Humble Pie

Whew. Finally got the internet connected in our new home. Did you miss us? Utah certainly did…

“Humble Pie” comes in many forms. Sometimes it comes in the form of frozen water. It snowed here this week. I’ve been told by locals that it might snow once or twice in a year in Shanghai, and it doesn’t stick but melts away. But since our move here three weeks ago, it’s already snowed four or five times. According to our driver who has lived in Shanghai for eight years, it’s never snowed like this before. Apparently, Utah misses The Circus and sent us some snow. How thoughtful. Too bad I didn’t bring the kids’ snow boots. Which leads me to this:

Dear Mom,
You were right. We actually could have used the snow boots, hats and gloves.
Eating humble pie,
Your Daughter.

Yanlord Town Apartments, Pudong, Shanghai

Just remember, your mother is always right. The snow told me so.

Letters Home

How in the world did we survive before the days of internet and modern technology? I remember attending a study abroad program and snail mailing letters from Nanjing back home to the United States. Today, my letter would read like this:

Dear Internet,
I need you. My voice is silent without you. You bring information regarding fashion, cooking, weather, parenting and China-U.S. relations into my life. Come back to me.
Circus Mom

Yesterday, we moved into our apartment. We’re still working things out like internet connection and satellite TV. Like any addict, I am suffering from withdrawal. I can’t access news on Tunisia or China’s visit to the U.S. or if Glee won anything at The Golden Globes. If all goes well, I should be connected again later today. Please come back tomorrow. I have pictures to post and tales to tell.

P.S. I am stealing a moment of internet connection from The Hubs’ workplace. The junkie in my says “Shhhh…”

Yin Yang

This week I accomplished something I’ve never been able to do. Using a knife, I pared a pear without breaking the peeling. I’ve practiced this skill since I was a child, watching my mom peel pear after pear in this manner. This summer my good friend Amy even attempted to teach me. Failing miserably, I blamed it on my impatient temperament. A vegetable peeler is faster and therefore “better.” As I reflected on this picture, many ideas came to mind of what it could represent. Yin and yang, the ebb and flow of balance in my life, adapting to change and accepting my new life in China, learning patience in a foreign land or just plain ol’ naked fruit. I could also just chalk it up to survivalist behavior. There’s no peeler in our hotel room.

Naked Fruit

But I’ll let you decide.

Chinese “Grunka” Part 2

We’ve also discovered Dunkin’ Donuts and Mister Donut. Sometimes you just need a doughnut to make everything better. Even if it’s a Chinese doughnut. With half the sugar that you’re accustomed to… I guess, sometimes you just need a piece of semi-sweetened, deep-fried dough.

Say "Grunka"

This post really had nothing to do with any grunka. I just needed to post a picture of myself, showing my mom that I’m alive and well. And smiling, in Shanghai.

Same But Different = Chinese “Grunka”

I may be languishing without my beloved Target, but, fortunately, there’s Ikea. Today we made a trip to Puxi.

Ikea in Puxi, Shanghai

Same textiles, furniture and housewares (I almost bought some “Grunka.” Google Ikea Grunka.) We took a lunch break and headed to an extremely crowded cafeteria with over two hundred people.

There was the traditional Swedish meatball plate or salmon plate, served alongside some more local Chinese fare, including fried gluten and veggies or beef, mushroom and bamboo shoots stir-fry over rice.

Salmon plate and Hot & Sour soup

Pinky Stinky ate meatballs. Guess what The Hubs ordered…

Swedish Meatballs and Mushroom Beef Stir-fry with Rice

The end always includes an Ikea ice cream cone. In this case 1RMB, well spent.


It was -6 degrees C today (yes, minus) when we ventured out to Puxi, the western side of Shanghai, across the river from Pudong. To my Fahrenheit friends, even though it’s 21 degrees F, the cold here is a humid cold which seeps into the very marrow of your bones and settles there. It’s colder than anything I’ve felt during the long winters in Utah… colder than 0 degrees F, when The Hubs, his siblings, spouses and I ran a 5K Turkey Trot. We didn’t stay out long today, but managed to walk through Tianzifang, a unique art precinct on Taikang Road.


Entrance to Tianzifang

In the alleyway

Tianzifang is known for its maze of narrow alleyways, boutiques, cafes and Shikumen.

Door 1

Door 25

Door 45

I love the unique doors. (Click on the images to see the details.) Tianzifang is worth another visit on a warmer day.

Best Dress Friday

Hogwarts, I mean Dulwich has a “Best Dress Friday” uniform. Blazer, dress shirt, tie, slacks and dress shoes are compulsory. That’s “mandatory” for us non-Brits. (They use fancy words and wear fancy uniforms.)

HP wizard or Glee warbler?

Later, when I picked up The Kid, I met his new friend’s mom, who is from England. She asked me to come over for, and I quote, “a spot of tea.” Sigh. I am in Hogwarts, Hogsmeade or just plain Hog Heaven.

While 2/3 of The Circus was in school, we stopped by the Exit-Entrance Bureau for resident visa applications. I didn’t take any photos. There were guards and cameras everywhere. (There is nothing like yelling guards and hidden cameras to make one appreciate the blessings of America. I think every American needs to live here for a few weeks to appreciate their freedoms. But I digress.) The entrance was a revolving glass door with a constant stream of somber-faced people scrambling in and out. It reminded me of the Ministry of Magic, only not so magical. It was almost as fun as the Health Check. Almost

You’ll find that I have an active imagination. My name could be Ramona Quimby, age >8.
With a British accent.


I ran on the treadmill, staring into the Pudong skyline and daydreamed of Yesterday. Suddenly, I was jogging past the snow covered field, breathing in crisp-cold air and enjoying the majestic mountains. A moment later, I was walking through the doors of my karate dojo, kneeling on the mat and putting on my belt. I sang with friends and played my piano, until everything blurred into the night sky.

Homesickness is inevitable. When we left California, I had similar musings, walking to the store with my neighbor, eating at restaurants, sitting on the beach, listening to the ocean waves.

It’s always a challenge, leaving the places I know and the people I love. Eventually, there are new friends to be made and new places to know. A new home is made. And while time eases the sorrow of parting, it never completely erases it.

Pudong, Shanghai

I live in a city with 20 million people. Today.

First Day of School Part 2

The Draper Kid was wait-listed by the American school. Today was his first day at the British International school. The Harry Potter nerd in me is a little too excited.

First Day of School

All he needs is an invisibility cloak and a wand.

Just wait until you see his Best Dress Friday uniform. Pictures coming soon. It’s quite proper. Like this courtyard.

School courtyard

It’s almost like playing Wizard’s Chess.

Giant chess

Dulwich College, a British school from London. With a campus in Shanghai. Those Brits pronounce it “Dull-ich,” without the “w” sound. Everything is fancy, even their bell tower. It’s delightful. I think I need to go read some Harry Potter now.

Dulwich College, Shanghai