A Year in Suspension

2 young kids at the table of sweets and tea

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Exactly a year ago today, Shon and I posted this video of ourselves singing our ridiculous Corona Medley. At that point, we’d spent about 3 weeks in the USA waiting for permission to return to China and were sure we’d be home by summer. Man, were we clueless.

It’s March 27, 2021, and we are still in living in limbo in good ol’ Georgia, USA. It hasn’t been a bad year though. A strange one, surely, an emotional one, an exhausting one, yet still full of life. I thought it would be nice to record some of the things we’ve done, seen, etc. during our year of suspension.


I translated 5 books and edited 3. Shon took an IB course to continue his professional growth, and he has been creating video lessons. That meant learning some new software. He’s done a bit of creative writing and editing as well.

New Experiences

We pet and house-sat for complete strangers 3 times. Trusted Housesitters for the win!

young boy sitting on the floor with three large dogs
Turtle loved dog sitting!

Shon decided we should all get into mountain biking (for reference, the last bicycle I owned had training wheels). Well, as far as midlife crises can go, this really isn’t bad, I suppose. Turns out, Turtle is quite good at this.

Shon has also decided that his life was not complete without a grand piano restoration project. So now there’s that as well.

an old man, a middle-aged man, and a boy working on a grand piano
three generations working on restoring a grand piano

Turtle had a COVID-style birthday party which featured zero guests and a pile of presents and cards like he’d never seen before (and is not likely to ever see again). Thank you, friends and family. It was awesome.

The kids got to have their first ever Christmas with their grandparents and uncle.

It was also the first time they were big enough to live through all 4 seasons and remember it.

For the first time in a decade, we neither attended nor hosted a Friendsgiving. It was just the four of us instead which was different but okay.

Poetry Tea Parties. Big thanks to Julie Bogart for this. Every so often we set the table, pour tea or cocoa, arrange the desserts, and spend an hour reading, reciting, and sometimes writing poetry together. Here is the most recent masterpiece from Princess, 5:


Shon built a pallet day bed for the porch. It’s the best thing ever for about 2 months of the year.

I’ve been slowly creating Russian-language learning resources for our kids.

We co-wrote a song, Shon recorded it, and it should be available on Spotify soon.

The Kids

We’ve been doing relaxed homeschooling all year. Turtle is now finishing up Beast Academy 2 (a fantastic conceptual math program!), reads chapter books in both languages, and takes an online Russian class weekly. Princess is suddenly an avid reader in Russian and has worked through 2 grade one math workbooks at this point. She can do a split and a pretty good bridge, and her brother is close to getting his cartwheel down. They both do an art class in Russian via Zoom once a week. We run out of paper all the time. They spend most of their days deep in intense role-playing games and are pretty much inseparable.

2 young kids at the table of sweets and tea
Nutcracker Tea Party!

It was a good year for big conversations with them. We got to talk about racism, segregation, the civil rights movement, and BLM. They got to attend a peaceful protest and carry the signs they made. We had discussions about elections, and voting, and conspiracy theories, and not being a sore loser. We’ve talked about being responsible, and the importance of hygiene, and the way viruses work.


One of the biggest benefits of this crazy year was the opportunity to see friends we normally get to see once in a blue moon. The kids got to develop friendships. We got to stay up late laughing, and talking, and playing board games.


Big sigh. I am now a proud owner of an Instant Pot, an espresso machine, a waffle maker, and a ton of board games. God bless thrift stores and Facebook Marketplace. Kitchen Aid Pro Mixer, I hear you calling my name but I am resisting. Oh, and Shon had to get a Dell laptop for work. DON’T BUY ONE, PEOPLE!


Man, we’ve been making some good food this year! Here are some of the biggest favorites:

Eggplant Gyros from Connoisseurus Veg

Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Balsamic Glaze from Kevin Is Cooking

Our daughter who normally only likes vegetable if they are raw will fight you for these Brussel sprouts and eggplant!

Instant Pot Minestrone Soup from Feasting at Home

Pasta with Garlicky Spinach and Buttered Pistachios from New York Times

Sourdough Starter and No-Knead Sourdough Bread from Feasting at Home (the easiest sourdough bread EVER)

What’s Next?

As we are about to hit “Publish” on this post, we still don’t know what happens next. Shon is waiting for the Embassy to give him the green light to apply for the visa so he can get back to work in China. The kids and I are not likely to be allowed to go with him immediately. So we play the waiting game, work, do school, cook, clean, and repeat. It’s a bit of a Groundhog Day a lot of the time. We are hanging in limbo and I have to remind myself that, as Ender Wiggin famously put it, “The enemy’s gate is down”. When you are in zero gravity, orientation is relative and only what you make it out to be. So we continuously try to reorient ourselves to see the positive.

How has it been for you? Is life back to normal? Are you suspended much like we are?

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