Friday, July 4, 2014


Alright, so it is 3am and I am wide awake, so here goes the recap of the last few days of our return to the states.

We got an omen at a going away dinner with friends.

Dinner with the Reed's was great as usual, but just to be clear the tab was for 1776rmb not 1776usd, but a sign nonetheless that we're coming home:)

We said goodbye to Li Xiu Lan, friends and mommy:(

We packed up the dogs - as come-ups go, they are living right.  From hutong dogs to world travelers.

Meemaw and Pop-pop met us at the airport in my new rig:)

I checked in with the new job at Rock Ridge and got the hard-hat tour of the fields and athletics facilities.

We saw Alec and Jesse and Aunt Kathy at Reston Town Center.

On the drive up to Meemaw and Pop-Pops we had to reacquaint Bennett with the American corn field, hay bales, cattle farms, Gettysburg and the American Civil War, and of course, the road-side ice cream stand.  

Fireworks tonight, a baseball-watching weekend in New England tomorrow, and praying momma gets home to join us soon.  

God Bless America!  What a special time to be home.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Li Xiu Lan

The single hardest part about moving on from China is leaving this woman behind.

Train Home from Xi'An

I thought the warriors were cool, the Presidential Suite cooler, but I was utterly amazed by the views out of the windows of G666 as it whooshed us from Xian to Beijing in just over 5 hours. It seemed that every 30 minutes or so a nest if cranes erected a new city - no cars, not many people around, but piles of buildings being stacked up.

I have taken the train in China a few times to and from Shanghai, but this was my first time on this stretch, and the urbanization that seemed to pop right out of the farmland was awesome to look at.


Wednesday, June 11, 2014

All Last Everything

The daily run of lasts continues.

A last day at the ball park; a few "one last dinner with..."; a last village session with the guys; a last day driving in China:)

Today we finish up school - our last day at ISB.  There is a large collection of people I'll say my last "till next time" to today, as most here are wheels-up just hours after school gets out.  As Devon put it this morning,  "This goodbye is harder.  When we left Virginia, I knew I was coming back.  When we say goodbye today, it might really be goodbye."  

"Hang in there bud, I feel the same way."

We owe a huge debt of gratitude to ISB.  The whole family is better off because of the times at ISB, and I know we will never forget.   When we moved to a place so far away from home - as much in culture as it is in distance - this school community served as a safe haven for the kids, for me.  It became home, and we will always be Dragons, no doubt.  Thank You!

And today's one last bus ride - an ISB tradition - another great example of why this place is awesome!

So school's out, but we'll be here a few more weeks, ticking some more "last time in China" boxes:

One last trip to the Wall.

One last shopping trip to the market - any last requests?

One last party at 1201RG.

But today - a tough and tearful day of lasts - I commit to making this the last "this is the last" post of our China life, and we will turn our attentions to what's coming next - the new journey ahead!

Saturday, June 7, 2014

SBJ Baseball is a Wrap!

Bennett and his pals finished strong
Parker and his team win
Goodbye Grey cai pan
Devon wore Parker's Shirt!

Thursday, June 5, 2014

The Goodbye Dragon

An ISB tradition, Bennett got his "Goodbye Dragon" today and he brought it home decorated and signed by all of his 2ML friends!  He is the most nervous about going home - he is pretty sure THIS IS home.

Impact Project

Add caption
Benne Strokes One!

Devon and his buds created, planned and executed a project designed to impact the community. They chose to teach baseball to 2nd graders.

They advertised the clinic, taught the fundamentals, ran a practice, and exhibited their project and it's impact.

Silver Bullet

I had to part with the Silver Bullet last week, ironically the first car I ever drove in China - thanks John for tossing me the keys a few years back, when after a few months of no driving, I think you could tell that I needed to get out there and tackle the Beijing roadways.

Two owners later, I bought her for myself and drove it around this year.

Joanne's car will hopefully sell this weekend - we have a buyer, but the paperwork is tricky(TiC) - ticking one more item off the list.

Last Go Round at the Bird's Nest Cup

Sunday, May 11, 2014

- or your little bro

Got this from Devon's art teacher today.

A "compliment" on Devon's Celebrate And Share The Arts(C.A.S.T.A.) presentation.

Happy Mother's Day Joanne -The Process!

 Happy Mother's Day to Joanne!

The Original

Sore Fingers after Cutting the Stencil


The Reveal
Thanks to my man Steve Northcott, Parker's Art teacher, for the paint, canvas and instruction on stenciling!

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Looking For Sprouts

Thinking of you Meemaw, Bennett and I planted a few Sichuan pepper plants to watch over.  He is taking good care of them and looking for sprouts every morning.  

The whole family is off to Shanghai on Thursday for baseball.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Conditioning Practice

“Hey, put your hat on right, look like a ball player."

A flat-brimmed, LA Dodgers, 5950 perched atop his head, like one of those little paper birthday caps with the snappy rubber neck string. “Dude, pull it down on your head,” I said, grabbing the brim of my own hat with my thumb and pointer to demonstrate.

“I - I know coach, I know what you mean, but-"

"But what? You’ve watched a game before, right? Ballplayers don’t rock it like that."

"Coach, ehm, I know, I-I did watch some baseball games when I was in California, but, it’s just that-"

"Are you injured? Does your head hurt? It looks a lil small? Here let me -" I reach toward his head with the intent of showing him the way.

“No, no, no, it's not that coach," ducking away from my hand, hiding an embarrassed smile.

“Bro, what is going on? No one wears their hat like that.”

He lifts the hat and strokes his palm over his jet black head of hair.

“Oh - my - goodness, you have a date tonight. Who is it?”

“No-o,” he giggles, shaking his head.

“Concert? It is already seven o’clock, you're gonna be late?" I mean, I’d understand if he had to go to a strings concert, or a Monkey King production, or Probability Night, or one of the many other events that often pull Asia Pacific Athletic Conference athletes from practice. My mom probably wouldn’t want me messing up my hair before the concert either.

“Nah coach,” he smiles.

"Dude, spit it out then, what’s up?"

"Coach, it’s just that, well, it's conditioner, ya know.”

My eyes go wide - the are you for serious face - and I survey the rest of the team which has now gathered in a mid-practice huddle surrounding us near shortstop.

"Coach, I spend a lot of time conditioning my hair, and I, I just don’t want to mess it up." Again reaching up with his palm to smooth his bangs to his forehead.

“Wait, wuh?” My tone of disbelief - you’ve got to be kidding me, did you really just say that - which I am sure my students, players, and of course my own boys at home, know quite well.  I heard it, I know what he said, I just can’t fathom it.  I look like sarcasm.  I know they taught me not to do that on the first day of teacher school, but that lesson didn’t take so well, and "conditioner" is cause for sarcasm.

The rest of the 6th and 7th grade eyes in the huddle look back at me. A giggle or two and a couple of smiles emerge at the expense of our exchange, or probably at my foolish face of disbelief. Most of them though don’t seem nearly as surprised as I am by the hat, the hair, the conditioner, or even the discussion itself.

I drop my eyes toward the ground for a second, tapping the barrel of my fungo bat on the turf. Biting my lip to keep from breaking into laughter of my own, I shout, “pack it up! See ya tomorrow."

No doubt, they’re all wondering, without the guts to say it, “do you think my hair looks okay?”

Sunday, March 23, 2014

God Bless America!

Meeting Mrs. Obama

What an incredible experience.  Take note of the wristbands that Devon rocks on his right wrist.  In one of many highlights of the day, as Devon reached up to shake Michelle Obama's hand, she took note of his collection of arm bands asking, "what is all this?"

Devon took one off his arm - an orange band sporting Chinese characters in a message about the 2008 Beijing Olympics - handed it to her, and she proceeded to thank him and put it directly on her wrist.  As she continued down the receiving line of handshakers, every time she extended her left hand to clasp another guest, Devon's, now Michelle's, bracelet got some airtime.

"Dad, do you think my wristband will get on tv?"

Here the boys emerge from the children-only backstage photo shoot with the First Lady.