Saturday, May 24, 2008

Another Disney Weekend

Yesterday we decided to hit Hong Kong for another Disney weekend, just to hang out together as a family. We met our friends that we got to know in Cebu for a few hours at the park. Disneyland Hong Kong has a brand new It's A Small World ride. We went on it twice, and Ella has been singing the Small World song ever since - so cute! They did a great job with this one, and put different Disney charaters into this particular Small World (the only one that uses characters). Lilo and Stitch are in the Islands part - Pocahontas is in the North America part. And the China part is HUGE, showing different parts of China plus the Hong Kong skyline.

When we got to our hotel (The Disneyland Hollywood Hotel - VERY NICE) we were told that we had been chosen to be MOVIE STARS for the day - I was hoping for huge things like leading the parade, maybe a new "movie star" wardrobe...but the perk turned out to be the use of a lovely Toyota van to cart us around to the front door and pick us up at our leisure. That was really nice, actually, to just hop into our a/c van after a HOT day at the park.

We spent the evening at the pool, taking a break only to eat supper in our suits. Goofy came to the pool and actually played in the pool, splashing around with the kids, a few times. It was pretty cool. I don't know what his costume was made of but it did NOT look comfortable. The kids had a ball with him, and Ella was actually brave enough to "high-five" him.

Today we'll be heading to church and then lunch with our dear Hong Kong friends. They just had a baby girl on Mother's Day! It will be our first time seeing them since she was born, though I don't think they'll be bringing her. People here tend to keep kids in the house for the first few months of birth - it's not uncommon to get chewed out in Cantonese or Mandarin for having a baby out in public that looks too young.

Then we'll head back to China for another exciting week of school, work, and play. Probably not as exciting as last week with the Elton John show, but exciting regardless, I'm sure.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Rocket Man

That's right - the photo below is an image of Sir Elton John, who we just saw in concert. In Hong Kong. At night. Morning is approaching awfully quickly but I wanted to post the picture.

He still rocks.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Foot in Mouth Disease

China is lately freaking out over some supposedly super-virulent strain of Hand Food and Mouth Disease - so far I think 34 children have died from it, and it's quite widespread. They closed all the public pools in our city, and even at our school, swimming is being postponed as part of the PE program until the panic calms down.

So this morning Ella started scratching her hand and complaining about itching. I looked and, sure enough, there were a few little blisters there. She also felt feverish and was tired. So, I took her to the doctor right away this morning to get her checked out.

The doctor blames the media for the panic. She also talked about how common this illness is in the States and in Australia, where she's lived and doctored (Australia), and how kids do not die from it there. She said she doesn't know what those children died from but it wasn't hand foot and mouth disease. Her theory is that it's possibly some Chinese herbal remedy gone wrong, or maybe dehydration. She said Ella's case is very mild but to keep her home from school until the blisters go away. When I asked her about the boys she said that, ideally, infected kids should stay away from other kids. She said "Well, I'll tell you to keep them separate, but good luck with that." She figured they're probably already immune to it or else they'll pick it up but she wasn't especially worried. She made me feel so much better! So, now you have the rest of the story about the China Childrens' Virus, at least according to my lovely and talented doctor.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Ella MacPherson

Since there are so few foreign kids here, it isn't uncommon to be approached by a model agent if you have kids. With all the clothing factories here, it's cheaper to shoot a catalog using local kids, pay them a little money, and send out your catalog to prospective buyers. If you fill it with Western-looking kids, the Western stores will buy from you.

Ella has modeled a few times, and Alex has done it once. I have some really nice catalogs with their pictures in. Lately Ella's been saying "NO!" when we get a call so I don't know if she'll do it again. But, the last time she did it it must have been a nice job. There is a huge billboard in the main children's clothing department store here with her on it! Several people have told me about it so today I went to check it out.

Department stores are much different here than in the U.S. They are usually two stories tall, although sometimes many more. There are different vendors that cover only a certain area, and they don't have anything to do with the vendor next to them - they are in direct competition. There is no common accounting system, either. So, if you want to buy something, you agree on a price - haggling is getting less and less productive here - and they write up a "fa piao" or receipt - all in Chinese, of course. For all I know it could say "This stupid foreigner just bought a load of crap for a ton of money. Ha ha ha. Smile nice at her, now." But, I digress. Then you take your piece of paper to a cashier - there are usually several set up around the floor. You pay the cashier, who then gives you more paper, duly chopped, and your change. You bring the new pink piece of paper along with the cash receipt to the vendor, who by now has bagged up your purchase and will hand it to you. It's a whole lotta hassle but that's the way things are done here...the old-fashioned, labor-intensive, paper-heavy way.

Today I couldn't help buy the dress she's wearing in the picture and said (in CHINEEEEEESE) "That's my daughter." They chattered on about how beautiful she was and how she looks like me ("Buy more stuff! Buy more stuff!") and then I left to take pictures of Ella's billboard.

Monday, May 12, 2008

We're fine

There was a big earthquake up in Chengdu recently - a tragedy. We didn't get much news about it but apparently you folks outside China are hearing more. Chengdu is quite far from where we live and we didn't even know about it, so please know we're fine. I don't in any way mean to trivialize what other people are going through in that area. Please keep the victims in your prayers.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Happy Mother's Day to ME...the best gifts...EVER

July, 1999

April 2002

November 2004

Again, Happy Mother's Day to all you moms...

Today we went to Hong Kong for my Mother's Day. Had an excellent church service, with communion and everything! Then we went to the Hard Rock Cafe for my Mother's Day Rockin' Lunch. It was fun and everybody ate was nice to be back there. They have this pulled pork sandwich with cole slaw and baked beans....aaaaaahhhhh, it's a little slice of American paradise right smack dab in Asia. Very nice.

Did some shopping and picked up Tim's beautiful new suits. Took a cab home and had a quiet evening here. Great Mother's Day!

This morning we took a ferry to get there - they have started using these little old ferries that they normally use for the airport to go to the part of Hong Kong where our church is...last I heard, they were going to cancel our Sunday ferry altogether, so I was glad to have a ride to church! Well, this particular ferry had an interesting bathroom. I am sure you've heard of Asia's famous "squatty potties" which are basically a hole in the floor. Rarely do the bathrooms here have toilet paper or soap, but they have water and a bathroom attendant to "clean up" (with what, though???). To make things even ickier, people don't flush their paper here, the put it into the wastebasket that is in every bathroom. Gets a bit smelly really quickly. Anywho, this was a squatter, but it was a squatter on a BOAT so I looked down and saw water rushing under me. Nice to find out just how clean the Hong Kong harbor really is....ick. It did have tp, which was a nice touch, but no wastebasket and no, no soap. Luckily one learns quickly to carry tissues, gel and wipes wherever you go! It was one of my more interesting Asian potty experiences...

So, we start our week. This weekend our Women's Club is hosting a James Bond-themed end of the year party ("License to Chill"...very cool) but I don't think I can find anything to wear on such short notice. Probably we'll have to skip it, although Tim would look so handsome in his new suit! We'll see...have a lovely week!

Saturday, May 10, 2008

My Son, The Warthog

Tonight was our kids' school's production of Rapunzel. They used a very funny script and the kids did an amazing job. Alex was the warthog, the caterpillar puppeteer, and the baby Rapunzel. He did great and he also has developed a severe case of the acting bug.
We went to the new IKEA store today (LOVE IT) but I only had to buy a couple of small pitchers. You can't buy gallon jugs of milk here - in fact, there is only one type of refrigerated milk that comes in one-liter sizes. Can you imagine how many of those we go through with three kids and a latte-lovin' mama? We buy the liter-size aseptic-container boxes of milk (like a large juice box) because they're easier to store (in the pantry). They are tough to pour out of though, with that hole on top of the box. So I bought a few pitchers to pour the box into. That way the kids can pour their own without spilling all around the cup. Dairy products in general are not especially popular in China. Cheeses are imported and expensive, as is most milk. Ice cream, too. The Chinese do like yogurt but it's more of a drinkable kind. There isn't as much spoon-type yogurt, and absolutely no thick and creamy spoon-type yogurt. All that is imported, and sometimes but not always, can be found at the import store.
Tomorrow is Mother's Day. I would like to take a bit of time to thank my mommy for being who she is and for making me who I am. You rock, Mom. And, to the other moms in my life who have had an influence on me, whether you realized it or not, thank you, too. And to my friends, HAPPY MOTHER'S DAY to you...aren't we a blessed lot? We have the best job in the world, and more love than our kids will ever realize until they have their own kids.