Thursday, May 26, 2011

Pros & Cons- "Miss" Positive

This house loves "Late Night with Jimmy Fallon" and he does a segment called Pros & Cons. I cannot help but being nostalgic about things that I know I will miss. I am a little obsessed about what I am leaving behind and not looking forward into the unknown.... I thought I would make it a lesson in turning the negative to positive, which I need as much practice with as Mandarin.


I will miss hopping in my mini-van and shopping at Costco~I won't have to lug heavy cases of anything or pay for gas

I will miss Propel water, especially after a run ~ Plain water is cheaper

I will miss Facebook ~ more time to read the scriptures

I will miss American TV (reality, SF Giants, Netflix) ~ maybe I'll write a book

I will miss being able to communicate easily ~ I will be able to break the terrible habit of eavesdropping

I will miss living 5 minutes from the school ~ I won't be at the kids' school volunteering everyday for everything

I will miss my home ~ I won't have to clean 3,400 square feet

I will miss seeing my roses, hydrangeas, lilacs and peonies bloom ~ no more rose thorn injuries

I will miss seeing my friends ~ I'll make new friends

I will miss bright, blue skies ~ I'll notice it and cherish it when it does appear

I will miss Mexican Food ~ Maybe I'll shed a few pounds

Friday, May 20, 2011

Relay for Life

Something I have looked forward to for the past few years is participating in RELAY FOR LIFE, sponsored by The American Cancer Society.

But this year it took on an entire different meaning for me. The word,

says it all!

If you do not know much about "Relay", it is a 24 hour event. The goal is to have at least one person from every team on the track for the full 24 hours. There are theme laps, opening ceremonies, and a fabulous luminaria celebration (see pic above). The entire football field becomes a canival-like event where team booths are set up raising money. Every single dime earned goes directly to ACS. It is a blast! Then the die hards stay the night. This year my whole family stayed and it was great!

Beginning years ago I participated on a team at the elementary school I had been working at. At that time I would just show up for my scheduled hour to walk, usually in the middle of the night. I'm wierd like that. I never donated. I never raised funds for my team. I simply walked.

For the past two years I have participated on our current elementary school parent organization team. We have a great team and it is growing each year! There is nothing more bonding than spending the night, on a football field, in the wind and rain...and doing it all because we have all been touched somehow by cancer.

My Cancer Story
My dad's parents both died from cancer, but I was younger and they were elderly. I didn't fully understand what this disease was all about. I simply thought it was something that "old people" die from.

Then about six years ago, my mom told us that she was having a "procedure" to remove something from her breast. It was cancer...never spread...and never referred to as cancer. She followed up with radiation treatments, which my dad took her to, and never had any side effects. You can probably tell that I went through that period oblivious to what was really going on...denial?
Just a few months later my dad got word that there were cancerous cells in his prostate. Thanks to preventative health, it was caught early, he had surgery, suffered some discomfort and is now living life to it's fullest. With these situations, cancer was just a scare to me that was fairly easily remedied.

Although all around me I saw relatives, neighbors, friends and acquaintances suffer more severely from cancer. I am sure you know people like that too. You know, 1 in 3 people will hear the words, "you have cancer." That is a lot!

My experience with cancer intensified at the beginning of this year when my older sister, 18 years older to be exact, called me on the phone. It is not often she picks up the phone to call me. I figured I had done something to tick her off ...I never expected her to tell me that she has stage 3 ovarian cancer. From that moment on I made a concious decision to not go through this process in a cloud like I did with my parents. My relationship with my sister has evolved over time. It went from her basically raising me (since she was so much older than me) to actually having full on adult sibling fights, and everything in between. When she told me about her cancer all our past disappeared.

My sisters and I at Relay for Life 2011.

She is now in the middle of her chemotherapy treatments. After her diagnosis she had surgery and is doing great! She has never had one moment of self pity. She has looked at this as a challenge and she is meeting each challenge with perseverance and determination. She really is a role model to me.

When it came time to plan "Relay" this year, I knew it would take on a whole new meaning to me. I decided to push hard to meet my goal to raise $500. I did it!!!

Thank you, from the bottom of my heart, to all of those who donated to me!

A couple of days before, she told me she would like to come and walk in the survivor lap. I was so excited to celebrate her accomplishment of fighting this disease!

I hope that you will get involved with a Relay near you! It is great fun and supports a cause that too many of us have seen very close to home.

Moving Survey & relationships

Yesterday was our "moving survey". This is where a rep from the moving company comes over and goes through every single item in your house, yard and garage. Every item needed to be decided as 1) ship "ocean" to China 2) store 3) leave for renters 4) get rid of 5) suitcase to China. Thank goodness we had been pretty organized about getting rid of stuff early on and making lists of what goes, but it still was emotionally draining. Why? Am I too emotionally attached to material posessions? I did not break down until later at night (weekly emotional meltdown? check), but the rep did say that quite often people burst into tears. It's just all becoming so real. I think it has to do with the whole concept of our home is not the "brick and mortar", it is the memories and relationships that occur inside those walls. Now I am being given weight allowance (only 2,000 to ship and only 10,000 to store) of what memories to pack up to sit in some warehouse and what sails the ocean to be later reunited with us. Daunting task, but it is now over. He predicted our house was somewhere between 20,000-24,000 pounds...let the negotiations begin.

Speaking of relationships...the kids and I are all going through different stages of grieving the loss of our close friends. Hubby isn't, that I know of. It is completely normal for life to go on and I do not expect the world to come crashing down since I am leaving. Although, it is just strange to see good friends form new close relationships and to hear plans being made for after we leave. I think this is the hardest things on the kids. They speak of it daily. There is also anxiety about coming back and those other relationships will have grown in our absence. They ask, "will I be accepted back in?" We all know the answer, nevertheless, it weighs on their minds. I know these are all normal feelings, however it is still difficult. There is a sense that people have already said goodbye to us. But instead of being "poor me" I choose to tell myself that these are life lessons for me and the children, that these emotions build character and will help us later on in life.

After all, isn't that what this entire experience is all about?

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Jolly Old England!

It's probably a giant case of Royal Weddingitis, but the thought has crossed my mind, "Why can't we be moving to London instead of Beijing?" The couple of times I traveled to London I thought, "I could live here, I should live here". I've always loved European architecture, European history, European decor and of course European food!... Asian? Not so much!

But, nevertheless, the plan for now does not include anything day in and day out my mind plans and tries to predict what life will be in just a couple of months. Here are some things that keep me up at night. I know there is no use stressing over it, but I am grasping at anything to control right now.

(not in any particular order)

  • Every place we looked at had water coolers. How will I get my water refills? Will I go pick them up (really heavy) or have them delivered with no ability to communicate?

  • Will my email work there? It is my only sure fire way to communicate back home. If my email does not work, I will freak out!

  • Where will I buy a blowdryer when I get there?

  • What will the walk to the kids' bus stop be like?

  • Will the gym have windows? I know this is really superficial but one of the housing complexes we looked at had the most dungeoness gym possible. I knew I would NEVER go workout there. So I am very curious if the place we chose will have a sunny gym (it was not complete when we toured).

  • What and how will I cook dinner?

That is it for now!

Monday, May 9, 2011

Mother's Day 2011

Happy Mother's Day!


This Mother's Day was extra special for so many reasons, I am so grateful!

  • I went to my mom's on Friday and went out to lunch with her and my sister. These roses are my absolute favorite and I was able to pick them from my mom's garden. A simple memory I will always cherish!

  • Spending time with my sister, who is in the middle of chemotherapy. She is so strong and positive! Spending time with her before I leave is something I do not take for granted.

  • Going to dinner and a movie with fabulous colleagues...great times with great friends!

  • Going to lunch with my other sister (on her birthday) and my niece, who is going to away to college soon. Can't let these moments slip away!

  • Going to my favorite city (San Francisco) to see my favorite team (Giants)! We had the best seats and the best time ever!

  • My 9 year old serving me breakfast in bed...on a tray...toast (two heels :), cereal, strawberries and bananas, juice. So tender and from the heart!

  • Hilarious cards from my dog and kids!

  • A gift card for a massage!

  • No chores for me all day and a three hour nap!

It really doesn't matter what presents there are to unwrap! My mother's day was perfect because of all the wonderful people I was able to be with!

I feel honored to be a mother!

Thursday, May 5, 2011

*Lists* & thoughts on the move

As you know we are moving to Beijing THIS SUMMER! Forgive me if this blog becomes a psychological outlet for all the emotions and thoughts constantly running through my mind. If that will annoy you, I'd just sign-off now. But I hope some of you stay...I deal with transition SO much better with others.

Now that I am done with my long-term substitute teaching assignment my full focus is on this HUGE transition in our lives! People ask me how I am feeling and it really is a second by second thing. For example, last weekend I WAS NOT going! I was sending my entire family...and Jupiter and I were going to just stay and await their return.

I do have moments of happy anticipation though. Like when I get frustrated with anything regarding our countries educational CRISIS. I just tell myself, "that will be better in China". But mostly I have personal in Costco yesterday when I kept asking myself, "Will we be able to finish that before we go?" I had to seriously hold back tears in front of the bulk chocolate chips (I probably could finish those before we left).

Mostly I am just handling all of this by making lists! It helps...


Here are some lists that I have been keeping- these are only mine. Hubby has all the other, not so fun, stuff.

  • What to get rid of

  • What to buy before July 15th (about the time Hubby will leave)

  • What to ship on the boat to China

  • What to pack in our suitcase

  • What to buy when we arrive in China

  • How to handle Jupiter's transport

  • What we will need to buy when we return to the states. Did I mention we already have our flight booked to come home for Christmas?

  • What other Dr appointments to make

  • Home repairs for the renters

  • Updating contact lists of emails, phone numbers, addresses, facetime acct names - there is no Facebook in Beijing and it is even sketchy if this blog address will change so email will be the best way to keep in touch, message me to be added to the list:)

  • Who to say goodbye to before we leave

  • My wishlist of what to do with this house when we return (I might forget when I am there...I doubt it)

  • Benefits, all of the cool things we will do and see while in help me to remember WHY we are doing this!

What would you be worried about if you were leaving the country for *at least* two years?

* do you like how two years now has changed to "at least two years"?

Sunday, May 1, 2011

A girls day out in San Francisco

For my friend's birthday, we decided to go to "the city" for some shopping and food. It was a dream day!

Stop 1- Lunch at Nopalito

Stop 2- The Ribbonerie-

What a glorious shop! I felt as if I were in England.

Stop 3- Leftovers

This is a furniture consignment store. There were two busts that I REALLY, REALLY wanted here.

Stop 4- Crown and Crumpet at Ghiradelli Square

Holy toledo people! I have met my match! This is it for me. Everything about this place I absolutely adored! I WILL visit here again before my asian adventure!

from the banners to the apothecary candy jars to the table cloths....I LOVE it all!

Snack Stop- Kara's Cupcakes at Ghiradelli Square

YUM! I had the Fleur de Sel which is chocolate cupcake filled with caramel filled with chocolate ganache frosting and a sea salt sprinkle.

LOVE this place!

Stop 5- The Ferry Building- Miette Patisserie and Recchiutti Chocolate

I seriously covet those cakeplates on the top shelf!

Stop 6- Ma Maison

I loved that this was right down the block from AT&T park! Go Giants!

Stop 7- Tartine Bakery

I have been hearing about this place for a while now and it DID NOT disappoint! WOW! It just goes to show that if you have good food it does not matter what the decor is like (although this is so very French!) or even have a sign outside. There was a constant line down the street! And everyone was ordering different things...bread, pastries, eclairs, bread pudding, the list goes on and on....definately will be visiting here again SOON!

we decided we HAD to try a sandwich! One of the best sandwiches I have ever had! The bread! Oh the bread!

Treats for home- a mini banana tart and two eclairs! Heaven!

Thanks to my friend, Jennefer, who is 7 months pregnant for a) having a birthday! b) planning this wonderful day! c) bring such a wonderful friend!

Can you believe we actually stopped at the mall on the way home? Oh, and I purposely did not mention a little fender bender that we had after lunch. Yikes!


Yes, we are LDS.

Unlike most Latter-Day Saints we do not have family in Utah, so it is not somewhere we visit frequently. As a matter of fact, this trip was only my third time to Utah and my children's first time.

We all LOVED it!

Anyone who is LDS, or anyone curious about our beliefs, should visit Temple Square in Salt Lake City, Utah!

Dayton is 9. He wants to serve a mission when he is 19. "My testimony grew on this trip. I felt the Spirit everywhere I went. "
Emma is 13. She wants to go to BYU, one of the main reasons we took this trip! "My favorite part was the Joseph Smith movie at the Joseph Smith Memorial Building. "

I Love To See The Temple

We had many great family moments in Salt Lake. We ate dinner at the Garden Cafe. We visited the conference center, the Church History Museum, the church administration building, and the Beehive House.

It snowed while we were there!

Many of our friends and family members have attended BYU Provo. We are always hearing how great it is! Emma has really grasped onto the idea to go there (Dayton wants to go to Stanford). So we knew we needed to dedicate a few hours to the campus we've heard so much about!

We were very impressed!

I guess we better start saving our money!


We decided to head on up to Idaho to visit family and say our goodbyes before our big adventure!

First and foremost- the potatoes REALLY are better in Idaho!

Hubby's brother and sister-in-law live in Parma, Idaho. We piled the kiddos into the car and traveled for 10 hours. It was worth it!
The girls!
The boys! I guess it was sunny:)

Easter Sunday we all went to church and then had a feast at Mandy's mom's home.

What will my kids remember about Idaho? FIREWORKS !
And time with their cousins!