Wednesday, October 31, 2007

With Fondest Memories.............

For the last few weeks I have felt very overwhelmed by the knowledge of knowing that one of my pledge sisters and college roommates was battling liver cancer. She was diagnosed almost exactly 2 years ago, and has been fighting for her life ever since.

I have been very fortunate to have not faced a lot of death in my life, and the death I have experienced has usually been with people that I cared deeply for, but they had lived very long lives. It just seems so wrong to me that a mom of a third and fifth grader who just turned 40 in April was fighting the fight of her life. For whatever reason it has just struck a very strong cord with me. I have spent a great deal of time these last few weeks thinking about what that must feel like, how do you spend time with your children each day knowing it could be your last, what do you say????? All of these questions that I have run through my brain a million times this month. Then I moved on to have I lived a life that I am very proud of? What would people say at my funeral? Do I make the things that are really important, and appreciate those important things and people?? What changes should I be making with these thoughts and feelings running loose? So many questions, and not as many answers as I would like.
It also puts time into perspective. The thought of waiting 2 more years for this baby is way too much for my brain to cope with, but what if you were told you only had 2 years to live?? Boy, that wouldn't seem quite as long now would it??

I met Martha in HS as we are from the same hometown. We only knew of one another then, but then freshman year we both pledged the same sorority and became pledge sisters. We then became very good friends, and Martha was one of those girls that everyone likes. She had a radiant smile, very friendly, smart, patient, happy, and she was one of the best dressed girls I have ever known. We lived together sophomore year with two other KD's; Missy and Kristy. That was a great room change for me, and I loved living with those girls. I transferred the next year to another college, but I remained active in the house, and enjoyed remaining friends with those girls. I always knew what Martha was up to through many of our friends.

Martha married a great guy and had two great boys...Alex and Clayton. She ran a successful business, and loved being a mom. Martha grew up without her mom, and I know that was always difficult for her. So it breaks my heart that she must have felt so much pain knowing that her kids would be growing up without her.

I really feel so much sadness with her passing, and my thoughts and prayers are with her family. This weekend a huge group of our pledge sisters will be getting together to attend her memorial. I am unable to attend, but I will be there in spirit, and I know that Martha is smiling knowing that all those girls will be together, laughing, spending time with each other and celebrating great friendship and memories.

Martha you will always be loved and remembered for being such a great friend and sister.
Love in AOT

Please keep this family in your thoughts!!

Mary Martha (Frech) Berry
Mary Martha (Frech) Berry, Bradenton, formerly of Columbia, Missouri died October 28, 2007. Visitation will be Wednesday, October 31, 2007 from 6p.m. to 8p.m. at Palms-Robarts Funeral Home, with a prayer service at 7p.m. Also, visitation will be Friday, November 2, 2007 from 4p.m. to 8p.m. at Krieghauser Funeral Home, 9450 Olive Blvd., St. Louis, Missouri with a funeral Mass on Saturday, November 3, 2007 at 10a.m. at St. Monica Church, 1236 Olive Blvd., St. Louis. Burial will be at Calvary Cemetery in St. Louis, Missouri. Survivors include her husband, Mark Berry; her two children, Clayton and Alex; her father, David and stepmother Linda Frech; her brother John Frech and her sister, Katherine Frech. Mrs. Berry graduated from the University of Missouri, Columbia in 1989 and was a member of Kappa Delta Sorority. After graduation she taught at Ellisville Elementary and earned her Masters of Education at Maryville University. Mrs. Berry and her husband Mark Berry moved to Bradenton, Florida in 2001 and she started her own Web design and advertising business. She was current President of the Lakewood Ranch Business Club of Bradenton, Florida. In Lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to TideWell Hospice and Palliative Care, 4151 37th Stree East, Palmetto, FL 34221.,

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Gracie, Gracie, Gracie

I am sure you all have been wondering what Gracie has been up to??? No, you say. Well let me just update you anyway.
Gracie is 5 months old tomorrow, and she has the energy of 5 dogs. She is growing very quickly, and in case you forgot let me remind you that I thought that we were getting a dog that weighed around 50 lbs, and at 4 months Gracie already weighed 33 lbs. I would guess she weighs about 40 lbs right now. The vet thinks she will at least weigh 70-90 lbs-Shiyu only weighs 90.

** Gracie is very, very smart, actually she may be the smartest person in the house. Trust me having a dog that is as smart as Gracie makes it very hard to train her.

** We have hired BarkBusters to come and help us train Gracie. We have our 3 rd visit tomorrow. Gracie is still training us. But we are slowly making progress in becoming the pack leader.

** Gracie is no Matty, and I still have moments when Gracie makes me miss Matty more than I ever thought possible.

** Gracie can run faster than any dog I have ever seen, and she will retrieve a ball or toy all day long if you are willing to throw it for her. In turn D is convinced that she can become a fly ball champion. If that works off some of her energy, I am voting yes on this proposition.

**Gracie loves to dig, and sometimes par take in her poop, so she can not be left outside unsupervised by a responsible adult. We are working on these things. Although if she can dig a hole to China I might not care so much about the digging. The latter must stop and we have the medicine to help curtail it. The vet seems to think this is very common, and that I should not be too concerned. Concerned?? Grossed out is more like it.

** Gracie will ride in the car now, she will even jump in and jump have no idea what progress this actually is.

** Gracie is basically housetrained. She never seems to have an accident in her living quarters(the gated kitchen) but we can't have her upstairs for much longer than 20 min or so and she is rooting around looking for a nice piece of carpet to potty on. I am not sure she will ever get to live outside of the kitchen. She does still do the submissive wetting thing with strangers or if she is punished. That sucks!!

** For the most part it is great to have a dog in the house again. I try to not compare Gracie to Matty. But it is hard when she chews up the baseboard, or tears up something(Matty never tore a thing up in her life) Matty was easy to housetrain, and never puddled. But Matty also never retrieved anything in her life, and she also had zero interest in toys. Gracie loves toys more than any dog I have ever met. I have to buy them in bulk. So it is very fun to play with her, she is not much on snuggling, but she sure can get to the ball quickly!!

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Now that is a beautiful baby!!

Little Miss Meggie had her first big photoshoot and I think it went exceptionally well. Who would ever know that this baby was born 10 weeks early and spent 5 weeks in the NICU? She even made it to a blog. Here is the link:

Thursday, October 04, 2007

I know you have been waiting with baited breath

Sorry it has taken so long to get the answers to your questions. Shiyu has been very busy with school, and getting ready for her first homecoming. She answered all the questions(I think) and these are totally unedited. So we will do this again in a few months. If you ever have questions about China or Chongqing don't hesitate to email me and I know Shiyu will be happy to answer any questions you have.
We volunteered at our FCC culture day last weekend. Shiyu worked at the festival booth. I think she had a wonderful time, and enjoyed participating. I think she was totally blown away with seeing all of the children that day. She told me that it was great to see all of the children being taught about Chinese culture and history.
She searched out all of the kids that had come from Chongqing:)
I had her watch Lost Girls of China the night before culture day, because I wanted her to see the process that each of the families she was going to see the next day had gone through to get their children. I am not sure what she thought overall. I know she felt embarrassed, and she did not like the part where the lady put the sign up in the park. She said she too felt disgraced that she did that, and she felt that she should not have pointed it out to everyone that they had abandoned a child. All I can say is.......very interesting. I know she is very positive about our adoption, she can't wait for us to come to China, and she hopes that our baby comes from Chongqing. But in general it seems to me that very little talking goes on in China about this particular issue. I am not sure she knew or her family knew that Americans were coming to China to adopt their children before she met us.

Alrighty, enjoy, and again sorry it took so long.

What advice did your parents give you about America or Americans?

1.Be happy and we all believe you can do everything!***she told me that the Chinese think that all Americans are overweight. I am happy to report that she told me that she sees that is not true:)

Singing bird wanted to know if we would adopt more children. While I would love to do so, it won't be possible with the length of time this one is taking. We are basically aged out of being able to adopt from anywhere. I would just like this one to come to fruition.

What is your favorite kind of music?

2.I love pop music. Most time I listen to Chinese pop music at home. But I’ll try more different American songs here.

The differences between schools here and in China?
3. I think school is so different from China. At first most school in China is 6 years primary school, 3 years middle school, and 3 years high school. Most kids will go to college. But it doesn’t mean everyone can receive good education. Secondly, we can’t choose the subjects we like. All the students study Chinese, Math, and English. (English class at school mostly starts in middle school, but English is really popular in China and many parents think it very important. Many children study English when they are very young.) We also have Physics, Biology, Chemistry, History, Politics, Geography, and PE. Different grades have another classes such as Computer, Art, Music, and Health. My school in China focuses on Math and Science. But different cities and schools have different systems. The next is we don’t move to different classrooms, only teachers move. And some big schools have a lot of students. So the class is also huge. Like my school in China, we have total more than 6000 students (my school has middle and high school and 4 campus). I think schools here are much better. You can study what you are interested in. And you can choose easy or difficult classes, so you won’t feel easy in some classes or not be lost in class. Physics and math are easy for me, as long as I know the words. The biggest problem for me is vocabulary. Schools here have more teams, bands, choirs and another organizations. School life here is much colorful than in China. It’s pretty good.
The situation is very similar. We also have very rich people, middle class and poor people.
People in China are more conservative than here. So the interacting with the opposite gender hardly happens among middle or high school students. By the way, many Chinese parents and teachers won’t allow students to have boy/girl friend at school (before 18). Cliches are not as common in China because we don't have many groups to belong to, and we don't change classrooms, so our class of 50 or so students stay together all day. So we don't have athletes and cheerleaders, and most of the kids in my class are smart so we are all the same.

(Angela disappointing and miss the most about China):
The disappointing thing is nothing so far
I miss my best friends very much, as well as my family.

(wzgirl: DO you like Turnip cake?……. Favorite color? how do you like the weather?Has your exchange-mother convinced you to become a flight attendant?)
Don't know what turnip cake is.
The Dim sum is much different here than back home. It’s more delicious and sweet here. At home, we don’t usually have desert and only few snacks. My favorite color is Green. The weather here is perfect because I love sunny days. But it’s hot outside. The weather is similar to Chongqing’s weather. Nope, …..I’m too short to be a flight attendant. Haha. It’s a cool job that can fly all over the world!

(bbmomof2 boys: Best experience so far)
Always the movies wait for me! (there are so many movies to choose from. In China she says they wait for the movies, and here they movies are so plentiful they wait for her)
Football~ After I watched the first game, I fell in love with it. Em…..I hope I can play it. It’s true! Haha

(Beeb: where ….for holiday?)
My favorite is traveling. So every labor days, national days(both 7-days off) my dad and his friends will drive to travel. My dad said” Of course I want to travel to big, beautiful, and modern city to have a comfortable vacation. But for you, it’s the valuable time to travel to some place natural and beautiful. Although it’s not relaxing sometimes even hard. After you grow up, you won’t have chance to go to these places and I won’t have enough energy to drive for long time. After you grow up, you can go to any big city you want.” And in winter holiday (during Spring Festival) we enjoy our traditional new year and spend a lot of time with family. We usually go on a family vacation even take my dog. During summer holiday, I’ll travel with friends or my aunt and uncle take me to travel. We always go to another province.

(liene: think of American malls…….)
We also have as big shopping malls as American. I think clothes here are cheaper and more cute than in China. By the way, it’s hard to buy dress shoes! Haha. Not as crowded as in China.
Yes, I love football. “ Just do it.” probably can express my feeling!

My favorite food is Mexican food and milkshake.
The school surprised me most. I and a lot of people have thought the students here would be allowed to do anything they want and not really respect teacher. But we are wrong. Class is quieter when teacher is talking. The groups are amazing. I am shocked by my choir and our band, team and other organizations. We could never make such a huge united group in my school at home.

I think most Chinese people think you’re so kind and full of love with homeless children. Some can’t understand it even some think it’s China’s disgrace because we can’t make our own babies have a nice life and the government is not good enough what we expect.