It is 6 am on Sunday morning and I woke up with a start and thought, “Dr. Qiu will be flying here from Chengdu, China in 2 days, 18 hours”! Clearly I am nervous, who gets up so early on a Sunday? Plus I have never blogged before. To be honest, I have no idea what the difference is between a blog, tweet, toot, Instagram, you name it, I don’t know it. Thank goodness I am a mother to three teens and a 16 year old homestay student from China.
So who is this crazy person anyway, you ask? I am Ellie Shelburne. I graduated from veterinary school at Michigan State University in 1993, and from there worked in Oregon for 6 years. On June 7th, 2000, on the run from corporate veterinary medicine, I packed up my husband, two small boys and moved with my fellow associate, Lori Paporello (also MSU but 1996 graduate), to Northampton, Massachusetts. We had bought ourselves our own clinic having seen it once. A 1 ½ doctor veterinary clinic built out of an old (100+ years old!) house, complete with a crumbling barn where the first vet kept the large animals he saw. In retrospect we were crazy and yet incredibly lucky. Northampton is an amazing college town with the perfect clients: intelligent people with a commitment to animals and to small businesses. We are now a 4 ½ doctor practice stuffed to the gills in that even more ancient house.
Back to me (that is what blogging is all about, no?). Having birthed two sons and wanting a guaranteed daughter without adding more children to an overpopulated world, my husband and I found ourselves looking to China to adopt. The moment this idea turned to a reality, I became obsessed with all things China (and I don’t mean the ‘Made In China’ toys which did, of course, fill our home for so many years). I read books, went to lectures, joined clubs and have even studied just enough Mandarin to be dangerous. My daughter, now 13 years old, as American as anyone, rolls her eyes at my efforts though all my kids roll their eyes at me so much maybe it is just a medical symptom of too much screen time. Probably not though, I do tend to go overboard.
So this will explain my drill sergeant attitude last Thursday when I had my technicians practice,你好 ni hao Dr. Qiu” (Hello, Dr. Qiu) while I pulled 25 teeth from a small, soon to be toothless, dog. I want to be the best host ever. We will find out how I do in 2 days, 17 hours.