Wednesday, August 22, 2012


Last weekend we spent a few days in Xian, which is a two hour plane ride north of Shanghai.  This was our first big China trip and we were all very excited to see one of the cities that had once been China's capital.  Through my Shanghai Mama's web forum I'd found a local, english speaking tour guide, Raphael.  Raphael met us at the airport and checked us in at our hotel.  His friend is a manager at the hotel so he not only upgraded our room but gave us it a half the normal rate.  The Bell Tower Hotel, is situated in the city center making it very convient for us to walk around and see some of the cities famous attractions.  Since we flew in on a Friday night and the kids were worn out so we just grabed dinner at the hotel and went to bed early.  Saturday morning we went to the Bell Tower, which is directly across from our hotel, hence it's name.  Because Xian is a huge city and has a lot of traffic there are underground passages to get to the Bell Tower and several other parts of the city center.  The Bell Tower was built in 1384 AD and was used to tell the citizens the time.  We got there in time to watch a musical performance that was played on bells.   

Unfortunately it started to rain by the time we left the tower and although I had brought two umbreallas they were not enough and it wasn't long before we were all wet.  From the Bell Tower we walked to the city wall, which now surrounds the city center.  The wall which was fortified in the 14th century is about 11 meters high and between 13-14 meters wide at the top.  The bricks which are all sigined by the person who made them and are made up or a mixture of sticky rice and clay.  I'm not surprised that sticky rice was used, the stuff clings to clothes like nothing else and is a pain to clean up.  You can rent bikes on the wall or walk like we did.  Since the rain didn't seem to be letting up we bought ponchos. 

As someone who loves history seeing the Terra Cotta Warriors was such a thrill for me.  The museum which is an hours drive from the city houses the three pits where the wariors were found, all of which was farm land in the 1970's.  In 1974 it was a farmer who found the warriors.  Digging for a new well he came across a warrior's head.  The governement gave him 30RMB for the land and he now sells books at the museum and signs them for all the tourists.  The warriors which were placed as guards for the first emperor's tomb are all incredibly detailed and each has a different face.  This is a complete army with low ranking soldiers, guards, archers, calvery, and 7 generals.  After seeing all three pits we watched a short movie that explained some of the history around the time that the warriors were created.  Lily seemed enthralled with the story and asked a million questions about the bad guys and good guys and where they were now.  By now the rain had started up again so we headed to the car.  Luckily by the time we got back to the city the rain had let up and we got to see the Small Wild Goose Pagoda and temple, which also has a small museum. 

Monday Raphael took us to see real Xian, his familie's home in the hills.  For generations his family has lived in a cave cut into the mountain and although he lives in the city with his family he still has a lot of family that live in the caves.  The home is very simple, two large rooms, one for sleeping the other a comon living area.  Outside in seperate rooms are the kitchen and bathroom, and yes they have indoor plumbing and electricity.  It was a wonderful way to end our trip to Xian.  I would strongly encourage anyone making the trip to China to put Xian on their must see list.  It's an amazing city!

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Home Visit

The kids and I are finally home from our visit to New Hampshire with my family.  It took an entire weekend for us to actually get home, thank you Boston. I always wanted to see Chicago, just not while I'm trying to get home to my husband and have no luggage and two cranky kids. It was an adventure and the kids did really well, I have such little troopers!  I apologize for the lack of picturers, we had to leave our laptop in the States to get fixed, I'm so getting a MacBook next time!  Anyway, without the laptop, which my folks will be bringing in September, I'm having trouble getting pictures to the blog. I may be able to add them at a later date using Lucas's work laptop.

We had a wonderful time visiting family and friends, and I apologize for not being able to fit everyone in, but we had such a busy three weeks. Our first week was pretty subdued since we all had some serious jet lag to get over. Charlie had the hardest time of it, getting up twice a night for the first week. By Thursday I was feeling pretty good and looking forward to surprising my cousins in New Jersey for our annual family reunion. However, I was in for a surprise myself!  Lucas found some extra vacation time and flew in for a week without telling anyone. 

Friday we all headed to NJ for the reunion that was being hosted by my cousin John and his wife Danielle. We had a wonderful time visiting, catching up, and eating really good food!  Lucas and I stayed an extra day so he could drop in on his Florham Park co-workers. It was nice to have a night away, thank you to my cousins Gail and Richie for letting us spend the night.

Back in NH we spent the week shopping and visiting with friends.  Lily and Charlie had a play date with Audrey and Clara at the splash pad in Derry, which was a fun as it sounds.  Lucas and I managed to fit in a couple of movies too.  But, the best part of the week was my sister flying in to surprise me!  Holly and her friend Haley visited for a week which was so wonderful. I had been so dissapointed that I wasn't going to see her. 

My in-laws visited for the weekend, they were thrilled to see Lucas. They hadn't know he would be there either, the man can keep a secret!  We spent a wonderful weekend taking the kids to see Touch a Truck and swimming. Sunday was a bit more laid back with some time spent at Benson's park and then a cookout at my folks. It was nice to see everyone, especially my adorable niece and nephew who I've missed terribly.

Our last week home saw Lucas heading to Germany for business. It was wonderful to have him with us and I wished he could have stayed. Mom and I took the kids to North Conway to Storyland, a theme park for kids all based on nursery ryhmes. It was unseasonably hot and although it we had fun we left early since the kids were practically melting in the heat. I look forward to going back. I can remember visiting the park as a kid and it was a lot of fun to see my kids there on some of the same rides I went on as a kid.

It was all over too soon and very early Saturday morning the kids and left for Shanghai, it ended up taking us 48 hours to get home thanks to Boston's lousy ground crew but we did make it. It was a quiet four days while we spent trying to get over our jet lag. A three day trip to Xian is next...