Send As SMS

Will & Tracy

This is our blog

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Our new favorite restaurant

It has been a few weeks in coming, but we having finally (I hope) started our weekly date night out. This was so Will could add it into his Outlook so he wouldn't forget and to be home earlier enough to try a new restaurant around town. And so Will actually has a chance to get out and see the city every now and then. Take off the chains and put on the ball and chain. Not sure if he feels like there is a difference...but since we're newly weds still, I figure I have the upper hand (or back hand) for a few more years. :)

So off to Nepali Kitchen. I went there last week with a few tai tais and I knew immediately that Will would like it. Nepalese food is a lot like Indian. It is a small cozy little restaurnt with prayer flags - J(eff it kind looks like your old apartment). Cool tables and we decided to go upstairs where you can sit on cushions, etc. Our waiter was actually from Nepal - not surprising, but cool. He said most Nepalese speak English now. He started learning English when he was 15 (he was probably mid 40s) but said most children start it when they start school. There were cool pictures up of Mt Everest and of the city of Katmandu.

We asked him how the situation was in Katmandu - safe for travelers? He of course said yes, Katmandu is fine, no problems. If you go outside along the trekking circuits you can run into trouble with those pesky Maoist Rebels. But he said the government is in peace negotiations with them now and they should have elections soon. The other thing we found out - as with Tibet - is that it doesn't get all that cold in the major cities (Katmandu and Lhasa) - in winter - down to 10 degrees C, uh around 50 F. Didn't anyone else see the Golden Child? I'm thinking big puffy furry coats, freezing my butt off. Heck, all I want to do is go to the monestary and spin one of those prayer wheels and shout ... "I I I want the knnniiffffeee......pllleeeaaasseeee" Sorry for all of you who haven't seen Eddie Murphy in the Golden Child. But I know my sis out there has my back and is laughing just a little. I swear I see the same little man without his hat on as in the movie - this time at the metro station collecting paper for recycling. I need another camera and I'll show you to compare.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

I'm so blessed....

Well - here's the long story long...

We knew when we moved to Shanghai, Dell did not cover maternity expenses for its local hires of which Will is one. So, say it with me... since I'm anal and a control freak, I wanted to carefully research our options and cost so that when it came time (AND NO THE TIME IS NOT NOW), we'd know where we wanted to go. We were looking into another insurance policy, but I would have to wait 12 months before they would cover anything, blah blah blah. To find out how much it costs to have a baby - I sent email to a couple of the International Hospitals. One in particular, Worldlink, our friend Sarah (and now Jessica) is going to deliver at. I mentioned in my note that I was, uh, AM an L&D nurse and I was impressed by their facilities and with my friend's MD.

The manager sent me back an email with th cost breakdown and also started a little conversation - she is a midwife that received her training in the UK and always likes to talk to other nurses about their practice abroad. I told her I'd love to get together sometime and that if she knew of any job or volunteer opportunities to please let me know.

So, guess what??? I had an interview today and also spoke to the head OB/Gyn MD on staff. They were great. Although I can't practice as an RN, they were interested in having me teach prenatal classes to the expat community, act as a liason between parents and the NICU, and also work with the nurses on staff to help them with their practice standards. Alice said they are trained differently - ie. they do whatever you tell them (I can help fix that for sure!) and are not always considerate to patient privacy, etc... So she would like me to work with them on becoming more autonomous and helping them with their Medical English. Is this the dream job or what? She wanted me to work FULL TIME and I said no! Lets start with 16-20 hours/week. HR is supposed to be in touch so we can talk $$, benefits, start date... I even hooked Patty up too - Alice said PLEASE put her in touch, that way 2 part time people would equal a full time person! So cross your fingers and pray for Patty too!. I never thought it would happen like this - I'm trying to go with the flow and hope that everything works out - it has so far despite a bruise or two here and there.

Shout out to Brack L&D - I got your card today - thank you so much for all your wonderful thoughts and prayers and miss yous, etc - and thank you all for keeping up with the blog. The silly website still won't publish pictures, so we'll see how long that takes to get fixed!

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

My semi-charmed life....

Well, I have made it through another national holiday on Sunday – okay – so I made this one up – its called National Stare at the Red Headed Foreigner Day. I still smile, but it is getting old. I really want someone to fall off their bicycle or something because they were rubber necking in my direction. I think Mary has a better idea – she is starting to turn around and stare back – and make faces and then let out a big huh-rumf. She is training for the Shanghai Marathon (you go girl!) and she gets it daily – like they stop and stare and stand in the middle of her path in awe. If anyone has any fun suggestions for us, that would be great. I’ve even caught a few more taking pictures of me with their camera phones.

Anyway, funny thing also happened to me on the way to my Chinese lesson. I’m sitting in the Starbucks reviewing my vocab and all of a sudden I’m interrupted with the phrase, “Excuse me, you look like you speak English.” I’m thinking, who’s the brain trust in the suit. Oh, well, he opened his mouth and said more and – big surprise….he’s French. Nah, I’m just kidding, he was nice. He asked if I would tutor him in English because he was getting tired of his French company and wanted to improve his English interviewing skills. I ask him a few more questions and find out he’s married and has lived in Shanghai for a year. He seems respectable. I told him I wasn’t sure if I could meet with him, but that I would also check with my local peeps to see if they could help him out. So I may actually have another tutoring gig at least short term…hey, just more cushion for the fabric market, um, I mean presents for Will.

And when I got home, I had an hour to chill and our wonderful Daisy showed up. She ironed and then proceeded to make us dinner….that will feed us for a week!! She made a broccoli and garlic dish, tofu dish and fried rice. All for about $1.25 – and I’m not kidding, it will last for a week! So here is our first picture of Daisy – sorry – I promise she doesn’t have a sleepy eye – I couldn’t figure out Will’s fancy camera to enlarge the photo and reshoot. Then, a picture of DINNER!!! Woo hoo!

Sunday, October 22, 2006

All work, but some play...

We had a busy busy week this week. Will had been working really hard on a presentation that he gave on Thursday evening. He stayed up way passed his bedtime to give it too! I came back from picking up Patty at the airport and he was still up and wired. He said he did a pretty good job and after all the great feedback he had gotten all week prior to his presentation and as much time as he spent reviewing it - on his final presentation, he left out a slide. Goofball! Well, at least he knew the information on that slide anyway. He is so smart. I'm biased though - remember...he's also the bravest man in the world...

Anyway - back to PATTY! She's back from outerspace, uh, I mean Austin. My fellow L&D nurse is finally "Home." Our friend Sarah (the one that Patty hooked me up with) and I went to the airport to pick her up. We thought we would be clever and make a sign that said "Madonna" or "Yao Ming," but then figured that would cause mass hysteria at the airport, so we chickened out at the last minute. Patty's flight was delayed about a 1/2 hour, but boy did she bring back the mother load of luggage. How can someone that is like 5'0" get 5 70lbs pieces of luggage all the way from Austin to Shanghai without losing anything. Damnit - the photo op was priceless. You couldn't even see her push the luggage cart! Anyway, we helped her unpack and she was fabulous enough to bring back a YOGA MAT for me. Yeah!!! Back to my Ashtanga practice with a nice yoga mat.

The fun thing that Will and I did this weekend was go to an expat event on Saturday evening. We got to hob knob with some of the expat riche while we listened to one of the local gallery owners talk about Tibetan Thangkas - or scrolls. The picture is one example. We had wine and lovely hor d'oeuvres at a local restaurant and then after the talk, we walked to the gallery to see some Thankgas in his gallery where champagne and dessert were waiting as well! (The funny part - all the people that had drivers (most of them) - were all panicking about the walk to the gallery because "how were they supposed to tell their drivers where to pick them up" - ie they didn't know where the hell they were).

Although we were the couple least likely to afford anything, we came pretty close to buying one of them - we are still thinking about it too!! It is a gorgeous piece. Anyway, it also confirmed to us that we really wanted to go to Tibet - so I think that will be our next adventure in Mid-November. The owner is sending us contact info for a local guide there so we can visit a few monestaries and enjoy the locals and hoepfully find some more Thangkas!! We can't wait to write about that adventure - WE ARE GOING TO TIBET, CRAZY HUH!! Hopefully without an up close and personal encounter with any of the Maoist Rebels! :) Just kidding, don't worry moms and dads - we have a Chinese visa - that will surely save our white butts. :)

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Rock the Casbah....

Well today I did something a little different - no massage, no bazaar (that's next week) okay, still had a tai tai lunch - but after, Angela and I attended a fashion show sponsored by the SEA ladies club - we even had champagne and tried to pick out who was the richest tai tai. That should be a board game. Don't worry, Angela pointed her out because the woman spent the whole last outting talking to Angela and Mary about her diamonds and pearls. blah blah blah. The only reason I went was to support our fellow Dell wife and model - Mary Ward!! Since I didn't have my small digital camera I carefully brought Will's $$$ one with me - it's too fancy and has too many buttons, but some of the pictures turned out. Mary was not happy with her hair and make-up job, but we all thought she looked ghetto fabulous! So much so, I even splurged $60USD on a pair of pants from the designer collection. I hope my butt looks as good as hers did in them! So here are some Vogue pictures for you - I made Angela, Mary and Tee give me the "Zoolander" look. Mary earned 500RMB (about $65 for an hour's work and free champagene) so Angela and I are thinking about volunteering for next month's fasion show - EVENING GOWNS!!!

Monday, October 16, 2006

Small blog for a minor miracle

Well I'm writing this date down in history - Sunday October 15, 2006. I proudly received AND more importantly understood my first compliment in Chinese. Okay okay, so it was only in regards to my taxi chinese, but this is how it went down...

Will and I were driving back from a group outting for brunch on the WAY other side of town. First, I was able to give the taxi driver our cross streets/address and he knew what I said. Second, as we are approaching the intersection, the guy asks me does he need to turn right or left. I told him - IN CHINESE - turn left at YuYuan lu and that our apartment was the big building (okay I had to point out the window but I correctly stated "That big building" - and I was grammatically correct!!!). Will is a witness - the guy turned slightly and said something blah blah blah (I didn't get all of it) but he said "hin how" (thats my phonetic spelling) which means "very good" - I blushed of course and had to use my fingers to say "just a little" (I almost said un poco, but that would have blown my cover) - but I nicely said Thanks Thanks (shey shey in chinese). Yeee Haw! (yeah, that was for 10 years of living in Texas for y'all).

P.S. To change the subject drastically - I learned a new game (to be played while watching any season of 24) from one of the couples here - now they don't "really" play it, but I thought it was hilarious. To play: get out your favorite alcoholic beverage - and any time Jack says "copy that" you have to drink. I think they are on to something - maybe every time Michelle puts that stupid ear phone in her ear to take a phone call we can also take a drink. And if Kim ever says ANYTHING stupid (which is whenever she opens her mouth) you down what is left in your glass because how else are you going to get through an episode with her in it.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Busy Week

Wow - I can't believe it's already FRIDAY! This morning on the way to the bank I accidently walked under a ladder ....on FRIDAY OCTOBER 13th! I figured I had my dose of bad luck this week so que sara sara.

I went to go see Calvin again this evening since Will started his Chinese lessons after work today - but Calvin was double booked with the other "tutor" , ummm.. babysitter. So since I've been twice this week and she and her boyfriend need work, I happily left knowing I could come back home and have some time to write a blog. (and can I just say, I didn't have a massage all week - just too busy - I know how sorry you all feel for me). he he

I have had 2 chinese lessons so far and the tones are tough. But I know how to count to 10, my basic colors and How to ask what is this, what is that (which will come in handy) along with "Plesae give me ______." It is very exciting to start to understand a few words when I hear people talking. The light bulb is coming on.... but I just can't get them to stop staring - one thing at a time.

Our little cocktail/happy hour party was a hit! Will's co-workers in his immediate group are hilarious. We made baba ganouj, nan (again) and I finally got my recipe right for Raita. I also had some vegetables - I feel like a real cook - I had to go back to the basics - I didn't even have a vegetable peeler for the carrots. And I was cutting up fresh dill and mint... I know - I TOTALLY have to take a picture of myself because I know you all don't believe me. :)

Tomorrow we go pick up our hoard of clothes we had made at the fabric market. Well, Will made out well. He got a full length Cashmere coat made, 2 shirts and a suit. I had a 1/2 length red cashmere coat made (so fab!) and a wool skirt - both have those cool 50s style buttons. We spent about $250 US dollars on all of that. I hope that it all turns out well - especially the suit for Will - to get a jacket and pants made cost $75 (and that was with fancy material). Maybe Will will model for everyone - which reminds me we need to go buy another digital camera. Thanks everyone for all your nice thoughts and comments this week.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Crime and no punishment...

I was having a great day Tuesday - had my first Chinese lesson - it was intense, but it was awesome. Learned to count to 10, how to say "What is this, what is that" and answer. I made it back on the subway successfully and was set to have Daisy (new Ayi) over yesterday afternoon and at the last minute she was not able to come (changing it to Thursday). So I picked up the house a little bit and decided to be industrious and go out and pay my electric bill by myself and go shopping for some goodies for our first little "cocktail" party at our new home with Will's immediate group on Thursday evening.

It is really cool the way you can pay your utility bills around here. You can walk into any convenience store (they are EVERYWHERE) and just pay them - they stamp your receipt and ta da, you're set. Then it was off to the Carrefour. I was there about 10 minutes when a quick lapse in judgement turned into a mini-disaster with my purse getting stolen. I turned to pull a nice platter off the shelf and it was gone. The person was QUICK because I had only turned for a few seconds, but I guess I need to start being a little more street smart. **I know better**, but geesh, it is killing me. So now I"m going to be on cell phone #3. Thank goodness a lovely friend here offered her extra one for me to use. The other thing that sucked is yeah there was $$ in it (about $80 US dollars) but my poor digital camera as well. So no pictures for a little bit until I get over my pitty party and go buy a new one. Will just keeps reminding me that the person must have needed it more because everything is replaceable. What a gem. It is true - I hope they feed their family for the next month (or 2) - or that is what I'm choosing to believe.

I think I'm switching to a new image - biker street smart city girl. Wear a leather jacket and then I can get a wallet with a chain that attaches to my belt loop. I even lost my Jackie-O sunglasses - sorry mom for the time you took to find them and then ship them to me. Well I'm back to my faux Coach bag with a long strap that will go around my body so I can continue to be "hand's free" when shopping.

I'm down but not out. Grrrrrr

Monday, October 09, 2006

Sunday with Calvin

Yesterday Will was a sport and went with me visit Calvin. I had asked his Mom if it was alright if Will and I took him for a little walk around their apartment complex to show him things outside, etc. Although Will and I were (and I still am) under the weather, we had a good time teaching him "Fence" and "Curb" and "Stinky", reviewing numbers and colors and saying "Hi" and "Bye Bye" to anyone that would listen. Although we had a few looks from people probably wondering why 2 white people were taking a little Chinese BOY for a walk - since NO ONE would give up a BOY for adoption, no one said anything or brought us in for questioning... So here are a couple pictures from that little adventure.

Mrs. Manners on spitting etiquette

We successfully made it through the week long national holiday of red flags flying everywhere and fireworks going off non stop in some part of Shanghai. We also both caught our first cold/sinus infection. I guess just like in Mexico where they burn off forests, etc to make room for farmland, thus sending horrible smoke through Texas, Indonesia and Malaysia like to do the same thing. There has been a steady haze over the city for the last week and our lungs and sinuses could take no more. I'm still under the weather mainly because I am difficult and haven't given myself time to rest, but today is rest day - after finishing the blog of course. A couple of pictures for you include: Will holding the commie flag to show our patriotism that the country we now live in is North Korea's closest ally.

Also is one of our other favorite signs in Shanghai : "No Spitting" - (well at least in the subway). Since those of you that are still reading the blog have only a limited sensory experience of Shanghai, here I provide another example....

Close your eyes and picture yourself sick with an upper respiratory infection - lots of snot and phlegm coming up in varying autumn shades. When you are alone, admit it, you blow your nose and cough with such ferver - well you have the picture. The Chinese do this on a daily basis - whether they are sick or not - I mean they reach back into the pit of their throats and cough one up and then proceed to spit wherever they are. I'm talking about 4 year olds all the way up to the 85 year old grandmother in her wheelchair. Maybe it is good to get rid of crap this way, but I still find it repulsing - as well as a biohazard - hello? anyone want a little H5N1 with their daily walk around town? Which is why I think it is funny that they actually have to put signs up to persuade people not to do it. I just wish they would add under the photo - punishable by death - now we're talking about a real reason to celebrate.

Postscript: In doing a quick search on "spitting etiquette," I found several links that included China and their spitting problem (go figure). So I guess I'm not alone.
(which includes the article: Beijing spends Millions on Curbing Spitting

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Babysitter yes, ESL teacher...workin' on it...

I don't know why I think I have writer's block again. I was a little weepy earlier this week, but I've gotten better. I find funny signs (see previous blogs), but I truly think all I need to do is go visit Calvin - he takes my cares away. I'm kidding of course, this kid is very FIVE! I actually went out and found a couple of basic kid ABC/123 books in both English and Chinese (heck I thought I could learn a thing or two). I buy them and bring them home. As I flip threw them, they are not too bad and may actually be helpful - well, as long as we don't pay attention to the grammar - the books were obviously written by an ESL student as well.... at least my grammar (for the most part) is better - but in reading my blogs, not much better. I have provided one example above.

Calvin likes to draw and pretty much not sit still - at all. I have realized and therefore started to research lesson plans and "activities" for ESL 5 year olds (not bad that it only took 2 lessons for the light bulb to come on). What I think would be MOST helpful is if the family would actually spend one evening just talking to Calvin in ENGLISH! They talk to him while I'm with him - in Chinese. My other problem is actually feeling like we've accomplised something by the end of the evening versus me watching him drive around in circles in his mini-car. I finally got him interested in tracing his hands and feet and fingers and toes and then drawing with his toes. Thank you Crayola for "Washable markers." It was that - or -watch him jump off the side of the sofa and thank goodness always landing on the sofa - hey, he learned the word "Ouch" - so I say mission accomplished!

Photo of the day

Yesterday I took my friend Mary out for birthday lunch at Vedas Indian Cuisine. It was great. And of course after that we had to go and get our massage. The shop right next door to the massage place had this sign up. It was very thought provoking and so I thought I would share so you all could ponder it as well. There are signs like this all over Shanghai that remind me of my favorite C&C Music Factory tune "things that make you go hmmmmm."

So back to our massage... We tried another place - AromaGarden - obviously specializing in aromatherapy. The owner is a lovely Chinese woman named Scarlett (one of my favorite all time characters for all you GWTW buffs). Anyway, she gave us about a 20-30 minute talk on aromatherapy, told us about uterine cleaning and intestinal cleaning and breast massage - you know - to make sure things stay lifted and separated. All sounded very interesting, but we decided to play it safe and get your basic swedish massage with a scent of our choosing. I really liked it - and may have to go back with Will - he would think it was awesome and give him a chance to see the other sign in person so he can meditate on that and maybe give us all the answer.

Monday, October 02, 2006

National Day(week) in China

Just a little bit 'o history for you all today. That and because it is raining, I have been cleaning and have not made it out of the apartment to take pictures. Instead, a lovely picture of Mao Zedong (aka Mao Tse-Tung - it is pronounced the same). I realize many in our parents generation already know this information and probably don't want to relive it, but I thought it was important for me to re-familiarize myself with this history since I'm living here.

Oct. 01 (info from:
National Day: People's Republic of China. This marks the anniversary of the victory of the Communist Party led by Mao Zedong over the Nationalist Forces led by Chiang Kai-shek and the declaration of the People's Republic of China in 1949. This holiday is celebrated on October 1 and October 2.

So reality, at least Shanghai reality is that people go in to work the Saturday before the holiday (in this case September 30th - so the banks weren't open so we could get paid is beyond me). Then they have Monday-Friday off, then I think they have to go to work the following weekend. In any event, it is really only 3 days off. Since yesteday (Sunday) was October 1st, there were some fireworks, but hey, they like fireworks over here. Whenever they open a new store, hotel, whatever, they put a bunch of red up and have fireworks as a good luck measure to ward off evil spirits. The first few times it happened I thought we were under attack since it sounds like machine gun fire, but when I looked out the window no one really seemed concerned and no mass panic so I thought okay, if the world is ending why should anyone panic including me, so I went back to laundry.

Here is a link to a website about Mao's life (did you know he wrote poetry?). I thought it might be good to know a little more about the man who is on every single piece of paper money issued in China....