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Showing posts from June, 2012

Birthday #9

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Today my youngest child turned nine years old. Wowzers. The view from our living room is beautiful, but look at that boy! Growing up to be quite the handsome fella.
Ben was the only one of us not to celebrate a birthday in Macau. The rest of us got big parties and dinners and breakfast with friends to celebrate our special days. Last year, Michael flew home to Los Angeles on June 30th to collect us for our relocation to Macau, and we spent the day celebrating Ben at Disneyland (Michael got Father of the Year for flying fourteen hours and then spending fourteen additional hours at the Magic Kingdom!). This year we tried to think of something special to do for Ben, since he missed out on a celebration with his buddies in Macau. 
Our shipment of household goods arrived yesterday, including all my jeans and sweaters. When we left Macau in May, it was already quite hot and humid, so I only packed shorts and tees in our suitcases. I spent the last month shivering in the unexpected chilline…

Joe Woes

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I'm no coffee connoisseur (or consumer for that matter, caffeine and I have an acrimonious relationship due to my propensity for blinding migraines), but I do have a thing for frozen, blended caramel beverages served with a generous amount of whipped cream, such as the caramel Frappacino served at every Starbucks the world over. My preference is the one served at Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf, followed by the one at Pacific Coffee (a Hong Kong brand found all over Macau and China) and then finally Starbucks' version, but hey, I'm not picky. If it is cold and caramelly, I will drink it with relish.

Macau has three or four Starbucks, but Shanghai is just like Los Angeles, there is one on just about every corner. Including the corner we live on. Or so I thought.

Today it was pouring rain and my plans to explore our immediate neighborhood were stymied when Ben slipped in a puddle and fell hard on the marble lobby floor. After icing up his knee, popping in a DVD, and plopping the p…

New Digs

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So we just moved from our serviced apartment (long-term hotel stay, which was actually a two story house with an actual yard, woot!) to our more permanent home (most definitely not a two story house).

I'm working on a longer post about the house hunting process, but little things like unpacking and trying to find things to make sandwiches with (Kids! They insist on being fed at regular intervals!) keep getting in the way. But the dog feels 100% at home. See for yourself in this little sneak peek until I finish the longer post:

Brave

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We are braving another cinema in Shanghai, this time the UME International Cineplex to see Disney/Pixar's Brave. It's awesome how we chose our wedding date to coincide with a release of a Disney or Pixar animated film almost each and every year! How kind of Disney to celebrate us in this manner!

So far the theater itself is a massive improvement over our last dreadful experience! I just hope the film is good. I haven't read many positive reviews...

Sweet 16

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On June 22, 1996 I said I do and life has never been the same!

Today we celebrate sixteen years of married life. Last year we celebrated apart - Michael was in Macau and I was back in Los Angeles packing up our life in preparation for our move to Asia. This year we're together, but we'll spend a good portion of it packing once again, as tomorrow we get the keys to our new flat here in Shanghai, where we'll (hopefully) spend the next three years.

Our address may change frequently, but our love for each other has remained constant through the years. How grateful I am to have such an amazing person to share all these great adventures with! Here's to many more years... and adventures!

Heartfelt

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My heart feels fond of having an absence of ironing. Does that count? I want the one that says "Take this job and shove it." Alas, they seem to have been sold out this trip.

Tips for International Living, #2

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It's been awhile since my first post about Tips for International Living, and I thought it was a good time for another one. This one is especially appropriate given that we just moved from one international location to another, and I need to follow my own advice!

When you move to a new place, you tend to have a bit of a honeymoon period where everything is bright and shiny and new and you are flooded with positive feelings about your new home. And then right about the three month mark, the bloom comes off the rose and you begin to feel a little miserable. The excitement of adventure wears off and you realize that this is no vacation. This is life. You really do have to do all your laundry in a laughably small washer/dryer machine that doesn't ever quite dry the clothes, and go to seven different markets to get the ingredients for one meal, and see a doctor who doesn't speak your language and prescribes you medicine that Web M.D. says is not for use in the United States of …

Enter

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I loved this street where every doorway was delightfully different. One day when we are done roaming and wandering the globe, we'll buy a house and install a unique door which will make all who pass want to pause their busy life to ring the bell and find out just what kind of people would choose such a door. I don't know what it looks like just yet, but I know we've got nothing but time to figure it out as our days of wandering are far from over. So I content myself with peering at other people's doors, wondering how or why they chose them and if there is a story to be told about this particular wood or that intricate design. One day I'll know this language and pause my busy life and go up and ask.

Darn this beauty!

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Happy Father's Day!

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Today is a bit of a working day for husband, meeting people he's doing business with who are only in town today. It is what it is, and I'm long over it, having spent many holidays and birthdays and special occasions without his presence. We get through it and over it by making other occasions just as special, sometimes for no reason at all. It works for us.

Being Father's Day, I do have to stop and give a shout out to the Dads in my life. Starting of course with my husband, who I loved deeply and passionately before he became a father, but then found I loved him so much more when I saw him parent our boys.



To my own Dad, who taught me so much about how I should be treated by men, so that when Michael came along, I knew he was the man for me.



To my Father-in-law, who is the bright and shining example of what a husband and father should look like, and raised a son like Michael.



How lucky my own sons are, to have so many great fatherly examples to learn from!

Happy Father…

Saturdays = Shanghai Exploration Day

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I'm definitely warming up to Shanghai. My feelings of being overwhelmed with it all are fading away as we do more exploring and the sorrow over leaving Macau fades just a bit. Every Saturday we've used as an opportunity to pick a location and explore. This Saturday we went to Shanghai Culture Square to buy tickets to see Shrek the Musical which is swinging through next month.



I see a huge difference between China and the rest of the world in the ability to do things online. In Macau we did everything online, from paying our gas bill to picking out our seats at the movie theater. Here in China (or at least Shanghai, I can only speak for here), almost everything is done in person. We had to go into the bank to make a transfer from our account to our new landlady's account. I have to take my mobile phone bill to a shop to pay it. And I can't remember the last time I went to an actual box office to purchase tickets for live entertainment, but you cannot buy them online he…

White Elephant

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Perfect for the next white elephant gift exchange! Doubt these have quite the power of the Energizer Bunny, but they are much prettier to look at!

Summer (Dance) Break

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Everybody dance now! Both of my children have completed all their school work for the year, over-achieving second-born Benjamin a full two months early, first-born procrastination-station Nathan exactly two weeks before the deadline. I'll write more about our school experience later (sorry Cez, I know you ask me every 25 minutes what our process was this year, but privacy and other stuff kept me mum), but for now I'm just rejoicing as much as (okay maybe MORE than) my offspring are.

We get a little break and then all four of us begin the intensive process of learning Mandarin with private tutors who come to our house six times a week. We learned the bare minimum of "taxi Cantonese" while living in Macau (stop here, turn left/right, keep going, name of our flat, name of the movie theater, hospital, please, thank you, OMG, that kind of stuff). I wanted to learn more, but was repeatedly told Mandarin would be more useful. Cantonese is spoken in Macau, Hong Kong, the so…

Let's all go to the movies! A cautionary tale...

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Michael and I are major movie buffs. Sure we go to see live theatre every single chance we get, but living in Macau our choices were limited to the two big shows in town or heading over to Hong Kong every few months to see whatever tour was coming through. Movies on the other hand, were much more available.

When we first moved to Macau, there were two movie theaters. One was the Portuguese Cineteatro Macau. They had four houses, the highest one being on the eighth floor. And no lift, just a tiny set of stairs that could barely fit two people trying to pass. Most of the houses had simple digital projectors that you could buy yourself to project on your living room wall. The seats were highly uncomfortable. The other theater was at the Macau Tower. It has a single house and looks much like a large university lecture hall. The old wooden seats even have trays that fold out of the arm rests.

Last December, the Galaxy Macau (one of the large casino complexes) opened a United Artists Cine…

Flora

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With a name like Heather Rose, you can believe I was made to love flowers. My middle name is Ann (no E), and for my wedding bouquet I chose heather, queen Anne's lace, and roses. Brilliant, yes? If only there was a flower to incorporate my husband's last name of Chase... Anyone?

One of my favorite things about Shanghai, beside the delicious and flavorful food, is the wide availability of incredibly inexpensive flowers. Every block has a vendor or two selling them out the back of their van, or off a bicycle cart. The smell is exquisite and I never pass by a bunch of them without bending toward the blossoms and inhaling deeply.

Every time we'd pass one cart in particular, the salesman would practically beg us to buy some. Our problem? No vessel to put them in! But last Sunday as we passed him by, we saw a blanket spread on the ground next to his cart, covered in vases of every size and shape and color. I didn't even ask, my husband told me to pick one out. And then he c…

Ray Bradbury

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This morning started like every morning does, Michael comes up to say goodbye as he leaves for work, and I reach over and open a curtain to let some sun in to help me wake up. Then I reach down to the floor and grab my iPhone to check Facebook to see what everyone on the other side of the world has been up to while I slumbered. This morning I was faced with very sad news: Ray Bradbury has passed away at age 91.

When I was a little kid, my little brother and I would ride our bikes across town to the Simi Valley Public Library by ourselves every day of summer. We'd check out the maximum amount of books allowed (the total depended on if you checked books out from the children's section or the adult's section but I think it was around 20 books), and then lug them all back to our house, where we'd lay in the family room and speed read through our treasure so we'd be ready to return them and get more the next day.

Side note - my brother and I were/are very prolific reade…

Shanghai Metro

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We're in the midst of house hunting and it's come down to the final two: an inexpensive flat with luxe furnishings close to Michael's current office (which will change as the project gets further along and he moves onsite) with a grocery store nearby, or a pricier flat downtown right along the Huangpu River with stunning views, an open kitchen, and huge bedrooms, access to the waterfront park, with a bit of a walk to shopping.

We always like to visit a potential home at different times of day, especially at night, to see what it's like away from a sunny weekday when no one is at home. And in this case, we wanted to see what the commute was going to be like for the flat that is further away.

Taxis are indeed inexpensive, it would be about 24¥ (Yuan) or $3.00 USD to get from the office to the river flat, but we wanted to try out the Metro, Shanghai's subway system. There is a stop right outside Michael's office and a stop about an eight minute walk from the rive…