Wednesday, December 27, 2006
Monday, December 25, 2006
Good news, fair readers. On the evening of December 22, around 11:45, our Noodles delivered the baby, whom we have affectionately been referring to as the muzz. Weighing in at 7 lbs 6 ounces and measuring 21 inches long, the muzz is a perfectly proportioned little darling. Noodles had only gone to the hospital at around 9 pm, so everything happened extremely quickly. So quickly, in fact, that there was no time for any pain medication. Noodles is a hardy one. Thinking of her birthing a baby sans anything for pain envokes Rosie the Riveter - esque images.
But here's the surprise. You know how everyone was expecting the muzz to be a girl? How all these months we'd been amassing pink ruffled things galore? Well, it turns out that the muzz is a boy! HA HA! Luckily there were enough "gender neutral" things on hand to properly outfit the lad.
Muzz is still without a name, but he's handling it pretty well. Both he and Noodles are doing well. Immediately after the muzz was born, Noodles no longer felt the urge to vomit all the time, which she'd experienced through all 9 months of pregnancy. It's truly a Christmas miracle.
Rubella (that's Rob) got into town on the evening of the 23rd, so we're all making merry together. Huzzah!
Thursday, December 21, 2006
It's me, Noodles' sister. I'm just testing out this cyber diary in preparation for the baby's birth, when I'll be taking over the noodles (and rob!) turf for awhile.
Friday, December 15, 2006
Wednesday, November 29, 2006
Monday, October 30, 2006
I wish that I had a super good digital camera because I could get some very interesting shots from my bedroom window. These homes have no heat and only whatever electricity they can find from nearby and pirate. Looking down you can get a view of the whole setup and not cause any attention. Having a foreigner (probably even a Chinese person who doesn't "belong" there) going down the narrow corridor that leads to this interior courtyard of housing is something that is immediately noticed. Very hard to blend.
Leek and sour cabbage season is approaching, and people have it outside EVERYWHERE to dry. It hangs out of windows, rests on sidewalks and streets, and is constantly underfoot. There was even some out on the bank steps. If I had to eat like the locals, I would lose quite a bit of weight. I would have to be really hungry to want some of the stuff they eat.
The other night I did go out with some consulate people to a Uighur restaurant. (Look up Uighur in a search engine if you don't know about this Chinese minority). I ate bread and fatty lamb kababs until I was ready to burst. SO good! Right now just thinking about it I want to walk over and grab a few for lunch. At 12 cents a kabob it is hard to go wrong! It is a local restaurant, but Uighur food and not typical of Northeast China so I don't know that it counts as eating like a local.
Sunday, October 22, 2006
Monday, October 09, 2006
Thursday, October 05, 2006
Sure, I have been taking Chinese lessons since January. I started out with two hours, twice a week. I went to Bangkok in February and took 2 weeks off. I went to Australia in March and took 3 weeks off. I got pregnant and felt miserable for the first trimester and took 3 months off. In July I started again, but this time two hours one time a week. In September my teacher cut me back to one hour a week because I shouldn't sit still for so long. So when you look at it, I really haven't had as much time learning Chinese as you would think. When I don't feel like I am progressing much, Rob reminds me that I rarely study or even go over any of the materials except when my teacher is here. I guess that means I must be doing alright. This is how a conversation with a cab driver goes when I am forced to speak in Chinese.
Cab Driver: Hello. Where are you going?
Me: American Consulate
Cab Driver: Okay.
Cab Driver: (asks me a question)
Me: I don't understand. I don't speak Chinese.
Cab Driver: You are going to the American Consulate. Are you American?
Me: Yes, I am.
Cab Driver: (asks me a question)
Me: I don't understand.
Cab Driver: What's your name?
Me: I'm Wei Lin.
Cab Driver: (asks me a question)
Me: I don't understand.
Cab Driver: Do you want me to go straight or turn left here?
Me: It doesn't matter.
Cab driver turns left and then right and we are at the end of the block where he will let me off. I give him about $1.
Me: Thank you.
Cab Driver: Good bye
Me: Good bye.
I have decided that "I don't understand" is probably the most important phrase I know. I use it all the time. The other key phrases are "American Consulate" and "Intercontinental Hotel" so I can get places. Maybe Baby is hearing enough Chinese that she will be better with the tones. :)
Monday, September 25, 2006
Rob and I finally made it to the expo. It is here in Shenyang this year, about 25 km outside of the city. It opened in May and is running through October. We had planned on going earlier, but either I was miserable with morning sickness, Rob had to work, it was bad weather, or something. We didn't want to go on a Chinese holiday or the weekend either and be part of a sea of a million people. If we wanted to be around a lot of Chinese people we could just stay in the city.
It was nice to get out of the city and see some color. Living in the city is sometimes like living in grayscale. There were lots of flowers, trees, and some open space. The day was overcast, with rain in the afternoon. The high was only 65 degrees so it was a good day for us to go. I get tired enough without hot weather making things more difficult.
While it was nice to get out in the city, the expo was not all that thrilling. A lot of the countries that had gardens really seemed to have more of a gift shop than a garden. The gardens representing different cities in China were better done. Of course it is kind of strange to be in China looking at fake old Chinese buildings when we could see real ones outside of the expo.
It was good to get out though and if we hadn't gone I would have been disappointed.
Thursday, September 21, 2006
One of my handy dandy pregnancy tips arrived in my e-mail inbox the other day. It gave me handy fashion tips such as not wearing horizontal stripes because they will make me look bigger. Oh no! Someone might think I am pregnant! Instead it suggests that I wear dark colors, such as black for a slendering effect. As if that would do it! I should also wear tight, clingy clothes to show off my new curves. No one really wants me to wear tight and clingy things when I am not pregnant, now it is is scary thought!
I guess I should also do my hair and make-up so that when I am home all day (STILL puking at almost 6 months along) I am at my best. Instead I consider it an accomplishment to be out of bed and dressed by 10:30 in the morning. Getting fatter and heavier, but still not glowing unless you count the way my face is a bit flushed after vomiting...
Monday, September 11, 2006
In Monty Python and the Holy Grail there is a scene in which King Arthur encounters two peasants digging around in the mud looking for heaven only knows what. Not too different here in Shenyang. No, I haven’t seen anyone dressed up like King Arthur and I don’t think the people are referred to as peasants, but same general idea. As I walk down the streets I can’t help but see people digging through dumpsters looking for treasures. Perhaps it is something that they could use; something cast out that still has some use left in it. Generally people are collecting recyclables that they can turn in for cash. It might be cans, glass, plastic, cardboard, newspaper, or any number of things. Sometimes the people have bicycles with carts on them, allowing them to ride from dumpster to dumpster as they pile the loot on the cart. When our cheap DVD player died I didn’t want to just throw it out in the trash here at the hotel. I wanted someone to get something out of it. Surely a broken DVD player can be repaired or recycled somehow. I made my poor husband put it in a dumpster on his way to pick up some soda at the nearby convenience store. When he came back only minutes later, it was long gone. I have some old shoes I want to get rid of. I wish someone could get use out of them, but let’s face it, what Chinese woman is looking for size 10 ½ shoes? I hesitate to trash them in a nearby dumpster because I am afraid my friend, Sewing Machine Lady’s Mom (I will have to write about her sometime), will find them and pull them out for me because she thinks they might fit me! (Her feet were once bound and are very tiny. We have compared her little deformed feet to my huge clodhoppers.) I don’t want the shoes as they are, let alone dirty and smelly from the dumpster! Now while dumpsters are the likely place to find things, they aren’t the only place. After a building has been demolished people scour the area looking for things that might be left in the rubble. There could be all kinds of good stuff! Of course if it is freezing, a nice fire helps warm up passersby and creates a nice hang out spot.
Thursday, September 07, 2006
No, it is not exactly a joke. It is the event of the day.
I have had a couple of burnt out fluorescent bulbs in the kitchen for some time now. I have been putting off getting them replaced. Why, you may ask. Am I too lazy to do it? Too cheap to buy the new bulbs? No. The hotel likes to do these things for us because of their "delicate wiring" that impacts so many. In my mind I replace "delicate wiring" with "shoddy workmanship and potentially dangerous wiring" but that's just me.
Today was the day. 5:00 I call down to the front desk and explain my problem. I am told that housekeeping will be right up to fix it. I think things are going too well. Could it possibly be that someone from housekeeping can replace lights? I won't keep you in suspense. The woman, who arrived almost immediately, saw the problem and asked to use the phone. She called someone and said some things in Chinese and then told me someone would be up very soon.
Once again, very promptly, help arrived. This time in the form of an assistant manager and a security guy. They examined my problem and made a call. Someone from engineering would be right up.
As promised, engineering showed up. There was main dude, guy who hands things to main dude, and supervisor(?) dude. Of course assistant manager and security guy are still here as well. The mounts for the lights were unscrewed and removed. New lights were put in and then the lights were remounted. Supervisor(?) dude periodically used his cell phone to update heaven-only-knows-who on the progress.
Shortly after 6:00 pm the project was done. The kitchen is once again much brighter. And it only took seven people to help me with this issue. Just think, if assistant manager guy hadn't spoken English I would have also gotten translator dude!
For those of you wondering why I have not yet had my pictures hung on the walls, well, you can probably know imagine. I need to plan a full day with lots of helpers.
Wednesday, September 06, 2006
Sunday, September 03, 2006
Rob evidently doesn't like them. He hasn't said as much exactly. He just is glad that I like them.
Tuesday, August 29, 2006
We arrived in Beijing last night and had a WONDERFUL dinner at TGI Friday's. I had been looking forward to that since I knew we were coming to Beijing. Baby loves fried cheese. :) We each ordered an appetizer and a main dish, which was way too much, but so good. I love a chance to get American food. A lot of tourists come to Beijing and want the duck, jiaozi (dumplings) or something else Chinese.
Rob got up before I did on Monday and went in to the Embassy. I slept in a little, had breakfast at the hotel, and started walking around. I got tired and decided to get on the subway. At about 36 cents a ticket, it is quite affordable. I got off near the Silk Market. It was huge and sells everything, not just silk. I was excited at first, but ended up being quite disappointed. The vendors are used to a lot of tourists and are very aggressive and start the bargaining process high! One vendor tried to convince me that 2000 kuai (about $250) was quite a bargain. I talked her down to 100 kuai (about $12.50). Since she agreed to that, she was still obviously making a profit. Many of the vendors would grab your arm and almost all would call out to you and shove their wares in your face. I don't particularly like the whole bargaining thing to begin with, but it was just insane. A lot of the stuff I wouldn't want if it was free. Some of the stuff was interesting, but I don't know what it would do besides clutter up the house. I think it would be different if I lived there. I could take in the insanity a little at a time, get a feel for what prices should be, and maybe get some neat things. I guess I will have to see what I can end up with here in Shenyang.
Rob called me on my cell phone when he was finished at the Embassy. We met up for lunch at a restaurant someone recommended to him, the Mexican Wave. It wasn't good Mexican food, but it was decent. Then back to the hotel for some rest. I sure love my rest. :)
Yes, we went to the touristy part of the wall. We could have driven further or gone to a more "hard core" hiking/climbing kind of place, but we didn't. Rob has a nasty cold and I am, well, lugging around this baby inside of me. Ugh. Beats carrying it kicking and screaming up the wall. I needed lots of rests. It was steeper than it looked. I thought stairs would be a welcome change to walking on a steep grade. Not necessarily the case. The steps are worn, some missing chunks out of them. They are VERY uneven in height and width as well. Sometimes I could easily take three stairs at a time, sometimes it was a climb doing one. See the tower at the top of the picture? Yep, we trekked it up there. From there we walked a bit furter and took a cable car down. I found it quite enjoyable, but Rob does not like cable cars.
After we rode down on the cable car from the south side, we rode the cable car up to the north side of the wall. Rob didn't enjoy the cable car going up anymore than he did going down. It did save us a lot of walking though. We then walked down the north side. There were still ups and downs, but mostly downs. I had to watch my step carefully in places, but it took a lot less energy. Quality of the wall varied quite a bit, though since it is a tourist part it is all maintained. My friend, June, went to a less popular spot of the wall. I have put up a picture of her and her cousin. There hike was a lot harder as you can see! There are some sections that are even more difficult. I think Ba Da Ling section was just what I needed to be able to say that I have been on the Great Wall.
The only part that I did not like was San Something Street. It costs an extra $1.25 if you don't have an all inclusive ticket. We did have the all inclusive ticket, and I thought it sounded interesting. We hiked around the park to find it. Basically it is a blocked off part of the river (with drawbridges on each end) that has shops surrounding it and a little skinny narrow walkway (no railings). Yes, it ends up that you are paying to see the little shops, which are not that different from those you would see anywhere else. Rob and I decided that the only reason they charge is to keep it from being crowded. If they didn't charge, it would be so packed that people would be falling in the water right and left.
When we were finished seeing all we wanted to see, back to the hotel for a nap before a late lunch. Resting in the hotel was definitely the constant throughout our trip. :)