The First Week… The Return of Mrs. Murphy

For those of you who may not remember, Mrs. Murphy is the stronger, trickier, sidekick to Mr. Murphy, of Murphy’s Law infamy.  She has returned to our house and Horatio has been gone for less than one week of his two and a half months in the US.

Where to begin…  He left on Saturday and by that evening, Bob and Harold had taken it upon themselves to devise a plan to take turns sleeping in my bed while Horatio is away from home.  When I asked if I have a say in the plan, they agreed that, no, I do not.  I’m actually ok with this plan.  I’m happy to let them share the king size bed as long as they still want to share it.

On Sunday night, Harold had a terrible time falling asleep, probably because he already misses his Daddy, and on Monday, he woke with a fever.  Thankfully, we have our ayi, Xiao Lu, at our house every day during the week, so I was able to run a few errands while Harold rested and watched movies on Apple TV.

On Tuesday, Dwight decided to pursue the idea of getting a moped so he can be more independently mobile.  He was truly set on the idea and excited about spending the money he earned working at the embassy over winter break on a sweet new ride.  However, Horatio and I discussed it and while we understand why it would be great for him to have a moped, we think it is a bad idea for a 16 year old to ride on the streets of Beijing on such a vehicle, even in our haven away from the city.  Beijing drivers are extremely aggressive and always think they have the right of way, so they don’t look to see what other vehicles are coming their way.  We’d never be able to forgive ourselves if Dwight was seriously hurt on the moped we let him buy.  So, with the hard NO response, Dwight was not pleased, to say the least, and since I’m the only parent around, I bore the brunt of the serious debate, disappointment and frustration.  Doors were slammed and crickets could be heard for the rest of the evening.

Later that evening, just before bed, Harold had a large glass of milk which did not sit well in his stomach.  So, this sweet smelling, just showered, cherub left a mess on himself and from the study, through the hallway, and into the bathroom.  He had to take another shower and couldn’t settle down to sleep until nearly 10:00.  I was left with laundry to wash.

All better and ready for bed for the second time.

Bob came home from school on Tuesday to tell me it is time to pay for his Model UN trip to Malaysia.  So, on Wednesday I had to go all the way to the embassy (45 minutes to an hour drive) to cash a check so that we could pay for the trip, in cash.  The cashier’s office at the school only accepts cash.  China is very much a cash based society.  I’m crossing my fingers that the large stack of 100 RMB notes will make it to the cashier.

Starting two nights ago, I came down with a cold, complete with full body achiness and fever, but what is a temporarily single mom to do in this situation?  Take a bunch of meds and press on, right?

Today is a new day.  I’ve prepped the house for the arrival of my parents, who are visiting for Spring Break, and I will run errands and then take it easy for the rest of the day…  I hope.

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The Zookeeper’s Wife Fandango gift card giveaway

The Zookeeper’s Wife starring Jessica Chastain (Zero Dark Thirty, The Help) and Daniel Brühl (Captain America: Civil War) opens in theaters on March 31.  I have a Fandango gift card to give away so you can go see to the inspiring story with someone who inspires you!

Based on a true story, The Zookeeper’s Wife portrays Antonina and Jan Żabiński, a Christian couple and zookeepers in Warsaw, Poland.  When the Germans invade and start World War II, Antonia and Jan refuse to stand-by in the face of so much suffering and persecution.  They join the resistance, and use the zoo as a hiding place and refuge to save hundreds of Jews from the Nazis – risking their own lives in the process.

The film focuses on courage and doing what is right in the face of danger. The true story also shows us an incredibly strong female protagonist.

In 1939 Poland, Antonina Żabińska and her husband, Dr. Jan Żabiński, have the Warsaw Zoo flourishing under his stewardship and her care.  When their country is invaded by the Germans, Jan and Antonina are stunned when they are forced to report to the Reich’s newly appointed chief zoologist, Lutz Heck.

To fight back on their own terms, the Żabińskis covertly begin working with the Resistance and put into action plans to save lives out of what has become the Warsaw Ghetto, with Antonina putting herself and even her children at great risk.

At a time when everyone lived in fear, Jan and Antonina refused to stand aside in the face of injustice – they resisted and stood against evil.  The State of Israel would later honor the Żabińskis as Righteous Among the Nations.

This film is a must see!

Watch the Trailer

Enter the giveaway
Win a $25 Fandango Gift Card!
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Military Airfare Assistance for Our Heroes

From our Friends at SpouseLink.Org |


As the founders of Helping Heroes Fly, Terri Keene and Pam Matt can tell you: being a 2-woman team has its challenges. But they also know that with every family reunion that follows the work they do together, there is joy that is priceless. In fact, the pair feel honored to help the nation’s brave heroes come home, without having to worry about their finances. And they are grateful for the contributors that enable Helping Heroes Fly to fulfill such a worthwhile mission on behalf of our troops:


hhf-logo“We want to provide airfare to enlisted military personnel so that they can be home with their families for holidays, and special occasions when they otherwise can’t afford a ticket to get them to an important life event. We believe finances should never keep a military hero from being with family!”

How It Began

hhf-compositeInspired by the sacrifice the nation’s military men and women make on a daily basis, Terri and Pam knew there had to be a way to avoid the heartbreak of troops being stuck on base or in a dorm merely because they didn’t have the finances to leave. The team was determined to do something about it. Relying solely on donations, the pair help to arrange travel for service members who need financial help to come home for important life events, special occasions or holidays.

How It Works

hhf-family1Military members who want to fly home should follow the simple instructions on the website. And here are 3 important things to keep in mind when you apply for airfare support:

  • Complete the application found on the Helping Heroes Fly website and submit it, along with proof of active duty U.S. military enlistment and leave approval via email or U.S. mail. It is recommended that you apply 30 days before your desired travel date.
  • Note that air travel requests are handled on a first come, first served basis. You will be notified within 24 hours of receipt of your application, and every effort will be made to fulfill your travel plans.
  • There is only one trip per person permitted at this time, due to the amount of donations and funding currently available.

Help Support Our Heroes

hhf-family3If you’d like to make a donation that can help bring our service members home when they need it most, there are several ways to do it:

  • Submit a contribution to Helping Heroes Fly via PayPal
  • Send a check through U.S. mail
  • Shop on Amazon Smile, designating Helping Heroes Fly as your preferred funds recipient
  • Make an in-kind donation
  • Donate your frequent flyer miles

The Helping Heroes Fly team uses 90% of donations for airfare, while donating 100% of their time to their efforts, to keep their operating expenses at 10%. All donations are tax deductible. Learn more about making a donation.

https://www.spouselink.org/blog/military-airfare-assistance-our-heroes/


Terri & Pam - hhf About Terri & Pam
Terri has always had a deep appreciation for the military and felt a strong desire to ensure military families could be together when they needed it most. Meanwhile, when Pam’s son enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps, she wanted to do whatever she could to make sure his friends felt like part of the family — the kind that takes care of each other. Together, they ensure that no enlisted military person is denied an opportunity to be with their family. Learn more about them.

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Free Tickets to the PGA Tour’s PLAYERS Championship

The PGA TOUR’s signature event – THE PLAYERS Championship – offers all active duty, retired and reserve military personnel and their dependents  FREE admission to the  tournament (May 9 – 14, 2017) in Ponte Vedra Beach, FL. 

That’s not all. Here’s a list of military-specific activities taking place throughout the week:

Military Job Fair at THE PLAYERS

Saturday, May 6

Birdies for the Brave Patriots’ Outpost (located adjacent to the No. 16 tee)

Prior to tournament week, THE PLAYERS will welcome active duty, Reserve, retired military, veterans, and military spouses to TPC Sawgrass on Saturday, May 6 in the Birdies for the Brave® Patriots’ Outpost, to participate in its sixth-annual Military Job Fair, in partnership with the Jacksonville Military Veterans Coalition.  The Military Job Fair is free and open to military personnel, veterans and military spouses who are seeking employment.  There will be approximately 40 companies on hand, all with open hiring opportunities.  Free career counseling and resume-writing assistance will be provided, as well as, information on local educational institutions with veterans’ programs. Previous PLAYERS Military Veterans Job Fairs have seen attendance of more than 500 military job seekers and 40 companies participating.

Operation Shower

Sunday, May 7
Birdies for the Brave
Patriots’ Outpost (located adjacent to the No. 16 tee)
On Sunday, May 7, THE PLAYERS and Birdies for the Brave® will again partner with Operation Shower to host a group baby shower for 40 military moms-to-be.  Some of these soon-to-be moms are active duty military and some have deployed spouses. Scheduled to be held from 12-2 p.m. in the Patriots’ Outpost, the event will be will feature Operation Shower’s signature Shower-In-A-Box, gifts of high-quality products for the moms and babies that have been provided by sponsors and donors.

Birdies for the Brave® Patriots’ Outpost

Tuesday through Sunday
Throughout tournament week, all active duty and Reserve military members, military retirees, veterans and their dependents will have access to the Birdies for the Brave® Patriots’ Outpost, a hospitality tent reserved exclusively for the military which offers complimentary food, beverages and activities.  Located adjacent to No. 16 tee, the Patriots’ Outpost is financially supported by THE PLAYERS and Jacksonville-area companies and individuals.  Like in 2016, THE PLAYERS volunteer leadership – the Red Coats are the lead sponsor of the Birdies for the Brave® Patriots’ Outpost.   In2016, more than 19,000 military members and their families were hosted in Birdies for the Brave® Patriots’ Outpost. The venue will be just under 10,000 square feet making it the largest Birdies for the Brave® Patriots’ Outpost at a PGA TOUR tournament. The Birdies for the Brave Patriots’ Outpost will officially open on Military Appreciation Day, Tuesday, May 9 with Commissioner Finchem hosting a short program.

  • In 2016, THE PLAYERS issued more than 30,000 complimentary military tickets, and the tournament is once again proud to continue its policy of providing free or affordable access to the tournament for men and women of the U.S. Armed Services.
  • THE PLAYERS provides all career military (active duty, Reserve, military retirees and dependents) with complimentary admission to the tournament all week. To obtain voucher for complimentary admission, go to THEPLAYERSChampionship.com and click on the Tickets & Parking link.
  • THE PLAYERS also provides discounted admission for veterans.  To obtain a voucher for discounted admission, go to THEPLAYERSChampionship.com and click on the Tickets & Parking link.
  • Jacksonville is home to more than 250,000 military, both active duty and retired
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US Navy SEAL Museum, Woodford Reserve VIP Lounge Opens

The Brown-Forman Military Channel seriously upped its ante in providing facilities that support the US Military by opening a Woodford Reserve VIP Lounge in a Mark V Assault Craft at the US Navy SEAL Museum in Fort Pierce, Florida yesterday.

Mark V Assault Craft are extraordinary military vessels typically used as an insertion and extraction platform for Special Operations Forces, often times US Navy SEALS.  The Woodford Reserve VIP Lounge being placed in a Mark V is a first of its kind.

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The Brown-Forman Military Channel has developed a solid reputation for providing support facilities for the US Military and their families.  In recent years the Channel has opened a Jack Daniel’s Bar and Lounge at Fort Benning, GA, a Jack Daniel’s Lounge at Fort Sill, OK and a Woodford Reserve Room in Fort Knox, KY.  In addition, the Brown-Forman Military Channel is actively involved with the USO and other military support activities such as “Operation Ride Home” which transports active duty troops home for the holidays.

“It is a great honor for Woodford Reserve and its parent company – Brown-Forman – to be associated with the US Navy SEAL Museum which represents so splendidly the valor and sacrifices of SEAL team members and US Navy personnel around the world.  It is our hope that visitors to this fabulous military museum can take few minutes to pause in the Woodford Reserve Lounge and reflect on the job that the SEALS, Navy personnel and all members of the United States military do daily on our behalf around the world,”  said Joe Bollinger, Brown-Forman’s director of Military and Transportation.

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The Woodford Reserve VIP Lounge was opened with a special ceremony at the SEAL Museum attended by an enthusiastic crowd of Museum supporters and bourbon lovers. Following comments by Rick Kaiser, a retired Navy SEAL and executive director of the SEAL Museum, and Bollinger, speaking on behalf of Brown-Forman and BRAVE – the company’s veteran’s organization – a special bourbon tasting was conducted by Woodford Reserve Master Distiller Chris Morris featuring Woodford Reserve Distillers Select, Woodford Reserve Double Oaked and Woodford Reserve Rye.

Woodford Reserve created a special cocktail – The Golden Trident – for the ceremony at the SEAL Museum.  The Golden Trident is the special emblem worn to designate an individual as a U.S. Navy SEAL.

According to Kaiser, the Museum’s Mark V is on loan from the Naval History and Heritage Command, DC, donated by Special Boat Team Twenty, Virginia Beach, on December 18, 2012.

“The Mark V played a very significant and influential role in the history of Special Operations in general, and the SEAL/SWCCs, specifically. For this reason alone, the Mark V significantly enhances–and is a essential part of – the Museum’s collection by increasing the national footprint and educating the public about the unique history of the U.S. Navy SEALs,” Kaiser said.

About The Navy SEAL Museum

The National Navy UDT-SEAL Museum is the only museum dedicated solely to preserving the history of the U.S. Navy SEALs and their predecessors. Located in Fort Pierce, Florida, the Museum resides on the training grounds of the original Navy combat divers, the Frogmen. Built to honor the men who served with fortitude and ingenuity, the Navy UDT-SEAL Museum first opened its doors on Veterans Day in 1985. From humble beginnings, the facility has experienced tremendous growth, achieving national stature in 2007. The main objective of the Museum remains the promotion of public education by providing the opportunity to explore the history of the Navy SEALs through interactive exhibits, while honoring the fallen at the SEAL Memorial and caring for those warriors’ families through Trident House Charities.

About Woodford Reserve

Woodford Reserve, the “Official Bourbon of the Kentucky Derby,” is crafted at the historic Woodford Reserve Distillery in Versailles, Kentucky – the heart of thoroughbred country. Woodford Reserve is a product of the Brown-Forman Corporation, a producer and marketer of fine quality beverage alcohol brands such as Jack Daniel’s, Southern Comfort, Finlandia, Korbel, Tequila Herradura, Sonoma-Cutrer, Chambord, and Tuaca. Please enjoy your bourbon responsibly. For more information on Woodford Reserve, visit www.woodfordreserve.com or visit Facebook at www.facebook.com/woodfordreserve.

About Brown-Forman

For more than 145 years, Brown-Forman Corporation has enriched the experience of life by responsibilyy building fine quality beverage alcohol brands, including Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Whiskey, Jack Daniel’s & Cola, Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Honey, Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Fire, Gentleman Jack, Jack Daniel’s Single Barrel, Finlandia, Korbel, el Jimador, Woodford Reserve, Old Forester, Canadian Mist, Herradura, New Mix, Sonoma-Cutrer, Early Times, Chambord, BenRiach and GlenDronach.  Brown-Forman brands are supported by nearly 4,600 employees and sold in approximately 160 countries worldwide.

For more information about the company, please visit http://www.brown-forman.com/

Woodford Reserve Distiller’s Select Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey, 45.2% Alc. by Vol., The Woodford Reserve Distillery,Versailles, KY ©2013.

 

Craft Carefully. Drink Responsibly.

 

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PTSD Paid Study Needs Volunteers

The National Center for PTSD in Palo Alto, CA is currently running a paid study with the goal of helping couples affected by PTSD.  If you are in a relationship where one member is a veteran affected by PTSD and you would like help with this condition along with ways to improve your overall relationship, go to this link to learn more: https://studypages.com/s/use-of-mobile-apps-for-those-with-ptsd-and-their-partners-318498/.  All materials are received through the mail or by phone, so no travel or face-to-face meetings are required.  If able, we encourage you to help aid in the development of effective treatments for struggling couples.

Does your spouse or partner have PTSD? Try a mobile app designed to help couples reconnect and move beyond PTSD.

 

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CNN’s Finding Jesus: Faith, Fact, Forgery Season 2 Premiers on March 5th- Lifeway e-Gift Card Giveaway

In case you didn’t get an opportunity to check out the first season of the hit series, “Finding Jesus: Faith, Fact Forgery” captivated audiences as well-known Pastors, theologians, and archaeologists, examined famous religious artifacts, and brought to life the places, pilgrimage sites, and people from the ancient texts and ancient world.

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Season 2 of Finding Jesus: Faith, Fact Forgery premieres Sunday, March 5 at 9 PM ET/PT on CNN.  One of the episodes focuses on Jesus’ disciple Thomas – or you may have heard of him as “doubting Thomas.”  But there is so much more to his life story.  His journey to overcome his doubts and fears, and to redeem himself by spreading a message of love to a faraway place is an inspiration!

Don’t miss this well done series.

Giveaway:
I have 2 Lifeway e-gift cards for my readers –   Each gift card is valued at $25.  These are the perfect gift cards for Easter and for anyone wishing for a devotional, books, Bible study or any gift you’d like to help inspire you in your faith journey.

To enter the giveaway, comment below, or on the post on the Facebook page, to tell me how you make the world better.  I will choose a winner after the premiere.
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Expats Learn to Cook Street Food and Draw a Crowd

As a Diplomatic military “trailing spouse” living in China, I cannot work outside of our embassy without forfeiting my diplomatic status.  Therefor, knowing the repercussions of living in a precarious situation such as that, I do not work locally, and have to fill my time with other activities.

I stay busy with attaché events and receptions and other obligations for Horatio’s job, and I am also working on graduate studies to further my teacher education.  Although both of those take a lot of time, they still leave time for other activities.  So, when a friend proposed a cooking class to learn to cook Chinese street food, although cooking is not one of my usual choice of leisure activities, I decided to try something out of my comfort zone.

The Hutong is a cooking school located in an actual Hutong (a traditional Chinese residence area through narrow alleyways and lanes) in downtown Beijing.  Nine of us from the US, Canada, and Italy drove downtown in two vehicles (this is important to a later part of the story.)  Traffic was pretty clear, but it took about an hour to get to the area and another ten minutes to meander through the lanes to find the school.  Of course, this wouldn’t be a day in China without something taking an unexpected turn.

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Class was taught in English, so that made things pretty straightforward.  We chopped everything by dividing the work between us, and we tasted all of the various spices and sauces.  We made our own spiced oil for cooking, and prepared three dishes: dan dan noodles, a summer salad with cucumbers and mung bean tofu, and jian bing (savory crepe-like pancake with vegetables and egg).

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Jian Bing is typically made by street vendors and in homes.  The pancake is made with two types of flour and water, then, as it cooks, you add an egg, green onions, chili sauce, hoisin sauce and sesame seeds.  Then you put a fried wonton in the middle, fold the pancake up and over it and it is ready to eat!

The class was three hours long and we enjoyed everything we prepared.

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After class, we meandered back through the alleyways to the street where we had parked our cars and lo and behold, one of the cars’ batteries was dead.  So, what do nine laowai (foreigners) do?  We fix it ourselves.  Luckily, one the ladies had jumper cables, so with a local audience marveling at the spectacle, we got the car started and made it home safely.

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Just another day of expat life in China.

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Speaking English

Living overseas, as a diplomat interacting with people from many different countries, has made me realize that I am truly blessed, in many ways, to have been born in the United States.  Birth into a nation that speaks the most widely spoken language in the world makes life a lot easier than it might have otherwise been.

In any given week, Horatio and I attend several dinners and receptions with diplomats from many other countries.  Many of them speak very good English as a second language, so we are able to converse and share stories and get to know each other.  In the past two weeks, I have had the chance to spend time with men and women from: India, Poland, Brunei, Egypt, Israel, Croatia, Serbia, Germany, Thailand, Singapore, Italy, Botswana, Slovenia, Korea, Japan, Brazil, Sweden, and of course China.  The only language besides my own that I’ve had to speak is Chinese.  To varying degrees, all of the other people have spoken English.  As I sat among some of these friends, at the home of our British Defense Attaché, last week, I made a point of saying how lucky I feel to speak English as my native language and that they all speak it as a second (or third or fourth) language.  I acknowledged the fact that they all must be quite tired after all of the dinners we attend because they spend the whole time conversing in a second language.  It can be exhausting, I know.  Sometimes I spend the better part of a day speaking Chinese to make my way around town, and I am completely spent by the end of the day.  One of the women nodded her head and agreed.  She even thanked me for stating the realization.  She said she didn’t think we Americans would notice.  I definitely notice every time we are out at these events, and am grateful that I can communicate with relative ease.

Getting to know people from so many different countries and backgrounds is a blessing.  Not having to to spend the extra mental energy to communicate is just one of the many benefits I have just by accident of being born American.

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Fluid Language Exchange in International Classrooms

I’ve spent the past semester volunteering as a substitute teacher at an International school here in China.  Doing so cements my opinion that our kids are extremely blessed to have the opportunity to learn in this environment.

The highest number of children I’ve had in the middle school and high school classrooms has been 20, and that’s a rare high number.  Most classes have 17 or 18 students.  It’s a good number because it keeps the exchange of ideas and information lively, but it’s not too dense for anyone to get lost in the mix.  Even as a substitute, I am able to learn students’ names quickly with numbers so low.

The facilities are grand.  Each student is given a school Apple Computer to use all year, both at school and at home, from grade 6-12.  The younger children have either individual laptops or iPads in each classroom.  The technology is utilized but not over used.  The lab tables are fully equipped with state of the art equipment and the film classes are able to use professional cameras and editing applications.  The teachers are often true experts in their fields.

Due to the issue of frequently high levels of air pollution, the school also has two purpose-built sports and recreation domes enclosing six tennis courts and a wide range of indoor/outdoor sports and fitness areas. Both domes are situated side-by-side over 8,500 square meters.

The most astounding and entertaining element of a diverse international school is the exchange of language.  At the school where my boys attend, there is no majority country represented.  The largest groups are Chinese, Korean and American, but none represent a majority.  The school educates approximately 1,700 students from Pre-K aged 3 through 12th grade from more than 50 countries.  In any given class, I hear at least the three primary languages: English, Chinese, and Korean, and often hear others as well.  My favorite aspect of language in the classroom is the mixing of languages.  Classes, with the exception of Chinese and other language classes, are taught in English, but when children work together, or converse before and after class, they do so with a combination of languages.  One child will start a conversation in Chinese and the other student will answer in English, or vise verse.  The conversation will continue this way to its conclusion, sometimes all the way through a class activity.  Sometimes one child will use a combination of his home language, mixed with English.  Class discussions are conducted in English, but other languages and accents are heard amongst the students, themselves.  It’s a real symphony of conversations.

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