Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Are we really doing this?

OK, Christmas is over, time to start the MOVE PROCESS. So far we've filled out (not sent in yet) our visa applications for living in China and moving in and out of the country. We've made arrangement to sell a bunch of our furniture and applicances, plus we've cleaned out a few closets. We've gotten a van, villa and school in China. And, as of today, we are the proud owners of one-way tickets to China. OK, when I got that airline confirmation email from Tim I almost started to cry, then I almost threw up. Yep, we are definetly moving. Everything I know right now will be different. I kind of just want to curl up into a ball and make it all go away. BUT, I have to go back to my Moving to China Mission Statement: "One must move OUTSIDE (way the heck outside, in this case) one's comfort zone in order to grow." And growth is good, therefore change is good. Strip away all that doesn't REALLY matter to see what remains. Time for some big-ass growth, y'all.
Truly, I don't know how I'm going to live so far away from my parents. And my church. And my tae kwon do class, which I love. Oh, the house, the kitchen, my big, soft bed.
This is Freaking Out Day, I guess. Tomorrow will be Gosh, I'm So Excited To Move to China Day, I just know it.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Our House in the Middle of our Street

So, it looks like we have a house - an actual house, too, not a high-rise. It's got 4 bedrooms, a nice play area, a dining room, a big kitchen with a -ta-dah! - full-size oven and refrigerator! Yippee! Plus a washer/dryer and dishwasher. All of these things are UNUSUAL. Usually in China the kitchens are tiny; most do not have an oven, just a cooktop and rice steamer. Most of the nicer apartments that DO have ovens have little dinky ones but this is a regular-sized one. Tim will hopefully be taking care of the lease and all that this next trip to China.

The house is right near the International School and the SOS International Clinic and the English-speaking church.

So, we have 2 1/2 months left to go. We started "purging" out stuff we don't want or use anymore, and are now working on toys. Christmas will be a bit of a challenge this year, since we don't really want a whole lot MORE stuff to store or move. We're getting creative with Christmas gifts for the kids.

I am all of a sudden meeting some really cool people; doesn't that figure that I start all these interesting friendships so shortly before we move? Ah, well, can't get too comfortable now, can we? On to the next adventure!! : )

Thursday, November 09, 2006

I miss him!!

Tim is on his way back to halfway-around-the-world again. This time it's "only" a week - ha ha. Since last time it was 14 days, I suppose a week is do-able. He's checking out apartments and will set us up in temporary housing, a car and driver, and banking. All sorts of different, confusing stuff to do. I'm so glad my Logistics Man is in charge of all the, um, well, logistics because I wouldn't know where to start. We do have some empty boxes in various rooms but, yeah, they're empty. I don't want to pack stuff we're bringing because that's stuff we're going to be using the next four months. I don't want to pack stuff we're not bringing because I don't know what that is yet!! I did pack up some books I no longer need, but we don't need to store those, I need to sell them. Mostly pregnancy and breastfeeding books, which I now feel I could be writing.

On more local news, Alex, Andrew and I will all be testing for our tawkwondo yellow belts this Saturday together - which is very cool. I do love martial arts, though I know I have a long way to go before I'm not such a klutz. It's fun to yell and punch, though, I must say. : )

Thursday, October 26, 2006

It's All About Who You Know

I met a woman tonight at a Tastefully Simple party who lived for six years in Hong Kong, working for a relocation company. She and her husband raised a daughter there, just over the border from where we'll be living. This woman, Kathy, is just chock-full of information for us; she's going to have to write me a book. I told her I was going to hound her for the next four months, and she said "go for it. I wish I'd had somebody to help me way back when." She is amazing, knowledgeable, and full of common sense ideas for the trip and getting set up in our new country. The most important thing she said was "It will be a great, big adventure. Just go with it and enjoy it. That's how you have to look at it" Very cool. My friend, Barb, told me about her a while ago but I never knew what to ask. She, on the other hand, knows what to tell me because she's been there. I am very thankful for my wonderful friend, Barb, for introducing us and for the all the awesome food at the T.S. party, too! God is great, blessing us with such wonderful people in our lives!

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Tim checked out apartments again today; it looks like we're going to be living a ways from the school, just because we both really like the feel of the neighborhood our friends live in. We are probably going to be there for a few months while we furnish a more permanent apartment. Today I told a few more people - it is really so very nice to be able to TELL people and not be in the closet about this anymore.

Still waiting to receive acceptance from the school...this is getting more and more real, and I realize I'm going to miss everything more and more. I really feel at home here, and I really enjoy the network we're creating. My friend Marilyn today told me that the one thing that came out of their living abroad while her kids were young, was that it really pulls the family together. I've been wondering about the very same thing. It seems to be one of the biggest "pluses" for the move, in addition to the expanded worldview of everyone once we adjust to our new lives.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Our house went up for sale today. It's really sad to see the signs in the yard...see, I love this house. I love our neighbors and our neighborhood and our view of the mountains and my kitchen...well, don't get me started. I love it. BUT, I also think that trying to maintain it for 2-5 years from the other side of the world will NOT be worth the hassle. So, off it goes. We've been getting lots of nice comments from the neighbors today since the signs went up, about how our friends don't want us to go. How blessed we are with the people we've met here!! Now we get to clean frantically whenever an agent calls us. Yippee, always fun to clean with three little kids : ) Always a work in process, I guess.

They also announced it at Tim's work today - YIPPEE!!! We are no longer closet relocators. We can tell the world! : ) Yee-hah, what a relief!

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Baby steps

The applications are we just wait to see if the boys are accepted (space-provided).

Friday, September 22, 2006

Well, we still haven't sent in our applications for the International School; they're all completed. We just to add copies of passports, and my scanner has been on the fritz for about a year. So we need to do that and then we can get those sent in. That will relieve a lot of anxiety on my part, provided they get accepted. If they don't, well, that will greatly increase my anxiety I suppose! Yep, gotta get them in.

I started taking an online class to get a certificate to Teach English as a Foreign Language. I'm hoping for at least one of the following to happen: that I'll get a job at the International School (half the tuition, half the SOS International Clinic membership, plus pool privileges!); that I'll start a voluntary English class for the China RSC employees; and that I'll be able to teach Ling Ling how to speak English, and any other friends who have helped us and who need help learning. I go at my own pace for this class, and I'm pretty excited about it.

It's strange making new friends, knowing we'll only be here for another six months. It's almost like I don't want to invest the time I should because I know I won't be able to maintain all my friendships once we leave. It's almost like the "spongeworthy" Seinfeld this person timeworthy? I think I'm also more negative than usual about everything just because Tim has been gone all this week, will be somewhere else next week, and leaves for China the week after that. I'm getting used to doing all the parenting and housekeeping stuff, but it gets really old. I miss that extra person. Don't get me wrong, I know I'm lucky. I've had the "extra person" talk with divorced and widowed friends, and friends with husbands in Iraq. I know I'm blessed as can be because he's home most weekends (except the China ones); he's the breadwinner; we can talk on the phone; and I still have my best friend as my best friend, in this world. OK, I feel better already. Really, I am so lucky. Truly, how could I possibly be more blessed? I'm just fine. : )

Monday, September 11, 2006

Don't Worry About A Thing...cause every little thing's...

gonna be alright...

OK, I'm getting used to the idea that this is really going to happen and I'm ready to get ready. Already have cleaned out the closets and gotten RID of stuff, and I've come to terms with selling the house. The big breakthrough came last night talking with DH about the fact that I have in the past given up income to raise our kids because I trust him (very scary for me!) and now I'm giving up pretty much everything I am and have outside of our little nuclear family to move AROUND THE WORLD with him. Serious trust. Just verbalizing that and putting it out there seems to have made a big difference in how I'm viewing this move. Strange but good. I'm ready to support the kids and give them the reassurance they need, to be the grown-up, I guess.

We're getting the schools apps in this week - a thousand dollars, just to APPLY - that's quite a commitment. One that I'm ready to make. I feel like that PBS ad "I'm Ready!" Lots to do yet, but I think we'll be okay.

Now, just worries about the stability of the economy and sociopolitical situation in China. Bigger worries that I can really wrap my mind around right now, so I'm going to just trust. There's that word again...

Saturday, September 09, 2006

What to bring...

I am starting to look around my kitchen and wonder what I'll be needing in Shenzhen. For instance, do we bring the coffeemaker? The only coffee we got when we visited was they SELL coffee? Do I bring my springform they sell cream cheese? What about cake pans...I make very cool character cakes and birthday cakes. But do they sell cake mixes? I've been told that few people have actual ovens there. Mostly they have a cooktop and a rice steamer to prepare food. What about our dishes, baking tools, etc.? Would it be easier to just buy stuff there? All kinds of little things to find out, I guess. Pots, pans, baking pans...I think the kitchen will be hardest to pack since that is the thing that will be the most different (and probably the most missed room, in my case!) And my big, beautiful mixer - will there be any use for it? Any SPACE for it? I use my mixer often for cookies, cakes, cheesecakes, icing, even pancakes sometimes. Speaking of pancakes, what about my griddle? Probably need to stress out the electricity. But I WILL bring my griddle pan so I can make the kids pancakes sometimes. The food is really going to be a challenge, I think!

I'm hoping we can bring the kids' beds and dressers. We are thinking it will provide them with some continuity that this is now "home" and their stuff is still here and they can still sleep in their beds. We'd LOVE to bring our bed, too, but it's a king size and space is really at a premium in China. Probably wouldn't fit.

Both boys have asked if we can still live in our house when we get back; this is making me SAD because it seems so important to them right now. But, we think it would be WAY less hassle to just sell it and store whatever we don't take along or get rid of. I know we won't be the same when we return - we will probably be content with less space and less yard. So, I suppose we'll be sprucing it up to sell in the next few months.

Six more months...

Thursday, August 31, 2006

The Kids

Tonight we asked Alex how he feels about moving to China. He said right away he will really miss his friends. I had a hard time not tearing up at that, and told him right away that I would really miss my friends, too. Then he said he would also miss his TV channels (when we visited, they didn't have Disney's JETIX in Hong Kong or China that we could find). But he also said that it will be okay because they do have Cartoon Network there. Then he said it's cool that he already has two friends there, and he's pretty happy about that.

Andrew told his preschool teacher on Tuesday that we're moving to China. She asked the director (a good friend) about this and she confirmed it for her. Now people are really starting to find out about our move. What a relief!!! It's been so hard not being able to talk freely about this - we've known since the first week of June.

I think it will be easiest on Ella - she is so young and so adaptable and social and happy. But coming back here will be the hardest on her, probably, because her real memories will start there.

It will be hard on Tim because he's going to have a very different job - not a lot of structure or clear direction at first. We will all miss our friends dearly, especially our family nearby and far away. I'm going to miss my kitchen and my bed and my washer and dryer. And my friends and my church and my kids' preschool. And my parents. A bunch. And English books and magazines and newspapers and labels on stuff we buy. And my car. And American cuisine, Italian cuisine and Mexican cuisine.

But we will come back, and we will be forever changed by this experience.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

More wonderings...very little action

We really need to get those school apps in for the boys; what if they don't get accepted?? Then what? Do I stay with the kids to finish out the school year? Home-school them??? (not) What? Can they get accepted for next year? Right now we're waiting for final numbers for our relo package from Tim's job. Since he'll be the first ex-pat for that company, they have to write policies before we get numbers, which is taking a LONG time. Once we get the numbers, some answers will fall into place; we can get the kids applied for school (it costs $1000 to APPLY to this school, and we are waiting so they can cover that cost); we can figure out what to do with the house.

I need to keep reminding myself that I will be the main one responsible for a smooth and relatively trauma-free relocation for the kids. Tim will be getting into a new job and will have a network in place already. The kids will be excited about meeting new people and their new school. I will be concentrating on how to provide continuity, peace, reassurance and normalcy to the life of our family. I guess that 's the ultimate "mom" responsibility and I'm okay with that. I just hope I do okay. Keeping the kids as my top priority will help me stay focused on the positive. My friend who lost her husband almost a year ago to a car accident has become a true expert on finding silver linings. As the anniversary of her husband's death approaches, her response is "at least it's the only first anniversary of this we'll have to deal with. At least there's only one." She stops me in my tracks every time she speaks of her loss. She is a person to learn selflessness and coping from.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Prelim Wonderings

So, I've decided to start a blog about our family's preparation and eventual move to Shenzhen, China, on the other side of the world. It's overwhelming - I don't necessarily do well with overwhelming. I am simultaneously terrified and thrilled. I keep a mission statement in mind - one must step outside of one's comfort zone in order to grow. And growth is good. I think we will all grow in unimaginable (for now) ways from this move. Not to mention new friends from all over the world and a whole new view of the world. Strip away the unnecessary and see what remains...

Right now we're trying to decide whether to keep the house and rent it or let a friend live here as caretaker, or just sell it and not have property here. Or, do we keep the rental house further downtown (which is much smaller) as income property so we will still own U.S. property (I don't know why that's important to me, but it is for some reason). I'm not sure how I feel about someone renting our house - being a germophobe and all (HA! In China where we can't drink tap water...) and being clear on the other side of the world. I'm not sure how I feel about paying a mortgage for up to 5 years just to keep this particular house (I do love this house, and so do the kids).

All kinds of things to decide...we have set a deadline to actually MAKE a decision so we can move on to bigger things - like what and how we will move everything, store everything else, and what to give away. We need to get the kids' school apps in and find an apartment to move into until we find something more permanent. We need to get shots, I think. Ick. We all need to see docs and dentists for checkups. We need to obtain SOS International Health Care policy. And I thinkg we oughta know a bit of Mandarin, just for kicks. Yikes.