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Show and tell

For show and tell she wanted to take her pink purse.
I hate to admit I cringed a tiny bit at her choice, thinking, Why not the tongue drum? Something more…show and tell-y?
Trying my best to be the interested and supportive mom, “Oh that’s a good idea. Why do you want to take your pink purse?” (Because we are supposed to help the kids think through what they might say before they end up in front of the class in shock.)

“Because I love how it is shiny and sparkles!”

“What else do you want to tell your class about it?”

“I don’t want to tell you.”

Fair enough. I pack up the conversation and focus on the pasta Bolognese we are all enjoying. It is pretty good. I added bacon…because Hormel is a close approximation to pancetta when you live in China. (I know, I know there is pork belly everywhere, but I just don't know if it's the same...)
Later after the kids had read themselves to sleep and Mike went to his office for his nightly hours of meetings with the United States, I actually…

China may not be the best place for an anxious perfectionist with trust issues to live

I’m just saying.

Le sigh.

Every time I feel like I have finally got a handle on my anxieties about living here, finding solutions to problems like air pollution, or just getting around the city, some new threat pops up. (I know, I know, the probabilities reveal that the stress will kill me faster than the anything else, but I didn’t say I was rational, now did I?)

Recently there has been a rash of break-ins at another very heavily expat-populated neighborhood. And when this happens, whispers about the Pfrang family of four who were violently murdered by a gang of watermelon knife-wielding thieves in a similar such compound, abound.

It is a terribly sad and graphic story, and unless you have a strong stomach, I advise against clicking to read. 
So, while the likelihood of such a horrific event repeating itself is slim to none, it is this dread risk that humans dredge up rather than tempered reality when considering the possible fates of themselves and their families.

The advice for su…

After the storm...

After every storm is a rainbow, and today I have discovered a big huge shiny rainbow here in Nanjing.

I won’t bore everyone with the gory details of last week’s lows. It’s sufficient to say: Mike was gone on business, and things were rough on the homestead. You can imagine the rest, or, if we are Facebook friends, you read some of it. Or, if you were at the PTA meeting where my child shrieked his way out the door in my arms (because I was the “wrong mommy” and he wanted “two cookies, not one!”), you had the pleasure of living some of it. (The poor child…I totally, completely get where he was coming from, since I was feeling the same way, and we actually had a lovely day once we got home.)

But something very exciting has happened. After many months of trying to find a real Montessori school in Nanjing and giving up entirely, I got a reply to an email I had sent out weeks ago saying, "Yes, there is a Montessori school in Nanjing...here's the owner's email." And feelin…

Funny Bags and Special Beef

I should have known better than to order the special beef
It was special, all right. 
Since arriving in China I (and my children) have consumed more imported, pre-packaged food from the US than we have in our lifetimes. At least the chemicals in Lay’s and Nestle products feature ingredients approved by the FDA, so while they may not be healthy, I know they aren’t going to kill us. At least not immediately.

Ah, the tradeoffs of living in China.

So, yesterday afternoon we ventured out for a meal that I promised Mike would be exciting and delicious, at a different location of a restaurant at which I'd already eaten and had a fantastic experience. I did not realize just how much my prior pleasant experience could be attributed to dining with a seasoned expat friend until I suffered through this next attempt at eating out. I had been lulled into a false sense of knowing what the heck I was doing, since we apparently made every mistake possible in a Chinese restaurant.

First, we came…

The journey to Nanjing

28 hours 3 children 5 carry ons 6 checked items 0 sanity
We are exhausted, this is an understatement. I am feeling on the edge of collapse at all times. However, there is an energy, perhaps a survival mechanism that kicks in, keeps us going. Everything is alive, new, exciting, even if perhaps a bit scary.

I will start with the low point, since it’s actually not all that bad, considering other things that could have gone wrong. I completely broke down into a blubbering mess, in public, on our last leg of this journey on the plane from Beijing to Nanjing. We were going on hour 25, with about 45 minutes total sleep during that entire time since between 3 kids, none of them slept simultaneously, and in order to have them survive the trip without incident, hating us, having permanent mental and emotional damage, and irritating every other passenger on the plane, we tried to cater to their every whim. That may have been a bad strategy, but it’s just the one we took.

As we were boarding from…

All the feelings

Ups and downs  
Since returning from Nanjing, my head and heart have been an emotional swirl, now in a general upward swirl as the momentum and adrenaline of Heck Yeah Let's Do This is taking over with t-minus 15 days left in the US.

But many of my emotions are not China-related, while at the same time also very much China-related. Everything is connected. Butterflies flap their wings in China, and a monsoon lands in Detroit, right?

Anyway. Last weekend my sister came to visit with her son, my (first!) nephew, and it was a beautiful time. It was our first introduction and he's even more precious than I could have imagined. He is like her: a lovely, serene and sweet soul. (A side note about my sister: she is literally the most calming person I know. Being in her presence is just a balm, she radiates peace. She is nothing like me. :) )

I relate to my nephew differently than other babies I have met. While being an aunt is not like being a mother, it's also not like meeting a …

My first week in Nanjing

I'll start at the end of my trip, with a delightful young Chinese bellhop squatting down and playing with my son's hands in his stroller. We were on our way out of the hotel to the airport, going home. He was legitimately happy to see my son. (This was very common in China: men, women, all ages, all wanted to talk to my son, take his photo, take a photo with him, etc. Yes, he's white, which is considered exotic, which is funny to me, I certainly don't feel exotic. I will definitely be writing a post on my experiences as a minority in China, but I really also get the impression that they love babies, period.)

"I love babies!" he said, almost apologetically, like he knew he should be working, or he thought perhaps I'd want my son to myself, or something. But he just couldn't help himself. He continued to make this tongue-clicking sound (like their version of coochie-coo) every Chinese person seemed to make at babies, and ask me questions about my famil…

Butterflies

The pre-trip is tomorrow
In (under) 24 hours I will leave for China for the first time! Let me start by saying, I'm incredibly grateful for this opportunity. Many people never get to visit China during their entire lifetime - and now I am embarking on a journey that will change my life and my children's lives forever. We are essentially going to become different people than we would have ever become without going to China. That is exciting and daunting. It is a deliberate choice to throw ourselves into a life that most other people do not choose.

I think of my father, who did the same thing coming to America from the former Yugoslavia. He had no idea what it would hold, and he just jumped in with both feet. (Oh there are stories!) I know he would have told me to go for it.

I have been told point blank by many people they would NEVER consider moving to China, much less with 3 kids. In my mind there was never a choice NOT to do this, barring something extreme. Yes, the pollution…

Oh yeah, the details

I neglected to offer background on my move to China. I sort of assumed people know as much as I do, which is minimal. That and a lot of my focus is on things like, "What will I eat?" "What do I do about the pollution?" "What will I do with the kids?"

But here's what I do know:
I'm moving to Nanjing, China. A richly historical city that has a great expat community, and boasts many well regarded universities. I have been told that if Shanghai is considered the New York of China, then Nanjing is its Boston. (I have arranged for a tour of the Nanjing University of the Arts next week!) The city is listed to have anywhere from 6-8 million residents. It's huge. I don't know what that's like, but it should be exciting. I'm told it's one of the more green cities in China, situated near the Purple Mountain. Despite its greenness, pollution is still a big problem. We have been following the air quality numbers with an app and have been try…

My name in Mandarin?

Once upon a time in college, a friend of mine (not Chinese, just learning the language) told me my name in Mandarin could be roughly translated to mean, “Shouting to Quiet the Thunder.” I found that delightful, though dubious. Regardless, I liked the phrase and it stuck as my blog title.

For several years I maintained this blog, which I can no longer relate to (except for this one post I wrote about kale), so I deleted all the posts and I will now chronicle my life and adventures in China with my family of 5. My hope is to document this exciting time, post pictures, and provide all my friends on Facebook a respite from any inappropriately longform, too-frequent posting, which I fear would only increase as I start traveling and I don't want to be That Annoying Person (it's too late some of you are thinking). I might start a separate Facebook page just to upload the photos I take, though. We shall see.

This week I am filled with butterflies of excitement and anxiety because we…