacket. Go figure. :)
People would randomly come up to Kelly and I and want to have their picture taken with us. One lady came up to grandma and asked her how old she was. That made grandma laugh. Grandma told the lady her age and the lady said she was very young and beautiful. Beautiful in Chinese is peeowliang.
I think Susan is a christian. And she has some christian friends that get together. I gave her my bible because the one she had was hard to read in english......probably a king james. It was wonderful to find out that she was a Christian, especially after hearing all the strange beliefs Chinese have. For awhile I thought she actually believed the strange things she was telling us about. Haha!
I showed her a picture of my family and she thought Caleb was so cute. And that Alexa was very pretty. She also laughed when she saw Boone. He's soo fat. Whenever I see one of those fat laughing Buddha statues here, I think of my nephew Boone. I wonder if Boone has gotten any bigger since I left America.
Every once in a while I think about home. You can't really call it homesickness, it's more like people sickness. I miss seeing everyone. Heck, I could take one of Tait's Pillsbury Doughboys just to be with people I know.
I could also use one of those Carl's Jr spicy burgers... oh yeah! Haha! Guess what, when Chinese serve fish they serve the whole thing. Eyes, head, fins, tail, everything. Same with shrimp. And clam. At least they cook it. :) I've had enough chinese food to last me through purgatory. Haha! It's not all that bad, though. They serve beef and rice and food that fills.
Here in China we get to bargain. Mwahaha! It's really fun! Just today I bought 2 hats that were priced 40 yuan. I bargained with the seller and paid 30. :)
There are a lot of street sellers here that come up to us and try and get us to buy things. It gets tiring after awhile. Especially when they don't take no for an answer......but that's how they make their living.
A lot of the street sellers have bad teeth. We americans are blessed with dentists and so forth. Almost all the chinese smoke. And their allowed to do it almost anywhere. Their cigarettes have a different smell then American's. It's a blacker, deeper, stronger smell that makes me cough. Some of them also chew a reddish tobacco or something that stains their teeth and gums a little red. Yuck. :)
I brought 4 or 5 (can't remember) bibles and only have one left. I've been leaving them in hotels and gave Susan one. I'm glad I was able to bring them. I also brought a Rascal Flatts cd that I gave to Susan. She likes american music. She bought me a really nice coat. You should see it sometime.
Susan said that she's goin to look at my blog sometime and post a comment. About how clumsy I was. Haha!!
Well, that is just a sliver of what's happening here. See ya later!
Howdy! We made it! Nathan drove me up to Roseburg this morning to Grandma's. Grandma and I left Roseburg about 4pm and she had me drive. We stopped in Salem for some delicious burgers, fries, and a milkshake. We arrived at our hotel in Portland about 8:30 pm. Portland feels so huge and scary, especially when you're driving and it's dark. We got 'lost' twice but eventually we made it.
I love small Grants Pass. :)
When we first got to the hotel there was a mix up about our reservations and we were given a room that had just one master bed and smelled awfully of cigarettes. We, thankfully, were able to get a different room with 2 beds and clean smelling air. So after that I explored the hotel and then settled down in our room. The beds are kinda neat; they have remote controls to pump up or shrink the mattress. Both the left and right, separately.
This feels weird.
It's strange being someplace huge and unfamiliar. I've been to big cities and hotels before but, for some reason this feels different. Maybe because it's just me and grandma. It was nice to be able to use grandma's laptop and to go friends blogs just to see something familiar.
But I'm not supposed to feel this way yet because I haven't even left America! I haven't flown any planes yet!! I'm still around people who speak English!!!
Well, as you can see, I'm feeling wimpy. I'll soon get over it. :)
Tomorrow, the plan is to fly to China. My visa was supposed to arrive today at the our tourist's house, in Portland, but I don't know if it has. I can still make it if it comes tomorrow. If it doesn't, Sue, our guide will try to arrange me catching up to them on a later flight in Beijing. So things are still a little uncertain. But God is in control. If He doesn't want me to go to China, so be it.
You can pray for me that God will use me on this trip, in whatever ways He wills. In case you're wondering, I did bring extra bibles; to smuggle into China.
Hey, this is Alexa reporting. Aaron is in Roseburg right. But he is in need of prayer. This past month and a half have been a constant struggle for him to secure his passport and visa. Now, for some reason, his passport has not yet been delivered, and his flight departure is scheduled for tomorrow. He might be delayed until his passport shows up. So cross your fingers! Signing off...Over and out...10:4 or whatever.
During the summer, us Sleadd guys went to a men's lunch group every Wednesday at the Sub Shop in Grants Pass. Mr. Emmons, Pastor Dale, Tim McGilvreay, and some others guys went. We went through the Proverbs and talked about them so forth.
On one particular meeting, Tim McGilvreay, who if you know well, is a theological genius; anyway he had recently been listening to some C.J. Mahanay cds about idols.
Tim shared a quote by Mahanay that was something like this, "It's not so much that what we desire is wrong, it's when we desire it too much."
This really made me think about what idols I might have in my life. Before, I had always imagined idols as being obvious. Such as bowing down to statues or worshiping animals, or deifying celebrities....something that was obvious. But according to C. J. Mahanay it's not really the object that makes it an idol, it's how much we desire the object that makes it an idol.
And many times the things we desire are not bad, in fact they might be very good things. What makes an object an idol is when we desire it above God. When we seek satisfaction in that object rather than in God.
One of the examples shared was how a father can desire to be respected by his family, which is a perfectly legitimate thing to be desired, yet if he desires it to the point were he is yelling at his family to get it, than it has become an idol.
You see how desiring something good too much immediately turns it into an idol? It could really be anything. It might be desiring a good reputation too much, it might be desiring to see your friends over God, it might be(in my case) wanting to get a driving license and a car too much. :)
In Conclusion, After having this discussion at Men's group it really helped me to understand why at times I would feel frustrated and dissatisfied when things didn't happen my way. It was because I was desiring things too much. Even good things. Idolizing them over God.
Here's a book you all should read, one time or another. I'm reading it for the second time right now and there is still soo much eye-opening stuff in it.
It has really helped me to understand that there is indeed a spiritual battle raging on around us. And the battle isn't between fat, naked little cherubs with harps, and demons dressed in red tights, with spade tails and tridents.
There is a serious battle going on that we are to be aware of and prepared for. "Put on the full armor of God...."
Anyway, I wish I could tell you more but you'll just have to read it. It is very similar to the Screwtape Letters written by C.S. Lewis.
Note: I don't exactly recommend it for younger kids....who are 11 and younger. But if you're a teenager or soon to be, I highly recommend it.
Tomorrow we're leaving after breakfast to go on a short back packing trip....about 6 miles. We're going to hike to Whiskey Creek, spend the night, and then hike back. The trial is a beautiful one over looking the Rogue River and Rainy Falls.
Here I am getting ready.......yup.
Speaking of field trips and out door fun, there's going to be a day trip to the coast on Sept. 29th. It's going to be mostly at Harris Beach in Brookings where we'll build our famous sand fortresses. Then we'll go to Loeb park and have fun there too. And hopefully, if we have time, we'll go back to the beach and watch the sun set.
You're welcome to come and join us! Contact my dad for details.
Hi! The Hulces got some pictures of our sand trip and they recently gave them to us. So now you get to see what we did! Aren't ya happy!!!? :)
After the sand pictures are pictures from this Sunday at Frisbee. It was tons of fun! Not to mention that Naomi came over with my nephew Boone and spent the night(Saturday). Nathanael(my brother-in-law) was gone hunting so that's why Naomi came.
Boone is such a cutie! We got to spend alot of time with him. He is such a happy, content little boy with the hugest, most adorable toothless grin. Whenever he feels excited he kicks his legs, flaps his arms, and does a little squeak. That's his way of laughing. He also likes to barf on people. That's the only uncute thing about him. That and his soiled diapers.
If you leave him to himself, he'll start talking and jabbering to himself. Oh, and did I mention that he is incredibly fat? Well, now ya know. Man, I can't wait to have a bunch of little cuties like him.
On the Sand!
Jason and I
The whole group
Me, Caleb and Josh
Me and Jason havin' a blast!
Holly in her own "sand quad". Nathan helped her build it.