We are half way through the semester over here in China.  
That is weird to me.  
It feels so good to be getting our bearings straight a little more each week, but it also kind of freaks me out because we have so much more we want to do while we’re here!  
Whenever we tell people we are only going to be here a semester they look at us all funny and tell us it takes a year just to get your feet under yourself here.  
I just tell them that we’re in rapid-learning-mode.
Because we are.  
We are learning new things every single day and have long lists of all the great things still awaiting us that we want to get in before we leave.  Part of that is super exciting.  The other part is a little stressful.
But before we get to that, I’m backing up all the way back over to the desert because I never posted about a bunch of prep stuff we did before we came.  And it’s kind of fun to remember all these things from home.  That month before we took off was filled not only with doctor, dentist, and school counselor appointments galore, we also had a whole slew of home projects we wanted to get under our belts before we left.  
Sometimes, when I’m under pressure for a big deadline (like moving my family to China), I go into high gear to get things done I’ve been thinking about doing for months and months and months.  Sometimes years.
My filing system was one of the ones I’ve wanted to do for years.  I have so many papers that don’t have spots.  Everything from important documents like birth certificates and doctor records to church lessons and Family Home Evening stuff.  I’ve always had a little filing drawer in my laundry room, but I needed more space.  I always drooled over those big metal filing cabinets and I finally had the perfect spot for one in my little office.  
I wanted something kind of funky so I found one on Craig’s List and Dave picked it up for me while I picked up the paint from Home Depot and prepped.

I chose orange and got special spray-painting instructions from my whiz-bang crafty friend and our painter and got to work.

Doesn’t that look great up there?  Ha!  I learned that you have to put several really light coats of paint on there to make it even.

This spray paint, unbeknownst to me, painted a fine orange-dust film all over our whole garage which wasn’t the funnest thing to clean up, but I loved how it turned out.

Having a new filing cabinet made it a perfect time to bring in the office boxes from the garage and finally get everything organized.

Let’s just take a look at all those journals from through the years that finally have a spot:

Of course, I had to stop my organizing efforts to read a few of those puppies during the process…most especially the ones from when I was dating Dave, and a few from when I was a whiney little kid that my kids and I laughed our heads off at.  (I adore journals.  More about that back HERE.)

The whole ordeal was a process I tell you, and there are still a few boxes in my garage that I had to abandon until we get back from China.

But it felt so good to get most of it done.

…and to have that cheery thing sitting in the corner of my office.  
I opened and closed those drawers probably 56 times before I left just to look at all the files lined up all neat and tidy.
Love that orange cabinet.

We were so sick of our plain walls that we finally hung up a bunch of things that had been waiting patiently for us for months (because I’m so bad at deciding what I want where).  We figured even if we don’t leave them there forever, at least the renters wouldn’t feel like they were living in a storage building.

Max and I put up our family picture (I’m sure that’s exactly what the renters wanted.  Ha!  But at least it’s not a plain gray wall!).  I wanted to do a map right there by our table like we had in our old house (HERE) but that may have put us in the “map overkill” category.

So for now, it’s a family picture.

Good job Max.

Elle and I put her idea into fruition on her bathroom wall.  We bought a bunch of little frames from IKEA and lined them up for a collage in her bathroom.  Here’s the first row:

Hanging things straight on a wall is quite a big feat, I will admit.

Which made us extra proud when we were done.

I had bought some step stools for the pantry (from IKEA) sitting waiting to be painted and put together since we moved into our house.  I decided, much to Dave’s chagrin, that they needed to be painted before we left.

It was really dumb of me, because it took forever, but I’ll be so happy to have that done when we get back.

Some day when I get back I’ll get a picture of them all lined up under our floating cabinet in the pantry.  
Grace was my special helper to pack up the extra food we brought along.  She was also my special closet-clean-outer-helper.

Claire’s job was to snuggle babies and hang out as much as possible with her friends 😉  Ha.

Not really, but she was sure mesmerized by our renter’s baby she brought over when we went over all the house stuff.

Claire was actually my second-in-command closet clean-out helper.

And so was Lu.  But she had to take a few breaks to read as many “Mr. Men” books as she possibly could before we left.

In preparation for leaving the United States, I figured it was an appropriate time to get our American flag framed.  Someone gave this to us for our wedding all those years ago and it’s been sitting in a box in our garage ever since.  It is the flag that flew over the capitol building the day we got married.  Isn’t that kind of a cool gift idea?  I’ve been promising Dave to get it framed for years and finally got kicked into gear.

I got to spend some good time at the schools talking to counselors and eventually to check my kids out of school.  This was Grace’s last day.

 I don’t have any idea why we have a picture of this, but we were sure happy about something.  I love my driving buddy Elle.

…and that we had a car to drive anywhere we needed.  We learned the hard way (about six times so far) that empty taxis will pass you all night long if you try to get one after 5:00 in the evening (I guess they’re all spoken for because people reserve them with iPhone apps).  Yikes.  We are learning all kinds of little gems like that every day.

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  1. I'm surprised that you chose to rent out your new house. After all the thought and labour you have put into it, I would have thought you would want to live there yourself – especially in the beginning when everything is still new.

  2. shawn, when i worked at the senate i coordinated for those special occasion flags flown over the capitol. i didn't know you had one! i love the cabinet. i realized how fun and how frustrating spray painting can be getting vases ready for the wedding…! love you and hope we can skype soon!

  3. Hi there, love your blog! I'm gonna look for a filing cabinet, great idea!
    Would love to know if you have any success with the watermelon seed tea? My 7 year old has utis all the time. We are now seeing a specialist. We feel so bad for her. I know you are all super busy!
    Feel free to email me 🙂

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