Sunday, December 28, 2008

Quick Sidenote, if you have been following, about Martha...

So you don't think I have it totally together while living 7000 miles away and not speaking the language...the night we had the work party, after I had run around like a crazy lady all day - people finally left and we could just sit down a minute to relax and eat ...I looked down...and had 2 DIFFERENT black shoes on! yes. 2 different shoes. now, they were similar - cole haans, with that Nike shox support heel, but still. Can you stand it? Losing it, I tell you. oy. vey. Oh well, am sure if it was noticed they assumed it was some American trend, right???? Here is a picture at the end of the night, I am the one in the front on the left...in case you can't see me ...

Saturday, December 27, 2008

CDR living the dream, once again!

One of c's xmas presents was to go to the Suns Game (which was too bad they lost) *and* he got to be the Suns Ball boy. They get to go on the court for all the warm ups, and the neat thing is when they introduce the players, they intro the Ball Boy, etc. So with all the lights dimmed, music going and people cheering - they say " and now, from Concordia International School in Shanghai China...Its CDR!" and he runs through the players high fiving, etc.

I wish I could be CDR! He had a ball, got to talk to all the players and get a basketball fix. His league starts up after we get home, so maybe he will remember some of the moves to use? though, check out this video from his bball camp - maybe he doesn't need any moves???


Here he is at the game, quite serious....

Merry Arizona Christmas to All!

yes, we are back in the states for the holidays. We arrived 12/18 and we leave on Jan 3rd. It has been great to be here. The kids have thoroughly enjoyed themselves so far - play dates, visiting old schools, Target, geez - going to Fry's and picking out chocolate milk and yogurt has been a treat! It's funny how things you take for granted normally, you no longer do! I am sure one day it will be the norm again, but for now it is still a treat to be able to buy what you want at the store for a somewhat reasonable price. I can't tell you how many times I say - no, not buying those pop tarts for $7...or no Trix, its $11/box...wait till we get home. The funny thing is when we lived here, they never even really asked for those things!

My weekly tally is dropping. I often think I should keep track of my massages, mani/pedi's, etc...by the week ...but I never do. I can tell you I have had no mani/pedi or massage in about 2 wks I think! yikes. I did head right to my naturopath for acupuncture (had to clear that shanghai damp!) and have also been to my beloved chiropractor. He was checking out my shoulders...and finally said... there is a knot here, and I don't think its going away! So, yes, apparentley there is some stres somewhere lurking in our life - could be in getting up at 4am during the week, or maybe it was just the long flight over, but it is there somewhere. I knew there was a reason I went for so many massages!

Christmas itself was great, with the kids getting way more than they needed, and me trying to figure out how we might get all this stuff home! am sure we will work it out.

wishing you and yours a happy holiday...with more pictures to come from the week..there is lots to share - suns game,xmas morning, etc....etc... :)

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

I have seen the Master...

and lived to tell the tale. I debated back and forth about whether I really wanted to go back to the bone setter. Trust me, if you had gone once, you would be thinking the same. I was not going to go, but after 3wks or so my neck felt like it was getting tight again. The original Dr had told me it was best I see the master as I was a tough case and may need an adjustment. Too many bad habits and my knees would lock again.

So! Last Monday I woke up and decided to just do it. I arrived and the waiting room was very busy - I paid and sat down and then the Dr I had seen popped out and saw me - he was very surprised - said he didnt think I would come back! So, I waited my turn, trying not to breathe in the nasty herbs they burn...supposedly for your health. At one point there was a commotion and I heard some noise and someone ran into the room with towels...I had an inkling what was going on, but thought - no...it can't be? Meanwhile, I am texting with E, telling him he hasn't heard from me in 20 min to call Yu-Wei and tell him to go in and get me...and a lady comes out covered in PUKE! omg. She was having her bone setting done, and threw up due to the pain. See - I told you it was one of the most painful experiences of my life...and here I was back to go again??

I quickly text E about this and said I am going to just leave - and of course he says - no, you are already there, just stay and get it done. You already had it done once and you said it helped. Easy for him to say, sitting in his office at work! Then Dr Huang pops out for me - and I said - I was just thinking about leaving after the last one - he said oh no, its ok - The master is very good. uh huh. sure he is. Then he says Master already saw you sitting there, he says you need setting - he can tell by your legs. Ok, so now we are back to my FAT legs again. I said, listen. I do not have fat legs. I am not asian, no. But I DO NOT HAVE FAT LEGS AND DONT SAY THAT AGAIN! Then said there are many american women with fat legs, I am not one of them. He says ummm....ok. We will make your legs look and feel better and then you can come back and we will further tonify the qi in your legs. Ok, much better. I said now that is fine. Put the positive spin on things. Telling someone they have fat legs (when honestly, they aren't fat..) is not a good sales pitch. I really think he should hire a communications expert!

I sit and Master checks out my knees - ah, yes, still too tight. Then he starts working on them. I would say on a scale of 1-10 - his adjustment was about a 4? the first dr the first time was about a 12. It was really manageable, uncomfortable, but I could deal. He also did an adjustment of my arm - he said my hands were numb due to neck tightness. ( didnt even know they were numb) No puke, nothing. He then had me do a few exercises and reminded me no running, kicking, laying flat with knees locked, etc. and I was out the door. I will say my neck feels fine and I am following orders. Will I go back for acupuncture to improve my legs? we shall see. Maybe after the holidays???

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Martha is alive and well in China!

Yes, I pulled off the work holiday party from China this year. oy.vey. 25 chinese people, all coming to see how the "laoban" (boss) lives. It is a bit more difficult to host parties here - mainly the food part - figuring out what to serve, and then many things you might normally do are super $$. I managed to come in just slightly above budget.

I ended up doing a mix of things, some chinese (zhongcan) some western(xican). I catered some really yummy appetizers from a local restaurant, then at home did a few more things - michelle made spring rolls, I did crab rounds, meatballs,cheese/crackers/salami...dessert we put out fresh fruit, and I had made cookies and cupcakes. Chinese are huge on fruit for dessert, I think they ate all of it! All the food seemed to be a hit - There was not much of anything left, a few spring rolls (we had made 100!) and a few indian meatballs.

Kids were quite good and had so much attention but it was Wrigs that was the star of the show. They loved him! So here was our 11 year old dog, doing tricks and getting treats all night long - he was in heaven! Connor sang to his Wii american idol game. D showed off all her babies.
e's admin - who loves to take pictures - got a snapshot of just about everything we own, I think. Was too funny!

It was a long day and I am glad to be done!!! Now I can get us ready to leave this Thursday.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Germs, germs, germs!

I have been told by many people here that we will likely have some viruses and infections we don't get at home - different bugs, germs, weather, etc. Ok, I suppose that makes sense. What I am not fine with - is what DCR had in October. I did not even take a picture of it in its acute state - it was AWFUL! She had gotten a tattoo on her temple/forehead at a birthday party, which had to be scrubbed quite hard to get off. The next day, E noticed a slight rash (I was gone to the states). Well, the day after - full blown rash that looked like an outbreak of the worst acne you have ever seen! When I got back I ended up taking her to the DR, - and though they didnt culture it, he said it was either MRSA or some form of infantigo - a skin infection. MRSA is the penicillian resistant bacteria that abounds in hospitals, though it can be other places too. He said he would give same rx whatever the culture said, so sent us home with rx for bactrim (the packets we mix ourselves again!) and said to do hot compresses 4 times a day. This all started Oct 26. I took this picture of her last night - you can still see the spots. I do think they will eventually be gone - but can you even believe this?? just crazy! SO, new rule in the house - no tattoos anywhere and especially nothing on faces. nuts!

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas....




even in China!

We are surprised at the decorations they have out here locally - lights on trees, santa and his sleigh posted on buildings. Very festive, really. Note my santa next to the tree, E bought it at the flower market for me - he is life size and really handsome!

We didn't bring any holiday decorations with us - for any holidays. none. Just wasn't on the list. So, I was able to find some ornaments at the flower market, ikea and the fake market - some really pretty ones, too, I might add. We borrowed a tree from friends that have 2 here. E was so happy that it was about 8 ft tall and was super easy to put up, vs the one we have at home that takes a village to get up and decorated. We rushed to get it done last weekend as we realized we won't get to enjoy it if we don't get it up now as we leave for Az on the 18th. Here are a few pics, for your viewing pleasure and a few of the house. I never think to post any house pics, but imagine somepeople wonder what its like to live here - and now you will know, it's not so different from being at home!









Chinese Chiropractor?

I don't know how I get myself into these things. Really, I don't. I do go to a chiro in AZ, as well as a naturopath for acupuncture. I have found that going to them on a monthly basis usually keeps me in pretty good shape, otherwise I have a sore back or stiff neck or something causing me grief. So, here I am...in the land of acupuncture - the birthplace of traditional chinese medicine. I had a recommendation for a dr here, he speaks good english and has college degree from canada, then studied for the TCM aspect locally. I really haven't had many issues that required dr'ing here - which is good - but my neck and shoulders were really bothering me. So much that I had to break down and go. Now, I figured a few acupuncture needles, maybe acupressure in a spot or two and maybe chinese cupping. Well. that. was. not. the. case.

I arrive at this clinic, and they have disgusting herbs cooking - it was not moxibustion (a local chinese herb that is supposed to cure all that ails) but it smelled just as bad. Then a young guy pops out (young - I can say as he was probably a few years younger than me!) and says - are you here to see me? um, who are you?
well, indeed - it was Dr. huang. his card says:
Ph.D., Shanghai University of Traditional Chinese Medicine
Master of Medicine, China Academy of Traditional Chinese Medicine
Bachelor of Neuro-Science, University of Toronto

I tell him my issue - sore shoulder/stiff neck - and he immediately tells me it is most likely in my knees. All back and neck issues stem from knees, then he tells me he can tell without looking I have issue as my lower body is bigger than my top - means qi is blocked. (at this point, I am ready to knock him out as my legs are NOT fat??? hello? but of course, my vainness krept in and I thought, well what if my legs look better after treatment?? that would be good!)
ok, I say - but my knees feel fine?
No, he says, they feel fine now - in 20 years, you won't be able to straighten them out! He then shows me a "normal knee" - his, and then looks at mine - ah, not normal.
ok...looks normal to me? they are locked, he says. Me - locked? I dont think so? they bend??
no - see, they need to look like this. I can fix them.
hmmm..fix them? how? I just wanted to have acupuncture?
No, he says - it won't work - will be short term. I will fix them then you come back for acupuncture.
Ok, so what do you do? (my first clue should have been when walking into his office - there was a stool next to a handicap rail - and you are supposed to hold onto the rail while he works on your knees!)
So he says he will do a chiropractic adjust on my knees??
yikes! I almost bolted. Really, but my neck was just a mess. So, I sit. and then worry as I had not told E where I was going - what if he breaks my leg or something? oy.

So, I hold onto the rail and he starts "unlocking my kneecap". I very nearly passed out from the pain! I can't tell you how much it hurt! He says - your knees, locked very badly - um, yes...I guess so?
and by the way lets skip the other knee for today - I really feel MUCH better.
No, no. he says....you won't get better with one knee. This will be ok, very fast. At this point, I was unable to say no - trying to catch my breath...so he moved to the next one...truly as bad as the first. Once he was done, he stretched me out, showed me some excercises and gave me a list of things NOT to do for the next month or so, as my knees may lock back up again! I said "what"!!! lock up again? you must be kidding? No, you have to take care. So, no running, big kicks, etc till they settle.

then, he says - my master, he will be here in Dec, you should come back. He has studied bone setting for over 40 yrs, was a buddhist monk in tibet. Bone setting? yes, that is what we just did - chinese call it Tui Na, but its bone setting. Ok, I would not have been signing up for something called bone setting! ack! Adjustment, ok - setting? yikes! You had very bad locked knees, he should check you. I then made my way out as quickly as I could move - was quite shaky at that point and was sure he did my knees so that I would have sore knees and forget how much my neck hurt!

And...the punchline is...I have no neck pain. at all. cured. My knees feel ok now, a tiny bit sore after a few workout classes but no neck pain at all. This is good. So, now to decide do I go back to see the master, or call it a day? Supposedly the master does not hurt. ha! He did say once my knees are ok I can come back for acupuncture. We'll see. E thinks I should go back. I am not so sure....!

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving, albeit a bit late!

Hope everyone has had a wonderful Thanksgiving day with lots of turkey and things to be thankful for! We did celebrate here, though not in the traditional way. We went to Lawry's and had turkey and prime rib on Thursday night. It was quite good, though not as good as homeade! We could have put together the meal here - but for the trouble of hunting down the ingrediants, and making it - and the cost - it was just as easy to go out. The turkeys are imported from the US and are about $8/lb for whole turkey, about $12/lb for turkey breast. We'll have ours at Christmas for much less!

The kids got out of school Thursday at 1130, and no school on Friday. Has been a nice weekend so far - Thursday they played outside most of the afternoon and then C had soccer (getting pretty cold for soccer at 5pm here!) then Friday they both had various play dates, friends over and then they headed over to the original clubhouse with Michele and their friends and their ayi - they had a pack of about 12 kids that went to play. It was rough, but E and I went for manicures, pedicures and head and shoulder massages while they were off on their playdate. We met a group out last night at Din Tai Feng, which is pretty much our favorie all time restaurant here.

When we arrived home, we got our Tree up - it looks ok. Not like the one at home, but it was free (we borrowed) and much easier to assemble! The crazy thing is you cant find any ornament hooks here! I had to tie ribbon on to all the ornaments to hang them. Really, was so fun. (???) We didnt bring any ornaments or deco with us - so I bought some at the market, and ikea...and we have plenty. I did win 2 xmas decorations at the school bazaar - so that was good - a nativity scene and a dancing/singing santa/snowman thing. I never win - so was quite excited at my haul!

I know I had more tidbits to share but I can't remember them right now? I will for sure be back. Today will be busy with soccer games, and showing some potential expats the fake market, neighborhood, school, etc then we are going to a party tonight. I'll be back!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Chinese american idol?

I went into the office today. I don't go into the office much, no need, really. Today, I was asked to judge an english contest. 30 people had 2 minutes each to stand up and talk about whatever they chose to....and then they were judged on Manner, Grammar, Fluency, etc. After each person went, you had to give a few comments....I am pretty sure I threw out a few " that was a bit pitchy...and you really have to bring it if you want to win comments!" Paula might want to look out, I may be the judge if they decide to really have a Chinese AI! One guy actually did sing - not very well - but we had to give him props for trying. The topics were somewhat odd and off the wall - random. One guy talked about his gay friend, one girl talked about getting up in the night with her baby and how tired she was, several talked about hope and what does it mean - and success - how does one truly find success (pretty lofty topics, I thought, for someone learning the language?) One gal had memorized McCain's concession speech and recited that? Another acted as the CEO of Google and announced layoffs. Wacky. Then I stood up and they asked me questions like - how to learn english? (um, practice and study?) what is most important element - ( pronunciation works for me - if I can't understand, its a problem!) Fortunately, no one asked me to demo my chinese!

The crazy part was(ok, it was all a bit crazy but bear with me) -when we were done - (2 more rounds to go, so no winner yet) - all these people came over and wanted their pictures taken WITH ME! Me, as in AD? Can you stand it? It happens out and about here with the kids, but rarely do they take pics of me or E, and I was not expecting it at work of all places. I think E's admin was the first one over? Just wild. good thing my hair looked ok today - can you imagine? Anyway, I am not sure why I dont get this reception back in Chandler, but I will sure be letting them know!

Gonna a be a long winter...

2 degrees celcius at 745 this am. That's about 36F. Yikes it is cold if you add the wind and the humidity. Guess I better start shopping.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

An Open Letter to CEO of The Coca Cola Company:

Dear Sir -

Though I rarely take time to send suggestions and feedbacks on products that I use - I felt most compelled to write. Whose idea was it to change the Diet Coke (hereby known as DC) Recipe in Asia, therefore calling it the most deceptive "Coke Light"? Aren't the Coke recipes locked away in a secret place and duplicated religiously? Was a taste test done across Asia to determine that those living in the far east wouldn't be happy with the original DC?
Enough of the problem - let's talk about solutions as there is still time to please a loyal customer of over 20 years, someone who ONLY drinks DC normally and would almost give her eye-teeth to be able to have it while in China! The Coke light - ugh...just not good - too sweet, too flat, blech. blech. blech. On the rare occasion I have found a true DC....the cost was $3.00 a can. Yes, $3. I admit, I have bought a couple for that insane cost, but I would be much happier for a bit of a bargain.
Please contact me if I can be of service in launching the real DC here, though I do have a day job, I would be willing to double up and support the efforts to ensure a smooth, affordable pipeline of DC.
Regards,

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Cluck, cluck, (organic) chicken!

Not sure how widespread the news has been around the world about the melamine found in eggs here? I know the milk was widely broadcast, but since then, they discovered it in eggs, too. nice, huh? Anyway, I am not normally an organic food buyer at home -sometimes I did but not a requirement. Here I do tend to buy more organic items, at least it seems like it might be better - there is enough crap around on a daily basis. So - the eggs I have normally been buying, which were not found to have the melamine in them - have a color brochure that comes with each box (yes, these are expensive eggs!) - I find it very interesting - here are some snipets -

"sun daily farm is in Mount Qipu, where thousands of ancient cypress release massive negative oxygen ion continually (is this good??)......
All hens are of pure german genetics...breathe joyfully under the shade, walk freely in the forest (I might enjoy living at Mt Qipu, too, I do have German blood!)....
Supplied with nutrition balanced organic corn, soybean, every day - they also can enjoy the green grass, and spring freely!(I don't spring too much anymore, myself...)..
they then go on to say they run an egg researh institute with phd's to ensure the best quality eggs.

Anyway - they are quite good, and don't contain any chemicals, so we will go with them for now. I just thought it sounds like a pretty good life!

Sir Wrigley

As I had mentioned, Wrigley flew back with me a couple of weeks ago. I hired a pet company to assist and we routed through Beijing to avoid the Quarantine here in Shanghai. Please don't ask why there would be a locked up Q in Shanghai but not in Beijing...I couldn't tell you why! While it was expensive I felt it was well worth it.

When I arrived in Beijing, there was a person waiting for me to get off the plane, he took me to get my bags, then to get Wrigley, then to the Q office. Wrigley couldnt get out of his crate there and when he saw me he just howled! I know he said he had to go to the bathroom!!! By this time he had been in his crate for about 19 -20 hours! The Q office filled out some paperwork, took a pic of me and wrigs - still in the crate - then told me to leave. The escort took me out into the airport where another person was there from the company - world care pet - to meet me. She told me he would need to stay there for 3 hours. So, my mom - who was with me, and I got a starbucks...and sat to wait. Side note, had not been to Beijing airport - was huge - and freezing! very nice, but way too cold. So we waited...and waited...and then tried out a Big Mac.....(same by they way as home!)..waited more...then out she came wheeling wrigs on a cart....he saw me and just let out another howl...She then arranged to have a car pick us up so we could take Wrigs offsite to get out, go to the bathroom, have a drink, etc. My mom stayed at the airport with all our bags, and off we went. He was so happy to run around. There were no accidents in his crate - he had held it for about 24 hours at this point! Quickly we headed back to the airport, and then went to check in for our next flight. I felt so bad sending him off again, but we had no choice. Finally, we landed in Shanghai, and went to get the bags....and...the first thing down the luggage carousel was WRIGS! omg! I quickly got the cart over and someone helped us get him off. I have never been so happy to be home in my life! The whole process was about 30 hours...and Wrigs did just wonderful. He is settling in really well.

The other thing we had to do once he arrived was register him - for $150 the police will register him so they wont come to take him away. we hear about them raiding neighborhoods and taking dogs - you have to pay tons of money to get them and sometimes you never get them back. SO, we paid for that and will have to also do it again in Feb - as that is their annual registration period. I felt it was money well spent!

here he is, in one of the pics we took for the police -

Saturday, November 15, 2008

An All Star Winner!

C made it to the all star baseball team here in Shanghai...and today they played against a Japanese team. The start did not look good - the other team very coordinated and they play together every week. They were up at bat first and all of them hit the ball way into the outfield. Our boys were really scrambling! A change came about after the first couple of innings, however and they did great! C had more great plays then I can relay - multiple hits, outs, just did a super job all around. Final score was 31-28.

I must say I might need to work on my coordination as I had a hard time - watching and cheering for C, keeping an eye on D (who was running around with other kids) answering e's text messages on HOW IS THE GAME! and trying to snap pics from my phone - which is not a good camera for sports pics, to send to E.
It was quite a disaster. So, I didnt really get any action shots, but here is one of the baseball boy...and my neighbor, thankfully, who wasnt doing all at once did get a few good ones that he will forward my way. After that we made a run into ikea, which was close by, for a few things, and then we stopped at california pizza kitchen - our first time here- we kind of had an all american day, right here in china! As tired as they kids were, the miraculously recovered on arriving home - C ran out the door to his friends and D and Michele went right to the park. I predict good sleep for all tonight!

ode to milk

Oh imported milk...
where have you gone?
we have been without,
for far too long.
I look all over -
stores far and wide
the shelves are empty
no place for you to hide.
China stopped the imports
making sure you are melamine free
but that was never a concern to me!
I dont think other countries
have been souping up the milk with plastic -
and really the australian milk - it almost tastes fantastic!
For now I keep on looking..
the local milk it doesnt taste good...
I'll stop at all the stores, in all the neighborhoods!
If you happen to see some President, even better anchor lite...
holler and I'll be over - and even be ready for a fight!

My new toy!


I do mostly like to walk here - its so good for you and helps offset if I can't go to the gym as much as I would like. however, days where I am in a hurry, or its rainy or soon to be much colder, it is a pain if the kids are coming along. They don't get as much enjoyment as I do, trekking off down the road on foot. So - when yuwei is off with E, or has the day off (we do let him have a day off sometimes!) I got this to take us around! It's so much fun! we tried it last night - went to the school for a fundraiser and it was perfect. I will say I had to search hi and lo for this - they used to be common here - locals used them as taxis - but the police cracked down and said no! however, I was told as a female american - no one will utter a word to me on this. Which is good, as I wouldnt understand it anyway, lol! We actively searched for a couple of weeks - yuwei calling all over, a guy from work making calls, visiting shops across shanghai - nothing. I was so bummed. Then, I thought to post a question on a local mom's internet board - shanghaimama's! and someone not only said they knew where to get it - they offered to take me there! she was super nice and we went right to a shop about 20 min from my house. Yuwei was very worried about buying without "laoban" - that is boss in chinese - meaning E! "oh...madam...we wait for boss. I take him next week." me - um, no, yuwei, its ok. I can buy this. E wants me to buy this as he is tired of trying to find one for me! if we dont get it, our luck it will be gone! I am sure he was worried as for him it was very much money, and was nice for him to be concerned, but I dont need "boss" to buy something! ha! So, without further ado...here she is:

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

I'm back!

What a busy month this has been! yikes. Time flies when you aren't in China?

First I was in Arizona for 2 weeks - and I can't tell you how nice it was! Target. Nordstroms. mexican food. yum! It was so nice to go into work and see people vs being on the phone! It was very busy with lots to do in a short time period, but all went well. I even tried a couple of restaurants I haven't been to before....eddie's house -http://www.azeats.com/eddieshouse/default.htm
and cowboy ciao - http://www.cowboyciao.com/. Eddies had good food but was overserviced? Or maybe I am jaded from being in China and having limited service? Ciao was good...great combo of flavors and wine. I managed to bring back about 100lbs of food items in duffle bags- always a good thing...heinz ketchup, sweet baby rays, granola balls, trix, tomato sauce and 6 bottles of yummy napa wines....you get the idea. So much cheaper and of course some things you cant get here at all. The other big thing I brought back...was....WRIGLEY! he is here, in china, in the flesh. I may not be able to post a pic till tomorrow...it seems I am having firewall difficulties...aka...TCF.
He did great on the trip and is settling in really well.

I do plan to post more later this week, along with some pics...lots to tell - ear infections, MRSA???, tallest building, a life sized santa, OPUS ONE private tasting. truly too much to detail tonight, after getting up at 4am and having a busy day. Will try again tomorrow...to add pictures too!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Monkey Girl!

video

I have been remiss!

I'm not quite sure where the time goes, but it goes. Posting a few pictures from Hong Kong. It was National Holiday when we were there and its a pretty big celebration in China, lots of fireworks (ok, so they have fireworks most nights, but this was even more!) and people everywhere. We had a nice relaxing long weekend...ate yummy food - lots of sushi for C and D, and made it to Disney, Victoria's peak, the ferry and Kowloon, and just some walking and shopping. I dont have time to post all the incredibly fabulous pictures so will just grab a few at random...you'll get the idea :)



Does he have a shot for winning our presidential election next month???


























Thursday, October 9, 2008

Some recent observations...

I notice so many things every day, that are so different than what we do in the US, but then just as quickly forget them. I guess it might be my way of just getting through the day, as I think somethings could be quite irritating here if you let them get to you! Here are a few things I can relay....

*TV - I havent watched one show since moving here. not one. zero. nada. ling. we supposedly have a sattelite with shows from phillipines, but it hasnt worked since we got into the house. In some ways, I miss being able to sit down and turn on the tv for a bit, in other ways, I could care less. You can of course get movies and also entire seasons of shows quite cheap. I have gotten some for the kids - they have watched all the Home Alone movies, Cheaper by the dozen, newest released kid movies, charlie and lola and now C has started on the Indiana Jones movies. For some reason I just haven't gotten anything for myself - maybe I like not watching anything?
* communicating - I start with english..if that doesnt work, I usually tend to start to talk in spanish before I catch myself...then I try hand gestures..they also dont work - pointing etc - they have no clue what you are doing, I may hold something up to describe something, ask for someone who can speak english and last resort walk away or hang up. One night it took me 5 calls to order pizza. yes, 5 calls. I called different locations of the pizza place to try and find someone that could understand me enough to then call the right place and order for me. crazy. Cant complain - its their country and they dont have to speak english if they dont want, but it makes it hard!
* "I will try" or, "maybe tomorrow" - the chinese culture is not one for disappointment. They never want to say no, or that something can not be done. I appreciate the tenacity, but sometimes better to know that something will really not be done rather than say it will then disappoint! This is frequent when it comes to fixing things at the house or bringing furniture - we still dont have all our furniture that we ordered - most but not all, but everytime you call -oh i think maybe today! I do keep on it, calling regularly but not sure it helps??
* Most expat wives dont work - now, I did know this before coming, but its reality! There is lots of time to see every local site, gossip about who does what, who has best expat package, budget for this or that - oy. I am working on finding my balance of work meetings, school functions, social activities, exercise. I have to find a new schedule to my day. I had it down pat quite well at home, and now I am in a bit of turmoil finding my new norm. While I can't, nor do I want to go to every activity around, I am trying to pick and choose a few things so I can get out, meet people and see China in between other things. A few weeks ago I went to the chinese tea appreciation event - and decided I dont like Chinese tea. Next week I plan to go on a local "lane walk" - where a guide takes you on a tour of some local areas, to see real life in china and how they live. Should be interesting...and only lasts about 3 hours, plus I will go wtih some friends I know and maybe meet some new ones.
*this leads me to....meeting new people day in and day out is tiring! who knew? about 80% of daily sitauations involve meeting new people it seems - though it was 100%..so it is getting better? the area we live in, you start to see the same folks over and over - its a good thing. It is fun to meet new people, see if you click, have common interests ...but it is hard sometimes too, as some days - you just dont want to start from zero with everyone!
* food - I really dont want to just eat chinese. sorry, but its true. yes, if you eat "local" you can eat fairly cheap, but just am not interested in doing that every day. Sometimes its fine, but sometimes you want pasta, or a burger, or pizza...or a hot chocolate chip cookie. So I do!
* lines and traffic - people dont wait in line here. they all butt in front of you. I have to be on alert at all times to block people - drives me nuts but its true. At the big grocery nearby - good luck - i wish we had brought C's football pads, I would wear them! they are sneaky about it, too. I felt a bit intimidated at first, but I dont anymore - just say Bu! and elbow them back. The traffic part - is more for when i am walking - you get the Green Walk sign and one would think you could start to walk - but not here! cars are turning, or running red lights, etc. you really have to watch like a hawk, even by our school and we aren't in a super busy area of the city, either. I think this is one of the worst parts of being in China - and they dont seem to even care they are turning while you are in the middle of the road?
* massage - very cheap here, even the place i normally go which is a bit more high end - about $12 for one hour massage. I do like this perk. today, for my lunch hour, I am going with my neighbors for foot massages so we can visit, too.


Enough for now. I will try and update some on Hong Kong soon. I am also heading back to AZ in another week or so for work, so will be enjoying some yummy mexican food and visiting with friends!

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Happy Birthday to Me!

It's hard to be 29 (again) but someone has to do it! Was a nice, if uneventful day here in China. Our weather has cooled off and has been almost cold (ok, probably only for me!) and the house is settling in. Still looking for stuff I know was supposed to be here, and wondering why some other things arrived. We are leaving for Hong Kong tomorrow for National China holiday, will update on our vacation when we return!

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Ok, it really is Christmas in Sept....

OUR SHIPMENT ARRIVED! YAH! So now I am immersed in boxes and *stuff* but it's ok - our stuff is here! very exciting. Only a few damaged items, mostly things intact. The movers in Phx were not well organized and didnt pay attention to how things were marked - leave, storage, china - so we have had some oddball things show up - including the pitcher part of my blender, but no base! I wasnt bringing it at all... but now I guess I have the glass part, just in case I need it. Oh well. The people that delivered were very efficient and organized, and so far all is going well getting things put away, thought it will take some time to figure out what to do with these clothes!!!

How does this happen?

Seems like every year there is some big recall or issue with goods from China. There was the lead paint on toys, the dog food with melamine in it...well, now, it's MILK!!! It wouldn't affect you if you don't live in china, as they don't export milk -but the fresh milk, baby formula, yogurt, ice cream of some of the biggest Chinese brands are all under scrutiny for adding melamine to their products. What they do is add milk powder to the milk products here - not quite sure why? but they do - so even fresh milk has milk powder, as well as formula and milk products.

Personally, I don't get it. Surely they don't think it will go unnoticed? yes they may save some money in the short term, but long term the costs are unrecoverable. We really haven't had much fresh milk or yogurt here, buying mostly boxed from New Zealand, but I just think that is unconscionable. There are over 1k babies in the hospital with kidney failure, several have died....and this is all just breaking so I am quite sure the fallout will increase as the recall has included fresh milk products. One of the big dairies published the following:

CHINA'S diary giant Sanlu Group apologized to the public yesterday for its contaminated milk powder which has killed at least two babies and stricken more than 1,250 others with kidney stones.

Zhang Zhenling, Sanlu's vice president, read a letter of apology at a news briefing in Shijiazhuang, capital of Hebei Province, where the corporation is based.

"Sanlu Group expresses its most sincere apology to you," Zhang said. "We solemnly declare we will recall all the infant milk powder produced prior to August 6."


Gee, we sincerely apologize for knowingly adding chemicals to milk powder that goes into your infants formula and possibly killing them or making them sick? I just don't understand what they hope to gain. So now you may see why I have a bit of paranoia about Chinese products. I certainly use some things, but you really can't trust things they way you just do at home and I just don't have tolerance for this complete failure in food safety.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

christmas in china, in Sept?

I ran in the western market today and found some exciting new items! Ok, not THAT exciting but I hadnt see any of these here before today. I also found some jello cups, as well. So, I went from not needing anything to spending $25 on *stuff* that I dont even buy all the time when I am home in AZ! I just got carried away with the momemtum, I guess!




Can I prepare your lunch now Madam?

Can you stand it? I really can't. I have to say one of the nicest perks of being here is being able to have fulltime help. Today I actually was meeting a friend for lunch, but it is so odd to have so much done for me, and its even more odd that it really doesn't bother me at all anymore! Every morning she prepares egg white omeletes with spinach, mushrooms, tomato....lunch she does a big salad or grilled chicken sandwich...dinner tonight is chicken fajitas...she makes italian, mexican, chinese, american, ....pretty much whatever. There is always fresh prepared fruit in the fridge - she sends me off to the gym with apple or pear wedges...she fixes C banana/apple/orange smoothies after school. We eat much healthier now than we ever have, I think! She is eager to learn how I make things and loves to cook, so as hard as it for me to give up my kitchen, I have been able to let go quite easily!!! Wonder if she will want to move to Arizona in a couple of years????

Monday, September 15, 2008

Some better news...

not to close on the prior bad note - a few things have gone ok -
1. I got my haircut and highlighted, and I still have hair, its not orange or purple and its not shaved up the back. this is good. (TCF: it was more than I pay at home!)
2. I found DARK CHOCOLATE M and M's! (tcf: small bag, $2.00)
3. I got my ticket back to Az for work next month, and will be picking up Wrigs and bringing my mom back with me for a visit. I cant wait to have him here!

Ok, so now I am really off to bed, just didnt want you to think I had really gone over the edge..there are a few things going ok!

p.s. - tcf- the china factor. its alive and well here, in all that we do!

Living La Vida Crappy?

Can I change the name of this blog? Ugh. So irritated beyond belief. All has been going fine, a bit "ordinary" but fine - until friday night my purse was stolen. Other than that all is dandy. Now, mind you, it could happen anywhere - but it happened in China, therefore, China is a crummy, rotten place to me right now. Anyway. Not much in my purse to speak of - other than my wallet and phone  - and of course the fact it was a nice purse. We cancelled all the cards - that was fun - and then will get some delivered here, some to Az, etc. what a pain. Luckily I have about 4 blackberry/treo type phones to switch to - so got switched over, and can keep same number etc. Its just the principal. So, we what started as a nice evening out - a wine tasting then what was a great dinner in the french concession quickly turned south. oh well.  Wtg to hear from my insurance man as he said i can likely submit it against my homeowners insurance. If so, i plan to do it. Other than that, we have been getting settled into the school routine, kids both started soccer though C doesnt like soccer, and d - wanted to play but now says she doesnt want to! (too bad for her, as I paid, and she's playing). I have gotten a few massages and foot massages to ease the pain of daily life here...though the one I had today was quite painful - my back and shoulders are really sore - hence the look on my face - E was kind enough to snap this one of me - am sure you are jealous now, huh?C has more friends and activities than he knows what to do with here - the neighborhood is crawling with kids his age and D also has met some friends and had some short play dates. Sat, after all the soccer activities we laid low for a bit - recovered from the violation of the night before - except C - who was off for another playdate - then we went with some friends to a BBq at school. Of course it started raining right when we were leaving to go! It does seem to rain on the weekends??? Monday was a holiday here, no school for the kids. We mostly were home, trying to finish putting things away in the house, the kids played outside again, and we hit megafit. Oh, I did do something cultural - I went to a talk and lunch about Tea Appreciation - tasted different chinese teas, learned how to prepare them formally, what they rituals mean around serving tea. etc. It was interesting lecture, the speaker was very good but I didnt really love any of the teas. I think the best was probably oolong, but I dont think I would run out and fix any of them. One tasted and smelled like old dirty socks? yum-o.  The lunch was fun and it was nice meeting some people, too. I do like to socialize, but I will say it is a bit like work - when you don't know anyone - you have to always be social, ask questions, talk about things in common, etc. Its really kind of tiring. I forget how it is - as at home, we know so many people through all the local connections. You may spend 1% of your time mtg new people, etc. Here, 90% of the time i am mtg new people. Its a lot. Oh well. Plenty of time to get acclimated. For some reason it seems like we need to hurry up and get settled but I bet it will be like that the whole time we are here. Ok, off to sleep. our shipment may arrive next weekend..something to look forward to, just in time for E to fly back to the states. Figures. Wonder who he paid off for this one????Ps - wish me luck - going to body pump circuit tomorrow..and its not a good hour!

Monday, September 8, 2008

Jane Fonda?

Ok, I promise not to keep talking about exercise here...but I do like to exercise and it was a big concern for me when moving over here, to maintain my routine. So today, I walked the kids to school, then walked to the gym for aerobics. I had not been to this actual class before nor this instructor. It was a chinese man - and I swear I felt like I was in a Jane Fonda Video, circa 1980! He was really into it - very dancey and coordinated. The moves, the whole thing. Not to mention he was playing Bust a Move by Run DMC? intermixed with Cher. Oy. It was a decent workout however, I was tired when done. I had sent Yu Wei to take Michelle to the grocery store so I was on foot - which was fine, its not far, about a 10min walk - but as I got almost to the house, they came driving down the street - aghast that I was walking and they were riding. Madame! You should have sent me a text so I could drive you home! I don't think they get me quite yet, or maybe I am not the norm, but as long as its nice outside, I am quite fine walking on my own 2 feet!

Friday, September 5, 2008

Latest and greatest...

I realize I have been remiss in posting....am sure so many have been anxiously waiting to hear what's been going on! Plenty of good and plenty of frustrating as well (that I now call the China Factor - not in a bad way , but when things are very different than what we are used to - which is often!)

We had a some friends in town for a few days, which was really nice - we took them to the fake market, YuYuan gardens, the art district( I am going back there when I have more time- its like walking through a little town in Europe with shops, cafes, etc) and tried some yummy restaurants. I think my favorite was called Face - it is thai food and the restaurant itself has a great atmosphere and the food was all so good! The kids came with us that night and they also enjoyed it. Another night we went to what you would call chinese BBQ - picnic tables, plastic clothes and tons of spicy chinese ribs. (with lots of tsingtao needed to wash them down).

After our friend left, we packed up our things at the hotel and started bringing our things to the house. We moved in last weekend, at least with what we have and are slowly getting settled. Our shipment is not here yet (??) and we don't know exactly when it will arrive (??) but trying to not be too irritated.

School started this past week and the great news is both kids love it so far! the bad news is my camera has had a major technical glitch and I cant get the pics off of it to share how cute they looked! I plan to take new pics on monday - we'll just reenact the first day outfits and post! We are able to walk to school, its about 6 min or so - and it starts at 8. School release is 320. Typically I walk them both ways, but sometimes Michelle will take them. Who is Michelle? she is the best part of the house we are in! I was not sure how having a person living in would be, but so far I am adjusting quite nicely! She does errands - prepares all the fruits, veggies, etc (this is a process here - things have to be soaked, washed, etc). She cooks, serves meals, cleans up after, makes beds, cleans the house, laundry.....yes, she pretty much does it all! she is very unobstrusive and quite pleasant. The kids like her and so far things are going great. It is really very common to have help here - as things are harder to get done - shopping takes longer, may require multiple stops, etc. Some people have several ayi's that work for them. I am fine with one, as she is quite efficient. I do think we may already be spoiled...she makes egg white omelets for me in the AM, and serves green tea to me in the evening! I get home from taking the kids to school and the beds are made, kitchen clean, etc. I think this is the best option for us, with me working on the phone early in the am's, and E often leaving for the office early, it gives us backup help when needed with the kids and really makes life easier.

Pictures are coming...of the kids and house..we are still waiting on a few more pieces of furniture and some of the drapes/roman shades...soon.

Ode to Lifetime Fitness...

Oh Lifetime Fitness…I miss you so…
Megafit China, is where I now must go..

The classes they are similar, but the routines I do not know….
it really is required, so my butt it will not grow…

The facility’s not fancy, no marble on the floors…
But the fitness classes should ensure I continue to fit through doors

I miss my favorite teachers…and my friends that were always there
Am sure I will meet some new ones, for that I will not fear.

There are lots of families just like us, all trying to settle into routine
And many moms such as me, trying hard to just stay lean!

*****************************************
I have been to the gym here, hence my inspired poem. It is actually fine, but it's not Lifetime. (www.lifetimefitness.com)
I am not a huge fan of "gyms" but Lifetime is more than a gym and I have to say we enjoyed many elements of what they offered - the playcenter, camps, swimming, squash, group fitness, etc. The fitness teachers were all excellent and very motivating. The last class I attended was before moving over, in mid July, so quite a length of time with only some short hotel gym workouts in between. This week, I tried Body Pump and Step. They were both ok. I think part of the experience is the socialization factor and I am just now meeting people here. So, I will reserve judgement and continue to go. I am sure after a few weeks it will be my new norm and hopefully I wont be as sore as I am today!

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Home Sweet Home...almost...

We finally confirmed all our housing details and we have an official address. We don't officially take occupancy till Sept 1, but we are friends with the family that are moving out, and they left last week, so we plan to start moving some of the things we have at the Marriott over during the next week. We will check out of the Marriott next sunday and spend our first night at the house then. Luckily, the family that is moving out left a lot of things for us, as we don't have our sea shipment! We should be able to make due - all appliances, cooking things, linens etc they left should more than get us through till ours arrive.

We are looking forward to the week...friends arriving from the OC for a few days, and also the prospect of getting to our house! School orientation is Thursday, will meet our teachers and do final school prep. On the home stretch of this long moving process...and we should get confirmation of our shipment docking this week, too. Stay tuned as we get settled in! Posting a couple pictures of the front of the house, and one of the new clubhouse being built across the street from us. Will post more once we get our things inside!



Saturday, August 23, 2008

Kauai, August 2008

2008 August, Kauai Vacation

Legal stuff....

Part of the process of living here and working is a need for a resident's visa, and work permits. Luckily we don't have to figure it out ourselves - there is an outsource company that manages this for us - its pretty complicated and labor intensive. Before going to Hawaii we had to get all this completed so we could leave China and be able to return as our original visas were one entry only. My health check was part of this, needing the results to process the permits. The good news is I passed my health exam - summary : " appears to be mostly normal female" ha! My abnormalities were my eyes and nose - apparently the fact I need corrective lenses and that I have a deviated septum mean I am not normal. I couldn't really read anything else - all in Chinese, but it appears I am OK. I also had to go the police station - they called it an interview but luckily that wasn't the case, just turned in paperwork and $$.. So, we got all our docs back, along with our passports just in time for our flight out, and we are good to go till next year when they will process a renewal. The kids did not have to go thru any of this, if you are under 18, you just submit your paperwork and the parents paperwork and you are good to go.

I am so glad to know I am almost normal!

Friday, August 22, 2008

Back on track...Kauai...

The last few weeks have been a bit crazy, with vacation mixed in. We spent a week on Kauai last week, amidst everything else we have been doing.

We almost didnt go, as the flights were not going to be good. we had bought this trip at an auction last year before we knew we were moving to China. The original flight plan had us going back to san fran? then to Kauai? um, no? I dont think that will work for us at all! So we ended up getting a flight throught Seoul...and it was great! still far - 2 hours to Korea, about 9hrs to Honolulu then another 30 min for Kauai, but it was doable and we all thought korean airlines was really quite good - very nice attendants and the kids had great childrens meals along the way. All in all, everyone did great on the plane. We did decide for our next trip we'd like one to be a little shorter??? something about flying for an entire day gets old!!!

Kauai was really nice, hadn't been to that island before and we thought it was beautiful. We spent our days at the beach, with an after beach dip at the pool. The kids learned to snorkle, and thought that was fun. C really enjoyed it, - D tried it but didnt love it, she was happy to just swim around. We took a sail up the Na Pali coast one of the days - very beautiful cliffs that you can't get to other than hiking and boat....and stopped to snorkle a few times. We saw TONS of dolphins, and sea turtles - they swam along with our boat and the turtles were right where we snorkled. (not to mention tons of fish) We didnt see any sharks, which C was happy about as that was a concern to him while in the ocean!

I had to laugh, only we would go to Hawaii with some empty bags to fill up! I found out they have a costco on the island - so that sealed the deal! we ended up returning with 3 duffles of "stuff" - cereal, granola bars, diet coke, wine, canned soup, salad dressing...you get the idea! One of my trip highlights was stopping in Safeway and just looking at the dairy case - heaven! Posting some pics of our week of Sun and Fun! Stay tuned for more adventures in China!

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Hooray!



Wrigley is doing MUCH better...should make a full recovery, thank goodness! He really went through the wringer this last week. The vet (velvet is her name! and she looks like a velvet!) said he is healing way faster than she expected. I won't post the graphic pictures of his wounds - it could almost make you throw up - but suffice it to say, my poor man was brutally injured. The dogs that attacked him were never claimed and they were put to sleep this week. The picture I have posted is him looking much better, but his hind end is not nearly looking as good.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Bad Day...


We had some really bad news the last day of vacation - our dog, Wrigley (who is the best dog in the world, I might add) who is still in AZ was attacked by 2 pit bulls last Thursday night. He was on a walk and on his leash and they came out of nowhere, no tags/collars, not a sound and attacked my poor man. He didnt know what hit him. My brother was the one walking him, and he basically beat them off and almost beat one of them to death. They both came out looking quite rough - Wrigs spent the next day at the vet, had to have surgery to do all the stitches - his hind end and his ear/head. It appears he will be ok, he is home and walking slowly but I have to wonder if he'll be able to get past such a trauma. I dont know if we will - I end up in tears whenever I think about the whole thing. We contemplated having me fly home from vacation instead of coming back to China, but it seemed to be under control and he is doing much better, so I didnt. We have talked to him on the phone and he sits up and licks the receiver. I have to say we are just sick over this. The 2 dogs(?) that attacked him were picked up by the police -they came right away and were able to get them and taken to the pound. They are locked up and so far no one has called for them. I will find out tomorrow what the deal is as far as how long do they keep them before putting them down, etc. I honestly hope no one tries to claim them - I will gladly pay the vet bills - I just want to ensure those dogs are never out again.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Who knew?


that you could get Silver Oak Cab in Kaiuai for a relatively good price? It happens to be in my top 5 of favorite wines, and we have now had it 4 times this week! At home you might see it on the menus for $150+...and at the local stores maybe around 60-80 depending on what year, which vineyard, etc. Well, they must be using it like a loss leader at the grocery because the mark up has been pretty small, considering. I also dont know that we can get this in China, so have to stock up now! the funny thing - and I wish we had a video of this - We were told earlier in the week that in Hawaii, the liquor law is you can cork it, taste a bit, recork it and take it with you. Tonight at dinner the waitress asked if we wanted to save the cork in case we didnt drink it all. We said - no, thats fine, we will drink it. Well, DCR was having some issues tonight - too tired and was not up for sitting while we drank Silver Oak - so...I paid and said we are going to take it with us. She came back and said - oh, I am so sorry, but I was just told if you want to cork it and take it you cant get it till tomorrow? hello? I am not leaving the silver oak, lady! So I said, oh, ok - weird as we were told the opposite elsewhere. She walked away - I grabbed the bottle and my purse, along with C - said lets go C - and we hid it under my purse and took off. No way I was leaving the silver oak behind! I am sure we looked a hoot, hot footing it out of there! C is still laughing about it! No doubt setting a great example for the kids. Now, back to vacation..till next week -

Monday, August 11, 2008

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

CDR...living the dream....




C had one of his best days ever last week. Now, let me state that he has had more best days ever in his 8 years than I have had in 38 years - so don't feel sorry for him at all! Although we likely are going to pass on Beijing and the Olympics (hotel rooms are just nuts - 2 wks minimum and seriously inflated prices) C and E went to see the USA NBA team play against Russia last week in Shanghai. Front row seats. Every basketball star he could imagine. He apparentley fit right in as when the game was over and USA won, they made their way to where the players leave the court -and the guards there were waving all the asian away, but didnt say a thing to C - so there he was, in his Phx suns jersey - and D'antoni comes through and give him a high five - so all the other players proceeded to do the same! I think he was most starstruck over seeing Kobe Bryant, but honestly, he couldnt stop talking about it. So, was a good day. USA bball stars for C, and $9 mani/pedi's for A and D. What more could one ask for on a Sunday?

Sunday, August 3, 2008

The princess and her court....




D and I walked down the street (in the rain, no less) for a manicure/pedicure....it was $9 today (instead of $6 last time) as D had her toenails and fingernails done. She was quite popular, check it out...

Shamelessly advertising C's TV debut....

Earlier this summer we had the opportunity to appear in some commercials advertising the ASU sundevils. The whole event was super fun - despite it being 110 degrees that day. It was done at a local park and they had the kids playing football, bball, and cheering on the devils. They haven't completed all the commercials yet, but here is one that C is in, playing football - which is his most favorite sport. The commercials are playing Fox sports and some local AZ channels, and will be played at the sundevil games, too!

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Ok, the honeymoon is over now....


Sigh. We faced the chinese toilet today. It wasn't good. This is not an actual picture of the one we went to, as this one looks much cleaner! oy. I just don't know what they are thinking here! We actually faced it two times - once earlier in the day at the flower and bird market (at which I saw no birds???) D and I had to go - she decided she didnt have to quite so badly after witnessing the facilities! Then later after dinner at a very upscale mall area, thats also what they had? I do carry kleenex, wetwipes and hand sanitizer in my purse now - but I think we may need to buy some Depends when we are home as a back up! Thank goodness for all the squats I have done in my aerobics classes! Ack!!!!

Friday, August 1, 2008

Another week!

I can't believe we have been here for 2 wks already! This past week was a little less touristy and a little more getting into a routine of sorts. Let's see what I know for this week:

*Last weekend was fun - we went to Yu Yuan gardens to see the old temples and gardens, then took a boat down the Huangpu River - one of the most famous skylines in the world. We then hit the fake market - D got a $3 barbie, and C got a disk with 20 PSP games for about $10. We then went to dinner at a great restaurant - 1221, down the end of a little alley - probably the best chinese meal I have had yet. Everything was really good and most things I had never had before. Kids also loved it. We met quite a few new people at dinner and all had a good time.
Sunday we went to brunch at one of the really nice hotels here - the kids had their fill of sushi - they were very happy! It was really good and more choices than I ever seen in my life. We went with some friends and their daughters, then afterwords we went to their apartment to swim.

*Monday was the start of the Multisport camp for the kids. D was a bit somber about being left but ended up doing great, and C walked in, saw the boys playing basketball and he was good to go! They have played all different sports, done a lot of crafts and even made dumplings and pizzas. They have Subway sandwiches and fruit every day for lunch, which seems odd to have in china? I think it was a good choice - gives them something to do, wears them out and they are meeting a lot of other kids. C has met 4 boys going into 3rd grade at his school. C also spent the night with our friends Monday night, so he had 5 star day, at least according to him. They have been to camp all this week from 930-330 and will go next week mon-thurs, as we leave on vacation next Friday.

* I have spent the week trying to get into a work routine - was up at 3:45 two days this week? eek! A bit early. The other mornings it was about 5am so not as bad. I have also tried a few massage places and walked through a lot of the grocery stores to check out what they have (I pretty much buy the same things every place - bottled water, box chocolate milk and apple juice!!). It's odd being in the hotel apartment, nothing I really need to do here so a bit at ends. I have also walked through some dept stores, gone to the gym here and I have even cooked a couple of nights( tacos were the requested meal and they were really good! – Ian wanted to know if they were going to eb $30 tacos, as food is so $$ here at stores). I think once we get in the house it will be more normal. We went to our favorite dumpling house last night – Dai Tin Feng..its world renowned for their dumplings and has been written up by the NY Times. Very yummy and we will be glad to take anyone who comes to visit!

* The latest on the house is we are moving into a different house than planned, this is about the 4th different one but it seems to be the way it is! Some friends we met here will be moving home earlier than planned so we will move into their house. It’s about 1 block from the house we had planned to go into. Green Villas is a great neighborhood and walking distance to school and shops. They had done a fair amount of decorating and had bought many extras so we will take some of that over - extra fridge in garage, some of their decorations, appliances, etc. The best part is we will also be hiring their Filipino Ayi! She will live in, as there is an ayi room, and will be so much help for me. She normally is gone on Sundays but the rest of the days she will shop, cook, clean, etc. She is very pleasant, speaks english and our friends said she was wonderful. I am quite happy about the plans. I will post some pics once I take some of the new house.

* This weekend Ian plans to play golf Sat, and then we will meet friends out later in the day. Sunday Ian and Connor are going to the usa nba bball game to watch them play Russia. C is so excited, and they have front row seats, so they should have lots to tell us when they get back. D and I will be getting our nails done, I am sure – we went to a place by the hotel last week and paid $6 for both of us!!


All for now, off to catch up on email and do a quick workout before getting the children. We are stopping to buy some movies before getting Ian at work - we just bought Wall-e earlier in the week - $2.50! One of the perks, I guess???

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Food....

So far food has been ok here. Its not the same, but we have had some fairly good meals out. I haven't cooked anything yet, probably next week I will attempt something. Our apt has a kitchen with supplies but its not totally stocked for gourmet cuisine cooking. Groceries are quite high if you get western items, but produce and veggies are inexpensive. Meat is pretty $ too, as much comes from australia and new zealand. I have been searching for good milk - so far not so good, but plan to order from 2 dairy farms next week and try those options. C and D love milk and I think D has had maybe one glass in over a week? she normally would drink 5 glasses a day! C has been ok with what we have found but his consumption is way down too. They dont have diet coke here either, coca cola light is the choice - its not the same but bearable. I did find DC at one market - its for westerners like us and quite pricey...but if you need something you can likely find it there. I paid 1.80/can ! It was worth it, too. We have found lots of places with good burgers and diner type food, and we also found a couple of places with good sandwiches, salads, etc. Last night we went out for Italian with some of our new friends- was very good and tonight 21 of us are going out for shanghainese food. should be fun!

And yet another site seeing event...the Pearl Tower










dont get used to so many updates - we for sure wont be able to go somewhere interesting every day - though I bet we will probably see something of interest every day - if nothing else, different than what we are all used to back home!


While I was off getting poked, prodded and weighed (did I mention I like the scales in china so far? very favorable and I hope it continues to stay that way!) ...Ian took C and D to the pearl tower - its a really interesting looking bldg - purple in color, and you can go up and get a good view of the city. I will have to go another day, which is fine by me - not a huge fan of such heights. The really tall bldg behind Connor in the picture is currently the tallest bldg in the world, but it will be overtaken soon by one in the UAE. It lights up at night with twinkley lights - very pretty.