Scotty is still in the states, but comes home in two days. Woohoo. I can't wait. I'm so out of practice of having him gone two weeks at a time.
I'm writing to tell you funny stories. The first is about baseball.
Unlike Japan and Korea, baseball is virtually unheard of here in China. So finding baseball equipment is difficult. We were lucky that we found a team for Q to play on. They're called the Shanghai Sluggers and are expat kids trying to keep their skills up until they go back home. It is more competitive than the YMCA, but is also all about building skills. So for that reason, we're excited. We had to buy some baseball stuff here though. The local sports stores don't carry anything. I asked the coach if he had suggestions and he told us that at the parent meeting, there would be someone who would be selling equipment. We needed baseball pants, belt and a bat. Of course, he didn't have any that would be the right size for my son. (we grow them big), so we were told to go to his "store" that afternoon. We took our driver Mr. Li to the address on the baseball suppliers business card. Mr. Li drove us to Puxi (the other side of the river) and stopped in front of a small apartment building in an ally. After a great game of charades, I understood that the "store" was on the third floor. Who am I kidding. Mr. Li had to practically walk us up himself. The "store" was the spare bedroom of this man's house. I'm pretty sure the baseball equipment fell off of a very lost truck, but it was cheap and we got what we needed. Well, almost. The one thing I didn't buy because I was sure that I could get it anywhere they sold any sports equipment was an athletic supporter. That's right, a jock strap. Or as the English call it a Hector Protector.
So on Tues with my friend Shanghai Gwen, I went back to Decathalon, the sports store. Think Dicks but with no golf or baseball equipment and no english speakers. After about 5 min of looking around, a very eager young man asked us if we needed help. Gwen and I looked at each other, shrugged and gave it our best shot. I said jock strap, cup, athletic supporter and was met with blank stares. We then started to do hand gestures focusing on our pelvic region using words like "hard" and "protection". He then showed us women's bike shorts and sports bras. Gwen and I then amped it up and did the same motions adding pointing to his pelvic regions and saying things like "protection from balls". He then referred us to a different employee. Surprise. After the same gestures, this man showed us slings and shoulder restraints. At this point I was trying to find a delicate way to text Mr. Li and ask him to explain what we needed. 5 min later, after I am sure, offending the last employee also, we had a group of 5 decathlon employees trying to figure out what we needed. Finally, someone went to the boxing section and found what we needed. Im just glad we didn't have to resort to pictionary.
Yesterday all the girl scout from Shanghai celebrated the 100th anniversary. My "partner in crime" Nahz was out of town so I had to coordinate our daisy troop by myself. It is sooooo obvious that she is the organized one. It also makes me realize that Kelly and Shannon back in Louisville were also the organized ones. After getting everyone registered for the day, it was a lot of fun. Lauren hung out mostly with her friend Shai who is from Israel. Shai and her mom Hadar are just fantastic people. Very fun. But at one of the booths, after playing their game, you picked a piece of paper out of a bag that said what prize you won. And low and behold, both Shai and Lauren won a mini keychain Bible. I was mortified. My nice Jewish daisy won a Bible. Thank god Hadar has a sense of humor. But really. C'mon people. You're giving Bibles out in China?
Today, Lauren had a playdate with Shai. I was to pick her up at 3:30. We were then going home, get cleaned up, walk to a decent restaurant, have dinner then go see the University of South Carolina's Wind Ensemble perform. That's right! They were in town. Now for those who don't know, my Masters in Music Ed is from University of South Carolina. I was flipping thru an expat magazine when I saw that they were coming into town to play a concert. At first, I was skeptical. But after checking USC's web sight I saw it was really them. I was looking forward to this all week. But karma really didn't want me to go. While I was at Lauren's playdate, I realized I hadn't gotten our house key out of my coat pocket. (you see where this is going don't you). No worries, I left Quint at home. I later got a text from Q asking if he could go to his friend Gabe's house. Sure, just leave the front door unlocked. He didn't. Crap. So I went to our developments club house hoping they had a master key of some sort. No. I called my real estate agent, Millie to ask if she could get the key from our landlord. Nope, landlord out of town. But Millie did call a locksmith. 1 hr later, locksmith came. 30 min later we were in the house. Now it's 5:45. So, plan B. Take showers, have PBJ's for dinner. Take taxi instead of subway because it's faster. HA. That only works if your taxi driver knows where he's going. What should have taken us 30 min took us 55 because our taxi driver had no idea where he was going. We passed the same shopping mall 3 times.
Now taxi's are incredibly cheap here. But it ended up costing 162RMB (about 25us dollars). To put it in perspective, the trip home was only 90 RMB and that was including hitting major traffic getting to one bridge so the taxi driver and I decided thru a great game of charades, to try a different bridge. (I am going to crush all of you in a game of charades when we get back to the states. I am becoming the charades master. Watch out!).
The concert for me was so worth it. They played so well. The theater was packed, which was nice to see. My kids were such good sports. It was like a mini homecoming for me. I talked to some of the students after the performance. They were so excited to see an alumni. And they seemed like such great ambassadors for the university and our country. The chinese audience members were treating them like rock stars. I talked with their conductor, who also was impressed to have an alumni present. I just can't express what a treat that was for me. And even though Karma was working against me, it was worth it. But seriously, I've got to do a whole bunch of good deeds tomorrow to change my Karma. Can't take many more of days like this.
I'm so sorry its been so long since I've typed. So much has happened, I don't know if I can remember all of it, but I'll try. First of all, we finally went on a trip to see some of Asia. Well kinda. We went to Hong Kong in February. Did we see the sights? Soak in the culture? Eat culinary treats from that part of the world? Why of course not. We went to Hong Kong Disney. Thats right. We're half way around the world and we go see the mouse. And it was fun. We flew in Fri and hit the park.
Now I have to admit, Hong Kong Disney is the wussiest of all the Disneys. It's very small and closes at 8pm. We were so pooped though, we went back to our hotel and watched the fireworks from our window. After being in Shanghai for Chinese New Years, we decided we didn't need to see them up close. After that, we headed to the Disney dining establishment in our hotel. It was typical Disney buffet. Some kid friendly, some adult american, and some asian. We all helped ourselves and then proceeded to eat whatever we picked with chopsticks. A sign that we are getting used to being here.
The next day, Lauren and I gathered signatures from her favorite Disney characters while the boys rode space mountain over and over again. It's incredible who is popular here and who isn't. Rapunzel has not been heard of here so we had about a half hour interview with her. (she was american by the way). And you would think Mulan would be all over the place, but no! Not one sighting. I think the funniest thing for me was the river safari ride. If you remember, US Disneys used to do a jungle river cruise where the driver would crack all these jokes as you went thru some pretty crappy animatronics (I think that's what its called). Those Disney's have moved on to build rides like Nemo's adventure and Indiana Jones. They sent the stuff to Hong Kong. So for me it was going down memory lane. They had three lines. Those who wanted the tour in English, Mandarin or Cantonese, the language of Hong Kong. We of course, picked English, but her accent was so thick we couldn't tell what she was saying. You could almost remember the joke, but not quite. And that cracked me up. So here I am on this ride from decades ago and am the only one laughing, because I can't understand a word our tour guide is saying. Everyone is looking at me wondering why they can't understand her, but I can. And the more I laughed the more the tour guide started to ham it up because she thought finally, someone gets it. Quint finally told me to stop and that I was embarrassing him.
Speaking of Quint, he turned 12 on the 25th. It's hard for me to imagine him being 12 when he used to be so small. Now he's up to my eyes and outweighs Scott by about 15lbs. We had the boys from the bus stop over for pizza and a movie. Totally low key and totally fun. He even told the boys no presents please. How very mature of him. It was a night of nerf guns, burping, too much soda, and bad fart jokes. Just what Quint wanted. Quint is still the one I think has adjusted the best to Shanghai. He loves school. Probably because he isn't putting as much of an effort into it and the only people concerned about this are his parents. He's making friends from around the world, and has started playing "American baseball". (more on that later)
Meanwhile, Lauren is almost used to the amount of homework she has. Every week she has reading 30 min a night, Chinese, 10 math problems that range from addition, to sequencing to multiplication and division, 12 spelling words that are much harder than in the states. And she has to write the spelling words into sentences using 2 words from the list and an adjective. We argue often whether each sentence has to have the same adjective or if she can change them up. A lot of her spelling words are described as "purple" in her writing. She also has to do math work on the computer. The problems are easier, but she gets so flustered because her typing is bad and it's a race against the clock. Poor pookie. But she also is enjoying Shanghai. Also making friends and she now has a scooter to ride to school on. I bike behind her. Every time I do though, I hear the theme of the wicked witch of the west in my head. What does that mean? Today she cut in front of me and I toppled over into a shrub. I hope she doesn't inherit my graceful ways.
The person who is having the biggest time adjusting to this move, ironically enough, is Scotty. He misses being in the Louisville office. He misses driving when he wants to. I also think it's hard for him to stay connected to whats going on there when he's 13 hrs ahead. I also think he realizes this is so expensive for the company to have us here and he has extra pressure to make sure it's worth the investment. He is back in the states for about 2 weeks working out of the main office. He was shopping in Costco and ran into his uncle Robbie who apparently didn't get the memo that Scott would be back in town. It about scared the beejeezus out of Uncle Robbie. We miss dad and can't wait to see him.
I'm doing fine. I have days when I miss the US, but then I go out and spend $10 on a people magazine and that usually does the trick. I also remind myself that this is an election year and how nice it is not to see all the crap about it on the tv. I've started volunteering at Lauren's school. I work in the library on Mondays and help her class in the computer lab on thurs. Today I spent two hours tuning hundreds of violins for the concert that they're doing today and tomorrow. I bet you wish you were here to hear 500 elementary kids play violin together. Sigh, I'm living the dream people. I have a group of friends that are fun. I go to coffee now and then with the "stay at home dads" Mike and Nigel. Play with Yawen and Gabriela. And go discover stuff with Shanghai Gwen (not to be confused with North Carolina Gwen who just got engaged!!!! woohoo).
Rufus the bunny is doing fine. We have moved him from Q's room to the spare room because he was making too much noise at night. We let him out to hop around in that room, but have to close the door so he doesn't hop to Q's room, jump on his bed and pee. This is his absolute favorite thing to do i am sure. We try to stay in the room and play with him, but whenever you open the bedroom door, he makes a run for it. if the door gets left open, then he hops to Q's room, hops on the bed and makes himself at home. Then I wash the bedding. Ooooh it's a good thing he's cute.