Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Charlie's check up

Charlie went to the doctor today for his two year check up.  He was weighed, and measured, even getting his head measured twice since they couldn't seem to believe his head was really that big!  What can I say, my kids have big heads.  The doctor was very nice and has a four year old son herself so she could easily relate to my stories about Charlie's stubbornness and his constant boo boos.  Must be something about boys... anyway, he is a happy, healthy two year old.  Of course I knew this but it is always nice to hear it from a professional.  Unfortunately today's visit required a shot and a blood draw to check his lead levels and his blood in general.  The blood draw went off without any problems, he did make a small o face when he was stuck, but that was all.  He seemed to be fascinated with the process of collecting his blood.  The shot was not so easy.  He knew something was up and he let out a very healthy cry when stuck.  He got over it pretty quick though and once he got his lollypop all was forgiven and forgotten. 
Proving that he was fully recovered he kept up with his sister all afternoon and has me reconsidering the benefits of coffee...  Lucas got home early tonight, and nice treat since he isn't usually home till 6:15 almost an hour later than when we lived in NJ.  Getting the kids used to eating a later dinner has not been easy.  We walked over to the Blue Frog and had a very nice dinner.  Allergy season seems to be in full swing here and it is leaving me dragging my butt, I think it will be an early night for me! 

Monday, May 28, 2012

Charlie's Birthday!

This weekend we celebrated Charlie's second birthday by having over a few friends.  Lily's new friend Lily and her little brother Spencer joined us, they are from the UK, but have been living in Thailand till recently.  Henry, and his boy Valentine, and Kathy and her boy Tiger, named so because he was born in the year of the Tiger, also helped us celebrate.  Everyone seemed to have a good time and Charlie seemed to really enjoy having some friends to play with even if the four boys didn't really "play" together much.  We kept it simple and ordered pizza for everyone and of course had cake too. 
Charlie got some really great birthday presents, and Lily was only too happy to help him open them.  I don't know how many more years he's going to allow that.  For our big boy we got him a wood train set and a spinning chair complete with hide away cover from Ikea.  He also got several puzzles and a toy steering wheel that makes all the real sounds of a car and even has a little car and road for him to follow in the middle of the wheel.  Since it makes the most noise and lights up it is of course his favorite. 
After the party the kids took a nice long nap and we ended up taking a walk after nap time and having dinner across the street at Yummy House, very appropriately name BTW.  By the time we walked back home the school next to the apartment was wrapping up it's concert with a fireworks finale.  Lily was enthralled with the fireworks display, Charlie less so.  He didn't like the noise but after Daddy covered his ears he decided it wasn't so bad after all.  How many two year olds can say they ended their birthday with a bang, literally!?

I would like to thank everyone who helped make Charlie's birthday so special and for all the birthday wishes.  It was a really wonderful day.  I still can't believe he is two, how did that happen?

Monday, May 21, 2012

My balcony

So my plan to go shopping at Ikea didn't exactly work out the way I'd planned.  After eating a big hearty dinner and staying up till 2am watching The Big Bang Theory and getting up with the kids the next morning I did not feel very good.  I think I over did dinner, but after not having an appetite all week can you blame me?  Anyway, Lucas took the kids to Ikea while I stayed home in bed.  He did some birthday shopping for Charlie and got us this cute chair and table set for our balcony.  I'm looking forward to spending a quiet evening sitting with him some night soon.  Sunday Lucas got up with the kids and let me sleep.  I felt much better by then thank goodness.  I even felt well enough to make my spaghetti sauce.  The only down side was that I couldn't make a double batch and freeze some since my freezer since it is about 10 inches wide and about 30 inches high.  No, I'm not kidding.  It has three small drawers and that's it.  Needless to say I don't freeze much.  Luckily with the Carrefour across the street I have gotten into the habit of picking up what I need for dinner that day. 

I had my first Mandarin lesson today with Eric, who is also Lucas' teacher.  Eric is a really nice guy who has already helped us in many ways here, the Chinese are so nice and always willing to help out.  We spent a half hour just chatting about some of the differences between America and China.  He thinks America is wonderful and I can't disagree but I did tell him that America has many problems too and it is far from perfect. 

Friday, May 18, 2012

Mother's Day Party

I'm finally feeling better and almost back to normal.  I still tire easily so Lucas worked from home today so I could rest.  Honestly, I don't think it was a hardship for him to work from home on a Friday.  He did let me sleep in and skip over the craziness of the morning, so I am incredibly grateful to him for that alone.  We had planned on going to the flower market this weekend but decided to make the trip today since we had the time and one less kids to keep track of.  We ended up with a beautiful peace lily and another simple "tree" for indoor plants and I got three flowering outdoor plants.  It is but a start...  We also got Lily a small fish tank for her room.  She says she misses Abby and Penny and with this being such a temporary move fish are the only "pet" I'm willing to allow.  After the tank has been up and running I will take her to the market to pick out some fish for her tank as she noticed right away that there weren't any in it.  While waiting for Lucas to negotiate the price of the tank Charlie and I checked out the other "pets" for purchase.   He was especially fascinated with the baby chick and ducks.  I think these are for people to purchase to raise for either eggs or dinner more so than pets.

Lily's class invited all of the moms to school today for a special party.  We were offered tea and coffee and snacks before asked to sit so the kids could sing a Mother's Day song to us in Chinese.  Lily did a great job, I'm impressed with how quickly she is learning Chinese, it is a credit to the teachers and school.  After a wonderful song Lily gave me a card she made for me and showed me a pot painted pink with flower seeds that she had planted for me.  We all enjoyed a snack and then the kids made a body scrub for us from brown sugar, salt and our choice of "flavor".  I ended up with a chocolate, vanilla flavored body scrub.  Lily was a total mess by the time she was done, but she had fun making it.  She doesn't do anything in half measures.  We also came home with a rose and a heart shaped balloon that Lily wrote her name on and I love mommy.  It was a wonderful party and it was so nice to be able to focus on Lily and not worry about watching Charlie too.  Thank you Lucas!

We had an early dinner tonight, we trekked across the street to the Blue Frog, which is quickly becoming a favorite.  Great burgers!  They have a wonderful patio to sit on and a play area for kids.  The weather today has been gorgeous so we grabbed an outdoor table and had a wonderful dinner while enjoying the beautiful weather.  Don't think there will be too many more of those in the near future.  It is going to get hot and muggy soon and June I've been told brings daily rains!  Guess I should get some rain boots!

It is back to Ikea tomorrow for some patio furniture and plant stands, I love this store!

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Time flies

It's hard to believe that the week is almost over.  I feel like it was just Monday, where does the time go? Unfortunately I've been sick all week.  The worst was Wednesday so Lucas, being a wonderful husband, stayed home and watched the kids for me.  Today Ayi was here, so I was able to rest for most of the day.  I'm feeling better, but have little energy and I'm looking forward to a quiet weekend.  We may take a trip to the flower market, I miss having green things in my home! 

The kids were very good for me this afternoon, especially since they got a very rare treat, cheese puffs. I walked to Pines, the import grocery store and had a moment of weakness.  I have not devoured the bag, but that could be mostly due to my still sensitive stomach more so than any will power.  The kids did devour theirs and promptly asked for more.  I did not give in to their pleas for more, I gave them left over pizza instead.  Much better right?  What can I say, I am sick and getting a healthy snack seemed too much work.  I did give them milk to drink though.  Should I start drafting my mother of the year speech?

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Mother's Day

I had a wonderful Mother's day!  Lucas got up with the kids and let me sleep in and then brought me breakfast in bed.  I spent most of the day relaxing and reading while Lucas took charge of the kiddies, but at two I had an appointment for a massage at the spa!  The spa, which is across the street, talk about convenient, was very nice.  Lucas had booked a one hour oil massage for me and it was a wonderful hour, but like all good things, over much too quickly.  We had a very nice dinner last night at a place called the Blue Marlin so tonight we toned it down and had subway.  Lucas also brought home a chocolate and almond covered croissant that was so very yummy. 

I hope all the other wonderful moms out there have a wonderful Mother's day!

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Date Night & School Picnic

Friday night Lucas and I had Ayi watch the kids for us so we could have a night out.  We went to a Cantonese restaurant and had dim sum, or small plates.  We like to order several dishes to try and usually end up with some we love, some we like and some we don't like.  We both loved the beef and cashews with black bean sauce and the BBQ pork bread.  We both hated the meatballs.  The flavor was ok, but it was the texture that was made it completely unappealing.  Still, it was a great dinner.  After we saw Avengers, which was very good.  It has a lot of lines which had us laughing out loud at many points during the movie.  It was a great night all around.

Today was Lily's school picnic which started at 9:30.  We took a taxi since I was bringing cupcakes and had been warrned that there would not be any parking available.  Lily had a great time running around with friends, Lucy in particular, and playing games. 

Charlie indulged in a sugar donut, it was the only thing that was going to get him to stop for more than 30 seconds.  He played in the sandbox and on the play set.  I think he also enjoyed watching all the "big" kids running around and playing. 
I got everyone to take a lunch break and we all had chicken "hot dogs" with watermelon and a large variety of deserts.  Lily didn't seem to mind that she didn't get one of my cupcakes when she saw the M&M brownie. 

We watched a juggling act and listened to some kids songs.  Lily made a tie dye bandana and got her face painted.  We met several other parents and talked about summer plans and possible play dates. 

We finally headed home but didn't get far since Green Hills, which is the complex the school is in, was hosting a bazaar.  I ended up getting Lily a cotton Chinese style dress and found my Dad's birthday gift!  We enjoyed a nice walk home and by then we were all ready for a nap.  Lily only slept for an hour, but I'm not complaining.  Once both kids were up Lucas watched them so I could finally get to work on our disaster guest room/office.  It is far from done, but at least the bed is made and the desk looks like a desk now. 

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Is this my life?

I didn't get a chance to blog last night.  Charlie has been getting up at 6am, an hour earlier than normal, and I'm absolutely dead tired by the end of the day.  I was getting ready for bed last night and I was thinking how surreal my life is.  I live in China!  I've always wanted to travel and see the world, but I never thought I would have such an opportunity to see Asia like this.  That I would be living in Shanghai, living and experiencing the culture first hand.  I haven't had much time to stop and think about "living" here.  I've been so focused on keeping us busy to trying to make the best of our temporary living situation.  It is no wonder I haven't given our life much thought until now. 

I have a wonderful husband who loves me unconditionally and does his best to see that I not only take care of our family but that I'm taken care of too.  I have two beautiful, healthy children who are smart and so loving.  I have a large and incredibly loving and supportive family and many wonderful friends.  I have a beautiful home in Shanghai and the opportunity to see China and Asia in a way I never thought I would. I am so blessed and I don't say it or think it enough. 

Monday, May 7, 2012

Our new home

We are slowly getting settled in our new home here at Green Court, which is a part of Green City.  The community, which is 4sq km, is 90% expat families like us, and was designed with that in mind.  From our front door I can cross the street to the Carrefour, which has restaurants and shops beneath it and even more next door, including Pines grocery, which has a lot of imported things that Carrefour does not carry.  Below our apartment on the ground floor are more shops and restaurants, including a French bakery, a beauty salon, and an English bookstore! Across the street on the other corner is a China Post, where I can send packages, or more likely have Ayi send them for me. 

 I've been going from room to room trying to get everything put away and organized.  I've focused on the kitchen and the kids toys, leaving our room and the guest room/office for last.  One of the things that drew me to this apartment aside from the great location was the huge family room.  It is large enough to be split in two so that the kids have there own space to play in, and we still have plenty of room for the living area.  So glad I splurged on having the apartment painted. It was so worth it, not having to look at white walls for the next two years.
The kitchen is huge by Chinese standards and I am thrilled to have such a large kitchen.  I do still have to keep our dishes in the dining room sideboard to allow for more space for food since I don't have a kitchen pantry.  I do however, have a large storage closet with shelves in the hall that I'm using to store some of my larger and less frequently used kitchen things along with any food I can't fit in the cubbards.  I still have a long way to go before it's home but it is a good start.  I'm looking forward to getting rugs and curtains.  I am not a fan of the drab beige ones the apartment came with.
We had a quiet weekend since I wanted to spend as much time as possible working on the apartment. We tried the French bakery, very yummy, and registered at the gym where I will probably spend a lot of time this summer since they have a huge indoor play gym for kids and a kiddie pool.  Lucas took Charlie for a long over due haircut at the beauty salon below us.  They only charged 30RMB, or about $5.  Can't complain about that!  I'm planning on going back to IKEA tomorrow to look for some shelves for the closets and a shoe rack for the kids closets.  Love having IKEA so close!

Thursday, May 3, 2012

The Big Move!

After three months of living without a home or 95% of our worldly possessions we have finally settled in our new apartment.  It was a crazy day as the movers unpacked everything so I wouldn't have to deal with the boxes and paper.  I can now look forward to two weeks at least, of organizing and reorganizing.  I'm also still waiting on my air freight and have started a list of things that aren't here that should be and vice versa.  The movers we had Stateside were nice but dumber than a lamp post and apparently had no short term memory retention.  A representative from Green Court brought us our house keys, that would be 28 keys, and gave us information on the appliances and services they offer.  Because we live in a expat centric neighborhood the office here will mail my letters and pay the bills for me which all come in Mandarin.  All I have to do is bring the bill and money to the office and they take care of the rest.  They will also buy train tickets and even translate documents for us for a small fee.  We have the Carrefour across the street, and tons of other shops and restaurants, all in walking distance, which is a big reason I picked this apartment for us.  The kids were beyond thrilled to have their toys and rooms again.  They have both been such little troopers through this whole thing!

Lucas took an extra day off from work to help with the move so we decided to hit the IKEA.  Just a short 15 minute car ride!  Since I didn't know what our home here was going to be able to accommodate I ended up leaving a lot of stuff behind that we could have brought.  Thank you Asia HR!  I'll leave it at that because I don't have anything flattering to say.  Anyway, IKEA was as always, a lot of fun.  We spent almost four hours there, and of course, had lunch in the cafeteria, which I'm told is a hang out for local single seniors.  We got some shelves for storage and a few other things we just couldn't live without.

The kids took a nap while Lucas and I tried to make some headway on the apartment.  It is starting to look like home and I'm looking forward to getting my pictures up and decorating.  Nap time was over too quick and that pretty much put an end to any real work.  The kids did help Lucas put my kitchen shelf together though. 

Meet Ayi, she started working for us today and for the month of May she will be here twice a week while she helps the two American families she's been working for move back home.  In June she will start working for us full time, 40 hours a week.  She doesn't speak any English, but we managed to communicate just fine with gestures and pointing.  She seems to love the kids and they all ready lover her.  I had to take Charlie to the doctor this morning for his eye (it's fine), it was so nice to come home to find the apartment cleaner than when I left it.  She swept, ironed and washed dishes.  She also played with the kids and took them to the playground so I could try and unpack our suitcases from the temporary apartment.  I think she is going to be my new best friend!