Wednesday, June 25, 2008


FINALLY slept a normal night's sleep last night - yippee! It's a little difficult to function when you want to sleep all day and can't sleep at all at night because it's SUPPOSED to be day! Even the kids slept all night. It's a good thing.

Can I mention how absolutely refreshing it is to be able to buy things and not have to multiply by 7 to figure out how much they "really" cost in U.S. dollars?
And how wonderful it is to have cars stop for you if you're crossing the street or in a parking lot, rather than aiming for you and speeding up?
And how great this country is, that everybody actually lines up in an orderly fashion and doesn't shove in front of you then invite their 14 relatives and friends to join them?
And how nice it is to go the store and know what everything is, how much it costs, and be able to ask questions about it?
And to understand what sizes I wear in clothing and shoes and know they'll pretty much fit me?
The food here is fabulous - at least at my favorite restaurants.
Drive-thru windows are a luxury - did you know THAT?
People generally follow the rules on the road - no big giant games of "chicken" here.
It's nice to walk down the street and not have to watch where I step for fear of "snot-rockets", trash and food debris, for the most part?
About those snot rockets - it's also nice to be in public and not hear all the hawking and spitting and nose-clearing-out that is perfectly normal in China.
Having a phone book and being able to use it!!

It's good to be home for a while.

Monday, June 23, 2008


Would you believe I sort of didn't want to come home? I have made some super-special friends in China and our time together is limited by the fact that we're mostly there for just a few years. How funny compared to last summer when I was so miserable and's a good feeling.

It's lovely to be in the U.S. - yesterday I went to my church and was welcomed by my big Faith family there. And then we went to my favorite pizza place, then to visit some very, very dear friends to just hang with them. Dinner with my mom and her husband last really is nice here.

However, here are some things I did NOT miss while in China:
Pre-presidential election MUD-SLINGING...UGH! It was great to not be in the U.S. for the majority of that junk. Really, it's ridiculous.
Tomato scares
Having to drive everywhere instead of walking...I miss walking my neighborhood! Everything seems so far apart here! So funny...
Cheap stuff like pants from the J. Crew and Ann Taylor factory stores for about $5 each
Cheap manicures, pedicures, massages and hair washes - it's so expensive here!

But, it's nice to be here for a little while. I hope to see everybody this summer at some point if you can! Call me at my mom's - if you don't know her number, just shoot me an e-mail. Thanks for checking up on us!

Saturday, June 21, 2008


After a very, very busy end of the school year, and a reeeeeeaaaaalllllllyyyy long trip home, we are in the U.S.

We had programs and parties to attend before leaving, plus going-away parties for our dear friends who will not be returning in the fall. That is the difficult part of expat life - saying goodbye to the wonderful people you meet along the way. We had to say goodbye to some completely lovely people this year. We all know it's part of the culture of an expat community, but this was my first full year and therefore my first goodbye to true, real friends. So sad!!

Then we were all set to return home. The car picked us up in China at 7 Thursday morning and took us across the border and across the big bridge to Hong Kong. We checked in and shoved breakfast down the kids' throats, only to find our flight was delayed. Delayed 7 hours! So we killed a bunch of time in the Hong Kong airport - luckily they have a nice little playground in there. And a great restaurant where we loitered for a really long time over various salads, sandwiches, tea and sodas. Finally got on the plane and flew over the north pole, down to Jersey. Of course since we arrived so late at night, we had to stay a night in Jersey. The people at Continental Airlines were completely fabulous in handling things for us. We got off the plane and were met by customer service reps with room keys for a local hotel plus food vouchers. We were shuttled off to the hotel and headed straight to our rooms. Very nice service. We had a whopping 4 hours to sleep before we had to return to the airport to head was a really long 36 hours of travel. I have to say, my kids totally rock. They were so good and so patient! People around us were amazed they had been traveling for 36 hours by the time we got here. Way to go, little dudes and dude-ette!

So, after discombobulated sleep patterns we are finally here for our first full day in East TN - yippee it's good to be home! Tim and I went for a walk around the neighborhood this morning - not quite the same workout as the hills of our China neighborhood but a nice walk nonetheless. I went to Curves with my mom, where we had another little workout - and we had a nice, normal lunch. So far, so good. I'm going to do my best not to turn into a pufferfish this time home! Wish me luck with that.

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Party Photos

Here is everybody SURPRISING me and singing Happy Birthday

And the lovely "40" medallion. Sorry, my eyes are closed. Next to me is my friend Paty from Peru. She is either consoling me for the fact that I have to wear the obnoxious necklace or else admiring it....not sure which.

Some friends, both of whom happen to be from Scotland...guess which one is in the band.

Birthday Week

Last night Tim threw me a surprise birthday party! He'd been planning it for weeks and was really sneaky about it! My dear neighbor made me a cake, another friend helped with invites, and Alex helped him decorate the restaurant. Our dear Hong Kong friends came all the way over to share the evening. This was especially nice because they just had a baby 3 weeks ago, and we spent my actual birthday with them in Hong Kong on Wednesday.
I got to wear a beautiful necklace that said "BEHOLD THE AGELESS WONDER" with the number 40 all over it (it was really obnoxious!) . There were streamers and all sorts of decorations - he really did a it great job.
It was such a lovely surprise!
My multicultural friends sang "Happy Birthday" to me in four different languages - Swedish, German, English and Chinese.
He had an excellent buffet dinner for us including fish and chips from the Irish Pub the party was held at. The party was on the top floor, open-air, upstairs from the bar where my favorite local band plays. So after eating and relaxing and having fun upstairs, we all headed downstairs to dance the night away to the rockin' sounds of "Mind the Gap."

It's the rainy season here so it had been pouring all day - luckily the outdoor room was at least covered. The floor was wet but we were dry. Many people braved pouring rain to come to the party.

Everybody commented about what a great party it was - we all had such a blast! What a fantastic husband I have!

Sunday, June 01, 2008

The Whining Zone

And what an...uh, exciting...week it has been! Tim left for the U.S. on Monday and is enroute back home to us right now - he's just flying over Mongolia, it looks like. Let me just say I am so happy I have help in the house, especially at suppertime! Domestic help is not only desired and expected and perfectly normal here, it's also necessary, believe it or not. Everything here gets so much dirtier so much more quickly here - must be due to all the pollution in the air and water, but if my floor is washed one day, it will be black again by the next day, and we don't wear shoes in the house! Even my Chinese friend who moved to the U.S. has commented on how you really don't need help there like you do here because you don't have to clean so much there! You need to spend a LOT more time cleaning in China (that would be a figurative "you"...meaning "Somebody Else"...)
On Tuesday I had a PSA meeting - this coming year I will be on the board for our school's Parent Support Association. Later that afternoon, I had lunch with some friends. During this time I felt sort of yucky...sore throat, a bit of a headache. Well, by mid-afternoon I had a screamin' headache, a really bad sore throat and even my skin hurt - I was really sick! Turns out I had tonsilitis, and it pretty much knocked me down for three days. Again, I am SO GLAD to have domestic help here because with Tim gone that would NOT have been all. It still wasn't fun...
Then on Thursday I still had to fulfill a cake order for a friend. This friend has ordered 2 cakes from me in the past and both times I had to cancel the day before due to some emergency or another...I couldn't cancel this time! So I got that done...and then slept some more!
Friday morning (I kept thinking I'd feel better "tomorrow" but...) I had another obligation I couldn't cancel - Ella was asked to model again and this time she wanted to. I couldn't cancel on her agent the day of the shoot so we went to that. Luckily it was a pretty short one and we were home in time to take a nice nap together. Still feeling pretty sick...
Saturday morning I FINALLY felt better - yippee! That was such a relief. Especially since domestic helpers have Sundays off and I really wanted to be healthy by today. Thank you, Auntie Biotix!
I was able to take Andrew to the rain because it's the rainy season here...and then to his end-of-the-season soccer banquet. We had a nice time together and spent the day hanging around the house, playing and still taking it easy.
Today we made it to church here in the neighborhood. After church the kids were playing on the playground and I noticed Andrew itching away. There are many mosquitoes and horrible little black bugs that bite and ITCH for weeks here. There are also these poison caterpillars that give you a huge, itchy, bumpy red rash that makes you miserable. Guess which bug bit Andrew? Yep, the caterpillar...he was swelling up and bumpy and red and itchy...poor little guy! We got him home on a golf cart, slathered on the calamine lotion and popped a Benadryl into him. He had a little pizza picnic on the couch (way against the rules, usually) and some Cartoon Network. Now he's good as new, just a little pinker than normal thanks to the calamine.

OK, so I know this week will be exciting, too...after all, I will be turning FORTY on Wednesday. How much more exciting can life get than that? Hopefully it will be a healthy week for us, I know we will be so happy to have Tim back home. And in a mere 19 days we will be heading back home for a visit...