Tuesday, February 7, 2023

Buenas De Bogota


It has been a while since I attempted to post an update or the whereabouts of the Godbouts. Funny enough, I decided to check in on the good ol' blog to prep for an upcoming Powerpoint Party. Yes, this is apparently a thing, who knew? And it was a thing, believe it or not, before COVID.  I realized that my location was still listed as Shanghai, even though, we did a short stint stateside. When I say short stint, we repatriated for two years. Initially, it was a huge culture shock after being in Asia for 8 years and incredibly difficult in the midst of the pandemic. However, we were able to buy a house in our dream neighborhood, renovate it ourselves, and now have been able to keep it as an Airbnb, Godbout Getaway. This experience bonded us while allowing me to tap into my creative side...decorating, creating marketing, and utilizing my customer service skills liaising with guests. More importantly, moving back home, allowed us to refocus on what was important... cherishing our family times, soaking up time with dear friends, and allowed us to re-imagine life overseas as a teaching team. 

... and Voilà

We are now a teaching team working at a school in Bogota, Colombia. This is something we talked about for a very long time and here we are. Keith is loving being a teacher and I am also loving curating memorable STEM learning experiences. We are learning Spanish, have been able to travel around Colombia, and have made some great friends. It has not been an easy transition and if I were to write this post the first six months here, it may not have been as kind. But, here we are and this is what we are doing, so we are making the best of it. 

We are so grateful for those two years back home. It helped us be where we are today, grateful for fulfilling a dream we had so long ago of teaching abroad together. We are all at the same school again. We get to walk to school together every day, we have a lot more quality time with each other and the kids are getting to experience new things. We work with great people and love Bogota (when the weather is good!).  All in all, no regrets here. Continuing on the journey of life, growing, connecting, and serving. As always, we have an open-door policy so come visit!  

Celebrating Lunar New Year in Bogota 

Experiencing a local tradition: Dia de Velitas
El Peñón de Guatapé 
Comuna 13 Tour in Medellin with Fellow Newbies & Great Friends 

Wishing you love and peace in 2023, 


Saturday, August 1, 2020

When Things Get Hilly...

Today marks 5 weeks from when we took off from Shanghai, China and flew over 7,000 miles to get to our new home in Chattanooga, TN. We've had company visit every weekend, which has been a much needed distraction and kept our hearts full as it happened to be visitors from many different seasons of life, including friends from China. 

People keep asking us, how are you doing? The truth is, I don't know. Do any of us really know how we're doing? I've kept my head so busy so my heart can't really feel. I want to be excited and embrace this new adventure, however I know if I allow myself that joy it comes with the pain of closing a chapter. The closing of the chapter is not just on life in China, but for life overseas and my identity of being an expat. 

In the last five weeks, we have painted four rooms, purchased a car, unpacked 90% of our boxes, halfway set up a classroom, hosted visitors three weekends and traveled to the lake twice, not to mention are constantly comparing life here to life in China. My head keeps making mental to-dos so I can keep crossing them off. I am NOT juggling the daily chores of laundry and dishes and keeping picked up yet. I believe we will have to build up our stamina in that area again. I am NOT feeling ready to dive into teaching during a pandemic on a new platform at at new school with a new community of parents and students. 

My heart is still closed up tight and for now I think that is okay. We are all entering and have been dealing with a season that makes no sense that seems to continue to worsen as we stare in disbelief at the new inputs almost daily. 

I'd like to blame my weight gain poundage on COVID, however that's not entirely fair nor helpful for me in getting back on track. I'm sure it is the lack of routine and being completely overwhelmed at the grocery store that the ease of the American drive thru has packed it's punch more times than I'd like to admit. 

I've been trying to slowly get back into exercising because I know that helps my head and I've been funky to say the least. All that to say that today marked my first long run to a place that I have envisioned running at since we decided we would be moving back home. Today I did a run/walk to the walking bridge... oldest walking bridge in America. It seems every place we go I cling to one landmark that is symbolic of being connected to that place... Pearl Tower in Shanghai, Twin towers in KL. For me the walking bridge is that symbol that I can't help but stop to notice and admire every time I see it. 

This morning I had a lot of epiphanies that I hope encourage you where ever you may be. Side note, this is a judgement free, no condemnation place of encouragement. If you don't like what you read it's okay to press the x and move along. 

My runs are my alone time in which I've often have what I call Pavement Provocations (Provoking Thought). Here is what I was thinking today and I hope encourages whoever needs to hear it. 

Looking at the hill before us, we think "How will I ever get to the top?" or even say, "There is no way I can make it." I felt that today. I thought, why did I think I could run this and started on a negative feedback loop. Then came the positive self talk. Break that loop. Focus on TRUTH... I began to think, who cares if I don't run it? Walk it. I will still make it to the top. I still got out here and did something hard. 

Cue Epiphany. Many of us [teachers] are about to walk into unknown territory. It looks much like a giant hill and we can't imagine how we will ever make it to the top; we may not even be able to see the top. The truth is we've all made it to the tops of many, many hills before this one and somehow we forgot how strong and resilient we truly are. We will make it to the top. Maybe we will climb at different speeds, some of us walking, some of us sprinting, but we will make it in our own time and together. We are not alone because we are all climbing the same hill. What I see when I look at the hill may look different than what you see, but at the end of the day we are all on the same hill and we know once we reach the top, the rest will be a piece of cake. 

Moving into a season of unknown and a season of "How (the blank) are we going to do this?" I know this feels different. I know this feels scary. I know you feel inadequate. I do. Teachers, I want to remind you that you will and can do whatever is being asked of you. I know this feels completely overwhelming. My encouragement to you is to remember all the hills you conquered before. All the times you thought, no way, not ever and you DID! We truly are in this together. We will do things we've never done before. We will show up for each other and for the kids because that is what we do. We will figure this out. We will make it work. We will be so much stronger on the other end. I don't know when we will reach the apex of the hill, but I know we will. It may be in a month, next semester or next year, but we can't let that impede the work we need to do today; the work we need to do to get up that hill even if we have to drag each other. This is what we are doing. Remember the WE. One step at at time, one new thing at a time, one more inch forward. We will be better, stronger and more resilient on the other side. I just know it. 

I hope when the day comes that we can look back down at the hill we climbed, we all celebrate a job well done, never forgetting what we've done so we're ready for the next one! 

Love and Blessings to you wherever you may be,


Monday, May 11, 2020

Covid-inspired Creating Part 1

No one could have guessed what 2020 would hold. We are living through a global pandemic. This post is part creative expression in the form of fabric and sewing, but really this is a chance for me (personally) to document some of my thoughts during this time.

If you are reading this, this is where the advocacy part comes in. (If you just want the crafting, go to Covid-inspired Creating Part 2) This is where I use this platform to share my thoughts and use my voice. I very rarely do this on a public forum like this, however in these unprecedented times I feel I have some perspective to offer.

For those of us here in China, we are months ahead of you in the United States. There are many rumors floating around, but we feel certain the virus may have been closer than we thought back in December. Fast forward to the last day in school before CNY holiday. At mid day, rumors of the virus began, our assembly was cancelled and people traveling were told they must wear a mask. We had not planned on traveling at that time, so we went home and continued to wait. As the days went on, the fear and panic set in. Particularly for us, being so far from home and in a country that was not our own became the driving source of insecurity. We trekked to the local grocer, loading and stocking up for what we thought may have been a month or so. Everyone in masks, everywhere, at all times. Soon after this pandemic stockpiling, the school sent word that if we could fly out we were encouraged to do so, along with the travel advisory warnings from travel to and from China. We hopped on a plane with less than 24 hour notice and went to Malaysia. As we disembarked and left the Penang airport, workers were handing out masks. At that time there were no reported cases on the island of Penang, but they knew to take this thing seriously. We were in Penang almost two months and it is one big blur to be quite honest. It was emotionally draining to navigate; working more hours than what felt like the day had, parenting in an airbnb amidst a pandemic, juggling our own fears and anxieties, again never really sure what we were doing from day to day. The lack of security and constant plans changing from hour to hour as new inputs were received were completely draining. As we spoke with friends back in China, the country was on lock down. They were able to go out to dinner every once in awhile, but for the most part everyone resided in their homes. Everyone wore masks, everywhere, all the time. 

We returned home on March 16th to a quiet, blue-skyyed Jinqiao. Gratitude beyond belief that we were back in our space with our dog, hamster and our BEDS. Because we were coming in from a non-hot-spot area we did not have the hard quarantine. We were able to come and go for necessities from our home and the kids were able to play in our yard. After 14 days, life was pretty much back to normal and we've been enjoying quality time with the neighbors since. We go out, but the new normal means masks are on everywhere, all the time and everywhere you go you get your temp taken. There are QR codes, health forms, frequent check-ins to ensure everyone is healthy. China has handled this with very strict guidelines and have enforced them fully. 

For now, with the border locked the cases are minimal to null and things seem to be under control. That doesn't mean a second wave won't come. That doesn't mean we stop wearing out masks. I have learned not to plan, predict or speculate because it is all in vain. Operate on any given day with the inputs you have, trust your gut and make smart choices. In our house, we help the kids conquer the fear of the virus and fear of going into public places by saying, "We won't be scared, we will be smart." This means wearing masks, and, washing hands often, and social distancing. 

I know you are stir-crazy. I know you are bored, I know you want to go outside. You may be scared. You may not care. You may not think this will affect you or "it's not that bad." If you are reading this, this affects all of us.  Wear a mask and wash your hands if you must go out. It is the self-less, responsible choice that has been proven to reduce the spread of the virus. Is it really THAT big of a deal to slip on a thin piece of fabric, (okay, maybe if you're running a marathon, don't wear a mask), but come on people we are in a global pandemic. Let's care for each other and ourselves by doing something that simple. 

If I can offer any advice... try to reframe your thoughts. Of all the things you think you are missing, think of all the things you GET to do. Continue to love the ones you're with, even if they are driving you crazy. Pull out the puzzles, board games, books, conversation cards and do those things you NEVER seem to have time to do. Learn some new recipes, maybe start a garden. Try to help a neighbor. There are so many hurting, unfortunate people who do not have access to half of the blessings we have. It seems unfair for us to complain about anything and furthermore, it seems unfair that "we" think we are afforded the "right" to go out without a mask. 

You have the time now, what are you going to do with it? 

Spoken with much love,


Covid-inspired Creating Part 2

For this particular project it's been on my heart and mind to find a way to create something purposeful and when we get back stateside, I hope to contribute in some way using my gift of sewing if masks are something people need. Please know that I have never had formal training, nor do I claim to be a sewing expert. I fumble, bumble and try to figure out my projects along the way.

One thing to note, I rarely look at other craft blog tutorials (if I going to post something) because there is a part of me that feels like that is cheating (if I did, I would have proper citations, hah!) and another part of me wants to figure it out for myself. I have internalized The Stanford d.school's design thinking process, or elements of it, when tackling a project.

So with that, I worked through a few iterations or prototypes of fabric mask making. I'll share the process in hopes to inspire you... (If you want to know more about how or why this was inspired, read Covid-inspired Creating Part 1

Before you begin, you'll need a sewing machine, rectangle fabric scraps and elastic. You really can do this as a beginner. Give it a try!

TIP: use elastic headbands! I used to score these 5 for $1 at the Dollar Tree back in the states. 

Prototype 1: Reversible Ear Flap Strap Mask 

Cut out two rectangles of fabric. I wish I had measurements, but I don't. Sorry! 
I am guessing around a 6 by 8 inch rectangle. 

Now, this was the first attempt, so I WOULD NOT do it this way. The elastic ends should have been stretched out a bit more to the corners, but go with it. 

Pin the elastic (close to the corner) and place the other piece on top. 

You are making a sandwich with the elastic on the inside. 

Sew with a zig-zag stitch. 

Check that the elastic is secure between the two pieces of fabric.

Repeat pinning and sewing the elastic on the other side, then run the zig zag stitch all the way around. 

You should have a pocket. 

Sew the fourth edge, leaving about 1.5 inch opening. 

Flip it inside out. 

You should have a small opening left. 

Tuck in the fabric and pull it tight. 

Pin it and use a straight stitch to sew all four sides. 

Press and trim the stray thread. 

Comfy fit, but it was too loose and the elastic would have been better if sewn in on the corners. 

Prototype 2: The Headband Mask 

I often do not have enough bobbins for the thread colors I use. 

TIP: If you are not anal or OCD, your top thread and and bobbin thread DO NOT HAVE to match. Really, I promise. Just choose colors that match the color scheme and you'll be surprised at the tiny extra detail of color. 

This was a 15 by 8 inch rectangle. 

Remember fan folding? I tried that out to make pleats. Fan fold and press with a hot iron after each fold. Press the entire piece to solidify folds. 

Cut in half so you have two equally sized rectangles. 

Go ahead and straight stitch both ends, on both pieces, so the pleats stay in place. 

Prep your sandwich. This time lay the elastic straight from end to end close to the corners. 

Pin and sew. 

*This was too tight for me so don't trim off the extra, use it so yours fits better than mine. 

Follow the same steps above, sewing all the sides and flipping it inside out. 

Straight stitch the entire side to close the opening. 


This one took a minute to get into. 

Strap one, over the head to rest at the base...  

Then pull up strap two. 

The elastic is also a little tight for Jovie, but it doubles well as a.... 


This fits nicely. It just needs a little more room. 

 Stay safe, be inspired, go create something! 

Sunday, May 3, 2020

Yes Another Headband...

Okay, the inaugural post to welcome me back into the crafting blogger world had to be a headband tutorial... I will not apologize for this. I have and will probably always like headbands, even if I do not wear them as much as I did in my twenties.

Think NO Sew Scarf meets Handband Weaving (previous posts... from a long, long time ago) 

What started as a project to FINALLY cut up all those t-shirts sitting in a tub waiting to become a quilt... 

Quickly became an inspired opportunity to make an easy and super comfortable headband! 

We're rockin' it sweatband style! 

I'm a little rusty, but see if you can follow along. I would love to see what you create. 
You know you have old tees sitting around waiting to be renewed and upcycled! 

This is one of those projects that do not require fancy tools. I promise. They just make it go quicker. 

You can use any pair of sharp scissors and cut the bottom off a t-shirt. Cut straight across from armpit to armpit so you have a rectangle. 
Cut strings from seam to seam. Then cut the seams off. 
You'll end up with six strips. (or how every many you want)

Fun fact about t-shirt jersey:
it stretches and becomes a big soft and yarn-like when you give it a hard tug 

(hence the no need for tidy lines, once you pull it, it will roll into itself and edges will be hidden)

Pull on all six strips. 

Lay out as shown. 

Hopefully you can braid. If you can't, well... ask a friend to help you with this project (one who can braid). 

Imagine you are braiding... basically, the three strands on the right and the three strands on the left...

Then you cross the middle strands and keep going... I don't think you can mess this up. 

Gently tug, separate the strands as you go... do NOT pull too hard. 

You don't have to sew it at this point. You could tie it off with small rubber bands or maybe pin it. 

If you do have a sewing machine, just run through the ends. 
Overlap slightly and secure the ends together. 

With extra strips, you will wrap all that mess up. 

Tie off one end and leave some hanging out. You will tuck this into the wrapped part. Really there is not right or wrong way to do this. Play with it. You want the ends tied and tucked so it won't unravel. It also makes it sit nicely at the back of the head comfortably. 

And there you have it! 

Play around with colors... I guess you could chose to do a multi-colored one. That might look cool. (Do people still say cool?) 

I made a 5 strand one for Jovie because I didn't want it too wide on her small head. 

Here's that not so tiny baby now... 

I hope you enjoyed this tutorial! If you do get inspired let me know! It will keep me going. 

Happy Crafting