There probably won’t be many times in these kids’ lives where they “get” to have the first day of school TWICE, once on each side of the globe (at least I’m sure they hope not!).  Ha!

But man alive I admire them and how they’ve taken this thing on.

Their first day of school (back in the desert a few weeks before) is back HERE.  You’ll notice their smiles are a little more relaxed and real back then.  Here they are a little forced and they were pretty darn nervous.

Here’s Max taking off at 5:40am for seminary (I think Elle was still putting her shoes on and yes they drive on sidewalks here).

Those two have really enjoyed early-morning seminary so far BTW.  After a three-day-weekend and a little less jet-lag it was sure harder to get up today, but there’s a great group of kids there and they have great teachers (someone in the other branch).

Back-to-school breakfast (no traditional rainbow pancakes this time around, we were lucky we had cold cereal at this point!).

And here they are ready to head out:

(Max was SO not in love with me for making him pose for a picture…)

Our cute neighbors offered to walk with them to school.  Their oldest is Max’s age, their youngest is Claire’s age and they have one in between.  They are such great neighbors!

The one Max’s age has helped us so much to track down textbooks and school supplies.  We love her!

Love this so much I can hardly stand it.  I’m so happy they have each other.

Here’s Claire staning in line with her classmates, a little timidly.  Her home-room teacher is there in the front.

And here’s Lucy marching right in…she didn’t even look back she was actually pretty excited.

Dave and I thought about and said prayers for those kids all day long.

And I was so glad for a chance to go with a new friend from church and her driver to stock up on some food so I could feed them when they got home.

Here’s where I go every afternoon to pick up Lucy and Claire:

Lucy gets out fifteen minutes before anyone else and it’s my favorite time of day to have a minute one-on-one to hear the scoop of everything that happened.  She is all-smiles every day and has SO much to tell me as we stand and talk with swarms of Chinese/Taiwanese families surrounding us and a huge smile stretched across her face.

A few things I have learned so far:
–she does NOT like Chinese (and she says that will full hand motions and a very serious, expressive face)
–she is the only kid in her whole class who hasn’t taken Chinese before (luckily she has Claire for a little tutor…luckily I have Claire too, she seems to get it really, really well)
–the first day she did NOT like PE (again, very expressive when expressing her dislike), mostly because her teacher speaks no English whatsoever and she had no idea what to do.
–the second time she had PE she loved it because she realized she could just follow what the other kids were doing.
–her spelling words are easy peasy

Here’s her darling teacher.

I don’t know anything in the whole wide world about her except that so far she makes Lucy happy and doesn’t ever seem overwhelmed about some of Lucy’s funny personality traits.

It will be great to meet her for real and be able to talk at back-to-school night this week, and I hope I won’t cry like I do with all Lucy’s teachers.  Just so grateful for them!

Claire came out that first day all smiles too.

Claire has “periods” just like they do in Junior High and thinks that’s pretty darn cool.  She met a really great girl who took her under her wing and has made her school transition pretty awesome.

Here she is with her and another new friend on the second day of school:

The entrance for the Junior/High School is down the street a little ways so sometimes we run into the big kids there.  It was so fun to run into this smiley face that first day arm in arm with this cute new friend who just transferred from a French school.

Her mom was born in Romania (but she grew up mostly in Hungary) so that’s pretty exciting for me…excited to get to know her better.

We caught up with Max and Elle and their faces tell the story of their first day:

Tough stuff but making the most of it.

Those two have learned so much and have adjusted pretty well to the heavy course load.  Oh boy I love them!

Lucy carried around this cute little welcome note from her teacher all afternoon.

That night Dave’s business partner invited us to dinner to celebrate the first day of school.

I took these pictures while we were waiting for them…this one below with Lu is a co-worker who drove us around for the first few days and has been Max and Elle’s driver for early-morning seminary.

He doesn’t speak a lick of English but sure is smiley.

The dinner group:

 The dinner first course:

It was all vegetarian and was actually pretty good.  (I am trying to be a good example for the kids of tasting everything and finding things I like, something that’s hard for me.  But as Elle and I sat down I told her if she could do school I could definitely do this!)

Claire tried everything and really enjoyed those chopsticks.

Our table went from this at the beginning:

To this at the end:

Check out how many courses there were!  That’s a lot of food!  And yes, that’s Lucy fast asleep on her chair at the end.

Let’s get a better look:

There we go.  Tuckered out after a long day.

Here’s the building where the restaurant was…I thought it was pretty cool.

And that’s a wrap.
First day of school Chinese style under their belts.  


  1. Thanks for sharing your life and experiences with us, Shawni. Loving the China posts! You should be so super duper PROUD of your kiddos and your family! This is TOUGH STUFF. Praying for Max & Elle – I cannot even imagine the demands of high school in China. Keep on keepin' on!

  2. I can't tell you how much I am enjoying reading about all your 'firsts' and adventures and living vicariously through your family! I have a feeling that your kids will look back at this as one of the defining events of their childhood. Very cool stuff.

  3. I love reading about this awesome adventure! I always dreamed of living abroad and going to a new school and learning a different language when I was younger. So cool that your kids get this incredible experience.

  4. Oh this post made me teary! Your family is doing hard things! So amazed by each one of you! Excited to hear about your adventures! Miss seeing you here in the desert!

  5. Wow! I so admire you. It's hard to watch your own kids do hard things and struggle. Thanks for following yourdreams and sharing your journey!

  6. Thank you so much for sharing your life and adventures with us. I love it when I see you've posted. I very much enjoyed reading about your decision to move to China for a semester. I appreciated hearing the pros and cons of your decision making process. Thank you for keeping it real. Thank you for being a good example of doing hard things for a good reason. Thank you for being a good example of stepping outside of your comfort zone. The time will just fly by, but the lessons learned will stick with you and your family forever. Your posts always brighten and enrich my day and my outlook. Thank you so much.

  7. I have read your blog for years, and it is one of my favorites. I can't say how much fun it is to read all about your new adventures in China and see all the pictures! Thanks for sharing your life with us!

  8. Shawni, I just wanted to say that I found your blog by accident and love reading about your family's adventures. My family has also lived overseas (last time we were posted to frumoasa Romania) and I'm currently in language training preparing for our the next adventure. Keep the China posts coming!

  9. I am in aw…of you and your family. I can only imagine how proud you are of your children. This is challenging! I am really speaking about the food. I think my darling daughter might protest and wouldn't eat : ). It's wonderful to see all of you embrace culture change together. It's an awesome experience that they will never forget. Many blessings!

  10. Shawni! I am behind in my blog reading and just caught up with your China adventures. This is so amazing and cool! I LOVE your narration and photos of this incredible journey. You are such a good, brave momma!

  11. We moved our family to Costa Rica for a semester in 2013 it was amazing! We were thinking France or Canary Islands next but maybe you have persuaded me to branch out a bit more 🙂
    Can you give a tour of your China home? I would LOVE to see it.

  12. This is such an amazing experience. My son is 9 and is in the Chinese immersion program in his school, i wish we could have an experience like this for him. Although, my husband has offices in India and this adventure of yours has made me consider doing the same in India for my family

  13. so the kids are learning in english right? if its an english based school why does lucys pe teacher not speak english? Why would there even be chinese kids at an english based school?

  14. It has been so great catching up with your family adventures.

    I'm glad to hear I'm not the only one who tears up at parent teacher meetings!

    Best of luck to all of you, Kristen Horsley

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