Saturday, January 28, 2012

Josephine makes dumplings with Zhang

Each dumpling, or "Jiao," is filled with a mixture of chicken or pork, spinach, and spices.  Then they are steamed and served in a chicken Broth.  

They make 'em once every two weeks with enough extra to freeze and provide two or three extra meals. 
The finished product is mmm mmm good, "Hen Hao!"

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Day in the music Store

Sunday Morning we wake up and pack 5 of us in the taxi to the subway station and take the metro to East Nanjing and walk to the greatest street in Shanghai, Jinling Lu, home of a zillion music stores.  Auntie Jenn has graciously offered to buy Oma a musical instrument for Christmas so we need to peruse the stores so Oma can find an instrument she likes - probably some kind of traditional piece that reflects Chinese Culture. We start off in a small shop and Oma is learning the Erhu - or two string.  It has two strings connected to a drum and you play it like a violin, except that it has no fret board.

We visit a few more shops and end up in this violin store where these two gentlemen are playing violin.  They are masters and the music is tremendous.  We pop in and listen for a while.  Then, one of the gentlemen offers his violin t

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

OMA ARRIVES!!...Finally!! 1/5/2011

We sure are happy to have Oma come stay with us for the next 6 weeks.  Even though she took the curious route from Denver through San Francisco and Chicago, she made it here with her luggage on 5 days behind her!!  United Airlines struggle a bit to find out where her luggage was after they sent her around the world, but all finally made it.

Oma Parties with SAS Math Department

Oma in the trendy Xiantiandi District
Those first few days were rough because she only had one set of clothes.  So we marched her on down to the local Zhudi Town shopping area and outfitted her in true Chinese clothes.  Communist pants, flowery sweater, and underwear with dragons!  She is all settled in and safe now and part of the family.
Oma and Josephine rest after a long day
Oma tries to get in to a game of cards with the local Zhudi
Town crowd
   She has been to school and met Josephine's teacher, and many of my colleagues.  She is fitting right in.    Bridget is working with a group staging a dance about foot binding.  Oma tagged along and gave the kids a talking-to about musical expression.  During my own evaluation and post-observation meeting last week, I was told that yeah my teaching was fine but I sure have a neat mother!  How well-adjusted she is!!

SAS Winter Formal: Saturday Night 1/7/2011

Oma on the 9th floor observatory deck at the Roosevelt
Cub during Quinn's Winter Formal. 
Quinn, Josephine, and Oma
   Quinn's mom took her down to the fabric market, helped her pick out material and a pattern and had a dress custom made for her as a birthday present.  The school had a contest awarding a free ticket to the formal for the couple that had the most interesting story about how they asked each other to go to the formal.  Quinn didn't when this contest.  So she and her buddies Femke, Adrian, and Alicia headed down to the Bund on Saturday Evening. Bridget, Josephine, Oma, and I also headed down, but we took a different route.  We took the subway to the French Concession and ate dinner at the Yunan Chinese join called Lost Heaven.  Good food and affordable.  We then caught the #10 Metro to East Nanjing and walked to the Roosevelt Club.  The Roosevelt Club was build and owned by a British Trading company in the early 1900's.  They specialized in Opium.  It was purchased by an American investment group in the 1970's who specializes in the less-addivtive intoxicant, wine.  It supposedly has the largest collection of wine in China.  I'll say it has the best view from the 9th floor in all of China.
   It was plenty fun to see Quinn at the dance, she sure was beautiful in her new dress.  We showed up around 8:45 stayed for a short while and then caught the subway back home.  Quinn stayed until midnight and didn't get home until after 1:00 AM.  Those were the days.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Bridget's Birthday: 11/25/2011

Josephine tries to get a better anlge on
Still Life: Bust, Bowl, and Palette
Bridget's Birthday was the day after Thanksgiving.  The girls had planned to take her shopping to Pearl market for a necklace, West Nanjing for shoes, The Picasso Exhibit, and to Jean-Georges for Dinner.  This was to be a survey of all that Shanghai has to offer.  We took off after a long morning of skyping the east coast. The Pearl market is this giant two story building featuring shops of every type and tons of rip-off merchandise  - e.g. Ping golf clubs for $50 that aren't really Ping golf clubs.  It is understand that you will barter for your best price.  We started with Sunglasses which where going for 50 RMB and I said 10 as Quinn said 15.  The shop keeper looked at me and asked, "Why would I give them to you for 10 when your daughter said 15?  So we paid 15 for a pair of sunglasses for Bridget.  We found a necklace and headed to West Nanjing.  In my little world, West Nanjing is Cherry Creek North on massive steroids.  Bridget got a custom fit of Nike running shoes from the store that seemed to be much more about fashion than running, but the shoes are good and fit her well.  Lunch at Wagas, the girls favorite italian noodle joint and off we go to see Picasso.
B & Q contemplate
"Woman Sitting on a Red Armchair." 
   The exhibit is the largest traveling Picasso exhibit in the world and I've never seen anything like it.  Apparently Friday evenings is NOT the time to view the exhibit in Shanghai so we nearly had the place to ourselves for the evening.  It was at the world expo side for 2010 which is in the process of being converted to a large art exhibition center.  Although not heated inside, it was a few hours well spent.  The highlights, were "Sleeping Woman, Paulo drawing, Head of Bull, and woman sitting on a red armchair (see below) (really to name a few, there were quite a bit of favorites to be had.)
   So we leave the expo in time to get to Jean-Georeges on the Bund in time for our reservation at 7:00.  We arrive and are escorted to our table over looking the Huang Pu.  The view is spectacular.  Now I had researched this place and although pricy I figured we could get out of there without losing the coats off our backs.  However, when the fixed price menu was delivered at $150 a head, I knew our kids would not eat their worth and I was not bargaining for that.  So we non-chalantly slipped out and over the river to a more affordable Italian joint that Bridget took me for my birthday.  Much more our type, but it was fun to see the inside of "the other side!"

Friday, January 13, 2012


Quinn, Adrian, Femke, and Josephine try to enjoy a game of bananagrams
I love painting Christmas Presents!
Josephine shares a laugh with Emma during their 4th grade Holiday performance


So Christmas is on the horizon and we decide it is time for an adventure.  We choose the Philippines for a number of reasons, one of them being that it has such a large catholic population and it is, well, Christmas time.  Borocay is the well-known tourist destination with beautiful white sand beaches and will be the destination for many of our peers at SAS.  Looking for something a bit different we discover the island of Mindoro and the town of Puerta Galera.  Deciding that we want an even more exotic adventure, we spend a few days coming over the more than 7000 islands that make up this interesting country - well, I don't think we actually looked at 7000, but we spent a heck of a lot of time.  Anyhow we found this small Island called Camiguin.  It has 8 volcanos and a rich history with Spanish settlements dating back to the 1500's.  It is about 5 miles by 10 miles and has a very small little neighbor - white island - which is barely an island at high tide.  Everything we read about the people on this island is welcoming and inviting.  We find a small cottage for rent - about 50 bucks and night including breakfast and book it.  We buy plane tickets for the four of us and one for Auntie Jenn who will be joining us for Christmas.  We tell the Lauwes about it and they get on board.  Woo Hoo!  We will fly into Manila then catch an early morning flight to Cagayan de Oro in Mindanau,  the large southern main Island of the Philippines.  Then we catch a shuttle to the port and a 2 hour boat ride to Camiguin.
The people of Camiguin continue their idyllic and simple
 existence sheltered and unfazed by the virulent pressures of
today’s accelerated lifestyles.
     Then, as we start poking around, we read about Mindanao.  Now although Camiguin, is very safe and calm, Mindanao has had some issues in the past.  Some very scary issues.  Mindanao has a bad reputation.  Mindanao is on the US travel advisory listed as "Essential Travel Only" for the north and "Do not Travel" for the southern regions.  Same for the New Zealand, Austrailian, Canadian, and British sites. There is some serious political and religeous conflict in the area.  Eric Lauwen expressed severe reservations about going there at Thanksgiving dinner #2.  Jim Hesse expressed VERY strong reservations about going there during thanksgiving dinner #3.  We're listeing.  Mirjam (who marvelled at our adventurous bicycle trip in the fall) comes over a few days later and explains that they are not interested in this type of adventure for Christmas and have changed their plans to a different Island.
Camiguin is believed to be one of the Philippines’
most beautiful island, a virtual paradise,
as the island allows visitors to experience a
glimpse of untouched beauty in its entirety. 
   We go to the big SAS formal dinner party and discuss our plans with our more experinced colleages.  A few couple with whom were talking explain that they've travelled all over the world and often you don't need to listen to these advisories.  Then we run into John Veitch who has kids and has travelled quite a bit in the Philippines.  Using a mild expletive for emphasis, John directly told us we were NOT going to Mindanao.  I coached with John this fall, I know him very well, We take his advice.
      We change our plans, having to bail on our flight from Manila to Cagayan de Oro, and plan to go to Puerta Galera for the Holidays.  Christmas will be explained in a further post.  However, the impactual part of this story is that the day before we were to leave Shanghai for Manila, there was a severe Typhoon in the Southern Philippines creating a massive flash flood in Cagayan de Oro. The city was underwater, a large tragedy.  The death count is well over 1000.  We felt very thankful to John Vietch.
  Now we still have these plane tickets to fly from Manila to somewhere in the philipppines and need to use them sometime in the next year.   Like the Philippines and want to get back.  This was a somewhat costly mistake, but the thought of avoiding tragedy is of course often priceless.


Thanksgiving came in three parts for us this year.  Tuesday night, the 22nd was a potluck sort of a dinner at the high school that involved the local community.  About a hundred families from our school and a few hundred local Chinese families gathered for a turkey provided by the school and food brought from each family.  It was a great opportunity to meet the local crowd.  One of the local schools brought groups of their kids in costumes and there were performances.  Always enjoyable to see little kids in costume on stage - in any language.  Also always enjoyable to see the wise and expereienced up on stage performing in costume.  Quinn and Josephine enjoy posing with the celebreties.
The Seniors of Zhudi Town...Live!

The youth of Zhudi Town

Quinn and Josephine with the the Zhudi Kids

Of course Rob thought it was supposed to be Monday night so the whole family got geared up to go with out hot pan of lasagna courtesey of Zhang.  As we headed out through the cold night a neibor, when told where we were going, informed us that we were a day early.  So we turned around and had a yummy lasagna dinner to ourselves.  So the following night, Zhang prepared another wonderful noodle dish of some type and we headed out through the cold to school.

This time we were successful - at least in getting there.  Plenty of people we knew, and people we didn't, and plenty of food.  There was a raffle with plenty of good, and not so good prizes for which we didn't win any as Rob forgot to drop our tickets in the box.  Maybe next time.

Thanksgiving part II was Thurday night, the real thanksgiving night.  We celebrated this night with the Lauwens, (Eric, Mirjam, Femke, and Merrel) who had planned to go to Camiguin, Philippines, with us for Christmas, and also Quinn's buddy Adrian.  Bridget laid the ground work employing Mirjam to help gather the food prior to this wonderful celebration.  Wonderful and a bit pricey this year.  Insisting on Turkey, we found a tasty 14 pound butterball, frozen and exported from the US of A for a mere $75.  It cooked up wonderfully in our small but effective Chinese oven.
Mirjam, Rob, Quinn, Femke, Eric, Josephine, Adrian, Merrel
Spelling out our favorite word

You can see the joy and thankfulness in each of our faces in this photograph.  You also can see the apple in Adrian's mouth and the sheer delight on Josephine's face.  It really was a great occasion partly becuase we got to introduce the tradition to the Lauwens. Being Dutch, this was a foreign holiday to them.  We shared our stories of our own Rosenzweig-Reitan-Matuschek tradition as well as the family traditions Bridget and I both have had in the past.  Although we didn't dress up as pilgrams and Indians the Thankful spirit was with us.

It was on this night that we first heard of the concern of our big trip to Camiguin.  Eric, being an experienced Asian traveler gave me a wild look in his eye when he explained his mild concern at having his family fly into Cagayan de Oro and then having to take a 2 hour bus ride North.  More to come on this!

A Happy Thanksgiving to all.

Oh but that wasn't all.  Sunday afternoon, the 27th, The Hesse family invited over to their pad for a Thanksgiving dinner.  Jim and Marlene Hesse moved to Shanghai with their daughters Lexi (9th grade) and Kristina (5th grade) in August from Lone Tree Colorado.  Jim is an entrpreneuer and had been doing business here for a while before deciding to make the big move.  Regardless, it has been easy to make friends with them becuase of our similar backgrounds.  Jim finds out were flying through Mindano for Christmas and expresses concern.
    They had invited over a few other families and we had our third large and traditional thanksgiving dinner.  This was even mour authentic because Jim had downloaded the Detroit- Greenbay game which we got to watch albeit 3 days later.