Friday, December 3, 2010

KIND OF SAD . . .

I just found out a few days ago that my favorite teacher from high school has cancer. How scary and sad for him. If you knew me well, you'd know that I HATED high school. There was very little that I liked about it. 1.) My best friend came from there. We've been friends since we were 13 years old. And NO, I'm not going to tell you how LONG we've been friends, because then you'll know just how old I really am! ;) 2.) Retreats. We went on retreats every year in high school. And those were very rewarding and refreshing, and they helped me to become a stronger person. 3.) This teacher. He's probably one of the best teachers I've ever had. I had him Sophomore and Senior year. One of the classes was US History. And I HATED US History. I'm sorry, but I just think it's boring. But somehow he made it seem interesting. I remember when the Challenger exploded and he told us that we have the last set of history books that will NOT have that in there. I'm not sure why that stuck out in my mind, but I think it just helped me realize that history changes every day and that's why we SHOULD be interested in where we came from and where we might be heading. I always looked forward to going to his class. It was always one of my favorites, believe it or not. He really knew how to get your attention and make you think that what you were studying was actually important. But more than that, he really seemed to care about his kids. I've had a lot of teachers in my life. And I've had some very good teachers, and some not so good ones. And one quality of the BEST teachers is that they CARE. And I really think he did.

He had cancer once before and it went away. But now it's back. And I'm sure it takes a toll on a family. Physically, mentally, financially. It breaks my heart to see such a great person going through such a great struggle. I hope, and I pray, that the cancer goes away for good this time. And I also hope he knows that he made a great impression on his students. Even one that hated high school and has very few good memories from those years. But his class was one of the bright spots for her in a place where there seemed to be very few.

Friday, November 26, 2010

AFTERTHOUGHTS . . .

I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving. My husband said it would be hard to top last Thanksgiving for the kids because we spent it in Hong Kong Disneyland. And it was great. But this year was SO much better for me. I LOVED my year away, but I missed my family and our traditions, more than you can possibly imagine. Last year, my parents and my brother didn't even have Thanksgiving dinner because they all thought it would be too hard. So they went to the track instead. And then they went to my cousins like we always do. I got to talk to them while they were at my cousins. But I was crying so hard I couldn't really have a conversation with them. I was fine until my dad answered his phone. Then I started crying so hard I couldn't talk. He thought something was wrong. I could barely tell him I was fine, through all the crying! So yeah, family's kind of important to me; especially my parents and my "baby" brother.

This year we went to Mom and Dad's for the full fledged Thanksgiving dinner. After that we went to my cousin's. And we had a great time. I LOVE going there. This year was a little tough because my aunt, Kim's mom, passed away a couple of months ago. And she was a delight to be around. So yeah, this year, there was a hole in our family. But I think we all still had a good time. And she would have wanted it that way. She wouldn't have wanted us to dwell on the fact that she's not there. Because really, she was there. And now her kids and grandkids have their own special angel in heaven. What more could you ask for?!

I have a lot to be thankful for in my life. I might not look like Jennifer Aniston or Sandra Bullock; have the money of Donald Trump or Bill Gates; or the self-confidence that I've longed for my whole life. But you know what? They don't have the things I have. A husband who loves me despite all of my flaws and all of our differences. Three beautiful children who try my patience one minute and make me smile the next. Parents who always loved me and taught me respect and integrity. A brother who was always there for me and still is. Family that's always been such an important part of my life. Friends that love me for who I am and don't expect me to change to be more like them.

So yeah, I think I have it pretty good. And sometimes, especially in today's world, it's good to sit down and just be thankful for the things we DO have, instead of dwelling on the things we DON'T.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

HAPPY THANKSGIVING . . .

This week on Facebook I did a whole week about things I am thankful for. I decided to post them here, in the order I wrote them. I hope you all have a happy, safe and YUMMY Thanksgiving!

Today I am thankful for my hubby and my kids. Even though there are some days that I long for some peace and quiet, my world would not be complete without them.

Today I am thankful for my wonderful parents. They showed me they would always love me and be there for me, no matter what. They taught me respect and forgiveness. They showed ME how to be the best parent I can be. They helped me, be ME. Like it or not! :)

Today I am thankful for my "baby" brother. He always "had my back" when we were growing up, and lucky for me, he still does. He's an amazing Uncle and Godfather to my children. He's one of the best people I know, and I thank God every day that he's a part of my life.

Today I am thankful for "My Angel". Even though she's been gone for 12 years, she's always in my heart. She made me feel special and I never doubted her love for me. She's always been my hero, and she always will be. I love you Grandma. Thanks for EVERYTHING.

Kellie Pickler - My Angel

Today I am thankful for my "besties". U know who u r. Thanks for listening to me, crying with me, laughing with me, and most importantly letting me know you love me. Esp when I was in China and thought you'd forget about me! Whether we've been friends for 27 years, 21 years, or just a few short years, u mean the world to me, and I thank God for you every day!

FRIENDS by Michael W Smith

Today I am thankful for my family. My WHOLE family. I have 15 aunts and uncles, 18 cousins, and too many 2nd cousins to keep track of! I am very lucky to have been a part of such a special family. From summers in Lebanon to Christmas Eve in Mt. Washington "patiently" waiting to open gifts, family has always been a special part of my life, and for that, I am very thankful.

Today I am thankful for Ryan who's my polar opposite, yet he still loves me and puts up with my "idiosyncrasies"; Jason who's growing into an intelligent free thinking tween; Andrew who's smart and funny and always makes me laugh; and Sarah Beth who constantly tries my patience one minute and tells me she loves me the next. Thank you God for giving me such a wonderful family.

Today I am THANKFUL. I am so happy to be home for Thanksgiving this year. I hope you all have a safe and wonderful Thanksgiving weekend.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

MARRIAGE . . .

I was listening to a talk show the other day and they started talking about marriage. We’ve been married for 14 years and we’ve been together for 15 ½ years. Wow! That’s kind of a long time!

I remember a few weeks before our wedding talking to my mom. I was starting to get nervous and wondering if I was doing the right thing. It’s not that I didn’t love Ryan, it’s just that I was getting scared. It’s a big step. And it’s one that I don’t think people take as seriously as they used to. Anyway, she told me it was normal, and that everyone has doubts some times.

I'm not sure if it was before or after we got married, but I remember talking to Ryan's Grandpa and he told us that marriage is not 50/50 it's 90/10. Sometimes YOU give 90 and HE gives 10, and other times HE gives 90 and YOU give 10. And sometimes you feel like YOU'RE always giving 90 and he feels like HE'S always giving 90. But that's what marriage is. No one ever said it was easy. And if someone told you that, THEY LIED!!!!

Ryan and I couldn't be more different if we tried. He's a UofL fan, I'm a UK fan. I'm Catholic, he's not. I love country music, he HATES it. I like to talk, he doesn't. I like being around people, he doesn't. He's organized, (or at least pretends to be), and I'm not. But somehow we've made it work 14 years. I know people that have a lot more in common that couldn't make it work that long. And that's what it is. It's work. I remember my mom telling me when I was younger that if spouses would treat each other the same way we treat our kids, there would be a lot less divorce in the world. And I think she's right. I mean think about it. Our kids tick us off, and 5 minutes later, we're over it. Our spouses tick us off and we could still be mad 2 weeks later! Our kids don't listen to us, and we get over it. Our spouses don't, and we remind them a bazillion times that if they had listened to us, they would know what's going on. Our kids say something to hurt our feelings, and we get over it. Our spouses do, and we might remind them of "that thing you said" 10 years later! I think we tend to love our children more "unconditionally" than we do our spouses.

Marriage isn't easy. It's a job. And sometimes that job is easier than others. It takes listening to each other, talking to each other, enjoying each others company, and RESPECTING each other, to make it work.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

CHINA . . . .

Someone asked me last night if I miss China. Funny thing is, I do. There are parts of it I really miss. I miss going to the wet market every week. I miss having coffee with my neighbor/friend and chatting about our husbands and our kids. I miss going to the Underground to find my "bargains". I miss exploring the city and knowing that we're seeing things we'll never see again, and that most people never get the opportunity to see. I miss my Ayi. I REALLY miss my Ayi! Especially when it comes time to do the laundry and clean the bathrooms!

China was a great experience for all of us, and I'm so glad we did it. Even as hard as it was for me when we first got there and also towards the end when it was almost time to go home. I still don't regret our decision to go. We got to see a part of the world that most people never get to see. We got to experience a new culture. We got to meet new people from all over the world. And somehow, I think that makes us better people. It makes us aware that there are other things out there. It makes realize how lucky we are to live where we live and have the things we have.

So yeah, there are times I really miss China. But I am very thankful for the opportunity that we had to experience life in another country. Most people never get that opportunity, so I consider us very lucky.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

BULLYING . . .

I've been "stewing" for the last few hours because of something I heard on the radio. I figured the best way to feel better, is to write about it and get my feelings out.

First, let me start by saying that I came into the "discussion" towards the end, so I didn't get to hear everything that was said before. I do know they were talking about bullying, how it affects children, and some things that can be done to help stop and prevent it. One lady had the courage to call in and talk about her daughter who was cyber-bullied so badly that she committed suicide. Her family has started a foundation in her name to talk about bullying prevention. Someone then called in to say that they thought bullying was a natural part of life and that it's a good thing because otherwise we'd all be too soft and sitting at home "watching Oprah." He then made a comment about Portia De Rossi who has a new book out, and went so far to say that she DESERVED to be bullied. I'm sorry, WHAT?!?!? I wanted to go through the radio and strangle him! My first thought was that he never went through anything like that growing up, and more likely was the bully, and also, that he obviously has no children that are having to face it on a weekly basis. (Don't misunderstand me, my kids aren't being bullied every week, but they're getting older and they do see things happen. They know what it is, and they know to tell me or another adult if something DOES happen. And they HAVE told me things that have happened).

But how can ANYONE think bullying is a GOOD thing? There have been 7 suicides in the last couple of months because teens were bullied so badly they thought there was no way out. There was a case of cyber bullying a few years ago where it turned out it was the MOTHER of another girl that was bullying a TEENAGER! ARE YOU KIDDING ME?!?! The courageous lady that called in to talk about her daughter and what happened to her. How can you hear those stories, and think it's okay? How can you know that teens are taking their lives because they see no way out? How can this NOT be an issue that we should be worried about?

I wasn't "bullied" so to speak, but I've pretty much been made fun of my whole life because of my size. I think that's why it's such a hot topic for me. I HATED high school. There were parts of it I liked, yes. (My best friend whom I've known since we were 13 is about the only thing that comes to mind at the moment). But overall, I hated it. Because I was different. I wasn't pretty and popular and a size 2. I don't think I've been a size 2 since I WAS 2. I was different. And I stuck out like a sore thumb; especially at an all girls high school where everyone else was prettier, smarter, and more well liked than me. So yeah, maybe I tend to get a little more upset and bothered by it than most people would. But I'm okay with that. I'd rather be MORE aware of what's going on around my kids, than LESS aware.

Don't get me wrong. I still had a good childhood. A GREAT childhood actually. But honestly, the only reason I have even HALF of the self-confidence that I have is because of my wonderful parents and my AMAZING Grandma. They never failed to tell me how much they loved me and how special they thought I was. Heck, my parents STILL tell me that now, and I know my Grandma would too if she was still here. But that's not the same thing. They're your family, and they're SUPPOSED to love you for who you are. Thankfully, mine did and does.

But I still sensor everything that comes out of my mouth when I'm around other people. I question the things I said and did and wonder if they were right or wrong. I don't say a lot of things that are on my mind, because I don't want people to make fun of me. I constantly worry about what people think of me. I think I'm a good person. I HOPE I'm a good person. But sometimes, I don't think other people see that, because they don't take the time to look past the outside, to see what's inside.

So again, yeah maybe I'm a little sensitive about the subject. But you know what? I'm okay with that. Because I think that only serves to make me a better parent, and I hope, a better person. But don't EVER tell me that you think bullying is a good thing. Because believe me, I won't be worried about censoring what I say.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

ME? A WRITER?

Someone asked me to write a couple of articles on our travels and experiences in China. I'm a little excited and A LOT scared. What if no one likes them? Or worse yet - what if no one reads them?! I haven't done a lot of writing since we've been back. I keep saying that I'm going to, but I never got back to it. Maybe this is my chance to start it up again.

So wish me luck. And HOPE that at least SOMEONE reads them!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

SCHOOL . . .

I haven't posted much since I've been home. I guess because we've been home and we're getting back to our lives. Everyone seems to be adjusting pretty well. The boys are doing really well in school. Jason had 4 A's and 2 B's on his first report card. Andrew doesn't get grades, he gets S's and O's. He got mostly O's and a few S's. But his teacher said he's reading at a 6th grade 8 month level. She's keep telling me he's a "genius"! Of course, that's REALLY hard for me to hear! ;-)

Sarah is in preschool this year, and she LOVES it. She only goes 3 days a week, and every day when she wakes up she asks me if she has school today. On the days she doesn't have it, she gets a little bit upset. She adores her teacher, Ms. Mary Beth. Ms. Mary Beth is very good with all of the kids, and Sarah really likes her. We definitely couldn't have asked for a better teacher to get her started in school. Now, if only ALL of her teachers can be as good, then we should be set!


Thursday, September 16, 2010

PRK . . .

After 32 years of being in either glasses or contacts, that's all going to change today. Today I am having surgery on my eyes. I went in to talk about Lasik surgery, but of course I can never do things the easy way, so I'm not a candidate for Lasik. My eyes are too bad for them to do it. I have a slight astigmatism in both eyes and my right eye is -850 and my left is -650. So instead they have to do something called PRK. It still works the same way, but it's much less patient friendly and the recovery time is a lot longer. I can't drive for 5 days, and I will probably be in pain for those 5 days. Also, it'll take a little longer for my vision to get to 20/20 than it would with Lasik. But the doctor said right after the surgery I'll still be able to see well enough to get around and do things without my glasses or contacts. That'll be amazing, because right now I can't see two inches in front of my face without them.

Anyway, wish my luck! I'll post about the surgery sometime next week. I don't think I'll be on the computer much this weekend since I'm supposed to sleep and keep my eyes closed as much as possible.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

JASON . . .

I'm SO proud of how far Jason has come in the last year. He's always been pretty confident, but he's also worried a lot about what other people think of him. He never wanted to be a leader, because he was afraid no one else would follow. I remember when he was younger he wouldn't wear his hat on the bus on hat day, he'd put it in his backpack, because he didn't want to be the only one that was wearing one. That doesn't really seem to bother him anymore.

I've seen him grow up so much this past year. He has this confidence that I've never seen in him before. He EXCELLED last year in China. He had an AMAZING teacher, he made wonderful friends, he tried so many different activities that he's never done before. He was in the middle school play, he was in band, he took drama. He was doing all of these things that he'd never done before, and he learned so much from them. When he was in the play, it was A LOT of work; practices after school 3 days a week and on weekends, plus, he still had to keep up with his homework, which was more than he'd ever had in all of his time in school. But he did great. He'd stay after school for practice, come home and eat dinner, do his homework, take a shower and go to bed. He didn't get to play with his friends much that last month, but he never complained about it. (Well not much anyway, he was only 10 after all)! As a matter of fact, he told me that even though it's a lot of work, he had SO much fun, and he can't wait to do it again. I couldn't believe it! The same kid who wouldn't wear a hat on the bus was standing up ON STAGE in a LIZARD and an OYSTER costume, acting his little heart out in front of the school. I WAS SOOO PROUD OF HIM. I *AM* so proud of him.

I can't wait to see what he accomplishes in the coming years.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

GLEE . . . .

I'm not sure if any of you watch the show GLEE, but the kids and I do, and we really like it. That's pretty much the only music we listen to in the car. Sarah even gets in the car and says "I wanna listen to Jessie's Girl." And as soon as it comes on, she knows what it is. She'll go, "that's Jessie's Girl mommy!" All three of my kids have always liked music, so that's probably one reason they like the show so much.

I started watching it in China. A LOT of my friends over there told me to watch it, but I just thought I watched enough TV, so I didn't need to add one more to my list. Finally, one night after American Idol, I decided to watch it since every one else was in bed. It was REALLY good. I really liked it. The first episode I watched was "Laryngitis" which had Jessie's Girl in it, and I've loved that song ever since it came out IN THE 80'S!!! (I feel so old)! I even have the original on my mp3 player, although I have to admit I don't listen to that version anymore.

Anyway, a lot of the kids' friends were watching it as well, so they wanted to see it. If you've seen it, you know they deal with a lot of "mature" topics, so I wasn't sure whether or not it was a good idea for them to see it. After a few days of contemplation, I decided it was better for them to watch it with ME, than to watch it while at their friends. Plus, because I'd already seen every episode, I knew what was coming and what things to talk about with them during each episode. Needless to say, we've had some real "eye opening" conversations. But that's a whole other discussion!

The thing I like most about the show is that the main theme, to me anyway, seems to be about being true to yourself. The teacher is always telling the football player that the things and people that are so important to him now, probably won't be after he graduates from high school. And that's SO true on so many levels. I have ONE friend from high school that I still talk to every week, and sometimes every day. I have about 2 or 3 that I talk to every few weeks. And that's it.

I tell my boys all the time: Do what YOU want to do and what's important to YOU. And don't worry about what other people think. If you are doing what's important to you, then you are going to be happy. There are always going to be people that don't like you, for whatever reason, and you can't change that. So try not to worry too much about it, and just be true to yourself.

NOW, if I could only convince myself of the same thing! ;-)

Saturday, August 28, 2010

BOXES, BOXES, AND MORE BOXES!

Our shipment from China arrived earlier this week. 19 boxes. What a pain in the butt! I don't think I'll ever get everything unpacked and put away. I have about 8 suitcases that I need to unpack, but I'm not even going to mess with them right now. All in all I've emptied about 6-7 boxes. That's not too bad I guess, except that means I still have 12 more to go. YUCK!!!

I'm still having a hard time getting motivated, although I did get a lot done in the last 2 days, so maybe that motivation is finally starting to kick in. I sure hope so! Goodness knows I need it.

Not much else going on right now. The boys have started school and they seem to be doing pretty well. I still can't believe that Jason's in middle school. How did that happen? He's growing up so fast. Of course, now that he's in middle school, he thinks he's a big shot!

I guess that's it for now.


Friday, August 20, 2010

BUTTERFLIES . . .

I have seen SO many butterflies in the last 2 weeks. I'm not sure where they're all coming from, but I love seeing them. Every time I see one, it reminds me of my Grandma. She loved butterflies. I remember the priest talking about it at her funeral. Ever since she's been gone, I've "collected" butterfly things. It makes me feel closer to her.

I can't believe it's been almost 12 years since she's been gone. I've been thinking a lot about her lately, I guess because of all the butterflies I've been seeing. I always feel like it's her way of telling me that she's still looking out for me, even though she's not "here". I guess that sounds silly, but it makes me feel better, so it works for me.


Monday, August 16, 2010

HAPPY BIRTHDAY SARAH BETH . . .

So today is my baby girl's 3rd birthday. I can't believe she's 3 already. HECK, I can't even believe she's HERE! She was SO not planned!

I still remember when we found out I was pregnant with her. The night we found out we were driving down the road talking about all the things we didn't have . . . stroller, carseat, baby bed, bottles, bibs, NOTHING! I was SO scared and so overwhelmed. Andrew was going to be starting Kindergarten in the Fall and Jason was going to be in 3rd grade. How could we add a brand new baby? Was that fair to the boys? How would they react? Would they feel like we were taking something from them?

Ryan told the kids as soon as we found out. He also told his Dad. They were all THRILLED! After we left there, we went to my parents to tell them. Mom was home, but Dad was at O'Connell's watching the UK game. Mom was thrilled, of course. She told me to call Dad at O'Connell's. So I called him and said, "guess what we're having in a few months?" That's all I said. To which he replied, "We're getting our girl!" Where'd that come from?! He called me back about 5 minutes later and told me he got more high fives than he does when UK wins. For those of you that don't my dad, that's a HUGE deal. I called Laura the next day and she was so excited she screamed and wound up with a bloody nose. She said, "It's a girl!" Everyone kept telling me that it was a girl, but I kept telling them that we don't make girls.

I was almost 8 weeks pregnant with her before I even knew that I was pregnant. When I went to the doctor my numbers were low, so they were afraid it was an ectopic pregnancy and they sent me for an ultrasound to make sure that it wasn't. I was TERRIFIED!!! I remember talking to Laura on the way there and she said to me, "Everything is going to be fine. This is God's way of telling you, 'you're not sure how you feel about this baby? I'll show you.' You're going to get there and everything is going to be fine, and you're going to be thrilled." So I went for the ultrasound and everything was fine. I was SO excited when I walked out of there. I tried calling Laura back to tell her that everything was okay, and I was crying so hard that I couldn't even talk to her. I was SSSSOOOO glad that everything was okay.

The whole time I was pregnant I kept saying, "God's plan's different than mine! God's plan's different than mine!" Luckily, He's A LOT smarter than I am!

Later on in the pregnancy my test results showed that she might have other medical issues. So we had ANOTHER emergency ultrasound. At this ultrasound we found out that she was a SHE. The nurse said, "I wouldn't paint the room yet." To which Ryan replied, "Oh don't worry, she'll have me paint it!" Needless to say it was a very eventful pregnancy. As soon as she was born, Ryan said, "She's healthy!" and I just couldn't stop crying. Not only was she healthy, but she was BEAUTIFUL!!!

The boys were SO excited. They stayed at my parents the night she was born. As soon as they woke up my dad told them that if they hurried and got ready then they could come to the hospital before school and see her. He said he's never seen them move so fast! I had bought them shirts for when she was born. Jason's said "I'm The Biggest Brother" and Andrew's said "I'm The Bigger Brother". When they came to the hospital that morning I gave them their shirts and they wore them to school with pride. They couldn't wait to come back after school and see and hold her.

She has been an AMAZING blessing to our family. I can't even imagine what our lives would be like without her. I always tell people that we were happy and content before she was born, but now we are COMPLETE. She is definitely a gift from God, and I'm so glad he knows more than I do!

I love you Sarah!

Friday, August 13, 2010

WE'RE BBAAAAAAACCKK . . .

Okay, so I haven't posted in a REALLY long time! But let me just start by saying, IT'S GREAT TO BE HOME!!!!!

We're still trying to get settled in and get our life back to "normal;" whatever the heck that is! We've been home for 2 weeks now and I still feel a little bit out of place. I mean, it's great to be back in our own home with our friends around and our family so close by, but I'm also feeling a little bit out of sorts. I don't feel like doing anything around the house . . . of course that could be the fact that I had an Ayi for a year that did it all for me! ;-)

I know once school starts and we start back to our routines, things will just fall into place; it's starting to get a little more "normal" with everyday.

Did I mention IT'S GREAT TO BE BACK!!!!!!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

SARAHISMS . . . AGAIN . . .

"What? What's the problem?"

Sarah: Mommy, stop singing!
Me: Why?
Sarah: Because I don't like it!

"I wanna go home to KENtucky!"

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

FUNK . . .

I haven't been writing much lately. I've been kind of in a "funk" and can't figure out how to get out of it. Hopefully it'll get better when we get home. Actually, I'm SURE it will. I think I'm just SOOOO ready to go home, that it's bringing me down. The last few weeks have been pretty hard. All of my, OUR, friends are gone, either for the summer or for good, so there hasn't been much to do around here. Plus, it's either raining, or it's so hot we don't want to go outside. We've been watching a lot of movies; the kids are doing their Math every, well ALMOST every day; they have one set of friends that are still here, brothers, so they've been over here for a sleepover every week for the past few weeks. That's been nice because it gives them someone different to play with for a change.

But I'm still in a "funk." Hopefully it'll go away soon. It's getting old.

Monday, July 19, 2010

HAPPY BIRTHDAY GRANDMA . . .

Today is my Grandma's birthday. At least it would be if she was still with us. It's hard to believe she's been gone for almost 12 years.

From the time I was very little, she's always been my hero. And she always WILL be my hero. I have so many great memories of spending time with her. My cousin, Cyndi, and I would go to her place together and spend the night. Sometimes I wonder how she put up with us. I remember sitting on the back of her couch, Cyndi on one side and me on the other, and we would "style" her hair. Poor thing! The year we went to Cheerleading Camp, we came home and performed all of our cheers for her.

Some of my best memories are of times spent with her. She made the BEST fried chicken. And I've never tasted anything like it since. And she LOVED White Castle and Kit Kat's. I remember when she was in the nursing home before she died. Every time I would go to visit I would take her 2 White Castles. She'd always say she wasn't hungry and she'd eat them later, but she always finished them before I left!

She started getting sick before our wedding, so she wasn't able to make it to the wedding. But she was staying with Mom and Dad at the time so she got to see me in my wedding dress. Of course, she couldn't see much because her eyesight was failing. But she looked at me and said, "You look so beautiful!" She always said that. No matter what I was wearing or what I looked like. And to her, I always was. I've never been a super model, obviously, and I've never been the Valedictorian, but she always thought I was smart and beautiful. And she actually BELIEVED that! I think she must have worn rose colored glasses her whole life. But I NEVER felt like I wasn't good enough for her. I ALWAYS knew she was proud of me. I can honestly say I NEVER doubted that.

A few years before she died, we decided as a family, all of her kids and grand kids, that the perfect song for her was "Wind Beneath My Wings." (We even sang it for her on Karaoke. I'm sure there's a copy of it floating around somewhere. If anyone has it, I would LOVE to copy it). And it IS the perfect song for her. I still can't hear that song without thinking of her. It will ALWAYS be her song. "I would be nothing without you. Did you ever know that you're my hero? You're everything I wish I could be." I SWEAR those lines were written just for her.

I remember at her funeral, the priest was talking about what a great person she was. He said that she had 13 grandchildren, and all of them felt like she was their favorite. Then we all went around the room and said that WE were the favorite. (But actually it was ME)!! ;-) He also talked about her love for butterflies. So for those of you that know me well, NOW you know why I always collect butterfly objects. It makes me feel like she's still with me.

I'm SOOOO lucky to have had her in my life. I know she's watching down on me from Heaven. Believe me, if anyone is in Heaven, it's her.

I told you before that Jason was named after her. It breaks my heart that she never got to meet my kids. I know she would have loved them, and I KNOW they would have loved her. There was always so much joy and love in her eyes every time she looked at me. And it was real. You can't fake that. I don't know what I did to deserve her, but I'm so glad I got her. I never felt like I wasn't good enough. I never felt like I should be prettier, or smarter, or funnier. She loved ME for ME. Flaws and all. And believe me, there are lots of them!

I see so much of her in my kids. Jason has her sensitivity. She was always so aware of how people felt, and she never wanted to hurt anyone. Jason's like that. Plus, he's named after her, so she will be a part of him forever. She was never a very "demonstrative" person when it came to affection, but we always knew she loved us, and she always knew we loved her. Andrew gets that from her. He loves us, and he knows we love him, but he sure doesn't like to show it! And Sarah, well Sarah talks just like her. I mean ALL THE TIME!!!!

I LOVE you Grandma, and I miss you. Some days I miss you SOOOO much. I thank God EVERYDAY that He gave me you as my Grandma. Happy Birthday Grandma!

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

THINGS I WILL MISS ABOUT CHINA . . . BY ANDREW BRUNER . . .

1. I will miss the Aye because then I will have to clean again.
2. I will miss my friends because I liked playing with them.
3. I will miss my hose (house) because I liked it.
4. I will miss the food because it was good.
5. I will miss my complex because I can't go to the park anymore.

WHAT I'LL MISS MOST ABOUT CHINA . . . BY JASON BRUNER . . .

The thing I will miss the most about China are the restaurants. The ones I will miss the most are Latina, Blue Frog and Las Tapas. I will miss them because they have really good food. I hope I will find them at home. And I hope we will get to eat there before we leave.

Monday, June 21, 2010

SINGING SARAH . . .

You can definitely tell that Sarah has 2 older brothers. Her favorite song of choice these days is Linkin Park.
video
She obviously only knows one part of the song!
video
Even when she starts singing something else, she goes back to the same song.
video
Any doubts on who's the boss in this family?!?!

Sunday, June 20, 2010

HAPPY FATHER'S DAY . . . BY ANDREW BRUNER

Happy Father's Day to the 2 greatest Fathers I know: my wonderful Dad and the amazing father of my children. I don't know of any greater fathers on earth. I love you both!

This is what Andrew wrote for Ryan:

My dad likes to play wii and pick on my mom. he likes to jog and pop my back he always laughs a lot. he's very fun he's pretty strong. and he's really good at taking care of me and that's why I love my dad. Love, Andrew

Saturday, June 19, 2010

PACKAGE FROM HOME . . .

I forgot to write about this earlier. We got a package from Mom and Dad a couple of weeks ago. The kids were THRILLED! They're having a hard time dealing with the fact that all of their friends are leaving, or are already gone, so I think the package really cheered them up.

It's funny how it's the little things that make a big difference. There are a lot things they can't get here, so they LOVED getting them in the mail. They sent candy bracelets, fruit chews, Snickers, Reese Cups, microwave popcorn, and of course, Velveeta cheese for me!

Oh, and did I mention it's already gone?! Yeah, that's right. They finished it off already. I was trying to ration it so that it would last for awhile, but then when I left, they got into, Ryan included, and finished it all off! Oh well, at least they enjoyed it.

Anyway, thanks Mom and Dad. You have no idea how much we appreciated it.

THE HARDEST PART . . .

I think the hardest part about being here is that I feel like I'm letting down my family and friends back home. My Mom's brother, my uncle, died . . . and I wasn't there. My best friend from high school got married . . . and I wasn't there. My best friend from college, her Dad got really sick and had surgery . . . and I wasn't there. Do you see a trend developing here?

I feel like I've missed so much, and wasn't there for so many things, this past year.

Friday, June 18, 2010

SORRY . . .

Sometimes the hardest thing to say to someone is "I'm Sorry." And yet, sometimes those 2 words mean more than any other words we hear.    I'm sorry I said those things.  I'm sorry I did what I did. I'm sorry I hurt you. I'm sorry.  Please forgive me.

And sometimes, "I forgive you" is even harder to say.

Everyone makes mistakes.  Everyone says things they wish they hadn't said.  Everyone has had to say I'm sorry, at some point in their life.  Think about those times.  How would you feel if you said I'm sorry, and the other person said I don't forgive you?

Life's too short.  It can change in an instant.  The person you love can move  away forever.  They can get sick.  They can die.  Then it's too late to say "I forgive you."

SIX WEEKS . . .

Exactly six weeks from now we will be on a plane heading for home.  While I'm THRILLED that it's only 6 weeks away, I HATE that it's STILL 6 weeks away.  It seems so far away.  I guess that seems silly considering we've been here for over 40 weeks!  But still, it seems really far away.  The boys and I are having a hard time.  All of our friends are gone now.  They all went home for the summer, so we feel a little out of sorts.  Every day we wake up and count down the number of days that we have left.  Right now we're down to 42.  

Wish us luck.  The last 42 days might be the hardest.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

MORE SARAHISMS . . .

"They're sleeping in OUR bed!"  The boys were sleeping in my bed while Ryan was out of town.  She came in the room after they were already asleep.

Sarah: Where'd Mommy come from?
Mommy: Heaven.
Sarah: Oh.
Sarah: And where'd Sarah Beth come from?
Mommy: Heaven
Sarah: Oh
Sarah: And where'd JJ and DrewDrew come from?
Mommy: Heaven.
Sarah: Oh
Sarah: And where'd Daddy come from?
Mommy: Heaven.
Sarah: NO . . . He came from Taiwan!
He'd been in Taiwan for the week for business, and she knew that's where he'd just come home from!

"It's bright out here.  Wow!  It's really bright out here.  I need my sunglasses!"

"I was choking on a bone."

"I wanna hold you."

"Daddy wants to come see you."  Ryan told her to have me come see him.  That was her interpretation!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

BOB SMITH . . . BY JASON BRUNER . . .

Let me tell you the story of old Bob Smith.  Bob was a rather unusual person.  He fell from the sky at the age of 2 and was carrying a hammer and an axle.  He landed right in front of the Smith's house.  He hit the ground so hard that the force nearly blew the roof of their house.  The Smiths came running out to see what happened.  They were shocked when they saw a baby.  When they saw the hammer and axle in his hand they knew he was destined to be a Black Smith.  So they decided to raise him as Bob Smith.  When Bob was 7 he could already make a metal wheel with a slam of a hammer.  Each year he grew stronger and stronger and by the age of 25 he was so strong he could lift 200 tons without any struggle.  He was the strongest and smartest man in the West.  When Bob was 30 years old he received a letter asking if he would like to be the blacksmith for his town.  Bob loved the offer so he packed up his things and headed to town.  By the time Bob arrived in town the word had spread that he was the new Black Smith.  Everyone was giving him greetings and winking at him.  When he started to make his first axle he dropped the hot metal on his hand and burned it.  So from then on whenever anyone saw Bob they'd call him Bob Axle because of that accident.  From age 30 to 65 John made chains and axles and hammers and wheels for the whole town.  Bob lived a happy life until he was 77; he was still a Black Smith and gave out from a Heart Attack.  Bob finished his final axle right before he died. 

BY ANDREW BRUNER . . .

I'm excited for the end of 2nd grade because I will not have to do homwork and I can have a fun summer.

I'm sad about the end of 2nd grade because I will miss all of my friends.

I'm nervous for third Grade to Start because I don't know if I'll make new friends.

I'm happy about third grade because it makes me feel more mature.

WHAT MY MOM WAS LIKE BEFORE SHE HAD ME . . . BY JASON BRUNER . . .

1.  She got to go wherever she wanted whenever she wanted.

2.  She lived by herself.

3.  She never watched cartoons.

4.  She rarely ate at mc'donalds.

5.  She didn't have to drive a van.

6.  She got to sleep alone.

7.  She had two jobs that she actually got paid for.

8.  she used to be able to read a lot

9.  she used to be able to watch what she wanted on T.V.

10.  she was richer (No kids to spend money on.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

ANDREW'S IMOVIE . . .

Andrew had to make and iMovie for school about his trip to the zoo. Enjoy!

video

TO CONTINUE OR NOT TO CONTINUE . . .

Someone asked me if I was going to continue writing on the blog when we get back to the States.  I told her I wasn't sure if I should or not.  Part of me thinks that it's called BRUNER FAMILY TRAVELS, and after this year, we will no longer be traveling.  The other part of me thinks that with 3 kids, EVERY DAY is an adventure, so why not keep it up?  Plus, it's been very therapeutic for me at times.  I find on the days that I'm having a hard time with something, once I "blog" about it, I tend to feel better.  I think it helps just getting it off my chest, even if no one but my parents are reading it!

So I'm not sure what I'm going to do.  I guess I'll wait until we get home and see how "inspired" I feel.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

TIGERS . . . BY ANDREW BRUNER . . .

Tigers are found in the northern part of Asia and others are found in the southeren part of Asia.

The tigers jaws help them chew their prey.  Each tiger has stripes on their back to tell that that's a different tiger.  The tiger limbs help them run fast.  The tigers claws help them cut stuff.

My Home.  Tigers live in two places.  1.  tigers live in the wild and 2.  they live in caves  Tigers usilly stay in caves because hunters could come and try to kill them.  But they do live in the wild when it's winter time. Because not many come out in the winter because it is going to be to cold for them to hunt

Yummy Yum Yum.  Tigers are carnivores so they only eat meat tigers eat animals such as deer, monkeys, Leopards, and bears and soon Tigers chew it's prey insted of eating it in one bite.

All About me.  Tigers are fast animals.  They run at the daytime and sleep at night.  Tigers use there arms and legs to move.  Tigers have to run because they need to cath their food.  Don't get a tiger angry because it won't take long for the tiger to get you.

Grrr!  Tigers behavior is not good.  Their behavior is very wild.  It's hard for another kinds of animals to cumunicate with tigers like monkeys, deers, Lions and lots of other animals. But it's easy for one tiger to talk with a other tiger.  Tigers play wildly like atacking one and another tiger.  Tigers uslly talk by Growling or somtimes they mak big or really big roars.

Silent Silent Atack!  The tigers stragie for hunting is that they try to make themselves silent they don't have much preditors ecsept for people and being fast helps the tigers hunt

Wach out!  The tigers preditor is people they hunt for tigers because of their fur.  Tigers ecscape by running really fast.  But sometimes they will attack the people. 

FOR MY SISTER SARAH . . . BY JASON BRUNER . . .

Let her be as gentle as a bunny,
let her be super funny.

Don't let her hurt a face,
make her help this place.

Give her compassion as big as the town,
please don't let her feel down.

Let her love me,
don't let her hurt me.

Make her as sweet as a sweet tart,
give her a very big heart.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

THE COUNTDOWN BEGINS . . .

The countdown begins . . .

49 days from now I will be back home.

I will be sleeping in my own bed. 

49 days from now I will get to see my family whenever and wherever I want to see them.

I will be able to go to lunch with Mom, O'Connell's with Dad, and see Scott, when he's not too busy for me!

49 days from now I will be able to text and call my friends that I’ve missed so much this past year.

I will be able to access Facebook without a VPN, cursing the computer because it’s taking too long to load.

49 days from now I will be able to walk out my door and understand everyone that I come in contact with.

I will be able to speak English to the person at the grocery, on the street, at the gas station.

49 days from now I will have my own car and will not have to rely on taxis.

I will be able to DRIVE my own car.  Everyday.  Anywhere I want to go.

49 days from now I will be able to go to Sonic and get a real diet Coke with the best ice ever. 

I will be able to get a REAL diet Coke period!  And have ice in my drink, no matter where I go.

49 days from now I will be able to go to a public bathroom and KNOW that I’ll get to sit down to pee!  (TMI)?!

I will be able to go to a public bathroom and not have to worry about bringing my own toilet paper.  (Again, TMI)?!

The countdown begins . . . 

49 days from now I will be leaving all my new friends behind.

I will be leaving the lunches, and the school, and the caffes, and the walks around town.

49 days from now I will be leaving my new adventure behind.

I won't be able to walk out the door wondering what new things I'm going to experience today.

49 days from now I'll be leaving my Ayi behind.

I will have to start doing the laundry again!

49 days from now I will be leaving MANY things behind.

No more Underground, YuYuan, Wet Market or Las Tapas.

49 days from now I will leave China behind.  

I’ll leave Shanghai, and Xi’an, and Beijing, and Hong Kong.

49 days from now, I’ll only have pictures to remind me of the past year.

I'll only have pictures to remind me of what a wonderful year it's been. 

The countdown begins . . .

Thursday, June 10, 2010

BITTERSWEET . . .

Today was the boys' last day of school.  Before school Ryan told me to be prepared for some tears. I said, "From Andrew?"  He said, "Yeah, but Jason too."  I knew there might be some tears and that's why I decided to go in and pick them up from school instead of letting them come home with my friend's driver.  On the way to school, with my friend, I was telling her the story of this morning.  She told me not to be surprised if there were some tears from me too.  I hadn't even thought about that.  But it turns out, she was right!  I went to the end of the year assembly, and I CRIED THROUGHOUT THE WHOLE THING!  What's up with that?!?!  Jason's teacher came up to me and said, "you're crying because you're leaving!"  And she's right!  I cried when I came, who would have thought I'd cry when I left?!

But like I've said before, this year has been an AMAZING year for all of us.  We have memories that we'll have until the day we die.  We've made friends we never would have made if we'd stayed home.  We've seen things we never would have seen if we stayed home.  We have an appreciation for life outside of our little town, which we never would have had if we'd stayed home.  Do you see a trend developing here?!?!

I am SO thankful for this experience.  Not just for me, but for all of us.  We've all grown in so many ways this year.  And for that, I'm very thankful.  And I'm very grateful.  And even though I'm VERY homesick, I've also enjoyed ALMOST every minute of this last year.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

GRANDPA'S VISIT . . . BY ANDREW BRUNER . . .

One time when my grandpa came to visit me we did lots of things.  We went to the Wild Animal Park and went to the World Finanshal Center.  We went to a lot of other places to.  we had lots of fun.  but then it was time for my gradpa to go and he left.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

CONFIRMATION . . .

I LOVE being a Mom.  It's the best job I've ever had.  There are some days though, that we wonder, as a parent, if we are doing a good job.  Are we doing EVERYTHING we can for our children?  Are we teaching them the IMPORTANT things that they will need as they get older?  Are we teaching them the best way to deal with people?  Are we teaching them to be loving, caring, kind, open-minded, strong individuals? 

Today I got a little bit of confirmation that maybe, just maybe, I'm doing some things right.  Andrew has 2 best friends from school.  The three of them are inseparable.  Donoven is African-American, Michael is Chinese, and of course Andrew is Caucasian.  We call them The Three Musketeers.  Jason, Andrew and I were talking this morning about Michael being Chinese.  Andrew said, "Michael's Chinese?!"  He totally doesn't see him that way.  He just sees him as Michael. 

I'm so glad my boys look at the whole person, and not the color, nationality or creed.  I feel very blessed to have such wonderful and open minded children.  And today, if only for today, I feel like I am doing the right thing, making the right decisions, and teaching my children what is REALLY important in life.

 The Three Musketeers
Michael, Donoven, and Andrew
They kept moving so it was hard to get a good picture.
We tried to get them to act normal.  For them, this IS normal!

Monday, June 7, 2010

HAPPY BIRTHDAY JASON . . .

Eleven years ago today we were blessed with a beautiful baby boy. 

On September 5th, 1998, my wonderful grandmother passed away.  She was an amazing person, and she meant the world to me.  She still does.  By October 5th, I was pregnant with Jason.  I was convinced then, and still believe now, that she is the reason I was pregnant THEN, after trying for almost a year.  I remember sitting in the car one day talking to my dad about it.  I told him I thought Grandma was the reason I was pregnant.  He said God had a lot to do with it.  I told him, "You know how persuasive your mom could be.  I guarantee she got up there and said, 'My granddaughter wants a baby, and you'd better give her one!"  I guess he knew better than to argue with a pregnant woman!

I called the baby Sarah the whole time I was pregnant, because I KNEW he was a girl.  About 1 week before he was born, I had a dream he was a boy.  And we still didn't have a boys name picked out.  So I told Ryan we had to decide on a boys name, just in case.  We decided on Jason Thomas.  You see, Thomas was my Grandmother's maiden name, so I wanted Jason to be named after her.  And he was.  She will ALWAYS be a part of him.

I went in early on the 7th to be induced.  My BP was very high, so they decided to take him early.  After being at the hospital all day, he finally decided to make his appearance.  When he came out, Ryan said, "It's a boy!"  I said, "Uh Uh!"  He was right!  

Everyone in the waiting room was waiting for Ryan to come out and tell them the baby was a girl.  When he finally went out to see everyone he told them we had a beautiful baby boy.  But they all thought he was teasing them.  Except for my dad.  He starting calling all of their friends to tell them.  My mom told him not to call yet because he was going to have to call them back and tell them HE was a SHE.  My dad said, "Ryan might joke about a lot of things, but I guarantee he's not joking about this."  We have the video from when they all came in the room to see him, and you can hear everyone saying, "He has a blue cap on, he really is a boy!"  Too funny!

Now that beautiful baby boy is 11 years old.  Where does the time go?  My mom calls him precious.  And he is.  He's an amazing big brother.  He's very caring and loving.  He's smart and sensitive.  He's unbelievable when it comes to building things.  His mind is always going a mile a minute trying to figure out his latest "invention."  He loves to draw and he loves to write.  

This year has been an unbelievable year for him.  He has grown up in so many ways.  He has more confidence than he's ever had before.  He came to a new country, where he doesn't speak the language, and he's adjusted so well.  He's made lots of new friends.  He's been in the school play and Concordia Idol.  He's taken Drama, Art, Band, Health, PE and Religion, on top of the Math, Science and Language Arts.  This year has been the hardest school year he's ever had, and he still has all A's and B's.  (Thank goodness he gets his brains from his father)! 

Eleven years ago today, God gave us the most precious gift that would change our lives FOREVER. He has been a blessing to us from the day he was born. From helping Nanny's heart beat again, to flirting with the girls at age 2, to becoming an amazing big brother. I thank God EVERY DAY that I have such a wonderful, caring, compassionate and loving little boy. Happy Birthday Jason. I am SO proud of you!