We must not cease from exploration. And the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time. - T.S. Eliot


Monday, August 8, 2011

A Bump In The Road

We did spend a wonderful night at the Sheraton thanks to our flight's "mechanical issues."

Try loading and unloading all this luggage 10 times!

I’m not sure if I should laugh or cry! Moving day came and went, and here we are back at my sister-in-law’s house in Tennessee. Hugs, tears, and desperate sadness preempted a 40 minute drive to the airport. Upon entering the airline counter we were met with news that our flight had been cancelled due to mechanical errors. So there we were, 7 moving boxes, 5 large suitcases, 5 carry-ons, backpacks and children, all ready to begin the adventure of a lifetime, only to be told “Sorry, your flight has been cancelled.” Holy Cow! After another hour at the check-in counter we soon realized that we hadn’t obtained work Visas for the children. Who knew our children needed work Visas? Apparently not us! Could it get any worse? Don’t ask! $1000 to obtain the children’s visas by Wednesday. Yikes! Just as I thought I was about to cry, Phillip remarked, “Mama I don’t like this adventure.” I had to agree, but who said it would all be fun! It wouldn’t be an adventure without a few bumps in the road. All in all, everything will be fine and we will get to China. Our new flight is scheduled for Friday morning. The good news is that we get to spend more time with our family! I’m not sure what we would have done without them! It makes me realize what really matters! My mother-in-law, sister-in-laws and brother-in-law are thrilled and we will cherish every last moment with them!

Friday, August 5, 2011

Final Goodbyes

Placing Chrysanthemum petals in drinking glasses

Going-Away Party

Grandma's House (couldn't figure out how to make it scratch-n-sniff)

I’ve been told the olfactory sense, the sense of smell, is the most potent in regards to memory. Nonetheless, my grandmother’s house smells like childhood, Thanksgiving, Easter, and Christmas compressed into a single odor. My husband’s flared nostrils announced the pure enjoyment he experienced upon entry through the front doorway. I should have foreseen, from the moment we entered her home, that the night would be an emotional rollercoaster. It was the second of two going-away parties my grandmother had hosted for us Indiana.

My grandmother, a women I haven’t decided if I should thank or blame for my crazy notions that life should be experienced, has inspired me in more than one way. The second of which, I will explain later. This vibrant, red-haired, 73 year old still travels outside the country on a regular basis. Turkey, Germany, France, New Zealand, Greece, Australia… You name it, she’s visited it! She travels for pleasure and enjoys exploring different locations.
Thanks to grandma, I’ve also indulged in another extra-curricular activity… Facebook.

Yes, it’s official I now have a Facebook account. I vowed not to give in, but Zuckerberg, ultimately, succeeded in sucking me in. You might be wondering what the link is between my grandmother and Facebook. Well, not only is grandma a world traveller, but she is also a proud owner of her very own Facebook page. As I was speaking these very words aloud to my husband, it dawned on me “Why not?” I mean I didn’t protest Apple products because of Steve Jobs and let’s face it he’s not exactly a completely moral entrepreneur. Nor did I quit using Microsoft products because Bill Gates set out to monopolize the computer software industry. Honestly, I suppose my objections to Facebook permitted me the ability to retain my anonymity. I’ve never been very good at “friend maintenance.” Whatever the case, be it grandma’s influence or my own selfish reasons, I bit the bullet and did it! I’m afraid social networking has now, effectively, taken over my life. Between Twitter, Google+, and Facebook, who has time for going-away parties? Well, WE have successfully survived two!

The first, held the night before our 15th wedding anniversary, was very endearing. My husband, a man with the soul of a poet, never refrains from completely taking me by surprise with some kind of a wild, over-the-top, declaration of love. His endearments surpass every characteristic little girls imagine their prince-like husbands to possess. My prince charming arranged, with the help of my sister, for a single, red, Chrysanthemum to be placed at the end of the table in a clear box. Near the conclusion of dinner, he stood, removed the flower, and pledged his love and commitment to me, our new adventure, and my family. Quoting Aristotle, and making reference to various endearing moments in our lives, he eloquently delivered a beautiful, heartfelt monologue. He explained that the Chrysanthemum was a flower we would encounter quite frequently in our travels throughout China. The Chrysanthemum is a flower of great symbolic meaning in ancient China that conveys luck and happiness. He then removed petals from the flower and as he placed a single one in my parent’s, sister’s, grandmother’s, aunt’s, uncle’s and cousins’ drinks, he explained that, according to the Chinese, if you drink from a glass with a Chrysanthemum petal at the bottom, it would bring you luck. He is truly a beautiful man!

The second began on a much lighter note. We laughed, talked and reminisced with cousins, aunts, uncles, my parents, sister, and grandmother. I had so much fun and indulged in all the wonderful foods my mother, father and grandmother had prepared. Hamburgers, chicken and dumplings, chess and pumpkin pies, blueberry cheesecake… As the evening ended, the tears began to flow. What started with a tearful goodbye from my aunt left my sister and I sobbing in each other’s arms. People say to me all the time, “I would never be brave enough to move to China.” It’s not the move itself or China that frightens me, it’s leaving my family. While, my heart broke as I embraced my sister, I knew that saying goodbye to my parents would be one of the most difficult things I have ever done. I realize I will see them in a year, but that’s a far cry from monthly weekend visits and multiple phone conversations with my mother that can last hours a day. I was right! I still have a knot in the pit of my stomach. My mother cried and my father tightly embraced me expressing his pride.

Although I knew goodbyes would be the most difficult part of our journey, the opportunity to delight in my family was wonderful! Bittersweet, yes, but wonderful!

We are back home in Tennessee spending the last couple of days before departure with our family. My mother-in-law flew in from Charleston and we are sneaking as much time in as possible with my sister-in-laws and brother-in-law. It’s obvious from recent somber moments, Marisa’s excessive picture-taking, and the look in my mother-in-law's eyes that the next two days will be heartbreaking.

Tomorrow we will continue goodbyes with Casey’s family during a family reunion and Sunday we board a plane and begin the adventure of a lifetime.

"Take into account that great love and great achievements involve great risk."
— Dalai Lama XIV

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

18 Days and Counting


Gatlinburg, TN

Charleston, South Carolina

Our house has been turned over to the renters, our possessions dispersed, and our Visas are in hand. Not without problems, I might add. 18 days until we leave and many more goodbyes remain. We spent a week in Charleston with Casey’s mom and had a wonderful time at the beach; we are currently in Indiana spending some time with my parents in the country, and are staying with my sister-in-law between visits while I finish up my last doctoral course. By the time we have sufficiently inconvenienced every member of both our families, it will be time to board the plane.
We feel a bit like vagabonds with our suitcases in tow. As our 15 year wedding anniversary approaches and I assess our belongings, I certainly hope the accumulation of possessions doesn’t signify a prosperous marriage. Our current belongings consist of 5 moving boxes, 5 suitcases, and 5 carry-ons. We did store some bins of memorabilia, books, and clothes in our attic, but for all intensive purposes, our belongings fit into 5 boxes, 5 suitcases, and 5 carry-ons. 1 box is filled with items such as Mac-N-Cheese, tea bags, drink powder, peanut butter, spices, over-the-counter medications, sunscreen, and cosmetics. We left room in 1 box to pack items we cannot purchase in China and others we felt would be comforting to the children while transitioning to a new country.
In between dozens of dentist and doctor’s appointments, we are eating all our favorite foods, watching all our favorite movies, and visiting all our favorite places. I can’t think of a better excuse to spoil ourselves with Americana than moving to China. Fireworks on the beach during the 4th, my dad’s fat, juicy grilled burgers and creek fries, Harry Potter, swimming and fishing in Bledsoe Creek, camping and tons of ice cream have filled our last month with tremendous joy, not to mention 10 extra pounds. (I have come to terms with being the fat, white woman in China.) A statistics class, 1 more dentist appointment, a few more goodbyes and we will be ready to begin our Chinese adventure!!

Monday, June 20, 2011


The excitement of moving to China completely overwhelms me with elation; however, I will admit the excitement of getting back into the classroom excites me nearly as much! While I am passionate about travel, I also love teaching!
I love to TEACH. My job has pulled me away from the classroom for the previous 2 years, but I have longed to return. I don’t deny that the last 2 years have provided me with tremendous growth and knowledge. I would replicate my decision to leave the classroom without hesitation. It was basically an opportunity to receive 2 full years of professional development without a school loan attached. (We don’t discuss school loans in our household!!!)
Some say teaching is an art. You only realize the art of teaching when you truly observe it. Good teachers carefully weave their lessons together, including the intricate details, in a manner that only a meticulous artist could possibly achieve. Others just color!
Teaching is a beautiful art! I enjoy my life most when I am a teacher. It doesn’t matter the age of my students, I love to teach!

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Moving to China: Phase 2

Not everyone embraces our move in quite the same manner. While many of our closest friends and family support our decision, others make comments like “I wouldn’t visit China if someone gave me an all-expense paid trip.” After excitedly calling one of my closest friends with our news and announcing “We are moving to China.” Her response was “I know. I heard. I’m so worried about you!” Not exactly the response I was hoping for. I’m not waiting on a lifesaving organ or about to take a position in the secret service. I was expecting “Congratulations!” or “How exciting!” Although some of our friends and family are admittedly “worried”, others are enthusiastic!
It’s fun to assess peoples’ facial expressions when you tell them you’re moving to China. During our 2nd garage sale today someone asked “Are you moving?” Casey responded by saying “Yes… to China.” They immediately laughed as if responding to a joke. When they noticed we weren’t laughing they whispered “Seriously!?”
Yep, we are really moving to China.
China, China!
Not China, Tennessee!
… the real China.
For some reason, our junk suddenly became more valuable. Who knew the sales pitch "We are moving to China" would be so successful?
We have officially moved into PHASE 2 of the moving process. We had a second garage sale today (our house is beginning to seem very empty), and we dropped Chester off at his new home.
Saying goodbye to Chester, Phillip’s cat, was difficult for the children today. It broke my heart. They all 3 sat in the van and cried while we handed him over to his new owner. We found a great home for him, but that offers little comfort to children losing their pet. They all expressed that they were still excited about our move, but would miss Chester. However, our evening ended on a good note, and they seemed much better after the brownies and ice cream their Aunt Desiree made them.

We are always getting ready to live but never living. ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Ballet School in China?

I am happy to announce, we have found a ballet school for Grayce in Chengdu! Her last recital was Tuesday night. I promised her we would find a ballet school. Mission accomplished! The Chengdu Arts’ Center offers many different classes.
…on to volleyball for Emma and Motocross for Phillip. Something tells me the latter will be a little more difficult! Phillip may have to settle for a rickshaw ride to volleyball practice and ballet class!

Monday, May 23, 2011


While making an effort to separate Must-Haves from Must-Do-Withouts, I have caught myself panicking about future internet withdraw. You may have read in earlier postings about my quirky compulsions, you may have also read that my twitter days have come and gone. Well, they have come, gone, and come back with a vengeance. Twitter should come with a disclaimer. WARNING: Twitter is likely to become addictive and has been known to be bad for a marriage! #twitterfreak
Yes, advanced statistics has concluded, leaving me time to pick up a new obsession… Twitter! Now, I have been told that I will have access to the internet in China … FULL ACCESS! However, I am having some doubts. I recently read that Bob Dylan was prohibited from giving a performance in China. According to Time magazine, jasmine (the plant), time travel, gaming systems, Avatar, unnatural hairstyles, and tons of websites have also been banned in China. …kind of makes me want to die my hair purple, buy a DeLorean, and rent sci-fi movies. Go figure! I take it all with a grain of salt. The very first piece of advice I received from my new principal was not to believe everything I read or heard about China because 90% of it wasn’t true. With that being said, I have later found that Bob Dylan was never forbidden from playing in China. He simply decided not to include China in his tour. While much of what I read may be embellished a bit, I am aware that the Chinese government strictly oversees internet use.
I can’t imagine life without internet access!
I have come to terms with the fact that I am a total geek. I caught myself saying to my husband, “I would love to take a computer programming course this summer to learn to write program code.” Uhg! Did that really come from my mouth. Of course it did! I am a complete and total geek! My supervisor, Julie, even confirmed my suspicions one day when meeting with her to help set up a wiki!
I often sleep with at least one of my computers and am known to carry my Ipad in my purse, along with a hard-drive, a set of around 7 flash drives, a portable computer speaker, and a wireless mouse. My lipstick is in there somewhere!
The thought of going anywhere without my Iphone frightens me and my husband often counts the ways I am connected! While I question Bill Gates’s knowledge of public education, I am humbled by his knowledge of computer programming. PC or Mac? Both please! What will I do without the freedom to browse the internet, to write in my blog, to develop websites, to TWEET???

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Made In China

It seems as if we have been mentally preparing ourselves for this move in small increments at a time. For example, driving in the car we’ll ask the kids questions such as, “What toys and books MUST you have?” “What can’t you live without?”
Seem a little dramatic? Ever told a 4 and 7 year old that they can only choose a couple of things to bring with them to a foreign country, in order to make room for clothes and essentials? Goodbye winter coat, Hello dolls!! Trust me, even the Barbie purse lodged in the back corner of a closet becomes a prized possession.
In all honesty, Grayce was more cooperative than I imagined. She decided she must have her Junie B. Jones collection. The books are relatively small and thin so I, hesitantly, gave in. After purchasing a Nook color and an Ipad, books must be extra special to go in the “China Bound” pile. I also agreed to a half a gallon sized baggy of tiny dolls with plastic dresses in exchange for a huge box of Barbie Dolls. We decided to take a few pictures of her friends, to later frame for her bedroom, and her favorite painting.
Phillip…. Well, he’ll likely be a different story. Parting from his 4-wheeler, tractor collection, and hot-wheels will be difficult!
Originally, I was under the impression that most toys could be purchased in China. Let’s face it, nearly everything we use in our household originated in some part of China! However, I have recently learned that many of the items we purchase in the US, made in China, are only produced for export (Those stupid Americans will waste their money on anything!), but something tells me we will locate plenty of useless items Made in China to replace the useless items we own now that were Made in China.
I have been surprised at the items, others have suggested, we bring. Items such as feminine products, toothpaste, deodorant, over-the-counter medications, an alarm clock, salt & pepper, spices, baking pans and utensils, have all found their way on our TO BRING list. I can only imagine airport security breaking open a large box filled with a year’s supply of tampons and maxi-pads. I guess it might scare some men to death! Apparently, not everything is made in China!

Monday, May 9, 2011

Moving to China: Phase 1

I often randomly announce “I love Tennessee summers!” Spring is always a comforting warning that summer is on its way. Tennessee summers are filled with early mornings running through the garden in pajamas, picking the wild blackberries that grow along the wood line behind our house, long, steamy days in the kitchen canning the rewards of our backyard garden, late night movies, swimming, vine-ripened, tomato-butter biscuits, and ice cream. I LOVE TENNESSEE SUMMERS!

I realize we will spend summers in Tennessee, but I must admit reality is setting in. As I stared at the blank walls in my kitchen and the bare mattresses in the children’s bedrooms, my heart skipped a beat. Selling most of your worldly belongings and moving abroad seems quite romantic, until you see your prized possessions being auctioned off for a quarter a piece in a garage sale! We had a garage sale Friday and Saturday in an effort to begin purging our belongings. Casey calls it “phase 1” of the moving process. We have to be out of our house before July 1, so “phase 2” won’t be too far away.

I will be honest, I am holding my heart in my hand and having faith that Chinese autumns, winters and springs will be wonderful! I do feel as if we will gain much more than we are leaving behind, but some type of reassurance would nice. Anyone?

The World is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page. ~St. Augustine

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

3 Reasons to Move to China

Quilombolo in Brazil

Why Are You Moving to China?
This is perhaps the most prevalent question from family and friends. There are so many reasons. I thought I would briefly explain a few. I figure when I’m longing for my Thursday night viewing of The Big Bang Theory, craving freshly made, extra greasy, donuts from the bakery dive down the street, and crying because I miss my family, I can re-read it and reassure myself we made the right decision! They are in no particular order and all of equal importance.

1. Adventure and Love of Travel
It is true, we have both travelled abroad a bit. Casey student taught in Belize. I took a 10 day history course in Russia, and another in education in Malaysia. We both took a whimsical 12 day trip through Europe. What a learning experience that was! It is one thing to travel with a university in a country and quite another to travel independently. It’s much more adventurous and rewarding. You may miss some of the prized tourist monuments, but you learn a great deal more from the people you encounter along your journey. You always gain more pleasure from the smallest discoveries. Do you know in Rome you can walk underground in a subway tunnel, up some steps, and just as you enter the daylight, pouring in from the subway opening, at the top of the concrete staircase is the Coliseum? … the same coliseum that housed gladiators. It is a spectacular sight! Or that the Muslim men that I travelled with through the Malaysian rainforest were some of the most polite and peaceful people I have ever met in my life? Their kindness was beyond that I have ever felt. Or that African villages, created by run-away slaves, called Quilombolos exist throughout Brazil. Each experience abroad has added great value to both our lives. After each adventure, we have both yearned for more. … more adventure and more understanding.

2. Education and Intellect
It is the most wonderful and enriching experience we can share with our children and as a family. I feel like every paper I’ve written, every speaking engagement I have attended, and every professional development session I’ve given in the past 3 years have included globalization. It is important that the interests of the world are evaluated, rather than those of only the global elite. This requires authentic experience and education. We are giving our children this opportunity! Not only will our children attend an international school alongside students from countries around the world, but Casey and I will have the opportunity to teach and learn from these students!

3. Financial
The cost of living in China is much cheaper. It will afford us the finances needed to travel. On our salaries, in the United States, we can’t afford a trip to Florida, much less Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, and the Himalayan Mountains. We want to share and relish in these experiences as a family, not just in retirement.

I read a blog earlier today that presented the same question.

I suppose it’s not. It’s not an erratic decision we made without intense discussion and considerable thought. We are excited about this journey!

"Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover." -- Mark Twain

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Our Moving Prepartions Are In Full Bloom!

Spring has sprung! The signs are everywhere. Literally… The billboard at the entrance of the drive-inn proclaimed “We’re Open” as I drove by last week. Our newly planted Bradford Pear trees are blooming for the first time, Casey’s been eyeing BOTH of his broken tillers, my flip-flops and softly worn leather sandals have already taken their place in the front row of shoes in my closet, and our moving preparations are in full bloom.
We received our flight itinerary last week… After a 4 hour flight, a 5 hour layover, a 13 hour flight, a 2 hour layover, and another 3 hour flight we will arrive in Chengdu, China. If you have done your math you might realize that this equals 27 hours, 3 children and 2 insane parents.
Honestly, psychosis may develop before we actually step foot on the first flight. While we’ve been able to check a few items off our “to-do” list such as obtaining a COMPLETE physical examination and acquiring passports for our children, others linger about. Although it might seem as though I am worried, I’m really not! I’m excited! Simply receiving my children’s passports in the mail seemed like a reason to celebrate. When their passports arrived today, via US postal services, Casey was scared to let Phillip and Grayce touch their passport books. (He explained later he feared cute, little, crayon drawings might be an issue when going through customs.) After a moment of thought, I agreed! Emma carefully flipped through the pages of her passport and smiled.
Each step brings us closer to the reality that we are moving. I believe we have successfully rented our house (we’ll find out this week) and have begun wading through 14 years of stuff. We have been told to pack the minimal, so I spent the better part of a day eliminating clothes and other items in our bedroom. It’s difficult to throw out jeans you haven’t worn in 10 years. It’s like giving up hope that you’ll ever have the body you had as a 25 year old. I was comforted by the thought that the flared legs might not be as hip as they once were. Apparently, Casey found the amazing feat of cleaning out my closet quite hilarious. It became even more evident that he didn’t have faith in my ability to simplify when he grabbed my camera and began taking pictures. Pictures he made me promise I would post to the blog.

Items I would like to keep!

Garage Sale Items

It looks bad, but I was able to make significant progress after the photos were taken.

We are permitted 2 pieces of luggage per person. We can pay a $150 fee per additional 50 pound piece of luggage. There is also the option to ship some personal affects. However, it costs around $500 to have a 50 pound box shipped to China. It seems we will be drastically limiting our possessions! Spring cleaning has taken on a whole new meaning!

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Our Refrigerator Addition

Grayce's new phrase: "Ni hao lao shi" (Hello teacher)

I figure these two words are perfect for our first lesson in Chinese!

It's the Start of Something New

Do you ever feel like you have lived many lives? I’m not talking about reincarnation. I’m thinking several lives in one… more like a cat. I’m not sure that I have had exactly 9 lives, nor have I experienced death, but when I look back over my life it seems that many different lives encompass the one I am experiencing now. I think about my childhood, high school years, college, early marriage, Emma’s birth… All these points in my life seem so very different and so very long ago. I’m not even sure I identify with the person I was during those specific points in my life. That person, for better or worse, is not who I am now.
Have all the experiences in my life led me to this one? While I’m sure they have, I wonder if my new experiences in a different culture, a different society, a different world will motivate me to look back and feel as though I don’t recognize the person I am now. I’ll admit I’ve been reading Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert and am stuck in the Pray section when she delves into spirituality and reflects on her life, but honestly, I didn’t start thinking about it until a long dinner with my husband last weekend. We began discussing our life and the fact that it took us so long to get here. Here, being the threshold we are about cross, the leap of faith we are about take, the doorway of new experiences we will soon embark upon. I think about all the small steps we have taken in order to “figure out” what we want out of life. Sure there was a time when we assumed money would make us happy. I have no basis with which to measure this one, but I am sure it helps with some forms of happiness! I mean who would be opposed to shopping sprees, nice restaurants, and the overall security money provides (okay so spending large amounts of money always makes me feel guilty afterward, like I’ve cheated on my wallet). We’ve also been through the "just be happy with the simple life" sort of attitude, and it’s nice, but Casey and I have always been the think big, follow your dreams, change the world sort of people.
Some people wouldn’t necessarily see our move to China as that big of a deal, but for us this is only the beginning. It’s the beginning of a life filled the kinds of experiences, challenges, and learning we have yearned for, for many years. Maybe I will look back on this point in my life and see the same nativity I see when I look at the person I was years ago. I’m not sure, but it is my hope that this experience will change us all in ways that make us grow individually and as a family.
After having passport photos made Sunday, Emma remarked in the car, “I almost cried.” I immediately asked her why and she responded “We are about to start something new.” She then burst into song, trying to replicate a performance in High School Musical while capturing a moment I’m sure she’ll always remember. Although I knew she was serious, I laughed along with her. It soon hit me we are all about to start something new and, most importantly, we are doing it as a family. We’ll look back TOGETHER one day and discuss how we have transformed, what we have learned, and all the different lives we have shared.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Valentine’s Day

My greatest narcissistic fear is that I’ll arrive in China and immediately be named “the fat white woman.” My repetitive overindulgences of the last 10 years will be exemplified in a country that embraces routine group exercise and 3 helpings of rice a day.
So I decided I must drop a few pounds in preparation for our move, and that my husband must get me a treadmill for Valentine’s Day. Much to his surprise, I located a used one on craigslist, negotiated the purchase ($40), and agreed to pick it up last night. Of course I notified Casey immediately after the purchase.
I have decided you pretty much always get what you pay for. Well, not this time. I got a little extra with this purchase. It came with a nice helping multi-colored green and blue mold.
I thought it was a bit suspicious that when we arrived in Madison to claim my purchase, it was already setting outside in the dark. The dark also masked the missing knobs, the spray painted conveyer belt, rust, and a thick layer of dust that can only be removed with a very sharp razor blade.
The prior owners assured us it worked and graciously appeared with a screw driver to dismantle this beast of a machine. There is nothing compact about this piece of equipment. It looks as if it came directly from Olivia Newton John’s 1980s basement gym. Upon getting it home we found that an addition would need to be added to our bedroom in order to house it properly. For now we will just leave it parked firmly between the footboard of our bed and the chester drawers. The good news… because it extends into the entryway of my closet, it can also serve as a wonderful clothes rack. (Nice selling feature!)
Maybe it would serve its purpose more effectively if I relocated it to the kitchen, in front of the refrigerator. Even if I do manage to move it, just looking at the thing makes me lose my appetite.
One way or another it just might do the trick. Happy Valentine’s Day! I’ll be “getting physical” for the next 5 months!

Monday, February 14, 2011

China, China, China...

I will admit it … I’m obsessed. I’m completely obsessed with China. I think, study, read, breath and sleep China. While those who know me well fully understand what I mean when I say obsessed, others may think it’s expected and even anticipated considering the circumstances. In any case, this is definitely not the time for my compulsions to take over. Yes we are moving to China in five months, but I am completely besieged in the US NOW. I am restructuring my dissertation, giving evening professional development sessions, trying to focus on my job, taking an extremely time-consuming course on current issues in education and another in advanced statistics. Let me expound a bit further on that last tid bit.
Me, in all my wisdom, decide that instead of making up the statistics course I missed, last summer while on my Fulbright, before taking the subsequent advanced statistics course, I would just skip it and make it up in June. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that taking Advanced Statistics before Statistics isn’t the greatest of ideas. However, it does take a genius to pass Advanced Statics without having Statistics. So, while I stay up until the wee hours of the morning soaking in everything China, “Statistics for Dummies” awaits me on Amazon. To expound a bit further…
Guess where my advanced stats professor is from! Yep, China! Yep, the Sichuan province in southwestern China! So either God is playing some kind of sick joke on me or I’m fully being tested. I mean really, it’s kind of like an insatiable force propelling my China delirium, a free pass to procrastinate statistics. It’s a sign! Actually, I think the reason people like me develop these unquenchable obsessions is because people like me reason their obsessions, giving themselves permission to indulge.
Not only are there 1.3 billion people in China, compared to a mere 300 million in the United States, but Chinese students are known for their brilliance in math. All things considered, I guess it’s not too much of a leap to have a Chinese advanced stats professor. Ironically enough, just Saturday my friend Jamey said to me, after my outburst, “It’s a sign!” “Oh, you’re one of those people.” Yes, I’m one of those people… completely, insanely obsessive compulsive.

Monday, February 7, 2011

It’s Personal

I’m beginning to come to terms with society’s overabundant need to share their lives with the world… thus the blog. While blogging or writing in general gives me an outlet and generally allows me to plead insanity when needed, I still blush when someone says I read your blog. Yes, I did put it out there for the world to see and even sent out e-mails to family and friends notifying them of my blog, but it kind of feels like that reoccurring dream, the one where you show up to school in your underwear.
I don’t stake claim to a Facebook page(revolt against Mark Zuckerberg and his brilliance), although I think one is swarming about in cyberspace, and my twitter days have come and gone so the blog will have to do.

Goodbye Tax Return, Hello Passports

In anticipation of our annual tax returns, we are trying to determine passport costs for our children. While I understand that every penny spent on a passport will undoubtingly be a penny well spent, I gasped… $250 a child times 3, it didn’t take long to conclude it was going to cost a LOT! Thank goodness Casey and I already have valid passports.

Not only expensive, but intensive! Getting permission for a 4 year old, a 7 year old, and a 12 year old to leave the country is quite overwhelming! … as it should be! I mean what idiot packs up their entire comfy, suburban existence and deduces they should move to China. “I think I’ll move to China. … let the kids learn Mandarin! It will be a good experience.”

Yes it will be a good experience! I am absolutely convinced of that. So, goodbye tax return, Hello world!

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Grayce's Announcement

Grayce on her way to inform her classmates of our move!

High-Jacked and Hilarious

Okay so I high-jacked it from another blog, who in turn high-jacked it from YouTube, but it is hilarious and quite appropriate.

The Martins take Chengdu... Chengdu, China!!!

So it hits me last night as I'm walking Grayce, my 7 year old, next door to a sleepover. WE ARE MOVING!!! Then after a short (seemingly crazy) explanation to our neighbor of why we just recently posted a “For Sale” sign in our front yard it hit me… WE ARE MOVING TO CHINA!!!

FYI – My very first conversation with our new neighbors. Crazy yes, but my absolutely exasperating life barely permits time to write in a blog I promised myself I would.

So … while I see her, the neighbor lady (yes, my child attends a sleepover and I don’t even know her name… I’m sure Casey might?), I realize she is giving some thought to what I was telling her. The response was an overall, ARE YOU CRAZY?? … CHINA!?

The walk back across the soggy lawns to my own home gave me a minute to think… ARE WE CRAZY?? The undisputed and overwhelmingly evident answer … ABSOLUTLY!!

An awarding feeling then entered my mind… WE ARE DOING IT! We are following our hearts, and giving our children a piece of the world. We are giving ourselves a piece of the world. My kids are going to be the coolest, most open minded and understanding individuals!
Okay… I’ll quit gushing!

More on Chengdu!!!

This is what I've discovered from a little research.
Neat Insight
• Home to the Giant Panda Bear Research Centre
• Known for “great” food (spicy)
• 4th largest city in China, but very different from other large cities
• Known for a “laidback” lifestyle
• Often beginning point for travelers going to Tibet – (Everest)
• Largest Buddha statue in the world
• Rated as one of China’s most livable cities

The Skype Interview - 1/11/2011

Casey and I officially had our first interview today, via Skype, with the Anglo-American International School of Sophia. I’m not sure which seemed weirder, getting up extremely early and putting on my best black interview dress to be interviewed in front of a computer screen at my kitchen table or interviewing alongside my husband.
Our interview was set up for 6:00AM TN time/ 2:00PM Bulgarian time.
So there we sat, at our kitchen table, holding our breaths in anticipation. We adjusted and re-adjusted the webcam and waited as patiently as we could. Waiting, I envisioned our 4 year old crying at the bedroom door in desperation for his morning bowl of cereal. I’m not sure what type of impression this would have made, but luckily no noise from the bedroom until around 7:00.
The interview went well… I think. I was enamored by my husband’s interview skills and it was nice to interview as a team. I’m sure the chances of actually gaining employment with this school is quite bleak. Besides the fact we have no IB experience, having 3 children kind of does us in. I actually cringed when I was asked if we had a family. I will remain hopeful!