Monday, April 6, 2015

Nobody's Cuter Than You

See if you can recognize anyone you might know at 2:03 in the video...

This is where we sat for most of the weekend.
However, the majority of the time we were
in pj's, glasses, and no make-up.  I spared you that photo.
A few weekends ago my family and I took a quick trip up to Beijing to visit my friend Megan and her family.  They had recently moved to the capital from Suzhou and it was our first time to see their new apartment and neighborhood.

Megan and I planned to spend most of the 40 hours we had together talking.  We were pretty successful and managed to only waste 12 hours sleeping between the two nights that we were there.  

On Saturday night we were approaching our 2 a.m. bedtime and Megan said that we should watch the video trailer for a new book that is going to be released. One of our favorite authors, bloggers, and podcasters, Melanie Shankle, has a new book coming in April.  Megan's prompting reminded me that several months ago I had submitted a photo of the two of us after the author asked for pictures of friends to help promote her new book.  Well, about half way through the video Megan and I start giggling (and I might have shrieked a bit) because our picture was chosen to be in the promo video!  And, to prove what a great friend Megan is, she did not immediately strangle me after seeing that this is the photo I submitted…

Rest assured, we are the only ones in the video 1) on an E-Bike, 2) in China, and 3) wearing very stylish bicycle helmets!

Here are a few excerpts from the email I sent to the author describing my friend and what she means to me.  

…In the Spring of 2011 my husband was offered the chance to our family to China for his next work assignment.  In fact, he was offered the position on March 2, which was the day after all of our paperwork to adopt a little boy or girl from China arrived in Beijing. 

As any Type A, stressed out mama who was about to move her two little girls across the globe would do, I started looking for blogs about expats in China, specifically in Suzhou where we would move.  I found a cute blog called Apple Pie to Stir Fry and began reading about life in Suzhou, China and pouring over the author's photos to give me a visual of what I was about to experience.

Fast-forward a few months and our family arrived in China, we're living out of suitcases in a local hotel until our sea-shipment of household goods arrive and we take our family to church for the first time.  As we're settling our oldest daughter into Sunday school class in walks a very cute mama with her two daughters.  I break out of my introverted self and walked up to her and asked, "Do you have a blog?"  She looked surprised, and said "yes..."  "Is it called Apple Pie to Stir Fry?", "Yes..."  (I tease her now that she was suspicious, she swears she was just excited that someone was reading her blog).  I had finally met Megan in person!  

From the beginning Megan's hospitality (she's from the South, I'm a Yankee) and smile eased my homesick and over-whelmed heart.  At one point I looked at my husband and said, "I think she's the one", I thought I had found a best friend in China and I did.

Megan & I have now known each other for three years and we are each other's go-to person.  Texting, emailing each other book recommendations, forwarding blog posts, gabbing about new podcasts we've found (she introduced me to your podcast), and our bi-monthly "meetings" (we sneak off to Starbucks or the like on Wednesday afternoons, without children) cement our relationship. 

I feel a bit selfish because I think I am defiantly getting the better end of the friendship deal!  Megan & I know that our time together in China will be coming to an end and we're trying to treasure all the "meetings" we have left.  But, the gift of friendship, honesty, accountability and the example of Megan's relationship with the Lord will be something that I take back to the US with me and share with the three besties I left in Central Illinois.  When the time comes & we're not in the same country, all I have to say is thank goodness for technology! 

As for Megan's blog, it is no longer.  I encouraged her to let it go during one of our "meetings", it was stressing her out and not any fun.  I think the blog had already served it's purpose, it had brought us together.
I am sending a photo of Megan & I from this past spring.  As we were planning our next "meeting" she asked what I wanted to do and I told her I wanted an E-bike (electric bike) ride.  Most Chinese in our town have one and I'd never been on one.  Megan agreed to give me a ride.  Because we are responsible mothers who harp on our girls about wearing helmets, we rode bicycle helmets for our ride.  We're so cool!  I couldn't stop laughing because we were moving at approximately the speed of smell and I felt like we were stepping into the movie Dumb & Dumber.  Such a great memory!

I don’t think that I’ve ever plugged a book or product on my blog, but I am very excited for Melanie’s new book Nobody’s Cuter Than You which releases on April 7, 2015.  

Megan and I have decided that we will pay full price for it, we won’t even wait for it to be on the $1.99 Kindle list.  Maybe you should look into paying full price for it too.


  1. This is so heartwarming! You ladies... I am so happy that I got the utmost pleasure and honor of meeting you. Thank you for all the support you have given me. You two are too cute! :) xo

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  3. I love this!!! :) (And Melanie Shankle too!)

  4. Hi Kara, we are moving to Suzhou this summer and I came across your blog as I was trying to do some research. It has been a wealth of information and has given me an insight as to life in Suzhou! One thing that I am really worried about is the medical side of things. Parkway health and Singhealth seem fine for general things, but what about in a real emergency, particularly with children? Is Kowloon the place to go for this or do people go to Shanghai? Thanks rebecca

    1. Hello! I've been traveling, so I apologize for my late response. I am so glad that you found the blog and that it has been helpful...that is one of the reasons I do it! To answer your question, I think it would depend on the severity of the emergency. Meaning, if there is no time to waste, you would probably go to the Suzhou Children's Hospital (which they are finishing their new building near the international schools). If the child is stable (or can be stabilized), I know most people would go to Shanghai to UnitedFamily or one of the other expat hospitals there. In serious cases (and the child is stable) people have flown to Hong Kong (such as for non-emergency surgeries, complicated fractures and breaks, etc.). Kowloon might do some diagnostic tests such as x-rays, but from what I have heard, they will not treat children, but will refer you to the Suzhou Children's Hospital. You might check and see if your company has an agreement with International SOS like my husband's does. It's an international emergency assistance program that can help you find doctors & hospitals, assist in language translation, etc. We've used it for something as simple as a broken tooth and others have used it for serious injuries. I hope that helps a bit! Contact me privately if you have any more questions. Best of luck with your move and welcome to Suzhou!

    2. Thank you so much for the info. We are moving out in August. I hope the move goes well for you and your family. All the best Rebecca