The sky is rumbly in China.
I don’t know if we are in the rainy season or what but boy howdy so far I sure am grateful for the four umbrellas we bought during the first rainstorm.
We finished homework last night with flashlights because a we lost power in one of the biggest cracks of thunder of the evening and this morning it was a pretty big adventure to walk to school with my five kids in a torrential downpour with colorful umbrellas stretching out in front and behind us as far as your eye could reach.  
It all makes me feel alive.
And I can tell by the glint in the kids’ eyes that it makes most of them feel that way too.   
Dave and I walked down to find out if we should join a gym here and got drenched in the rain (unprepared without an umbrella) but we loved every second of it.  (You can tell we are from the desert where rain is a commodity.  Maybe all this wetness will get old at some point but so far we are in love with it.)
Grace came home from her second day of school yesterday in sheer panic.  One of her teachers yelled at her for not having books yet and she just couldn’t imagine how she is going to make it a whole semester with “no friends.”  Of course she will make friends quick with that big smile of hers (in fact she walked out arm-in-arm with one on the first day of school) but yesterday afternoon the whole heaviness of it all hit her hard.  We have to buy all our own textbooks here and there are what seems like about ten billion of them that we need with three middle/high schoolers.  We have been doing our darnedest to track down some used ones and finally we found most of them last night and went to two different markets to track down the essential school supplies still needed.  (School supply shopping is not what it is in the States, I’ll tell you that!)
So as Grace went off to school today clutching a huge load of new (to us at least) books under our umbrella with her backpack filled with what she needed she looked armed and ready to survive, even with a smile.  Our neighbors two doors down are originally from China but have lived in California for years so they have been a huge help (speaking English) and helping us navigate our way around.  They have three kids that go to the same school as ours.
Oh man, so much to write but for today I want to back up and tell about our arrival here while I finally have a minute.
We arrived in Shanghai and couldn’t believe our good fortune as all eleven bags/boxes spilled out of the baggage claim completely in tact and together.  That along with the twelve we were carrying made for some heavy loads.
After that nearly fifteen hour flight  with very little sleep we knew we had a long way to go before we hit our new {hard} beds because it was only 1:30 in the afternoon in Shanghai (it was 10:30 at night the night before back in the desert…we are fifteen hours ahead here).
Lucy was a little trooper, especially when Max gave her a ride in the baggage cart for a little bit when her foot was hurting (little did she know she better get used to that…she has walked miles and miles since then!  We all have…this is a walking country I tell you!).  

The guys from Dave’s office came with two vans to pick us up with all our luggage.

We took in the new smoggy surroundings:

Lucy couldn’t be budged from her book.

 Everyone was pretty delighted to “meet” their new home.

We piled everything in and said goodbye to our Chinese life-saver-helpers and then headed over to the new school.

Yes, fresh from all those hours in the plane and completely in a fog of tiredness, but I couldn’t remember if they had agreed to meet us there that day or the next since we missed the orientation.

It turned out that the next day was really when we were supposed to be there but we were glad to at least get our feet wet over there.  We came home to a delicious meal prepared by our ayi (much more about her later).

These people from Dave’s office have really gone above and beyond the call of duty to take care of us and we are so grateful for them.

From there we tried so hard to stay awake but this is how everyone looked by around 6:00:

Lu and I were the only ones still standing by 7:00.  Maybe because we had “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” to keep us occupied.
(Not sure who took that picture but I’m glad I have it!)
The next morning we went to explore our new neighborhood.

Elle must have taken this of me…I think this is probably how my kids see me most of the time!  Ha!

I need to look up and let my eyes sparkle on them more.

But I do love capturing things like this:

And this:

(We are so excited we get to have Fall here!  We don’t get that in the desert except for a measly colored leaf showing in January…)

We have a back yard.

 Our street:

We unpacked all our gear, some boxes like this:

And suitcases intermingled with food and clothes and deodorant.  You can get a bunch of American stuff here but for a pretty crazy price, and not specific things you may want, so I’m so glad we brought what we brought.  We forgot a bunch of things, but we’ll survive just fine.

We went to the school for our real appointment to try to finalize classes and placements.

I love this ultra-blurry picture:

 I’m so very grateful for the opportunity we have to help raise “Global Citizens.”

They told me to wait in the office while they took the kids on a tour until I told them I actually needed to see where my kids would be going to school and they obliged.

I loved watching them traipse through the hallways.

My heart kept skipping a beat it all made me so nervous because I know exactly how I would feel in their situation.  I’d be scared to death!

But they took it all in stride and even with smiles.

Max, Elle and Grace go to the same bigger school, and Claire and Lu are across a bridge at another smaller section of the school.

Here’s the elementary school:

We couldn’t find any administrators there so we just took the liberty to look around.  The doors of a bunch of the rooms were decorated with the kids’ names who would occupy them.  I thought this “Chinese Track” classroom door was particularly fascinating:

I think it’s so cool that kids can read that stuff.

We lucked out at the end of one hallway to find a door with “Lucy” being one of the names included.  We peeked in to find one of the cutest and most friendly teaching assistants we could imagine:

She promised to take great care of that Lucy girl and let her sit in the front if she had trouble seeing the board.

Something about that whole dealio made my heart feel so much more peaceful.

Our house with a cute girl in front of it:

Some serious family time:

We have played Rummikub
and Bananagrams
more times than I can count and I swear our kids have been gathered around us more in the last few days than in the last year all together.  The conversations and funny things that have happened are some of my favorite memories of motherhood thus far.

All is well here.

But I do sure miss my pillow! 🙂


  1. So glad things are going well for your family! The pictures are amazing! You do such a good job capturing your family's memories! As a teacher, I'm so excited to see more about the kids school! I did the Powere of Moms summer program this summer and think I may tweak it to do the daily activities with an "around the world" theme and study a different country every week next summer! Hoping it would give my kiddos a chance to be "at-home" world travelers!

  2. I found your blog and loved reading your motherhood and photo posts. And the girls love all of your hair ideas. We did the sock curls for the first day of school. We moved (only a couple of states away) and you really do become closer as a family because you are away from friends and family. Love following along!!

  3. I'm so happy that things are going well for you and your family. When I read about you going to China, I asked my oldest (he's 15) what he would do if we decided to move to a foreign country for a semester. He said it would be hard and he would probably hate it at first but would end up loving it. What a fantastic adventure for your kids!

  4. This Summer I kind of fell off track keeping up with my blog reading in order to enjoy the beautiful days and last week I started trying to get caught back up, obviously starting with just the current, but I couldn't help but back track with 71 Toes because so much has changed! I am so excited for this journey you guys are embarking on and now on a daily basis I have been visiting your blog in hopes that you have posted more. I am thrilled that you are still able to keep up with the blog while in China. I will be praying for your whole family and anyone that comes in contact with all of you.

  5. You don't know me but I have been following your blog for some time now and this is seriously amazing! I lived in China (northeast in a city called Weihai) for a semester teaching english to little kids there. It was so hard but soooo rewarding and I miss it everyday! What you are doing with your kids is so awesome! I hope that one day I can do this with my family as well! What a great experience for everyone! I love Shanghai! I visited there and loved every minute! China is such an amazing place. I am excited to live vicariously through you guys for the next little bit!! Good luck and eat a mantou (steamed roll) for me!! 🙂

  6. I have a question for your next Q&A: how did you narrow down your school? I've wanted to do a six-month stint abroad (my husband and I both work from home so just need an Internet connection). You inspired me to look into it before my kids get too old (they're 8 and 10).

    In foreign countries, the International private schools are so dang expensive and even looking into schooling in England was overwhelming. I'd love to hear your experiences on the matter and if you just decided to bite the bullet and pay the expensive international schooling tuition?

  7. Look at all the green! I live out by you in the desert. It's going to be 109 today yikes! I came to the USA when I was 10 and not speaking the language so I can imagine what it's like for your family. I love your pictures and look forward to your posts. Joyous travels!

  8. This totally reminds me of when my family moved towns when I was fourteen. It wasn't moving to China or anything, but pretty much all we had was each other. It was exciting and scary all at the same time. I am so excited for you guys, you're all going to grow so close and have an amazing time! I love reminiscing on things like vacations and stuff that I have done just with my family (seven people and one boy as well haha). Good luck! Can't wait to hear more!

  9. Thank you for sharing your life with us. This is so fun to read and see! I hope everything turns out just fine in China. Seems like it is off to a good start. Very inspiring to read. Thank you !

  10. This is just so awesome. What foresight you had to be able to envision the scenes you see playing out in front of you today! This is a delight not only to you but to your readers. I especially liked the pictures of your 'twins,' Elle and Claire.

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