China / Expat Life

Where Have I Been the Last Three Months?! Our Crazy American Summer

I knew it had been a long time since I’d blogged when people started expressing concern over my whereabouts and well being, haha!

Nope…I’m not dead and the last three months have actually been quite adventure-packed to say the least, to the point that I hardly had the energy to write or delve into what was going on in our lives.

Where to begin? I suppose the beginning would make sense…

Things were going as per usual for us here in China back in April–the oldest was in school, the husband was traveling a ton, and I was fully immersed in Ironman training. But toward the end of the month my father-in-law’s health had taken a turn. He’d been suffering from early-onset Alzheimer’s for the past decade or so (I wrote a little about it here), but his overall health had been rapidly deteriorating within recent months. Tom flew out to spend some time with his family while I stayed back with the kids, but about a week later it was apparent things weren’t looking so great. I was on the phone with Tom at about 8:00 a.m. on a Wednesday and we decided it would be best if the kids and I came out as soon as we could; he saw there was a 12:30 p.m. flight that day, so I told him to book it, hung up, proceeded to throw some random crap into two suitcases, and the kids and I were out the door and in a cab 30 minutes later headed for the airport. Sadly, Tom’s dad passed about an hour before we landed. It was an incredibly trying time for his family, but it was amazing to hear about all of the blessings they experienced; blessings that let them know the Lord was there, and that helped to make such a difficult experience just a little bit easier to bear. Tom’s father was such an amazing man, and I’m grateful to see so many of his best qualities in his son.

While T had to head back to China after the funeral for work, the kids and I decided to stay with my mother-in-law for the next three weeks; we already had plane tickets booked for the entire summer, and had planned to be in Michigan at the end of May for my brother’s wedding; rather than fly back to China and then back stateside a few weeks later, it was great to be able to spend that time with her.

Since I’d only packed enough stuff for a week or so (and most of it was random and completely useless considering I did it in a half hour…), we ended up buying a lot of crap back in the US (I would be surprised just how much crap when we had to pack it all for our return trip back to China three months later…).

We flew to Michigan at the end of May for our already planned six week stay with my parents, and it was an amazing visit. I must say I really enjoy our summer exodus out of China, and I’d been really ready for a break prior to our travel back. Don’t get me wrong, Shanghai is an incredible city and I really enjoy the little life we’ve built here, but I’m not a city girl at heart, and after awhile I need blue skies and fresh air and mountains and lakes. I need to not smell rotting garbage. I need to not bump into a million people on the sidewalks. I miss having a car. And US All of those things. Our time back home is such a rejuvenating time in contrast to the madness and chaos that is expatriate life in one of the world’s largest cities.

But anyway…

Our trips to Michigan are always somewhat of a whirlwind. We spent lots of time on Lake Michigan,


celebrated my brother’s marriage to an amazing girl,


spent so much time with family,

went up north (if you’re from Michigan you know what that means),


I did my first half Ironman in Indiana (yeah I’m too cheap to buy Ironman’s ridiculously expensive race photos) and did an Olympic Distance triathlon in Detroit,

took the kids camping for the first time,

watched the kids race in their first track meets (proud mama moment) and their first ever swim lessons,


spent a lot of time between splash pads and pools and the zoo and children’s museums,

we visited lots of friends,

and I did a lot of early morning/late night swimming and biking and running (thanks mom!). I also got published for the first time in copy as I’d just begun freelance writing for the magazine Shanghai Family back in China.

Come the middle of June we were on another plane heading back to my in-laws for four weeks. My kids loved getting to spend so much quality time with their cousins,

and I absolutely adore spending time with my brother and sister-in-law.


We took a trip up to McCall

and another trip downstate for another triathlon and a visit to T’s 95 year old grandma,


and then on down to Utah to visit our old stomping grounds and some of our favorite friends.



Tom came out the last couple of weeks, which was amazing after not having seen him for almost eight weeks!


Having him around was also a welcome help for the long haul back to China, which is never easy and always much longer and more brutal than I remember. After three months and jaunts from Idaho to Michigan back to Idaho, we’ve just made the insanely long journey back to Shanghai (with all 9 of our suitcases, lol. I told you we bought a lot of crap).


Our kids travel splendidly by this point, but an hour and a half flight to Seattle + a four hour layover + a 12 hour flight to Shanghai isn’t easy on anybody, and the jet lag monster kills us softly every time (the kids have been up at 4:30 a.m., 4:00 a.m. and 2:00 a.m. the last three nights, respectively…why are they getting up earlier every night?!).

So what’s it like being back?

It feels like coming home. It’s awesome to be in our own home with our own stuff and I’m excited to not have to pack/unpack suitcases for awhile (at least for a month until we travel again, lol). I found that I missed the convenience of having everything right at your fingertips, I missed my scooter, I missed our friends.

What didn’t I miss? Living in a country with a billion people and how crowded everything is. The smells. The heat…oh holy hell the heat…and humidity. I ran in 99*F weather yesterday morning with 80% humidity…at 7:00 IN THE MORNING. On the brightside it’s excellent training for Kona.

All in all it’s good to be back, and I’m grateful for all of the amazing memories and good times we had this summer. It’s tough living so far from home, but getting to spend three months living with your parents/in-laws is fairly uncommon for most people I would think, so I realize how lucky we are to be able to do that.

Here’s to settling in and getting our days and nights figured out 🙂


One thought on “Where Have I Been the Last Three Months?! Our Crazy American Summer

  1. Hey friend! I just finished the most amazing book about midwifery and thought you would enjoy it. The title is A Midwife’s Story and it’s by Penny Armstrong & Sheryl Feldman.


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