Monday, September 07, 2009

Skype

When we were in China, we used Skype to see and talk with family and friends back home in America, but last week we reversed it and had a video call with Xing Ayi and Xiao Shang. It was great. They were SO excited to see the boys and the boys loved seeing Ayi and Shu Shu.

Xing Ayi asked how we are doing. She said the boys look so lovely and that I look tired.... Nice! I said I am busy. She said she knows and that she'd like to come help me. MAYBE!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Home at last


We are now back in the US. It has really been a busy month. June 16-20th, the movers were at our house. I've never seen such efficient movers. They made boxes that perfectly fit the furniture before crating it all up. We had 15 wooden crates in all. The workers packed boxes for 2 days and crated them on the third day for our sea shipment. It will take a few months before we see them all again. On the fourth day, a different company came to box up our air shipment. The government calls the shipment "unaccompanied baggage" and it is only supposed to take about a month. At last check, however, the shipment was still being held in Beijing by customs agents. Go figure...

For the last week in China, we tried to relax and enjoy family time. We did a little sight seeing, some shopping and went to our favorite restaurants. We sold our car, so getting around was a little tricky. Mile-long walks to a restaurant or for a last minute pedicure are not so enjoyable in 100+ degree weather and heavily polluted air. These things just made it easier to leave China, though, so I guess it's a good thing.

For the last month, pollution has been especially bad. We all were coughing our lungs up and Jed came down with a fever of 105.7. We feared it was H1N1 but the doctor was less concerned since Jed was acting fairly well. It passed and we breathed (coughed) a sigh of relief.

As diplomats, we were each entitled to 3 bags on the airplane and since Tom was traveling on military orders, he was able to take 2 extra bags. In total, we had 20 suitcases! We departed our home in a small bus filled with friends, suitcases and our family. As we pulled away, the driver and ayi both sobbed. Xing Ayi could not bring herself to see us outside. She watched from the window. It was heartbreaking.

Once we departed, however, it was immediately behind us and we were looking towards the future. We used Tom's miles to upgrade to business class and enjoyed a comfortable trip over the Pacific.

The flight attendants enjoyed talking to the boys. Jack kept looking around and he said to one of the ladies, "I just can't get over how much extra room there is up here." She laughed and said, "well sweetie, it's the old saying, ' you get what you pay for...' You pay a little, you get a little, you pay a lot, you get a lot. Enjoy!" All four boys did great on the flight. Of course, Zeke had his moments of not wanting to sit, but didn't we all?

We arrived in DC in the evening and our wonderful friends, Michelle and Craig and Jay and Nalini, picked us up in 4 vehicles and took us to our hotel. The next day, our car, which I had purchased during my May househunting trip to DC, was delivered to us. We spent a few family days in DC and then took a trip up to PA to see Tom's family. After a few days, we left Jack, Jed and Huck in PA and Tom, Zeke and I went back to DC to buy a second car and settle on our houses. We sold the old one and bought a new one. When we learned we could not get our long term storage delivered for at least a week, we went back up to PA, picked up the boys and drove to St. Louis to see my parents and the rest of the crew. We left PA at 5 a.m. and arrived in StL at 8:30 p.m., driving straight through. Again, the boys were champs.

So, we are now in St. Louis, enjoying a little down time. Our storage will be delivered on the 24th. Tom will be there to receive it and start unpacking. The boys and I will return when we have beds for the boys to sleep on. All of our old furniture is in the storage shipment because we were not permitted to take it with us to China. That will make it easy to move in to the new house quickly. We just have to figure out what we will do with the old stuff when the new stuff arrives. CRAIGSLIST!

It's great to be back in America. It was hard to leave our friends in China and I miss every one very much, but being home is something special. Despite its faults, America is the best country, hands down. As Jack said, "green grass, fresh air, and water we can drink from the tap." What more could we ask for?

moving day





Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Time To Go

We are leaving Beijing in 10 days. By the time we board the plane, we will have been here for more than 3 years, the longest we've ever lived anywhere together. I have mixed feelings about leaving. I am eager to get back to America but am sad to leave the life we've made here. We've made wonderful friends here and it feels like we are leaving family. The hardest part is leaving our ayi, but not for the reasons most people would think. Of course I will miss the help she gives us, but more than that, I will miss the part of our family she has become. We all love her and she adores the boys... each one. Jack, Jed and Huck each have their own attachment to/with her. It's wonderful to see. Worse, though, is the feeling of terrible guilt and sadness I feel for pulling Zeke away from her. She is so attached to him. She has loved him since the day after he was born. When I told her I was expecting, she jumped for joy... literally. She was in tears a few days ago, when we were talking about the coming weeks. Knowing we are the cause of her distress is a terrible feeling. We've told her she can come visit whenever she wants. All she needs to do is get a passport and we'll write a letter to try to get her a visa and pay for her ticket. I know this hardly helps to ease the heartache, though.I've said before that I cannot read my own blog, but until now I've been able to write it. Now, though, the entire blogger site is blocked. So, I am writing this entry in an email and my Dad will post it for me. (Thanks Dad)Three weeks ago, I traveled back to the DC area and found a house to buy. In 10 days, we'll fly back to Dulles and the family will see the new house. We'll have a mini vacation in Washington DC for a few days. Then, we will drive up to PA, in our new car (I also bought a car when I was in the US) and after a few days with the family, leave the three older boys with Tom's parents while Tom, Zeke and I go back to close on the house and move in to it. So, this might be my last post for a while. Thanks for reading.Xie Xie and Zaijian!

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Having my cake and eating it too...


I had to run an errand today and wanted to take Zeke with me. This is a rare occurrence because, why would I take a toddler on an errand with me when I have a perfectly good babysitter at home? Sometimes, though, I just feel like having him with me. I know I'll long for these days of the easy babysitter soon enough but I don't always like to leave him at home.

So, anyway, I decided to take him with me. Keep in mind that running an errand here is not like running an errand in America. I cannot just hop in the car, pull up to Target, hop out, complete my transactions and dash home.

I went to the Sunny Gold market to exchange a pair of trousers I had bought last week. They had a hole in them and somehow I missed it when I made the purchase. I buy from this particular lady regularly so I knew I would not have a problem. So, despite the fact that this is not a stroller friendly, nor shopping cart containing place, off I went with Zeke (and the driver).

We pull into our parking place (no easy task- backing up, in between to closely parked cars) and I get Zeke out of the car and start to juggle him with my sling. The driver hops out, grabs Zeke and says he'll help me. So, off we go, into the market and up the escalator. Xiao Shang proceeds to entertain Zeke as I made my transaction to exchange the trousers. He had Zeke laughing up a storm, walking on the top of the escalator like a treadmill. Not exactly an activity that I would have selected, but they both seemed to be enjoying themselves and I know that Xiao Shang would never let anything happen to Zeke, so I let it be.

Next I walked around the corner of the market to get a larger size of a shirt I had purchased for each of the boys. The vendor had told me I could change one if it did not fit. Jed's is a bit too small so I went by her stall and sure enough, this time she had the larger sizes. I bought one from her and next time I go, I'll take back the too-small one and exchange it for something else.

All of the vendors I frequent enjoyed seeing Zeke. He walked up to one of the women, arms extended, and let her hold him for a while.

I walked around for a little while, looking for a purse that I want, trying to kill a little time before heading back to pick Huck up from school, all the while, the driver followed. At this point, I was carrying Zeke. I did not find the bag and soon we got back into the car and headed to get Huck.

It was a successful outing. Everyone had fun. Now I just wish I could take Xiao Shang with me to Target in July! Oh well. That's what shopping carts and lollipops are for, right? I'll keep telling myself that.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

The boys today

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Here is Huck opening his last bday present and boy was he happy!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Jed's haircut video

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Huck's haircut video

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The Big Haircuts


The before picture



The boys have been growing their hair for nearly a year and a half in order to donate it to Pantene Beautiful Lengths. Jed heard about someone who did it and said he wanted to do it. I told him if he wanted to do it, I would do it with him so he would have someone to do it with him and then Huck said he wanted to do it as well.

Yesterday was the big day. We all got our hair cut at different times and everyone is happy with the results. This being China, though, of course my hair looks absolutely nothing like what I asked for, but that's ok. It will grow back and the end result of the whole day is we have 4- 8 inch ponytails to donate for wigs for women with medical hair loss.




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LOVE this picture, though he did not want me to post it.





AFTER

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Thursday, May 07, 2009

Walking through the village

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There is a village about 3/4 of a mile from our house. We walk by it every day and occasionally walk through the main drag. Today, though, my friend suggested we take a different turn once we were on the main drag through the village.

We discovered a hidden metropolis! There was so much activity. It was great to see. My friend bought a hat for a party tonight for less than a dollar. There were fruit and vegetable stands, buckets, mops, shoes, clothing for sale and lots of people going about their business, as you can see in the video.

I gave out several American flag pins to adults and lollipops to kids. I try to remember to carry them whenever we are out and about.