Saturday, February 28, 2009

Sat night is Open that Bottle what are *you* opening?

I read about OTBN last year - its something the wall street journal started 10 years ago. You are supposed to open a bottle of wine you have been saving for that special day, but never open. Its fun to get people together and have them tell their story about the special bottle. We did it in AZ last year and are hosting an OTBN wine tasting party tonight. We are serving a Gargiulo Cab, as we have stories and pictures to share of the winery, the Michael Chiarello cooking show we were in, etc. Love the wine and winery. We'll see if its the winner in tonights reviews. We don't have most of our good napa wines here...though we do get some from our favorite local napa store - napa reserve. I couldnt part with the Realm or Silver Oak. We do have more Gargiulo at home, patiently aging and waiting for our return to the valley of the sun. Stay tuned for the results!

Friday, February 27, 2009

speaking of health and wellness...and dr's...

I returned to my chinese bone setter today. I have a friend who has been having a lot of neck and back pain and I kept telling her she probably would be a good candidate for treatment! So, we finally went and yes, she was in dire need of having her knees adjusted! I had told her it was severely painful, but until you do it...I am not sure you can really understand that feeling of hot and cold and dizziness then the feeling like you will surely puke or pass out...then he is done! She was a trooper and did it but agreed with my assessment on the pain level. She was already feeling better when we left. I hope it helps her as much as it helped me as she had been going for massage etc constantly with no relief.

I also had him check me as I was feeling some pain in my hip - very annoying - specially as I have been such the exercise queen lately, with 1 or 2 workouts a day. Sure enough, the one knee was not bad but had locked back some, the other one was fine. So I too had to suffer through an adjustment, but nothing like the first time. It was well worth it, as I already feel better.

Maybe one day, I will get to go and have something else done - acupuncture, etc but he won't do that if your knees are not ok! My friend is taking her sister, mom and mil next month when the arrive in china - and Dr Huang has named me his new PR mgr and will have my referral check waiting, at least he says he will! If you are planning to come this way, let me know and I will get your appt made pronto!

The ski crew...

here we are, the last day of our ski trip.....the whole lot of us in front of our cabin. Really was fun, I think we will do it again next year.

Health and Wellness...

One thing I was concerned/curious about before moving here was the health care available, or not available. We have now been to the dr for several things, mostly small nuisance items - never ending coughs, with the exception of the flesh eating bacteria that D seemed to have last fall! (ok, it wasnt that but it was certainly bad!). There is a clinic very close, about 5 min away that has many american trained drs, all the staff speaks english and the facility is ok - its mainly a dr office - though you could go for some urgent care, too. Its open 7 days a week which is good. A few weeks ago I took D in for a cough that had been lingering for a couple of weeks and just sounded awful. I made the appt, they made with a dr I had not seen yet, so I went to check the website to see his credentials.
Here they are:

MD, University of Pennsylvania, School of Medicine, Philadelphia (U.S.)
BS, Yale University, New Haven (U.S.)
Residency: Thomas Jefferson University Hospital, Philadelphia; du Pont Hospital for Children, Wilmington (U.S.)
Fellowship, Nemours Center for Children's Health Media and KidsHealth. org., Wilmington (U.S.)
Medical Director, Christiana Pediatric Hospitalists, Christiana Hospital, Wilmington (U.S.)
Urgent Care Physician, Emergency Department, The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, Philadelphia (U.S.) 2002-03
Fellow, American Academy of Pediatrics
U.S. Board Certified in Pediatrics

hmmmm....I realize you can't tell everything by credentials, but he is certainly well schooled and trained, so if he paid attention while he was educated, we should be good to go! He was fine when we met him, and of course it wasnt a dire issue usual, he did what I would have done had I been the dr and gave the antibiotic I would have suggested. So all in all, was a good visit.

We also have been to the dentist here...a bit more cryptic to find one to try....very few american dentists here, only a couple that follow ADA practices. I dont know that was an absolute requirement, but I did want to know what I was getting. I ended up finding a great clinic, very close to our house that was originally just an Ortho that comes from Hong Kong every month...I had emailed him as I was having some drama with a tooth and he responded right away and advised he would also have a collegue coming to Shanghai for general dentistry in Jan. The kids and I saw him this month and it was quite fine. The odd part was he did the whole exam and cleaning, vs the assistant doing the cleaning. I guess maybe that isnt a profession here, but not sure? the equipment was new, modern and seemed fine. He was from Chicago and studied at northwestern. Seemed ok, enough in fact to have a crown replaced.

So, for day to day things, I think we are set. I still hear horror stories of if you have any major issues, but try not to dwell on that - we know where closest emergency rooms are and our service center in the neighborhood has people that speak english and chinese, so I think if we needed to get somewhere and explain something in an emergency, we could do that. I hope we don't have to try it out, however!

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Where does the time go?

I can't believe I last blogged 2/10? Yikes. What have we been doing? Well, pretty much same as we always do, really! Posting a picture here of D in her Chinese New Year get up - they had a show at school and the kids were to wear chinese attire:

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Did I mention they have real Diet Coke in Japan?

It's true. Real, D.C. It was good, too. Now why they don't have it here in China, I couldn't tell you. TCF. I did bring a few cans back in my suitcase. I know, I am losing it.

One thing I found fascinating in Japan was their vending machines. First off, they were everywhere. I mean on every corner. Second, they were so fancy - all showing the products they had to offer. They had machines with hot and cold drinks. Coffee/latte/expresso, hot in a can was a big hit there. We did try a couple and they were good. They also had vending machines that made food - french fries, nuggets - no clue how they worked, I didnt get a chance to try it but I thought that was pretty nifty.

The other thing we got a kick out of was the fake food. All the restaurants have fake food sitting in the windows, so you can see what they have on their menu. There is even a street you can go to that has all fake food you can buy. I have to say the fake food does not look so yummy? so not sure if it really lures people in or not, but it is interesting, to say the least. The 2 pics here were of fake food available at a market in the airport. you could buy fresh fish, sushi, katsu, bento boxes, etc. You name it.

We all loved the food - the kids had sushi every day, sometimes for all meals. There was a lot of other good stuff too - tempura, teppanayki, katsu bowls, yum!

Monday, February 9, 2009

Tokyo....what did we think?

We all really enjoyed was so clean, the traffic stopped for pedestrians, and no yucky smells coming from all over. The downfall would be that it is very $, but for a vacation, I think its ok.

When we arrived the boys went off to a championship sumo wrestling match, and the girls, well, we took the subway and a taxi to Costco! On the way we stopped for a quick sushi lunch....

We were there with another family also from Az and it was great to have someone to run around with. We managed to do quite a bit over the long weekend...tons of sushi, the fish market (the boys went to the auction that is held at 530 in the morning and the tuna's sell for over $10k usd)..we spent a day at Disney. They did a good job there, very much like Disney in Orange county with many of the same rides. We had a beautiful sunny day to be there, and it was a lot of fun for all of us.

I would love to share more today, but for some reason my pictures keep getting blocked and I am unable to upload. (tcf?) I will update more later this week!

Ok, how many Weight Watcher Points in a Din Tai Feng jedzhi (dumpling)????

Someone has to know?

For those of you that know me in real life - and I would have to guess most people that read this do, you know that I am a fan of WW. I have used the program several times over the years to develop better eating habits and lose weight. It worked very well for me after having C and D, and I really think it just teaches healthy living. Well, after living what I consider the last few months of NOT healthy eating, an opportunity arose to do a trial WW series here in Shanghai. WW is new to China and in my opinion, targeting to people that aren't chinese, and they are trying to get local expats to try it out. It's free, though they are hoping you will chronicle your tales in one of the Shanghai Expat mags. I sent off a note volunteering and was one of the chose few. For the next 11 weeks, I can attend mtgs, obtain all the books and info and live the WW life. Lucky me. Little do they know my chronicling will be likely be here on Lavida Loca!

I went to the first mtg last week - and it was like one I went to years ago. A mix of people, but no Asians. Lots of Australians. All trying to be healthy. I will say I felt the most informed, having done this before, but its never easy. 18 points of food, well, its not a lot of food! The upside is I have been thinking twice before eating things, and my snacks have all been fruits or lean proteins. I was feeling quite out of control as many of my normal go-to foods, just don't exist here or are way too much $. (tai gui le) For example - I used to eat lean cuisines for lunch most days. Here, there is one store that carries them, and they are $7-9/each. (those are off the list now!) Roasted deli turkey - very little to chose from, and 2x the price as home. 7 or 9 grain whole wheat breads - well, let's just say Chinese people don't really eat bread, so it is hard to find good bread here, most I wouldnt waste the calories on. Yogurt - at home it will be on sale 4/1$. Here the one we like is imported from California - and its about $2.50/carton. I do buy this, as the kids and I do eat it and like it a lot. I figure there is some nutritional value? and the calcium is good for us all. But that is crazy $ for yogurt! What do you do?

I guess the good news is I made good choices while eating this past weekend (mostly out I might add) and I bumped up my exercise. What I dont have the answer to is how many points I ate last night at our favorite dumpling restaurant....and I guess I may never know. I just wrote off all my extra points I had for the week and will call it a day.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Just a quick one....

I haven't had time to upload all the pics we took but Connor's snowboard instructor took these of him from her phone..and emailed us, so they were easy. I still can't get over how well he did with so little instruction. She said he was so determined and focused and he did extremely well for someone his age. It takes a lot of strength to board and he apparently had the knack for it (ok, enough of my proud mom speech, I will be quiet now).
He is ready to go again soon, I however may need a year to recover! The process of getting everyone dressed and undressed in all the gear and boots every day is exhausting! I won't be moving anywhere cold, anytime soon.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009 Japan!

Last week was Chinese New Years, also referred to as Golden Week. 2009 is the year of the OX. For the week there is no work here and fireworks GALORE. They go off all day and night. Lots of family celebrations - everyone goes home to their families to eat and celebrate. They have lots of customs to follow to plan for their health, prosperity etc in the new year. Its the biggest holiday here. And...well...we left before it happened!

We decided to head out for the week and went to Japan for siteseeing and skiing. We started in Tokyo, where we saw Sumo wrestling, Costco (yes, costco), the fish market and auction, a local temple, took a boat ride, Tokyo Disney, shops, and ate lots of sushi. Then we flew to Sapporo, took about a 2 hour bus ride and arrived at the Rusutsu Resort in Northern Japan for our ski trip. We rented a 24 person cabin with 3other families - had 8 adults and 8 kids. Pictures to come, but I will say the kids had a great time - C snowboarded, D skied, and both did just great. They loved it. We were on our way home Sat but were waylaid due to weather ..we got on our flight from sapporo to sendai, got all the way to sendai, then the plane was turned around due to weather in sendai. So - we went back to Sapporo, spent the night there and then got up and did it again! This time we made it to Sendai, then onto Shanghai. So after almost 48 hours we arrived home! yikes. All was ok, kids were good but it was a bit long. We arrived about 8pm ...made run to Carrefour (the grocery store) and hosted a superbowl party the next morning at 630am for about 15 people. Back later with pictures and more scoop on skiing.