Friday, March 30, 2012

Cats & Dogs

It is raining cats and dogs here today.  We've had plenty of clouds and drizzle but this is the first day of significant rain since our move here.  Since I still have to take Lily to school in a taxi I gave myself extra time since finding a taxi in the rain is not easy.  We did get Lily off to school on time and I made sure the taxi waited for me so I wouldn't have to stand in the rain trying to find an available taxi, which any New Yorker can tell you is close to impossible when raining. 
Charlie and I made it back just in time to take the apartment shuttle to Kerry Park Side mall.  I had hoped to go to the Super Brand Mall, but with the rain the shuttle just seemed so much easier.  With so few toys here and our air freight still in Mexico, at least that is the last we've been told, I thought I would treat both the kids to a new toy.  Charlie got some new Duplo Legos, which he had fun carting around the apartment in a bag I gave him and Lily got a new art kit. 

I met a woman and her little girl on the shuttle to the mall.  Vicki is from the UK so English is her first language and I was so grateful to have an adult to talk to that I could understand and that could understand me.  We chatted a bit at Baker and Spice, think Panera Bread, about adjusting to life in Shanghai and I ended up coming home with some great tips and a promise to get together again.  It will certainly be much easier for me once I meet other mom's in the area.  To help that along joined Shanghai Mama's today, so hopefully soon I will meet other moms and maybe Charlie will end up with some friends of his own. 

Lucas has just informed me that our sea freight has cleared customs and is being held in storage until our apartment is ready for us.  Ironic that our sea freight is here before our air freight when it should be the other way around.  So glad I went through the trouble of figuring out what to ship by air freight to help us out with our temporary housing.  I seriously feel like someone should get a refund for this incompetence!

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Spring is here!

This week has been beautiful!  We've had sun and temps in the high 60's and low 70's.  It has been such a nice change from the wet and dreary weather we had for our first few weeks here.  I think the warm weather is here to stay, everything is starting to bloom and although I'm happy to see all the buds and flowers it makes me miss my own yard. 

Charlie and I walked to the fake market today, the purse I bought has torn at a seam and I wanted to see if they would do anything about it.  I was told that they can send it back to the factory to be fixed and that it will take two days.  Since I didn't have anything else to use as a purse with me I told them I would have to come back.  I'll keep you posted on how this turns out. 

Since we are in temporary housing Charlie has been sleeping in his PeaPod.  Since most of you probably have no clue what that is I took a picture of Charlie playing around in it after his nap today.  It is a lot like a personal tent that I can zip closed from the outside, this way I don't have to worry about him escaping.  This is where he has been and will be sleeping until we move a month from now.  We tried using the PeaPod in Florida but he wouldn't have it.  He finally ended up in it one night after being so tired he didn't care where we put him.  Lucky for us that he finally got used to it since the crib they provided us with is only for an infant. 

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Field Trip

After dropping Lily off at school today Charlie and I went to the Carrefour by our future home to pick up some groceries and a few other essentials.  At the check out an employee asked if I would be willing to take a quick surveySince Charlie was in a good mood I figured why not.  It only took a couple of minutes, during which Charlie was entertained by the employees and given a milk box to drink and I got a reusable grocery bag.  

Then it was home to do some laundry and have lunch.  I tried to give Charlie a left over cheeseburger but he was more interested in my rice and dumplings so I ended up giving him a bowl.  Guess he's taking to the new cuisineThe only problem is that rice ends up everywhere and this is sticky rice and when I say sticky I mean STICKY!  It sticks to him, his clothes, hair, chair, table, floor.  It is so much fun to clean.  I think I'm going to implement a new rice rule.  Whenever Charlie is eating rice, he needs to be striped down to his diaper.  At least then I won't be trying to pick smashed rice out of his clothes! 

After his nap I told Charlie we had to go get Lily, so he goes and grabs his shoes and points to the door and says Lily, Lily!  I think he enjoys his one on one time with me, but he is always excited to go pick her up.  Since the weather was so beautiful today the kids were all outside in the playground.  Charlie got some playground time too before I rained on their parade and told them it was time to go.  

Lily had her first field trip today, she's never gone on one without me present.  They went to the Insect Kingdom that we went to a few weeks ago.  She said they took the yellow school bus, and went and saw bugs.  When I asked if she had a good time she said yes, she had a good time and did I know that some bugs eat other animal's poop?.  She also came home with a small toy slug.  Is that an insect?

Nothing else to blog about... except for the little monster that I found all snuggled up in my bed. 

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Spring cleaning

Not much to blog about today.  Got Lily to school this morning without any troubles, a quick hug and kiss and she was gone.  Charlie and I grabbed a taxi, he's started to mimic me and puts his hand out to call for a taxi and he gets mad if it's already taken and drives by.  We headed for the plaza across from our future apartment and found some pain relief cream for Lucas' neck before heading to Pines.  Pines, is a grocery store that caters to Westerners and has a lot of things that I can't find at Carrefour including spices.  While they didn't have a big selection it was the biggest I've seen to date so I was thrilled to pick up onion powder and cumin.  

Spent the rest of the day cleaning the apartment and doing laundry.  It was so nice to have the sliders open and air out the place.  We had a bit of trouble picking Lily up though.  I gave the taxi driver the card with the school's address and when I try to tell him he's going the wrong way he just pats his dash, not sure what the hell that meant, and keeps going.  Then he starts asking me questions, which I don't understand.  I gesture for him to turn around, which he does and we end up on the right street, but I am all turned around and I have no idea which way the school is and it is a very long street.  He asks for directions and we finally make it only 5 minutes late.  Lily wasn't up set and I didn't have to pay for the big circle he took me in before figuring out where he needed to go, so I guess it all turned out ok.
I made dinner tonight, which has become a less than regular event.  Between not being able to find a lot of things at the store and being exhausted from watching the kids all day we've been eating out or ordering in a lot.  I'm hoping with Lily in school I will be cooking a lot more, plus I finally found measuring cups and spoons.  Tonight's dinner was chicken stir fry over rice with dumplings and bread.  I came out really well for my first attempt, I'm hoping to try fried rice next...


Monday, March 26, 2012

Lily's First Day

Lily had her first day of school today.  She had to bring indoor shoes since the Chinese do not wear their outdoor shoes inside, a tooth brush and tooth brush, so she can brush her teeth after lunch, and a comb so she can comb her hair after recess.  All of this stays at school though.  Lunch is provided if I want to pay the 900 RMB, which is only $150 and very fair.  She gets two Chinese and three Western meals each week.  The teachers eat with the kids to help teach good table manners and the kids must try everything at least once before they are excused from eating something they don't want. The teacher also sends home a little notebook with a daily report for me so I know how she is doing each day.  Today's report said that Lily was fascinated by all the activities and wanted to try it all.  That she cried when she had to try her vegetables but eventually gave it and get it a try.  

All in all it seemed like she had a good day and is excited to go back tomorrow.  While she was in school Charlie and I hit the Carrefour.  He crashed after lunch and napped for almost three hours, I had to cut it short so we could go pick up Lily.  

Lucas has a stiff neck and it is causing him a lot of pain so we met at Thumb Plaza to try and find some Icy Hot.  No luck with the Icy Hot, but we did grab dinner at Pizza Hut.  We have learned that having dinner at an American chain is not the same as back home.  The Menu was very extensive, covering appetizers, drinks, soups & salads, entrees, rice dishes, pasta, and dessert.  Here are just a few of the dishes available, including a rice dish with octopus. 
Even the pizza comes with some interesting options like salmon.  Boring Americans that we are we got a pepperoni pizza and iced lemon tea (not sweet tea).  Both kids ate well so on the way home we stopped at the Family Mart and picked up ice cream for everyone. 

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Zhouzhaung Village & Jin Mao Tower

It was a very busy weekend for us.  We decided to take advantage of the great weather and venture out of the city to the Zhouzhaung Water Village.  Said to be one of the oldest water villages around it is a little over an hour from Shanghai by busWe planned on taking the Metro to the Shanghai Stadium, where you pick up the bus, since it is a lot cheaper than a taxi, but the train was delayed for some reason.  We ended up in a taxi anyway and  spending 50RMB.  Twenty minutes later (don't get me started on the lack of signs) we find the office and Lucas gets us tickets for the next bus leaving. 

The bus ride was a little over an hour and very easy once we got out of the city traffic.  The kids were great and seemed to enjoy the ride out of the city.  


The village itself was a short "golf cart" and boat ride away from where the bus dropped us off.  Looking back I should have done a guided tour but I thought we would be fine wandering on our own.  We had a map, how hard could it be?  That was my first mistake.  There were plenty of signs but they were a bit vague in directions and we went in circles a lot before we finally figured things out.  The so called map, didn't have street names on it, not that I saw street signs in the village so I guess it wouldn't have mattered.  We wandered along rows of shops and restaurants always being asked to come look or to come have lunch, English menu they say.  They have boats that will take you around the village, but I wasn't willing to risk that with the kids.  

The kids and I are sitting in front of the Double Bridge, also called the Key Bridge.  You can't see it from this side but there is a corner bridge that attaches to the one you see behind us making it a double bridge. 

We saw the Hall of Zhang's Residence a 500 year old residence typical of the Ming Dynasty.  The Hall of Shen's Residence, built in 1742 and a museum of fishing.  There were several other things I would have loved to see, maybe next time...

We were already aware that Lily and Charlie attracted attention wherever they went but it was crazy at the village.  People would surround us and ask to take pictures of the kids or if they could have a picture with the kids.  Both were amused by the attention and posed with countless people.  At the end Lily said to me, I think they like me.  This picture is of one of the smaller crowds they attracted.  

I ended up bringing home a small tea set made of a very hard clay typical of the water villages.  Lucas got some bamboo artwork shaped like a dragon and Lily got a ink sketch of the water village.  All in all it was a good day, but by the end I had a migraine and couldn't find my bed fast enough.

Today we went to the Jin Mao Tower Observation Deck.  The Jin Mao Tower is the one in front.  The bottle opener building or the Shanghai World Financial Center is behind it.  The SWFC is the tallest building in China and the world's second tallest.  We paid 360 RMB for the four of us to take an express elevator up 88 floors where they have the world's highest post office.  There were some great views of the city even with the haze and the kids had fun looking out the windows. 
This is the Oriental Pearl TV Tower and in the river you can see the a Princess Cruise Line ship.  We met several folks that were from England and taking a cruise of Asia.  They were spending one day in Shanghai before they moved on.
Lily has perfected the Asian pose.  We were literally mobbed by the Asian tour groups who wanted pictures of the kids or pictures with the kids.  I finally had to tell them no when Lily seemed to tire of it.  They can be pretty forward, but I have no problem being forward right back if the kids don't want to play cute American kid anymore. 

Here Lily poses in front of the replica and while I take her picture a crowd surrounds us to take her picture too.  With each person she turns and smiles at them, such a ham when it suits her. 

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Flower market

Today the kids and I went to the local flower market, which is a 5 minute taxi drive.  The point of the trip was to find fish food for Lily fish (we lost Minnie), and we did but wow what a place!  The market was huge, with fresh cut flowers on one side of the building and plants on the other. It looked like there was a second level, but with the stroller that wasn't going to happen.  We wandered around and just took it all in.  I did end up coming home with a small plant for me and a cactus for Liliane.  I did find the fish food and some gravel for the tank.  There was a row of small shops that had fish and other small pets for sale.  I can't wait to go back when I'm settled in our apartment.  Plants just seem to make a place more like home to me.  

This afternoon we met Lily's new teacher, Ms. Julie.  She was very nice and while I chatted with her about the school the kids played with the assistant.  Ms. Julie's main focus is on teaching the kids reading and writing.  There is a second teacher who is Montessori trained, she is Chinese and she guides the kids in their unstructured learning time, she also teaches Mandarin everyday.  There is also an assistant and an ayi in the class, which makes it 16 kids and 4 adults.  Much better ratio than what you find in the US.  They have a mix of Western and Chinese lunches for the kids.  The table rules are that they must try everything at least once and they have to wait for everyone else to finish before they may leave the table.  They also brush their teeth after lunch so Lily will keep a tooth brush, tooth paste,and cup at school.  I really like the school and I know Lily will be very happy there.  Once we move into our apartment the school will only be 5 minutes away.  At the moment it is about 15 minutes away. 

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Blue Skies!

We finally had some blue skies!  It is supposed to rain the next two days, but the weekend is looking good so I don't care.  With the nice weather the kids and I walked to AP Plaza.  I got myself a new purse since my old one wasn't working out anymore.  I can either wear it across my chest or hang it on the stroller handle if it gets too heavy.  The squares are silk and the black is a suede like material.  It is perfect for getting around town with both mine and the kids stuff, and it is pretty!  I also picked up a backpack for us to use when we are traveling since I'm only willing to carry so much in my purse, and as all women know, our purse always becomes the catch-all for everyone's stuff. 

The kids and I tried Daisy's for lunch which seems to have a mix of Western and Asian foods on the menu.  The kids wanted pizza, a big surprise, and it was very good but I am hoping to go back again sometime and try something new.

After lunch we walked back home, it's only 20 minutes, and Charlie took his nap while Lily insisted she was not tired.  I had planned to go out after nap time to get fish food but since Lily couldn't manage to behave for me in the apartment's management office we went back to the apartment.  Lily was confined to her room for the rest of the day, but since it is impossible to keep Charlie out it wasn't as harsh of a punishment as it sounds.  They ended up playing dress up and I know someday my son is going to hate his sister for dressing him up and me for taking the picture, but I just couldn't resist. 

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Rain, rain, go away!

Haven't done much of note in the last two days.  I think I may have pushed myself too far this past weekend and I paid for it on Monday as I had zero energy and felt lousy.  I stayed home with the kids, tons of fun in a small apartment with few toys, but it rained and I just couldn't bring myself to deal with the weather or a taxi. 

Today the kids and I took the apartment shuttle to the Carrefour by our future home.  It is only 10-15 minutes away from us now and I may do more shopping there since it is bigger and nicer than the one I've been going to.  They had more imported foods, probably because of the large expat population in that area and there was a Dunkin Donuts, Subway, Cold Cream, and Baskin Robins along with several Asian restaurants.  Plus several other stores.  Carrefour is a bit like a self contained mini mall.  I didn't spend time exploring the plaza it's in since the rain has started again though. 

Tomorrow's weather is looking good and I'm hoping to walk to AP Plaza and pick up a backpack for us to use on our excursions around Shanghai and China.  I am looking forward to sharpening my haggling skills and if the kids are not making me too crazy we may grab lunch at Daisy's a Western style restaurant in AP Plaza. 

I'm so jealous of all the beautiful weather everyone else is having.  While everyone back home in the States is pulling out sandals and t shirts I'm still wearing my winter coat and putting hats on the kids every time we go out.  But, as I said the weather is looking more promising this week, so fingers crossed we'll be spending more time outside this week!

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Shanghai Book City

I am feeling much better today.  I don't have the sinus pressure that was bothering me yesterday, I do however have a runny nose and I've gone through a ridiculous amount of tissues today.  The good news is that the sun has finally shown itself.  The bad news is that it is still mostly cloudy and was completely overcast for most of the day.  With the cloudy weather we decided to pass on the Jin Mao Tower and instead we checked out a book store in Puxi that was recommended by another expat. 

We took a short walk to the local Metro station and after a few minutes figured out how to buy tickets.  Lucky for us there were directions in English.  We want to get a Metro card that you can put money on but there didn't seem to be a kiosk for that so we will have to ask others how to get one.  It is great how helpful everyone is but a bit annoying that we have to rely so heavily on help for almost everything.  Anyway, the Metro was clean and seemed to move faster than the metros we've taken back in the US.  I think the kids really enjoyed it though and, it was a lot cheaper than a taxi ride into Puxi would have cost us. 

It was only four stops to our destination and then a quick walk through the Nanjin Pedestrian Road to get to the book store.  This place could have put Barnes and Noble to shame.  It was seven levels (no elevators) with a decent selection of imported books for kids and adults, which is why we came of course.  Can you guess which floor has the imported books?  Yep, the seventh!  We slowly made our way up seven escalators with Charlie strapped into his stroller, we are getting quite good at it, and found our way to the import section. 

Lily found a book on animals for about $13 and although I did see plenty of interesting books they are more money and I think for now I will stick to buying my e-books from Amazon.  They also had a huge children's area one floor down and a large DVD section.  A girl who spoke very good English showed me some Disney DVD's that came in huge box sets with 20 movies or more depending on the set.  These were, wait for it, $26!  Since Lily already has most of the Disney movies I decided to pass and instead we got Mulan, which seemed totally appropriate.  I was told it was in both English and Mandarin and since it is in the vault back home I figured why not splurge and spend the $2.50.  ;-)

After the book store we walked back to the Nanjin Pedestrian street and grabbed a bite to eat at a place called Yoshinoya.  Lucas had a pork dish while the kids and I had chicken, plus an order of fried dumplings and two drinks.  It was a bargain at 80RMB or $12.50.  I'm really liking this type of fast food.  Much healthier than McDonald's or Burger King.   The kids liked it for the most part.  I'm determined to get them to try new foods while we are here.  It's home for a nap now and hopefully a quiet evening. 

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Shanghai Natural Wild Insect Kingdom

I am sick.  I have a soar throat and a stuffed up nose with lots of sinus pressure.  I got very little sleep last night so Lucas gets up with the kids and lets me rest.  I spend most of the day in bed, but by the time the kids are up from their nap I feel better and want to get out.  Since the weather wasn't going to be great today I had already planned on seeing the Natural Wild Insect Kingdom.  It was way more than bugs though. 

The entrance has Looney Toons characters, not sure what they have to do with insects though.  Inside is a seal, unfortunately his tank is way too small and I feel awful for the poor thing.
Just past the seal is the Koi river and for 1RMB we buy some fish food so the kids can feed the Koi.  Both kids have a great time dropping the food into the water and watching the fish devour it.  Charlie is enjoying the freedom of no stroller and is running back and forth taking in everything.  He flies past the fish and finds some marmosets.  He is fascinated by them and spends a minute or two watching them while they watch right back.  
We finally get to the insect part of the museum and the kids are running from one tank to another barely seeing what is inside.  Lily does manage to slow down enough for the walking sticks and seems to think that bugs that look like sticks are pretty cool. 

Downstairs there are reptiles, and some bunnies and goats that for 2RMB you can feed.  The kids seemed to get a kick out of feeding the bunnies, but were both bit intimidated by the goats since they were a lot more forward about getting their dinner. 

But by far the highlight of the day is the fishing pond. For 10 RMB we were given a bucket and net so we can try our luck at catching a gold fish.  Lucas and Lily spent a good 40 minutes trying and we were just about ready to give up when Lucas caught one.  More luck than actual talent (sorry babe), but Lily was thrilled.  We bought a little tank for it and they even gave us a second fish.  Must have felt bad about our poor fishing skills.  So we now have two pet fish that Lily named, Lily and Maddy.  I asked if she was sure she wanted two Lily's in the family and she said yes, it was okay. 

Tomorrow we are hoping the weather will be better so we can go to the top of the Jin Mao Tower.

Friday, March 16, 2012


Lucas had to spend some time at the HR office today.  Since he still doesn't have a computer and it is a 45 minute drive from HR to his office his boss told him he didn't have to come into the office after his meeting.  So, knowing I needed a bit of alone time he watched the kids this afternoon so I could go shopping at Carrefour.  I know, I live on the wild side!  But, it was so nice to be able to go through the store, taking as much time as I wanted to look at everything.  While I can find a lot of the things I would bye back home figuring out where it is or how it is packaged is taking some time.  A lot of things have labels in English but you have to look close. 

 We had dinner tonight at the German place across the street from the apartment tonight.  It was expensive, $90 for two kids meals, two entrees, two drinks, and four pretzels.  Still it was good and I love the huge variety of foods that can be found here.

My Beef Goulash.  
 Lucas's Pork Tenderloin with potatoes and ham.
 Lily enjoyed her hot dog and fries.
Charlie too...

Tomorrow we are going to the Shanghai Natural Wild Insect Kingdom since it is supposed to rain most of the day.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

AP Plaza & school work

I gave Lily several school assignments to work on today thinking that she must be missing school and the stimulation that it gives her.  I looked up several web sites with pre-k lesson plans and found several that are free.  I just need a printer, which I don't have.  So, after a quick email to the hubby and a bit of help from a co-worker and a Chinese web site our new printer should arrive tomorrow!

We decided to take advantage of the beautiful weather today and walked to AP Plaza.  I had visited this underground market back in January and thought it would be fun to show the kids around.  It only took about fifteen minutes to walk to and the weather was so nice that Lily and I both ended up taking our jackets off.  There are several ways to get into the plaza but the one that seemed the closet to us, and what I'm really saying is, the one that I happened to find, was through Century Square.  Century Square is, wait for it, a big square!  Ok, it is more than that.  It has lots of water features that Lily absolutely loved and several ways to get down to the Plaza and Metro. 

The Chinese for all their love of children do NOT think about stroller access.  This particular entrance had about 50 stairs and was not something I was willing to try with Charlie.  I ended up asking some men who turned out to be shop owners and spoke passable English where I could get down with the stroller and they showed me the escalator.  Which, courtesy of the Shanghai Ocean Aquarium, I am now a pro at.  So the kids and I walked around the market for about 45 minutes and I ended up getting Lily 3 pairs of sock and some stickers.

Lily, always willing to pose for a picture, unless it is a government required one, posed for me in front of the stone sign which reads Century Square in Mandarin. 

After we walked home I made Kraft mac n' cheese with applesauce (not together) as a special treat.  As you can tell from the smiles it was a huge hit.  After lunch and a nap we went down to the park and played for an hour.  With the nice weather there were a bunch of other kids out so Lily had some friends to play with. 

Still getting the kitchen stocked up with the necessary things I need to cook dinner.  Not as easy here when I don't like to buy and lug home much more than four small grocery bags worth of stuff.  Plus I usually have to buy milk and juice every few days, they don't sell gallon size here, and that always adds a lot of weight so I buy even less on those trips.  What I need is a big strong man... anyway, we did dinner out at a cafe style place and then Haagen daz as a treat.  I even managed to get lucky and get a great shot of both kids!

Tuesday, March 13, 2012


We went to the immigration office this morning to finish the application process for our residence visas.  Lily was in a horrible mood and did not want to get her picture taken, which was not an option this morning.  She was in tears but we finally got the picture, its terrible though, she is frowning and all scrunched up, but it will be fun to pull out when she brings her first boyfriend home.  Charlie was much more pliant and just sat there with a sort of stunned look on his face.  I think he was just taking it all in.  We signed on the dotted line and handed in the application.  Of everything that we have done in the process of this move this was probably the easiest step.  Ironic that the government part was the easiest.  Lily's mood did not improve though and it was tears all the way home in the taxi.  I think the stress of the move was bothering her today.  After a nap and a quick stop to the indoor play place she was much better.

The laundry continues, I don't think I will ever be done.  But, at least with my new drying rack it is easier to get everything dry.  I'm trying to do three loads a day and I am definitely making headway.  I am still using the "dryer" and I use that term very loosely to dry the clothes a bit before hanging them up to finish drying.  I never thought laundry would become the focus of my world!

I have my new phone and most of my apps.  I don't think my facebook app is going to work here though, at least it hasn't yet but I plan to ask around.  I have also gotten the free Vonage app which allows me text anyone for free.  I think anyone from the states can also use it to call me for free.  So far I haven't been able to call the US with it, but it may not work with calls going out of China.

I made a simple spaghetti dinner which was a big hit.  Charlie decided that after dinner was a good time to play peak a boo with his spaghetti hands.  Good thing it is almost bath time!
I'm gonna take my shower and read in bed for a bit.  I'm exhausted, having both kids home full time so draining, I'm always being pulled in two different directions.  I can't wait for April 1st!

Monday, March 12, 2012

Monday sucks!

Today did not get off to a good start... Charlie woke up at some ungodly hour, I don't know exactly when since we don't have an alarm clock yet, but it was still dark out.  It took me forever to get back to sleep and the kids were up way before I was ready to start the day.  I decided to check out the City Market that Lucas told me about near the Carrefour to see what kind of things they have that I can't find at the Carrefour.  The shuttle is going to leave for Carrefour at 9:30, we are dresses and ready to go, but have to wait for a second elevator because the first is filled with the maids and their things.  We miss the shuttle by about 5 seconds.  So, I go to the office and ask them to write out the name and address of the City Market by Carrefour and to call me a taxi.  We get in the taxi and by the time I realize that we are not going to the right place it is too late and I decide to see if they have taken me to a different market.  I end up at a very high end mall, as in, I don't even bother to window shop.  There is a City Super there which does have imported foods, but not much from America and I leave empty handed.  So we ended up taking a 48RMB taxi trip through the city. 

The kids must know it is Monday and that Mondays suck because no one is listening to me today.  There are many time outs and hands slapped.  I am trying to get laundry done before it piles up to high but there is an error and the washer didn't do the last spin cycle and I can't figure out how to do just a single spin cycle.  I run the dryer, don't know why, I should have just wrung everything out and hung it to dry on my new handy dandy drying wrack, but I ran the dryer and everything came out very wet an hour later.  I start a second load and decide to give the City Market another try.  I have the driver take me to Carrefour and I walk from there.  Miracle of miracles I actually find it and manage to get everything I need for baking chocolate chip cookies except for the salt which a co-worker is bringing back from the States for us since it is not a common item here and therefore costly.  So, I'm hoping to be doing some baking later this week.  I did manage to get two more loads of laundry done and my new iPhone somehow connected to iTunes and downloaded most of my apps.  We were having all kinds of trouble with this last night since iTunes didn't like that we've moved out of the country and more importantly to China, which surprise, it is more complicated because it is China! 

BASF needs to put out a manual for its employees going on delegations.  The number of things we are finding out from co-workers that should have been told to us by HR is ridiculous.  Worse, getting HR to actually help you is a joke.  It is beyond frustrating, when it seems that the stuff we are being told piece by piece, mostly by co-workers, should be in one easy to access location for all new delegates.  I feel like I've fallen down the rabbit hole and the way out is a closely guarded secret. 

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Shanghai Ocean Aquarium

For our first weekend in Shanghai, well technically second, we had sunny skies and warmer temps.  We enjoyed the donuts we'd picked up yesterday at the mall for breakfast and then made our way to the aquarium.  I used my iPhone app to show the taxi driver the name and address we wanted to go to and he nodded yes so we all piled in.  We get near the aquarium and it becomes obvious that he doesn't know where it is.  He pulls over and asks a cop and a bus driver, but neither know where the aquarium is either.  Finally another taxi driver gives us directions and we finally make it.  The driver was nice, and even stopped the meter when he realized he was lost, a first for me.  Turns out my address was wrong.  I'm going to have to double check address now before we go out, guess I will be writing a complaint to the person who wrote the app. 

 The aquarium was very nice and wasn't too crowded considering it was the weekend.  The kids had fun looking at all of the fish, especially the underwater tubes.  Unfortunately the penguin display was closed, I don't know if they were just cleaning it or redoing it.  We did get to see seal, sharks, jellyfish, and all kinds of other sea animals.  Not sure what giraffe were doing in an aquarium but Lily liked them.
 Had to bribe Charlie with food to get the smile.  When he has food on the brain there is no distracting him.  Once he had some snacks he was happy to check out all the fish.
 We will have to go back when the penguin exhibit is open, I know the kids would have loved watching them.  As we went through the aquarium the kids like always drew a lot of stares and even a few took their pictures.  Usually they are both completely unaware that they are a curiosity and just continue on their way.
When we got to the part of the aquarium dedicated to jelly fish Lily asked for the camera and told me she wanted to take a picture of the jellies.  From this point on she was the official photographer and I only got my camera back for a few minutes when she allowed me to snap a few pictures of the sharks. 
 A large part of the aquarium was these huge tanks with a tube running through it.  It was actually really cool to watch the animals swim over you or right next to you.
With Lily having such fun with my camera that I took out my phone and got a shot of my little artist in action. 

We all enjoyed the aquarium, but it was all over in an hour.  Lily keeps up a fast pace.  We exited in the gift shop, big surprise there, and both kids came home with new stuffed animals.  Lily and pink dolphin and Charlie a seal.  Not that they need anymore stuffed animals, but at the moment they have so few toys that I couldn't say no, plus they weren't near the cost of souvenirs in an American gift shop.

After the kids and daddy napped, Lucas took them to the indoor play place so mommy could read in peace for an hour.  Then it was a walk around our new neighborhood for an hour before we came home. 

It was a big night for me, I used my brand new rice cooker and made dumplings (frozen) for dinner.  Although I just boiled water and pushed a button, I'm very happy with my first attempt at Chinese cuisine.  It was a big hit with Charlie, but not Lily.  She did finally give in and ate around the dumplings.