Apparently it was too high.

Adventures in family-building

September 30, 2008

Shameless Commerce

It is that time of year again. I will put this flyer up in my office to help Trevor sell popcorn. If you live near us, buy some. If you live far away, say Florida, it is not worth shipping. See your local cub scout. You can donate money for Trevor, any spare change will do, just fold it up and put it in an envelope to Trevor.

September 28, 2008

Not the momma is back home

I (not the momma) am back home. I got home 7AM Saturday morning after 26 hours of travel on three planes. By the end of Saturday I had been up for 50 hours with about 5 hours of sleep on the planes. Yay international travel.

My family welcomed me home. I got plenty of attention from all members of my family. Smothered is a word that could be used. However, since I had been away for two weeks I ate it up. Even though I did not get anything done and I was irritable from jet lag.

After two weeks of only business and adult contacts I knew I was in for a rude awakening. Family did not disappoint. Camille was crying when I first saw her after two weeks. Trevor was in tears and not ready to go to soccer despite my insistance that he was ready to go 30 minutes early. (His socks were too small and his shoestrings did not match) By the end of the day I had been spit up on and cleaned up pee off the bathroom floor. All the kids were in tears multiple times through the day. The older two were sent to their rooms repeatedly. Ah, home again.

Be it ever so humble, there is no place like home.

September 26, 2008

Sweetness and Light

Camille is 2 years old. I don't really need to say anything else to explain the following movie, but I will anyway. Camille's preschool teachers, Sunday School teachers, babysitters, and her friends' mothers always say how sweet and well-behaved Camille is. I will give them that - she can be a very sweet and sometimes stunningly well-behaved child. But like I said, she is 2 years old. The following "discussion" took place this morning when she decided that she was not aboel to pick up her drink (the one that she threw on the ground in the beginning of the movie). Yes, I drug it out a little longer than I would normally tolerate it, but that, my dear readers, was solely for your blog-viewing enjoyment. When she behaves like this, I don't know whether to laugh or cry.

September 23, 2008

Borrowed camera in Malaysia

I noticed a camera on a colleague's desk and asked if I could borrow it. This is a work night, but one of our group of four is leaving tomorrow.
Here is my reason for coming to Malaysia I took this at night as I was leaving.
Unfortunately we left at Ramadan break fast time. No Taxis.
We took the bus and rail. It is 7:30PM not 2AM. Clearly we are not with the program. Everyone Muslim is having dinner with friends and family.
We finally made it to TGIFriday's our waitress was a good sport.
Later we went to a bar with Shisha (Hookah). We had a few...

September 22, 2008

Seven Buds Tall

Honey, I measured Camille, and she's 7 Buds tall. So an outfit that is 6 cans tall should work for her.

We went out to my parents' house this weekend for a birthday party. We celebrated all six kids' birthday at once instead of trying to do six individual parties throughout the year. Kuntry fun was had by all.

My niece Shelby is a little momma and loves holding her baby cousin:

Trevor got to pet a baby alligator at East Texas Gators & Wildlife Park:

My brother, Uncle Nate - Funkel Nate, always buys the kids presents that they love. This year, two of the winners were fake teeth and whoopee cushions. Camille lurved her fake teeth and wore them for hours:

Nothing says precious like two toddlers blowing up their whoopee cushions:

Cousin Sam got a dinosaur hat for a present:

And the dog, Mindy, caught a rat out on the front forty:

Trevor got to drive the tractor, while shirtless. I'll have to start calling him Bubba Billy Jack:

Aunt Rachell got to hold a sleeping Simon. I think they both enjoyed it:

And last but not least, my sister informed me that I always post awful pics of her kids, and she wanted to make sure my 48,209 11 blog readers knew they really are cute. This pic is from Florida this month:

And a little news flash: Last night, Sunday, September 21, 2008, for the first time ever, Simon slept through the night. Celebrating may now commence.

September 21, 2008

My big photo post from Malaysia

I went to Batu caves which are near KL. It is a Hindu shrine with 200 something steps. At about step 100, I lost my digital cameral and almost all the pictures that I had taken in Malaysia. I don't know whether it was picked directly off me or whether it fell to the ground first, but in any event it was gone 30 seconds after I had taken a picture.
So, this is an internet picture of the 43m statue of a Hindu diety.

My coworker Jim had gone Saturday and came back Sunday to see the macaque monkeys. I fed them a bag of peanuts. Jim fed them for probably an hour while Japanese tourists took his picture. I went up to the top, toured and bought a disposable camera. I would put up the pictures, but I can't find the USB port on the camera, it says 'return for processing' whatever that means.
Also there I had a snack. A donut with jalapeno in it. Very good for 15 cents.
Just after breakfast I went to a 6 story electronics mall. They had everything. I got the mandatory USB powered fan. Pretty cool.
Earlier, I went to the Museum of Islamic Art. It was a pretty museum, but unfortunately 90% of the items were only a few hundred years old. You might think that Islam was recent. I did learn that Mohamed is buried at Medina. Thats all for my tour of foreign religions.
Later, I went to China Town shrine of commerce. I did my major shopping. I hope everyone likes what I got. I went to a guide book recommended set of chinese food stalls. I had rice, chicken, something she said was fish but tasted like pork and finally some dish the lady insisted I try. It had small whole fish and onions with the brown sauce. The fish were crunchy.

September 19, 2008

One week in (a country South of) Bangkok

I have been here in KL about 6 days. I am at work. I am feeling a little lonely as my Malaysian co-workers are not in yet at 11AM Saturday. I need materials and files added to the tool, so I have a few minutes for a post.

I guess I am well traveled, but I do not find KL to be any sort of extreme travel experience. For one nearly everyone speaks English. For two KL has a lot of wealth so when I am around the hotel everything is actually nicer than US.

The Malaysian food is not too wierd. Hiabchi cooked skewers of beef and chicken that are dipped into a mild chili sauce are an example. Malysia is a melting pot with double digit percentage populations of Chinese and Indians and Thailand is just to the North. So we have eaten Malaysian, Japanese, Thai, Chinese as well as Pizza Hut and McDonalds. I have violated every rule for travel eating. Ice in drinks, peeled fruit, water from the cooler. I even had Sushi and Shashimi which I avoided in China.

One of the reasons for so few pictures is that I cannot bring a camera to work and we tend to do things on the way home from work. I will work to get a camera pass so maybe I will have more pictures later.

Religion is interesting here. It is a Muslim country and probably half of the women wear head scarves. It is Ramadan, so my Muslim co-workers are fasting during the day. I felt bad that two days ago we worked until 11:30PM and my coworker had to eat his pre-fast meal at 5:30AM. However, the melting pot it is there are Buddist and Hindus here in significant numbers. I have even seen three Christian churches. So, other than the Ramadan influences (skip lunch OK but Hard stop at 7PM to break fast) and a two hour lunch on Friday for prayers it could be work at home.

Politics are interesting, their is a majority coalition and the opposition. They have a King and Queen much like Britain. The equivalent of president is the Prime Minister. The Prime Minster is the top of the ruling part. However, the coalition is composed of many parties. Parties can jump from majority to opposition and swing the majority swapping power. Say there was a Hillary Clinton block with the democratic party and they suddenly decided to support the republicans. They would tilt advantage to the Republicans and the entire government could change.

Money. It is all over the map. A premium taxi from the hotel to work is 27ringit or about $9, if it was not included in room. A standard teksi is $2. Our hotel is $120 US which is great for the 5 stars it is. Lunch in the cafeteria, a basic rice and chicken plate, is $1. Breakfast at the hotel (included in room) is $25US. A cheap car is $15000 US due to import taxes on foreign cars. Duties can be 75% of the cost of a new car. That is, a Toyota costs 4X what it should in USD. With salaries a fraction of US, a new car easily costs more than a years salary. No wonder there are so many old cars and scooters.

Well I really need to get some work done so I will stop with that.

September 16, 2008

Hotel and China Town

My sleep is a little screwy. I got my first night of decent sleep. Now it is 12:45AM and I am not tired. There are now 4 guys from Texas here, we went out tonight after dinner.
The hotel is very nice here in KL. Similar to China, lots of marble. Very luxurious.
The neighbors include Gucci and Prada. Good neighborhood.
KL has a China Town
It closes at 11 on a weeknight. That is one of my coworkers scratching his chin.
I did buy one thing. This dress for Camille was $10. I used the cans in the hotel fridge to help show its size. Honey it is a "4". Does it look big enough? I can get more.

The Petronas Towers

The Pertronas Towers are the icon of KL. 380 Meters, 450 Meters with antennas.

The next two shots are from the KL Tower, its only 420m with Antennas. My coworker and I were able to go up in it.

The voyage around the world...

Left Texas at 10PM Friday.
This pic is in California after 1500 miles and 4 1/2 hours, 2 hours sleep. Still Chipper.
This pic is in Hong Kong after 8400 miles and 20 hours, 4 1/2 hours sleep.
I am very disappointed that Starbucks is not open yet, it is 6:30AM, Sunday.
This pic is in Malaysia after 9900 miles and 26 hours, 4 1/2 hours sleep.
I really just want a shower. It is 1PM local time.

September 15, 2008

Daddy is gone, Day 3

First, the pictures:

How 2-month-olds pose:

How 2-year-olds pose:

How 8-year-olds pose:

Will explain below:

This is the third full-day since Paul has deserted us been away on a business trip. The tallies so far:

Number of cooking pots and large, hard-cover books lost to trapping giant, man-eating spiders on our floor:
Pots - 2
Books - 4

Number of vomiting episodes by virus-stricken children - 6

Number of days of school lost due to aforementioned vomiting - 1

Number of hours of sleep mommy has gotten, on average, the last three nights, due to crying newborns, vomiting 8-year-olds, and 2-year-olds demanding yogurt at 4 a.m. (don't ask) - 3 1/2 hours

Number of miles Mommy has driven the two previous days in desperate attempts to have adult company - 180 miles

Number of evenings, in percentages, that Mommy has a had a glass of wine after the kids were all in bed because she felt she deserved it as hazard pay - 100%

Number of crying babies currently in Mommy's lap, effectively bringing this blog post to a close - 1

September 14, 2008


I had hoped that I would be able to do a good post by now. It is Monday morning here and I am about to go down to breakfast. I left Texas 10PM on Friday and arrived in KL 2PM on Sunday (1AM Sunday CDT). Lots of caffine and little sleep.

I took recommendations and quickly left the room and started touring to stay awake until dark. I went straight to KLCC and the Petronas Towers. The tours were over for the day, so I went to the mall below it and took this picture. The culture shock was not near as bad as expected. Other than middle eastern music playing in the mall and the strange cars it looked like a big city. It seems a like a halfway point between US and China in terms of government works and personal freedom.

I used my new phone to contact a co-worker here via email. We met for a 'Ramadan buffet' dinner and then went to the KL tower. It is a tall tower and it was open. Then to bed.

Today started a 4Am local time when my new phone reminded me of an appointment which was on Texas time. I about chunked it.
Below is the Petronas towers from the mall below.

September 12, 2008

Pauls adventure begins

So far I have made it to the airport. 1) My international flight is not international until the next plane and 2) The employees outnumbered the customers at check in and security. So, I am just charging the laptop with my extra hour.

September 11, 2008

Paul's Malaysian adventure

First, If you haven't read the blog in a few days skip immediately to the next post.

Still here? Ok, as you may know, I am headed to Malaysia in 24 hours. I will attempt to post to this blog while I am there. Think positive thoughts for Andrea as she tries to wrangle an 8 year old, a two year old and 7 week old.

Anyway, I have taken my communications from the 90s to the modern age. In the last couple of days I have gotten: A crackberry, a corporate Skype type product for the laptop and a bluetooth headset. I called Andrea on her cell with it. After I hung up, I pondered what that call went through. Headset > wireless to PC > PC wireless to router > Router to some server at work > Some server at work placed a cell phonecall > Finally Andrea answered the cell phone. Wow.

Ok, now read Andrea's post again.

Two Years: A Day in the Life

It was two years ago, September 10, 2006, that in a huge conference room in a fancy hotel in Nanchang, Jiangxi, China, various orphanage staff brought 14 baby girls to their new parents. What a crazy, wild half hour that was! Crying babies, stunned parents. I think most of us parents say we can't remember a lot of details about that moment. Others remember it in exquisite detail, as if the world slowed down to slow motion. In either case, it is a split second of time that is seared in our memories.

So what is life like for little Zhang Cai Miao, whisked from small-city China to big-city Texas at the age of 9 months? A pictoral essay for you follows.

At 8:30 in the morning, Mommy comes to wake me up - but I'm already awake and smiling!

I want to help "wake up" baby Simon. But he's been awake off and on for hours.

Time for breakfast. I had a bagel with peanut butter, strawberries, and cheese.

Taking care of business.

Time to hug Simon again.

Dressed for the day and posing for Mommy!

We got to meet Daddy for lunch.

Two-year-olds can have fun with anything (this is a tortilla).

Time for ballet class. I'm a natural!

Waking up from nap - I'm not very cooperative at this time of day. You'll notice I have on another outfit. Lunch does that to me sometimes.

Mommy got out the outfit I was wearing when she got me two years ago, and the bottle that came with me. It's kind of tight now.

See? Here I am, wearing it two years earlier, to the day!

Before dinner with our friends, a picture of my whole family.

Goofing off with choptsticks.

Me and my best friend Greta. She is from the same small town in China I am from, and was adopted the same day.

My Mommy said getting two two-year-olds to pose is not easy.

My Daddy wants some pictures of me in my pretty "Red Couch" dress.

I am getting so big!

I am REALLY tired of having pictures taken of me today.

But I'll dance a little before bed and Daddy can take one more picture!

And here I am wearing the same pretty dress two years ago in China!