Archive for August, 2007

Get a haircut!

August 30, 2007

The boys had their first ever barbershop haircut today. They did extremely well. Five of us (A&R, me, Lisa, and Mrs. Lu, who does some housekeeping and childcare for us but mostly keeps the boys’ Chinese sharp) headed down to the local Wenfeng this afternoon.

First, the hair washing:

washing hair

Next, a towel dry:

Towel

Then, the cuttin’ chair:

Aidan cut

Rollo cut

The immediate aftermath:

Boys’ haircut

And the happy customers back at home:

happy customers

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Adventures in Expatland, vol. 1

August 28, 2007

We live in an apartment complex on the eastern side of the Huangpu River. The Huangpu bisects Shanghai from north to south. East Shanghai is referred to as Pudong, or east of the river; the west side is known as Puxi (west of the river). Our place is about 2 miles (3k) from a shopping center called Zendai Thumb Plaza and about 4 miles (6k) from another shopping center called Green Court.

The apartments and villas immediately surrounding these shopping centers constitute what I call Expatland. They’re where the highest concentrations of Western expatriates live in Pudong. Contained within each of these two shopping centers are the gustatory banes of our existence — the Moon River Diner and the Blue Frog. Both are American-style burger joints.

As pleased as we were to discover these places within our first few months of arriving, Lisa and I have come to dread them because the food is just so bland. At first, we were excited because the kids were not adjusting well to China and the familiar food and friendly, English-speaking staffs kept us coming back despite the decidedly American meal prices. Playgrounds outside, coloring paper and sauceless pasta inside add up to happy kids. What more can you ask for?

But the kids haven’t discovered the concept of ‘too much of a good thing isn’t good’ yet.  Their persistent unwillingness to explore different foods despite our best efforts, combined with our fear that Rollo is just too danged skinny for his own good, has severely limited our eating out options.

What I can’t complain about is the kid-friendly atmosphere. The boys really love both places and they almost always find other kids to run around with outside. That leaves Lisa and me to nurse our drinks, nibble our soggy salads, fantasize about the Chinese, Thai, Indian, and other foods we’re not eating, and enjoy 30 to 45 minutes of happy, distracted children playing outside at the end of lunch or dinner.

Globalization and Culture Clash, Little Emperor Style

August 27, 2007

Aidan got his first ever taste of McDonald’s food Saturday night. He has been playing basketball regularly with a group of kids from our apartment complex and some former pre-school mates. Gao Zhi Qi, our friend and mother of Aidan’s good buddy Patrick, has hired a coach and found four or five boys to come to practice once a week. They usually play at an indoor court about 3k (2 miles) from our apartment for about an hour. It’s great. He runs around, gets tuckered out, and practices his hoops skilz.

Saturday night we caught a ride home with a new kid from the apartment complex. He’s a classic Little Emperor: only child, doughy, entitled, and, at six years old, drinks Pepsi like it’s water, God love ‘im.

As Aidan and the little boy were bantering in the back seat in Chinese, I heard the kid say he was hungry. He demanded we stop at McDonald’s despite the fact that he was five minutes from home. After I made it clear that Aidan had dinner waiting at home, the kid’s dad, whose name I can’t remember but who is a very nice guy, pulled the Buick over, hopped out, and ran inside. He returned five minutes later with two strawberry sundaes and gave one to an eager Aidan. He  promptly devoured it. “I’m finished!” Sugar highs all around.

Wild Child

August 26, 2007

rollo wild childRollo has been on a tear lately. His natural inclination towards impishness has been exacerbated by boredom and the summer heat. Pretending not to hear is the equivalent of carte blanche to do whatever he wants. Yesterday, after he had already gotten in trouble for filling the newly capped off liquid soap container with water while he was having a bath, Aidan complained, “While I was under water, my brother jumped on my back and then peed on me.” [photo courtesy of big brother Aidan]

Shanghai Gongqing Forest Park

August 25, 2007

Forest Park boysWe went to the Shanghai Gongqing Forest Park today. It’s on the northeast side of the city, butting up against the skanky Huangpu River. The park is huge. In four hours we only covered about a quarter of the place. The lads had a great time. They learned the difference between deciduous and evergreen trees, chased some live frogs, mourned some dead ones, and at the end, got to go on a bouncy castle–a ubiquitous feature in Chinese parks and plazas–and eat ice cream.
Wedding 1 The big thing to do at the park seems to be to have one’s wedding photos taken. We probably saw 10 to 15 couples in full wedding regalia at different parts along our walk, each being followed by a cameraman, videographer, and various friends and attendants. At one point, there was a three couple pile-up at a popular spot near a pond. Several soon-to-be newlyweds (I think these photos are taken several months before the actual wedding) cooled their jets on a warm summer day as another couple posed on a small pier. Of all the couples we witnessed, the only bride we saw with a smile on her face was one who had just hopped off a golf cart and was heading out of the park, presumably back to a nearby hotel.wedding 2

Things Aidan Will Do When He’s 10

August 24, 2007

1. Listen to me. As in, “Pop, when I’m 10, I’ll listen to you,” which he told me this evening after yet another battle over bedtime, toothbrushing, and the end of Pokemon DVD watching for the night.aidan

Welcome to our blog

August 24, 2007

aidan-and-rollo-in-beijing.jpgAt long last, a blog. Hopefully this will allow us to stay in better touch with friends and family, and friends and family to stay in better touch with us. It’s a little more dynamic and editable than the flickr site, which we still maintain and update, but which is a pain in the ass for folks to access since we choose not to make most of our photos available to the general public. Let us know if you can see the picture. We’re still figuring out the technology, which is slow and possibly constrained where we are.