Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Coming Home

We're leaving tomorrow for home. Scott and I were talking yesterday about how we miss everyone and the comforts of home, but we've started to get used to living here already. These are some pictures of the neighborhood down the street from us. Its called Spring City. I think you can buy anything there. Its amazing how quickly we've been able to adapt and grow to enjoy and tolerate the odditites of this city. I am excited though for cooler weather (the temperature today is 84 degrees with 80% humidity!).

Scott misses football - he watched about 8 of last Sunday's games through Chinese sports highlights. We don't have cable or satalite TV yet, so we've been watching the one English station and the Chinese kids TV for the last two weeks. Last night Timmy and I watched Dora the Explorer in Chinese while they teach you basic English words (instead of the English version where they teach you basic Spanish). Its pretty interesting.

I think Timmy misses his grandmas and Sarah and all his toys. I can tell he is sick of being with just mama all day. He has definately made a new friend with Scott's co-worker Chun Lei. He squeals with delight when she is around. His favorite new treat is anything through a straw - see picture.

If you haven't seen our pictures from week three of this adventure, click here (it is a public link, you do not have to have a facebook account to view them): http://www.new.facebook.com/album.php?aid=7632&l=dfcb5&id=1145683473

Monday, September 22, 2008

The Sterilizer Strikes Again and Other Adventures

Timmy has discovered the oven/sterilizer. He loves to open and close the door. Since everything in China is made for people that are shorter than the average American, the handle is just his height. He decided that Cow was dirty and needed to get sterilized. Shortly thereafter he smashed his finger in the door of the dang thing. I hate sterilizers!

The owner of Scott's company is in town this week. After dinner last night he wanted to get a hair cut. Scott took Timmy home and I went with. They said if you don't need a cut, why not at least have them wash & dry your hair. So I said sure. After about 15 minutes of washing/scalp massaging, they rinsed my hair. Then I got a 30 minute back rub from the hair wash guy. Then three new guys came and blow dried my hair. I wish I had a picture. There were three guys, maybe in their early twenties working together to dry and style my hair. They did a great job. And it only cost about $4. Crazy.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Brazilian Barbeque...the Chinese version

So many of you have been to Brazilian steak houses in the US. They are full of delicious cuts of rump roast, filet, leg of lamb and roasted chicken all served on swords. Yesterday for lunch we went to a similar place. Meat on swords, sounds good right. So soon after sitting down and ordering drinks, the meat men come around and offer chicken hearts, eel, mystery fish, and pizza on swords. Okay, so the pizza was on a platter, but it was still strange. Eventually we got some chicken wings and beef, but it was a pretty weird experience.

Its raining here again. It seems to rain or at least look like its going to rain every afternoon. Oh well. We've developed a way to shield Timmy while he's in his stroller. The other picture is to show that we are in a tropical-like place, palm trees and all.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Bow-staff skills, etc.

Timmy's favorite toy in Shanghai is a broom. He has now learned how to hit Scott with it. We call it his bow-staff.
This picture is of our apartment building's "dumpster". Keep in mind that we live in an 11 story building, with at least two apartments per floor. So that makes at least 22 people sharing this garbage can. On the bright side, I think they empty the darn thing at least ten times a day.
The last picture is of Timmy's latest skill - hailing a cab. Every time we go outside near any road he sticks his hand up to get a taxi. Its so awesome.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Old Town and Ovens

We made it to church on Sunday. The place was packed with people from every country you can think of. It was a pretty traditional service, but powerful none the less. It was a cool experience to worship with people from around the world. It seems like there are quite a few small groups in our area, which means quite a few families that we can be friends with!

So on Monday we went to the super ritzy area of the city for dinner. They told us to pick what we wanted to eat, so I picked Lawry's Prime Rib. I felt bad at first because two of the girls that were with us looked disgusted at the meat. Then I realized that is probably what I look like when they serve me gross Chinese food. So then I didn't feel so bad. The dinner was amazing!

Monday was a holiday for the Moon Festival, so Scott had the day off. We went to Qibao, which is like "old China". Other than the rain, it was a beautiful area. The pictures above are all from Qibao (pronounced kind of like chi-bao).

So a quick follow-up to the potato fiasco...I bought a real oven yesterday! I was walking down the street in our neighborhood and a woman came up to me and asked if I spoke English. Turns out she is Mexican and is leaving Shanghai. She had a practically brand new oven that she was trying to sell before she left. Apparently I looked like the kind of girl that needed an oven. So I bought it from her! What a blessing. I was able to cook a chicken breast for dinner today without having to fry it! We ate our first home cooked dinner the other night here in our new apartment after finding some Barilla bow tie pasta. It wasn't the best dinner because at the time we had no spices or seasoning or even salt in the house, but it definately felt good to cook instead of eat out.

Our pictures from Week 2 are here: http://www.new.facebook.com/photo.php?pid=122395&l=c0f31&id=1145683473 By the way, you can view these even if you don't have a facebook account, its a public link. Enjoy.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Moon Day, Chinese Death Cake & A New Home

What a crazy weekend this has been. Today (Sunday) is a holiday with many names: The Mid-Autumn Festival, Moon Festival and as we like to call it: Moon Day. We think all it means is everyone decides to buy little cakes and ride the subway all at once. See pictures of Moon Cakes.

This one is for you Mom: We were wandering through a new grocery store this morning and in the bakery I spot what I think is the Chinese version of Death Cake. Now, I didn't try it, but just look at it, it looks like Death Cake!

And finally, we officially have a home in China. We found an apartment that is super sweet. Its in a beautiful neighborhood, right next to where we've been staying. Its quite a bit bigger than our home in Lombard, but without the benefits of a yard. It has two balconies, but we like to pretend were some place exotic, so we call them lanais (like in Hawaii). We've spent the weekend attempting to get the basics to make it a home. We slept there last night for the first time. China is starting to feel less foreign to both of us, but we miss you all!

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Mayonnaise Madness

We learned last night that it is pretty easy to take the subway, even without speaking Chinese. So that opens up a whole new world of freedoms for us. Part of the frustration of being here has been trying to get around independently. Everyone Scott works with is excited and willing to take us anywhere that we want to go, but we are really independent people. The taxi drivers only speak Mandarin, so unless we have something written down in Chinese, taking a taxi is difficult. With our new subway skills we can now get to church on our own, and get to different parts of the city without help.

Last night Chun Le, one of Scott's co-workers, took us out to TGI Fridays. We were greeted with "Hellos" instead of "Ni Haos". Most of the staff at the restaurant spoke pretty decent English, at least compared to everywhere else we've been so far. It was kind of refreshing.

So I order the Jack Daniels Steak and cheesy mashed potatoes. Mmmmmm. It was so good to eat meat without bones in it! As the meal was finishing up I asked a waiter to bring a half portion of Oreo Madness (the best dessert that Friday's ever made). About a minute later he comes back with a small dish full of mayonnaise! Apparently I had found the one person on staff that didn't speak great English & he thought I asked for a small mayonnaise not a small Oreo Madness. Oh well. When we did get the Oreo Madness, it was awesome.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Sterile Potatoes

So here I am all proud of myself that I was able to go to the grocery store and buy food in a Chinese grocery store. So on Monday I decide to try to cook myself lunch with some of this food. I stir-fry some broccoli & beef and I turn on the oven to bake a potato. After about 20 minutes I check on the potato to see how its doing. The dang thing isn't hot and has not cooked one bit. I press the only two buttons on the oven a couple more times and still have no success. I then give up and microwave it.

Last night I asked the president of Scott's company, Shu, if he can show me how to use the oven for future reference. He smiles and says, "What oven?". Hmmmmm. Turns out, what I thought was the oven is really a sterilizer for dishes. I start laughing really hard, almost to tears. Shu asks why. I manage to get the words out, "I sterilized my potato!" Everyone got a good laugh out of that one. I guess it tasted clean?

Monday, September 8, 2008

Foot Massages

Timmy and I spent yesterday exploring the walking paths in the area we live in. Its a really beautiful neighborhood. After a real estate agent took us to see some apartments that are not in this same neighborhood we realized that this really is a nice, safe and quiet neighborhood. Great for Timmy. These pictures are all from the walking paths right around the apartment we're staying in.

Last night (Monday), the president of Scott's company took us to get foot massages after dinner. While Timmy slept happily in his stoller, Scott, Shu & I relaxed. I could get used to this!

The rest of our pictures from last week are posted at: http://www.new.facebook.com/album.php?aid=7006&l=345af&id=1145683473

Sunday, September 7, 2008

A Long Weekend

So for our first weekend in Shanghai, we decided to have our chinese speaking guides (people from Scott's company) show us some of the tourist sites and some of the places that were on our list of things to see in case we move here.

On Saturday we went to Nanjing Lu, which is the equivalent of the Magnificent Mile in Chicago - only 100 times more crowded and insane. While we were there we stopped for lunch at some kind of, almost, italian restaurant that was inside a department store. Also in that department store was a cream puff stand. I ate the best cream puff I have ever had and it was bigger than my fist! We also went to the bund (riverfront) and then finally, IKEA. IKEA Shanghai is exactly like IKEA in Schaumburg, but with a billion more people. Check out the picture of the couch section - every couch had people sitting on it. We also went to the most ginormous grocery store I have ever seen.

Today we took the subway to Yu's Garden. This was the first place that we've actually seen old Chinese architecture. It was pretty amazing. Surrounding Yu's Garden are a million little shops full of all kinds of tourist goodies. This afternoon I decided to hike to the grocery store by myself and navigate through it. If you ignore the scary things (meat goobers with bone, jellyfish, chicken feet, etc), its actually a fabulous place.

All in all it was a bit of an exhausting weekend. I am starting to think we might be able to survive here...and maybe even like it.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Unexpected Goodies

So we've been awake since 4 something because Timmy hasn't quite adjusted to the time change yet. Around 6:15 or so, we decide to walk to the closest McDonalds for breakfast. After walking what seemed like forever, we get there only to find out that it doesn't open for another hour! So with the 90% chance of rain looming, we decide to walk back. On the way, I'm really thirsty so we stop at a store for something cold to drink. Inside we find the biggest assortment of packaged baked goods ever. We decide to try 4 or 5 of them in place of McDonalds, a package of M&Ms and a drink that looks kind of like Gatorade Propel water. Our bill is less than the equivalent of $4.00. Crazy.

Last night we ate at a Hot Pot restaurant which translates to Fondue. They definately don't have the same rules about raw food as we do in the US. But regardless of that it was delicious. Check out the picture of the raw beef rolls and mushrooms.

Also, here is the view from each side of our apartment and my favorite of the baked goodies...

Wednesday, September 3, 2008


We made it! Timmy was fantastic on the plane, a little less fantastic once we got here, but amazing none the less. We are staying at the owner of Scott's company's condo. Its a nice three bedroom, two bath apartment, but it is anything but babyproof! Scott started work today, but they told him not to stay all day today or tomorrow or even next week. They want him to be with me and Tim and figure out how this is all going to work out. Awesome.

Last night we ate a quick dinner & bought some necessities at the grocery store: diapers & coke (among other things) :o) Timmy was a rock star at the grocery store, every woman and child in there wanted to poke him & talk to him. He thought it was great.

The plans for today include checking out the huge playground that is part of the apartment complex and wandering through the neighborhood until Scott comes back from his half day of work. So far so good.

We'll have pictures to share soon.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Timmy's 1st Birthday!

Okay, so this doesn't have much to do with our China adventure, but Timmy turned 1 on Friday. Thanks to everyone who shared the day with us! He is a well loved child, and we really appreciate everyone's generosity.

We leave tomorrow morning. Please pray for us as we get to spend 14 hours on a plane with a one year old.