Thursday, December 17, 2009

home and stuff


on the plane, he slept for almost 11 hours!

So currently I have been awake since 5 in the morning on the second full day back in the USA. My adorable little monster is still sleeping after another night of playing trains, eating pizza and watching horrible children's TV at 2 in the morning. Sounds un-fun, but I am so thankful to be home. I have found that I have infinitely more patience for just about everything (from tantrums to traffic) now that we are back home. I don't know what it is, I guess I had just had it with the frustrations of China. I didn't realize how irritable I had become most of the time. Anyway, we're home, safe and happy.

One of the last days in our neighborhood in Shanghai. The leaves just started changing in December.

Decorating the tree with Grandma on our first day back in town.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Top 5s

5 things I will miss about living in Shanghai:

5. Beard Papa Cream Puffs
4. Trying crazy fruits and veggies that I have never seen before
3. Traveling in Asia
2. So many photo opportunities everywhere
1. Having ridiculous things happen almost every day

5 things I will NOT miss about living in Shanghai:

5. Hunting all over the city for western style food ingredients
4. The smells (sewer, stinky tofu, 1000 year eggs, etc)
3. The heaters & air conditioners
2. Being a rock star
1. Taking taxis

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Temporary Christmas


So in light of our impending move across the globe, traditional Christmas decorations are not happening while in China. Instead, we made a temporary, disposable Christmas tree. We managed to only color on the wall with crayons twice, not bad. I think Timmy had fun coloring, but mostly he just like taping stuff.


Saturday, November 28, 2009

Beginning of the End



We have started saying our goodbyes to friends here because many people are heading home for the holidays already. We have just over two weeks left in Shanghai. It felt like a short time at first, but now that we are organized it almost feels like an eternity. We are ready for Christmas! Timmy tells us everyday that he wants to go on an airplane to grandma's house or nai nai's house. He wants to see all his animal friends in Chicago. He even packs his suitcase with all his cars and trains and goes to the front door. How do you explain two weeks to a two year old?

Our friend Polly and her kids made this sign for us.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Heading Home

So it seems our adventure is coming to an end 1 year early. Scott's company decided that it was healthier for our family to live in the USA than in China...we agreed. Due to stress and a combination of a lot of other things, we have mutually decided to come back to Chicagoland. The crazy part is that will happen in three weeks people. AHHHH. ok I'm done.

Anyway, we will be home for the holidays and staying in Lake Zurich. When our renters move out at the end of the year, we'll go back to our house in Lombard. Back to our awesome neighbors, the Ericksons, and our goofy neighbors, Old Man Ed, Big Shot Brad, and all their weirdo-ness, and back to "normal" life. Not looking forward to shoveling the driveway. I am looking strongly forward to grocery stores that don't sell jellyfish in a bag, or dried up in pieces, or at all for that matter. Its been fun and overwhelming, but I'm glad I can see the end. No regrets.

Timmy's excited too, he just doesn't know why!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

My Blog is a Comic Strip!

So way back when we first came to China I posted a story about sterilizing a potato in the apartment we were staying in. At some point months ago I shared it with another website and they turned it into a comic strip in English and Chinese! My story is the one called "Chinese Stories Baked Potato in China."

Check out this link: mandmx.com

Here is a link to my original post: Sterile Potatoes

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Shoplifter???

So yesterday Timmy and I went out in the afternoon to pick up some odds and ends from the local convenience store. My list consisted of: apple juice, baby wipes, and coke. I went first to the store closest to our apartment because it usually carries all three of these items. As in every store in China, you can never be sure that a place that stocked something one day will continue to have it for sale the next. So they were out of AJ, but I bought a six-pack of coke and baby wipes and placed both items in the basket under Timmy's stroller. I did not pay for a bag (bags are not free like in the US) and they did not give me a receipt. I walked about .25 miles down the road to the other store that usually sells apple juice, bought three containers of it, and left.

When I got about two blocks away I felt like someone was following me, which would not be all that unusual considering Timmy's rock star status in this city. So I turned around to confront the possible stalker and see two girls from the store I was just at, arm in arm, looking at me, nervous and giggling. They said a whole bunch of stuff in Mandarin, but the only word I understood was cola and they pointed to my stroller. I laughed at them and vaguely pointed at the store down the road and then just walked away. I half expected them to continue to follow me, but they just giggled more and walked away. Without a receipt, or the ability to give a real explanation, I very well could have stolen it, but why? Its not like I could sneak it into my pocket! Oh well, just another day of ridiculousness.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Halloween


Timmy and his friend John as skeletons.

So Halloween in China is a little odd. Some places celebrate, others don't. We went to two parties but no trick or treating. Timmy's costume was just a skeleton t-shirt. At one party, the restaurant that hosted it hired a "magician." I'm not sure I'd really call him that. He was more of a dirty, creepy guy that in the US would not be allowed within 10 miles of a children's party. One of his magic tricks involved lighting (and taking a few puffs of) a cigarette. I still don't even really know the point of the trick, it wasn't even cool. The faces of the foreign moms in the crowd were priceless. I guess standards for children's entertainment vary by continent! Oh well, it was a fun party anyway.

Tim and Shaun dancing.



Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Bakugan and the Zoo

Sad, sad grizzly bear begging for junk. :(

We went to the zoo on Sunday. Trips to the Shanghai Zoo never fail to make us sad. The overweight animals look so pathetic begging for human food from all the dumb people that throw bread and junk food at them. But it was a nice day and we wanted to be outside. Timmy wanted to see "elphants & mean birds." We've been watching Horton Hears a Who over and over so he now like elephants and mean birds (vultures), but at the zoo he thought every bird was a mean bird.

This is Timmy imitating one of the mean birds.

On an unrelated topic, can anyone explain to me how Bakugan works? Scott's co-worker bought Timmy a set of little magnetic triggered exploding ball toys and I just don't get it. What is the story behind it, and the strategy? Any help would be appreciated. Timmy loves the toys. He even calls one that looks like a bird, Mean Bird Ball.

Clean-shaven Scott at the zoo.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Happy Birthday Scott

So on Friday night we found a babysitter (hooray!) so that we could go out to dinner for Scott's birthday (he turns THIRTY on Sunday!). A few notes about this dinner: I have never paid so much for a can of coke in my life...40RMB = $5.84, ouch! But the food was delicious, we went to a German restaurant, and I think I'd go back despite the ridiculous price of a coke (and by can, I mean a can with no refills, oh how I miss free refills and fountain coke in the USA).

Anyway, after we ate we each used the bathroom, where for me 2 interesting things happened. Now I have been greeted by a bathroom attendant before, but never in my life have I had one actually clean the toilet seat before I used it. It was weird, in a nice way I guess, at least I know it was clean. Then as I am washing my hands I see a sign on the wall that I think would only be seen in China, "Please do not spit phlegm in here, for the safety and health of yourself and others." And they even spelled phlegm correctly. Ha, safety of others! If there hadn't been a bathroom attendant watching my every move, I definitely would have taken a picture of that one!

The old man himself, chillin' with T.T.

Friday, October 16, 2009

In The Local Laowei News

Timmy and I got our picture published in a local magazine, Shanghai City Weekend: Parents & Kids Magazine. They did a feature in October about an organization called "Peas & Pods" that I help out with. Check out the feature below!

The text is probably too small to read in my scan but it says: "The International Mothers Support Group was created in 2000 when three moms met to discuss the challenges of having young children in Shanghai. Today this self-proclaimed "community of international parents and children" boasts 400 members who meet in various baby and toddler groups in Puxi and Pudong. Newly christened as Peas and Pods, this volunteer-run organization now focuses on building a multicultural, all-inclusive environment."


Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Cebu, Philippines...The Highlights

We spent a week in Cebu, Philippines at the Plantation Bay Resort with Scott's parents and our friend Lauren. It was sweet.


The pools were mix of some fresh water and some salt water, and there was a tiny beach that provided hours of entertainment when the tide was out. We discovered what we think is either a sea cucumber or sea slug, a blue starfish, endless crabs, at least one eel, etc. Timmy loved the water slide and swimming in general. He loves our friend Lauren and now thinks that any white girl that is not me is "Owen" (he had a hard time saying Lauren).

Timmy loved vacation.

We attended two luaus, complete with a roasted pig and, Lauren's favorite (heehee) "sexy male dancers in skimpy loin cloths" as the advertisement said. The food at the resort in general was okay, but nothing much I'd rave about. Although the donuts every morning were pretty good.

We took a day cruise to a white sand beach island called Pandanon Island. They roasted miscellaneous meats for us for lunch that were delicious. Then we went to a different island's coast to go snorkeling. It was awesome. The best snorkeling I have ever done. We got to feed the fish, so they came right up to us and I even got to see Nemo (clown fish) in his natural habitat. Cindy stayed on the boat with Timmy and they got to feed and watch the fish from there.

We ate lunch in this little hut on the island.

After all the worrying we had done the week before about earthquakes, tsunamis, typhoons, tropical storms and the like, we ended up with perfect weather. Timmy the whitest kid in China didn't even get sun burned!

Click here for the rest of our pictures:

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Vacation in Shanghai

After our whirlwind tour of Beijing with Jim and Cindy, we embarked on three days of tourism in Shanghai. We spent Thursday at the flower market and Pearl Market doing some shopping.

We followed that up with picking up our friend Lauren from the airport and dragging her out to a fancy dinner at Kathleen's 5 restaurant on top of the Shanghai Art Museum. It was Jim and Cindy's wedding anniversary so we had to go out and celebrate. There was a great view of the city from the rooftop atrium. As we were eating building after building lit up with neon and LEDs. Some of us were not sure exactly what we were eating, namely Jim, but our best guess was some kind of internal organ like an intestine. It was an interesting evening.

The view from the atrium on stop of the Shanghai Art Museum.

Friday was the official first day of the holiday here in China and we made the dumb mistake of trying to go to Yu Gardens. I think every Chinese person in Shanghai was there. We left after 10 minutes of insanity. We went and did more shopping, got our hair washed and then had a huge Chinese dinner with our friend Lou Yun. We were in a private room with a huge lazy Susan full of too much food. Again Jim ate something odd, a chicken foot.

Lauren and Cindy experiencing the hair wash, complete with an ear cleaning for Cindy!

Saturday was a trip to the fake market on NanJing Lu to get some final gifts for people back home. We also took our guests to the grocery store to see the insanity that it is. After some spaghetti at home and relaxing we headed to the airport for our midnight flight and the beginning of the real vacation...Cebu, Philippines!

Lauren and I bought matching Uggs at the fake market.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Beijing Day Three: The Summer Palace

Our last day in Beijing we had just enough time to make it through the Summer Palace before heading back to the airport to return to Shanghai. There were ornate statues, hundreds of paintings on the ceilings of the walkways, a big lake, a guy writing mystery messages in Mandarin on the ground with water, crazy topiaries and lots of people - typical China. :)

Scott's parents, Jim & Cindy

Scott and I with one of the beautiful statues

one cool peacock.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Beijing Day Two, part Two: Peking Duck and the Communist Reign


On our second night in Beijing we had made reservations at the Grand Hyatt's restaurant called Made in China. We had read that this was a great place to experience eating Peking Duck, a famous dish from this city. So we show up at the Hyatt just before our reservation time and are greeted by the concierge who says we cannot enter the hotel. We explain to him that we have reservations and he says he will need to check with the restaurant. He comes out and explains that the government has taken over the hotel and only government officials and VIPs are allowed inside. He offers to make us a reservation somewhere else. After waiting for a taxi for almost 30 minutes to get to another restaurant, we make it and eat some delicious food at a super swanky place. Crazy government.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Beijing Day Two: Great Wall, Great Fog, & The Olympics

Our second day in Beijing took us to the Great Wall. The weather that day was not optimal for viewing much farther than your hand in front of your face. We had a good morning on the Wall with Timmy doing some physical therapy on his healing, no longer casted leg by climbing for a while. We were planning on taking the toboggan down the wall, but it was closed due to the rain. We got to wear some sweet ponchos though.



Timmy climbing the wall.

Diaper change on the wall.


After the Great Wall we headed over to the Olympic park to check out the Bird's Nest and the Water Cube. The whole place was pretty amazing. We self-toured the inside of the Water Cube. Although really neat, time has already started to take it toll on the weird plastic-y material that its made of because the place looks a little bit dirty now. Again we wished the fog would break, but it was still a great experience.








Friday, October 2, 2009

Beijing Day One: Tiananmen Square and One Long Noodle


We arrived in Beijing on Monday morning and began our site seeing in Tiananmen Square. Being that it was three days before the 60th anniversary of the People's Republic of China, the place was buzzing with preparations for their monster of a parade. Red flags everywhere and little silver marks on the ground where thousands of people would be standing for the festivities on Thursday. Timmy got in on the Communist pride action, see above.

We attempted to then go to the Forbidden City, which is located next to the square. The entrance that faces the square was blocked off for the parade route and we assumed that meant we could not go inside. We realized later that we needed to enter from the other end, oh well, I guess we missed out on that site.

We decided to go for an early dinner at the Noodle Loft. We had seen this restaurant on Discovery Travel and Living channel, on Anthony Bourdain's show, No Reservations. It is famous for its long noodles. Scott ordered the dish called One Long Noodle. Literally it is one noodle that is probably between two and three meters long, all wound up into one bowl. Pretty cool. The rest of the food was pretty good too.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Cast Off and Back to China

Timmy and I are leaving to go back "home" to Shanghai tomorrow morning! Its exciting though because Scott's parents are coming with us to go on vacation. First we're headed to Beijing Monday morning for a whirlwind three day tour of the sites. Then its back to Shanghai and our friend Lauren comes to visit as well. We'll be giving everyone the tourist experience of our city for a few days. And the grand finalle next Saturday we escape to the Philippines during the week long National holiday estravaganza that will be taking place throughout China. Stay tuned for pictures and updates.


In the meantime Timmy got his cast off today!!! He's not really walking on it much yet, and it looks pretty atrophied, but the doctor said he's healing fine. Hopefully he'll get his confidence back quick and start walking more. We're just thankful for the surprise trip home, even if it was for a bummer of a reason.

Monday, September 14, 2009

We Miss DaDa!

So the trade-off for coming back to the US to let Timmy's leg heal in the comfort of America was that we have to spend three weeks without Scott. I can tell that Timmy misses him because almost everyday he talks about how we took DaDa to the airport. The good thing is, he has plenty of other boys to step in and do boy things in Scott's absence. Thanks guys.

Uncle Gary


Uncle Steve



Yeh-Yeh (Grandpa Jim)

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Baby Evie




Since we were coming back to the US on an unplanned trip, we decided to surprise our close friends who just had their first baby on Timmy's birthday. We stopped by Steve and Sarah's house on Thursday after Scott worked to meet the new baby and surprise her parents. The surprise was a total success. The baby is beautiful and has more hair on her little head than I have ever seen before. Timmy loves baby Evie too and has been talking about her ever since we left.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Home Again

Scott, Timmy and I are in Chicago! It was a last minute decision to spend the time Timmy has to wear a cast in a country that would be less stressful for all of us. So far the jet lag has been exhausting. Tonight for example, I went to sleep at 10 only to wake up at 11:30 because Timmy was not sleepy anymore. So we are watching Noggin and eating snacks. Hopefully this will be the last night of the middle of the night playtimes. And hopefully tomorrow Timmy will start eating actual meals, so far he's been eating just the smallest amount of miscellaneous snacks.

We only told our parents that we were coming in an effort to surprise our good friends Steve and Sarah who just had their first baby on Timmy's birthday. We stopped by their house on Thursday evening to surprise them and meet baby Evie. Adorable.

All in all its really good to be home again. Scott flies back to Shanghai on Tuesday to get back to work. Timmy and I will be staying through the 26th and then flying back to begin a two week vacation with Scott's parents and Lauren to Beijing and Cebu, Philippines.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Moon Cakes and Eggs

Its that time of year again, Moon Day is approaching, excuse me, Mid-Autumn Festival. Moon Day just sounds more fun to me. The holiday isn't actually until the first week of October this year, but the grocery store is overflowing with Moon Cakes of all varieties, most of which seem to have some type of meat involved. Yuck. Although this year I have noticed ads from Starbucks, Hagen Daaz and DQ that show more delicious looking ones involving ice cream and chocolate. Unfortunately these also seem to be priced way out of my price range, as in 500RMB for 4 tiny individual cakes - that's about $72. Yikes.

In other grocery store hilarity, it never ceases to amaze me what lengths Chinese people will go to to save a buck. Apparently if you go to the grocery store in the early morning eggs are on sale. Now being from the US, I'm used to buying eggs in cartons that are stored in a refrigerated case. Not so in China. Eggs are stored on the shelf and the ones that go on sale are purchased out of a big bin and placed into an impossibly thin plastic bag. I have then seen people take said plastic bag, filled with at least two dozen loose eggs mind you, in their hands and get on an electric bike to go home. Disaster waiting to happen if you ask me. I always buy my eggs in the carton even though I'm sure its twice as expensive, just so I don't break them all before I even leave the store. Not to mention, I would never wait in line as long as some of these people seem to just to save a few kui. I guess I'm an egg snob.

Mooncakes by the truckload.

The egg line.