Friday, October 12, 2012

One Off the Bucketlist

So today I did something I had always dreamed about doing. I volunteered at an orphanage. For 2 hours. And it added 20 years to my life. Some new wrinkles. Gray hairs. A migraine.

I am drained. I am numb. I am heart-broken. I am in love...

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Team Ivy

I have been following a love story since it started. It is one of the most amazing love stories ever. It is a story about a tiny little heart baby. She is the teeniest, sweetest, cutest little thing I've ever seen; I call her Jellybean. This Jellybean's mommy came all the way to China to take her home. The mommy knew that sweet Ivy Joy had a heart condition before, but wanted her anyway. Love story. This little lovie had surgery soon after being home. Oh, I was right there, following, reading along. This mommy, Mary, is the most positive, wise, gentle, patient, loving person I have encountered in a long time. You should have seen the amazing way she handled unimaginable moments of stress and gut-wrenching moments of not knowing if your baby will make it. Open heart surgery, my friends... on a teeny tiny little person. Mary all the while maintained such grace. Grace throughout the whole process and beyond.  Little Ivy is so loved by her mommy, her big sister Lexi and their whole family and by so many people, strangers even, like myself.

Little Ivy is having open heart surgery again. That is not easy to swallow.  To go through it all again. And on top of it all, the financial aspect of it.  Their insurance is completely depleted after so many procedures that this precious Jellybean had to endure.  Please read her story...

 Follow along... Join Team Ivy Joy... Help in any way you can. Spread the word...


A fellow blogger set up this amazing way to help this wonderful family. Please click here  (or on that cute little pink bean on the right of my blog)to find out how.  Buy this gorgeous t-shirt and send me a picture of yourself wearing it. I'd love to see that!!!

Fall in love with this baby like I have. Become a part of Jellybean's story; an amazing love story.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Around Town - Izumiya

The other day when I went to meet with Megan, I ventured out by myself. I took the metro to SIP, which is another side of town (where most expats live). I got off on the right station and took a cab to St@rbucks where I would meet her. Afterwards, I went to a market that sells many western products which you don't find in the local grocery stores.  Then, I did the same thing back home - cab, then metro. 

Today I did something different, again! I was pretty sure how to get there, but decided to take a cab just in case. I went to a mall/supermarket that was shown to us on one of the days that we were touring the city and getting to know our way around, but never went in. The name of the mall is Matro and it is beautiful. A friend had suggested I check out the Japanese supermarket, Izumiya, while we were having a funny/yucky conversation about supermarkets in China. So, I needed a couple of things today and decided to see for myself. And yup - it was the complete opposite of other markets in town. It was super neat and modern. So so so clean and shiny. It was organized. The staff was very helpful and friendly and well trained. I was so impressed. I was happy and actually found myself whistling through the aisles. Imagine a beautiful gourmet Japanese market, but the size of a supermarket (not a hypermarket though) and affordable too. The prices were very comparable to other markets'.  I had a lovely time. As I exited the market, I inadvertently wound up in the metro station. Score! For 3 Yuans, I took the beautiful metro 3 stops over to my street; walked 2 blocks and was home.

I'm starting to really like this place.

 The wines:

 I know, blurry... point and shoot on the iPhone trying not to get kicked out of the store ;)

 For Stella!

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Overdue Ramblings...

We just had a week-long vacation. It was Mid-autumn festival and national day.  There were red lanterns adorning homes everywhere. The city looked so pretty. Everyone was home from school. We went to Shanghai one of the days.  It was pretty cool. We went with friends from work. We got to do a whole day of shopping. It was interesting because the metro left us in the underground market. Pretty cool. By underground, I mean, where the subway leaves you, there’s a market – not illegal stuff. ;) It was a lovely day. We got to have lunch at a Brazilian Churrascaria. I was so pumped. I was the only one who got the Rodizio. That means that they come around with skewers of meat over and over until you flip your little card that says “No Thanks”.  Too bad that the food wasn’t great.  I almost lost my semi new iPad there. Thank goodness I realized it within twenty minutes and they were saving it for us. My heart skipped a beat.

The week before vacation, I got to meet a lovely lady. She’s American and has been living here for a few years. She has two precious daughters. The oldest one joined us at St@rbucks.  This lady gave me her precious time so selflessly to answer any questions I had about adoption and life in Suzhou. It really is great to know that there are such giving people out there. I left that meeting knowing that some of the things I’ve dreamed about my whole life can actually be a reality here.  Thank you sweet Megan.

My little Munchkin is becoming more expressive now. She has been explicit in letting us know that she misses the family. And that she also misses Abu Dhabi and all the people she loves there.  She usually opens up even more as I’m getting her ready for bed.  The other night she told me “Mamae, I ‘lost’ all my family, and they ‘lost’ me.  And I ‘lost’ my baby cousin.” Took us a little bit to realize she means love and probably miss all together. So sweet and so sad. She asks for her baby cousin Stavros and for vovo’ and Tchi Bina (her grandma, and her aunt Sabrina) and sido (her Grandpa); then she goes down a list of uncles: Tchio Dinho, Tchi Staby, Tchio Dex, Tchio Binho… and then Leli and Abu and her cousin Karen… And randomly she comes and tells me she ‘lost’ someone else.  But overall, thank God, she’s very happy and active. Loves, loves, loves going to school. She really needs all the stimulation and activities. She gets home exhausted. I have to bathe and feed her fast in case she just crashes all of a sudden.

Not sure if I’ve mentioned it before but we’re not getting a car here. There are too many of those on the road and not enough parking spaces. Usually, people get ebikes here. And that’s what we did. So Luis takes Mila in it in the mornings to the bus stop. The School’s staff bus picks them up and brings them back, and they ride home. Now, although the ebike was really cute and fun, it was not really intended for two hefty westerners to ride in. So every time I sat on the little back seat, the tires would let out air from the extra weight and from the bumps. And the bumps were felt in a big way on my back-side.  And every. Single. Time. I rode that thing I giggled thinking of this:


So, really… for them to go to the bus stop or to anywhere solo, it was a good deal. But to ride as a family, it was not so great.

Sooo… we traded it in. We went from this:




To this:





Now my bumbum is much happier. We take long rides and the weather is just perfect!  Autumn here starts early (or when it’s supposed to, actually!) We have conversations while riding, it’s awesome. Couldn’t do that on the other one.

So, we’ve been to the local park twice with our great friends. The first day was a game day. It was cool. They do this every month. And then we went again this Sunday, but this time it was just a picnic. Mila and I went on the ebike and Luis and Chloe went on the skateboard. So much fun. Brides everywhere! Mila thinks they’re princesses. So cute. She’s actually shy around them. Go figure. I guess she’s intimidated. It’s so funny.  This park is just amazing. I felt like it was a dream.  Oh, I almost forgot, the first time we went, there was a goat there. The coolest goat I’ve ever seen.  Mila played with it non-stop. It would even take grass from her hand. It only nibbled her finger once, a little bit.

We also had a bbq at a friend’s house.  They’re the couple we know from Al Ain. Their house is really cool.  Mila’s first Suzhou friend was there, Lester. I had fun with his mommy. She baked THEEE best pumpkin pie. Well, it was really pumpkin cheesecake. To! Die! For!!!! Mila’s teacher was there too. Mila was so happy to see her.

Anyway, I’m rambling. More pix coming soon.