Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Our Wednesday

Today was a bit busy for us but fun......I tried to take a few pics along the way to help you feel included, I like for everyone to feel's just my nature. :)

We started the day at a new playgroup and made fast friends with some ladies from England, Ireland and South Africa. They all had children a bit younger than Xan but she was very excited to be with other kids and just play. The indoor play area was really nice and I even did one of the things I thought I'd never do......allow her into a ball pit. (gasp!!). Oh well.....when in Rome. We finished up playing, enjoyed a quick lunch together and then pointed our strollers in all different directions---it was naptime for most of the little ones.

Here are some of our new friends.....Colleen and her twin 3yo boys Aiden and Edward (Eddie). They are from England but had spent several years in North Carolina just before moving to China.(her husband works for Caterpillar). She said my accent made her all "warm and fuzzy" b/c she loved NC and hadn't wanted to leave.

Next on our agenda for the day was some shopping for a few basics for our apartment. We get to move in on Thursday and since we don't have a vehicle I thought it best to begin making some of the multiple trips required to get all that we will need. Today's goal: basic bedding and a few items for the kitchen. We went to a place called Carefour (just think superwalmart but bigger and with a bazillion employees). Xan graciously napped in the stroller and I was doing ok until I got to the sheets and then I required some major assistance from my iphone as well as the attendants working that aisle (yeah...there were 4 on that aisle alone.....the staffing here is definately abundant). I have a language translator on my phone that is won-der-ful!!

I finally got my decisions made and was trying to get everything into my buggy when I realized that we had attracted quite a little crowd. No kidding, there were 7 people including 2 sets of grandparents with their g-babies, and 3 others that were following us and just staring. I was a little unnerved at first and then just decided hey......I'd probably stare at someone in walmart in the US that was trying to buy live snakes so ....have at it folks.... glad we could make you smile today. By the can't buy sheet sets in buy 3 piece sets that include a flat sheet, a pillow case and a duvet fitted sheet or top sheet. Then you buy a "summer quilt" that goes into the duvet cover. This is the setup that we have here at the hotel and it's actually kinda nice. It's warm but not hot and light weight enough to still be cool. Let's just hope that my sizing is correct......our beds are 1.8 and 1.5. I typed that into my iphone calculator and the ladies showed me a some items so I guess we'll see tomorrow how we did.

After checking out, realizing you have to purchase your bags (even plastic thin ones), lugging an entire buggy of stuff up a moving escalator (made for buggies), while carrying a stroller and holding onto precious little one mentions to me that she needs to potty. Well.......whatcha gonna do? I wheeled that buggy right on into the bathroom and immediately Xan said, "Mommy....don't say Praise the Lord". This cracked me up b/c ever since we arrived if we used a public restroom and it was western style (as opposed to a sqatty potty) then I'd say..."Praise the Lord". heehee. This one was obviously not a "prasie the Lord" kinda setup. She made me laugh ....then she laughed with me...she squatted....I held her ......& we were off again.

A quick taxi ride and I got everything back to the hotel room. We headed out again, but this time on foot for a stroll and to get a snack. The area of town we were headed is only about a 15 minute or so walk from our hotel and we've enjoyed getting out and doing that several times. We have our little routine.....she lounges and deejays the iphone music for us.....I push and we sing as we go. I'm sure the locals get quite a kick out of us bee bopping our way down the street while belting out "all right, all right......I got all I need....and it's all right by me." (darius rucker would be so proud)

We had worked hard and needed a little snack and some good Cold Stone Creamery sounded like it would do the trick.

We finished our outing at the local bakery and made our selections for dinner....we had decided to just have some fruit and pastries in our room since we'd been out all day. This place is DIVINE I tell you.....the flakiness will just about do you in. I don't even want to think about the calories I had this afternoon/evening between the ice cream and then pastries.

I wish you could just smell this place. yyyyuuuummmmmmmmy!!

We returned to our hotel about the time Stan was arriving and after a bath for Xan we sat down for our picnic and then time to start heading for bed. We had a really good day and although there were somethings that could have frustrated me (the audience at walmart, taking 45 minutes to determine that sheet sets don't exist, or that you don't just get bags with your purchase) I think I'm just going to look at it as a day that the LORD has made and I will be glad and rejoice in it.

Chat with ya later.....

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Sweet Dreams

Good, Bad and Just Different

One of the things that Stan and I discussed before coming here was the difference in things being "bad" and things being "just different". We were preparing ourselves for things we knew we would encounter in our new home and the attitude that we wanted to work on having. There are of course good things....which are just that....good. There are also bad things and some things are truly bad. However, although it is easy (or lazy) to stick things in the bad category we wanted to challenge ourselves to question our judgement and ask...."or is it just different from what we are accustomed to?" This seems to be a prevalent attitude among many of us-if it's not the way we are used to then it's bad or wrong.
So in the interest of our attitude adjustment, here are my first categorizations after 1 week here in China.

Good: Smelling and then seeing a Subway Sandwich Shop--yeah for lunchtime!
Bad: Opening Xan's bag of cheetos to discover they are steak flavored (see.... that is just bad).

Good: Discovering wonderful pastries at a local bakery (the Chinese don't bake at home so bakery was awesome!!)
Bad: Discovering that said pastries are way too cheap.

Good: Finding the neighborhood market where the locals shop.
Different: Realizing the locals don't really see a need to refrigerate large hunks of meat accompanied by a meat yourself (or did they see the need to separate it from the produce......yep...right next to the apples)

Good: Meeting new friends from all over the world.
Different: Being humbled by the fact that I only know one language....seriously these ladies were each fluent in at least 3. (and their kids in 2)

Good: An apartment with great furnishings, an oven and western style bathrooms.
Different: The crazy amount of paperwork involved. (81 page lease)

Good: The view from a 27th floor hotel room....amazing.
Bad (yes just plain BAD): Realizing the Chinese don't see that locks on windows are necessary. (I truly had a meltdown moment on this one. I had to go into the bathroom and cry b/c Xan had been playing all around this wall of windows and the "could have's" overwhelmed me and literally made me sick to my stomach) Thank you GOD for your protection!!!

Good: A job for my husband that doesn't require his presence before 9am. :)
Different: A company car and driver coming to get him and bringing him home each day.

Good: The thoroughness of the physical exams Stan and I received, compliments of the Chinese govt, in order to obtain the proper Visas allowing us to remain in country for extended time period.
Different: The rapid succession/various rooms/number of people used to complete those exams. Seriously....we each had xrays, ekgs, sonograms, blood work, and eye exams in less than 40 minutes total.

Good: Taking a taxi to "the walmart" here in Suzhou.
Different: Discovering that it was on the ground floor of a 4 story shopping mall and that the meat department contained live snakes and dried fish (smelled yummy as I know you can imagine) :)

Good: A new friend's advise on which milk to purchase.
Different: Purchasing it in chicken-stock type boxes from the non refrigerated grocery aisle. We haven't tasted it yet but I'll keep you posted.'s to continuing our attitude adjustment. I'll keep making notes on the differences and share them with you. I totally plan to include pictures when I can. I'm hoping that our internet connection at our apartment will be helpful with that process as opposed to the connection we have here at the hotel.

Talk to ya later--

Here's a picture that I'm sure the grandparents have been hoping for. This is on the playground equipment outside our apartment.

Friday, April 23, 2010

pictures is my attempt at sharing some pictures. I've uploaded them to a website called mobile me. Hopefully this will work. These are of our apartment (or it will be sometime next week).

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Time Zone Hopping is a Killer

So Yes we are alive over here.....awake is a whole other story. It's now Thursday about noon here in China so we've had 2 full days here. We spent Tuesday sleeping in and then had a late breakfast. Xan and I slept for quite a while that afternoon and then we headed out to the local wal mar? for some sight seeing and just to get out a bit. We had dinner at burger king and it was familiar so that was nice. The 4 story shopping mall that contained both of those places also had a hair salon and Stan was in desperate need of a haircut so we stopped in and had that experience. He got a really good haircut but it was a bit different. The guy washed his hair with a bottle and no sink and then gave him a very precise scissor cut followed by another wash and style. Let's just say that Stan was not a natural for the blow dry forward look that the salon stylists were all so fond of. :) That night we had a little trouble sleeping and Xan and I were up till about 4am. We did get about 3 hours that night and then up for breakfast again here at the hotel on Wednesday.

Stan had taken Tues off and so he went back to work on Wed. He asked Xan and I to come to the club to meet him for lunch and to get to see it. We ventured out all by ourselves and thanks to English speaking hotel concierge desk we were able to get there and back with no problem. The club is very nice and I'll dedicate a separate post to that very soon. We made the mistake of taking a long afternoon nap and therefore were awake for a good part of last night as well. Today we are going to try and stay awake at least until the early evening and then go to bed at a decent hour. Hopefully we can get our bodies back on schedule. We went this morning to have some passport photos made for the club to work on our visas and then to get me a cell phone. That was an adventure but Carol, Stan's assistant, was a life saver. She did all the talking and just asked us the pertinent questions and we nodded our heads and then signed the papers. I could have just purchased a car for all I know. This afternoon we are going to meet up with another expat wife here that Stan met last week -she volunteered at the golf tournament at his place. I'm going to do my best to keep us awake until bedtime.

I'm still having trouble with uploading photos so please forgive me. I promise I'll get them out here as soon I can get it all figured out.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Ni Hao

Ni Hao (hello) from China. Xan and I made it into Shanghai last night at about 9:30pm (our last flight was delayed getting out of JFK) and then we had to claim our luggage, go thru customs and then make the 2 hour drive to Suzhou. We got to the hotel about midnight. The flights went well and we didn't have any major snags. The biggest hurdle we had to jump was Xan's dvd player dying after only 1 hour into the long flight. I hadn't let her watch anything up until that point so she was very excited about watching the new movies that Nana had gotten her. can imagine her disappointment (and mine) when it quit working. We just made the best of it and made good use of the backpack full of goodies that Danielle had given Xan before we left. We colored, and doodled and colored some more and then tried to sleep some on the plane. Xan did better than I did with that but overall I would call our journey a success. I'm pretty proud of making an international trip with 4 (very heavy) suitcases, 2 backpacks, one carryon, a stoller and a great 4 year old.
Stan was waiting on us when we arrived and we were both very happy to see that familiar face. He and his driver loaded all our baggage and off we went. I have been battling a cold and then got a little car sick on the airplane so I was glad to let someone else take charge and lay my head down for a minute.
The hotel is very nice and I will not mind at all having to spend a couple of days here letting someone else do the picking up and eating in the hotel restaurant. We are on the 27th floor so the view is nice too. This morning we had a late breakfast and then back to the room for a morning nap. Today was rainy and a bit foggy but we ventured out for a bit this afternoon. Stan had set up an appointment with the realtor he has been using to show us the apartment that we will be moving into. If everything goes as planned then we could be in later this week or weekend. Stan had told me that I wouldn't be disappointed and he was right. The apartment is very nice and we like the furnishings too. There is a playground just outside the front door that will be a frequent stop for us I'm sure. Xan was so excited to go see it but fell asleep in the car on the way over. I took some pics to show her and she was very happy when she saw them too. Pictures........did I say pictures......why yes I did. I know that all of you are just dying to see pictures of where I'm going to be living for the next 2 years. Well--unfortunately I'm having trouble getting them to upload. I've spent about an hour and keep getting an error. I'll try again tomorrow and maybe when I've had a bit more sleep I'll be more "with it".
Thanks for all the well wishes and kind words....I'm feeling your love!

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Welcome Back and Goodbye

Welcome back to the new and improved blog..... all just to tell you goodbye. Well, it's just goodbye for now. Xan and I will board the plane tomorrow morning for our long (23+ hour) journey to meet up with Stan in Suzhou, China(pronounced Sue Joe). I'm looking forward to posting regular updates as we begin this adventure. Stay tuned--I'm pretty sure God is going to do some really cool things and I'll want to share them with you!!

I have lots of sappy goodbye types of things to say but to be honest I just can't go there right now. So for now ~ all of you wonderful people in Aiken and Augusta who have loved on me and my family please know that you will always, always have a tremendously special place in my heart. God bless you. To our family and friends in Texas and Oklahoma--thank you for loving us through this crazy life we have chosen to live. Your unconditional love and encouragement are priceless and to know we have you on our side is just plain awesome.

Now I've got a plane to man is waiting for me 1/2 way around the world and I can't wait to be in his arms.