Sunday, April 3, 2016

Being Home

We've been back just shy of a week. I can sum up my feelings best by saying the feeling of being in our apartment, thought not fully settled but 97% unpacked in 2 days, is like getting into your favorite yoga pants. 

It's amazing and comfortable. Every time I walk in I feel like we are home. I'm excited to be reunited with our things that were in storage, basically all of our furniture and kitchen. It just feels like home. I can't wait to stretch out and get back into a groove and just be in our real space. It doesn't feel small (considering we came from double the space) it just feels like home. 

I'm excited to see friends and I'm feeling so much has changed my perspective on the world and sense of community from our adventures. I'm sure repatriating will take some time. It might be best described as the scene from the movie "What Women Want" when Mel Gibson starts hearing the womens comments in his head and gets overwhelmed by the conversations? Being able to tune into what people's conversations feels like sensory overload. If I look dazed this is perhaps why.

In the meantime, take a deep breathe, drink the tap water and God Bless America and regards from my yoga pants. 

Saturday, March 26, 2016


And just like that, 75% of us are waiting to depart Shanghai. The other 25% is due to arrive in 10 days. 580 kilograms packed on our air shipment, 5 suitcases, 2 strollers, 1 pack n play for the plane I pray for patience and know the flight will end, eventually. 

This is my 7th time flying with both kids by myself Internationally. I don't know how I do it. Patience, low expectations and a new iPad to replace the one we lost I think are the 3 keys. 

What a year. Feeling grateful and sad to say goodbye to our life here. It was an unexpected adventure and I feel so so lucky to have gone on the ride. 

An especially sad goodbye to our Ayi who was a tremendous help this year my had such love for our children. Her name family is very lucky to have her. 

Our send off. 

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Bonsai, Bamboo and Bandas

We returned from a whirlwind visit to Chengdu,  3 hour flight east of Shanghai.  We left Saturday night and returned to Shanghai Monday night.  We saw parks, playgrounds, temples, bonsai, bamboo and best all and the reason we went there PANDAS.  As the country's native animal and has be known to be around as long as dinosaurs, we were very excited to see a research breeding reserve. Apparently Panda's are gifted to country's from China.  What a gift.  Below are some of our highlights.

Baby panda's can cohabit together until they turn 3 years old when then they have to be separated and are considered adults.  Most Panda's live until about 10-12 years old but these live much longer because of their lush living conditions.  Panda's are white with black patches and their tails are white.  They are most active in the morning where their bamboo feast (99% of their diet) is served and they are picky about what type of bamboo they eat.  There are about 2,000 pandas' living in the wild and about 200 in captivity for breeding and research in China.  We learned at another location one can pay $300 for 5 minutes of sitting next to a panda.

We also ended up at the Global Mall which they told us is the largest mall in the world.  Having been to the Mall of America myself I am not so sure this mall is the largest. Inside though there was a water park they turned into a giant ball bit with trampolines we had endless hours of fun for us too.


Thursday, March 10, 2016

It was the Best of Times....

As things are winding down here, or winding back up, our balls are up in the air. Managing tickets, packers, movers, apartment changes, saying goodbyes, last minute shopping, traveling, etc.  I am reminding myself it will all work out and it will all come together. That is how I think I can remain calm, most of the time.

I am, as I think I have been for the past 13 months, making the most of this adventure.  The ups, the downs, the distance from family, the distance from family. It has certainly had it's pros and cons.

People have asked me if I am so excited to be coming back to NY a year earlier than planned. Or if I am really sad to be leaving.  

We are sad to leave Shanghai.  It has been really great here.  The interesting people, the changes, the adjustment, the learning, the travel. Never did I ever think I'd be seeing Shanghai, Beijing, Xi'an, Hong Kong, and Thailand, at least until after we finished paying off college tuition.  We are capping our stay with a visit this weekend to Chengdu to visit the Panda's.  I feel I am lucky to have come on this adventure and to have the time and support to understand what it means to experience it all.

I will miss contemplating my experiences and sharing them on this blog. I have a feeling my experiences will be much more common back home.  It is very bitter sweet to say Shangbye.

There is no life quiet like Shanghai, China.  

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

A Bar Mitzvah, a Wedding and a Bris

An exciting week in Shanghai and it's not even Friday yet! The Shanghai Jewish Center hosted a Bar Mitzvah Sunday, a wedding Tuesday night and a bris Wednesday evening.  What could be better?

While I did not attend the bar mitzvah I am sure they were as exciting as the wedding and the bris.

The wedding was for an 80 year old couple visiting from Florida.  They set sail on a cruise from Fort Lauderdale in early January and arrived in Hong Kong last week.  Nearly two months of cruising! They flew to Shanghai to have an very VERY low key and spontaneous wedding.  No family, just us locals in Shanghai.  At first there seemed to excitement that this couple is on such an adventure and to elope in China! But it was truly amazing how the Rabbi and the Rebbitzan helped create a truly special chuppa.  We didn't know anything about this couple but we all came together and shared in their happiness, it was so random, so fun, so Shanghai!

Monday, March 7, 2016

Pro Con Pro

In college I was in a sorority, Kappa Kappa Gamma.  During rush when we would discuss the pledges we always had to start with a positive, something constructive and end with a positive hence Pro-Con-Pro.  It's a nice way talk positively about someone.  So below is a list of pros, cons and more pros about our upcoming move.

-I will miss living in an apartment nearly double the size of our apartment in NYC
-I will not miss having to rinse all my fruits and vegetables in vinegar and bottled water to clean them
-I will miss having a washer and dryer in my apartment unit
-I will miss the friends I've met here but greatly for technology to maintain the friendships
-I will not miss buying box milk
-I will not miss the pollution and hazy skies
-I will not miss the time difference between China and Israel
-I will not miss traffic and the crazy drivers in China
-I will miss our Ayi
-I will miss $25 massages 
-I will not miss the spitting 
-I will not miss the smoking 
-I will miss the Greenbergs and the Kuty's
-I will miss the express service when traveling with kids around China (no lines, no waiting)
-I will not miss the slow internet
-I will miss meeting such interesting travelers on Shabbat from far and near
-I will miss MySalon
-I will not miss the shower pressure

-I will be able to drink tap water
-I am excited have my kitchen back
-I am excited to be reunited with our couch
-I am excited to take my kids to playground lots of them with swings
-I am excited to be back in a country that has seat belt, car seat and helmet safety laws
-I am excited for Target and Costco
-I am excited for the options of kosher products that I used to take for granted
-I am excited to be back in a community with an eruv so we can go to Shul together

Monday, February 29, 2016

Reunited and it Feels So Right

While we have been fortunate enough to have seen each other over the last year, today marks one year since this picture below was taken as we embarked on this crazy journey. The the picture below is today when my mom and aunt have arrived to visit us in Shanghai. Now were preparing to leave, let the Shangbye Shanghai tour commence.

Feb 28, 2015
Feb 29, 2016

Thursday, February 25, 2016

And Scene...

And just like that we are moving home, soon.  Just over a year here and we will be relocating back to New York. A new opportunity has arisen and taking us back to the States.  I'd conclude that the search for General Tso was on West 94th street at Gan Asia the entire time.

Top questions/comments asked since we broke the news of our return:

-When are we leaving? April-ish
-Where will we live? Our old apartment. The tenants lease is up at the end of Feb so we aren't renewing, perfect timing, right?
-Where will we be for Passover? Our apartment!
-Your mom must be thrilled! Beyond

Things I'm looking forward to when we come home? My coffee guy, Gan Asia, good internet. living in a community with an eruv

We look forward to our upcoming visitors, my mom, aunt and later this month good friends to help us on our #Shangbye tour for our return to #NYHi

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Creative Problem Solving

Is this not a genius idea?? I saw someone post this item on a facebook group I am looking for a sleep solution while traveling with their young child and sharing a room.  

I know it's basically marketed to people interested in staying in the city and have limited space but this could be an amazing solution to either having to share a room with your baby or have your children share a room together!

What's for Dinner?

What's for dinner? A lifelong question followed by what do you want to eat for dinner? Which my mom best answered "I don't know how to make 'I don't know'".

I was always a pretty healthy and easy eater. Once I got married I did feel like having dinner for two was a little less casual and required a little more thought and preparation.  Thankfully one of us really likes leftovers, alot and is low maintance.  Having kids I wanted to feed them to best I could, within reason.  I did not make my own baby food.

For some reason, for many reasons, thinking what to serve for dinner in NY was so much easier than in China.  In NY my default dinner for my son was the dinosaur schnitzel, frozen broccoli and ketchup. It was a sure thing.  Dr. Pragers were also a safe second.  I can buy Dr. Pragers in China but for some reason the kids aren't enjoying them as much.  As I have written about before we are eating healthier here because we really are eating much more fruits and vegetables than when we were in NY. But having them also means you have to have an idea of what to cook with them or how to prepare them.

I tried to map out a plan. One night chicken, one night fish, one night pasta, one night meat, one night pizza but for some reason I can't seem to get in the rhythm of the rotation. Every day I seem to be asking myself, what do we have in the house, what do I need to buy and I am inevitably needing to buy something else at the supermarket.

For instance, today I made a hearty chicken soup.  I set the chicken, the soup vegetables and some couscous on a plate. While my son ate it, an hour later he claimed he was still hungry and wanted something else to eat.  I succumbed to making a grilled cheese sandwich for him to eat.

While I do not advertise that I am running a buffet dinner here I do want to ensure my kids will eat something filling for dinner.

I was texting with a friend in the States how she has a similar problem, the what's for dinner question.  We talked about meal planning together but we haven't gotten around to it between the time difference, the kids and life (she has three little ones at home).  But meal planning seems like such a great way to stream line the food shopping and budget better as well!

I'm open to suggestions and strategies if you have an ideas that work for you. Perhaps there are 7 different ways to prepare General Tso?

Monday, February 22, 2016

Pay Backs

I am in the land of pay backs.  My son will not go to sleep before coming out of his room with 101 more things to tell me or ask me.  More books, more  chocolate milk, more water, what if I have a scary dream, he has to go to the bathroom.  Again.

The stumper nuggets are the best. Where do we go when we die? How does Sabba/Zedie (my dad) watch TV with HaShem? How do we get there followed by can he have one more show?  How did Lauren come out of your tummy?  I can't make this stuff up. So much so that I remember having said many of these excuses when I was four and a half. Just ask my mom.  This is pay back for all those endless nights when I would procrastinate going to sleep. Early onset fomo (fear of missing out).

I can only wait until the time he sneaks out of his room and just sits at the top of the stairs listening to us.

Soup Supreme

In my search for General Tso I came across this soup recipe.  

Recipe purging and I think this is a keeper! Sweet potato soup supreme courtesy of a JCC Cooking class I took nearly 10 year ago.  It was the right mix of flavor,  not to starchy and filling.  

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Snap It and Toss It

Recently in a Real Simple magazine one of their many helpful articles about organizing and decluttering resonated with me. 

Snap it and toss it for older/sentimental items. 

 I've been suggesting this idea to clients and friends alike and I actively do this tip myself.  Do I really need keep my sorority paddles from college? Yes it would be nice to pass it onto my kids, or would it? Well now it's a non-starter because I just have a picture of the paddle.  

Next I am going to be working a photo book on cards and letters I've kept.  My son keeps letters, postcards and pictures people send us in his night table draw.  I am going to snap it and make a paperback flip book of our favorites and then toss the cards.  


Upside-Down Apple Muffins

In my venture to use it or lose it, I baked this recipe from October 6, 2010 NY Times Dining Out section, Upside-Down Carmel Apple Muffins. Intimidated to cook a recipe from the Times it was much easier and less over whelming than I thought.  

Without access to sour cream I had to substitute it for soy milk. I'm improvising here people but I think they came out pretty light and tasty. We'll see what the crowd at home thinks. If I were in New York I'd definitely try and  serve this as a dessert with Trader Joe's Soy Creamery Ice Cream.  



Monday, February 15, 2016

Got Rice?

Rice glorious rice....oodles and oodles of noodles, I mean types of rice to choose from...and notice the size, it doesn't come small and buy one get one 50% off. You can steam it, you can fry it, you can boil it. Oh the ways you can cook rice.  Can we say delivery?

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Thailand 2016

For Chinese New Year we joined the exodus from China and traveled to Thailand. We spent 3 days in a traffic filled Bangkok and 4 days in Phuket. 408 pictures later, we had a great time. I'm looking forward to making my photo book.
Bangkok was full of cars. I thought New York had bad traffic until I came to Shanghai. I thought Shanghai had bad traffic until I went to Bangkok. It was horrendous. It took about 45-60 minutes to go anywhere when it was only about 15 minutes away and it did not help one bit to have a child that seems to have developed a predictable case of car sickness. We saw temples, the Grand Palace, went on a boat ride, fed catfish, saw the floating market and road in tuk-tuks. 

We heard that going to Thailand during Chinese New Year was like staying in China. Everyone from China goes.  We did not feel that was the case at all for us. We met people from Russia, alot of Russians, England, Australia, and even ex-pats from Shanghai via Oregon.   

After the hustle and bustle of the city we were looking forward to some fun in the sun at the beach and pool in Phuket, with a side of elephant riding and feeding (big highlight and would totally recommend this place, it's humane).  Thailand was a place I never thought in all my life I would really get to until my kids were out of college.  It was pretty cool.  Much like many of the beach towns I've been to before Phuket felt like that.  It had its kitchy area, seafood and sun.  With some minor hiccups with checking into the hotel and getting an adequate room we really did relax and soak up the sun, sunscreen protected of course.  

In true China travel, it would not be an experience without a delay. We missed our connecting flight back to Shanghai.  Apparently 2 hours is NOT enough time to get off the plan, clear customs, get your luggage and recheck your luggage at the new airline to make the flight.  Lucky for us the next flight home was only an hour later, which we made.  

Please note the pin on this kind airline agent's lapel.  No smiles here.  

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Let My People Go

Below is a picture my son's teacher took (photo credit Mary) from the local train station Tuesday morning. A lot of people trying to get out of town and it's still so early. Can't wait to see what the airport is going to be like for us Thursday morning...

Monday, February 1, 2016

You Say Red Lantern I Think Red Heifer

The red lantern has become the big symbol of Chinese New Year, aside from the zodiac animal year it represents. For the basic reason that lanterns were a way to contain light, they have become a symbol of celebration through the years. I can't help but think of the red heifer every time I think of the red lantern. 

I thought this tidbit of information was an interesting custom here: In Chinese culture, an uncle needs to buy his nephew (under 12 years old) a lantern before the festival. It is the happiest time for children to playing with their companions outside the houses. The red lanterns stand for the best wishes uncles have for their nephews, hoping their nephews grow up happily and are as healthy as last year.
Even decorations inside the aquarium
Lanterns outside the Pearl Tower
Decorations sold night
and day

Inside the supermarket

Choices galore
Got Monkey?

Some leftover sheep from last year?
Red Envelops' to give gifts for happiness and good luck
Red Lanterns at my son's school
Happy New Year from Harry Potter and Co.