Friday, September 19, 2008

We're "home"!

Mom and I made it safely back to Birmingham late last night.... it had been a loooong day in the airports of the world, but all went relatively smoothly.

As for our final day in Beijing, we spent it shopping! Of course! We picked up a few last minute souvenirs, and helped Oz and Matt (Ron's teammates) get good deals at the Silk Market for their friends and families. It's really fun haggling with other people's money! :)

That night, we attended the Closing Ceremonies. Show started at 8PM, so we left in "plenty of time" at 5:30. We had the bright idea to go by subway, knowing that we'd have to go that way on the way home since taxis would likely be scarce with 90,000 people pouring out of the Birds' Nest! That idea was a good one logistically, but a nightmare in reality...there were SO MANY PEOPLE trying to get to the stadium that way (at least 85 of the 90K!) and so many security checks (and therefore long lines and x-ray machines and bag-opening and body-wanding) that it took us two hours to get to the stadium. Then we had to climb Mount Everest to find our seats way up in the 3rd tier. By the time we got up there, it was about 7:30 or 7:45, and we had missed the athletes marching in! The whole ceremony was kinda "ehh" to me... the scale was much smaller than the regular Olympics. The 3rd tier thing was disappointing seemed to hold more people than the 1st and 2nd tiers, but we were all under an awning and couldn't see the fireworks or even the flame!! True, we could appreciate the formations of the dancers and stuff way down below, but the precision definitely was not that of the Olympics Ceremonies. It was great to get into the Birds' Nest though... that is one amazing stadium, and you can't get near it without a ticket! The subway trip home was much less hectic than the way there, I guess because there were no security checks to get through...and we didn't have to buy a return ticket, not that they're expensive! The gates were just open for the throngs of people going through!

Speaking of money, visiting China was definitely not bad on the wallet! One dollar is worth 6.8 yuan (or RMB), and things just don't cost that much. For example, in Italy, a can of diet coke would cost us 4 euros (almost $8 I think)... in China, a 20 oz bottle of diet coke cost 3 or 4 yuan (less than 75 cents)! A taxi ride to the airport (about a 45 min. ride from our hotel) cost about 80 yuan, so less than $10. A one way ticket on the subway only cost 2 yuan, so for both of us to get to the stadium and back that night it was like 50 cents total! Oh, I forgot to mention that for lunch while shopping with Ron, Oz, and Matt, we ducked into a little dumpling and noodle restaurant.... this one was seriously local... no English, spoken or written, and no pictures of the food, but Matt had been there the day before and knew what to get. The dumplings were so good... had some filled with vegetables and some with meat (I don't even want to know!), and we ate a lot of them! It was three big hungry athletes plus mom and me...we ate steam-basket after steam-basket of dumplings until we were almost sick, had 4 big bottles of local beer, and a few bottled waters, all for the grand total of 38 yuan. Yes, $8.50! It was amazing!!

Anyway, that was about it for our trip. Travel day yesterday was just took us all morning to stuff all of our stuff into our suitcases! We did A LOT of shopping! I know my bag weighed over 50lbs (it was pushing 40 when we left home!), but they didn't charge me extra... Yay!

Today I'm just in the zone trying to get ready to get down to Auburn...tomorrow! I have done 4 loads of laundry, packed up a bunch of paintings and mirrors and stuff, assembled and packed 2 more wardrobe boxes, and now need to unload my vanity drawers and pack up some of our nicer breakables, and pack Ron some clean clothes for the weekend.... good thing I'm a list maker, and that the movers are gonna pack all the rest of our stuff themselves next week. I'm exhausted...just in time to start my job on Monday! Great.

(Disclaimer.... I am really excited about starting my job! I've worked all my life I guess for this career, and I think/hope I found the perfect job for me! I hate that we're having to move and that we're so rushed and everything, but oh well... we'll get through it somehow... cause we always do. I am a little nervous though! What if I forgot everything I knew over the last 11 days of traveling??)

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Low-Key Tuesday

Today was a "rest day" for us.... Mom and I slept in and then headed out to the Hou Hai lake region to meet up with Ron and the group from the Hartford! They were kind enough to have invited us to tag along on their planned day of rickshaw touring and lunch...we had a blast!

Ron and I haggling for a shirt on Opium Street

The outing began as a bit of shopping on Opium Street (and no, no opium was ingested/inhaled/purchased... the street is named after the activities that happened there long long ago!), followed by a fantastic lunch at "No Name Restaurant." There was so much food!!!!! We ate and ate and ate...

After lunch, we all loaded onto rickshaws and took a tour of the hutong in the area. On this tour, we stopped in one of the poorer homes and were served tea by the nice lady who lived there... then for comparison, we stopped in one of the richer homes and were given a tour. It was neat to be able to see the inside of these places... they were both nicer than I expected from the way they look on the outside. Even the poorer home had a big TV!! The richer home had a flatscreen!

On our rickshaw

In the alleys between the poorer hutong homes

The Hartford folks and their IPC contact were able to score us some tickets to watch the bronze medal wheelchair basketball game between the USA and Great Britain. Great Britain won (boo!), but we had a good time watching and cheering for our boys!

Wheelchair Basketball

That was about it for the day... we were too stuffed to have a real dinner, and it was raining and chilly anyway, so Ron went back to the Village and mom and I headed back to the hotel and ordered room service noodles! :) For a rest day, we still managed to wear ourselves out!

Oh, and of course I didn't forget...the cute kids of the day! The little girl in the red was a little diva and was a ham until the camera came out, then she wanted to run away! Her little friend was sweet though and wanted to pose for the pictures!

Monday, September 15, 2008

Another busy day!

I think we have seen just about all there is to see here in Beijing! That's not true I'm sure, but we sure have seen all the major stuff! We're about ready to come home.

Yesterday, we said bye to Butch as he headed back home, and mom and I went out to the Summer Palace. It was beautiful, as all the green spaces seem to be in China! It was hot though (a good excuse to have another one of those delicious peach and honey popsicles!)...and it was a lot of walking. We walked and walked, and then rode a boat from one end to the other before leaving.

We met up with Ron and (coach) Jim and a few others, who had borrowed little touring bikes from the Village and rode them all the way into town! That is a LONG ride on little city streets! I was a bundle of nerves while they made their way into town, cause we have witnessed the craziness that is Beijing traffic, but they somehow made it, and even toured the Forbidden City when they arrived. Ron had brought a little flatbed that we could hop in the back and tour around. With much hesitation, we went, and it was fun!! They rode us through a hutong, then the boys left and Ron sent his big bike with them (they put a little one in the back). We walked Ron down to the Hou Hai lakes area, where we sat on a rooftop restaurant and had some refreshments! Dinner followed at what must have been the most popular restaurant in the was crowded and good! We had their specialty...mutton stir fried with spring onions, and cashew chicken. Yum!! We were wiped out after dinner, so went our separate ways in taxis. It was another fun night!

Cute kid of the day picture:

The Great Wall Adventure!

We have been going, going, going here in Beijing! It's hard to find the time to blog, so this will be quick...

Yesterday, we went to the Great Wall! There are different sections close to Beijing, and we chose the Mutianyu section... it's just 15 minutes further out than the overcrowded Badaling section. We had hired the same driver we had the day before...he picked us up at the hotel, drove us out to the Paralympic Village to pick up Ron, and then out of town to the wall. It was amazing!! At the base of the mountain, there are stalls of souvenir and fruit vendors, where they sell "I Climbed the Great Wall" T-shirts for $1 (or less!)... it's crazy and crowded down there, but when you get up to the wall itself (by hike, chairlift, or cable car, the route we took!) it is nearly deserted! Well, not really, but far less crowded than I thought it would be. Anyway, we hiked left, we hiked right, and took lots of pictures!!

The views were breathtaking, even though the day was a bit overcast and smoggy. It was no walk in the park either... you are either going down steps or up them....everything seems very steep. It just blows my mind how they built the wall in the first place!! Butch descended the wall via the cable car, but Ron, mom, and I wanted to go down faster...on the toboggan slide!! We had to hike about an hour (up and down, up and down, very very sweaty by the end!), but we finally got there, and it was totally worth it to slide down the side of the mountain! Ron took a little video of it...check out his site to see.
We had some tourist stops on the way to and back from the Wall, but they were fun and we didn't mind. First was the Cloisionne factory where the artisans make their beautiful pieces by hand (we bought a dragon and phoenix vase!), and then was a tea shop, where we were taken through a tea ceremony. Fun!

When we finally made it back from the wall, it was time for dinner. Did I mention that the Chinese eat really early?? In Italy, we were used to eating dinner no earlier than 9:00 PM, but in China, they eat at about 6:00. A few nights, we ate at 7:30, and we close it down! Anyway, last night we had Peking duck again to let Ron experience it...he loved it of course!

After dinner, it was a mad rush (via subway) to the theater to see the Chinese acrobat show! Mom and I had secured 13 tickets for us, Ron, and his teammates/coaches/staff to get out and see the show...they all met us there. The show was great, and everyone had fun! It wasn't really tumbling like I had envisioned, but more like contortionists, girls doing balancing stuff, jugglers, and stuff like that. The grand finale was a troupe of young ladies doing tricks on bicycles.... doing handstands on moving bicycles, riding backwards and upside down, and a whole bunch of other fun stuff, including having 13 girls on one bike! I told the guys and girls I had arranged it just for them!

After the show, we all took the subways home to crash... it was an exciting and tiring day! That's enough for now... I'll do today's update in the morning.... promise!

Saturday, September 13, 2008

No medals... pooh!

Ron before the Road Race

Well, it's over, and we have no medals to bring home this time. The road race was today, and it was weird... it was Ron's category (LC2- single leg amputees) all combined with the LC1 (mostly arm amputees) class and one of the milder CP classes. The race was fast fast fast with all three medalists being of the LC1 category. There were 6 strong legs on the medal stand!! Even Ron's main rivals (Jiri and Roberto) weren't in the top five. Oh well... today's race results aren't as hard to swallow as yesterday's were, to me at least. Now we can take Ron out on the town and go have some fun!

The winners of Ron's race

Yesterday was completely taken up by the time trial. The course (which was the same course as the road race today) was fabulous! There was a big grandstand area for the spectators (and today, we managed to talk our way into the Family section-- which we are of course, but we don't have "credentials"), and behind the road where the riding happens a lake, then a beautiful pagoda on a peninsula, then mountains in the distance. This was, by far, the most breathtaking race site I have ever seen... wish it could've been the site of better memories for us.

Today, we started the day by going to see Chairman Mao. Yes, he's dead, but embalmed and on display just north of Tiannamen Square. Kinda creepy, but free. We then were taken to the course by a car service we'd hired... loved our driver! He talked his way right up to the course practically, past a bunch of credential-checkers and Paralympic volunteers. He did so well for us that we have hired him for tomorrow take us out to the Great Wall and to pick up Ron on the way out of town.

Then was the race, and I've already talked all I want to about that.

On the way back, we asked Tan (our driver) to drop us off at the Olympic Green instead of the hotel, so of course he did. You couldn't actually get into the park area or anywhere near the Birds' Nest or Water Cube without an event ticket, but we got close enough to oooh and aaah over them and get some pictures.

The Birds' Nest Stadium

We taxied back to the hotel to change, and then walked to a restaurant we had previously spied across the street from Tiannamen Square... it was probably the best food we've had here! Well, it tied with the Peking Duck, and was cheaper!

So now that the races are over, I hope that we can get Ron out of the village to do some sightseeing. The Great Wall tomorrow will be a good start, and tomorrow night we have bought tickets to an acrobat show! We bought lots of tickets actually...nine of Ron's teammates/coaches/entourage wanted to go too! The hotel concierge must've thought we were crazy when we bought 13 tickets, but nah, she knows that already! We have kept the desk ladies quite busy with all our questions and need for translation!

Well, off to sleep... tomorrow will be a better day.

Oh, and here's another "cute baby" picture...

Friday, September 12, 2008


Well, the time trial is over, and Ron finished 5th. I'll leave all the descriptive details to him since we couldn't see much of the race, but I do know that it was hot and hard. The guys that we knew to worry about were indeed the ones that took the medals... we're disappointed, but you know, you just have to leave it all out there on the road, and Ron certainly did that. He was wiped out after it was all over.

Tomorrow is the road race, against the same old crew. It's never over till it's over, but the time trial today was where our best chance was.

On a high note, the course was beautiful...

I don't really know what else to say. There are definitely highs and lows on this journey, and the lows aren't very much fun. We are thankful for all the support we feel from all of you at home.

After the race, Barb, Brooke, Ron, and Sandy and John (of the Hartford)

Thursday, September 11, 2008

My aching feet!!

We have walked one billion miles today... or at least it felt like it! We started by going to the Forbidden City, which of course was ah-mazing!! You could just imagine that you were an emperor (or empress!) wandering those grounds, or being carried around I'm would have been a long way to walk to get anywhere! The crowds were thick, and there was a lot of pushing and shoving to see some of the sights (thrones and such) inside the palaces...the doors were open but with rails, with everyone pushing to get up to the front to see. It reminded me of pep rallies at Auburn! Ah, China. The Forbidden City is not to be missed though! Here are some of my favorite pictures.

See the crowds?? Yes, they are pushy!

Ice Cream Break- it was hot!!

After wearing ourselves out at the Forbidden City, we hunted down a lunch-spot... that took a while, but we ended up very happy with our lunch of spicy chicken, noodles, rice, and broccoli. We then walked some more.... trying to see the Bell and Drum towers, but they were closed, so we started exploring the Hou Hai lake area. More walking, more shopping! I also finally got a picture of a Chinese child (with permission of his...or her- it was hard to tell- daddy of course). As an aside, it is the strangest thing I have ever seen, but the little toddler age children are dressed in pants with the inseam mostly cut out! And without diapers!! Their little heineys are just hanging out all over the place!! We haven't seen any pee-pee or poo-poo stains on the mothers who tote them around all day, but I don't see how we don't...the are too little to be potty trained! This child seemed to have intact pants, but I'm not sure!! :) The pediatrician in me also fully disapproves of all the kids on bicycles without helmets!! My PALS services have not yet been needed though...

After walking around Hou Hai lake and hutong, our feet demanded that we take a cab for once, and we headed back to our hotel to freshen up and rest. Later, we ventured out to the Night Market, where there are stalls and stalls of, well, interesting and unusual (read, disgusting!) food items for sale... the available variety includes silk worms on a stick, fried centipedes, scorpions, sea horses, starfish, kidneys and hearts of various animals, snake, mice, and a lot of other unidentifiable creatures.

It wasn't all horrifying though... we tried several (boring!) things, which were mostly good: chicken on a stick, pineapple rice with sugar, fried dumplings, fried bananas (which were very much like New Orleans' beignets), and fruit with a coating of melted sugar- like brittle! Yes, we ate some things we probably weren't supposed to, but hey, you only live once! I may regret it in the morning, we'll see! The fruit brittle stuff

And now, of course, we are turning in for the night. Tomorrow is the big day.... Ron's time trial! He's nervous... but he's ready! He's ready for all of his hard work to pay off, and to go out there and have some fun! We're meeting up with the crew from the Hartford and riding out to the course together, which is at the Ming Tombs. Should be fun! I am so proud of Ron, and ready to see those Go-Sticks in action! Stay tuned in (and keep your fingers crossed for him!)... he goes off at about 2:45 here, which is 1:45 AM at home- we should have some updates posted by the time ya'll wake up! Until then....

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Parks and Hutongs and Duck, Oh My!

Today has been fun!! The weather is beautiful today... warm and sunny, the complete opposite from yesterday's rainy and chilly! We almost needed to use our umbrellas like parasols, like all the Chinese women do! We would fit in better if we did!

We started the morning by visiting Beihai Park! It was fabulous! There is a big lake (aptly named Beihai lake) with sections completely covered by huge green water lilies!

Beihai Lake, water lilies, and the White Dagoba

On an island in the center of the lake, there is a huge white temple called the White Dagoba. After hiking up many many stairs, you could almost get to the top, with a nice city view as a reward. Also at the top, we were crowned Empresses! :)

The Newest Chinese Empresses

We had lunch at a little cafe overlooking the lake, and ate dumplings and noodles (yum!)... a bit more authentic than yesterday's meals! This little Chinese lady struck up a conversation with us at lunch... turns out she was an English teacher and wanted to practice her English with some native-speakers I guess. She was very sweet, and even invited us to join her and her husband on a paddle boat ride in the lake, but we decided to keep with our plans for the afternoon instead. Hope that didn't violate any major rules of etiquette...we thanked her a lot for the invitation!

We had an hour or two until Butch was due to arrive, so we decided to start heading back to the hotel, and maybe to stop at Jingshan Park on the way back, but at the last minute, we were approached by (several) rickshaw drivers asking us to take their hutong tour... the is on our to-do list, and we had just enough time, so we went! It was so fun! Our driver was young and tried very hard to explain everything to us in English (and did very well actually!) as he pedalled us through a hutong behind the Forbidden City. The hutongs are the old tradional Chinese neighborhoods, still inhabited by the poorer people of the city, as well as some soldiers. We saw the little house where Mao lived as a student for a year or two in his twenties. It was really interesting... you wonder how people still are able to live in this way. There were some nicer areas (like the "rich people" house where our driver posed for the picture below), but mostly it was very ramshackle.

Our rickshaw driver and Hutong tour guide

Butch arrived after shortly after our rickshaw ride... we were happy he made it in one piece!! We walked around Tiannamen Square for a bit, then went on a culinary adventure- Peking Duck!! Our hotel had recommended a certain restaurant, Da Dong (yes, funny name...), and it was fabulous! It was a nice new swanky place, and we had to wait an hour for a table! Here is the story in pictures... Close your eyes, Chrissy Tatum!

All the ducks in a row!

Ducks in the oven

Veggies! Broccoli and snow peas...

Carving up the duck tableside

Ready to eat!

Our dessert... smoking fruit! (It had dry ice underneath!)

On a side note, I talked to Ron a few times today. He's in the Village now with no more planned adventures out until after his races! Ah, the focus! He's sounding ready... maybe a bit nervous, but mostly excited! I'm excited for him...and I'm the nervous one! I hope he'll just get out there and do his best on Friday and Saturday, and that that will be enough for a shiny prize! He did get to participate in the Opening Ceremonies this time, a first for him, and he said it was beyond amazing! We were in the airplane at the time, so we missed it, but we watched it on TV today in our hotel room. We just missed seeing the USA team march in, so I'm gonna have to watch it again! We did see the frog-children dancing though, which was hysterical! That was his favorite part, he said.

And finally, I just got an email from a former Paralympian's wife... she has taken my Oprah idea and run with it.... and just talked to an Oprah person on the phone! We may be going!! Woo hoo!! I'll be sure to post any more details if I hear them!

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

We're surviving!

Yay, I finally got my computer working in our hotel room, so now the updates will be more frequent and with pictures! I just needed the only converter piece that I didn't have... and Ron had one! Thanks honey! I'll go back and add pictures from my other post too...

So, let me back up to yesterday. Yesterday morning was good! We had slept for 12 hours (after 36 hours of awakeness, this was great!), so we were up and ready to go go go! First we wandered around Tiannamen Square for a little bit... the Chinese are fabulous gardeners, and there was a huge flower display about the Paralympics in the Square. We found the cyclist of course!

Tiannamen Square

After Tiannamen Squre, we walked to the Temple of Heaven. Yeah, it was a long walk! Totally worth it though... it was acres and acres of beautiful grounds, full of roses and cypress trees, and very cool old buildings. Loved the Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests the best.

Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests at Temple of Heaven

After walking around the Temple of Heaven, we went shopping at the Pearl Market, which just happened to be in the neighborhood! Wow.... at the markets, you bargain, bargain, bargain, and I'm surprisingly good at it! We scored several necklaces a piece, and moved more shopping in the Liulichang district. There they make "chops", which are special carved stamps. I got one with my name on it carved just for me! Very cool!

Shopping for Chops

And then, the day kinda went downhill on us! We had missed lunch in all the excitement of the Temple of Heaven and shopping, so we were pretty hungry by dinner time. We stopped in a little restaurant close to our hotel, and ordered by picture what we were assured was chicken. It may have been chicken, but not chicken meat really... just fried pieces of something very cartilagenous... must have been neck or feet! Ugh! That was kind of disastrous, but we were in a hurry to get to the Beijing Opera, which we had bought tickets for at the hotel. So we set off to find a taxi, and let me just say, that is a challenge anytime in the evening! Our major problem was that we were walking along busier streets, and were separated from the street itself by a little guardrail like fence. We might have well have been trying to hail a cab on I-65 back home! We walked and walked to get rid of the little fence... thought we were gonna miss the show! Finally we got a taxi and got ourselves to the Opera, but after the first half of the show, we wished we had missed it after all. It is, I could say, an acquired taste.... the first half was basically a lady with a singing voice that sounded like a cat singing and talking to an actor dressed to look like an old man. We didn't understand one bit of it, and it was mostly dialogue, not singing. Many people left at intermission, but we stuck it out and stayed for the second half, which was a good bit better. It was something about the Fight of the Monkey King, and multiple characters were jumping and tumbling about the stage without any singing. We survived, caught a taxi back to the hotel without too much trouble, and went to bed early.

The Opera

Today was a new day. Rainy, but new. We slept in, and then spent the morning at the Confucius Temple and the Lama Temple. The architecture at both was breathtaking... and so was all the incense at the Lama Temple (Buddhist, with lots of Buddhas and even monks!). The Lama Temple had a huuuuge Buddha carved from a single sandalwood tree, with a marker from Guiness Book of World Records to prove it. It was something like 85 feet tall. No pics of it was inside and no pictures allowed!
Confucius statue

Confucius Temple

After the temples, we taxied it out to the Paralympic Village to see Ron! We hung out with him there for a while, then escorted Ron and a few of the guys to the Silk Market to go shopping...our specialty! We helped them bargain on pearls for their wives and silk dresses for their daughters, and of course picked up a few trinkets for ourselves! :) We have GOT to stop shopping! The boys took off quickly back to the Village, and mom and I ate some pizza (no mysterious chicken parts this time!) and made our way home, this time via subway!! It has rained all day, and hasn't stopped yet! It better not rain for the races on Friday and Saturday!!!

Us at the Village

Well, that's it really... tomorrow cousin Butch arrives, which we're looking forward to very much! Will update again soon!

Sunday, September 7, 2008

We made it!!

Hello, from China! Mom and I made it safely, after about 18 hours in a flying cylinder! The flight was long of course, but not too bad really...we watched a lot of movies!

Yesterday afternoon after our arrival, we found our hotel (not an easy feat...the taxi drivers are a challenge), and then went out exploring.

We are very close to the Forbidden City, so we walked around it and of course made our first purchase... a surprise for Grandaddy! He's reading, so I'll keep it a surprise for now, but we did haggle with the little street guy. He actually followed us down the street for about a block before we agreed on a price! Yep, $6! We're high rollers!

When we were wandering around the Forbidden City, taking pictures along the way, a little Chinese couple came up to us and did some hand motions...we thought they wanted us to take their picture... in fact, they wanted to have their picture made WITH us! :) Yes, we stick out like blonde sore thumbs in a sea of otherwise Asian people.

Ron had arranged for a Chinese Sim card to be delivered to our hotel (sweet boy) so we were able to use my cell phone after we got here. I called him up, and we were able to meet up for dinner! It was good to see him after being apart for just over a month! We met at the Drum Tower, then walked down some street and stopped at a nondescript restaurant and had dinner.

It was interesting, but good. And cheap! It's a nice change for us to be able to have a Diet Coke for the equivalent of 50 cents, not $8 like in Italy! After dinner, we went our separate ways and took taxis "home"... and slept like rocks for 12hrs! We were tired...

That's all for now... going sightseeing and maybe to the Opera tonight! I'm having trouble with my computer (shocker!), so I'm updating from the hotel business lounge. If and when I get mine going, I'll post pictures.

Bye for now, and Happy Birthday Sarah Atkins!!

Friday, September 5, 2008

Off Like a Herd of Turtles!

Travel and change of place impart new vigor to the mind. ~Seneca

So, we're leaving bright and early in the morning! Well, actually it's gonna be "dark and early"! Ugh! Oh well... the earlier we leave, the earlier we get there I guess. I am excited. Ron arrived yesterday our time, and he's been able to call me several times. There apparently are some pretty strict rules about what you can blog about over there... The rules are set by the IPC (International Paralympic Committee) and basically restrict you from posting pictures or video clips of the events, venues, medal ceremonies, athletes other than yourself, etc. I can't say that I understand why these rules exist....I get that safety must be part of the equation, but I don't understand why limiting the accessibility of information about such a fantastic and inspiring event is productive. Oh well... ya'll know I am a rule-follower (to a fault!), so both of our blogs may be far more boring during this time than we want. We'll see how it goes.

I have just about worn myself out over the last few days packing up boxes of house stuff... no matter how much goes into boxes, more and more exists! It's really like it's multiplying! The movers brought me some wardrobe boxes today... I thought that surely4 would be enough, but I've already filled up three of them with just Ron's hanging clothes, leaving mine high and dry! I've also been wrapping up picture frames and china... and I am tired! I need a vacation!

And so, we go.... thank you to all who are out there cheering Ron on in this crazy journey! It's because of our friends' and families' support that he is able to go fulfill his dream. Thank you, thank you, thank you. Keep your fingers crossed for him! :) We hope to play out this scene again:

Us in Athens after he won the bronze...

Oh, and no, I haven't heard back from Oprah yet!

When preparing to travel, lay out all your clothes and all your money. Then take half the clothes and twice the money. ~Susan Heller