Where You Been?

Thank you for noticing it’s been a while since the last post and for your concern. We’ve been busy showing up at our families’ houses yelling “surprise!”  I love surprises. They’re like little reminders that anything is possible. Of course, “I just colored an entire wall with my crayons,” surprises aren’t that fun but a well thought out surprise is brilliant.

So we are home for the remainder of the summer and I’ll only be blogging sporadically. But I’ll be back in September. In the meantime, here are a few early observations from our first weeks back in the land of the free and the home of the brave.

1. We arrived during a long and record-breaking heat wave. In Shanghai, it’s called “just another Tuesday.” You see, Shanghai in July, is hot. Like standing behind a car’s tail pipe, in a pizza oven, on the surface of the sun. The Chinese combat this by carrying umbrellas. As if a thin layer of vinyl can cool the flames of hell.

2. After some time away, American supermarkets are paralyzing. Super markets, indeed. So many choices. So cheap. Ten for ten deals. Aisles and aisles of everything from books to diapers to yogurt and the crackers. Who knew there could be so many ways to process grains? After spending a good 90 minutes in our local Big Y, I left with 5 items, unable to account for the time spent inside. The boys were happily riding along in the play car attached to our enormous cart. I think they thought we were at a playground. A super market. There are big supermarkets in China and they have sales and deals too, so what did I find so paralyzing. Upon further reflection, I’ve decided it’s because In Shanghai, at least 3/4 of the items for my choosing are eliminated because I can’t read the labels. (I swear I was washing my hair with hand soap for the first couple of weeks.) I get the basic sales in Shanghai, but the real deals (that require some explaining) I don’t buy because I can’t read the fine print. But really, who needs 10 jars of pasta sauce anyway?

3. After spending years without cash in my wallet, dealing only in cash is eye-opening. Who uses cash anymore? The Chinese. No personal checks, some debit cards but primarily, people pay for goods with money. Actual paper tender. Never one to really balance a checkbook or study my online banking statements, I realize now that I probably should have been more diligent in doing so years ago. Do you know how much money you can spend on nothing? I like using cash but I feel like I am the only person in America who does so. (The cashiers may be slightly annoyed they have to make change but at least I’m not the lady still paying with groceries by check.)

4. Quiet is calming. Rocking the wee one to sleep, in his bedroom, with the windows open, I am struck by how quiet our house is. The cars seem quieter, the birds louder and the breezes gentler here. I am not missing the buzz of the city – yet.

5. A three year old boy needs to spend his birthday with his grandparents, aunties, uncles and cousins.

See how happy he is?
See how happy he is?
And...a couple of hours later...I've lost my clothes...a camera's been in my face all day...it's past my nap time...
And…a couple of hours later…I’ve lost my clothes…a camera’s been in my face all day…it’s past my nap time…

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