Saturday, January 31, 2009

New Words & Skills

As of today Timmy has started actually addressing me as MaMa. This is fantastic. Thanks to Chinese New Year, he has also learned to say Boom. So everytime he hears firecrackers (which this week has been every two minutes), he says Boom! Other new words in his vocabulary are dog, blocks, meow, and yeah. So for those of you that keep asking us if he is talking yet, I think the answer is yes.

Also, he won't let me feed him at all anymore. This makes for some fun meal time messes (see pictures from previous blog post Getting Busy). Next on our list of things to teach this kid: How To Use Chopsticks. I guess I need to get better at it first.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009


So I thought I would share some fun fruit stuff. These oranges are tiny. The pieces inside are about the size of fruit snacks - and Timmy eats them like they are fruit snacks. Yesterday he ate three oranges in one sitting. I bought this entire bowl of oranges for 4.4RMB, which is the equivalent of about $.64 USD. Awesome.

The other picture is of some apples that a friend brought over. I don't know what they say, probably something to do with Happy Chinese New Year. I am also not sure how they got the image on the apple. We have all guessed that it was probably a sticker put on while they were ripening on the trees or something and then removed.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Year of the Ox

So last night was a New Year's Eve like we've never experienced. At about 6pm as it was mostly dark out, the fire works began. Well, they actually had been going on and off since last week, but the for real fireworks started when it got dark on Sunday. Now, when I think of the average guy in the US setting off fireworks, I tend to think of my dad setting off Black Cats and some spinny things and sparklers in the back yard. China is the birthplace of fireworks and they are not illegal here so that means it was intense. These were the kind of fireworks that the city of Chicago sets off. The main difference is that these were being set off directly outside our window by ALL of our neighbors. It seems that pretty much every family in the entire city was setting off their own show. At 11:50pm or so, it got loud enough that we all woke up and sat in our bed with the drapes open watching. Timmy was more scared and more excited than I have ever seen him. He was pointing and yelling and smiling and shaking all at once. It was amazing. Video will be posted soon on Facebook, but it doesn't do it justice.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Random thoughts from Scott

Hello everyone. I decided that I should add to your reading experience by posting something of my very own. Since I spend most of my time working here, I assure you that my experience is all together different from Kate's. I'll try to give you small insights in my posts...and I'll start with driving (or should I say being driven). 

So the one picture I posted really has not much to do with anything but I thought that it was cool that some guy and his son actually cruise around the city in an old motorcycle with a sidecar. How cool is that? 

SO. Driving. Well, I've learned through observation a few rules of the road out here. In this post I'll share one: The food chain is upside down from the US. At home, the pedestrian always has the right of way - here if you're on your feet then you are just a slow moving target. Next up the food chain here would be bicycles which are slightly more mobile and certainly pick on those lower on the food chain by haplessly driving on every sidewalk, path, street, etc. Next up the food chain is scooters. These, in my opinion, are the most dangerous creatures. These things do not require a license if they are electric and also do not require a brain to operate. The worst part is that they can also travel anywhere: street, sidewalk, pathway, etc. Oh, and at night they don't use their headlight which means that if you aren't careful and don't hear their quiet electric motor purring away at 30 km/h you are very liable to get run over. I have almost had head on collisions with these guys even right outside my apartment on the walking path at night. I loathe these things (mostly because I am low on the food chain and don't have one to wreak havoc with myself...). 

Ok, so next on the food chain is the regular car. Most people driving cars are actually fairly careful and so far I haven't had any problems with them...well, I'll leave some content for other posts. Next to highest on the food chain is the taxi population. There are two different flavors of tazis here (spelling correct): Green ones and all the rest. The green ones are local guys that drive scummy old VW Santanas but only cost 9RMB to go locally. The rest (see pic) are 11RMB and are the "3000" version of the same Santanas and get rated by a number of stars on their name tags. I have no idea why, but these guys basically rule the road both by sheer quantity and by aggressive behavior. Don't get in their way. 

King of the jungle award goes to big "full to the top with locals" buses. These things should really have a plow on the front because they stop for nothing. They get through traffic better than anything and squeeze through holes that I never thought would be possible. They drive in any lane they want. They truly rule the road and they are my favorite. Consequently they are Timmy's favorite as well. He can't stop talking about them when he sees one. They are truly cool.

So as soon as I can I'm going to go try to get my driving license. I can't wait to join the madness. I'm sure most would think me crazy, and maybe I am, but I love driving and sitting in cars and cabs and buses and not being in control makes me crazy. I can do it. I know I can. 

Now I just need someone to give me a car....

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Getting Busy

So things are getting better around here. We think we have found a new place to live and we think we talked them into getting rid of their nasty couch so we can buy our own. For those of you that join us in loving the white leather couch we currently have, sorry, but we can't keep it. I for one am really upset about this. Although I didn't think I was a white leather couch kind of girl, I absolutely love it. But, it has to stay with our current apartment. So this means we get to go couch shopping.

We don't get to move into our new place until after the Spring Festival, AKA Chinese New Year. Its funny because it is January and they call it Spring Festival. Oh well, I guess it was 55 degrees yesterday (today it is 30, reminds me of Chicago weather)! Chinese New Year is a week long holiday, so Scott has the whole week off. However, he has to work next Sunday. Weird. So we expect this Sunday night to have really long night of loud fireworks til who knows when. So far Timmy has slept through all the overzealous New Years celebrators (is that a word) that have been shooting off fireworks since we got here.

And finally, I think I have made some friends! I went to a playgroup on Tuesday, hosted a playgroup on Thursday and then went to a group called IMSG (sounds like I Monosodium Glutamate, anyway), it stands for International Mothers Support Group. It was great. Hooray for the Internet to connect people. Most of the other moms are really friendly, but also have husbands working for companies that pay for A LOT. So they mostly all live in Expat Compounds (Expat = Expatriate = Not from this country), and have full time drivers and nannys and housekeepers. Being the first and only Expat from Scott's company, we are not quite as privileged and do not live super close to any of the people I have met, save one. One mom lives down the street from me and has a boy that is 3 months younger than Tim. Hopefully she and I will continue to hang out.

Here are a few pictures that have nothing to do with this post, but you all love Timmy like we do, so enjoy!

Monday, January 19, 2009

We don't call it Magic Street for nothing!

So on Sunday night we decided to venture back out to 333 Magic Street to have dinner with Scott co-worker from the US that is still here in town. We took a taxi and while getting out somehow managed to misplace Timmy's winter hat. I realized it as the cab was pulling away so I leaped back to knock on his door to check the car. Its not in the car or the trunk of the cab. Hmmmm. Oh well, one hat lost.
So we go to dinner at a fabulous Italian place. I had a delicious beef tenderloin. Mmmmmm. Timmy had a hot dog and lots of fun climbing the 5 stairs that were next to our table while our waiter happily acted as his spotter while we ate.
On the way out I decide to double check the street where we had gotten out of the cab for Timmy's hat. And what do you know, it was still there, laying in the Shanghai street muck for over an hour. It was dirty, but washable. Magic Street!

Saturday, January 17, 2009

333 Magic Street!

What a day it was. From grocery shopping, to IKEA, to apartment hunting, to hair cutting, to a magical dinner out, and finally foot massages. The best part was by far dinner. Scott and I decided we wanted Mexican food so we looked up an address on the iPhone Shanghai Taxi Guide and hopped in a taxi. We had no idea where we were going, even when the taxi stopped. We were looking for 3338 Hongmei Lu, but the driver couldn't find it so we just got out somewhere close to it and walked. We found what we now call 333 Magic Street. Its a seemingly endless little road with no cars that has a whole bunch of restaurants that are not Chinese food. Thai, Indian, Iranian, Italian, German, Mexican, Spanish and it goes on. It was all lit up with lanterns for the approaching Spring Festival (its in January and also known as Chinese New Year). And most of the people there spoke English. It was really relaxing and Timmy slept in his stroller all the way through dinner.

Prior to this discovery, we took Timmy to get a hair cut. He sat on my lap the whole time and was remarkably well behaved. See picture.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Finally Something Easy

I ordered a few groceries online today from an import grocery store and had them delivered. These items included: microwave popcorn, Austrailian steaks and ground beef, pork tenderloin, flour, baking soda & imported milk. Not only was I able to just email my order, but I got a confirmation phone call, in English no less, to let me know it would be delivered a few hours later. Amazing. This is the first thing that has been efficient since we've been here. AND the steak was delicious. Good night.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

The Violation

Scott and I went to have a medical exam today that is required to obtain resident status in China. What an experience. First, we had to bring 9 passport-like photos with you, but they took another picture when we got there. Then we waited for about an hour in a waiting room that at first had only one man in it (and no receptionist at the desk). By the end of the hour there were at least 30 other people (all foreigners) with us, all standing around with no explanation of what was happening. We somehow managed to be the first two people in line, praise the Lord!

They took us to a little locker room like place where we had to take off our shirts and put on little robes. In a new room, they took 3 tubes of blood (after we were required to have fasted for 5 hours - not a good combination). The blood-taking nurse was not very good at her job, our arms are still sore.

Then we each went in another little room to have an ultrasound done. I think this was to make sure we had organs. I don't know what else they could have been looking for because they were probing the wrong area to be looking for a baby. Not to mention Scott had this done as well. He asked the nurse, "No babies?" She confirmed this for him, thank goodness.

In another little room we had and EKG done, complete with thingys clipped to our ankles, wrists and chest. Odd. Yet another little room brought an ear, nose and eye guy. He made sure I wasn't color blind, or blind and looked in my nose. Apparently he looked in Scott's ears, but not mine, hmmmm. Then we had our blood pressure taken in a different little room.

This next part was even stranger. Still in our pants and robes, we were given winter coats to wear to walk across the parking lot to a different building. This was the x-ray building. We got chest x-rays done, then walked back across the parking lot to the other building.

We were finally done, and by now, so was Timmy. He was not happy about being passed back and forth between MaMa and DaDa while all these tests were being done. Although a nice nurse gave him Hershey kisses. We topped it all off with a much needed, 2:30pm lunch at good old McDonalds.

For pictures from our first week here: (you DO NOT need to be a member of Facebook to see these)

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Things I've Learned So Far...

In Shanghai...

1. You can buy almost anything off the back of a cart or truck or bicycle.

2. There is a store near my house that sells flowers and prints photos in the same store.

3. Its next to impossible for a foreign girl with a baby to get a taxi before 11AM.

4. You can buy MSG by the bag (see photo).

5. January is strawberry season in China - awesome.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Shanghai Ocean Aquarium

On Sunday Scott, Timmy and Jerry (a guy from Scott's work back in the USA) went to the Shanghai Ocean Aquarium. We thought Timmy would be really excited, but mostly he seemed scared of the fish. Oh well. He did, however, enjoy the penguins and we had a good time.

I got my first massage of hopefully many to come last night. Its kind of strange because in the US you take most of your clothes off to get a body massage. Here, you just take off your shoes and they throw some blankets over your fully clothed body. Regardless, it was great.

What I call "real life" started today. Scott went back to work after a few weeks of being out of the office. I got us mostly unpacked today and have spent the day trying to figure out what Timmy's new nap schedule will be like. After a glorious full night's sleep in his own bed, he got up at 6am and stayed up until 1pm. That is a long time for a little guy. He is happily sleeping now.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Ode To Toys 'R' Us

We ventured to the other side of the Huang Pu (pronounced Wong Poo) River today to check out the Superbrand Mall. Its huge. We didn't actually buy anything, but we saw some pretty sweet stuff at Toys 'R' Us. So Mom, here are some pictures to show you that toys are cool here too. Who knew?

Oh we also were right next to the Oriental Pearl Tower, which is a pretty famous Shanghai
landmark. It looks like an alien space ship or something.

Friday, January 9, 2009


We have arrived. Timmy is such a trooper. Its a little bit unreal that we got about 8 hours of sleep last night (7:30pm - 6:00am with a two hour break from 1-3am so that we could watch Baby Einstein and eat mini muffins with Timmy). And it is a bit unreal that Timmy is taking on his normal schedule like a champ. We will see what night number two brings. Currently (at 7pm) he is down for the night right on time. Scott is out for a traditional chinese dinner with some officials that are friends with his company. Last time this happened, he said he was willing to try any kind of food, and so he ate shark fin soup and a lot of wine. 

Before we got here everyone kept telling us that it is sooooooooo cold in Shanghai in January. Outside it is just like Chicago, maybe even warmer. But, alas, they were correct that it is so cold, because no one turns on the heat! We are the exception. We have every built-in heater cranked and we bought a few extra heaters today, so our apartment is toasty. Its strange, at dinner last night most people kept their coats on throughout the whole meal and at the grocery store today, no heat. Oh well. This is China. 

For those of you that read this only for the pictures, nothing picture-worthy has happened yet so stay tuned. 

Friday, January 2, 2009

Packing Up

The time is almost here for us to leave! Our belongings have been shipped, not to be seen again until almost March. That includes most of Timmy's toys, $250 worth of all the medicine we might need, a dozen boxes of Mac & Cheese, and a crib among other things. Here are a few pictures of the shipment. We're having a party on Sunday to say goodbye to everyone. Hope to see you all there.