Monday, July 31, 2006

Day 19: Working for the Week-end!

Friday I had my final work-out with my trainer Doug. About half way through the work-out I was paged to the childcare which I thought would be a poppy diaper. No of course it couldn't be that easy, Angus was kicked out of the childcare for the day. Can you guess why??? He his 3 times and 3 strikes your out. I don't know what I am going to do with this kid. If anyone has any ideas or good books to read about this, please let me know.

In the evening I got a much needed break and had the pleasure of spending the evening with my dear friend Pam. We went out for dinner at The Keg for dinner and then met up with her boyfriend Murray at Copper Canyon. We had such a nice time and we were able to talk about a bunch of different things. I really have missed spending time with Pam and it was a nice evening with no distractions. I don't think Pam and I have had that type of evening with each other for years!


At Copper Canyon Pam's man got a few Miller Lite Freebees. They were like the multiples of the 90's. Here are Pam and Murray modeling them for you.


Pam and me


Me and Murray, quite stylish huh?


I also found this poster in Copper Canyon. Sweaty, the band that Jonny and I used to go and see have started playing at Copper Canyon on Saturday nights. They are quite entertaining and I swear the keyboardist sounds exactly like Steve Perry from Journey! I highly recommend you see this band if you like 70's and 80's rock and roll bands like AC/DC, Lynard Skynard, Journey, Cheap Trick, etc. (Ted, you should definitely venture out some Saturday to see them!) Unfortunately I didn't get to see them this trip, but there is always next summer!

Day 15 - 18 : Settling In

I think we have settled back into life in Arizona again. Unfortunately we have to leave it again on Tuesday evening. I almost feel like everything is as I left it before I left, sure there are new buildings and shops, but my friends seem to be just as I left them. I love the feeling I have had since I have been home. I guess China has been good for me.

This past Monday we met up with some of my MOMS Club friends. It was nice to get the kids together and catch up with their lives. We also had the pleasure of meeting our friend Julie's new baby Caden and see his big brother Jack. We ended our night with dinner at our dear friend Thuong's house.


Thuong with his two favorite kids!


Thuong's niece Michelle was and is our babysitter. Here is a picture of Michelle with her brother Morris and boyfriend Paul with the kids. Michelle really helped me out while I was home with the kids and gave me some much needed time on my own. Michelle you rock!!!


Angus and Jack

Tuesday we had a swim and lunch date with our friend Bronagh and her son Jack. Bronagh's husband is my eye doctor and Bronagh is from Northern Ireland. It was so nice to catch up with them although Angus was being his bruiser self and doing his best impression of Lenox Lewis. In the evening I had the pleasure of meeting up with my old knitting group. It was great to see everyone and catch up. I am so glad the Stitch 'n Bitch group is still alive and well after all this time.

Wednesday we departed from Casa Barkat and moved over to Casa Galloway. It was sad to say good-bye to the Barkat's, but I am sure that Miss Tatum was very happy to see the back side of Angus. Angus decided it was the right time to start his behaviors of hitting, biting, pushing and kicking. Wednesday evening I went to see "The Yarn Harlot" at the Fiber Factory. I have never read her blog or read any of her books, but I had heard she was hilarious. She definitely didn't disappoint. She was great and so witty.

Thursday we had the pleasure of dining with Mr. and Mrs. (Robert) Smith. Unfortunately they didn't have the pleasure of dining with us. Angus was into absolutely everything especially throwing various dog toys at their huge dog Zeus. Nancy made an incredible dinner of Chicken with Bow Tie Pasta and Pesto and the most incredible salad I have ever had. I highly recommend trying this out, it is amazing! Even though the kids were a bit unruly we had a nice time catching up with Nancy and Robert and I am sure they will hear lots about them in the upcoming months!

After dinner we stopped by Duck and Decanter to see one of my knitting friends Michelle, who I recently discovered is expecting her first baby in November! Congratulations to Michelle and her hubby! I also made a quick trip to see a few of Jonny's rugby friends.

I bet you can't believe how exhausted I am!

Friday, July 28, 2006

Rest in Peace my dear Rodger


On Wednesday morning we took our dog Rodger to be put to sleep. Rodger had been with us for over 6 years, but was over 16 years old. He came to live with us after his owner was remarried and his new wife didn't care for him. He ended up in the pound headed for the euthanasia list, but English Springer Spaniel Rescue saved him. We foster him for a short time and then Jonny gave him to me for Valentine's Day 6 years ago with a big red bow attached to him. He was a great old dog and had a nice long life. We will miss you Rodgie!

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Day 14: Semi-Blind Date

Sunday was a treat for me! I was able to meet my blogger friend Ted, in person. We have been reading each others blogs and emailing each other for the last year. It is really a non-traditional way to develop a friendship, but it definitely worked. I met Ted and Jeff (another fellow blogger whom I met through my friend Brooke before I moved to China.) at Barrio Cafe and we enjoyed a yummy dinner! It was so great to finally meet Ted. I was really nervous about meeting him, but felt so comfortable just being myself around him that he made it easy. We also thought we would invite Jeff to join us which was a nice treat to be able to catch up with him too.


Ted (Joe's cute boyfriend!), Me and Jeff


After dinner Ted took me to Miggee's to meet his boyfriend Joe and have a margarita (actually the first of my trip to AZ). I had seen many pictures of these two fine looking guys and it was so nice to finally meet them both. Joe was working, so I got to talk to him between checking his tables, but they make such a great couple.


Me and Joe

I am hoping to keep in touch with them both over the next year. I hope that they will be in Phoenix when I return from China next summer, so we can spend more time together. I know Jonny would really enjoy talking rugby and politics with the two of them.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Day 13: Happy Birthday Harrison!


Saturday we attended the 2nd birthday of Gemma and Angus' friend Harrison. We had a great day packed with all kinds of fun, friends, and food. Hallie and Shannon hired the 2005 World Champion balloon Artist to entertain the kids. I have to say that this guy was so creative and I have never seen balloons like his creation. He made a huge flower for Gemma and panda for Angus. He also made Elmo, Blue's Clues, butterfly, a crocodile, giraffe, monkey, and a shark.


Here is Carson with his Crocodile.


Angus found the ball pit and he absolutely loved it! I am going to have to find one of these in China for him. He could sit in it for hours!


And I will have to find one of these. I think there was a line of 1 and 2 year olds wanting to take a ride on this toy. Ride 'em Angus!


There was also a pinata. Here is the birthday boy making his attempt.


Followed by his brother.


Gemma also took a few whacks.


As did Angus. I think about 10 kids hit this pinata at least 3 times a piece followed by Carson having another turn and then one of the dads tried to break it open. The thing didn't open until someone physically opening it.


Here is Gemma with the birthday boy. He really likes Miss Gemma.


Carson and Gemma sizing up the cake.


Sweet reward!


Angus and his cake.

Day 12: Book Club


Jill, the hostess with the mostess!

Friday night was a big treat for me. Jill hosted book club a her house and we had a Chinese theme. We were all to read the book "The Good Woman of China" by Xinran and everyone was to bring some type of Asian appetizer and I made jiaozi (a.k.a gyoza or Chinese dumplings). Everyone showed up a little late and ready to rock n roll.

I think it was an absolute record in the 4 year history of our book club. We didn't even mention the book. I have to say I was a little disappointed, but thanks to Kelly I was thoroughly entertained the entire night. Wink, wink!

Here are a few snapshots of the night.


Jeanette, our single vixen who always has a great stories about her love life.


Annette, not a book club regular, but a longtime friend of mine.


Kathleen, our hot mama! Isn't she a fabulous looking pregnant woman!


Tracy, who was also very in love with something that night. He, he!


Pam, one of the founding members of book club.


Nancy another founder, took a short hiatus from book club, but is now back to join us again.


Kelly, Kelly, Kelly, Kelly....


Kelly really loved everyone Friday! She kept telling all of us how much! Here is Kelly, Tracy, and Pam in a group hug!


Kelly, Tracy and me having a cuddle.


Lisa trying to cop a feel on Jill.

We had a great time on Friday and it totally made me more homesick than I have been so far. Even though I have been gone for 9 months I feel that we all picked up where we left off. There is something to be said about old friends. Kelly really made me feel good that night, she kept calling me the connector because I have introduced her to many of my friends and they have become friends. I am so happy that I have had the pleasure of introducing so many people to each other and that they have become friends. I hope one day we will return to Arizona and join in all the connections!

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Day 8-10: Doctor, Doctor!


We have had a really busy week running around to see all of our doctors while we are in the U.S. Gemma and I went to the Dentist for Gemma's first ever dentist appointment and a cleaning for me. Gemma had a great time at the dentist and was so mature about her visit. I have to say it really didn't have anything to do with me giving her a pep talk before the appointment. We had bought a book earlier in the year called Show Me Your Smile: A Visit to the Dentist and she kept refer to it throughout the appointment without me mentioning the book at all. Gemma has a incredible memory and she just referred to everything that was going on during the visit for example, Dora had pictures of her teeth, Dora got a new toothbrush and stickers, etc. I highly recommend this book if you haven't taken your little one to the dentist yet.

Angus had to go to his Pediatric Urologist to read the results of his tests and the news was good. He doesn't have to be on medication any longer and he has outgrown is kidney reflux. Dr. Bailey, his doctor has two sons who are currently studying in Beijing and we exchanged China stories. He is a great doctor and such a great guy! If you kids ever need a pediatric Urologist, he is your man!

After Angus' appointment we headed to my GP's office for a physical. I learned that because there is not a history of breast cancer in my family, I don't have to have a mammogram for 4 more years. I was pretty happy about that because I don't have much to mammogram and I heard the less you have the more painful it is.

Wednesday we headed to the eye doctors office which is always nice because our eye doctor and his wife are friends of ours. The appointment was a bit stressful because Angus was in to everything and there were so many gadgets for him to get into in the office. My eyes checked out really good and seemed to improved over the past year.

Gemma and Angus had their pediatrician appointment on Wednesday. They both had lots of shots to get since they missed their 4 and 1 year old appointment this past year. Gemma had actually looked forward to her shots because she doesn't think they hurt. She got her first shot and she was fine until Angus bit her in the knee. Poor Gemma screamed for the next 1/2 hour accompanied by Angus' screams after his shots. Talk about a fabulous ride back to the gym.

Wednesday night we had dinner at the Barkat's house and after dinner Tatum opened her gift. Here are the kids checking out one of Tatum's new gifts.



Gemma striking a pose.


Angus' sitting on one of Tatum's gift before it is out of the box.

Thursday was a great day. I had a babysitter for the afternoon and I was able to go to my OB-GYN appointment in peace. I think this is actually the first time I have went to this type of appointment since I have had children without one or both of them. I finished up with the doctor and was able to do a little shopping and enjoyed a little lunch by myself at AJ's.

I also had a babysitter for the evening and was able to go to dinner with my friend Hallie. We were planning on having sushi, but we couldn't find the place that we were looking for and ended up at the Havana Cafe. I had heard from Jill that this was a wonderful place and she wasn't wrong. We had the most incredible mojitos (my most favorite cocktail!), black bean fritters with avocado dip, chicken with a spicy mango sauce and the scrummiest chocolate bread pudding. I would have to say my favorite part of the meal was the mojitos and bread pudding. The bread pudding had cinnamon chips in it which I think made the pudding. I highly recommend this tasty place.


Me and Hallie

Update on Jonny's Summer

We have been away from Chengdu for almost 2 weeks and although we are having a fabulous time with our friends in Arizona, the kids and I really miss Jonny. While we are away Jonny had planned on doing quite a bit of site seeing without us because there are many places to visit that may or may not be so kid friendly. We thought it would be a great idea for Jonny to scope out different places for us to go as a family. He went to a place called Tao Ping Village which is a place where the Qiang minority people live about 4 hours from Chengdu. Here are a few pictures from his exploring.

JD Zhangzhai_1

Tao Ping Village

JD QInagzhai_2

Nice Bananas!

JD Qiangzhai+1

JD Qiangzhai(wicker basket)

JD Qiangzhai(river)

JD Qiangzhai(Party jiu)

One evening Jonny spent with the villagers dancing around a fire and drinking their jiu (alcohol). He told me he tried to refuse, but it Chinese fashion they forced on him (or was it just Irish fashion to accept???). He said it was horrible!!!

JD Qiangzhai(hotel)

Here is where he slept. Jonny and our driver paid 100 rmb to stay one night, which is about $12.50 US. He said it was very cave like, but at least they had clean sheets on the bed.

JD Qiangzhai(cabbage)

JD Qiangzhai (above town)

JD Qiangzhai

Looking forward to pictures from his travels around Chengdu this week-end.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Day 7: A Spariffic Day


Jill and me having a bite to eat in between our spa treatments.

Today started off not on the best note. I was trying to talk to Jonny on the phone, get two kids ready for a doctors appointment, and check out of a hotel all at the same time. Of course Gemma decides this is the day she is not going to dress herself or be much help to me. I wasn't even quite sure where Angus' doctors appointment was going to be. He has had kidney reflux and went to a Pediatric Urologist before we left for China, but I went to have his test in Mesa last year. I drove to Phoenix Children's Hospital where I thought the appointment was and I was right!

Luckily I have never had to go to this hospital before, but I couldn't believe how great it was. It was such a great place for children and seemed to accommodate families very well. It is kind of a sad place to be, but I can see how comforting it would be for parents with sick or injured children staying there or going there for test. I felt comforted and we were just going on a follow-up visit.

Angus had his test and it appears that his last year of growth has resolved his kidney reflux problem. I was so relieved to hear that because our health care in Chengdu is not up to US standards. It is just one less thing I have to worry about while I am living there. Tomorrow we will confirm with the Pediatric Urologist that he is ok and that I will not have to try to cram yucky pills down his throat anymore.

After the doctor we headed down to Chandler to drop the kids off at their friends Carson and Harrison's house. Hallie graciously offered to watch the kids for the afternoon while I was able to go to the spa with Jill. It was so great to see Hallie and the kids again. I even got to see Shannon Hallie's husband!

Jill and I met at the Aji Spa a little before 1 pm. We had been planning this outing for months! We asked both of our husbands for a gift certificate for Mother's Day for a trip to the spa this summer. We had a lovely day and great conversation! I had a facial, which was so lovely I fell asleep. After my facial we headed to the restaurant for a late lunch and a couple cocktails. After lunch Jill and I had a "Couple's massage" which was very romantic (he, he!). If you ever have a chance to go to this spa I would definitely recommend it. It is a beautiful setting and just a nicely put together spa.

I picked the kids up and took them to dinner at the Chandler Mall. We ate at Wildflower again and I sort of feel guilty about it. Since I only have two more weeks left in AZ, I should be trying to hit all my favorite places, but Wildflower has such a great menu and the kids love it. We did a little shopping and checked out a few new stores in the mall. I was scoping it out for future shopping excursions.

We moved into Casa Barkat tonight. We had a pretty smooth transition and it is always nice to stay with friends.