Thursday, May 30, 2013

Buddy's blog

Going for walks is the highlight of my day.  Lately, we've been going a new way.  We walk along the river near our house, and there is less car exhaust.  Mom says pollution is bad for everyone, including dogs.  duh.  Down low where I am, it smells pretty bad.  I have a heightened sense of smell.

So I've been sampling some new treats lately.  They're, uh, …interesting.  Some from Germany and some from Japan.  The dogs they choose to put on the packages are weak at best.  C'mon, is this the best y'got?!
     Lucy won't buy dog food or dog treats from China.  She says some Chinese companies put ground-up sick animals in the dog food.  Eeewww.

He's ok, but too needy looking
Sushi, really?
This dog looks like he's been dumpster diving-
are those eye-brows? 
 little dried fish treats
The dog looks little too yappy for me

 So she gets this new toy that looks cool, haven't had a new rope toy in a while.  But wait, she sprays this stuff on it to make my breath,…wait…what exactly are you insinuating?  My breath is as fresh as any other dog's.  Maybe I just won't play with it then.  Maybe I'll just leave it in the corner, and ignore it.  That would show her.
So what're you saying? huh?
I don't have the freshest breath or what?

num, num, num
a dogs gotta learn to pick his battles

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Mommy struggles in Shanghai, and everywhere else

I know this is good for me.  Whenever I am in an uncomfortable situation, I know it must be good for me.  I must really, really be growing as a person.

Living in a foreign country, especially one that is simultaneously modern and ancient as China, can be challenging.  Daily concessions are made, and all we foreign moms are really trying our best to manage each situation.  That said, I sometimes think that as Mothers, we are our own worst enemies.
     As a Mom, I can only speak for myself.  But I don't think I'm off base by assuming that many of us fret over things that aren't in our control (pollution, food safety, etc.).  We ponder, we price compare, we check our watches, we try to stay a step ahead.  Now, this is all too true in the US as well, but I feel like everything gets heightened living outside our comfort zone.
     I have met some incredible women here, some that I hope to be life-long friends with.  I have also felt the judgement and superiority of some that insist they "know best".  Ok, I get it, you are more organized, more adept at managing Shanghai, healthier, holier, smarter, etc., etc., - OK, you win.  
And sometimes I admit, that judgement gets to me: "Why am I struggling?  Everyone else has got it together".

I'm also not saying that I haven't been guilty of "judgement-itis".  Yes, I have shushed kids that were screaming.  I have stared down a Mom that I saw striking her kid at Carrefore.  I've wondered how parents can leave their teenagers alone so much, and be shocked when they get into trouble.

But I do get that everyone, EVERYONE, has a different experience that is solely their own.  Some families are here with kids, toddlers, infants or teens.  Some kids have allergies, some Moms are pregnant.  Some Dads are at home, and the wives are working.  Some are here, and their grown children are back in the US.  Some families have access to a personal driver, some have large spending budgets, some have a full-time Ayi.

I read a post about a Mom who got stuck in the rain with her toddler while shopping here in Shanghai.  Taking the Metro is not easy with a toddler, especially while carrying grocery bags.  I've had subway doors close on me, and I had to pry them open to get through.  But trying to catch a taxi in the rain here is really, really hard - they all seem to disappear.  So I'm reading this and picturing a Mom and little boy, stuck in the pouring rain, she's trying to hold groceries, an umbrella and the boy's hand, and trying to hail a taxi.  It's crowded, and windy.  And the taxi driver charges her double.    
     I know this same scene could play out anywhere, in any country, at anytime.  But I also know if it were my situation I was living in, I would want to cry, and struggle to hold it together.

So I need to remember this.  To try not to listen to the critical voices.  To cut myself a little more slack.    

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Sunday with Disney VoluntEars

     Yesterday we had an opportunity to volunteer with other Disney families.  Disney is sponsoring a wing at a local children's hospital, and the walls will be decorated with canvas paintings of "Small World" children.  We had the chance to help-out, and also spend the day painting.  Everyone had a great time.  The most productive people were the kids.  They each managed to paint 2-3 canvas' each.  The adults were much too serious and precise.  We had to stay within the lines and be perfect, so we accomplished much less.  Of course.
      It was the first time our family volunteered together, and it was a nice experience.  We will definitely want to do it again.

Disney VoluntEars
Katie & Nomi
Emily & Chris
first one done!
watched by the communist party -
stay in the lines little girl!

Lunchtime in China

Lunch is always by 12:00 noon to around 1:00.  Not 1:30, not 2:00, always around noon.

     Sometimes if I am shopping during lunchtime, the counter person might be eating lunch.  Instead of sandwiches or chips, they might have fruit or a cup of instant noodles.  I rarely see anyone eating a sandwich, but I think that might be changing.  Subway sandwiches are starting to gain in popularity.
     But the most popular meal is a boxed lunch or Asian-style bento.  Always rice, stewed vegetables, small portion of meat or fish cake, and maybe a hard-boiled egg.  Vendors on bicycles with a trailer attached haul stacks and stacks of pre-packed box lunches to construction areas, subway stations and residence apartment complexes.  Boxed lunches are also sold at convenience stores and markets.  Pre-made lunches are very inexpensive - around ¥12 - ¥18 - which is about $2.00 - $2.50.
     We live near the Shanghai Expo Center.  When an event is scheduled, there is a ton of construction   beforehand.  Trucks line the streets and workers are everywhere, lots of deliveries of set pieces, furniture, scaffolds, merchandise, etc.  But at noon, all business stops.  The construction workers, truck drivers, gate guards, etc., line the streets and eat lunch.  In China, it is standard for workers to have a hot lunch.  The streets are lined with food vendors, each offering different selections.  They cook on gas grills or burners on the back of motorcycle carts and make-shift tables.  They provide a variety of items, and each vendor has a specialty.  The workers pick the meal items they want, then sit on the curbs, or on their hard-hats, or in their vehicles and silently eat.  Then, they all smoke.

Yesterday it was raining, but no problem.  Vendors covered their soup pots with plastic tarps, people ate huddled under umbrellas, they even took turns holding boards over each other so the rain didn't get on their plate.

Nothing interrupts lunch.

everyone leaves their trash
sittin'.  eatin'
cleaning up after everyone
dining on unloaded furniture
wok cooking
delivery crate as table
making a box lunch
don't rain on my food
hurry up and eat so you can hold the board
fish trash
lemme squeeze in

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Mother's Day 2013

     First of all, let me say in a completely un-biased way, that my girls are the best.  That said, sometimes they are also the most challenging people on the planet.  The most annoying, selfish, sassiest, kindest, sweetest, creative and surprising.  All at the same time.
     Emily & Katie, like lots of sisters are so alike and so different.  They teach me as much as I teach them, and I am lucky to be their mom.

Happy Mother's Day in Mandarin
drawing of Katie & Me
Going to lunch
Happy Katie
 We had lunch at the Intercontinental Hotel in Pudong by the Expo.  It was really nice, and we saw families from the kids' school as well.  Lots of the standard food stations: Dim Sum, Chinese, Indian, Roast Beef & Turkey, etc.  There was also a whole roast Lamb, Emily said "Is that a camel?".  

whole lamb, but it does look like a camel
Dessert was great.  There was a whole honeycomb sheet, and Katie helped me spoon out some for my cheese plate.  Of course there was a chocolate fountain as well. 

honey comb
Lucy's dessert:
peach tart, cheese, walnuts, honey & bread
Chris' dessert:
cheesecake, tiramisu and
dipped chocolate chip cookie sandwich w peanut butter in the center

chocolate dipped marshmallow
strawberry panna cotta, brownies

here's the bill

the Lamb girls

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Emily & Katie

A few weeks ago, Katie had an assignment in class to learn about an American woman she admired.  She chose Michelle Obama (that's my girl - so proud).  She wrote a report about Mrs. Obama, and included her "Get Fit" program, as well as the garden in the White House.  She included a dumbbell and flower in her picture.

 The girls are taking a beading class after school once a week.  Last week they made earrings.  Since they do not have pierced ears, they are both clip-ons.  Emily might get her ears pierced this summer while we are back home.

The girls are doing great, and are very busy.  School is out on June 15th.  Today, Katie is on a field trip to a Chinese village.  Emily had a field trip yesterday to the Shanghai museum to see an Andy Warhol exhibit.

Things I saw in Shanghai this week

I've walk past this small bakery so many times, and I thought at first it was a mobile home.  But then I realized the building is a re-purposed shipping container.  I bet it gets really hot in the summer.  I can't decide wether I think this is ingenious or desperate.  Maybe both. 

Domino's Pizza, Papa John's and Pizza Hut are really, really successful here.  These chains have adapted well to the Chinese palate.  Although they all deliver, they are more dine-in restaurants.  Pizza Hut has a really big menu here, with lots of pastas as well as pizzas.  They also have "Chinese-style" rice dishes, fried chicken and pork.  They serve juices and sodas, but un-chilled.  They also don't offer any ice or water.  When we first came to Shanghai, I didn't realize I had to bring my own water to drink at some restaurants.  So we all had warm juice, and were not happy with it.  Didn't seem right to have pizza without a cold soda.

Domino's Pizza introduces…
Tuna Mashed Potatoes!
 One of the reasons I have a difficulty learning Mandarin, is the accents and tones.  Each subtle variation changes the meaning of a word completely.  Our teacher repeats words using each of the different tones, but I swear I can't really hear the difference.  I try to speak to the cab driver, gardener, ayi, etc., sometimes they understand me but sometimes they look at me with confusion.  They see my Asian face and think I should be able to speak Mandarin.

learning accents and tones 
Rainy today, the river by our house
Oriental Pearl Tower on a cloudy day