News articles

Happy New Year everyone!

I’ve recently run across two articles in the news that mention hypertrophic cardiomyopathy. Yeah, the spell checker doesn’t get it. Anyway, my Dad was diagnosed with HCM a year and a half ago and had open heart surgery end of 2010. The doc told him it can be genetic and possible his kids could have it. I was diagnosed with HCM a year ago. Thankfully not a severe case, but still something that needs attention.

With HCM muscles in the heart are thicker than normal causing restricted blood flow. An often accompanying problem is the mitral valve does not work efficiently because it either doesn’t close properly or hits the thickened muscle aiding the restriction of blood flow. One symptom is sudden black out and fainting, both of which I’ve had in the past. My grandpa died suddenly from a heart attack when we has 60, but I wonder if he also had undiagnosed HCM. There’s more to it, but I’d have to explain it in person. (Anyone want to come to China just so I can explain HCM?)

Since last January I’m becoming more aware of how HCM affects me and my limitations. The best part is that now I know why I get so tired so quickly. Before I thought it was because I was SOOO out of shape. While that was/is true at times I pushed myself too hard and felt guilty for being such a wimp. I am trying to work out regularly; keep the heart healthy and loose weight. I lost 20+ pounds in the past year. Mostly focusing on changing eating habits instead of dieting.

So that’s that. You’ll probably hear more about this from me as I learn. Below are the two articles I mentioned. The last one is not very enlightening, but interesting if you wonder why sometimes athletes keel over dead!! The first link is a heartbreaker. This young man had a severe case of HCM that was diagnosed early. From what I’ve heard that usually means it’s more severe.

Young man in Texas

Running a marathon won’t kill you


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Christmas Eve

This post is not very deep or insightful. Just sort of chatty.

In the past three years we’ve made big holidays (Western & Chinese) occasions to celebrate with our friends. For most of the friends, celebrating Christmas isn’t very important, but they’re happy to oblige us and eat great food. I expected to stay up later, but to be honest we didn’t. I guess getting old has it’s upside; you go to bed when tired. We did watch the Grinch movie. The newer one with Jim Carey. I’ve never watched it before and was entertained to say the least.

There were four Christmas movies I saw during December that I’ve never watched before. 1) The Grinch 2) White Christmas (with Bing Crosby); I love older movies!! 3) The Nativity Story 4) A Muppet Christmas Carol. All are very good and entertaining. We also bought Michael Bublé’s new album “Christmas”. Very smooth, relaxing sound. My husband bought it. I didn’t have to ask.

The funniest experience was caroling in our complex with another American family. Since most of our sweets are WAY TOO SWEET for our Asian friends we chose to give them an apple. Six kids wild with adrenalin. Five places to visit. Four adults and copies of carols. Three songs to sing. Only Two songs could really be sung (Joy to the World in Chinese was not working without practice). One peaceful baby. I’m so sorry to the people we sang to who have no idea what we said. :) We’ll do better next year. We’ll practice.

We have a few pictures from Christmas Eve.

Created with Admarket’s flickrSLiDR.

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Vision for this blog

Hi, friends! I’m switching blog sites once again. Seems it must be done at least once a year. I never used to be a tidy, concise person until we had kids. Now any area of my life that I can maintain efficiently brings relief; those areas are few. My former blog was causing emotional grief (just to me). Now if you want to know anything about the Bucher’s it’s all in one place.

The focus of my blog is to share stories and insights in living as a follower, a woman, wife, mom, friend (and all the other hats I wear) in a country that’s not my own. China is not my home; I’m only passing through, but in the meantime I want my family to feel this is home and to thrive here. Friends that come our way I hope they’ll feel at home with us and can get glimpse of The Light of the world.

Welcome and feel free to leave comments. Know that comments are screened before posted, so they won’t show up immediately.




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Thankful list


Why do I wait till November to write a post about beingthankful? I should write it in the middle of the summer, but it is the weekthat we’re reminded to be thankful so here’s the list.
  • SOOOOO thankful for heat!! Friends, if you’recold this winter (between now and March 15 when heat goes off again) I’d loveyou to stop in. We have great in-floor heating that keeps us warm enough toopen windows. Even the bathroom floor is warm. It works! I was so afraid it wouldn’t come on. Sounds strange, but this is a land where the unexpected must beexpected.
  • Dad’s faithfulness. Why do I doubt?
  •  Friends who encourage me to keep doing the rightthing, who inspire to keep running the race and ask the hard questions.
  •  New friends that seem to like us for who we areand don’t want anything except friendship.
  • For no shaking of the trees…yet. (Streetsweepers occasionally shake the autumn leaves off of trees so they don’t haveto come back later and sweep them up. I understand their reasoning, but I loveautumn colors. :) )  
  • Our kids. They make me laugh and cry (yell,sometimes), and who remind me, “Mom, don’t freak out!” Sigh. You’re five. Howdo you know what “freak out” means?
  • For people in the US that for some reasonbelieve our vision and have been supportive in a million ways. We love you andmiss you, Springfield people!
  • For those who helped Kevin get a new computer.Thank you for your generosity.
  • For the reminder that Dad wants to continue workingdeep in my life and that I need to bring something bigger than a shot glass forHim to fill.
  • For family. Both Kev and I come from healthy,believing families. We realize that’s a rare gift!!
  • For my husband. You inspire me in so many waysand I love you!

We’re having turkey on Saturday evening around five with afew local friends. You’re welcome to stop by. I realize that might be hard, butwe’ll have most of the trimmings and lots of fellowship. 欢迎!!

From Autumn

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Neighborhood happenings


Something exciting is happening on our street today. Not sure exactly what, but the bread/flour lady near the market said a leader (gov’t) was coming through. It is all cleared out! The food vendors on the street were cleared out last week. (I can’t get my favorite pancake/lettuce/egg/sauce snack. I’m hoping after today they’ll be back.) The police have towed all the cars parked on the street. The owners will be mad I have a feeling. I’ll let you know what happens. 
I told you I’d keep you up to date on our new friend that lives several entrances down. The last post I mentioned Kai was at their house playing. That day when I went to pick him up he threw the biggest fit I’ve ever seen him throw in front of anyone. Oh my word! He was so impolite. Did not respond to anything my friend told him. He had a talking to when we got home. OK, more than a talking to, but he got the point. I sent a text to my friend to thank her and to apologize. She was very gracious and she’s been so nice ever since. I like her a lot and it has been a huge relief to talk to her and ask questions of culture when I don’t understand. Kai and her son, Chao Chao, seem to enjoy playing together.
She went with me to do a health check. It was last minute and we had to do it ASAP to get our visas renewed. There’s not much privacy at a health check. Let’s just say my new friend has seen more of me than most of us are comfortable with. ‘Nuff said. 
I’ve been trying out this Pinterest stuff. I’ve seen other of you using it. Not exactly sure how it works. Anyone have any advice?
I’m off to make a rice noodle chicken shrimp stirfry. Later.
From 2011-11-1 iPhone
Do you think it’s coincidence the only place in the grocery store to find Band-Aids is right next to the shavers?
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We’ve been back for two and a half weeks and are feeling more settled. Our horrible jetlag eventually took care of itself.
I don’t like transitions. Really. Hate the feelings that go along with it. Dislike the internal mental and emotional processing that happens. Dislike the depression. Dislike feeling in a rut. Sorry, sounding a little gloomy! During transition for some reason, I usually feel my relationship with Dad is on the rocks. Like I’m not obeying, listening, enjoying this relationship. Feelings tend to blot out the Son.
Yesterday was bad. Last night before falling asleep I begged Dad to show up. Please, show us what You’re doing. Give us eyes to see; ears to hear. Why are we here? Why do You move so slowly at times? What are You up to? The answer—it’s the same answer He’s been giving for the past 3 years—“Do you trust me?” Sigh. Rolling of eyes. (Are we allowed to roll our eyes at Him?) Yes, I trust. I have nowhere else to go; nowhere worth going at least.
Today is different.  I finally went to visit a new Chinese friend. She, her husband, and son live very close. I like her and bought them a few gifts while in the States. Her husband is working today, and she graciously invited us in. I needed to go to the market so she invited Kai and Kian to stay while I went. To my amazement they both agreed to stay. Without me. I’m not sure, but it might have something to do with the massive TV and Wii that Kai saw while we’re were standing in the doorway. :)   But Kian! Kian started taking his shoes off and decided to stay with gege (older brother). Amazing! She’s a classic mid-upper class Chinese who, since she’s had a child, doesn’t need to work. Her husband’s salary must be enough. Her family lives on the East coast. Her son goes to Prek five days a week from 8am-5pm. They feed him breakfast, lunch, and supper. She has lots of time while he’s in school. I’m hoping that I know enough about culture and she has enough grace with my blunders that we can become good friends. I’ll keep you posted. 

A few pictures from my phone: 

Mom, I know I shouldn’t, but it’s too fun!

Three Muskateers 

M & Kai with Levi before he moved back to the States. 


OK, this one…if you can’t read it says “Wood Hen”. Is there something called a wood hen? If not, it’s a translation problem. 木 (mu4) is the character for wood. 母 (mu3) is part of the character for mother; in this case 母鸡 is a hen.

View from our window yesterday. 

View looking the other way. Ugh.

Same day; same recipe. What happened? 

This pink mold grows out of the floor at this specific spot when a water bottle is on top of it. Every time. In just a few hours it’s there. Not there when there’s nothing on that space. We won’t put the water bottle there anymore. What is under our floor? Eeek!! 
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Grandparents and heart

>This summer has been so, so busy! There is no possible way to sum it up. I’ve waited too long in between posts. When we return to China and we process events from our time “home” maybe I’ll post. I’m an introvert who usually wears an extrovert mask. My think tank of “must be processed items” is full and we have 5 weeks to go yet. Eeek! I’m writing what’s on my mind right now. 

We spent the evening at Grandpa John’s house; Kevin’s Grandpa Bucher. A cousin from Idaho and aunt and uncle from S. Carolina were visiting him and we had supper together. Hamloaf, mashed potatoes, fresh sweet corn, fruit salad, ice cream. Selah. :) Need I say more? Everytime we leave and say good-bye we don’t know if this will be the last time we’ll see him on this earth. I have a memory ingrained from tonight that will stay with me forever and almost makes me cry just thinking of it. We were buckled in the van ready to leave. Gpa John said bye to the kids and closed the door. He put his forehead up against the glass and waved his hand. Kian (sitting right next to the door) grinned at giggled at him and waved his hand bye in the only way our little sunshine boy knows how. Let me tell you, he has a smile big enough to chase away a thunderstorm. The interaction between them was a split second. It was beautiful and reminds me of the blessing and heritage passed on in our families from generation to generation. Priceless.

In other not so exciting news I’m having an MRI done on Thursday morning to have a closer look at my heart. I’ve found out this year that I have a hereditary heart condition called hypertrohpic cardiomyopathy (HCM). It’s a long story that I won’t retype here. Basically, because there has been an instance of sudden death in my family (my paternal grandfather) and fainting spells when I was younger, the doctor wants to see the extent of my condition. Is it a severe case? Moderate? Mild? Let me just say that in this US medical system if you mention you are leaving the country and need things done ASAP they find a way to make it happen. I’m impressed. Thank you, Ruth Ann at the Heart Group!! 

If any of you are going to be in Maryland this weekend at CMC meetings. We’ll see you there (hopefully)!!

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May days

>We’ve been in Pennsylvania almost three weeks. Time is moving by faster than I’d like. We are LOVING being here. List of things we’ve done so far that we haven’t done in China: see our family everyday(!!), play with cousins, visit newborn cousins in the hospital, run barefoot in the grass, chase chickens, eat hamloaf, have fancy sunday lunches made by Kevin’s mom, drive everywhere in a mini-van and kids sit in carseats, shop at thrift stores, sit outside in the evening to watch the sunset, watch a hailstorm, play in dirt in the garden, plant flowers, eat cereal every morning, drink water from the faucet, throw toilet paper in the toilet, kids have baths in a real bathtub (some families in china have bathtubs but we don’t), kids play outside without mom always watching, backyard cookouts, etc. 

Things we are missing about China: the vegetable market across the street, our favorite barbecue restaurant, our friends. We know we’re going back soon and there will be plenty of opportunities to do what we love there.

I’m so thankful we have Kevin’s parents house to stay and transition back into the US. Because of Kevin’s surgery we’ve been here longer than planned. But it has been good for us and we can’t imagine any better place for Kevin to rest after his surgery. Despite the fun, it’s still stressful. The kid’s attitudes have needed some readjustment. Overall they’re doing well, but this is a lot to handle for little people. Honestly, though, I think they handle transition better than I do. I’m so excited to see the rest of our family and friends and to talk about China, but I’m a little apprehensive what the next two months are going to do to my kids. We’ve been stable now for the past three weeks. What happens when we’re staying somewhere different every week? Oh, it will all work out. The worst that can happen is that every place we go our kids will be a wreck and we’ll have to apologize profusely and have no decent conversation at all; thus not be able to raise the money we need and not be able to return to China. That’s the worse case! :) The best case scenario which I’m praying for is that God’s grace will cover our family during this summer busy-ness. I know He will. 

Happy day Memorial-ing!


P.S. Kevin just posted a couple pictures on our family blog ( Yes, when you get the blog if a screen pops up you can “proceed anyway”. It’s safe! 

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Never heard of it, going "home", and Expo 2011


I noticed a week ago Malia while sleeping was working hard to breathe. But symptoms didn’t make sense: her cough/runny nose not bad, she had an even rash over her body that came and went; not scratchy or irritating in any way, a very low grade fever, her lungs sounded ok (according to my homespun ‘put ear to chest’ diagnosis). I ran out of children’s ibuprofen and called my Australian doctor friend to ask if she had extra. She suggested I take M to see her husband that afternoon. After a few minutes of M crying bloody murder because her oxygen level and lungs were being checked, Dr. S diagnosed “slapped cheek disease”, also known as “5th disease”. Never heard of it! Her cheeks, when she’s hot or crying, get red blotches. Looked like she’d been slapped and Dr. S joked he was going to immediately report me. In short, M was contagious, but only if she had the rash and a low grade fever. If a pregnant woman would get infected it could be very bad. I’m glad to report she’s on the mend and back in PreK (thank goodness!). 

Speaking of going…we have tickets. Two weeks from now we should be landing in the States. It’s hard to believe. Our trip will include an overnight train ride, 24 hours in SH, and then the 24 hours to get from SH to OH. I’m a little nervous to be honest. We’ll be flying into OH to pick up a vehicle and only there a couple days before headed to PA. Hopefully Kev can have hernia surgery around the 17th. We’ll be at his parent’s home until he’s better. Our schedule looks crazy, but a very fun, good crazy. It is a crazy, fun, good but needs to be flexible schedule. Flexible depending on how the kids are doing. 

Finally, if you have never heard of the 2011 International Horticultural Expo in Xi’an, China, you need to be informed. It is a BIG DEAL!! And in some ways it’s a bad year to leave XN because it’s so beautiful. Flowers all over, cleaner streets, people are on their best behavior because they want to impress, etc. In most ways it’s a good year to leave because we feel the importance of this event. Expo leaders want to make sure this all goes off without any problems. They’re crackin’ down in every area. 

Love and hugs! 
Posted in Expo, Health, Kids, USA | Comments Off

March/April update

>Written about a week ago…

I’ve decided to forget posting pics on this blog. If you want to see pics visit our family blog at

Oh my! Where do I start? March’s activities: house hunting, moving, visitors, writing newsletter, ending the semester, out of town visitors, in town visitors, preparing for the summer traveling, and oh yes, normal family activities (which in itself is enough to keep us busy every day, all day).
We moved about a kilometer from our old house. Not necessarily the same neighborhood, but the same area of the city. There are fewer foreigners in this section of the apartment complex and I think we’re famous already. Well, at least the kids are famous. We’ve already found favorite spots. The pond where you can feed the goldfish and turtle and the playground are top of the kids’ list. (Rabbit trail: Malia is convinced she wants that turtle from the pond for her 5th birthday. Not for her 4th birthday that’s in 6 months, but for “when I’m five”.) I like that basic necessities for cooking can be purchased between here and the bus stop. Including a little stand that sells flour, bread, and yogurt. I stop to get bread, the kids always want yogurt.
The bus stop has 5 bus lines that start here right outside our complex. So, that means for 1 yuan (15 cents)/adult we can get a seat and ride almost anywhere we want to go in the city. VERY convenient!! I didn’t use the bus system as much before. Usually rode bike or taxied, but now I’m giddy with all the location choices with a bus.  
Tomorrow Malia and I are going on an adventure to the material market (Wen Yi Lu).  I want to get a few shirts made for our summer programs at home. Also, I think I can get a couple cute dresses made for Malia. I’m told the 719 bus will take me there.
(NOTE: If I had taken the 719 busy I’d still be waiting. There is no such thing. At least in this part of town. Seems the 709 is the right bus. And please, if you take it, make sure you’re waiting on the right corner of the intersection because if you’re at the wrong place you also still be waiting.)
Our life, it seems, is in a constant state of transition. Kevin decided to teach at a university next fall; we hope he gets the job. This week Kev discovered a hernia that overnight made an appearance. An Australian doctor here suggested he gets it operated and fixed soon since we have a window of opportunity to do it. We’d like to return to the US a little earlier to get that done. He already has the doctor appointment for May 2. But it seems that we cannot get our tickets changed. There’s nothing available sooner without paying an astronomical amount of money. We’re buying 5 tickets since Kian will be 2 before summer. This past 24 hours has been a roller coaster of emotions. Sometimes it feels that papa is not on our side; in fact that he’s against us. We were feeling so good about the decision to be in Kevin’s parent’s home for the 2 weeks that it would take him to recover. The kids could run around…OUTSIDE by themselves if they want!!! Spring time, pulling weeds in the garden, quiet, peace… But our plans continually fall through. I’m trying hard to be flexible. It’s hard once I’ve had my mind set on something. I’ve yet to experience immediate positive feelings when a heavenly wrench is thrown into our beloved plans. It’ll be ok. And it will work out fine. We’re a work in progress…
Night all! 
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