Showing posts from October, 2012

Growing like weeds

This is mainly for the grandparents, who haven't seen their grandsons in sixteen months, and won't see them for at least another four months.

My sons are growing like crazy. My oldest, Nathan, turns twelve in three weeks. Tonight I was walking next to him and he allowed me to put my arm across his shoulders. My arm was uncomfortably high. I think he's now taller than both his grandmothers. Sorry Mom, now Ben is the only one in the family shorter than you. For now.

Last week I made Nathan try on all his pants as the weather is cooling off and I wanted to see what still fit from last winter. The answer? Three pairs of jeans. He's like my Dad though, always hot, and will happily wear shorts and a tee even in the chilliest weather. I also went through his shirts and found almost all of them are too tight across the chest and armpits. He's been wearing the same four shirts every week and I'm about ready to burn them because I'm sick of seeing them! So tonight …

It's a wonderful life

Hey you readers for whom my vivid description of humiliation at the hands of a faux Sharpie wasn't enough, demanding photos to make my humiliation complete which will live on the Internet forever... I say too bad for you! No photos exist. At least on my devices anyway. You could always check Weibo, China's version of Twitter because surely someone I passed snapped a pic surreptitiously.

After reading yesterday's post, my Dad reminded me of a photo I have of the very last day my firstborn ever took a nap. Though evidence suggests he wasn't napping so much as taking a huge thick permanent marker to every surface of the room and then stripped off his clothes and decorated himself all over. We were about seven days away from moving from Los Angeles to Hong Kong at the time, and it was not a fun conversation to have with the landlady describing how the world's shortest graffiti artist had struck the neighborhood but only got just the one room. And himself. I can't p…

China Post

This week I made my way over to the nearest post office (which happens to be in the tallest building in China) so I could mail off 38 handwritten postcards and two packages for a cousin and a friend's wife. Seems easy enough, right? Maybe I'm doing it wrong.

I was the only customer and sat down at the counter, packages in front of me. I hadn't yet sealed them, which is a good thing. The postal worker told me she had to inspect everything, pulling everything out of the carefully packed, tight-fitting padded envelopes. I'd wrapped everything just so in packing paper and sealed it with cellophane tape, which she tore right through like a toddler on Christmas morning.

Everything in each package was carefully examined and she asked me about every single item. I know there are many, many things you are not allowed to mail out of China. You can rest easy tonight knowing this lady did an extremely thorough job making sure I wasn't trying to sneak anything out. I tried to…

Videos of Shanghai

I found a couple videos that feature Shanghai plus some places in China beyond our city. Thought I'd share.

The first is from Canadian videographer and time-lapse photographer Ryan Emond. I love that we've been to so many of the places in his short film. We used to go to Hong Kong every month while living in Macau. We've been in Shanghai for just shy of five months. I didn't realize how much I missed Hong Kong until seeing it on screen! I certainly miss hearing the English language being spoken around town... We'll be down there again starting the day after Christmas to visit some American friends from seven moves ago (San Francisco Bay Area) who'll be in town for the holiday, plus our old pals Mickey and Minnie. Here's Ryan's film:

Moments In China from Ryan Emond on Vimeo.

The second short film is by travel video blogger Alex Lop. His video features Beijing, Suzhou, Hangzhou, and Shanghai. The Shanghai portion was primarily filmed along the Huangpu Riv…


Early this morning I was waiting on the street in front of our complex for a man in a blue taxi wearing a blue and white striped shirt to pull up and deliver me ten perfectly ripe avocados. I'm not a morning person, but I will get out of bed for my favorite food on earth, especially when a new friend calls to say she scored a deal for a dollar apiece. Considering they are usually in the five dollar range, I did virtual back flips to get in on the bounty.

While waiting, I got to see many things I normally do not. Such as a long line of taxis parked at the curb, waiting for the morning commuters to come out. And something that I usually only hear from my flat, 38 stories above the street.

A van exiting our complex pulled to a halt at the driveway. Out popped a man who placed a colorful box on the ground. He then lit it on fire and ran back to the van. I was already taking a photo of something else, so I caught him in the act.

And then stupidly, I remained standing where I was, cam…


Are you an American living abroad? Have you registered to vote in the upcoming presidential election? Depending on your "home" state, it's not too late. I found a website that made the whole process pretty easy-peasy at

My birthday is in December and I missed voting in the 1992 Presidential election by a few weeks and had to wait another four years to cast my first vote for a president. Since turning 18, I've voted in every single election while I was living in America, including the little city elections with only one or two things on the ballot. I spent a summer in the former Soviet Union when I was 15 and it greatly affected the way I feel about exercising my right to vote. We've never voted from abroad before, as there were no federal elections during any of our previous international relocations. This will be our first time.

Frankly, I'm not overwhelmed with excitement about this election. I dragged my feet for many months on ac…

Amazing Race in Shanghai

My email, Facebook, and iPhone have exploded today with friends and family telling me they watch the Amazing Race and that the new season started out in Shanghai, filming right on our doorstep. Coming from Los Angeles, we're totally used to living on a "film set" but we've not seen much filming here in China. We figured we better watch it and see our city on screen. Okay, computer monitor. And yes, they were pretty much right on our doorstep!

We live across the Huangpu River from the Bund, which is where half the episode takes place. We pick up a ferry on our side of the river downstairs and it takes us across, dropping us right in front of the Bund Signal Tower, which is the final destination for the contestants. In several shots, you can actually see our building.

Want to watch it yourself? Go to the CBS Amazing Race website and watch the first episode, called "Double your money." And no, we've not yet sampled the delicacy featured.


Two years ago my youngest son could only use chopsticks to lay down a beat on the table, the chair, his brother, or whatever else was in reach. After a year of cruelly denying him a fork while eating out, he's now a master of getting food from plate to mouth using only sticks. Though he can still tap out a hot rhythm when he's done eating.

I remember living in Japan with baby Nathan. I'd see all these tiny Japanese toddlers eating with chopsticks and I'd praise them in amazement while their parents would be watching Nathan expertly wielding a fork, producing awe on their faces! Nathan finally picked up the chopstick ability at age three in Hong Kong. I'm glad I forced Ben to learn last year - unless you bring your own, there are many places which don't offer a knife or fork. Now if I can just keep them both from mastering the art of slurping food loudly and belching from deep within as a sign of appreciation...