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Showing posts from November, 2012

What's in a name?

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"What's in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet," said Juliet to her Romeo. And she's right of course. But I don't know if there's another name that would sound as sweet. I'm biased, being a Rose myself!

My father named me Heather because we are of Scottish ancestry and because he liked the name. Many other mothers and fathers in the 1970's also liked the name. I was one of four Heathers in my Kindergarten class. Because the other three had all been in the same school in preschool together and there was already a Heather R., I got to go by Heather Ann, my middle name. My mother gave me that name, which is also her middle name. And of course my father gave me my last name, Rose. In the 1970's, an American woman was still 99% likely to take her husband's last name, and therefore my parents very nearly named me Heather Rose Rose, so that when I got married, I could keep the Rose part. Altogether, I have a very…

Winterizing

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Besides small (or non-existent) ovens and teeny-tiny refrigerators, another thing that many flats in Asia are lacking is closet space. Michael moved to Macau ahead of us and picked out our flat there before the boys and I arrived. One thing it had in abundance was storage space. Every single room had wall to wall (sometimes two walls) of floor to ceiling built in closets and cupboards and drawers. There was so much storage that about half the available space was completely empty! None of our previous homes have ever had storage like that, not even in America where we had a garage!

Flash forward to our current flat, which has almost no built in storage. Each room has a wardrobe, and small ones at that. We had to run out to our handy second-largest-in-the-world IKEA to buy extra dressers, shelves, sideboards, cupboards, cubbies, and anything else we could use to find homes for all our stuff. And after six months, we're still not completely unpacked. A record for us for sure!

One th…

The Tree is Trimmed

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...as is this post, which I worked on for awhile and then my unfamiliarity with the latest Blogger app update proved too much and I watched the whole thing disappear before my eyes. It is late, so I won't try to rewrite it, but I will say our house is dressed up in its Christmas Party Best, while Michael and I were also sporting some pretty awesome duds for our day of holiday decorating and turkey consuming.

Lucy Rocket is still new to the whole idea of Christmas, as evidenced by the number of times we had to ask her to get the tree out of her mouth. Filling her bowl with turkey certainly helped!

Off to bed now, so I can have sweet dreams of sugarplums and (faux) snowflakes!



Talkin' Turkey

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So yes, I'm an American, and Thanksgiving is my uniquely American holiday which celebrates thankfulness through the act of stuffing ourselves with way too much food while watching parades and football. Strangely enough, it has never been my favorite holiday. I feel so unpatriotic stating that, but it's the truth.

I'm not opposed to a day that celebrates gratitude and thankfulness. In fact, I recently ran one of those little programs on Facebook which tell you the words you use most in your status updates, and my top two were grateful and love. And I know myself very well and I have a way of letting my mind wander down negative roads, thinking about grass being greener on the other side, so I practice stopping the negativity by thinking (and evidently posting on Facebook) about all I have to be grateful for (try it, it makes a world of difference). So no, I'll never be against thankfulness. But there has never really been space in any of the family gatherings I've …

The Maytag Delivery Man

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This is not even close to the weirdest thing I've seen on the back of a bike (that would go to the guy who had about 50 tiny cages filled with live, loudly clucking chickens lashed together towering above his head and probably 20-30 dead geese hanging by their feet from the bottom row of cages), but it is typical of what I see every single day here in Shanghai. In fact, there isn't much I haven't seen lashed to a bike!

I feel bad for the guy who delivers the giant 5-gallon bottles of water for the water dispensers. He pedals a trike with a trailer along with 20+ bottles of water, delivering them and picking up the empties. My thighs complain when riding the stationary bike on the lowest setting. The water guy must have thighs of steel.

One of these days I'm just going to go sit on the curb with my camera for an hour and take a photo of everything that comes by on the back of a bike. Amazing and entertaining.

A Fuyou Lu Christmas

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Today I went with four other gals to the Fuyou Road Small Commodities Market. I've been there a handful of times over the past six months. They have four floors of literally any small thing you could think of in bulk. Buttons? Stickers? Hair bands? Miles of silver and gold chain? Socks? Decorations? They have all that and so much more. I was told that come November, the Market would explode with Christmas. I was told correctly!

It's a crazy place anyway, but toss in the traditional holiday decorations from every country in the world (all made in China of course) and it brings a whole new meaning to decking the halls. I love Christmas. It's my favorite holiday by far. Although if you count my Christmas Eve birthday as a holiday, then maybe they would tie, because I love birthdays too. I love decorating for Christmas and add to our arsenal of magic making supplies each year. Though two years ago I went through and seriously culled a good part of our collection as well. Out …

Shanghai Falling

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It's been so incredibly cold here over the last couple of weeks. If we go out after dark, it's so cold my teeth hurt and my eyes sting. This does not bode well for the coming winter if it's only November and too cold for my taste. I told Michael our next move needs to be somewhere warm year-round, like the Philippines or Thailand! He threw in "Or Turkey?" Um, no. After a quick check, it snows heavily from November to April and gets well below freezing in winter. It doesn't snow in Shanghai though, so I will cling to that silver lining. Winter in Macau was short. I don't think that will be the case here. After all, we moved here in May and it felt quite chilly for the whole first month.

It doesn't feel like there has really been a fall season here. It went from a few weeks of tolerable tee shirt weather straight to jackets. Not much transitional sweater-but-no-jacket weather. And, as directed by the guards at our complex, I finally put away the flip-f…

Birthday Abroad

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We're halfway through our second loop around the calendar of birthdays spent abroad. I love birthdays and will do anything I can to make them special. Ben had his first Shanghai birthday right after we moved here, so he had no friends yet to celebrate with. If you recall, we did actually run into the one person that he did know, so it was still pretty nice for him. The Krispy Kreme Doughnuts we'd been deprived of for over a year helped too!

Today is my firstborn's 12th birthday. Nathan is the one who changed my name from Heather to Mama. He's a pretty special kid. We celebrated with a weekend of fun. Yesterday we invited half a dozen boys to go to a local Laser Tag place. We rented a van and driver for the day so we could go collect all the kids, take them out to the place, and then bring them back for pizza and cake before taking them all back home again. I miss having my own car. The boys had a blast!

After laser tag but before pizza, I caught a photo of the boys…

As long as the root beer isn't flat...

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Poor Snoopy.

Guarded

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The apartment complexes in Shanghai are like little suburbs in the sky. Instead of a sprawling neighborhood, they just go straight up in the air. For instance, our complex takes up an entire block with eight buildings, and each building has between 30 and 42 floors, with two to three flats per floor. That's a lot of people living in a single city block!

Our complex has two entrances, both are heavily guarded. Each building also has a guard around the clock who sits at a desk in the lobby. When we moved in, all the guards were pretty grim faced. That's their job, I suppose. I mean, they aren't there to serve as ambassadors for unauthorized people to go strolling around the grounds. I, however, am an ambassador. An ambassador of the expat community. So I've made it my job to make sure to pause, look every single guard in the eye, smile a dazzling smile and give each of them a cheery ni hao (hello) each time I pass one of them.

At first, the guards would just grunt at m…

Macau Fringe Festival presents Anni Ha

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Hello readers in Macau!

May I quickly draw your attention to an event about to take place in your area? The Macau Fringe Festival takes place at various locations throughout the city during the month of November. You can see the full line-up here. But what I really want to draw your attention to is one particular act, called The Other Ex-Pat. This is a one woman show put on by the incredibly talented Aussie actress Anni Ha.

Anni, like myself, is living abroad because of her husband's job. They were newlyweds when they moved to Macau, and Anni has really dug into the expat community. One story she heard over and over again was that of the accompanying spouse and the search for an identity in this role. Many accompanying spouses have left full-fledged careers behind, putting their partner's trajectory above their own, resulting in a transitional period of figuring out just who they are in a new country, with new friends, new expectations, and new challenges. This story, heard …