Wednesday, December 30, 2009

HOME . . .

I haven't written in awhile.  That's because WE ARE HOME!!!!  And I've been loving every minute of it!  The thought of going back, is breaking my heart.  It's funny, because when we first got home I thought it would be easier to go back because we all have friends there now and we know what we're going back to.  But I was wrong.  I am having a hard time dealing with the fact that we have to go back.  I'm sure once we get there, I will be fine, but right now, not so much!

We've had a GREAT time at home.  We've been running practically every single day.  And I wouldn't have it any other way.  We've seen a lot of people, and we'll see a lot more before we leave.  I can always sleep on the plane.  After all, it's a 16 hour flight, so I'll have to have something to do, might as well sleep. 

Christmas was great.  The boys got portable DVD players from Santa, and Sarah Beth got a Dora big wheel.  She was a lot of fun at Christmas this year.  A big change from last year when she didn't really know what was going on.  This year, she knew.  She keeps wanting to open presents.  Christmas morning Ryan asked her if she wanted to see what Santa Claus brought her, and she said, "Santa Claus bring me presents!".  So she knew.  And she loves her "bike" as she calls it.  We're not taking it back to China with us because her feet still don't reach the pedals.  (Plus, we don't exactly have room in our suitcases).  But by the time we come home next summer, she should be the perfect height. 

Andrew got a lot of Ben 10 stuff for Christmas, including a backpack, lunchbox, t-shirt, pajamas, and action figures.  Jason got an Origami set, some books, a journal, and some sketch pads and pencils.  They both also got some clothes, and some Legos.  Sarah got 2 tea sets, and she loves them both.  She got a new baby doll with a stroller, which is already packed in the suitcase to take back to China, a Dora doll and Kai-Lan doll.  She also got a lot of Dora coloring books, some clothes, socks and hairbows, and a Dora play set.  Needless to say, my kids are a little spoiled!

Being home for Christmas was GREAT!  I'm so glad we were able to come home.  It was definitely worth the 2 16 hour flights that we'll have to put up with. 

I'll post more after we get home and let you know how everyone did on the flight.  After the scare on Christmas Day, I'm sure security is going to be a lot tighter going back.  But as long as that keeps us safe, I'm okay with that!

Sunday, December 13, 2009


It's hard to believe that we will be home in less than a week.  I am SO excited, and so are the kids.  Heck, I think even Ryan's excited about coming home!  I am SO not looking forward to the 16 hour plane ride that we have ahead of us, but being able to see everyone when we get home will make it all worth it!  The boys only have 4 days of school left.  We are taking them out on Friday since it's a half day. A lot of kids are leaving early.  Some have already left!. I wish we were one of those lucky ones.  But oh well, we'll be home soon enough.

I'm trying to keep busy every day.  I just feel like if I have something going on everyday, then the time will go by faster.  Today I am going to the Underground to finish my Christmas shopping.  Not sure about tomorrow yet.  Wednesday afternoon is Jason's Christmas party, so I'll be up at school in the afternoon because I'm one of the Room Parents.  Thursday I'll be at school all day because Jason has his Drama play in the morning.  Then I can take him off campus for lunch.  He has to be back on campus by 12:30 for his Wax Museum which is the rest of the day.  Andrew's Christmas party is that afternoon.  And since I'm also one of his Room Parents and planned the Christmas Party, I have to be there!  But that's okay, the more I have to do, the better.  And somewhere in there I also need to pack.  I have a lot of stuff to bring home.  But I also want a lot of suitcases because I have a lot of things to bring back with me.  You should see my list of things to bring back.  It won't be 10 suitcases, but it'll probably be at  least 3 or 4. 

Tuesday, December 8, 2009


I know I haven't posted much lately.  We've just been really busy, and I haven't been very motivated.  I still need to post pictures from Hong Kong, which I plan to do sometime this week.  (We took about 500 pictures.  Don't worry, I'm not going to post all 500)!   

I've told you how things are very different here.  The crowds are crazy.  The number of people is unbelievable!  Picture the week before Christmas.  At the mall.  Then multiply that times 10.  And that would SO not be an exaggeration!  There are people EVERYWHERE!!!!  We haven't even started our Christmas shopping for the kids yet.  Which means when we come home we'll have to brave Toys R Us and The Mall.  And you know what?  I'm not even sweatin' it.  After the crowds we've been dealing with for the past 4 months, Kentucky is going to seem barren!  And I will enjoy every minute of it!

But the biggest challenge has been the bathrooms.  The bathrooms here are gross.  And most of them don't have seats.  That's right, I said THEY DON'T HAVE SEATS!!  That means, you are supposed to stand over a hole, hold on to the wall, and pray that you don't pee on your leg.  (Nice visual huh)?!?!  And forget about toilet paper.  If you don't bring it with you, you're SOL.  Lucky for me, I've learned to hold it, believe it or not, so I've only had to use one of those toilets 1 time.  Every other time I've held out until I found a "real" bathroom.  And I carry Kleenex and wipes with me everywhere I go.  (If there's no toilet paper, do you really think there's going to be a sink)?!  Sometimes you have to pay to use the bathroom.  That's right, I said PAY!  It's only 1RMB which is like 15 cents US.  But still.  To have to pay to use the bathroom?  So not fun!

Oh, the joys of living abroad!  But we're learning so much right?  And we're experiencing new things, right?  And we're meeting new people, right?  So what if you have to pee in a hole!

Sunday, December 6, 2009


Okay, so I told you about my Mom last month on HER birthday.  Now let me tell you about my Dad, on HIS birthday.  Happy Birthday Dad!

My dad was the dad that all of my friends loved when I was growing up.  He's funny, fun to be around, always in a good mood, (at least he puts up a good front), and just an all around good guy!  He makes me laugh, he makes me cry, he listens to me, he talks to me, he understands me, he makes me feel like I'm the best daughter in the whole wide world.

When I was in High School we used to go on retreats every year.  Your parents, grandparents, brothers, sisters, anyone who wanted to, could write you a letter.  And then you would get them delivered to you during the retreat to read while you were gone.  So let me tell you about the letter I received from my Dad during Freshman Retreat.  I still remember it all these years later.

He starts by telling me that he *really* wanted a boy, and he just knew that I was going to be that boy.  So my Mom was in labor, and he waited out in the waiting room.  (At least that's the story I'm telling.  His friend told him to go ahead and leave and come to a cookout, because there was no way they were going to wake Mom up to have me.  I wouldn't be born until the next day.  Guess what?  He was right)!  Anyway, he's waiting for me to be born, just knowing that I am going to be a boy.  I guess you've figured out by now that he was wrong!  The nurses come out to tell him that I'm a girl.  And he calls HIS Mom.  (Who, by the way, was the GREATEST Grandma that ever lived)!  So he calls Grandma to tell her that I'm a girl, and Grandma tells him, "Don't sound so disappointed!"

By this time in the letter, I'm felling like I should apologize for being a girl.  And I'm crying.  But then he goes on to tell me that as soon as he saw me he knew I was a gift from God and that I was the best little girl ever made.  And that he thanks God for me everyday and that he's lucky to have me for a daughter.  (He's good, don't ya think)?

I think God really knew what he was doing when he gave me him for a Dad.  I remember when I was growing up we were studying about adoptions in school.  And I asked my Mom if I was adopted.  She said, "Michelle, as much as you are like your Dad and your Grandma, do you really think you could be adopted?!"  And she was right.  My Dad and I are a lot alike.  I remember being with a friend a few years ago and talking about my freckles.  I said of all the things I could have gotten from him, why did it have to be the freckles?!  And she said, "oh, you definitely go a lot more than the freckles from your Dad."  And I took that as a compliment.  She's right.  I like to think there are a lot of things I got from him.  And for those things, I am very proud.

Thanks Dad, for helping to be the person that I am today.  Thanks for teaching me love and compassion.  Thanks for teaching me how to enjoy myself and have a good time.  Thanks for teaching me to enjoy being around other people.  Thanks for letting me know that you will always love me no matter what.

I love you with all my heart!

Your *FAVORITE* daughter!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009


Okay, so I told you we went to Hong Kong for Thanksgiving weekend.  (I will post pictures later).  We all decided to ride Space Mountain.  And for those of you that really know me, you know that's a big accomplishment!  I HATE roller coasters.  But you can't go to Disney, and not ride Space Mountain.  So I rode with Andrew, and Ryan rode with Jason.  Andrew wanted to go first, because he didn't want to hear them talking about it when they got off.  (He's a chicken like his Mommy)!  They have this thing on the rides where you can "swap."  Andrew and I got on first, and Jason and Ryan waited with Sarah.  Then, as soon as we got off, they got to get on, and we waited with Sarah.  It worked out great.  So we got off and we were standing there with Sarah waiting for Ryan and Jason.  And Sarah looked at me and said, "Mommy, was it Awesome??!?!" 

Priceless!  That's what happens when you have two older brothers!

Monday, November 30, 2009


I know it's been awhile since I've posted.  And I'm sure you've missed me terribly!  ;-)  Actually, it's probably only Mom and Dad that have noticed, but that's okay too.  Just for the record, we will be home in 18 days, not that I'm counting!  We are actually pulling the kids out of school on their last day.  They only have a half day that day, and lots of people miss in that last week, so we figured we might as well come home a day early.  And I'm all for that!  So we leave about 10 AM on the 18th, Shanghai time, and we land about 2 PM on the 18th Louisville time.  Too bad it'll take us about 16 hours, instead of only 4!

I'm *really* not looking forward to the flight home.  14 hours on a plane with 3 kids, is not my idea of a good time!  Plus, we'll have to pull everything off in Detroit and go through Customs.  With 3 kids.  Then we'll have to put it all back on and board the plane for our flight home.  With 3 kids.  But it'll definitely be worth it.

I can't wait to see everyone when we come home.  I plan on being very busy during those 2 weeks seeing as many people as possible!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009


I get to have a REAL Thanksgiving Dinner today.  I am going to the Thanksgiving Luncheon for the American Women's Club of Shanghai with a friend of mine.  The funny part is, she's not American, she's from Singapore, but she's going with me so I don't have to go by myself!  Anyway, the turkeys are "supposedly" being flown in from the States, plus there's going to be mashed potatoes, gravy, stuffing, cranberries, (which I don't like), pumpkin pie, (again, I don't like it), pecan pie, and lots of other Thanksgiving goodies.  I'll give you the details when I get back.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009


I don't really have much to report today, I just thought I'd share the wonderful way I was awakened this morning.  There I was, sleeping soundly, and the next thing I know this little 2 year old arm is thrown across my neck and I hear, "I love you Mommy!"  Now, with a start like that, how can today NOT be a good day?!!?!

Monday, November 16, 2009


If you remember awhile back, I was talking about some of the differences between here and home.  This last week, they've really been prominent!  We, of course, have 3 kids.  Which means there are 5 of us total.  We are planning on going to Hong Kong for Thanksgiving. We already have our plane tickets.  We booked them thinking they were such a good price and we wouldn't have any problems finding a hotel room.  WRONG!!!  

Again, remember there are 5 of us.  And we are in a country that only allows you to have 1 child, unless you own a farm, then you're allowed to have 2.  Well guess what, we have 3!  Finding a place that would let us stay more than 3 in a room was a JOKE!  I literally spent HOURS on the computer trying to find a place for us.  Everyone kept telling me to get used to it, that we would have to get 2 rooms.  REALLY??  I don't even want to pay for 1 room, much less 2.  Not to mention, unless you can get adjoining rooms, that would mean Ryan would be in 1 room with a kid or 2, and I would be in the other with the remaining brood.  Not much of a family vacation if we're all split up! 

After not having any luck, I finally starting e-mailing hotels that had suites.  Even though it kept telling me online that it was too many people, I was hoping someone would let us get a suite for all 5 of us.  We thought about not telling them how many kids we have, but we've been told that Hong Kong is pretty strict on that, so we didn't want to lie and then have it come back to bite us later.  So we told the truth.  Finally, we found a place.  The Ramada Inn Hong Kong has Harbor View Suites, which is what we wanted.  We are staying right on Victoria Harbor, so we wanted a place facing the water.  And it's not a bad price either.  So I guess my hours of research finally paid off!

I was actually thinking about sending Ryan and the kids and just staying home by myself. Now *that's* my idea of a vacation!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009


The boys had their conferences last Thursday.  And I'm happy to report that they are both doing really well.  We get updates on Jason's grades every couple of weeks.  He has all A's, and a B in Mandarin, which is his Chinese class.  Considering how much harder this year has been for him, I think that's a major accomplishment.  He has lots of homework every night, but he really doesn't complain too much about it.  He just comes home and does it.

The conferences here are a lot different than what we're used to.  At home the conferences last 15 minutes.  Here, they last 40 minutes, and they're called Student Led Conferences.  And it's exactly what it sounds like.  The students lead the conference.  They have their book of papers and they show them to you, plus they talk about their strengths and weaknesses and the goals they've set for themselves for the coming weeks.

They both did a great job.  Andrew's goals are to clean his room every weekend, get better at kicking the soccer ball, and to continue to remember to do his homework every night.  She said his writing is very good and he loves to write.  When it's time to turn in the papers from writing, he'll say, "just one more sentence;" after he's written 4 pages!  He's also very good at math.  And he likes Math; which is SO different from his mother!  He must get his math skills from his dad!  I saw another one of his teachers yesterday, and he told me that he did really well on their Matter test, which was part of their Science unit.  He said he really understood the concept.  Good for him! 

Jason's goal is to TURN IN HIS HOMEWORK!  He does it, but then he forgets to turn it in.  (Does he sound like his Mom, or what)?!?!  She said when she starts going through homework and his isn't there, she knows it's been done, but he just forgot to turn it in.  And as soon as she asks for it, he pulls it out.  Completed.  Just sitting in his homework folder, where he put it when he was finished doing it!  So he has 2 goals.  One is to remember to turn in his homework every day, and the other is to spend 30 minutes extra a week on Mandarin, to help him bring his grade up to an A.

She asked me to tell him what I was the most proud of him for.  I told him that I was really proud of how well he's settled in, and I LOVE how his self-confidence has grown.  He *really* has a lot of confidence in himself.  Before we went there I was asking them what they both thought their teachers were going to say about them.  He told me that his teacher was going to tell me that he was the best student that's ever been through the school.  I'd say that's a little bit of self-confidence!

Jason has really excelled this year.  He LOVES it here.  I even asked him the other morning.  I said, "you're really happy here, aren't you?"  He said, "Mommy, I really am.  I love it here."  As a parent, wondering if we've made the right choice with this move, that was the validation I needed to know that it was the right decision.  He is really doing so well.  Andrew is doing well too.  I don't hear the "I miss my friends.  I want to go home,"  on a daily or even weekly basis, which I did when we first got here.  He is making friends and enjoying learning new things.

I am SO proud of my boys.  They are teaching their Mom how to handle a new situation and make the best of it.  Now, if only I could settle in as well as they have!  But, as a parent, as long as they are doing well, that's what's really important to me.  And they are.  They are doing REALLY well.  So for those of you at home that are worried about us, don't be.  We're all doing great!  Especially my wonderful boys.  And Sarah Beth is happy because we're all here.  And that's what she needs most.  And her talks with Poppy and Nanny and Grandpa.  Even though she thinks they live in the computer!  But she knows who they are, and every time the computer rings, she says, "It Poppy Nanny!  It Grandpa!"  She's too funny!

So anyway.  Don't worry about us.  We're doing fine.  And we can't wait to see you when we come home.  In 37 days!

Friday, November 6, 2009


Today is my mom's birthday.  Actually, it's tomorrow for you guys, but it's today for me.  November 7th.  I'm not going to tell you how old she is, because well, I don't want her to disown me!

Anyway, let me tell you about my mom.  For those of you that know her, this will come as no surprise.  For those of you that don't, you don't know what you're missing.  My mom has ALWAYS been there for me.  She's always let me know that she will love me no matter what I do.  And while I was a pretty good kid, I was a REALLY annoying toddler!  She could tell you stories for hours about the things that I did back then.  Of course, my boys *love* hearing those stories!  There was the time I climbed out of bed and climbed in bed with Scott with a gallon of chocolate ice cream, which was in turn smeared on the walls the next morning.  Then there was the time I climbed up on top of the roof.  That's right, I said the ROOF.  We used to have these black wrought iron posts on our front porch, and I climbed up them to get on the roof.  And then there was the time I woke up in the middle of the night and went down to the end of the driveway to meet the bus that wasn't actually due for another 2 or 3 hours.  And of course, there was the time I drove the car down the driveway and into the neighbors yard.  Mind you, all of these incidents happened before the age of about 4.  Do you wonder how I made it to adulthood?!

Of course, because of this lovely background, whenever I call my mom to tell her about the crazy things my kids have done, all I hear is, "Yeah, I had one just like that!"  Thanks for the sympathy Mom!!!  You could at least *pretend* to sympathize!  ;-)

Anyway, back to her.  She has always been there for me.  And she's always made me feel like I was a wonderful person.  She never made me feel like she ever questioned how she got stuck with me for a daughter.  Now mind you, there were times when I was a teenager, when I'm sure she wanted to sell me to the lowest bidder, but somehow, she managed to bury those thoughts deep in her sub conscience!

I remember planning my wedding.  We had so much fun picking things out and doing things together.  I'd always ask for her opinion, and she'd always tell me it was MY wedding and that I should do what *I* wanted, without wondering what anyone else thought about it.  And when I got pregnant with Jason, I don't think anyone was more excited than her.  Except for Ryan and I, of course!  And she LOVES her grandchildren.  Her eyes light up whenever she sees them.  She thinks about them and talks about them all of the time.  They are SO lucky to have her.  There are times when she'll call me and ask if Ryan and I want to go out.  Mind you, she's concerned about us spending time together, but it's also because she wants to see her grand kids!

And I've never met anyone with more Faith than my mom.  She has a very strong Faith in God, but she also has a lot of Faith in people.  She always tries to see the best in people and give them the benefit of the doubt.  She *really* cares about how people are doing and what their needs are.  She's very compassionate.

I have the best mom in the world.  If my kids grow up and feel half of what I feel for my mom, then I will know that I have done my job as a parent.

I love you Mom.  Thank you for showing me how to be a great mom.  I hope you have a really great birthday.  I'm sorry I can't be there to share it with you.

You're loving daughter. 



Andrew had a field trip a couple of weeks ago and I went with his class.  They went to Papa John's.  That's right, I said Papa John's.  We walked to Papa John's.  Then they got to make their own pizzas.  They toured the kitchen and saw where the pizzas are made, how high the oven is set, and how long it takes to cook the pizzas.  By the way, it takes 6 minutes, in case you were wondering. 

He had a good time.  And of course, I took a few pictures!
Andrew and his friends.
     I hope he has the right answer!
Andrew and his specially made pizza.
Gotta love the pizza mustache!

Thursday, November 5, 2009


Believe it or not, we did find a place to take the kids trick or treating this year.  Of course, it wasn't the same.  If we'd been at home we would have taken the kids around the neighborhood, and then had chili and snacks with our wonderful family and friends.  Of course, that didn't happen.  But that's okay, next year will be even more fun!

Anyway, we took them to a neighborhood very close to school.  They went through a Haunted Garage, and then we took them trick or treating through the neighborhood.  They had a really good time.  They didn't get the same kind of candy that they would have gotten at home, there were a couple of Snickers here and there, but mostly it was Hi Chews and suckers.  But it's better than nothing.

Andrew was a Ben 10 character named Swamp Fire.  We didn't get Jason's costume until that morning, because he couldn't decide what he wanted to be.  He finally decided on a pirate, and then he wore it all night.  He even slept in it!  I guess he was happy with his choice.
Swamp Fire

The Pirate
The Beautiful Butterfly
Swamp Fire and Butterfly
The Pirate and The Butterfly.  Sounds like the name of a romance novel!
She wouldn't exactly pose, so we had to catch her whenever we could.  Since she was with us most of the night and not going door to door very often, there's many more pictures of her.  I was lucky to get the ones of the boys that I did.  They just wanted to go!

Here you can see her wings. 

And here
THIS is what she looked like in less than hour!
She's working hard on that piece of candy!
Not sure what she's laughing at, but she's obviously having a good time!
This is Ryan's favorite day of the year, because well, it's the one day he can go out without people asking him why he's wearing a costume!
Sarah and Daddy


Another picture of the wall.
I can't explain it, but I just LOVE this picture.
I'm really not sure who he's posing for!!

I love this picture of Sarah and her Daddy!
This was taken from the ski lift.
Aren't they handsome?!
He's getting so big!

Nanny's Sunshine!

One of the many buildings.  They were actually used as lookouts when the wall was originally built.
My motley crew!

Another family shot.  We didn't have to pay for this one!
 Another part of the wall.  The view was absolutely amazing from up there.

 Now if only we could get everyone to look at the camera at the same time!
 We're getting closer.
 Guess this is the best we're going to get!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009


We got up early on Saturday to take a trip to The Great Wall.  The view was breathtaking.  We got all of the kids a t-shirt that said I Climbed The Great Wall.  We had a tour guide for part of the trip.  We took a ski left up to the top.  From there, we got out and walk.  The worst part of the trip?  We lost Sarah's blankie somewhere up there.  I was really worried about how she would handle it, but she seems to be doing okay.  Every once in awhile she asks for it, but for the most part, she's okay with her Dora blankie.
Anyway, we went up the mountain, and then we walked the Great Wall.  The weather was absolutely gorgeous.  A little bit of history: 
The Great Wall of China is known as one of the Greatest Wonders of the World.  It stretches approximately 5500 miles from east to west China.  It was originally built for protection and actually consists of many different parts built during different time periods.  Some parts of it are over 2000 years old and some sections are in ruins or have disappeared.  The main part of The Great Wall that still exists now was built during the Ming Dynasty.  At it's highest point it is almost 1000 meters above sea level.
Here is a picture of the Wall.
Ryan and Jason on the ski lift on the way up the mountain.
Another picture.
This is the ride that Jason, Andrew and Ryan came down the mountain on.
Jason standing on part of the wall.
I usually try to be the one TAKING the picture.  Not sure how I didn't get away with it this time!
We found someone that offered to take a picture of all of us.  Of course then we had to buy some water from them!  But that's okay.  We needed it.

Saturday, October 31, 2009


Sorry I haven't written in so long.  Like I said before, there's just been a lot going on.  Anyway, enough of the pity party.
We arrived in Beijing late Thursday night.  We all hit the sack as soon as we got there.  The next morning we woke up and went to lunch at McDonald's.  (I told you it was late when we got in, by the time we got moving, it was too late for breakfast)!   Anyway, I'm happy to report that a Big Mac and Fries, even though I SOOO didn't need them, taste the same as at home!
Anyway, that day we went to the Forbidden City.  A little background:
The Forbidden City was the Chinese Imperial Palace from the Ming Dynasty to the Qing Dynasty.  It was the home of the Emperor and his household for almost five centuries.  It was also the ceremonial and political center of Chinese government.  Built from 1406 to 1420 it consists of 980 buildings with 8707 bays of rooms and covers 720,000 square meters.  (Wikipedia)
This is a picture of the Ryan and the kids before we went in.  Aren't they cute?!
Jason standing in front of one of the buildings. 
I like this sundial.  Don't know why.  Just thought it was pretty cool.
Look at all the detail on the buildings.  This picture doesn't even do it justice.  But the detail on the work that was done here is absolutely amazing!  
This is the view from the outside.
Here is the Emperor's Throne.
Ryan and the kids in front of a dragon/turtle.
Andrew in front of some of the buildings.
Andrew and Jason in front of a tree.  If you look right above them, it looks like there's a ghost in the tree.  It was pretty creepy actually!
We thought this statue was pretty cool.

Sarah Beth.