Thursday, September 27, 2012

The Lamb girls
United Nations International Day of Peace   Thursday, September 27th

Today the International school is celebrating the UN day of Peace.  There is an assembly at school, followed by a parade.  Emily and Katie will walk with the USA section and are really excited.  The UN day of peace celebrates diversity and also tolerance.  They made hair bands and beads for their hair, and dressed in red, white and blue.  Shanghai Community International School is about a third North American, a third Asian and a third European.  The largest groups at the parade were from Korea, the Netherlands and the US.  They all wore their country colors and held signs and flags.  The parents in the audience were all tearing up - I know I was.  The families all bring food representing their country for a pot luck afterwards.  The Germany table had mini sausages and kugel, the Italy table had pasta and bread with Nutella, the Japan table had sushi and soba, and the France table have pastries and french cheeses.  I brought PB&J and Ham&American Cheese sandwiches to the USA table.  At least I didn't bring McDonald's.

Late Autumn Festival    October 1st - 6th

Most businesses are closed and local chinese workers take advantage of the week off to return home to their villages.  On the flip side, people from the villages come into the city to tour and shop.  This is the time of year that moon cakes are eaten and given as gifts.  Moon cakes are round pastries with sweet or savory fillings.  The most expensive moon cakes are baked in molds with really intricate designs.  Moon cakes are sold everywhere - stacked floor-to-ceiling.  They are sold at markets, tea shops and even Starbucks.  Disney moon cakes have a Mickey on them.

1.  We have been eating lots of different things and I've been experimenting with foods I've never made.  The markets are filled with fruit and vegetables that I had never seen before, lots brought in from local farms and Southeast Asia.  The girls have been eating lots of Asian pear from Korea - much sweeter than we get back home.  And Chris likes the Pomelo that is sold already sectioned.
2.   Think I found my bacon!  It looks more like pancetta, but the flavor is very Farmer John.  Made it this morning and the girls loved it.  Ahhh...bacon-y.

Winter Dates - I think they're like crabapples

Pomelo sections
Asian pear - about as big as a small melon
1.   Ordered two bean bag chairs for the girls' room.  They arrived and are HUGE - almost the size of a twin mattress-, rectangular and flat. They look like gigantic versions of the ones we used as kids for bean bags toss games.  The material they are wrapped in is the same as our pool cover back home - hard and stiff.  I can either send them back or Buddy will have a new bed.

Monster bean bag chairs,, mats?
Seriously big

2.   Lots of things in our home have remote controls - the lights, AC, TV, etc.  But all the remotes are only in Chinese.  I'm getting it little-by-little.  We have an iPhone app that helps, but not always. 

washing machine
TV remote
Not sure what this is about

The weather this week has been very nice.  Cool, in the mid - high 70's.  Humid still, but not as bad as it's been.  I'm told it is like this until the beginning of November, then it will be cold for months.  We are anxiously waiting for our ocean shipment.  It's here in China, and it needs to clear customs.  The ocean shipment has everything that we were not able to bring in our suitcases.  All of our paintings, pictures, books, as well as my kitchen items and extra towels, sheets etc.  I don't think our place here will feel home-y until we get it.  The kids want their craft bins and toys.  And Chris' drums and his bike are in that shipment.

Will update again in a few days.  I have been taking lots of pictures.  Buddy has been working on something too,...a dog blog?  hmmm...

Sunday, September 16, 2012

What I miss and don't miss....


1.   Cleaning my own bathrooms.  In China, everyone has an "Ayi" which translated means "auntie".  An Ayi is a housecleaner, nanny, helper, whatever you want.  I just started having an Ayi, and she comes twice a week and cleans the floors, bathrooms, etc.  For less than $5.00/hr and she is here for 4 hours.  Some people have full-time Ayis, but ours is part-time.
2.   Crime.  There really is very, very little violent crime in Shanghai.  You can walk at night and be very safe.  The only crime here tends to be shop-lifting, pick-pocketing.  People have their iPhones stolen a lot here.
3.   Airplanes.  There are no airplanes or helicopters allowed overhead.  Planes must fly around China or directly into the airport.  So you never hear any planes overhead.


1.   Bacon.  With all the pork products here, I cannot find regular breakfast, salty, smoked, delicious, heavenly bacon.  I find Canadian bacon, and a sort of formed pork pseudo-wannabe bacon.  But no real bacon.
2.   Good paper products.  Toilet paper, paper towels, paper napkins, tissues.  The paper products in China are not as cushy, fluffy and soft as in the US.  Kinda thin and coarse - ouch.
3.   Driving my own car!!!   The taxis are plentiful, but the nearest subway stop from us is about 20 minutes walk.  Non-chinese are not allowed to have drivers' licenses because they can't speak Mandarin or read the signs.  I wouldn't want to drive here anyway - very scary on the roads.  But still I really miss having the independence of my own car.
4.   Trader Joe's.  Sigh.
5.   And of course, friends and neighbors.

IKEA in Shanghai

Sunday morning we went to IKEA.  IKEA is one of the fastest growing companies in China.  The Chinese mostly live in small, cramped apartments so all the space-saving and organizing tools seem to be a big hit.  Besides, most of the items are made here anyway.  I think it might even be less expensive than in the US.
We spent the equivalent of $160.00 and came home with tons of items for the house.  There was also soft serve ice cream for 1rmb each - I think this is about 16cents.  We had lunch in the cafeteria.  Yes, they had swedish meatballs and mashed potatoes, but we also had beef stew with rice, and there were stir-fried mushrooms in oyster sauce, and fantastic BBQ chicken wings.

I was told by Vivian (our relocation specialist with APP) that weekends at IKEA were very, very crowded.  And that you would see people using the IKEA showrooms as places to spend the day.  She was right on both counts.  The beds were mostly all un-made because people had been in and out of the covers.  Kids playing in the kids room displays, and people laying down on couches.  I've seen some of this in the US, but it's usually just to "check-it-out" not to camp out.  Vivian told me it's worse on days that are very hot and people will stay at IKEA for the day.

Just like home... 

Moving in

Wonder if they buy anything?

Friday, September 14, 2012

Buddy's blog.....

What's up canine compadres?

I've been hanging with my humans, the Lambs.  They're cool.  But they put me in a big crate and sent me on a long trip in a plane.  Burn.  Hated it.

Now I'm expected to pee in a new area that has barely been marked - I gotta get on that.  Lots of awesome new smells though.  One of my humans, the one they call "mom" keeps telling me to settle down - I am settling crazee lady - she just don't know what I been through.

So I heard that I am in China - where the hecka is that.  Now I'm seriously gonna lose my mind.  The little black poodle next door even told me that they eat dogs here.  She can't be right - I mean that's cannibalism - she's just a dumb foreigner.  She smells like cat anyway.

What's a dog to do?  Just keep smiling, wagging, and will make my move when no one is looking.....

Hot Dog

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Two steps forward, one step back...

We have had several frustrating weeks here.
Our internet connection has been unreliable at best.  We've had four different people come out and try to fix it, and it will work for a few hours than stop.  The last person told us that sometimes if you have more than one device using internet at the same time, they may all freeze up.  Well, that seemed to work.  We turned off the phones and iPads and the computer worked.
We have had a very, very strange smell coming from the master bath.  We thought it was the toilet, or drainage.  Different people, (including the landlord) told us to just air the rooms out and it would go away.  Finally, the plumber who came to plunge our toilet for the 2nd time, told me it was coming from the AC unit - and he was right.  Once all the AC in the master bedroom and bath are off, the smell went away.  The problem is that it is very, very hot.  I think something died in the air duct.  It seems that in China, it takes about four or five different repairmen to tell you nothing is wrong, until one agrees with you and a solution is finally reached.

Shopping in Shanghai
--It is LOUD 
BBQ pig snouts
People are constantly yelling - workers, shoppers, tinney loud speakers, very bad piped in music (usually The Carpenters for some reason)
Kids play/ride in the aisles with the toys for sale- basketballs, skates, bikes - especially at sporting goods stores
Stores like Carrefore (similar to Target or WalMart) are department stores that sell groceries.  They also sell imported items.  But the busiest parts of the store are the fish and meat sections.  The floors are always wet, and there are lots of live fish, turtles and shellfish in tanks.  The beef is usually too expensive for locals, but they purchase alot of offal (liver, kidneys, heads, bones) to cook with.  The locals buy most of fruits and veggies at the wet markets (outdoor stalls), but need to come here to buy proteins.  There are also overflowing bins of dried shrimp, mushrooms and seaweeds.
There are lots of people working in all the stores, almost one person per aisle, and they ask you if you need help finding anything.  In some places, they genuinely want to tell you which items are better than others.  They receive no commission, so they really seem to want to help.
--It is CHEAP
Other than imported or luxury items, the prices are very, very inexpensive.

Things I saw this week:
-Lots of different butterflies out after the rain - incredible different colors of lavender, orange, striped.
-Very, very strange underground bugs in our back yard.  I go to pick-up the dog poo and the poo is moving!  Bugs are underneath, coming up from the ground.  Dung beetles?  They're small and black, the size of a lentil.  Tremors anyone?
-A group of Western teenage boys, hanging out, came to our door looking for "Sophie" by mistake.  One said "Dude, you blew it going to the wrong house" - made me feel like I was at home

Walking path at Seasons Villas