I submit a cultural difference: most restaurants in China don’t have napkins to wipe mouths or sticky fingers. Most people keep mini-packets of napkins with them. Well, forget napkins. Most of the times, you have to bring your own toilet paper. For example, this giant public roll (outside of the individual stalls) was completely empty. The Hubs was out of town on business and I had three kids in an expat grocery store who needed to go in a big way, if you know what I mean.

Thankfully, I had some dinner napkins…or T.P. It’s painful, but I’m catching on.

Please Mr. Postman

Think your postal delivery is slow? Think again. I saw this yesterday and I started singing The Marvelettes:
“Please Mister Postman, look and see
If there’s a letter in your bag for me…”

There was no letter, but I received plenty of junk mail. Even in China. Good to know some things are universal.

Another Reason Why I Drink Coke in the Motherland

I’ve started a Coke Zero habit. I rarely drank soda pop in the U.S. But out here, as a member of the LDS faith who abstains from tea, coffee and alcohol, my options are usually limited to boiling water or room temperature Coke or Sprite. (Remember the Huang Pu River? Just say no to Chinese ice.)

Snake vino.

Check out the wu bu she jiu or “Five Step” snake wine. Why five? Someone told me if the snake struck you, you would take five steps before you fell over, presumably dead.

I think I’ll have a Coke, instead.



That would be my word choice for the day. After nearly three months at sea and port, our shipment finally cleared Customs yesterday and was delivered this morning.


Eighty-two boxes sat there, staring at me. We’ve lived without these items for three months. Opening each box should have felt like Christmas in March, but instead the reaction was a range of complex emotions. Inevitably, reality sank in:

This is my new life …And…
We are here to stay.

There was also a sense of relief, that finally I could move forward with life, instead of holding my breath, waiting. I feverishly opened boxes, stacking items left and right. (I’m the kind of girl who cuts into every piece of chocolate in a Sees box so I can try every flavor.) Not the best way to unpack, but it kept me busy from my thoughts. Suddenly, my apartment looked like an episode from Hoarders.

Hoarders, Shanghai.

I unpacked all of the medicine box into a laundry basket and carried it into my bedroom. And then I did break down, for one nanosecond. I felt overwhelmed with gratitude that I had been inspired to pack as much medicine as I could. The usual kids’ acetaminophen and ibuprofen, which are costly at the Pharmacy here and items that I cannot access at all: Children’s Benedryl, Mucinex and Pedialyte. It’s comforting to be prepared. Including the epipens, suppositories and lice shampoo (I know), I have quite the pharmaceutical collection. Americans have it so good. Thank you, Western medicine.

Year supply of meds.

March 8th, An Official Holiday

Mr. Smith congratulated me this morning as The Circus and I piled into the minivan.
“Isn’t today your day?”
“Huh?” (My clueless response.)
“You know, It’s International Women’s Day. It’s an official public holiday in China. You get half a day off.”

Sweet. However, I’m a full-time mom to my Circus, so that “time off” will have to come in the next life. Maybe this woman could use the day off, instead…

Working hard.


Monday can seem melancholic. But it’s not…

Come unto me,
all ye that labour and are heavy laden,
and I will give you rest.
Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me;
for I am meek and lowly in heart:
and ye shall find rest unto your souls.

For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.

-St. Matthew 11:28-30

The Art of Ma Jiang (Mahjong)

Ma jiang in the park.

Pinky Stinky and I were en route to the park near our building when we happened upon a hot game of ma jiang. (Even as I type this, I’m wondering how these people transported their table, chairs and tiles out there.) Unfortunately, I’ve never mastered the game. But now is the perfect opportunity to learn, right? Carpe Diem! Or, in this case, carpe the ma jiang tile…

Winner, winner, chicken (feet) dinner.

Carre Four Part 2

Remember the frogs, snakes and turtles that I previously mentioned?


You’re welcome.

Checking out the frogs and snakes.

What’s that you say? You’d prefer cooked fare to fresh? How about the roasting station and braised bar?

Roasted and braised bar.

Yep, those are pig snouts. They’re located next to the pig hooves.

Oink. Braised snout.

Not into pork? Catch your fancy with some bird parts instead? Chicken feet, beaks, chicks…

Braised parts bar.

Just another day at our local grocery store.