January 30, 2015

It was a "dog-gone" good reunion

Yesterday was a good day. If you know me at all....you know how much I love my dog, Gracie.  I didn't hesitate for one second on whether or not Gracie should go with us to Beijing. When Walt actually questioned it I asked him if he would leave Eloise, Emerson or Avanell behind...because if his answer was no, then it should be the same response for Gracie.
I know while we were packing up the house Gracie was wondering what was going on. When we moved in with my sister for several days she wasn't as nervous, but on the Saturday that we left, she knew something was up. Dogs just know....they really do. Gracie was picked up on Monday morning. She flew from Houston to Amsterdam...how many people can say their dog was in Amsterdam, and then to Beijing. She stayed in quarantine for 2 days...and then yesterday a miraculous reunion happened. The front office called to let me know that Gracie had been delivered.  She arrived at my door and when I first saw her face she was well...pissed. But, the second she realized it was me, she smiled, kissed me all over and was all kinds of happy.  I will even let you know that I broke down in tears. This apartment just wasn't the same without her. Our family was not the same without her...and now she is back where she belongs, with us.  As I am typing this, she is asleep on the chair...and in all honesty, this is the first time in a month that I have not seen her shaking all over out of fear for what is about to happen. She knows she is with us and we aren't leaving her behind.

I'm not quite sure who was happier, me or Gracie. 

The big girls started school on Thursday.  They are attending the British School of Beijing.  Once we move to Shunyi, the girls and I will walk to school everyday....but right now, man is it a beating making the commute every day.  It takes an hour to get there from our apartment...so round trip Avanell and I are in the car for 4 hours a day.  When we lived in Texas we didn't have to be at school until 9:15, so we left the house around 8:45.  Now...we have to be at school at 8:15, so leaving the house at 7:15-7:30 with 3 littles in tow is hard. All the more reason why I am ready to move into our house! Needless to say Avanell takes her naps in the car now...which kind of stinks for me because I have a little one with me in the shower, sitting with me while I dry my hair...you get the point. Avanell is doing better with her jet lag. We still aren't completely cured, but I have to keep reminding myself we have only been here since Monday.  
 We love starting our mornings Facetiming with Aunt Poco and Uncle Pat!! 
 One of her many naps in the car.  Look at those rosey cheeks....we apply aquaphor about 15 times a day because her cheeks are so chapped. 
 Hour long car rides to school are so overrated. 

The girls LOVE school.  Yesterday when I picked up Eloise she was in a rotten mood in the car, when I asked her what was wrong her response was: "I didn't want you to pick me up from school. I wanted to stay there forever." So, I have been very thankful for their transition.  I was very shocked to hear that they go outside 3 times a day.  These little Texans girls that are not used to cold weather have not complained one time about it being cold when they go play outside.  I am proud of them for that because it is frigid here! Emerson has already had show and tell and if you know her you know she showed off one of her animals.  :)  Eloise claims that she already has a boy in her class that likes her...so I am guessing that they are adjusting quite well.  
The girls with their teachers.  Of course my girls are the smartest in the class. ha! 

Last night Walt and I went to dinner with some of his coworkers and their wives.  We went to a restaurant called Duck de Chine.  Beijing is famous for the Peking Duck.  It was an experience.  To get there we had to walk through a little art gallery.  Once you were in the restaurant you could go back to where the ducks were being roasted.  I had to muster up the courage to see this.  They bring the duck out to you along with little crepes and "fixings" for your crepe, and this really good plum sauce.  As I was fixing up my crepe, I turned to one of Walt's workers who has lived in Houston and said, "Oh this is like a duck fajita!" He just laughed, but the reference was correct, because you add your own little fixings to your crepe.  Thankfully I was able to only add a small bit of duck because it was not really my favorite.  But their Kung Pao Chicken was great and their fried green beans were out of this world.  So all in all the night was a great experience.  The girls stayed in the apartment with Walt's boss' daughter...this was nice as it was waaaaaay overdue for time away.  
That was about as close as I would get to the roasted duck.  

Today we are going to try to explore the city a little and eat a some recommended restaurants, purchase some much needed items...like a straightener, hairdryer, more food, gloves for the girls...the necessities.  I did go to a thrift store the other day and picked up a highchair for a total of 10.00.   It is so interesting to me how fascinated people are with babies here.  I mean fascinated! Especially a blonde headed baby like mine. I've never gotten such quick and fast service in my life.  People just flock to me because of Avanell and everyone here is extremely nice, which makes things easier for me.  The other thing that sticks out in my head right now is their portion size.  It's so much smaller than our  portion sizes in America! I swear after every meal I am still secretly hungry! I guess this is why I came home the other day after eating lunch, and channeled my inner Texan and snacked on this: 
I mean, it is true what they say right...
You can take a girl out of Texas, but you can't take Texas out of the girl! :) 

Hopefully I will have much more to update after our first weekend in Beijing! 

January 28, 2015

And we made it....

And about 35 hours later....we made it. We officially "live" in Beijing. Right now we are living in downtown Beijing in a hotel, an apartment until our house is ready in the city of Shunyi. Shunyi is considered a "suburb" of Beijing. Shunyi is where the girls will attend school and this is a much smaller city than Beijing with all of the amenities and facilities that you need. This is good for this very small town girl. Big cities are fun to visit....but they are a little overwhelming when you are from a hometown of about 12,000.
We left on Saturday from Houston around 5:00 p.m. Took a 10 hour flight to Moscow and ended up getting there are 3 a.m. Texas time.  We then had a 2 hour lay over, then flew 11 hours to Singapore.  Our layover in Singapore was 4 hours. The Singapore airport is awesome. We went through a butterfly garden, the kids played on an amazing playscape, we saw Mickey and Minnie....everything you can imagine is in that one airport and that was really cool to experience. Once we got on our flight in Singapore, it was a 6 hour flight to Beijing.
So many people asked us why we took three flights instead of just taking a direct route....we did this for two reasons.
One, we wanted to experience Singapore Air. If you haven't flown them, find them time to do it in your lifetime. They are incredible.  The service was amazing, our seats were so comfortable, and everyone fell in love with our girls.  We had staff sitting with our girls playing on their leap pad, teaching them words in Mandarin, giving them new toys, it was really comforting to see complete strangers love on our girls the way they did.  Speaking of our girls....they were ALL exceptional.  By the last leg of the flight they were a little more fussy than usual, but that was to be expected, and it was nothing that a new toy couldn't cure.
The second reason that we took such a long route was to help the bigger girls with jet lag. I think our plan actually worked.  They were so tired from the flight that when we arrived at our temporary apartment on Monday they slept from 7 p.m. until 8 a.m. on Tuesday.  They were up Wednesday morning from 2:30-5, but this has been the only set back I have experienced from them.  Avanell is another story...it's like having a newborn again, only when she wakes up every 2 hours the girl wants you to play with her.  She is doing better each day and will adjust soon....I hope.
So yesterday we went and visited the girls' school.  This was exciting. They were able to try on their new uniforms, meet all of their new friends in their class and they meet their teachers.  The girls start school on Thursday and they will go 5 days a week.  This is a big change from Eloise's 3 day a week routine and Emerson's 2 day a week routine, but I know they will love school.  We also went and looked at our house.  It is being completely renovated and we should move in March 1st.  Chinese New Year is Feburary 19th, oddly enough so is Eloise's 5th birthday, and everyone here goes home to visit family, so they moved our move in date back a little bit.  Our house was looking good and we are just ready for all of our stuff to arrive (7 more weeks to go) and then we will be surrounded by things from home.
We also went to the American grocery store, Jenny Lou's to stock up on food.  This was an interesting experience.  A small thing of Cetaphil lotion costs 18.00! Good thing we stocked up on a lot of necessities from Costco before the big move.
And now we are here to today....Wednesday. Wednesday is a no drive day for our driver.  Here in Beijing every car has a no drive day....and depending on the last digit on your license plate you know the day you can't drive.  Our specific day is Wednesday.  So, the girls and I have been cooped up in our apartment playing all day.  This has been fine, as they have needed an afternoon nap, and it is very cold outside. The high today is 34, but it is currently 28.  It has actually been very sunny both days we have been here.  I have been very surprised at the amount of people who are actually out and about walking or riding their bikes to get places.  It really shouldn't be surprising, but it is surprising to this Texas girl who is used to it being 78 degrees in January.
It's been two days, i've burnt a pizza....using a Chinese oven, gotten about 15 hours of sleep since Saturday, and adjusted to a 14 hour time difference.  This is our new normal. For now at least.

 This picture did not even include our carry ons....people were looking at us like we were crazy!! 

 Happy girl on the flight! She loved roaming around and doing her army crawl all around the space that we had. 
 See that... that is a bassinet, this is where Avanell slept during our flights. This was the best part about our flight and I was able to enjoy some champagne while she slept. HA! 
 My three little girls! 

 All of the girls hanging out with Daddy. I think they were watching Frozen at this point. 
 I told you she was happy the majority of our flights! Or maybe it is that she LOVES looking at herself on the phone. 
 Emerson playing on her leap pad, getting ready to go night night. 
 Eloise relaxing on the plane.  
 One of the staff on Singapore Air. Everyone wanted to help us off of the flight all because of these two cuties! 
 The girls loved Minnie and Mickey in the Singapore airport. 

 Here we are yesterday at the American grocery store.  The girls LOVED using their own shopping carts to help me pick out food. 

January 14, 2015

Beijing here we come

Ok, it's been awhile since my last post....alright, it's been forever.
I always wondered how people who blogged just all of a sudden stopped.
And then I became one of them.
I get it...life just gets to crazy and too hectic and the next thing you know, your blog has gone out the window.
I do feel like I have done a disservice to my youngest child. Eloise and Emerson have these precious blog books that my sister made for them...I documented every single month of their life...percentages, first smiles, first time they slept through the night.... poor Avanell.
Oh yes, that reminds me...we did add another girl into the mix. Avanell was born in May of 2014.
3 girls...sisters. What wonderful blessings.
And this takes me to why I am all of a sudden picking back up my blog.
Not just to another state....but to another country.
We are moving for Walt's job.
We move in less than 2 weeks.
My house is in a state of disarray...unlike anything I have ever seen before.
All I can keep thinking about is how I am moving to China.
I know, it will be a wonderful experience. But right now, right in the middle of what is about to take place...it's a lot.
God has shown me in more ways than one that He is here with us...that I need to cast all of my fears to Him, and He will take care of everything.
But man is it hard.
So...I've started my blog up again. Hopefully this will be a way to document our journey, to keep in touch with friends and family and to create another one of those precious blog books for Avanell....just 8 months late. :)