Thursday, March 29, 2007

We're Off!

This morning Jonny left for his trip the the Hong Kong for the famous Hong Kong 7's Rugby Tournament. He was very happy about his trip all by himself to see his other lover, rugby! The kids and I decided that we would not stick around by ourselves all week-end, so we are heading to Bangkok, Thailand tomorrow afternoon for a few days.We are looking forward to eating lots of Thai food and doing a bunch of market shopping.

On Monday we are heading to Malaysia to meet Jonny for the week. Unfortunately Jonny has to work the whole week, but me and the kids will be enjoying ourselves in the sun and on the beach while he works. I have been quite ill this week, so I definitely need a dose of sunshine and surf. I hope to post quite a bit while we are away!

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Chinese Wedding

We were attending our first Traditional Chinese Wedding this past Saturday. Our friend Rock married a local Chengdu girl, Shao Hua at the Kempinksi Hotel. They were actually married back in February, but most Chinese people go and get their marriage certificate and then save the ceremony for a later date. Some people wait years before having a ceremony. Rock and Flora decided to their ceremony now because they would be moving to Dalian in May.


Here are the kids in the car before the wedding. Gemma was over the moon about attending a wedding.


Here was the sign before heading into the reception. The Chinese are very romantic and are into hearts and pink!


When we arrived to the hall where the reception was to take place we were greeted by the happy couple and their wedding party. Jonny was offered a cigarette by the best man and candy by the maid of honor.


Our friends Lily and Mark.


Gemma and her classmate Tyler.


The ceremony began by Rock and Flora walking into the room in Traditional Chinese robes. They hoped over this pseudo-fire, then over a little bridge and under 3 red scarves. He was blindfolded and had to choose his wife through a line up by touching several women and one man's hands. Luckily he figured it out otherwise it would be bad luck to their marriage. After this Rock had to remove Flora's veil with some type of scepter. They also lit a heart-shaped candelabrum with tea lights around the heart. It was kind of like a unity candle. There were speeches by Rock and Flora's Father and our dear friend Isabel did all of the translating, which was quite helpful.


Quite a few of the invite list involved the rugby club. Here are the rugby boys.


Here are the rugby girls!

As you can see Rock and Flora changed clothes again. The red is a very lucky color in China.


Angus and the groom


Gemma and her friend Maggie with the bride.

After the lunch most of the guest headed to karaoke. Of course the rugby crowd opted for a little bit of rugby on TV. After that we headed to the evening dinner and ma jong. The evening dinner was absolutely fantastic! It was probably the best Chinese food I have had in Chengdu.

There were quite a few of similarities in Western wedding vs. Chinese weddings. I am so happy that I have had the opportunity to experience both! Best of luck to the happy couple!

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

It's Like an Irish Santa Claus....


On the Friday before St. Patrick's Day Jonny came to Gemma's school to talk about why the Irish (actually American Irish!) celebrate St. Paddy's Day. Jonny went all out getting himself outfitted with this lovely leprechaun outfit! Check out those sexy boots!


Jonny did a great job and did a whole presentation on who was St. Patrick and what was so great about St. Patrick's Day. He even sang Molly Malone for the kids and got them to join in! (Check out the close-up on these boots!)


The kids really loved it and Gemma was so happy that her Dad came to school to entertain the class. Now if I can only get Jonny out of that costume.....


Gemma was oh so ever attentive to her Daddy!

Clark's New Home In China


Our beloved dog Clark, who has been living in the U.S. away from us for the past 18 months has finally made it to China. We were lucky enough to be able to bring him back with us this trip due to the weather not being over 85 degrees in Arizona (Although it has already hit 99 degrees this spring!). Clark was a trooper! He made it all the way from Phoenix to Beijing without having an accident in his kennel! I couldn't believe that he could make it that long, but he did. I got him outside in Beijing as soon as I could, but there were great places to go to the bathrooms as it was all cement, but he was able to find a spot.


When we left AZ Angus was just 9 month old and just a little blob that never bothered Clark. Now Angus is a ball of energy ready to rugby tackle his poor old dog at all times! Even though I think Clark gets quite annoyed with Angus he does really like him. Who else would feed him table scraps and has a bed low enough for him to jump on??


Here are the tired boys settling in for the night.

We are all very happy to be reunited with Clark. We feel like our family is now complete here and that we are at home. I feel like we have missed so much being apart from him. He has definitely aged quite a bit (he will be 12 years old next month!) and really enjoys sleeping the majority of the day. He really loves the attention he has been getting here. Our ayi and driver love him and are always petting him. My ayi also thinks that Clark needs to have several showers a week, a habit that I think I have broke.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Article in Time Magazine about Chengdu

This was recently in Time Magazine and I thought it was interesting. It will give you an idea of how quickly China's economy is growing.,9171,1587269-1,00.html

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Sweet Home Arizona!

We took a last minute trip to Arizona for Chinese New Year to see family, friends, go to doctors and dentist appointments, and pick up our dog Clark and bring him to China. It hadn't been that long since I had been home. The kids and I enjoyed 3 weeks in sunny Arizona this past summer, but Jonny hasn't touched U.S. soil for almost 18 months! I was very pleased to see Jonny reaction being back in Arizona. He realized that he really missed AZ and the beautiful weather! We will see how he fares when we go back in mid-September this year and it is still 100 degrees F!!!

One of the greatest parts of our trip home was that my Dad flew out in the dead of winter from Nebraska to see us. It was great for him because he works for the Department of Roads and most of his winter is working nights, plowing snow. It was perfect timing as the Midwest was hit with one of the worst winter storms all year.

The kids had a great time with their Papa Steve and I think my Dad definitely has a huge fan in Angus! My poor Dad was drug all around Phoenix with us to doctor’s appointments and shopping sprees. He was a good sport about it and just kept laughing at us. He thinks we are completely crazy with our busy schedules.


We had a few other great memories of our trip. I was able to go wedding dress shopping with my friend Pam. Pam and her fiancé Murray are getting married on October 5 of this year and Pam has asked me to be a bride's maid. I was over the moon with her asking me and our whole family looks forward to the trip to see 'Auntie Pam' get married.

While my Dad was in town he so graciously hung out with the kids while we went to a potluck dinner at our friends Kelly and Brian's house. There were about 6 couples and our friend Jen. It was a great evening and wonderful be with our old friends! It was also really great to catch up with our friend Jen, who moved to Chicago around the time we moved to China and now has moved back to AZ. Jen is one of the funniest people I know and it was great seeing her again!

Another night we were able to get our old babysitter to watch the kids while we had an adult night out with our friends Joe and Jill. We went to one of my favorite places to eat in AZ, Havana Cafe! If you have never tried this extremely yummy place I highly recommend it! If you do take my advise you definitely have to try the Calypso Chips with Black Bean Dip and the Frittatas de Frijoles Negro with Calypso Avocado Dip.

Another highlight of our trip was meeting up with our kids' friends. We were able to have breakfast and then a playdate at Toy Town with the Clark Clan . Gemma was very excited to see her friend Carson, she had made him a Valentine Card in China and remembered to pack it in her backpack and bring with on our trip back home. Toy Town has also changed since we were last there. They have new owners and have added a great toy section featuring Melissa and Doug toys. They are great wooden toys like puzzles, play food, etc. I couldn't resist the sushi set for the kids equipped with Velcro chopsticks! We were also lucky enough to meet our friends Brooke and Julie for a playdate at Toy Town. It was great for Angus to meet up with a couple of his friends and so great to see how much the boys have changed since we last saw them. Also, it was great to see Brooke and Julie's new babies!

On one of our afternoons we had the pleasure of meeting our friend Thuong for a glass of wine at our favorite wine bar Postino. The company was great along with the food and wine. What I wouldn't do to have that bruchetta in Chengdu!

On one of the days my friend Annette and I met our friend Jeanette for lunch at a really yummy Thai restaurant. I thought I would be a Thai food snob after our trips to Thailand, but I was so impressed with the food. It was really great! After our lunch I had some shopping time in with Annette, who is the queen of shopping.

The Friday before I left a bunch of my girlfriends got together to attend a Martini and Manicures fundraiser that our friend Ger Follmer was putting on. It was really great and they raised a ton of money for breast cancer research! I couldn't believe how many people were there!

All and all between doctors appointments, shopping trips, and getting together with friends we had a wonderful trip home. It was just great seeing everyone and catching up. We are looking forward to our trip back to the US in the fall, either semi-permanently or for my parent's 40th wedding anniversary and Pam's wedding.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Jeanette's Baby Shower


On the day before we left to go back to Chengdu, I had the privilege to attend my friend Jeanette's baby shower. Her friends Natalie, Jill and Tracy threw an absolutely lovely party! The food was great, the decorations were nice and it was great to see most of my friends in attendance. Jeanette is due to have her baby girl sometime in April. She has already selected a name, Ava, which I think is such an elegant name. Here she is glowing with her neat little belly!


I really thought Natalie did a great job decorating! My favorite were the Valentine's Day M&Ms sans the red ones.


Our friends Nancy and Jen were in attendance. They are also due very close to Jeanette. So there will be four new babies in our book club this year! (Kathleen delivered about 8 weeks ago.)

Jeanette made out like a bandit in the gifts department. She received some really nice gifts. It is very interesting to see how baby items have evolved since I had Gemma and even Angus. They are always changing things trying to make them nicer and easier for the new mom to use. I gave Jeanette a hooded towel and baby shoes from China. I always loved the hooded towel. I bought Gemma and Angus towels from the Portland Saturday Market and they both still use them every time they have a shower or bath. Another gift that Jeanette received was a gorgeous blanket, blanket made by our friend Jill. She recently started her own business making baby booties, burp clothes, blankies, and blankets. She also sewed Jeanette a card with Ava's name on the front. If you are interested in her products check them out at Jeanette's blanket is under the "Blankets" link.


Here is a picture of Jeanette with two of the hostesses, Tracy and Jill.


All of the pregnant bellies together! Melissa, Jeanette, Jen and Nancy are all due within weeks of each other.

I will be patiently awaiting the phone calls next month! I am very excited to see Jeanette as a mother! She will do a fantastic job!

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Chinese New Year

We had the pleasure of spending Chinese New Year's Eve in Chengdu. My friend Yong organized an afternoon and evening at her restaurant The Farm House" just outside of Chengdu. It is really nice and there are a lot of vegetable farms. On Yong's property they farm organic vegetable. We thought this sign was funny.


Yong had lots of yummy Chinese food prepared for the day. She also had 3 goats and a couple chickens that she had barbequed on a spit. Here is a picture of one of the goats on the spit.


After I saw the 3 goats on the spit we had a couple live goats as visitors to our party. Jonny said he thought that these goats were also going to be dinner, but I didn't believe him. I couldn't see how the kids could be playing with the goats one minute and then take them to slaughter the next. Fortunately, these goats didn't get eaten, but I did ask Yong about it later. She told me that they were going to be butchered if we needed the extra meat, but we didn't. She also told me that Chinese people like to see that their meat is fresh and don't mind seeing the animal being killed in front of them. I don't think I could have eaten the goat if I saw it being slaughtered, but I can see their point.



When the sun went down and everyone was eating and drinking the fireworks began. It was absolutely amazing! I have never seen fireworks like these before! They were non-stop and probably didn't stop until 4 a.m. the next morning! I kept trying to take some photos of the spectacular show, but I think I need a tripod or a special camera to actually take good nighttime pictures. Here is one I thought turned out pretty good!


After Yong's party we had promised Xiao Yang and Da Yang that we would stop by their house for to let off some of our fireworks we bought earlier in the day. We brought a few of our friends with us and let off quite a few fireworks. I really couldn't believe the fireworks you could buy here. There were things that you would only see let off by pyrotechnic professionals in the U.S., but anyone could purchase these explosives here.


Here is a few of us getting ready to fire off our explosives!


Our dear friend Lily!


Angus and Xiao Yang getting ready to light a sparkler.

The fireworks were just amazing! I just couldn't believe the skies were just filled with them from the time the sun went down to probably 4 a.m. We returned home around midnight and everyone had told us that was when the show would really start. Jonny went to the roof patio outside our bedroom and shot a few videos of the show. It sounded like a war zone, but sure enough I was asleep in no time and sleep through all of the noise. Enjoy!