This weekend was fun, that’s all there is to be said.

Sweet friends in our city showed so much love to us and baby girl with a shower to celebrate her little life. It was pretty much perfect by my standards: yummy food, good friends, and the sole activity was decorating the most adorable little onesies for her. (Well, that and prayer.)

I feel so thankful. I could say it a thousand times, but it still doesn’t seem to come close to expressing how much I really mean it. So, so, so thankful.


Getting to work: Cat’s mom is  visiting from America and graciously brought in the plain white onesies, the stencils, and some iron-on appliques. I’m biased, but I think it’s basically the cutest thing I’ve ever seen.


These friends are all girls who plan on being in the area for the long haul. Sweet Kelly (far right) even took the train in from a near-by city for the weekend! I’m really grateful to have each of them in my life as consistency is very much the exception and not the rule to our lives in Asia.


Mrs. Aughtman (Cat’s mom) demonstrating how it’s done.



Cat, Kelly, and Kayla. See the photos strung up on the TV? They decorated with some cute pics of baby Michael and me. Note to self: toddler Michael had some really cute, chunky legs. I hope little girl gets that.


Amanda and me, with Kelsey kind of photo bombing in the background.


My American friends who live in the neighborhood.


And Kelly (doesn’t she look pretty?), crafting a masterpiece of a bib with all of our thumbprints starring as flower petals. Aren’t my friends creative?

A bird on the wing

I’ve never been one to plan ahead. I didn’t browse wedding magazines until it was time to plan the wedding, and when it comes to babies, I haven’t had a ton of preconceived ideas about the whole experience: pregnancy, planning the nursery, parenting styles, etc.


Just like with my wedding, when the only thing I knew well in advance was that I wanted a certain hymn (The Church’s One Foundation) to be sung during the ceremony, there is one thing I’ve wanted to put in my future baby’s room for years: a crane mobile. Yesterday, it finally came into being.


I used a couple of sticks, fishing wire, and this tutorial to show me how to actually make those little birds. I’ve been folding away for a week or two (I’m slow!) now while Skyping with friends or watching TV at night. Hanging the birds was quite a balancing act but I think I finally got things relatively even.

Michael’s building a crib now (isn’t he crafty?!) and soon–after I’m back in the States–he’ll hang this sweet little mobile above her baby bed. Hard to believe that by the time I see it above her crib, I’ll actually be holding our sweet girl in my arms.

So much for which to be thankful.

Amidst life’s hectic whirl

Busy, busy, busy.

I hate it when people talk about how crazy their life is, but I’m not sure how to write about what has been happening with us lately without using the dreaded b-word. Most of that busyness has centered around a move (never a fun experience and just possibly even less fun than normal in Asia). We found out about a month ago that we would have to move apartments sometime this semester as our landlord wanted to move in to our place in July. Bleh: we loved our home and would have been happy to stay there. But, what are you gonna do? We talked with our landlord right before everything shut down for Lunar New Year so, as soon as office workers began returning to work in late February, we started looking.

The apartment hunt took about a week, and after several false starts on places, unfortunately ended with us moving out of our complex and into the complex across the street. Not far at all but it is a little sad as most of our friends live in our old complex and I’m a bit bummed that we will be the outliers. Thankfully, though, we love our new apartment and hope (fingers crossed) we won’t have to move again for a while.

The move itself, of course, was a trying experience. We had approximately two days to pack (and of course we still had full days with other life responsibilities happening during that time) so we did what might charitably be called a very shoddy packing job, and were still shoving our belongings into rice bags when the “movers” showed up. Since I wasn’t able to help at all and because none of our friends here have any sort of truck, we decided to just hire out the heavy lifting. After a very long and trying Saturday, which included our movers spilling a can of paint in the hall just outside the elevator (and then insisting that it was no big deal and trying to step over it and continue to move our belongings over the puddle until the paint got all over a chair and on part of our carpet), an argument over the price, and lots of rain and mud , we called it a day.

Since then, we’ve been trying to balance daily life, settling in, preparations for my return to the States, and putting together some sort of nursery for our little girl. I head back to the States at the beginning of April, as I start the third trimester, and will stay with my parents in Alabama until mid-May when Michael will join me. That means I’ve got just over two weeks now to make this new place a home, try to put together a girl’s nursery (!!), wrap up responsibilities here and end things well with my friends who will have moved on by the time we return. Whew–I’m overwhelmed just thinking about it.

Thankfully, because of the move I hadn’t done anything to start a boy’s nursery so at least there is nothing to undo. Of course I know that the nursery is really not that important and many of our friends have not had the luxury of making these kind of preparations for their children’s arrival as they moved here after their baby’s birth (and in this part of the world children tend to sleep with their parents until the age of at least 3 or so! a tradition we do not plan on implementing into our lives)…. but I do love to make things beautiful and there is something stable, secure and loving about making a baby’s room. We’ll just see what gets done!


Well, hi.

Remember that time we found out we were having a boy? Not so fast. Turns out, even in this digital age, doctors are still fallible and sometimes get it wrong. Like with us.

We think.

Michael and I went to the doctor for the 24-week pregnancy check-up a few days ago. We were super excited because I knew that our doctor wanted to send us for a 4D ultrasound, the insane kind where you can see pictures of the baby and get an idea of what the little one will look like. (I know many people don’t have them done in the States but they are affordable here and, for our doctor at least, part of standard prenatal care.) Dr. Denis doesn’t actually have the equipment to do a 4D ultrasound at his office but sent us down the street to the nearest hospital, where a local doctor would perform the ultrasound. Before that, though, he wanted to take a look himself with his own machine.

He lingered over the ultrasound for an unusually long time as Baby Greg was being uncooperative and shy before finally saying, “Well, there are three lines… and that means girl.”


Denis’s equipment is not top-of-the-line and he never got a clear look so he told us he couldn’t be sure, but we ought to know after the 4D ultrasound. So down the street we traipsed, hearts aflutter. The local doctor took a half hour to confirm that our little one was developing properly, checking every bit of baby from the brain size to tiny fingers and toes.

(Y’all, it blows my mind that there is truly this tiny person inside of me… mostly developed now and just growing and maturing until this summer when we get to meet. It is truly a miracle, every single time.)

baby greg

But back to the 4D ultrasound. After a thorough examination of nearly everything the doctor said, in English, “It’s finished!” and told me I could get up. The nurse from our international doctor (she accompanied us to the hospital and knows this doctor personally) leaned in and whispered to him, “Do you think you could check and see if it’s a boy or girl?” The doctor looked at us and said, in broken English, “You know the government tells me I cannot do this.” But, because he knew we were foreigners and wouldn’t abort if it was a girl, and because he has a relationship with the international doctor’s office, he agreed to let me lay back down and take a quick peek.

He put the wand on my stomach and after about 15 seconds of investigation, said “F!” (for female) very quickly. I asked him in Mandarin if he was sure and he looked for another little while before saying, “Yes, I think so. 80 percent.” When I asked again, the doctor quickly changed it to “70 percent sure” and took the wand off my stomach, finishing our appointment. Michael and I both had the feeling that he did actually know but was uncomfortable telling us this in front of the tech who was also in the room. There may also have been some deep cultural fear of disappointing us as the reason for laws forbidding ultrasounds is parental disappointment (and sex-selective abortions) in the case of baby girls. We returned to Dr. Denis’s office and he told us that the nurse had spoken with the doctor and also thought that it was a girl.

So here we are! We are excited about this little girl but there’s still a seed of hesitation in getting too carried away with planning… just in case, you know. It’s also been strange to wrap our minds around the fact the little boy we’d been praying for these last two months and had even named is not the child to be. It’s a good strange–I will love being a mom to a daughter and Michael has already told me she is going to be a Daddy’s girl–but there’s an odd emotional aspect to changing our expectations for this child. It actually makes me even more thankful because I know for certain we truly couldn’t care less whether this babe is a boy or a girl: we’re just thankful she is coming into our lives.