Friday, January 29, 2010

This can't be good!

After living in LA for 12 years, I thought I'd seen air quality at it's worst ... nothing prepared me for this though! Wearing a mask is sounding better and better everyday.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Walking Through Old Shanghai

A stroll through Old Shanghai is a feast for all of the senses -- in every direction you look!

The narrow, chaotic alleys are full of street vendors pulling carts of food around for sale, timeless people and scenes. Meat hangs from every available space, drying in preparation for the upcoming Chinese New Year - a pair of ducks share a hanger next to some drying laundry. Bamboo scaffolding is the only kind around and each alley turn brings you to another treasure trove of sights, smells and sounds where abacus calculators still hang in view.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

A Confucius Temple

A stroll through 'Old Shanghai' last week brought us past this temple. Before living in China, I probably could not have told you anything about Confucius (551 bc - 479 bc), but I am slowly learning. He is considered to be a great philosopher and credited with starting over 300 schools.

This temple and school was originally built in the 1200's and was closed down during China's cultural revolution (1966-1976). It was renovated and re-opened in recent years. Now students can once again come here before exams to write wishing cards which are tied to the tree limbs around the temple.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Is it true???

Can you say cupcake?? I can!!! I spied this beautiful sign while riding the bus last week and am super excited! From their website, looks like C'est Cupcake will have some tasty options. Best part is, it's only a 20 minute walk from our house! Woo-hoo!

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Our Street

We love the street that we live on here! Not only are we only a 30 minute walk from both the school and our church, we have an incredible variety of food and shopping options within a 2 - 15 minute walk.

One of our favorite features is the fact that if we walk down this driveway of our compound and turn one direction, we get "real China." If we turn in the other direction, we get "ex-pat China."

The fact that Shanghai offers both worlds so easily to its residents seems to be one of the big draws to living here - we sure enjoy it!

Head to the right and there are fruit stalls, dumpling shops, noodle carts, more kabob choices than you've ever imagined and many other food that I've never seen before!

Head to the left of our driveway and the street is fairly clean and tree-lined. A 15 minute walk will bring you to a pedestrian-resaurant path where sidewalk cafes are the norm and you can find just about any international cuisine you crave. On the way there, there are many recognizable establishments which leave you wondering - am I really in China?

Friday, January 15, 2010

What could have been ...

There are many times that I find myself picturing the things that "could have been" in my life ...

If I had only left the house 10 seconds sooner, I would have caught the bus & been on-time ... etc, etc ...

I try not to dwell too much on these types of scenarios since they are not what IS ... but as the footage and stories have been rolling in about the horrific event in Haiti, I have been racked with wondering - what could have been??

Last June, the other job that we were pursuing was a job as guest house managers for a short-term missionary guest house in Haiti ( We were offered this job in Shanghai first and accepted it, only to find out that we had been the number one pick for the Haiti position. We have often thought about what a different path our lives would have taken had we moved there instead of Shanghai. Haiti has continued to hold onto our heart strings.

Strangely enough, over the last several days my thoughts haven't so much been around whether or not we would have survived this disaster, but instead I've been thinking about how we could have been in a place to offer some real assistance to people in desperate need. And I wonder, is it strange that part of me feels sad for missing out on that incredible opportunity?

Friday, January 8, 2010

24 hours ago ...

... this little guy arrived - a month early - and turned our friends, Ed & Natalie into first-time parents. Huge Congrats!

We were quite honored to be George Patrick Leaf's very first visitors!

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Back to "normal"

It's always surprising to me how quickly a new place can become a home. Often I don't realize it is home to me until I've left and I find myself missing those things which have become "normal." Last year, normal was traipsing around in the jungle, living in a tent cabin, boiling drinking water over an open fire, living alone at the edge of the world with only the sounds of nature. This year normal is living with 10 kids in a 3-story house, having a full-time maid & weekend cook while living in the midst of 15 million other people and the incessant clanging of man-made noise. It is a good to be home and back to normal :)

A picture of our family on a bowling outing together & then one of my favorite canals near our house ...

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

The Chaos That Is: Family

We feel SO fortunate to have been able to spend Christmas with family this year - the first time since we've been married. It was a bit of a wild ride coordinating between families, fighting jet lag and trying to keep up with (& help keep the peace between) our nieces & nephews. In the midst of what sometimes felt like complete chaos, I felt so happy & content just to get to be part of the family chaos this year.

After 27 hours of travelling, we walked into this beautiful scene at Jason's parents in Spokane.

Santa paid a visit to Jason's nieces on Christmas Eve!

And a photo of the whole family all in one place - with both nieces sitting still for a moment!

We travelled on to California the day after Christmas where nearly my entire family was gathered (minus one, my bro-in-law, Chris).

My ever-on-the-move nephews, Elijah, Talon & Seth - enjoying some cousin-time together!

My newest nephew, now almost 6 months old and such a sweetie (most of the time)!