Showing posts from September, 2012

中秋节快乐! Happy Mid-Autumn Festival!

Today is the Mid-Autumn Festival, which celebrates the full harvest moon on the fifteenth day of the eighth lunar month in China. It is also celebrated in other Asian countries, such as Taiwan and Vietnam. Generally people head home to visit their family and have dinner with them (much like American Thanksgiving). It's a huge holiday here as I mentioned, everyone is off work for the week so they have time to travel to remote parts of China to be with their families.

The full moon was big and orange as it rose in the sky this evening. Incidentally, those two buildings to the left are the landmarks that help me find my neighborhood, as well as the entrance to the nearest Metro station. I call them the Death Star and the Christmas Tree in honor of the ornaments on the top. Wouldn't you?

One way people celebrate the Mid-Autumn Festival is to give and share mooncakes. Traditionally, mooncakes are a pastry which contain a very dense filling of lotus-seed paste along with a salted d…

National Day Preparations

October 1 is China's National Day. I wrote about our National Day experience last year while we were living in Macau (click here to read it). Macau is a Special Administrative Region to China, and they certainly celebrate it. If you recall, Macau "celebrated" with some protests, and we celebrated by heading up to the China border with the kids. I wonder if we'll see organized protests here in Mainland China. Doubtful! I've noticed a definite presence of the People's Liberation Army standing at attention on several of the platforms of the larger subway stations in the last few days.

And there are flags everywhere, hanging from every pole and street sign and tree branch and shop and even the overhead pipes in the subway. At first, I had all these warm and fuzzy feeling about the flags, because after all, America goes similarly flag crazy during its national holiday on July 4, and I thought it was a nice bridge between my current home and my former home. But the…

Unlimited Creativity

I'm sure I've mentioned here before how I just don't enjoy cooking. I didn't even learn how to cook until college when my cousin Dar realized I wasn't joking about not knowing how to make pasta and took me under her wing. It's no secret that if given the choice to go out to dinner or to stay in and cook dinner, I'm always going to pick the choice that involves someone else doing the meal preparation. I'm not a bad cook (anyone who has ever eaten one of my meals would agree, unless they are really good liars), I just don't enjoy it like many people do. Or at least I didn't. I think things are changing. Ever so slightly anyway.

A few years ago I found out I have a slight allergy to shellfish. By slight, I mean it is not life threatening, it is just very annoying. Within 24 hours I turn bright red and I itch all over for almost a week. No breathing difficulties or stomach issues, thankfully. However, as with any allergen, repeated exposure can mak…

Lost in translation

My mobile phone company seems to send me regular spam (in Chinese of course) it thinks might be of interest to me. Sometimes I run the text through Google Translate to see what it says, most of the time Google Translate doesn't really help. I need a translator to tell me what the English words, arranged in that particular order, actually mean.

This one really has me scratching my head... Thought I'd let you share in the head scratching:

"Shaoshao Integral fun in life! The bones of the dead the bowl plate 6 into groups of 150 points plus 59.9 yuan; Brita water purifier 240 points plus 199 yuan. The second half price is more and more a true discount [HOLA HOLA]"

Don't really want to eat my breakfast cereal in a "bones of the dead" bowl, but maybe I'm in the minority?

And then there were two...

My poor husband never wants me to suffer by myself, so he's gone and joined me in this nasty sickness. So now we're both fevery and achey and miserable, and more than once I've moaned how much I miss my mom and wish she was here to make everything right.

Sometimes being a mom is less fun than just having a mom, especially when the mom is super sick and doesn't have the energy to protest when her kids are lost in the world of Minecraft all day instead of doing something that involves going outside in the glorious weather that has spread across Shanghai. Oh well. I'll earn my Awesome Mother badge another day.

Today is all about the hot tea in my favorite green mug and alternating Tylenol and Advil every four hours, while at least reminding the children there is bread for sandwiches and cold pizza they can heat up should they require sustenance in the midst of the Minecraft marathon. Much better day for them than me or Michael. Here's to better days!

Some like it hot

Strange days here in Shanghai. China and Japan are standing off over a string of uninhabited rocky islands in the sea between them. People here are setting their Japanese-made cars aflame in the street in protest, and a big marathon sponsored by a Japanese brand has had the title stripped to make it sound more Chinese.

Today air raid drills were held throughout the city, with the loud alarms echoing off the buildings. The official line is that these drills are held regularly, but with the situation in the sea escalating, no one thinks it's a coincidence. I don't feel unsafe. Today there are many other places where Americans are in danger, and my heart is heavy over the recent loss of my fellow citizens abroad.

I have my own inferno swirling. I awoke feeling like I'd been sleeping under a two-ton pickup truck, pain in every joint and a raging fever. So much for long standing plans we had for today. I'm back in bed while Michael took the boys off to play.

While they…

Speaking of Monkeys...

So I was just joking about leaving my monkey behind in the taxi.

But it could totally happen.

Because I do, in fact, live in a city where you can pick up a monkey or two at the store.Why, here's a couple right now!

The eight year old obsessed with monkeys who still lives inside me is thrilled. Dogs and monkeys get along, right?

More Expat Circle of Life

When we left Macau, we could not bring our stockpile of spices, salsa, dry and canned goods with us into China. Friends came and "shopped" in our kitchen taking it all off our hands so it wouldn't go to waste. The same thing happened when we left America for Macau and had to do something with the contents of our pantry.

This week it was our turn to empty the cupboards of another family leaving Shanghai who cannot bring their foodstuff with them as they move on to their next location. I came home with eight bags stuffed with all sorts of great stuff. As expensive as imported groceries are here, there was no way I'd turn down the offer! Maybe one of these days I'll master the art of using up what I have just in time for our next move. That would take some serious skills.

Sorry Lucy, nothing for you.


Shoot you guys, I left my monkey in the taxi! Wish I'd seen the helpful sign before I hopped out. Won't the next person who catches a ride be in for a surprise!

She works hard for the money

When I have opinions about things, they are usually quite strong, and I have no problem expressing them.

I remember raising money to go on a student ambassador trip to the Soviet Union the summer after my freshman year of high school. One night my friend Samantha and I took donations for serving coffee at a debate between two local politicians battling it out for a county seat. The incumbent was a cuddly old grandfather (who would be revealed years later to be a prolific child molester) and his opponent, a cocky, brash, slick man who looked and acted the part of a career politician.

A small bit of background: throughout middle school I participated in Toastmasters, the public speaking group that meets to give speeches and help you improve, as well as how to give and receive constructive criticism. I never played a sport, so I have no trophies of golden girls with baseball bats or soccer balls. But what I do have is a box of ribbons and medals, and even a gavel, from winning many a sp…

I'm holding out for a hero

Found this, well, let's call it what it is, bucket, at the local movie theatre. For 30 RMB ($5 USD) you can have it filled with Coke. If you're a reader from the States, this may not be too big a deal since you've seen something close to this size in a Super Big Gulp at the gas station. But if you're like me, reading this in Asia, you probably had the same reaction I did, which means your eyes are bugging and you wonder who could possibly finish such a great big drink!

Cups here are very small, a large from McD's is closer to a small in the US (so it goes with clothing sizes as well). I've been Coke-free for over two years now, so the thought of drinking that much sugary sweet beverage makes me want to vomit. I was thinking this was for a giant, but evidently only heroes need plunk down their cash for a bucket of Coke. I guess I'm just not hero material. Thankfully.

Where's my ham?

Because I found Green Eggs!

I did not eat them with a goat or on a boat, but I did use them to make a pink cake. Green eggs and cake. Not as Seussian as green eggs and ham. But only because I think perhaps Sam I Am could get just about anyone, anywhere, to eat cake. Not much of a book there.

Sam I Am: Would you like...
Other person: (Munch, munch, munch.) Mmm, good cake. More, please.

This is China, Birthday Edition

Last week I brought up the subject of birthday gifts with Michael. The only thing he requested was to sleep in on his birthday. I don't blame him. He always leaves the office at 6:00 p.m., getting home by 7:00. But every day it seems he's going in earlier and earlier. Most days he's up at 5:00 a.m. That would kill me. Most days I'm just finally falling asleep at 5:00 a.m. Grrr, stupid insomnia...

Anyway, sleeping in was about the easiest thing to accomplish. The normal daily routine is Michael leaves, kids get up and go downstairs to walk the dog, feed themselves breakfast, and quietly occupy themselves until Mom groggily emerges from the bedroom around 9:00 a.m., reminding them to really-for-real-this-time brush their teeth and put on deodorant because holy cow, tweenage boy B.O. can knock even a tough girl like me right over. I don't want to know what the smell might do to the population at large (you're welcome, Shanghai). I figured I could reasonably buy Mi…

Birthday Boy

Happy birthday to my husband, who is getting the gift of seeing lots of movies in the theater, eating lots of expensive, imported steak, and the new iPad, which he'll have to wait to open until our next friend from the States arrives because the price in China is quite a bit higher than the price in the USA. Which is ironic as it is made here, sent to America, and then imported back to China at double the cost, months after the rest of the world is already growing bored of it.

In related news, we had to buy a printer today to replace the one we brought from the States. I need to use the scanner regularly, and the scanning function decided to cease. We've been shopping around, bargaining with all our might (nothing really has a fixed price in China), and found the cheapest option on the model we wanted was still over twice the American listed manufacturer's suggested retail price. It was painful to spend the money. But while our friends can bring us an iPad in their carry…

My Country 'Tis of Thee

The latest Batman moviefinally made it to China! As an early birthday gift to my husband, I took Michael to see it last night. Boy do I ever miss Macau where films open 1-3 weeks before the rest of the world!

Halfway through the film, there's a scene that takes place at a football game. The crowd rises to their feet as a little boy sings America's national anthem. I started to rise to my feet as well, an unbreakable habit since spending the summer between my freshman and sophomore years of high school in what was then the USSR.

I ended up staying uncomfortably in my seat, but I couldn't hold back the tears after hearing the Star Spangled Banner for the first time in over a year. The song finished and the screen erupted with typical action film explosions, quickly ending my emotional, patriotic moment and sucking me back into the latest crisis to face Gotham City.

Living in China, I completely missed joining in with my fellow Americans who tuned in to the Olympics, watc…