Friday, January 29, 2010


"Mommy! You're back!" after I walked in the door from school

"Whew! That was close!" after I finished tickling her.

"I made it!" after she climbed on the bed.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010


In light of how I've been feeling lately, I thought I'd post something that I sent to my friend earlier this month. I need to keep reading this to remind me why we're here.

I KNOW we made the right decision to move here. We’re seeing and visiting new places that we probably would have gone our whole lives without seeing. Beijing. Hong Kong. Shanghai. Not to mention the places that we still haven’t visited yet. My kids are EXCELLING! Sarah is learning Chinese at 2 years old. The boys are both doing better in school than they’ve ever done before, and they are in a much tougher program than they’ve ever been in before. A school that they are lucky to be in. They are both gaining self-confidence that they’ve never had before. They’re making new friends from all over the WORLD. Not just the States, but the World! And this is an experience they we will always take with them. They will never look at the news the same way again when it comes to China. China will no longer be just another “country.” It will be a part of them. It was their home for a year. They are learning a new culture. They are learning compassion. They are learning that we in the States are a very spoiled bunch of people, and we don’t realize it. And we wouldn’t have realized it if we hadn’t left the country.

I am VERY thankful for this experience for my family. I’m ticked that I’m missing my best friends' wedding. I’m ticked that Jason is missing his 5th grade year at Tully. I’m ticked that Sarah Beth didn’t get to start preschool this year. I’m ticked that everyone’s life at home is going on without me and I’m afraid you’re all going to decide that you don’t really need me in your life anyway.

But instead of focusing on the negatives, I’m TRYING to focus on the positives. It’s not always easy, and there are some days that I just sit in my apartment crying because I want to be home. But I’m still trying. There are some days that it’s hard just to get out of bed because I am feeling sorry for myself. But I AM here. WE made this decision for our family. Not just RYAN. WE made it together. I could have told him NO I wouldn’t go, and we would still be at home, getting ready for the snow storm that is coming your way. But we were trying to do what we thought would be best for our family, and I definitely think we made the right decision. Even on the days when I don’t want to get out of bed.

And THAT'S what I need to keep reminding myself during times like this.


This is the video I made of our trip to Disneyland. I just realized that I don't think I wrote much about the trip, which is a shame, because it's a GORGEOUS place. I'll try to write about it later. Anyway, I hope you enjoy the video.

BLAH . . .

I've been feeling very BLAH, (not sure that's really a word ;-) ), lately.  I can't explain it.  I just feel like I SHOULD be doing something, but I don't WANT to do anything.  I should have gone to school today.  Jason's play starts tomorrow and they did a "preview" for the school today.  I'm sure they needed help getting everyone in their places.  I SHOULD have gone, but I didn't.  I had a migraine, and honestly, I just didn't FEEL like it.  And now I'm feeling guilty for not going.  Nice huh?  

Ryan's out of town this week.  He left yesterday morning, and he'll be back Friday afternoon.  Jason had play practice until 8:30 on Monday and Tuesday.  Tomorrow, Friday and Saturday is the play.  He'll stay after school tomorrow and Friday.  The play is at 7 and lasts about 2 hours.  Which means it'll be 10ish before he gets home.  Saturday he has to be at school at 3:30 to start getting ready for the play. 

I guess with him being gone every night and Ryan being out of town, I'm feeling a little lost.  Or a lot lost.  I don't know.  I just don't feel like going anywhere or doing anything.  I went out yesterday and bought Andrew some shoes, which he desperately needed.  And I had a nice time.  But I decided to stay home today.  And maybe that's why I'm feeling so lousy today.  Maybe if I had went ahead and gone to school, migraine and all, I would have at least felt useful.  But I didn't.  Instead I stayed home.  And now I'm writing about my crappy day.  And it's cold and rainy outside, so that makes it even worse. 

I am SO ready for Spring.  At least when it warms up I'll be able to get out more without dreading the cold and the rain.  They say it gets warmer here earlier than at home.  Actually my friend was telling me that she was checking the average temperature in Shanghai.  Between January and February, the average high only changes by about 4 degrees celsius.  But between February and March, the average high changes by about 12 degrees celsius.  So I guess that means I just need to make it through February, right?

On a positive note, Ryan's Grandpa, Jack, is coming to visit us in two weeks.  Monday morning Jason and Andrew were getting ready for school.  Andrew told Jason that he hopes this week goes by as fast as last week because that means "it'll only be one more week until Grandpa comes!"  I guess he's excited about Grandpa coming.  We all are.  It gives us something to look forward to.

Saturday, January 23, 2010


I had a "freak out" moment yesterday where I just wanted to be home.  And it was SO silly. 

Okay, so here's the story.  Jason is in the play at school and they had practice yesterday from 9-5.  I was supposed to send lunch with him, but he stayed the night at his friends' house the night before, so his mom said she would take care of his lunch.  So about 11:00 I get a call from him asking me if I am bringing him his lunch.  I told him no that C's mom was taking care of it.  So he tells me that there were 2 sandwiches, but one was for C and one was for their other friend.  NOT for Jason.  So I tried calling the mom and couldn't get a hold of her.  Jason is telling me, "it's no big deal, I just won't eat lunch."  Yeah right! 

Ryan was meeting with some clients and I couldn't get a hold of him, and I had Andrew and Sarah here and it was cold outside.  So I fixed his lunch, grabbed a cab and took it to him, and then came right back.  Simple right?  So why did I totally freak out?  You tell me.  I think because I kept thinking if I was at home, I could have called Papa John's or some place and had his lunch delivered to him and paid for it over the phone.  Kind of hard to do that here when YOU DON'T SPEAK THE LANGUAGE!  Plus, paying over the phone is not very common here.  Weird huh?  We're so used to doing it at home, it's strange that it can't be done here.  Anyway, I could have also called my parents, and my dad would have taken him something.  Or my brother.  LOTS of options.  Here, I didn't have those options.  And it freaked me out.  And it stressed me out.  And I acted like a moron! 

NOT one of my finest moments!

100th POST . . .

This is my 100th post.  Luckily, we've been here more than 100 days! 

Ryan told me yesterday that instead of writing a blog, that I should write a book.  At which time I promptly laughed in his face.  You people have read my writing.  I write like I talk. SO NOT good for a book!  But then he said you just have to find who you're writing for.  In my case, other Expats or soon to be Expats or have been Expats.  And I realized that he's right.  NO, I'm not going to start writing a book.  But I AM going to start writing more on the blog.  I have mostly been writing about the things we've been doing and seeing.  But I haven't put in TOO much about how I've been feeling.  I'll admit I've put in SOME feelings, but mostly it's just been about what we've been doing.  So I've decided that I'm going to try to start writing something at least 4 or 5 times a week.  Whether it's been a good day, or a bad day, or just an ordinary day.  I need people to tell me that the way I'm feeling is okay, and maybe I can do the same for someone else. 

So my new goal for the rest of the year is to start posting more.  Which means you'll probably start getting bored.  So just bear with me!

Saturday, January 16, 2010


Eight years ago today, my beautiful baby boy was born. Andrew Joseph Bruner. I remember his birth like it was yesterday. For the second time I had to be induced at 38 weeks because my blood pressure was skyrocketing and only going higher. So I was scheduled for January 16, 2002. And I was SO ready. I had a 2 1/2 year little boy that was taking up all of my energy, and I just wanted this new little boy of ours to be born. We already had his name picked out. Andrew Joseph. We LOVED the name Andrew, and it was actually one of the names we had considered for Jason. So Andrew he would become. And his middle name would be Joseph, after Ryan's Grandmother Joe Ann, and my Dad, Michael Joseph. Joseph was a perfect middle name for him.

I went in early that morning to be induced.  Only this time, the epidural never took. They kept trying to put medicine in, and it wasn't working. I was feeling EVERY contraction. And believe me, they HURT!! I thought I was going to lose what little bit of sanity I had left! Finally, they figured out that the epidural was put in wrong, so they had to put another one in. It was about this time that the nurses realized that I was fully dialated.  Nice timing, huh?! So they start getting me prepped and lo and behold there was Andrew's head! They decided to wait until the doctor came in before they did anything else. He came in and then went to use the phone to check his pager. They all just looked at him, because obviously he didn't realize that my little Andrew was ready to come out. 

Finally he sits down and realizes how close we are. So we get ready, and he tells me to push. And I did. And out came Andrew's head. So he told me not to push any more because they were cleaning his eyes out or something like that. All I remember is that I had another contraction, and out he came. And the nurse and the doctor CAUGHT him, because he was coming out whether they were ready for him or not! As soon as they laid him on my stomach, he PEED ALL OVER ME! Everyone just laughed. (It wasn't like I didn't need a shower anyway)! So then they took him over to clean him up and weigh him. He weighed 6 lbs and 15 3/4 oz. I distinctly remember the nurse telling him, "See, if you hadn't peed on your Mommy, you would have been a full 7 pounds!"

And he was a beautiful baby.  My favorite picture is the first time Jason held him.  I can still picture him sitting on the couch, wearing his St. X sweatshirt, Thanks Uncle Scott, and holding Andrew.  Honestly, I don't know whatever happened to that picture, but I don't need it in front of me to see it.  It's vividly burned in my brain.  They were both so cute sitting there together.

And now my little boy is 8 years old.  And the light of my life.  Nanny calls him her little Sunshine.  And that's a great description of him.  He has a smile that can light up a room.  And he has the most beautiful eyes you've ever seen.  From the time he was a baby everyone has always been enamored with his eyes.  I remember one time being in Rite Aid, and someone started talking to him, and he said, "I know, I know, I have beautiful eyes!"  He must have been about 4, and he'd heard it so many times that he thought he knew what the lady was going to say to him.

And now my little boy is 8 years old.  And a big brother himself.  And a great big brother.  And he loves his sister.  And sometimes he loves his brother!  And he loves Math.  And he loves to read.  And he loves to write.  And he loves to tease.  Sometimes he can spin a tale that sounds so real that you just don't know what to believe.  And he's not lying.  He just likes to tease.  And he's very good at it! 

My baby boy isn't much of a baby anymore.  He's 8 years old.  And it's been a wonderful 8 years.  I love him with all of my heart.

Happy Birthday Andrew.

Love Mommy

Friday, January 15, 2010


This is some of the video from Hong Kong. These pictures were taken at Victoria Peak and Victoria Harbour. The pictures REALLY don't do it justice!

I'll try to finish the one for Disney and Ocean Park and get them uploaded soon as well. This was my first experience using Windows Movie Maker, and I LOVE how it turned out. Of course it took me a long time to finish it. But hopefully the next time it will go quicker since I actually know what I'm doing now!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

JASON . . .

Jason is in the 5th/6th grade play at school this year.  The play is Alice In Wonderland.  He's really enjoyed it so far, but the practices are MAJOR.  The play is the last week of this month, and he now has practice almost every single day until the play.  The week before the play he practices until 8:30 every night.  He's going to be EXHAUSTED!  But at least there's only 3 more weeks left.  And, like I said, he's enjoying it, so that's all that really matters.  We got a new video camera for Christmas, so my plan is to video the parts that he's in and then post them on the blog.  Of course, first I have to figure out HOW to post them on the blog!  But I still have 3 weeks to figure that out!

Today the kids have a half day at school and they get out at 11:30.  Jason has practice today from 11:30-6.  Poor baby.  But they did this last month, and I think there was a lot of play time as well, because he had a really good time, so I'm sure he'll be okay.  My friend and I are going to take Sarah and Andrew and her son David to the Mall to eat lunch and just hang out.  At least it'll get us out of the house for awhile.  And it's so cold, you really don't want to go anywhere.  This way, once we get inside the mall, we'll be fine.  I'm going to take Sarah's stroller so that if she gets tired she can just lay down in the stroller.

So that's our plans for the day.  I hope you're all doing well and staying warm.


I HATE cold weather.  And it's so cold here.  Actually, it's not as cold here as it is at home, the problem is that there is no insulation in any of the buildings. And a lot of times when you go into buildings here, they LEAVE ALL OF THE DOORS OPEN!  Are you KIDDING me?  Like it's not cold enough, why would you leave the doors open?  Crazy people.  So eventhough you go inside, you still can't get warm.  I can't WAIT for February to be over.  Supposedly January and February are the 2 coldest months.  So once they're over, it should start warming up and maybe we can start venturing outside again more often.  It's kind of hard to get over cabin fever when you can't GET OUT OF THE CABIN!!!

Sunday, January 10, 2010


It's been really hard being back.  I thought coming back would be easier since we knew WHAT we were coming back to.  But it's actually been harder.  I think it's because it's so cold and yucky out and we can't get out like we did when we first got here.  When we first came here, we were always out doing something, trying to learn about where we were.  But right now it's so cold, and anyone who knows me knows that I HATE the cold, so I haven't been out much.  I'm sure that has a lot to do with my mood. 

I've made plans to have lunch with a friend on Tuesday.  And another friend another day this week depending on her schedule.  I'm sure once I get out and start getting back into the swing of things, then things will get a lot easier for me.  The boys seem to be doing well, eventhough they've both been fighting some major cough and congestion.  They are getting back into the routine of school.  Jason has been getting back to play practice.  His play, Alice in Wonderland, is the last week of the month.  He has practice 3-5 days a week until the play is over.  Needless to say, he'll be really busy.  But he seems to be okay with it.  He's excited about being in the play.  I'll record his part and post it on the blog after it's over.  I haven't seen it yet, but I can tell you, they are VERY SERIOUS about it, eventhough it's the 5th and 6th grade play.  I'm sure it'll be great.  Of course, I could just be a little biased! 

Anyway, enough of the pity party. 

Wednesday, January 6, 2010


Okay, this has been bothering me since we got back to Shanghai, and it's not going away, so I figured I'd blog about it and get it out of my system.  So here's the story.  We had a 1 1/2 hour flight from Louisville to Detroit.  Then from Detroit, we had a 15 hour flight to Shanghai.  LOTS of time on the plane.  And the Shanghai flight was completely packed.  They had to move some of the carry-on luggage below to the luggage compartment, because there simply wasn't enough room for everyone's carry-ons.  So you get the picture, the plane was packed.  And there are 5 of us.  Cramped into our small seats, just waiting for the time to be over.  (The upside - I got to drink Diet Coke the whole ride over.  NOT worth the 15 hour flight mind you, but at least it was a positive)!

So anyway, we get off the plane, go through Immigration and then go to get our bags so that we can go through Customs.  All 8 of them.  That's right, I said 8.  But that's another story I'll tell you later.  Anyway, we're standing there waiting for our luggage, and this lady is standing next to me, griping because she is "priority" and Shanghai airport just can't get it straight that her luggage was supposed to come off the plane first.  Over and over I kept hearing that people needed to get their bags off the luggage belt or the other bags weren't going to come off.  Now mind you, there were A LOT of people still waiting to go through Immigration.  It's a little difficult to get your bags off the beltway, IF YOU AREN'T THERE TO SEE THEM!!!!  I mean really.  Use some common sense.  WE were actually pretty lucky because since we had Sarah in her stroller, they put us through a "special" lane, which meant we didn't have to stand in line quite as long as everyone else.  And for that, I am VERY thankful.  But still, there were LOTS of people on our plane, and I know we weren't the only plane arriving at that time, so the line for Immigration was very long.  She just kept complaining and complaining that she was PRIORITY and her bags should have come off first.  After listening to her gripe for about 10 minutes, Jason finally asked me what Priority meant.  I wanted to tell him it meant someone who thinks she's hot sh*t when she really isn't.  But instead, I told him it meant that they, (or most likely their company), paid for Business Class instead of Economy.  I told him it's what Daddy is when he's flying by himself for work.  What I wanted to tell HER was that she just spent 15 hours on a plane, probably sleeping, LYING DOWN, ALL BY HERSELF!  I, on the other hand, was dealing with a 10 year old, 7 year old and 2 year old, and DID NOT get to lie down the whole way! If she thought I wanted to sit there and listen to how special she was, she was WAY off base!

It's funny, because one thing you learn after being here for awhile, is that the locals here can be VERY rude.  But what's really sad is when those of us that aren't from here, start acting like the people that areThat's when you know you've been here too long.  And that maybe it's time for you to go back home.  Just my two cents!

Friday, January 1, 2010


I hope you all have a safe and happy new year, and I hope all of your wishes and dreams for the new year come true.

For us, we will be heading back to China tomorrow morning, so please keep us in your prayers during our 16 hour journey.

We've had a great time being home and catching up with family and friends, and we can't wait to come home for good in July.