Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Well Hell.....

So I keep falling asleep every time I sit down, which sucks... even on the subway, if I am lucky enough to get a seat. :( It probably has nothing to do with the fact that my commute to and from work is now a three mile sprint walk to a subway, where I stand, nearly transfused to an expressionless stranger, then straight to teaching classes, lesson planning, dealing with drama, after which I return home to Gaga Drama and the Divas and if....and that is if, I don't fall asleep on my one hour off a day, I try to reach out via facebook to the friends I miss and adore and finish my pending book deals. This blog sits unattended, which makes me sad :(

Luckily on the writing front, I have finished one pending book and hope to have another competed soon and then the third....so cross fingers I can get caught up with that.

Life in China....

Well, I have already learned so much...and have changed a lot in a few ways, good ways, thanks China.

Culture Shock: I expected massive culture shock and never really got it. I HATE the live food markets that make me really sad, but if I dissect it down to the least common denominator, its not the live food market (who are we kidding, fish are floating around half dead waiting to made into dinner in the States too, we just don't see it) its the inhumanity to animals that gets me...but we have that in the States too, so that's not really a culture shock. And this may be surprising to most, but most Beijingers eat at least one vegetarian meal a day, and it is really easy to find a vegetarian and even vegan meal in most restaurants, that is delightful. The food is incredible and very simple. Wok + oil + some spice (not tons)+ FRESH food = heaven. Seriously cooking here is very simple, flash fry in a very hot pan with oil, chili, garlic and salt, use fresh veggies and some tofu, warm steamed rice or noodles and you have a meal. Somehow the restaurants can make the simplest ingredients taste incredible....not sure how.

The refrigerators in Beijing are a little bigger than dorm sized and fit only small amounts of food....here's why, you shop every day. You also throw your trash away everyday in tiny flimsy gauze like bags that rip when lightly touched. Those Ralphs plastic bags we used to get for free in the States are really envied here and usually are used for other things like storing clothes or as luggage, but if you are affluent enough to use one as a garbage bag, your life is a lot breezier. Also you don't waste anything, NEVER, you dont't throw away food, you don't usually make too much, everything can be used again and if it can't be reused you recycle it. I was so blessed the other day to find parmesan cheese, the crappy Kraft kind in a snack sized container, but it felt like I had struck oil, I covet that little green tube and am so happy I found it as it is a little taste of home. Even though I didn't like it much at home I like it now, even more so because it cost me almost $5, so some stuff in China is very expensive. You seriously use and covet every tiny thing. In this way China is much better than the US who wastes a lot, the Chinese just don't waste...so for all the ills that have been preached to us about Chinese lifestyle, I have found the Chinese to be a very peaceful, resourceful and environmentally aware people, at least my friends are.

Everything is fresh, the open air markets that stay open almost all day and night have fresh food delivered from the farm daily, if not twice a day. We have a fresh food vendor just outside the doors to our Hutong (compound) and they have fresh fruit delivered every morning and they are open until about 2AM every night. Everything tastes amazing...from this stand point we are really being spoiled.

Our Hutong is a series of about five large blocks that house a super market, hair salon, restaurant, hole-in the wall restaurant thing (2) a hospital, police station, convenience store, liquor store, pet shop, masseuse, odds and ends market and a few clothing shops as well as a central "park" where the kids play. Living here is like living in an episode of some 1950's family comedy, where it is very safe, everyone plays with your kids and everyone knows your name. For example most people in the compound know we live on the seventh floor, and many if not all know that the kids are adopted. We are local celebrities and my mom and the girls are always meeting an talking to new people. This is cool.

Culture shock....well, guess what the Chinese WILL eat almost anything if they are poor, and the level of poverty that most Chinese experience is beyond most of our comprehension. I happened to wander into a "normal" hutong that was much more like the way most of China lives, they had their convenience store, but a family of four and grand parents slept on the dirty mattress behind the crumbling facade, kids bathed in buckets outside of windowless brick dwellings that smelled of urine and had a dirt floor, torn and ratty clothes hung from clotheslines as stray dogs ambled along the dirt road where people sat on taped up or broken stools staring at the ground or prodding a stray noodle in a chipped bowl of soup. I was always greeted with a gracious smile, but behind the kind eyes was a distant stare that pleaded with me to keep walking and not take in the sights around me as it would expose the vast difference between us as I lived my life in affluence and they lived theirs in filth. However, even despite their dire poverty, there was a sense of community among them, this was their home, their land and their place to share with each other. High above them, the gleaming towers of a new more capitalistic China stand as a beacon to bargain hunting foreigners looking for a good deal on diamonds and gold, where just below, hidden in a dark alley, the people of China lived without ever making enough money to even order a coffee in the trendy cafe that sits below the jewelry market.

So these people, the poor will eat anything....they simply must. However, most middle class Chinese will absolutely not eat a dog, goldfish, ferret, scorpion and are, shocking as it may seem, exactly like us. In fact the friends I work with, both Chinese and Foreign are just like the friends at home (minus the fact that I have known most of you for years and years and years and miss you terribly!!!) But they are not running each other over on the roads and they are not cooking up fido....they simply don't!!! And some of my Chinese friends make no more that $500 a month, which would in some people's eyes, cast them in the barbarian class, but as I said, they are absolutely no different that us, for the exception (my friends excluded) that they are more gracious, more kind and more willing to help you than most.

However....remember those split pants on the kids, well I have had my ass chewed out by fiesty grandmas in the park that Little Diva (who is big for her age) is A) not potty trained...okay she is a little over 2 and a half and we are working on it AND, not wearing split pants....diapers are just a no no!!!! Shame on me for keeping my 2 year old in diapers...she should either have her little brown butt out for all to see, or just be done with potty training by now...GET IT TOGETHER MOMMA DRAMA...we are NOT impressed. Okay, but in America kids wear diapers till three sometimes, in fact they are not diapers but pullups, which aid in potty training, in America, kids don't pee on the ground anywhere, like in parks, at malls or on buses....cause, um in America that's gross, so you are telling me that my kid wearing a diaper is just so NOT OKAY with you and shows a lack of parenting skill on my part and it is BETTER (read: more desired) that I let my kid pee anywhere, wear slitted pants that make her butt hang out, than to allow her to continue to wear diapers, which are really pull ups...um, okay, I'll get back to you on that.

Other shocking thing...people sleep ANYWHERE....I first noticed this in Ikea, when all of the beds where occupied by sleepers and I had to actually move a man's foot over on the toddler bed I was looking at to see the price...okay really...SLEEPING (and I mean the snoring kind) in IKEA is just wrong!!!!

So, on that point, we have a market under my work, its really just a few stalls with people who own propane heaters that cook on them, but the food is really yummy...and fresh. So we all usually order the same meals everyday that consist of a soup of fresh tofu (dried into strings that have a meat like texture) glass noodles, fresh veggies and a fresh Salt bread (hand made just an hour before purchase) to dip into the soup. The Chinese call this dish Hot, Hot, Hot, because the temperature is hot, the spice is hot and in the flow of Chi...the energy is Yang....or hot!!! It is really delicious and costs....8 Yaun which is $1.20 in US dollars. So, like I said most of us either get the fresh (made in front of you) Gyoza (or Joyza as said here) for $1.50 (which is for about 25 dumplings) or Hot Hot Hot. Well I was working late and missed lunch so I went down after I was done with my lesson plan and when I arrived EVERY VENDOR and I am not exaggerating!!!! was asleep. I finally woke up the Gyoza vendor for a few dumplings and he almost barked at me and went back to sleeping. The fruit vendor then stirred and I believe told me off....not sure....but it sounded that way. So I went upstairs and skipped lunch. NOW...this is not some alley in the back of someone's house, this ia a market with an escalator and signs and stuff...and everyone was too sleepy to sell me my lunch so I skipped it...welcome to China.

Transportation....I will show pics at the ends of this, but I'll just say the family vehicle here is a bike with a padded book rack. Hubby peddles, wife sits on the padded book rack and kiddo balances precariously between pappa's legs as he weaves in and out of death defying traffic. EVERYONE does this...this is not just a side show freak...these are everyday families going to and from places...everyday. One bike three people...Welcome to China. Also everything is transported by bike...bedding, water, flooring, pets...all bundled up and perched on that book rack on the back, or a small trailer....the bike IS Beijing's mode of transit.

So, we have a holiday coming up and I plan to get some sleep and some photos and some better blogging down, but for now here are pics to show you of life here. I will have more videos up on facebook in a day or two....

Viva, Nihao....Goodnight.

The last pic is of my Beijing Family Dream "Car", if we stay in China longer (hint: um...well, IF WE STAY IN CHINA LONGER....we will be home for a long vacation....if..) I will buy one of these as our family car :)...can't really fit two Diva's, Gaga Drama and Me on a bike...but we could in one of these bad boys :)

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Did I say I was gonna blog again....what day is it?

So I have a lot of really good excuses as to why I haven't even cracked my blog again until tonight, but the most relevant is the fact that every time I sit down to write after working 12 hour days and taking care of the kids, I fall asleep. It is really annoying and I'm starting to get p!ssed about it. I have a lot to do and sleeping is never high on the list in my life, I have too much life to live in a day to bother with sleep....but sleep happens. A note on sleeping though, the Chinese think that their BOX SPRINGS ONLY are a healthy way to get a good night's rest....um NO! Even the cheapo Ikea mattress pad I got to make my hard as a board bed softer...doesn't really make it soft, but since I seem to be able to sleep standing up...anytime I lie down, I pretty much sleep. Which sucks cause this silly sleep thing is ruining my life. :( I wish I wasn't so tired, so exhausted and so overworked ALL OF THE TIME, I may actually enjoy my life here if I had a minute to myself....oh well, hopefully I will get a nanny soon and I can start writing again.

So here are some fun facts about China....

Everything is a mile...EVERYTHING!!! If you walk anywhere it will be at least a mile if not more....upside, I am losing my fat @ss, downside....argh....its a lot of miles. "So where is the only store in Beijing where I can buy cheese and peanut butter again????" oh right....A MILE!!!!! down the road.

Well, that's a bit of an exaggeration, you can get cheese and peanut butter in more than one store....but not many more than one.

The Chinese people are mostly really nice, but they slurp their food and blow snot out of their nose and that is just fine. However, on a whole the Chinese we have met have been lovely, kind and accepting of me and the kids. We live in a compound and already my mom and the kids are local celebrities. It's fun to come home and see the kids riding their scooters (or someone elses while theirs are being used by other children) and mom surrounded by local kids using her ipad and playing games together...it is really amazing to see.

The kids really don't wear diapers just pee through slits in their pants. Some people say that kids in China don't wear these pants anymore...but they do in our neck of the woods. Its a little weird to see kids just squatting anywhere, but that's what they do.
The Chinese are SHOCKED the Little Diva is still in diapers...but well, she's almost potty trained. :)

Quippy English sayings abound in China (and Japan) and mean virtually nothing....just sound good.

Everything is dirty, even though people clean everyday, they still use string mops and fallen tree branches to clean toilets and the streets. You also often are only offered "squatty potty" in public restrooms....not fun. There are other things that are different too, you take your trash out every day and they only have tiny thin trash bags for you to use. The area where we are is VERY GREEN (as in eco) and you recycle everything but the kitchen waste (no one has a dishwasher, garbage disposal or a dryer...).

EVERYTHING IS HUGE!!!! Los Angeles seems like a tiny little morsel for the mammoth Chinese cities to munch on. Beijing is enormous and even though our neighborhood is "small" and hip...it is as big as the Las Vegas strip and as loud as a freeway near a construction site during the World Series.

Personal tid bit, every time I live anywhere it is always on the Eastside (even though I didn't know it this time) and is always a little rough and a lot trendy...fun. Same applies to Donsishitiao which is my current hometown, there is an amazing restaurant row all covered in red lanterns and loads of places to eat. The most disturbing are the "live" markets where you pick out your living food, to be cooked/killed before your very eyes. We have a live market right next to our house and we have to pass it on the way to our grocery store that is in the basement of our housing complex (the only thing in Beijing that is not a mile away) and I have to say, it has really sicked the kids and I out, especially when they have a sale on turtles or frogs....sad.

We are loving China as I thought we might and are strarting to find our way around things, which is still pretty hard because we don't speak the language, but if the ladies who sit and smoke near the elevator have anything to say about it, we will be speaking Chinese in no time as we are not allowed to enter the elevator without speaking at least one new Chinese word....okay ladies...this is gonna take some time as Chinese is really hard.

Anyway enough stuff...I have been taking video and will continue to do so...so here is more video about living in Beijing.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

So Much To Say....no really

Okay, so I am finally up and running on the internet, lets hope this lasts. So far my VPN is working and I am able to get on facebook and we have a pretty decent internet connection in our house which is pretty awesome for Beijing as usually the websites are pretty heavily blocked. So...I'll admit that the last two weeks have been a blur, a serious and total blurr of physical movement, emotions, learning, eating weird stuff, managing a house and kids etc.

The plane ride was long, hazy and hard with a screaming two year old and a bored 5 year old after about 48 sleepless hours prior as I packed and repacked bags to get them to the required weights, finally making final decisions on what stayed and what went. At 3am we boarded a van to the airport only to have to wait at the curb as my mom called my sister to join us at 3am and bring the keys to my mom's house to let us in AGAIN while I went upstairs and retrieved the kid's SHOES...yep....I forgot to put shoes on them. Remember 48 hours no sleeping and um....stress, may cause a mom to forget to put the kids shoes on her kid's feet.

So fast forward past 3 hour layover in San Francisco and an endless....endless...no end...endless...wait okay...its over, plane ride from HELL!!!!

Enter CHINA... in a thick heavy fog of haze? fog? oh wait no... POLLUTION that's what that is...okay. The pollution was so thick and hot that you could actually taste it in your mouth. And the smell....well to get an idea of the smell, you have to go to Chinatown and walk into those basement stores, the ones that are hot and covered with flies, now take a wiff, its a mix of moth balls, cardboard, some putrid indescribable smell with fried food and um teriyaki??? is't that Japanese??? add sweaty sock smell and perfume and voila...you have the smell of Beijing.

Now...get outside and start walking down your street...only really WALK like you are in New York or something, MOVE YOUR LEGS like fast and swing your arms, if you bump someone with your arms every few steps while taking quick brisk strides...you are in Beijing.

Now cross the street....ready, GREEN LIGHT, WAIT!!!!! NO!!! DON'T WAIT...GO!!! F*ck that taxi almost hit me and so did that bike and hell, where did the grandma in a wheel chair come from???? If the above is true, you are walking on a "green man" across a cross walk in Beijing. Note to the wise, if you step your foot out...um, well really your door, but lets just say anywhere within 10 feet of a street, you may die in an automobile or cycling accident....hell the grandma may be the perp that ends it for you. So heed the advice I was given when attempting to cross the street. "Look down, and walk, then pray you make it"....okay...that sucks.

So we check into our hotel, its cozy to say the least. The Divas start climbing the walls on day two...and I do mean "Climb the walls" But we met a nice guy who is Chinese and now our friend...yeah us. My Disney English coworkers are AMAZING PEOPLE....like so so so nice...this is refreshing and the sun is finally shining and I see blue skies...all of a sudden I start to like Beijing. The Chinese people have been very nice, everything is dirt cheap and I am really enjoying the adventure and then on day six....I get an email.

"You will probably want to be sitting down for this.....Marco died!" and my air seized up in my throat....MARCO IS GONE!!!! I am half a world away....and he is gone :( ....FOREVER!!!! Marco... Here's the thing about Marco, I haven't seen him for awhile and before that, it had been years, he was best friends with one of my best friends, who I love dearly and who will miss him always...however, beyond that Marco was my family, the kind of family you never leave. I met him when I was 22 (I am now 43) he was from Quebec, strong, handsome, funny, gay (drat!) and yet he introduced me to his friends and his world, where I met my dearest friend and brother Robert!!! Marco was also a brother to me and I am so blessed that he met the kids and they him. Marco always had a smile and in his life achieved wealth and success, but he was always loving and always gracious. When I went to his clubs or his restaurants, I never paid a dime and his smile was always there always warm and he always had some wonderful witty thing to say. He gave the kids DVDs and Robert made us amazing food the last night I saw Marco. The sad thing is, I carried his card around in my car ever since our last meeting intending to call....and now I can't. Life got in the way...and now life is gone. I'm not being tragic, I know Marco knew I loved him, I know he didn't doubt that...and yet...

So since I couldn't be at the memorial, I will say this here on my little blog, Marco, I will always love you...thank you for being a tremendous influence in my life, thank you for being generous and kind, for reaching for the stars and touching them, thanks for your smile and your gracious heart, you will always live within us, but for now...we will need some time to adjust to the fact that you are no longer with us.

Rest in Peace my love...good night sweet prince :(

From the shock of Marco's death, I move on to finding a house in Beijing as you all know I have been pouring over the internet trying to find a place, well I will tell you that we have been absolutely blessed and found an INCREDIBLE place for us....simply perfect!!!! I was very lucky. There will be pics to come, but it has two stories, a sun room, three bedrooms and a top floor location in a hip part of town right next to a huge Hutong, which is some of Beijing's oldest style housing. Just as a preview I will show you a place that is "like ours" and a "hutong" none of them are the real thing, but I will be filming the real thing soon as the dust settles from our move. Which we did IN CHINESE....crazy. I don't speak Chinese, not.one.bit...but somehow it happened....how? is a mystery.

The job is pretty hard, no so much the teaching bit, but the intense lesson planning and creative structure that has you creating a new activity everyday-ish, also the children, are all cute (except for some of their teeth, which have rotten out....but they are still cute) some are amazingly smart (okay, I thought the diva's were smart....jump back, these kids are scary smart) and some are very good, some are really shy, like bury your head in the sand shy and some...most of whom are named "tiger" are absolute monsters. China doesn't mind monsters (which is good, cause my kids have been beastly at times in China) they are only allowed one child in most families and they spoil that child to no end and so when a child goes to school and is offered a "fun" curriculum sometimes (at least two per class) that means you, never sit in your chair, take a crayon to an expensive multimedia system, stick out your tongue at the teacher, hit, bite, scratch, throw shoes etc....eeek.

I am starting to write again (um...hello blog) which is giving me my peace of mind back...yeah. I have a few books to finish before I can focus on my own writing and the work I need to do for my new agent :) SO I am very very busy, but China is amazing and I promise to share more of it with you as I exit the haze, fog and pollution of my brain that has lasted almost three weeks. "Welcome to China" this will be a phrase you hear a lot as I take you through some of the craziness/awsomeness of living here.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Blessings and You'll be in Beijing on Thursday!!!!


"Yes...Thursday you will be in Beijing a driver is picking you up at the airport and taking you to your hotel and he will give you a bag with your schedule in it, welcome to China, I'm looking forward to meeting you...."

Excuse me while I pick myself up from the floor....


This is a part of the conversation I had with my HR guy in China....I think I am going to pass out now. I did remind him that I was bringing two kids, a grandma, a stroller, a gillion bags and a pet elephant, so we would need the BIG Car...here's hoping that worked.

So that's it at 3am on Wednesday we are picked up, driven to the airport, get to shuffle two sleepy kids through TSA and on to San Fran, then we have a nice little three hour layover where we will eat...or something...and then 12 hours in the air....oh holy fun-ness Batman.


We have had a bunch of goodbyes in the last few weeks and more so in the last few days. It is getting really intense saying good bye to everyone, but it has reminded me of one very important thing. I AM BLESSED. God or whoever helms this thing...has given me the best people in the world to be a part of my life, either in real life or on the internet, I am surrounded by amazing people, who are loving and beautiful. Every single opportunity we have had to say goodbye has reminded me of this blessing. I can not believe how much love surrounds us and how much support we feel from each other.

From my dear friend in New York taking Shiloh into her home and family to the amazing goodbye party today where the Diva's said goodbye to their cousins with a great big pool party and play time with AMAZING FOOD and friendship, it reminds me every day at every step, who blessed and loved we are. And we have another goodbye tomorrow with the God parents who have loved and shared their lives with us every Friday night for five years....

I will confess that this is the hardest part of our adventure is saying goodbye. I will miss my little Nephalump as he grows from a shy foster child to an adored son and nephew, I will miss my sister who has been my best friend since her birth and her hubby who has been such a great friend and brother to me. I will miss Diva Dad and all his nuttiness and the countless friends who I have known for over 20 years. The party was full of ex husbands and wives who are still friends, adopted cousins and families in law, people from Ireland, Japan, Hungry, the Midwest, Vietnam all joined together as a family. There was the presence of love in the room with an amazing edible bouquet from my cousin who couldn't be there and all of it...points to God's greatest gift in the world and that is the love that surrounds us. It is hard to leave that love and embark on this crazy journey and yet I know that when we return it will be there ever present and everlasting.

My fortune cookie today said....

The journey to life's greatest adventure begins with a single step.....

Well, on Thursday as my foot falls in Beijing...that journey begins.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

We Have Our Departure Date and Plane Tickets....in 10 days WE MOVE TO CHINA

I can not believe that in ten days we move to Beijing!!!

I AM FREAKED!!!!!!!!!!

Eeek. In that amount of time I have to write 100 pages, meet with an agent WHO LOVES MY WORK :), finish an online class for TEFL certification, fly to New York with Shiloh and meet my online friend for the first time, see friends, have a goodbye party (or several)repack our 5 um...I mean 6 bags, buy stuff that we need....and then get on the airplane. WHAT?

The Pros....

The kids are climbing the walls at my mom's house cause they are so ready for their adventure and they are not used to apartment living. While Gaga Drama is doing an excellent job keeping her cool, I would be freaked if the Diva's were sparkle spirals of craziness in my abode....bravo gaga Diva. I am not sure I would be as cool with it!!!

I still don't believe this is happening but in less than two weeks it is. EEEEEEEKKKKKKKKKK.

The upside, we have had some amazing goodbye experiences....

Wonderful playdates, an amazing goodbye camping trip, a great cocktail catch up party a great goodbye party being planned with swimming and Chinese food and fun stuff... and then another goodbye brunch and a goodbye party at both of the girl's schools...and a deep sadness that I will miss everyone so very much. Wow...its overwhelming.

I will miss everyone...and I will, deeply, but tomorrow I get on a plane and let my dog adventure with a dear friend. I will leave her house, her beautiful children and her family and Shiloh will stay with them. Shiloh who has been the best friend any mom could ever hope for, Shiloh who fell off of a five story building and survived, Shiloh who is the reason I met Diva Dad, Shiloh who Little Diva walks every morning and hugs every night. Shiloh who has laid beside both girls cribs as they slept, who used to walk back and forth from the front of the pack to the back when we hiked, making sure that not one person was unaccounted for. Shiloh, simply the best dog on the planet~~~~~~~

THE ONLY ONE AND VERY MAJOR DOWNSIDE (apart from missing my friends and family desperately)IS SAYING GOOD BYE (for now) TO MY AMAZING BABY GIRL, my very first and most beloved dog, Shiloh, better known as Squish!!!!!

Dear Shiloh (Squishy as we call you)

I love you baby, I love you so very very very much, I pray you know that you are in loving hands, that you will be with a family dear to my heart. This is not goodbye sweet soul, dear little one, this is just so long for now. I hope you enjoy your adventure, I know that I will see all the exciting things that you are up to, and take good care of their family as you always do. I must say I have never been apart from you more than a few days and the reality of this is really hitting me tonight. So all I muster to say at the moment is, I love you.....I love you dearly.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

"Hi Mommy, Where'th yo Jahketh" and Everything is Gone!

Well, we did it. Everything I own is now is a few suitcases and one small blue pod. After the dust has settled it feels good to be free of all our worldly possessions. I am finally in the headspace to move. I have grieved, kicked, screamed, lamented, panicked and all...and finally I am free. Free to raise my amazing divas and free to write the next greatest fantasy series and many other exciting things. This freedom is very nice, while strange and oddly unsettling, it is nice. In hindsight my stuff was just that...stuff, while some of it was bitterly hard to part with, now that it is gone...we move on. I have no idea what the future holds, but for this moment, we have made the first jump.

So....here are some pics of where we will be headed...

I will probably have real pictures for you in a few weeks, but these are some of the images I am showing me and the kids to help us prepare for our new life in China.

Also...I have gotten word that my meeting with the agent is a "go" , so so far so good. :) Cross fingers.


"Hi Mommy, Where'th yo Jahketh?" Is a sentence I hear every single morning when I drop Little Diva off at school. Her best friend Alex comes running over to us and at the top of his lungs yells this phrase and beams from ear to ear. Everyday I get the same question..."hi mommmy, where's your jacket?" Alex's smile is so wide and his eyes so bright when he greets us each morning. According to the teachers I am the only mom he ever approaches and he does so effervescently every time I enter the room. This is a nice reception and its even nicer that Alex is Little Diva's best friend. Alex, in his own charming little way, takes Little Diva to her seat and thus Little Diva's school day has begun. What is more endearing is that Alex is autistic. I am so proud of Little Diva that she has befriended Alex, the first special needs kid her school has had. I think Little Diva, somehow understands special needs because of Big Diva. While you would NEVER know that Big Diva has special needs, you would if you spent time with her. While Big Diva is the most popular kid in every school/neighborhood she has ever attended, she does have quirks that show her sensory challenges. However, Little Diva, having grown up admiring Big Diva and being used to the those quirks, does not shy away from special needs as other kids do, rather she happily embraces them. So the floor rolling and repetitive speech that calms Alex, also calms her sister when she is in the throws of a sensory meltdown, so I am proud of Little Diva, I am proud that her first friend that she has made on her own is a special needs kid and I love the fact that he calls me "mommy" and worries that I don't wear a jacket.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

A Village Loses Their Queen, or Our Last Night in The Hood

So today is the last day in our house... I gave all of my patio furniture to our neighbor as well as the dining room table 4 chairs and sundry other items. All of these things she has wanted since we moved in and now she has them. I will confess, I was a little bitter at first, I felt very frustrated that the very thing I hated about the place was the drinking and disrespect from the "dad" and yet I had just set him up with a really sweet outdoor living room. However, I really like Neighbor Mom and always have, we are both trying to make it work, we are both parenting very um...expressive, active, strong willed kids and apart from a few times when she had tried to steal my plates and DVDS (ie, I made something and gave them my plate and NEVER SAW IT AGAIN until I was in their house and said "hey that's mine!" to which she responded, "I was just about to give it back to you" um...no you weren't, same with a few DVD's I think I got all but one back finally and it was because I sent Big Diva in there to retrieve them.) BUT SERIOUSLY apart from that I have enjoyed having Neighbor Mom next door, she found me cheap furniture, car parts, food and fiesta's, she's shared food, we've decorated our yard for Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter, we both are lifeguards at our backyad pool and each offer harvest to one another from our small gardens...etc....I appreciate her.

But the real neighborhood tragedy today is the loss of Big Diva. We drove in as usual while her fans were eagerly awaiting her arrival. Usually around 2:00 I start getting the knocks at my door asking when Big Diva will be home from school, when she does return, a throng (and I do mean throng) of children rush to our car to greet her. Usually I stop in the driveway so that she can get out and meet the masses. Today they literally escorted her from the car.

The neighbor boy introduced her to his "new" patio and she graciously cooed and fawned even though she noted that it was filled with her things, but I give them props as he was genuinely happy to have it and she was genuinely happy to give it...wow, we have been doing something right here.

The neighbor boy did confess that he wished she could stay and he could give the things back, he said he would rather not have any of our things if we could stay. I admit I shed a tear. I then heard laments and confessions of boredom and how the kids weren't sure what they were going to do without Big Diva, how it wasn't fun unless she was there. Even Diva Dad noted that Big Diva ruled the kingdom and everyone waited for her instruction, which was so often given with infectious laughter, grace and understanding, and a side swipe to the head or two if she found them out of line. There have always been the neighborhood scuffles, but Big Diva knows how to make you feel loved, funny and included, she can also strike up an interesting game on a whim that has everyone engaged. She is really the ultimate leader and diplomat, despite a fatigue induced tantrum here and there and the wayward "phwap" of her arm.

Tonight, the neighbors bid their Queen farewell. Even Little Diva was thick in the mix, "playing with her friends" and I saw a little Queen in training, following her big sister's lead. Some of the tricks she's picking up are, make sure to remember names, mention names often when addressing people, always share, whatever you have, always offer some, plan big extravagant experiences, like using trash to create a pioneer village, or old boxes to make rockets to space. If you have a pool, find a chair from which to catapult your body heftily into the air, risking bodily injury and drowning to emerge victorious from the water. Have Popsicle hour! If things become tense, giggle randomly. Flirt often. Compliment occasionally. Yell and whoop more than animals at the zoo do. Have an incredible sense of style and graciously, enthusiastically and nearly fanatically except all invitations to play!

When we arrived here almost one year ago to the day, the neighborhood looked on quietly at my deep brown skinned baby and my little big haired Diva...they were like feral beings lurking in the shadows of sweeping willow trees and chain link fences as Big Diva, effervescent and enthused sussed each one out and commanded them to play!!!! Within 20 hours of moving in, I had 8 children to dinner and within three days, the posse formed, lining up beside my car as I brought the Queen home from school. Not one single day has passed when that posse wasn't there awaiting her arrival. And tonight was the last time they will wait for her...and there was a silence when she arrived. An indescribable quiet that spoke volumes. She was impervious to it...why waste today...China awaits, but today is here....let us embrace it. She wiped the "long" off faces and made the day rich with a freezing swim in the pool, a baby doll hunt where they had to find her dolls in trees, a moving party where children schlepped drawers and lightweight objects to each other's houses and finally an incense burning party where each participant got a stick of Nag Champa and the licence to write their names in the sky. These exciting times were punctuated by not 1 but 3! Popsicle hours.

Throughout the day confessions mounted....

"I don't know what we will do without "Big Diva"?" Matthew

"You are such a good mom...thank you for taking care of me! Thank you for feeding me better than my mom does!" Alex

"I wish you could stay, it would have been better if you just could have stayed" Edward

"I have had a great year, I have been so happy, I have loved you here. I would rather go to Salvation Army to have stuff, I would rather you have your stuff here. You come back. You will come back, I will find you some place here or tell the new neighbors that you are coming back. I want you back. I'm not going to cry, cause you will come home." Neighbor Mom.

By the end of the day, Neighbor Mom had put the word out that free furniture was available and a posse of people filed in and cleared out my house. Only a few things remain...but I don't have to hire a mover to move it to Goodwill...good will has been done, people have things they need and wanted and I am almost completely free of every thing I have ever owned.

I had planned a big bon fire and roasted marshmallows as a way to say "Goodbye" and we did set the fire, but for some reason it didn't stay lit, so instead me, Big Diva, Mathew (Neighbor boy) and Alex (Next Door Neighbor boy) and I laid on the ground and watched the moon, a conversation about "light years" provoked me to get my "Smart Phone" (said in a sassy prideful tone as Big Diva tells everyone that her mom has a "smart" phone). I pulled up "Google Sky" and we all laid on the ground and looked at Saturn, the moon and some random constellations. And then it was time to go to bed...and that was it, simple and uninspired "Good night and thank you." And that was our last night in the hood.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

WARNING THIS IS REALLY RAW!!! and Sad, but don't be worried, I assume it is part of all of it all... :(

So, another subletter fell through, the reason...NO ONE WANTS TO LIVE IN THE GHETTO and I get it, its loud, its Latino and anyone who owns a computer (cause I advertised on Craigslist) can't really deal with these poor people. So, I understand. They are obnoxious if you are educated (and I am not saying that Mexican's are NOT well educated) and didn't plan on living in Mexico (I will say it is like living in a foreign country) and by obnoxious I mean, they DRINK A LOT, they play loud music, their freaking puppy runs into your house all the time, the kids are everywhere, they have no boundaries...etc. Even my neighbor admitted that "Mexicans" are "hot" people who tend to spark up a lot. I have a lot of friends who are Mexican and Latino and this is in NO WAY a cultural slam, but the reality of our neighborhood. In fact one of my single mommy Latino friends, I seriously think is a manufactured human, because she is one of the best, most organized, fun moms I know and I have many other Latino friends who are great people and great parents, this is not a reflection on them, this is a reflection on the people I have lived with in this neighborhood. For example on the day the last subletter came, her husband was playing music at ear drum shattering decibels and NO LESS than 30 beer cans laid strewn about them, enough beer cans to illicit a curious comment from the potential subletee who pulled up with his fiance in a Mercedes. I have been dealing with it, trying to be Zen about it, but part of me wants to shout "STAY ON YOUR SIDE!!!!" I'm fine if you are irresponsible on your side (ex. drink til you pass out, don't buy dog food for your dog, just put down melted ice cream and some hot chili Cheetos for doggie dinner, let your rabbits run loose in the yard etc.) BUT...this was the nicest place we have ever lived in :( I mean we had a really nice place in Eagle Rock, but I had to leave it (because of adoption related drama), this was bigger and two stories and felt like a home. I learned to deal with the neighbors and the noise and we were loved in the neighborhood. (next post is about the village losing their queen :) We taught them to learn new things as we learned new things...but alas...it is gone come Friday and we are free to move on...

So here's the thing...every time I lose stuff (and trust me it has been a lot of times) I just lose it...nothing nice and new replaces it, until now...but again...its gone :( It's like I can't catch a break. Even though I have a pending opportunity in place, I still feel worry that it will fall though like everything else has over the years. I have been promised the moon...and yet I have seen only dark skies. I have worked harder than anyone I know for my dreams and still they elude me. :(. But...I'm gonna believe that this is it...cause that's what I do...I believe in me despite all of it.

However, I am ready for a change, I lament the fact that I was beautiful and now I am fat :( I was hopeful and now I am skeptical. I know China and a new adventure awaits me...but I can't seem to get myself to believe that it has any real promise outside of a Chinese pay check...but hey any steady pay check is welcomed.

I can't seem to feel any feelings right now for fear that an avalanche of feelings will overtake me.

This I know is normal...this is grief, this is loss, this is a hundred shattered dreams revisiting me, this is about letting go and letting God... and I understand that this is healthy. And yet... I'll confess, I don't entirely trust God. I have seen good friends get cancer, lose jobs, go to homeless shelters, die... I know that this is all part of life and in life there is struggle, but it doesn't really promote confidence in God. Sometimes I wonder if God HATES ME and yet I know that I am loved, so even if a mythical figure like some all knowing, massively divine being isn't so fond of me, many amazing, wonderful, incredible PEOPLE are.

I also know that this is part of releasing every single piece of who I have created myself to be over the years and reinventing it into something different and trust me I'll take different. Once I was very proud of who I am...I was verging on narcissism as I thought myself beautiful, talented and teetering on the edge of success...I just pray I can return to that perspective, minus the narcissism.

So this is to God, or whoever....first Thank you for my children, they are incredible and so far have been able to accomplish all I have seemed challenged to acquire. They are happy, strong, self motivated, expectant, giving, fulfilled, content and confident. While I am infinitely grateful for them, my family and friends...I am challenged by your expectations of me. I do pray that you have some sort of end date for the constant struggle, that maybe this next opportunity is real, then I'll gladly give up my home and all of my worldly possessions (as I have just done) for the chance to live my dreams. But, if you plan on dashing me again...just expect a sternly worded letter to management and a cancellation of my membership to anything even remotely faithful!

Signed, angry, disappointed and reluctant to grow!

PS. while I am struggling, stubborn and reluctant...Big Diva is not! When I was caught crying Big Diva asked....

BD: Momma are you sad we leaving our house forever for China?
Mom: Yes I am sad.
BD: We can always visit here.
Mom: Sure we can, but I will miss this place.
BD: I know, but we are going to have a better place in China and then a place here, I know what will make you happy, I'll make you a salad, I have a tomato we grew in our garden, MOM! a salad will make you feel much better.
Mom: Okay, I'll have a salad, with some tomatoes from our garden (mind you, I have grown to tolerate tomatoes and we do grow them in our garden (evil side of me says: WHICH WE ARE LEAVING), but I still sort of hate them, like I can only eat a few as long as there are no seeds in them. And yet Big Diva's salad was Divine!!!!

And Big Diva is divine and this poor child has watched me sell all of her toys, is leaving her friends, her school (and school in general to be home schooled)has no clue what "China" really is outside of Ni Ho Kai Lan and Big Bird in China and yet is a thousand percent more stoked to go, like right now...or tomorrow! than I am. She knows our dog is going to New York and that she won't see Momma and Daddy Music,her cousin, her God Parents, her friends, teachers and Diva Dad (who may come for a visit, cross your fingers and so may my cousin and her family) for over a year and yet she is ready for this adventure, in fact she and Gaga Drama (Grandma) are both much more ready than I am. Little Diva just keeps saying "I go to China on airplane!" but she's stoked too...the only one not ready to go is me...and this maybe the best thing that has ever happened to me...and yet...I'm just not there yet, but I will be...I hope! But right now I am like a cold empty room...I have no feelings and no thoughts...nothing. I have a meeting with an agent next week and my stuff has been sent to them...and still...I am a vast open expanse of nothing.

Ahhh coping techniques.... I know these posts will eventually shed light on the obscure but at the moment the obscure wins!

OH and two pieces of random news :)

Here is our new car in Beijing:

And here is the house I want to live in Beijing :) (cross fingers) Its a townhouse in a complex that has a pool and a playground, it is WAY out of my price range, but this Realtor can give us a deal, however, this may be a scam/ploy so I have other fun places picked out and you will eventually see the real place we find, but I like to dream that this place may eventually be ours ;)


Monday, July 11, 2011

It Has Begun.... Bye Bye Stuff....and um...a book deal, maybe, finally?

Well, this first step of the adventure is almost complete. I have held a garage sale and have sold off most of my things, a very few things still remain, and sadly there is a little too much to put into 5 suitcases (yes, I gave us another suitcase) and a very small (much smaller than I envisioned)pod.

Thanks to Momma Music and her hubby (my sis and bro - in- law) they made the process so much less painful. Especially when we had NO customers until almost 9 (we started at 7). After watching my stuff get picked through, prodded, coddled, horded and most of it discarded, I acquired a healthy detachment to it and now it is all gone. I am still reeling a bit from having it all go away and I have a lot more to get rid of, but wow...okay. One of my favorite customers was a woman who brought her tiny toy Maltese to the sale where she bought a HUGE plush octopus chair that my kids have really loved and it looked it, but the chair was for the dog, so who cares if it had a stain or two, a play tent (toy sized) for the DOG to sleep in and various other child toy, turned dog furniture items. When we inquired about the dog, we discovered that he is the baby of her brood which started with two Malteses a brother and a sister, who just kept having babies and their babies kept having babies (sensing a little backwood twang happening here???...remember they are ALL brothers and sisters) the final amount of dogs this woman owns was a concept too staggering for us to fathom, but I believe it was like seven and this woman came with only two dollars and haggled us to DEATH (I think we must have wrangled a few more bucks out of her) anyway the big laugh (as if all of it wasn't scary hillarious) was that she drove away in this car...

This folks is a $50,000 dollar car. Slap My Head!!!! really?

So, we leave my house on Friday, I am desperately trying to find a subletter as my guy fell through, but have no luck yet. If I don't get one by Friday, I say good bye to our house too. Again all of it is still sort of hitting my like a numb sack of bricks.

What I did learn is at the garage sale is how economically depressed everything is, my stuff sold for pennies cause we live in the "ghetto" but it wasn't only the people who had nothing who came, but the people who had lost everything and were struggling came too...and in a way selling and giving my stuff away (which ended up almost being the same thing) was a great act of charity that lightened my load and hopefully gave a few people some treasures.

I kept one box of stuff that was worth a lot that I planned to sell on Ebay, but as I was walking past it trying to move a television that was small but weighed as much as a dead body, my plentiful backside knocked it over and everything shattered....and there you have it...GONE.

Mommy Music and Hubs came over the next day to help box up the remaining stuff and probably by the end of the day Wednesday, it will all be either gone or in our pod/suitcases. Then we move in with my mom for the next month while I finish an online class for Disney, a Diva Memoir book and the second of my horror series books....so I will be writing.

I am also keeping something kinda of under wraps till I know a bit more, but there might be some big things happening in my professional writing career. The timing will be perfect as the deal will probably not be done and ready for me to be in the United States until next year, but when I come home, well...it might just be spectacular. Let's send out good vibes and when I book the meeting next week with THE AGENT!!!! and LAWYER who I hope are planning on representing me and KamiSama I will let you know more. :)

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Something That Really Has My Panties in a Bunch!!!!!!

So...here is a link to an article that I find arrogant and disgusting...granted, I often am angered by parents that don't discipline their children...so I get it, but what I am most angry about is a society that doesn't provide parents with healthy family choices that allows us to live our lives in peace and harmony.

Yes, I am a single parent...and yes it was my choice...and I adopted "special needs" kids. Or are they just "kids" regardless, does this condemn me to NEVER going out to eat, NEVER sitting on an airplane, NEVER enjoying a phone conversation that doesn't cost me ($30K, the cost of my children's schooling over the last five years) which I had to raise ALONE...and no I did not go to a bar and get knocked up to have a kid, I adopted "special needs kids" which essentially "no one wanted", which is untrue, plenty of people wanted them, but I digress.

So this article got me fired up


Sorry you will have to cut and paste it, I can't get blogger to link to the site.

And not because, unruly kids are annoying, cause they are, but because society hasn't given us a great place other than Chuck E. Cheese (expensive and disgusting) or Mc Donalds (expensive and disgusting) to go and have our children be children in peace.

And don't get me started about the airlines, I am TERRIFIED to take my kids on the plane to China, Little Diva was such a pain in the patoot on our Denver trip, I have no idea what she has in store for us on a 17 hour journey to China. I stayed up for almost 24 hours before our Denver trip getting ready, working on writing assignments, going to therapy for the kids etc, that I was vastly sleep deprived when I arrived at the airport and then to have my kid act up the whole way and physically have to subdue her for three hours was excruciating. I sang, talked, cuddled, sang, played, talked, disciplined, etc...only to have her finally fall asleep (which she needed) when we landed, which meant lugging luggage, a heavy 35lbs toddler, while holding a sleepy 5 year old's hand through a crowded airport. Remember mom is working on less than three hours sleep and my shoes cut a hole in my foot that was bleeding.

So.... I will say this and I will say it boldly F* and I mean that in the very bad word sense YOU people who think you are holier than thou and who also think that smacking, spanking and otherwise hauling off and hitting your kids is a great way to parent. I will admit that I have done it and really...I have seen zero positive results from it. The techniques I have learned in therapy are better suited to my kids...but what plane has an angry center...much less a place for kids to exert their anxiety (and yes they have it) or energy on a plane...which brings me to the point of my post.

AMERICA!!!! THE FREE...THE BOLD...or DISNEY! Please create a family friendly airline!!!!! PLEASE!!!! Please make it affordable and mousified so that our little ones are happy, loved and entertained, we will look at other parents wrangling screaming toddlers and offer goldfish, organic apple bars or a look of loving support to say "hey I've been there" let there be wii at the chair back consoles and motionless tables that don't disturb the seat in front of you, have flight attendants pass out crayons and toys...really I'll pay for it, just not to be demonized by the mass public of "hands off dads" and "career minded" people who secretly hate my kids even though I have braved sleep deprivation, forgone personal hygiene and nourishment to ensure that my every moment is spent trying to keep my rambunctious toddler quiet so that she doesn't disturb your flight, one that I have have spent the same money on. Trust me, my fight is a million times worse than yours because I am trying to make "you" happy.

And while we are at it Entrepreneurial America, can we get a family restaurant that is fun, nice and loves kids that isn't over priced or disgusting....I would do it, I would create one, but I'm really busy raising my kids...trust me you will make MILLIONS just create a family friendly airline and a chain of restaurants that serve great food at a good price that loves children!!!!! So you! and your "I can't sleep with screaming babies" attitude can have your first class...fine!....just give us Disney Air!!!! And first class families with first class brats...will have the time of their lives.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Summer Lovin' in the Hood

So, I am bound an determined to enjoy the last summer for a while in our little hood. While I assume that next year's Chinese summer will be full of fun and excitement, I want to just soak up all the fun we already know at home.

We had to use our annual passes at Disney before July 2 because they would no longer be valid during the black out dates and we would be gone when they opened up again. So I told the girls, we are "gonna shut the place down" I picked the kids up after school and drove them in hot traffic which drew forth wails of discomfort and protest, but both fell asleep. SCORE!!! We parked in Downtown Disney parking (note to all Disney goers and Pass holders if you park in the Downtown Disney parking the first 3 hours are free, then if you get a validation from one of the restaurants...like say the ESPN Zone, that makes you get the validation at the store...so *wink, who would know if you ate in the restaurant or not...I know evil to cheat the mouse especially now that he is my employer, but a poor girl gotta do what a poor girl gotta do. Anyway the validation will get you two more free hours and then the price is $3.00 for each hour after, sure beats the $15.00 the park charges). So we park there, take the monorail into Tomorrowland, IMMEDIATELY BUY THE NIGHTGOWN WHICH WAS THE SUBJECT OF LAST MONTH'S ALL DAY/LEAVE DISNEY BECAUSE OF... TANTRUM. After the purchase Big Diva issued a vow that she would never remove it, and well, it is day 3 and she has worn it non stop, she has swam in it, showered in it, slept in it, I am afraid to make her take it off, but since tomorrow is school, I know she will relent, so why break her spirit. :) We then did all of the rides, watched the fireworks show and partied hard for hours until...WE SHUT THE PLACE DOWN and I took my happy little divas home at 1:30AM...guess whose parking was absolutely free???? Yep, only people still standing at Disney, other than the night clean up crew was a newlywed couple and their bridal party frolicking in the parking lot, looking like a fragrance commercial. It was surreal and perfect. :) Thanks Disney, till next time. :)

Now we are in 4th of July mode and I am about to go out and buy some illegal fireworks to pass out to the young children in my hood. How'z that for responsible parenting. But my parents did it, so I have the right.

And the kids have been playing in the pool ALL DAY, EVERYDAY which has been so much fun. Please Hair Police, both of the girl's hair is horrid, I tried a new style on Indya that was a FAIL, and both have been in the pool two and three times a day, so it looks whack, but they are happy so to Hair Hater's (which I don't believe any read my blog, but if a secret hair hater does...be warned :) go get some BBQ and leave the Divas to their summer pool time fun.

And on that note, I will bore you no more, I present SUMMER LOVIN' IN THE HOOD!

Sunday, July 3, 2011

This will probably be the longest post you will ever read from me...so grab a beverage and a blanket!!! Or..."For the Love of a Dog"

I will admit that for the last month I have been dormant, on this blog, in my creative life, in my home life in all things...moving and doing, outside of parenting children, I have been almost totally immobile. This is actually quite a new feeling, one which I have never really experienced and it breaks down like this.

1. Move from my home = don't want to do it.
2. Sell all of my things = harder than you think
3. Say good bye to friends = sucks
4. Four bags (not news to any of you I am sure) = is absolutely NOT enough space to fit the lives of 3 people, two of whom are rock star level divas.

So seriously I have been completely immobilized by the fact that I didn't have a plan for my amazing dog Shiloh :( No one wanted her and I completely understand (shhh, no one knows this) but I probably wouldn't take anyone's dog either...so I understand entirely. I would have moved her to Beijing, but the Beijing police will confiscate dogs (which means kill) who are larger than one foot tall (from shoulder to floor) if they are found on the streets. I could have moved out to the suburbs, which are quite beautiful, but then I would have to commute 1.45 to 2 hours each way for work, which means I leave my girls without their mommy for over 12 hours a day, this is not what they are used to and not what I want for them. So it meant finding a home for her while we were in China, this seized my heart. When the offers from good hearted people didn't amount to a real option for her, I shut down. I was on serious auto pilot and nearly couldn't function.

Most people think of animals as that...animals, but Shiloh, my amazing little girl, is my first child. She saved my life, sort of, she helped me through a sad time in my life and lead me to Diva Dad (we lived in the same building) and she fell in love with his big beautiful dog Taos (who we lost last year). She jumped off of a 6 story building when Diva Dad tried to give her a bath on the rooftop veranda of our building and LIVED!!! She graciously let a screaming drug exposed baby into our lives and then she allowed Daycare baby cousins take over the house and then another little sister, with each she dutifully stood guard while they slept, played and learned about life. She tolerated ear tugging, hitting and tail pulling, begrudgingly allowing her little brood to mistreat her as they learned about the world and came to respect her as their protector, friend and bed buddy. She is kind, loving and obedient, her only fault is a need to beg for food, which toddlers have so plentifully supplied her and a need to be near. Outside of that, she is the cat/dog - Nanny Dog- and mommy's very first baby and best friend.

At first I was very sad that Diva Dad couldn't take her, but I understand his work and need for freedom, then there were all the friends who already had dogs and kids...which again, I totally understood, but it left my beautiful girl alone, "unwanted" and then an offer came...

It was for an assisted living facility who wanted her to help with the elderly in their care. Since she is a care taker, this would have been a really good role for her so I called and I was told that, yes, they want her, but they would want to KEEP her as the residents don't want to lose her after they bonded with her. At first I said "yes" (after having NO OTHER OPTIONS) and then on the day that I was washing her and grooming her for her first meeting (and shortly after, her transition to the home) I CRASHED. I sat with on the floor with her and I sobbed, heaving, heartfelt, gutteral sobs. I couldn't do it, I couldn't give my girl away. I know that some people can, but I can't. I just couldn't do it to her, I promised her that I would be there for her, at her last moment in life and here I was giving her away because she was "inconvenient" to me it felt as if I had sentenced her to death.

So I boldly called the lady and I told her "no" I couldn't give my baby away, she understood, and even though I didn't have another plan for Shiloh, I was firm on my decision to NOT give her away, even if she would have been fulfilling a noble cause and would have been deeply loved, I couldn't do it.

So I went to Facebook in my numb defeated state and read a post from a dear friend I had never "met", but have known for years. We are truly soul sisters as some of us are in the cyber world. I have a few Soul Sisters, I haven't met, but plan to soon. She is a person who wrote a blog on the adoption website all of us frequented and over the years we became the closest of friends, we held each other up in sadness and rejoiced in joy. When I started my blog, I was a young (in my idea of young) woman who felt utterly unprepared and unqualified to become a mom, but over the course of six years I am not only a mom, but a very good mother, for whom the title of "Mother" walks in the door before I do. She was already a mom before she became and adoptive parent, but walked through the minefield of foster adoption to finally adopt her two sons and become so much more of a mother, friend and mentor. She offered to take Shiloh and the weight that had been hanging on me like a sack of bricks finally lifted. :)

So not only does my dearest little girl have a great place to crash, I get to meet a long time friend for the first time. And this is where I get to thank God or whoever, for bringing this amazing set of life experiences together. I remember when I started my blog on the adoption website, it was on a whim and prompted by my anxiety to adopt a child, a child I had initially felt unqualified to raise, not because I wouldn't be good at it, but because I wasn't married and felt that I hadn't achieved much of live's success. But I wrote and wrote and wrote to alleviate my fears and soon other bloggers commented and became friends, they followed me through this blog and that as I tried to hold onto anonymity. And if I had never typed that first word of an anonymous blog that because a top ten read blog on the adoption site and had I never read other blogs and reached out to women who I admired, I would have missed out on so much of life and friendship and now a "friend" and fellow blogger has saved my sanity by taking Shiloh into her home and offering her and I peace of mind and peace of spirit.

Even if something were to happen to Shiloh, I know that she will be okay, I know that she will be loved and will be guarding and protecting children, even reluctantly as she does, she will take on the role she is so proud of. She will snuggle with adults and be in a home full of love. She will have a puppy to tame and keep her young and we will be able to Skype her, so that she knows we didn't leave her behind (at least not in our hearts). This has given me such a great amount of relief that I am finally able to blog again and live again, knowing that my oldest little girl will be okay. So to "Forever Family" I love you so much and I am beyond excited to finally get to meet you!!!!!!

So, I am feeling better as I try and put an entire house, 43 years of life and two kid's stuff into four suitcases and the odd carry on item. THIS.IS.NOT.EASY.

While I was totally of the slash and burn mindset, my heart tugged and pulled and tugged and pulled and pulled (yes, yes...get on with it!!!). So I decided to rent a pod and save some of my very favorite things and thus came another sense of relief.

Well, for the last few nights I have woken up in my home and I have been sobbing, I wake up in the middle of the night I am just heaving tears in my sleep. I assessed worried and assessed again and discovered that my stress was over leaving my dog AND leaving my home. While I have only been here a year, it was the place I planned on raising my children. Even though the neighbors are crazy, I still felt like this place was our home. So, I went back to sleep after a good cry and had a dream. In my dream, God or whoever said, "why don't you just put an ad up on Craigslist for a subletter and see what happens. If it is 'meant to be' it will be, if it is not...then you will stop crying!"

So, I did that I put an ad up on craigslist for someone to sublet my apartment while I was gone. In exactly 2.3 minutes a man answered the ad saying that the apartment was an answer to his prayers, the time frame was strangely perfect and that he could commit to the whole time and then leave, back to his home. WOW!!! And he doesn't want any of my stuff, so I continue to purge and free myself of clutter BUT!!!!!!!! I DON'T LOSE MY HOME!!!!!! Yeah!!!! Even if I don't come back here (cause all my stuff will still be in storage and essentially I will be moved out of here) knowing that I CAN, gives me an incredible peace of mind and with it... mental well being and with that I can continue to forge forward. But, just a few days ago, the guy flaked, however I have a few other offers and know that the right person will move in here and for that I feel a great sense of peace.

Okay...so I can't even tell you how little DOES fit into the suitcases, but I will persevere :) It just um...ISN'T A LOT...no really IT ISN'T....eeeekkkkkk!

Now back to where to live in Beijing.


Stuffed and Wall Mounted Turtle...

Stuffed Whippet??? Deer?

Doll Suicide????


Can I interest anyone in some crack?

The previous tenant was clearly a rock star...


Squatty Potty anyone...Oh Hell NO!

Puppy Potty!

Three Woks, Check! Four Sponges, Check! Rat Trap in the corner, Set! (iccccckeeee!)


Wall to Wall Mouse!

Saturday, June 11, 2011

A Life Well Lived...."Remember You Love Me" *READ THIS!!!"

While I was working the other night I got an email from Diva Dad. Even though I was really busy trying to get stuff written, the title intrigued me. "Remember You Love Me," which was a recent Mother's Day article in the Huffington Post. As I read the email that he forwarded to me further, I tried to manage my shock....

The email exchange was between two people I don't know, but it was discussing a person, I knew very briefly and vaguely, but someone who was very very close to Diva Dad. I remember that when Diva Dad and I worked at The Famous Tea House, Padma Atluri would come in, sometimes with her sister, but often by herself. She was usually there to hang out with and talk to Diva Dad, who was a bit of a local celebrity. I don't recall exactly how Diva Dad and Padma knew each other, but I knew that they had a very close and special friendship. What I do remember about Padma is that she would brighten up a room. There was no mistaking her entrance into a room and you absolutely knew when she left as the dust seemed so settle sadly on the shelves again. She was a bright light....without question. This observation is from one, who only knew her from the periphery, but this is how I remembered her. So when I read the email exchange it talked as if Padma was gone...I decided not to face this fact until after I read the article, where in fact it said that Padma had died earlier this year of cancer.



The email also said that the article is published in its entirety using all of Padma's words without major edits, the only thing they changed was the title, which she had originally written as "Remember You Love Me" which I personally think is more fitting...but I'm not a journalist.

So, in reading this beautiful article about a daughter and a mother and LIFE, I began to think about what is a life well lived. When are we given the freedom and license to die having achieved our purpose on this earth what is our legacy? What do we leave behind. I believe that Padma's life was a life well lived and yet the love she showed and the maturity she gained in loving, accepting and forging a new kind of friendship with her mother, seems even more extraordinary to me.

In my estimation, our purpose is self directed and God-guided but usually (for me)it is a reflection of the influence our life has had on others. And by influence I mean those we have touched in some way, shape or form. And Padma, has touched me and others greatly and while reading her amazing article I reflect on the fact that I too am embarking on a journey with my own mother and her words sit with me from heaven and guide and direct me as I go...Thank you for your beautiful life and words Padma...THANK YOU!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Faith, Failure, a Friend and Photos That Look Like Mugshots

*Just a warning, this post gets a little raw* We all get raw, just most of us don't broadcast it to the world, so Imma little crazy, I like to tell it all...cause I love stories, even mine.


We all know I have it and that it waivers greatly! I think on a whole, I'm a great believer in something, but I truly don't know what it is and I don't totally believe that I trust in it...which might actually be my problem. See if I believed in Kabbalah, I could just manifest with love all that I desire, but ya know (and most of you do) I have been manifesting FOR YEARS....daily. I have been grateful, loving, caring, giving...in essence GOOD!! In fact too good in most cases. And sometimes...well, sometimes I just don't always see it working. Ya know. Not for the big stuff, like finances and fulfilling life long dreams. Kids, I'm covered, I got those and they are amazing!!! Health, other than now being over weight (which I have never been before) I'm good (thank God!!! really) loved (check) creative (check) happy (mostly!) so life isn't bad, it just isn't what I have been manifesting. So THE MOVE TO CHINA....

Brings me to FAILURE! (just wait, I get there in the end...but roll with me here)

So when I was young I wanted to be an actress (but I have always really been a writer, ever since I was very young.) I was a good actress and eventually, just as my career was ending, was a really good actress...but alas... I failed as an actor.

I then became a filmmaker (but I'm still a writer), and was a REALLY GOOD filmmaker and made films that were in film festivals and were on the big screen and it was fun...but I wasn't able to make my living as a filmmaker...so I failed as a filmmaker.

I was almost a development executive at a big company and I worked hard, brought in cool ideas, tried to make it with the big guys and...was laid off, FAIL.

I then tried to make it as a writer, my true gift, my true voice and my true calling...and I have for the last five years, by the skin of my teeth have been working exclusively (except for the Daycare years) as a writer...mini succeed. But I didn't write my own works, but the works of others until recently when I was awarded a 10 book horror series which will bare my name...mini succeed. Still NOT ENOUGH MONEY TO LIVE....MOVE TO CHINA....fail?

I am a MOTHER...this I can say I do well. My kids are happy, loved, smart, they want for nothing, they haven't faced too much hardship and they wake up smiling and ready to greet the world every day. I feel like so far...I AM A SUCCESS as a mother. And a single mom at that, apart from help from my family and friends (when I need it) and the stipend from the state, I have done this parenting thing...alone, included feeding, housing and entertaining us. I guess in this regard, I have succeeded. But now, I have found a house that feels like a home and it is bigger than any place we have ever lived and I have nice things that I love and in the next week and until the end of the month we are giving away/selling IT ALL (but for whatever will fit in an 8 x 5 box)...today, I can't help but feel like this is a failure too. :( I mean, I guess if you measure your life in things, this would mean I have failed. Failed to keep the things we own.

Now..on the FAITH side, I am giving my things that I have truly LOVED to people who I know will also truly love them and need them as I needed them when I got them. Each deal and opportunity to buy something that I had coveted that others had was a great feeling for me. And yet now, I am giving those things, that I still love, to others. I can't lie...it hurts. And yet, isn't that a test of FAITH, to give to people who want and are in need in the hope that your life will be provided for and the you will benefit one day. Or maybe it won't...maybe we just simply will go back to not having those things anymore...even if we really loved them. :( This is where my faith waivers...I am leaping, but this is the biggest, blindest leap I have ever taken. Most would not take it and yet I am...and I am believing that this brings me one step closer to SUCCESS...

SUCCESS because I WILL continue to write in China, I WILL finish my book that has been 5 years in the making and I WILL sell it and IT ABSOLUTELY WILL BE A SUCCESS. China will probably bring me to the next level, but I'd be lying if I said I wasn't scared.

I am happy that I'm going to talk with Nice Therapist today, cause I need to...She of course doesn't think that moving to China is a failure, she believes it is an amazing accomplishment as not many are given this opportunity and I sort of have to agree, the recruiter did tell me that hundreds of people apply for the job I was given every day...so I know, that I am lucky to have been given this chance. Things are just things, but life experiences and adventures can not be bought and sold and last a life time, this again is a gift I am giving me and my children and I have to focus on that.

So I commit to finishing my crazy horror series, my amazing book and finishing the Diva Memoir and raise my kids in China, give my mom a chance to live abroad and try on a whole new life, not knowing if it is better, worse or the same....ahhhh blah!


Part of Disney's ongoing coolness as a company (at least so far) is to make sure that me and the kids are happy living in China, so my recruiter has hooked us up with another teacher working for Disney in Beijing. I get an email from him today and it turns out HE HAS A SON!!!! who is 2, so instant friend. We are meeting when we get to China and I have a family and a "friend" to help me understand the challenges of raising kids in China...who is in China working for the same company. This is very cool and it gives me just a little piece of mind. He did say housing prices are really expensive, but again, he is living in an expansive ex-pat neighborhood, so as I suspected, finding a house is my greatest concern outside of finding a home for my amazing dog :(



Needless to say, my kids look a little freaked about the move as well. :) Onward to adventure....eeek!

EDITED TO ADD: I just got this post from a friend who has not only lived abroad with his family but just picked them up and moved them again on another adventure :) just about month before we did...with THE MOUSE as well.

Lorie - what a great adventure ahead of you. So proud of you for taking chances and showing your kids that some of the best lessons in life test our faith, hope and push the boundaries. Wishing you all the best and look forward to your continued blog updates.

And there you have that pesky faith again, giving you signs from...I don't know...GOD/Blue Fairy, Alien 754...that you are in fact on the right track...thanks friend... God (or whoever) I really needed that today!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Doing Laundry is Kinda Fun When You are Giving 3/4's of the Stuff Away....

I'm actually enjoying giving away most of the kid's clothes. I must admit that most of the girl's clothes were third or fourth generation hand me downs, that were really cute, gently used and really expensive at the time, but by the time they have gotten to Little Diva they were looking a bit...um...used. So getting rid of them is such a nice feeling. Now, the kids still have an insane amount of brand new, beautiful clothes that I doubt I will be able to part with but each of my kids had about two dressers full of clothes so pairing it down to one big suitcase is very freeing.

I told my landlord that we are moving and she is fully willing and ready to kick the new renters out of my home when we get back... :) um, I'm sorta not kidding. It feels nice to be loved either way.

The issue of where we are going to live is still very unresolved, but I'm getting better with that. We have a HUGE selection of places to live in Beijing, from glamorous micro accomodations, where we will all be crammed into 100 square feet of space or rent a palace on the hill way out of the way (in the burbs) with a nice lay out and some elbow room. So the age old question is...commute or cram???? I still haven't decided yet.

I have joined a mommy's group in Beijing and they are having their first playdate this Friday. I told them we were arriving in July and hope to be kept in the loop for future playdates...that, I must admit was simply a weird experience. I will be missing this playdate in Xiuxu-Wanfu...not sure how to say it park....but there will be more. Um...just a little weirdly normal.

In fact most of the things discussed on my brand new-living-in-Beijing-CHINA!!!! mommy board are simply boring. Many are selling their sit/stand strollers (Momma Drama Pats back for deciding this was the best stroller for Beijing even BEFORE reading that it was in fact the best stroller for Beijing). Um, apparently there are only two weeks left to sign up for Drama camp at the price of my left arm...no thanks. Although Drama camp would be fun DRAT!!!! And someone is in desperate need of a breast pump....hmmmm sounds just like home.

So speaking of home here are the strange and odd housing choices I have found so far.

CLASSIFIED UNDER: SCARY!!!! (but right in the middle of town)

















This Cheap Dump as advertised on the website looks fun....

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Okay, Back from Being MIA...

So I have been kind of missing in action because, I have been on vacation with my cousin/sister and her family in Denver which was so much fun and I love them so much, two I back yard camped in my sister's yard and um...well, lets just say, Mama Music and I will go to our graves laughing over this one!!!! Wink* love ya sis and three...I AM LOSING MY MIND. So um, that's the reason for the silence.

I have signed paperwork and we are working on getting a work visa for China, the girls are going to get their passports tonight and I have decided to sell most of what I own, but for one of those big blue storage thingys and jump headlong into this adventure. I would love to say that I am excited and would even more love to say that everything is arranged and we are ready to go. In truth my mind is a mishmash of "things" that need to be done. I'm still working on my writing assignments, I have to finish boring bureaucratic stuff and um...SELL MY ENTIRE HOUSEHOLD! Never mind the sadness that I am leaving the coolest place I have ever lived in, or my friends and family or that I don't know what I am going to do for Big Diva's first year of Kindergarten, which I might add, I spent almost an entire year getting her into a good school, now...its homeschool? Chinese local school???? Um...tutor...who knows. Little Diva who just started school will have the same problem, Chinese school? Daycare? (in Chinese???) Chill out with Gaga Diva (which is the plan at the moment) SO CONFUSING!!!!!

But the saddest part is, I found out that I can't really take our dog :( I looked into the reality of bringing her (which was my first choice) and with her advanced age, a 30 day quarantine at the airport and a size restriction in Beijing, I am stuck leaving her here. So far, I don't have any takers to foster/care for her while I'm gone and I have to confess this has reduced me to tears. Not so much that people can't take her, I understand people's needs and 15 months is a long time. But, I love my little doggie, she has been and is the best dog in the world. I owe it to her to be happy. I don't want this move, which is sort of a necessity at the moment, to ruin her life.

See...I'm kinda in a haze about everything. I know that since so many doors flung wide open and quickly for this opportunity, there will be an answer for her too, its just sad to look at my little girl and know that her future (like ours) is uncertain.

While I know this is a great life adventure, the stay-put-and-just-raise-your-family side of me is really stressed. The go-for-your-dreams-create-an-incredible-life side of me is giving me a serious high five, but I am of two minds...so there it is..The Raw and the Real of Uprooting Your Entire Family and Moving to CHINA....for Pete's sake.