Showing posts from 2015


There are three big events on the horizon! Star Wars, my birthday, and Christmas! 

Star Wars episode VII won't actually release in China until the end of January 2016. There is no way we would be able to go six weeks without having the film spoiled for us. So our big family Christmas gift this year is to pluck the boys from school (the don't get a break for Christmas) and fly down to Hong Kong where we have tickets to see it the day it opens there, December 17. Fun fact, it doesn't open in America until December 18. And fun-er fact, we're a day ahead of America here, so it's actually like we get to see it two days before America. Do I sound a little braggy? Yeah. But let me. Most every film that comes to China arrives 4-24 weeks later than the rest of the world, if at all. So please indulge me my excitement of being able to see our most highly anticipated film since Les Miserables early. And actually, we did the same thing when Les Mis came out, we flew down to see …

Pumpkin Everything Season

I love pumpkin everything. But the only pumpkin anything you can get in Shanghai would be pumpkin soup (which I love and the rest of the family doesn't care for). There was that one time I ordered pumpkin cheesecake, and got chunks of pumpkin pulp mixed into a savory cheese mixture (after one bite it was disposed of). I did find some decorative pumpkins in the store yesterday, and joked that this was our urban pumpkin patch. 

At least the pomelos (a citrus fruit common to south east Asia) were getting into the spirit of this time of year:

They look like little scarecrows! 
All of you Americans reading this, please go have a pumpkin spice doughnut from Krispy Kreme followed by a pumpkin spice latte from Starbucks in my honor and remember how lucky you are to have never had the combo of cheddar and pumpkin pulp anywhere near your tastebuds! 

Time Hop

There's this wonderful app called Timehop which shows you everything you've posted on any social media site on this day in the past. It's a little bittersweet and a whole lot of awesome.

Some days there's nothing to see... for whatever reason there was nothing at all worth posting about on a particular day. And other days it's filled with photos and status updates and links and all sorts of things that show a little slice of my public history. Here's today, screen grabs from my phone in the Timehop app:

Pretty cool, right? And funny that on this day in the last five years I was actually in five different countries... Five years ago-America, four years ago-Macau, three years ago-Shanghai (no photo, just a status update), two years ago-France, and one year ago-Hong Kong. The only insight I can give you about why this particular day has been filled with so many countries would be that the first week of October is "Golden Week" for China, a week of public…

Back to School, Shanghai Style

Hey! It's been a minute. Sorry about that. I was sucking up every last second of summer. Yep, the big news around here is that school has resumed. I've never really written about our school choice here in Shanghai, but Hong Kong's daily newspaper, the South China Morning Post has. Literally. Look:

Yep, that's my family! I subscribe to SCMP's feed on Facebook, and I'll tell you it was ALL SORTS of weird to see our smiling faces show up when I was scrolling through before bed last night.

Would you like to read the article? Click here.

And just for fun, here's our first day of school photos. Or, more accurately, our day before the first day of school photos. We dropped the boys off at the dormitories the night before school started, so no lovely smiling faces in their smart uniforms to go in the scrapbook. Or, on the blog, because I'm not the scrapbooking type!

The boys walking on campus with their suitcases. The big red banner was only up for the first we…

Go for Faux

China is the land of fakes, knock-offs, and copies. There are a million places you can search to find articles and stories about this (start here, here, or here). I've found that you absolutely get what you pay for. Your Ambercromble & Filch sandals for $3 will fall apart, and likely at the most inopportune time. But then again, I have a Faux-lex Rolex watch purchased in 2005 in Hong Kong which still keeps time...

For the most part, I avoid the fakes, because I don't particularly like shopping and the places where you would go to buy the fakes require you to haggle and bargain, which takes me from simply disliking shopping right into the land of hating it.

I confess I did buy that Faux-lex watch, along with a really great copy of a Luis Vuitton handbag back in 2005 in Hong Kong, and I mainly did it for the experience. Riding in an elevator with a guy holding a walkie-talkie, then down a dimly lit hall into a tiny apartment stuffed with fake handbags really late at night...…

Warmest of Welcomes

I am not naturally a hugger. I don't particularly love physical touch.

My brother totally did, and I remember as a young child overhearing a conversation my Mom had with someone else about how he would snuggle with her all day long but I was stiff and awkward with my affection.

Have you heard of the Five Love Languages? My top one is Words of Affirmation, with a close second of Quality Time, while my lowest, barely on the scale, is Physical Touch. But I married someone whose number one language is Physical Touch and gave birth to a child who must be touched in every single conversation and wants to snuggle even at age 12, so I've learned to "speak" the language for their sake.

Americans, generally speaking, are not terribly physically demonstrative when compared to many Europeans. When we moved to Macau, my husband's job was with a show which employed people from nearly every European nation along with about two other Americans. The first time I went in to the th…

New things

Today was pretty hot. Even Lucy Rocket, who lives to be outdoors, was like oh no, I just can't with this blazing pavement. 

So she hitched a ride on Ben's skateboard. 
Side note: I always check the pavement with my own bare foot before subjecting Lu's little paws to potential burns. The heat in summer here, much like the cold in winter, is brutal. She's less than 4lbs, so easy to pick up and carry to a shady spot to do her biz.
Honestly though, I try every single day to get my kids up and out of the house, even if we just go to the corner mom and pop shop to get a frozen treat. Objects at rest like to stay at rest, so I'm all for a little movement to stop the stasis. But today even I was unwilling to trek up the street for anything at all. Instead, I looked around the house for something to do, and found all the art supplies I brought back from camp that we used in my visual arts classroom. 
There was one student in the class who was a watercolor genius. I'd pur…

Try again

I was part of a two week summer camp here in China for local youth (ages 12-19), teaching English and arts. A team of people from Los Angeles came to join up and help run the camp, along with some expats in and around the greater Shanghai area, as well as many local Chinese. I was willing to help out however I was needed, and the camp directors slotted me to teach English. I also partnered with one of the L.A. team members, an old friend and mentor, to teach the Visual Arts class.

I'm not a trained visual artist by any means, my education is in live theater. But I am an artist because I do make art as often as I can. I have previously taught art (and have even been paid handsomely to do so as recently as May). I run a weekly creative group call the Playground out of my house, so if you asked me what I'm good at, I'd probably list "helping people express themselves creatively through art" somewhere near the top of my list. So that part of the camp was excellent, …


Spent the long weekend in Hong Kong, celebrating the end of the school year, Father's Day, and our 19th wedding anniversary. Ten years ago we lived in Hong Kong, so we also spent our 9th wedding anniversary there. Maybe we'll spend our 29th there as well? Perhaps we'll be living there again by then... 

Happy anniversary my love! 


First day of school:
Last day of school:

Nathan refused to slip back on his PE uniform so I could have that beautiful symmetry I so crave... But it's the same wall in their dorms and you can see how much they've grown! 
And just because this is China and that's the one and only explanation I can think of for this, I present their school's Christmas tree and fully decorated lobby:

I guess summer vacation is the best gift a student or teacher could ask for, and Christmas is a gift giving holiday, so... Deck the halls? Whatever, I love it. Happy Summer Vacation and Merry Christmas! 

Scenes of Indonesia

The call to prayer rings out starting at 5:00 a.m., and then several more times throughout the day. I thought it might bother or disturb me somehow, because there is no way to escape the loud broadcast.  But as a person of faith myself, after three years of living in China, officially an atheistic country, I find surprise in the comfort of being surround by people so filled with strong personal beliefs that they stop everything to pause and pray six times a day. Is it because they want to? Or because they must? I can't answer that the same way I can't answer why people who share my own faith do some pretty rotten things in the name of "Christianity." 

I was told the traffic here is SO BAD. That it will make me want to cry. And yeah, it's nuts, full stop. However, there is order to it, which cannot be said about the traffic in Shanghai. Yesterday I witnessed people standing on the side of the road, holding out their hands to stop traffic so they can cross the stree…

Jaunt to Jakarta

Michael and I are on a quick trip to Indonesia (via Hong Kong, seen above) this week. The kids are back home in Shanghai. This is the third time in their lives where they have been in one country and I've been in another. Good practice, I suppose, for the day when they're off to university in a different country on a different continent. 

Looking forward to a little exploration in a new-to-us country! 

It is one hour behind Shanghai, so it's almost like experiencing falling back in Daylight Savings Time. One thing I do not miss about living in America! More photos to come soon! 

Three years in Shanghai

On the morning of May 24, 2012, my son Ben got the worst stomach ache of his life. 

He was doubled over in pain, hysterically crying and barely able to breathe. This was not good timing for two reasons. First, our landlord had come in from Mainland China to our apartment to do a final walk-through and collect our keys, and we were due momentarily to board a plane from Macau to Shanghai, our new home.

It was not going well. We had previously purchased a large refrigerator for our apartment, which the landlord had promised to reimburse from our deposit upon move out, and he was suddenly not willing to give us a cent. I was furious, as we'd had ample time to sell the fridge to recoup our expense if he didn't want it, but he'd insisted he'd pay for it, right up until that day. I was so furious, that I threatened to push the fridge across the kitchen and living room, right onto the balcony and then right over the balcony of our 8th floor home. If we didn't get to sell i…

Walk in Shanghai

It's grey and rainy and humid and depressing today in Shanghai. Plus, for whatever reason, there is a bit of a stench coming off the river (I'll remember Shanghai by its smells as much as its sights).

This building below, which is the only thing that blocks our (normally) fabulous view of the Huangpu River, has stood mostly vacant since we've lived here. Next week will mark three years in Shanghai for us (hello record!), and there are no more than five floors with lights on at night. There are many "ghost towns" in China, where major construction has happened and then was abandoned, leaving the shell of a city totally empty (there is one such town about an hour from my house), but it's odd to see something so very empty right smack in the middle of this bustling, vibrant city. Especially a building that has some of the very best views anyone could ever hope for in Shanghai. It's a little eerie. 

And speaking of eerie, may I present this video which is bot…

Coming Attractions: Disney Store in Shanghai

There's still no official opening date set for Shanghai Disneyland (there is a vague Spring-ish/Summer-ish 2016 rumor floating around the interwebs). But I can say that there is something huge on the Disney radar about to drop here in Shanghai this month.

They did a good job trying to cover the sign up, huh? Nothing to see here folks...
And when I say huge, I truly mean it. Opening on May 20th of this month, this is the world's largest flagship Disney Store. I took the photo above last Sunday on Mother's Day. Looks like they still have some work to do on the outside, hopefully the inside looks a little more complete! And just in case you are not really impressed with the size of this store, let me show you an artist's rendering from a bird's eye view:

In the photo I took, I was standing on the white elevated walk way you see on the bottom edge of the rendering, looking down at the courtyard. The location is amazing, it's right smack in the middle of downtown Sha…

Oh Mama!

Oh Mother's Day... A day with joy and tension and happiness and mourning. I love being celebrated, but my preference would be birthdays, where the honor comes from simply surviving another year. It's hard to feel comfortable being celebrated as a mom when just this year three friend celebrated with positive pregnancy tests, filled with hope and expectation, only to later find the pregnancy ending too soon to result in that dreamt of child, which will now stay only as a dream. How must they feel on a day where we celebrate moms, when they have carried life within them, but never in their arms? My heart feels heavy even while I was spoiled this weekend with fancy meals, thoughtful small gifts, and handwritten cards from the boys who made me a mama and their dad. 
This actually feels like a uniquely "mom" problem... Making sure everyone has enough, putting yourself second so someone else can get what they need. Perhaps because we're well versed in loss, from lost sle…


Sorry guys. We had the most fabulous time in America for the month of February, and then our return to Shanghai was met with some of the most challenging days, which stretched into weeks, and ended up being months. Hello May, how you doing?

Shang-Low is what everyone calls those days here in Shanghai which are not Shang-high days. And we sure have had our share recently. From personal loss I won't go into here, the devastating discovery of a young family member's cancer, career frustration, a frightening health scare in my own son, to missing the people we've only been able to see twice in the last four years, it was just a constant stream of things causing pain and sorrow. So many that we were honestly ready to pack it up and leave. But leaving felt like it would be such a failure. We wouldn't be here to see the opening of the project that has kept us here the last three years. We'd be leaving at a low point instead of going out on top. It was a weird moment to be…

Daily Beach Pic

During my month long holiday to America in February, I went to the beach almost every single day, if only to do a quick parking job by the strand to watch the sunset over the Pacific Ocean. 

When we lived in the Los Angeles area, we went to the beach on a regular basis. Generally it was at the end of the work and school day, and we'd pick up sandwiches or a bucket of fried chicken before making our way to the sand with a big blanket. We'd eat, and then the kids would run around and make all the noise they wanted. It was the perfect way to let them burn off some energy while we adults enjoyed the tranquility that only a beachy sunset can provide.

I also had a routine where I'd drop the boys at school and then walk a mile or two along the sea, just high enough on the shore to not get my sneakers wet, but close enough that my glasses would be opaque, soaked with salty spray. I loved it. 

I always marvel at people who'd buy houses within a mile of the ocean but never actually…