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Wuddup everyone. I am back in China as of about 35 hours ago. I spent a nice 2 months in VA/FL/NJ working/playing but all good things must come to an end. It is 6 am here and I haven’t been able to sleep due to my body clock being completely messed up. I slept from about 9 pm until 1:30 am which is something very unlike me so I decided to write a blog since I haven’t in a while and seeing as I can’t sleep.

I was in Orlando for about 1.5 months working a summer camp that my Chinese company sends students to. I had to work a lot for the vast majority of the time and the camp had some major problems, but Orlando was a fun town and I was lucky enough to stay with my fams neighbors in NoVA (northern VA), the Shenefelts. They had a very nice lakehouse and were the most wonderful of hosts, letting me do whatever I pleased while I was there. Some highlights:

– Jetskis. I love Jetskis. Stealing a joke from Daniel Tosh..”Money doesn’t buy happiness?…Have you ever seen someone frowning on a jetski?”
– Ate a ton of Mexican food. I hit up every divey looking Mexican place I saw, and although it didn’t always feel good afterwards, it was amazing.
– Spending time with the Shenefelts, good people I didn’t spend a lot of time with in recent years.
– Going out for happy hour with the Shenefelts and Bill and Betty Sue, their 86 year old neighbors. Relaxing and spending time with good people when most of my time was dealing with chaos.
– Talking about politics. This is something I miss doing, one of the most underrated aspects of living in the USA and especially the DC area.
– Hanging out with students and group leaders from all over the world. The vast majority of people at the camp I worked were great, and the students put up with some major nonsense and for the most part didn’t complain. The Chinese leaders were also cool and very helpful.
– Driving around bumping rap music. I didn’t miss driving, but this is a guilty pleasure of mine. Actually, I don’t feel guilty about it.
– While in a standard, cheap, Chinese take out restaurant with two group leaders from China, who proclaimed it was the best Chinese they had ever had (LOLZ), I was told by a large guy in a southern accent, “You are the first redneck I have ever heard speak Chinese.” I was speechless.
– Blue skies and trees. I miss you.

After Orlando, I headed to NoVA for about 15 hours, briefly saw my fam and Ms. Stemetzki, a family friend. My fam is looking great and everyone seems happy which is good. There really is no place like home. I had my first flight ever cancelled while I was there and had to dash to the airport to be told that the other flight I was put on was also cancelled, then head to Union Station to take a train. I have taken the train maybe twice in my life, and did it twice while back on this trip (once to go from Orlando to DC with a girl that lost her Chinese passport…20 hours, wasn’t fun). I was off to New Jersey for an orientation and to spend time with the rest of the fam.

I stayed with my gparents in Westfield, NJ and Doylestown, PA. Spent some quality time with some of my favorite people that I don’t get to do very often seeing as I live in China. The hardest part about living in China is not seeing my fam and friends, and this trip was bittersweet in that I got to see people but knew that I would soon be on a plane back to China. I also had to spend an additional 3 days in Orlando so I missed my dad’s parents 60th anniversary reunion, but what can you do? It was still a great time, activities including shooting an old time photo, playing badminton with my cousins, having good food and just shooting the breeze. My family is awesome so thanks everyone.

This is a “bloggier” post than usual, probably because I am in a complete daze due to jetlag. Things in Beijing are different though. Erin and I are not living together anymore and are reevaluating our lives in certain regards. I just got back to Beijing and have already gone back to work and had to do a decent amount of stuff, so I am still getting my bearings and trying to readjust to the smog, food, and empty bed. As I am constantly telling everyone that seem stressed about my life, I am always fine and feel very happy to be who/where/what I am. Tutu (the rabbit) is twice the size but still hilarious and awesome. I was sad to leave and will need to re-acclimate to Chinese life, but re-acclimate I shall.

Aite, that is all for now. I wanted to conclude with a hello and happy bday to my bro (Aug 23rd), who is doing a great job being a dad. I met Holden (my nephew) while I was home and he seems like a dream baby. Andrew and Christine seem like dream parents so I guess it is just a dream family. I look forward to spending more time with him and everyone else…until next time.

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Bob Soong, one of our most awesome blog supporters, gave me the inspiration for the title of this blog post. Clearly, David and I have large wings, because the most powerful capital city in the world wasn’t enough to hold us…we had to expand to the most populous one as well! We were lucky enough to visit the US this summer for two weddings, a visit with newborn Holden Jacobs and lots of additional visits and shopping (for me.) I just arrived back in Beijing with over 100lbs of clothes and American food…mostly food. Although my bag was checked three times, once by a cute little beagle, I made it back with all my bounty in tow.

A lot of you have asked about our jobs, so I’ll give a quick overview. I am freelancing in the world of events and PR/marketing and am currently working on charity events and educational tours and programming with The Hutong (www.thehutong.com) culture center and helping to run a November charity dining event called Chi Fan for Charity (www.chifanforcharity.org). I believe that David and I will both be returning to teach English at a British international school in August, and I should be taking on an additional leadership position there. (So yes, we will be here another year, but will be visiting for the holidays as well. Frequent fliers anyone?!)

David is actually in Orlando, FL at the moment, helping to run his company’s summer camps. He is already dealing with a lost passport, but the kids seem to be having a good time. He will be there until mid-August, then back home for a family reunion, and finally a meeting in New York before heading back to meet me. We will probably spend a few weeks together before I lead two different tours, one to Inner Mongolia and another to Yunnan in Southern China! *There are still spots available for this awesome bike, tea, and culinary adventure.

Below are photos from:
*Our last day of teaching just before our trip home
*Tim and Courtney’s pre-wedding festivities in Charlotte, NC
*Coles and Randi’s farmhouse wedding in Roanoke, VA
*Holden at Meadowlark Gardens
*Kenilworth Gardens and its Lotus ponds/fields, where we spoke with some native Beijingers and learned that water lily’s grow IN the water and lotus flowers grow ABOVE the water.
*My visit to the most authentic Chinese Tea House in the area, Ching China Cha in Georgetown and cupcakes from Baked and Wired. (And photos of Gtown on a sweltering but great day downtown!)
*Jane and I before completing Jane’s first 5K!
*My stocked Beijing pantry, thanks mom

Jane, David and I also spend a night with Dad at his new river house on the Yeocomico river in the Northern Neck of Virginia, but I was too busy taking in the rays to snap any photos. We also had a really nice visit with the grandparents while meeting Holden.

PS…did I mention that woke up bright-eyes at 5am this morning ?! I’m blogging because nothing is open yet, good ‘ol jet-lag.

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When I first arrived back in the states, everyone kept asking how it felt. I didn’t really have to think about this answer, as it came in one word: EASY. I could walk outside without a dictionary. I was surrounded by food I love. I didn’t have to convert prices in my head or wonder about what all the signs say. I didn’t have to prep myself for any future dialogues. I knew the roads and the best places in town, so I could actually complete a few errands a day! And, admittedly, I had the freedom of driving a car.

I also greatly noticed the slower pace and friendliness of others. Its funny to think that DC is a really laid back city, but in comparison to Beijing, it’s quite slow! A few additional things I immediately appreciated were the abundance of good, healthy food (that I didn’t have to make from scratch), running stores, and of course the support of family and friends. I also freshly appreciated the diversity of the DC-area. While shopping at Tysons Corner, I heard at least three different languages being spoken in just one store. While enjoying the bliss of tangy yogurt on a bench in the mall I once again felt like a racial minority, but this time the majority wasn’t only Chinese and no one was taking photos, ha.

Fortunately I stayed home a week longer than David, and I got to see and buy all the things I could’ve hoped for. I may have mentioned one too many times that the number one thing I miss about America are the granola bars, because David and I received approximately 15 boxes for Christmas and I had to pay a little extra to bring my 61lb suitcase on the flight (and had to leave a few boxes behind as well.) I didn’t have to work too much while home, so I got to spend most of my time eating at all my favorite spots with friends and spending Groupons.

Other highlights included:
-Buying out Roadrunner Sports with Mom
-Avon Walk reunion at Founding Farmers (and subsequent free meal for reviewing some of the poor service on Open Table)
-Christine’s baby bump
-Meeting our most loyal blog followers, Janet and Bob Soong
-Giving out gifts from China
-Sitting 10-deep in a 6 person booth at P.F. Chang’s with the Henshaw fam.
-Matching pajamas for Christmas!
-Norman Rockwell exhibit at the Portrait Gallery (still running, check it out)
-American FOOD

Although I had some hesitation about this trip initially due to the $1200 plane ticket and the toll that jetlag would take, I am definitely glad I went! I actually stayed up for the first 24 hours of the trip, which made the time transition a little easier. Thanks SO much to everyone who has supported David and I in this journey, and we hope to fill 2011 with even more stories and experiences.

P.S. Remember back in October when I posted comments and photos about the moon cake lines at the mall? Well, look what some charitable little moon cakes accomplished: http://www.chinahospitalitynews.com/en/2011/01/04/18978-shangri-la-moon-cake-sales-aid-migrant-schools-in-beijing/

*Photos are uploaded online for our RSS feed subscribers, internet is crawling once again!

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