Monday, February 27, 2006

Let the cattiness begin!

Today I had my first pangs of childhood let down, but from the parent perspective. Gemma had said to me that she wanted a certain girl in her class to come over and play. I ran into the girl's mother and asked if Gemma's classmate could come over and play. The little girl was standing by her mother and said she didn't want to play with Gemma, she wanted to play with another girl in her class. Her mother agreed that this little girl could not play with Gemma because she was too nervous and she just feels comfortable with her other friend. The mother then said she would try and talk her into it and said she would let me know. Of course knew the mother was just saying this, but it was a disappointment to Gemma. I even think that it was a bigger disappointment to me!

I had been holding my breath for the girl cattiness to start, but this early? When I walked into Gemma's classroom and her teacher said that the kids making playdates with each other have become problematic in the classroom. One child will invite another over and not include the third, then comes the shoving. Can you believe this with 4 and 5 year olds?

I remember in grade school how scared I was to go to school each day for fear my peer group would choose me to be the person they were mad at for that particular day. I hated it and I swear my stomach just ached the entire time I was in grade school, actually make that junior high and high school too!

Even as an adult I also feel the hurt feeling when I am not included in activities. Do girls ever grow out of it even when we are grown women? I would sure love to hear your comments on this one, especially from other mothers who have gone through this with a daughter already.

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Crouching Tiger, Hidden Huang Long Xi!!!


Just like the Wild West photos back home!

While we were in Australia we purchased another travel book on China called
The Rough Guide to China. We can highly recommend these books to anyone who loves to travel a little off the beaten track. In the book they had the top 40 "must see" places in China. We were very surprised to see a place called Huang Long Xi, which is a small village 40 km south of Chengdu. I was very excited to see this place because it is where they filmed the movie "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon", which is one of my favorite movies.

We headed out Saturday afternoon with 3 van loads of people to check out this town. It was a quaint village with lots of little shops, women selling crowns of flowers, and people lined up on the street selling vegetables. Of course as usual there were women sitting everywhere knitting.


Here is Sadie checking out this woman's sweater pattern.


Us with the Hardgroves!


Gemma and I even went on a horse ride along the river.

We also had the pleasure of playing dress up, something that Jonny really enjoyed because he tried on about 5 different outfits.


Here is Gemma dressed as a Chinese Princess. Here Chinese name is Xiao Gong Zhu, which means "Little Princess".



Traci, Michael, and Jen. Michael and Jen work with Jonny and Traci is Michael's wife.


Doesn't Jonny look Chinese???


Another family photo!

Here are some photos of the various temples we visited while we were there. Unfortunately they didn't have signs up to say exactly where the movie was filmed but I am pretty sure it was here:



The next few photos are from Gulong Si Temple.





This was a beautiful spot to visit and give you a taste of the Qing Dynasty, which was between 1644 and 1911. We hope to visit again when we start getting visitors! (hint, hint ;)

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Running in the Du


We have been doing quite a bit of running lately, but most of it has been indoors. The pollution and weather is pretty bad in Chengdu, so it doesn't make you want to spend that much time outdoors. I have been training for a 1/2 marathon, which I am actually not going to run, but I thought I would still keep training just to keep in shape.

We loaded the kids up and took them out to Jonny's work because it is outside of Chengdu, there is less traffic and there is a great running path around the perimeter. Jonny pushed the kids because I was doing a 8 mile run. It ended up being a perfect day for a run. The weather was the perfect temperature and the sky was fairly clear.


Angus was exhausted from his run.


Here is Angus in front of Jonny's office building.

Stitch 'n Bitch Chengdu Style!

You can't keep a good knitter down or anyway a knitting promoter. I finally did it and started a knitting group in Chengdu within the Chengdu International Woman's Club. My friend Sadie and I thought we would teach the expats kids to knit and we had great turn outs for both of the groups that we have held so far. There are quite a few new knitters, but there are also many experienced knitters too.


Here is a photo of the first class.

Last week I went to the North Market with my ayi to find out where to buy yarn and needles. We were only there for a short time, but I found an absolute gold mine! I sent up a field trip for this past Saturday to go and buy yarn.


Here is our group!

I can only imagine all of my knitting readers out there salivating at the thought of the goodies I have found. The prices are absolutely amazing! For example I bought about 1000 grams of Brown Sheep Bulky for just over $6. They have tons of funky yarn too! I was so surprised by the selection. I will take some photos of my wool at the next meeting so you can see what we found. Hopefully I will have time to make something with my new yarn too!

Monday, February 20, 2006

Gong Xi Fa Cai!


We made it back to China in time for the last day of Chinese New Year, which is called the Lantern Festival. I couldn't believe the amount of fireworks that went off from dusk until the wee hours of the night. (I heard from someone that they were still going off at 3 a.m. in the morning. Lucky for us we are all hard sleepers!) It was amazing to me, but not a surprise of the arsenal of fireworks that was available to the general public. Back in the U.S. we have professionals that shoot off fireworks, but not in China. Anyone can buy these fireworks and they usually shoot them off in the middle of the street or in the case of these photos in the middle of our compound. It was quite an incredible display.

The next morning I couldn't believe the mess in our garden. There were hundreds of boxes with about 20 different fireworks within them littered everywhere and also red plastic pieces that looked like they were from the top of some kind of rocket.


Happy Chinese New Year!

Brisbane, our last day!


A last look at the Brisbane River...

I thought I would share a couple of pictures of the last day of our vacation in Australia. Our flight wasn't until 11:50 pm and we had to check out of our hotel by noon, so we spent most of our day walking around and enjoying our last day of blue skies and sunshine until our next adventure.



Angus with this cool looking Ibis.

We really had a nice vacation and a nice break from life in China. I feel refreshed and ready to do some exploring around when we get back.

Sunday, February 19, 2006


I have been desperately wanting to blog, but I figure it takes two weeks to get used to living in China again. We made is safe and sound back from our trip to Australia. We hated to go and keep tossing around the idea of immigrating one day. The kids couldn't have been any better on the way back and slept most of the way home on both flights.

There was one problem on our flight from Singapore to Chengdu. There was a family sitting across from us with a little girl around 18 months old who was screaming her head off most of the flight. I kept looking over to see what was wrong with her and noticed that her father kept slapping her in the face. I couldn't help but continuing to look over at the poor girl until I couldn't take it anymore. I took Angus and decided to go for a walk and see if anyone would do anything about this. I talked to the flight attendant and she went to talk to them. I really think I made things worse as they probably thought I was complaining about the screaming and not her father slapping her around. Well whatever they said it seemed the hitting stopped along with the screaming, imagine that!

I am hoping to post some pictures this week of the end of our Australia adventure and also some photos of the last day of Chinese New Year.

Saturday, February 04, 2006

Day 15 - Brisbane

Well folks we are at the end of our journey in this great country of Australia. We had a great time and I think I had an even better time recollecting and writing about our adventure. I definitely think that Australia was just what the Dr. Expat ordered, a nice taste of Western civilization again.

I have to say I would love to live in Australia. I would even go as far as saying we all would love to live here. I didn’t really realize how much I love the beach until we spent almost every chance we had on one. There is so much pristine beauty here that it can overwhelm a person. It is always nice to have a dream, but who knows we might try and make it a reality someday.

We will be leaving tomorrow evening at 11:30 p.m. and will be back to Chengdu on Monday afternoon. Unfortunately we will miss the Super Bowl, which my favorite team, the Pittsburg Steelers should win big. Look forward to catching up with everyone when we get back.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Day 12 & 14 - Surfers Paradise


We spent a couple days in Surfers running and hanging out on the beach. The running here in Australia has been fantastic and I am proud to say we ran about 5 days a week. It was so nice to have the chance to run by the river or the ocean with such great views. It reminded me of our time in Portland and how I really enjoyed running more when there was beautiful scenery to look at while you were huffing and puffing.


The view from our running trail.



One morning Angus woke up early and Jonny took him to see the sunrise. Gemma and I were of course still sleeping, but after seeing the pictures it would have been nice to see the sunrise.



Day 11 & 13 - Surfers Paradise / Dreamworld

Note: I once again have internet access and have posted pictures to my picture less posts. Enjoy!


One of the main reason we decided to come back to Queensland was so that we would have many choices of activities that we could do with the kids. On our first visit to Australia we thought Queensland was so kid friendly and it made traveling quite easy. Jonny’s cousin Greg’s wife Fiona told us that there was an amusement park in Surfers Paradise called Dreamworld that had a place called Wigglesworld with in it. That pretty much was the deal maker for us when we planned our trip down under. We would have to take the kids to Dreamworld. As you notice the title we ended up going for two days. I have to say I haven’t seen a better place amusement park to take a 1 and 4 year old. The rides and amusements were very toddler friendly and I don’t think I heard either kid fuss about anything apart from having to leave. It was also great to spend 2 days there and take our time seeing and doing most everything. The park made it very affordable for the second visit as it only cost us $20 Australian dollars admission the second day.

There was an area called Nick Central, which was an area designed with rides and amusements of the Nickelodeon cartoon characters. We let Gemma pretty much be our guide on both days and she steered us here both times. There was the traditional carousel, Blue’s Clues, Dora’s Sea Planes and these swings that I thought were kind of a big girl ride, but Gemma absolutely loved them! They also had a Sponge-Bob Square Pants show, which was very entertaining, especially for Jonny who is a huge fan so the yellow sponge.









After Nick Central we headed to the most colorful area of the park, Wigglesworld. We actually had the pleasure of meeting a few of the Wiggles on our last trip to Australia and we are big fans of this Aussie Phenomenon. They had a kid’s play area where the kids played for over an hour both visits. Angus had a ball crawling and trying to walk everywhere. We also had the pleasure of riding on the Big Red Car through the Wiggles House.








Jonny and I also went on a couple rides. Jonny went on this horrible Tower of Terror ride, which made me ill every time I saw take off. I went on the kiddie roller coaster, which Gemma was just a few inches shy of being able to ride. We had the pleasure of riding on antique cars where Gemma was able to drive (she now thinks she should be able to drive an actual car). We went on a couple different water rides including a log ride that Angus was able to ride and hung out at the mini-water park equipped with a baby pool, water slides and inner tubes. We visited an area of the park that housed most of the native animals of Australia. The kangaroos were incredibly friendly and we were able to pet them like dogs. The last thing we did was watch an I-Max movie on Australia’s terrain and wildlife.






This is actually Gemma's fine photography!

My assessment of Dreamworld was that it was fabulous for kids. There were activities for kids of all ages and parents who enjoy seeing the ear to ear grins and giggles of their children. I also think that if you are on a limited time schedule during your visit to Australia, Dreamworld has a little bit of everything.