Archive for September, 2008

It WAS a Happy Birthday – thanks!

I just wanted to follow-up with a thanks to our team back in the States.  Frankly living apart from your home culture and country, away from family and close friends and most that is familiar is not always easy.  Without question we truly couldn’t survive here without the constant support of YOU!  This has been especially obvious in the last few weeks with Mia’s medical issues and Dan’s unfortunate shrimp tasting/foreign country ER tour.

We thought it might be fun to illustrate the geographic diversity of you via a special thank you.  Last month, Sara requested newspapers on my (Dan’s) birthday (and the opening of the Olympics in Beijing) be sent to Sara’s sister.  She then sent us a package with all of them.  I loved it!  We got papers ranging from the Franklin County Recorder to the Wall Street Journal to the Idaho Statesman.  You are all apart of an amazing team that we cannot begin to express our appreciation for.

– Dan


Life Without Milk

Round here, the big story these days is the milk – tainted with the chemical melamine – starting sometime this spring and every day, showing up in more and more products.  Two days ago, I left on a hunt to buy yogurt – and returned empty handed.  Shelves that are usually bursting with every kind of yogurt (corn, pea, red bean, aloe, haw fruit) and milk (powdered, shelf stable and dairy) were completely empty.  I’m thankful that the stores are pulling these products – we hear stores as far away as Hong Kong and Singapore are doing the same.  “So inconvenient!” I moan.  No pancakes, yogurt, cereal … argh.  It’s so easy to feel the frustration of yet another recall – to constantly battle quality issues every time we shop.  Then I think of the families whose little ones are so sick right now…

But the ironic bottom line is that in this so-called Communist nation, personal profit (versus the communist ideal of work benefiting all members of the society equally) drives business behavior.  In most areas of the economy, things are vastly better today than they were 15 years ago under the state run enterprise monopoly.  The rising tide has, at least in the cities of China, lifted all ships.  But without a moral or ethical compass to fill the vacuum left by the mandates of the State, that same profit motive will drive certain members of our civic society to risk the lives of thousands of Chinese babies and children to increase their personal wealth.

I am a huge fan of China.  I love the Chinese people.  I see a great future for this nation – but ONLY if the people, led by their government, choose to subjugate their economic power and ambition to the timeless, cross-cultural virtues of honesty, fairness and goodness (and in doing so, discover and embrace the Way, Truth and Life).  It may cost a little profit in the short-term, but the benefit of such leadership from China is immeasurable.

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A Great (and Long) Day in Beijing

So, living in China neccesitates a number of activities that are different than our former lives in the US – like maintaince on passports/work visas and traveling multiple hours for health care.  Yesterday, I wrapped several of these into one day.  I will say I feel fortunate that we live so close to China’s capital city of Beijing.  Not only are the historic and cultural attractions amazing, the access to Western services is great compared to many living overseas.  Come with me…

From top left:  1) My first stop was at the US Embassy so I could take care of an issue with our passports.  I was greeted by this great circular symbol of the USA – you can also see the one with the eagle on it…  2)  Me in front of the Bulgarian Embassy – there are dozens of embassies in this part of Beijing.  3) My good friend Mike who just had surgery (seeing him was the main reason for my trip).  4) & 5) In the same hospital at literally the same time (all of us from LDi basically use one Western hospital), our friends were delivering their fourth child – welcome Sophie May!

After a final stop at an actual-yet-not-quite-the-same Subway and a Western grocery store (a dangerous place because I could easily spend $40,000 on every visit – they have breakfast cereal!!), we headed back to Tianjin.  A bit of a side note, but I was greeted by the visiting and amazing Dale Perrigo (an old friend from Cincinnati and P&G).  Ironically, Dale, Patterson Hicks and myself are heading to Beijing TOMORROW to see the Great Wall, Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden City!  Maybe we can stop by that Western grocery store again…


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Field day at TIS!

Life is beginning to return to normal in the Kennedy household. One of the great traditions at the kids’ school is a field day called Scipmylo (Olympics backwards). A few pictures below, and two online galleries here and here:

– Dan

The Kennedy family: Noah doing the long jump, Zach declaring victory, Sara leading the Frisbee toss, Dan taking pictures (see reflection). Hannah’s and Mia’s grades were not a part of the event.

You probably won’t recognize these kids, but just a few cool shots from the day. In the last photograph, you can see the school logo on the building that Dan designed.


Mia Update: Back from Hong Kong!

Sara and Mia are safely back from Hong Kong after a long week of testing. Unfortunately, both brought back with them various infections (bronchiolitis and tonsillitis, respectively) for which they have begun antibiotics and lots of rest.

We will send out a full update to our regular email distribution list (1-2 updates each month). If you are on that list, give us a couple of days. If you are not and would like to be, please leave us a comment with a request to be added.

We are so thankful for all your encouragement and support!


Mia with ‘crazy hair’ after her EEG, and enjoying a well-deserved lollipop outside the hospital.


Mia Update: All tests = normal, coming home

Friends & family,

Thank you for your many prayers and words of encouragement.  Sara just met with the pediatric neurologist in Hong Kong.  All tests came back normal (EKG, EEG, MRI, lab work), with a minor exception that showed some abnormality in the back of her brain.  This apparently just indicates that epilepsy might become evident OR run in the family (a fact we know).  The doctor determined the head jerking was simply a childhood tic possibly stimulated by stress, that should fade and needs to be watched if it becomes worse.

Sara and Mia return home to Tianjin late tomorrow afternoon.  She can provide a more complete update when she recovers…

We are so thankful and relieved.  Thanks again to each of you!


PS    Please continue to lift them up – the last couple of days have been exhausting, including a fully-sedated Mia waking up 2 minutes into the MRI (the second MRI today was successful).  Who wouldn’t find that terrifying?!  All is peaceful now – they are ready to come home.

Want some sugar?

I just thought I would throw in a couple of great Mia-shots.  When I say good-bye/good-night to her, she asks me “do you want some sugar?” (“sugar” is located just below the chin where a kiss collects said sugar).  I then return the question and get my kiss.  These pictures are taken on her first day of kindergarten.  I love my Mia.  🙂


Mia Update: Last Minute Trip to Hong Kong

[So, perhaps it is worth starting with the purpose of this blog.  Our desire is to share one family’s view of life in China and offer a window into an amazing, often mysterious world where truly Great things are happening.  To do so with authenticity and honesty, personal stuff gets wrapped in it.  It is the nature of our lives.  Our work, our kids, our environment, our relationships; all gets jumbled up together.  So whether you are a grandparent who just wants to see more pictures of your grandkids (who can blame them?) or a China-tracker and want more insight into this super-power (a never ending conversation) or somewhere in-between, we hope to serve you the best we can with this approach.]

A long time ago – when Mia was 7 months old  (Noah was 2 years old!)

For those not on our email update list, a bit of background.  Our daughter Mia (age 5.5) has a history of febral seizures (her last was December 2007).  Although she is adopted, we are fortunate that we have a bit of family medical background.  We know that her maternal grandmother had a history of epilepsy.  Given these two facts, we grew concerned when two weeks ago she started what looked like a mild tic.  She would flip her head back like she was keeping her hair out of her face.  But she kept doing it even when her hair was pulled back and it would often we a full-on head jerk.  Then the frequency increased. Sometimes it was once every few seconds, sometimes not at all.  After an unimpressive and frustrating experience with a local hospital on Thursday of last week, our health care company recommended we take Mia to Hong Kong for immediate testing.

Enter the bizarre living overseas experience.  After a series of phone calls with a doctor we have never met who works for the health care company (different than the health insurance company), he informs us on Sunday afternoon that they are booking flights to Hong Kong for Mia and Sara for the next day, Monday morning at 8:30 am.  Hong Kong is not close (about 1200 miles).  And while technically part of China, you still need a passport and visa to enter/exit (not to mention a different currency, different mobile phone network, and a different Chinese dialect).  Our friend Melva said it perfectly:  “it is like you live in middle America and you are told that in 18 hours you and your child are going to fly to Mexico for medical care”.  After two years here, the bizarre has become normal.

I just got off the phone with Sara.  Their travel went fine (the health care company set up everything up and is paying the entire bill, including travel/lodging).  Mia was thrilled because she got to have gum on the plane.  They saw the Western-trained pediatric neurologist tonight around 7 pm.  He has ordered a EEG for tomorrow morning, a MRI in the afternoon and lab work (post fasting) on Wednesday.  She thinks they can come home on Thursday.  [Because this story needs a twist, it is nearly humorous to add that our visas (government issued ‘permission slips’ to live in China) expire on September 7… ]

I cannot tell you how much we appreciate your encouragement and prayers during this time.  We really don’t know what is going on with our sweet Mia, but trust the Father has a plan.  Forgive us for our tardiness on emails and other communication.  We know you understand.  More as we know it…


PS  The other kids and I are just fine.  But Noah said it perfectly tonight.  We were cuddling right before bedtime and I asked how he was doing (I could tell something was going on in his head).  He said:  “Dad its just different.  It’s just not normal.  You know, with Mommy and Mia gone.  I miss them.”  I agreed.  Then we agreed that bedtime could wait a little while longer.