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!