Beneath this bowl of stars...

toddler activites, food, photos, and other orbital occurrences

Monday it was raining again. This time not quite as bad as friday, but bad enough for me to not bring out the stroller. Getting around with Amber on my back is so easy compared to strolling! The problem was I was exhausted and in pain after a little over an hour, not to mention wetter under the umbrella from sweat thanks to the humidity and the heat from a 24lb kid. I left the big camera at home to help lighten the load, but even with just the small one I still felt bad taking pictures of locals, so I didnt get the shots I really wanted, or at least not the detail.... but i did capture a few sights:
A common thing to see in Shanghai is people using bikes and carts for transporting things. This guy seemed really determinedA typical corner with corner store. Enlarge photo to see more detail... so similar to nyc, but also so different.I was walking at lunch time and all the little stores/stalls that sell snacks and noddles were hopping with customersYummy Asian fruitsTasty Dumplings (didnt get as close as i wanted)Selling fruit from the back of a bikeA cart loaded with a menagerie of junk for sale

Dave took me to the "old street" to the area of the the temple of the town gods. If you didnt know better, this would just seem like a tourist mall. All the buildings have the type of chinese style architecture that you see in postcards. People, mostly tourist groups, and souvenir stands are everywhere! We went to a restaurant in the midst of it all that is very famous b/c former president Clinton ate there once. It was yummy, as you will see below.
This is one of the buildings that line the areaThere were all sorts of little food stands selling all sorts of interesting looking snacks, we could not try them b/c we were off to dinner. There were some cute little dough animalsSnacks on a stick!This is a soup bun. They serve it with a straw so that you can suck out the juice.Dim Sum apps... yum yum. Shanghainese dim sum is overall sweeter than the dim sum that is typically served.Beer. One size. Cheap.Amber opening her sticky rice (she didnt eat it, just wanted to play)Tofu was Amber's favorite dish of the night (surprise), she enjoyed eating it out of this little bowl.At night all the buildings light up

When you step into starbucks, you would not know you are in a different country other than the writing on the signs (you might have to enlarge the image to see it) and choice of scones. The coffee tastes just the same too. Oh and costs the same, around $4.50 for a venti latte.

Amber's Yeh Yeh grew up in Shangahi in a one room 300sq ft apartment with 3 sisters, 1 brother and his parents. They had beds that were attached to the wall like on a train. At night, while they slept in their wall beds, they rented out the main floor space in the room to textile workers. The workers smoked so much that Yeh Yeh has chronic bronchitis. We traveled to his old street. The buildings across from where he lived are still standing but his building is long gone, replaced with the construction of a high rise hotel/office.

Sunday we walked around a bit, but when the mercury hit around 40C we decided to hit the rooftop pool a dip and some food. We then explored the rest of the rooftop which included a children's playground with swings, sandbox and climbing structure, outdoor lounge space, basketball court, driving range, putting green, trampoline, and a bounce house! (note the pull top can)

we went to visit Dave's family on saturday and had a wonderful day full of eating. Amber loved their dog Lulu almost as much as Emma.and the dragon that was carved into the chairs and couch, b/c it had a ball in its mouth that you could spin around but not get it... it drove her crazy.

When i saw this bug on the sidewalk, i had to take a picture. I guess the bugs back in wellfleet aren't all that bad (we have since seen several of these)

Amber loved playing with her first cousin once removed's son Kevin (i say this b/c it drives dave crazy), we really just call them cousins. They had so much fun screaming and laughing and rolling on the floor. Amber loves other kids, especially older kids, and misses having kids to play with in Wellfleet. Kevin is 4. I will try to upload a video tonight.

so if you are planning a trip to someplace where you wont drink the water for fear of getting sick.... dont pack anything that resembles a cup for a bathtub toy. I turned around to grab the baby wash and I look over and amber is drinking, or rather gulping the bath water!!!! No side affects yet... i have my fingers crossed.

Word: Zebra(Amber took this picture all by herself when we were eating lunch at California Pizza Kitchen... why CPK in shanghai, it was raining, it was downstairs from my hotel, and i had never eaten there before... sorta tasted like frozen pizza... but hey, it was pizza in china!)

Food: Tofu(this was taken at home before we left, she ate more than 1/2 of a container of tofu!)

Toy: New little purse i got her(she loves zipping and unzipping, she carries it around on her arm just like me, more pics of this later)

sidewalks i like you,
you carry us along,
with smooth surface to glide us,
we cannot go wrong.

it makes sense to have you,
aside of the the street,
why then oh why then,
are you not there now for my feet?

for some reason sidewalks are a foreign concept here in shanghai. The street that our hotel is on has nice wide sidewalks... but its called a pedestrian street. I thought that meant no cars, but it seems to simply mean that there sidewalks for walking. These are no ordinary sidewalks either. The designers here like to make creative surfaces. Nothing is nice and flat and smooth. Every several 100 feet it changes too. It makes for very difficult stroller driving. Not only are all bumps felt in your hands (i brought the non-air tire stroller), but the bumps are often so big that the wheels get stuck and you are thrown off course.
I decided to venture onto the side streets to see if that was any better. Ha Ha Ha! On most side streets, there is no sidewalk at all... if there is, there will not be for long. It will either just abruptly end, be covered with something like polesor become bike/moped parkingor will narrow to just a few inches. That leaves me to join in the mopeds, bikes, cars, carts, and other wheeled vehicles rolling through the street at all speeds and directions. Stop lights are only a suggestion for cars. Bikes and mopeds never follow them and cars seldom do. To cross the street you look all ways (even behind you) and just go, continuing to look all directions as you walk, or run to the other side. My little walk no only took much much longer than it would have for the same distance in manhattan, but i was exhausted from the stress of walking and my hands ached from gripping the stroller so hard. Definitely not a stroller friendly town. In fact the only time i saw other strollers was at the nice little park i found, and then for a brief period in the morning after rush hour and before lunch. All the other kids are carried, walk, ride in carts with garbage or fruit, or on mopeds.

Here are 2 views of Shanghai from our window.note that the day view is actually a nice clear sunny day, but the smog makes it look gray. Also notice that the buildings just keep going and going. This is only in one direction too, its like this in all 4 directions.

We made it!Amber's first reaction to being in china was, dada, dada, dada.... everyone looks like dada. He went off to gather our luggage and she was looking for him. She kept thinking she saw him, I guess b/c she is used to picking out the asian guy, but here every one seemed to look like dada.

Once we got to our hotel, and got cleaned up, we went out for some lunch, b/c of course the first thing you want to do after 30 hrs of travel where you were served 5 meals and tons of snacks both on the plane in the lounges is to go and eat more. We went to a place across the street that I had read about on some blog (will update with link later). I went for their pumpkin soupAfter our meal, a homeless or poor guy came up and asked dave if he could have our leftovers, he of course said yes and the guy dumped them all (soups and plates) into a plastic bag and went on his way. As we stood up to leave, another guy came and took my leftover water bottle with water in it. I thought at first he wanted it to recycle, turns out he wanted it for the water too.

There are so many things to take a picture of here... i could just walk around with my finger on the button taking pics and write a post about each one b/c everything is so different from the US, that its all picture worthy.

I look enough like a tourist being white, blond in my hair and with a baby in a stroller that I dont like the idea of walking around with a giant camera, so i probably wont take too many good shots until the weekend when dave is out and about with me.

we flew air france. air france has an interesting infant policy. Unlike US airlines, they require you to strap your infant to you when in your lap (i have been on US airlines that forbid you to even have them in an infant carrier during take off and landing, i have also been on us airlines that dont allow you to have the kid in your lap when you have paid for a seat for them). Air France does not care where the kid is, as long as they are strapped in, anytime the seat belt sign is on, or if you might fall asleep. Sounds great in practice, but not for a toddler... not on a 12 hr flight and not a toddler on a 12hr flight who refuses to sleep and has an obsession with buckles. Yep... amber loves to try to do buckles "self self self" so if you buckle it, prepare for screams... screams that dont end until you unbuckle or find something far more interesting to distract with, and let it be known, even fruit loop necklaces are not interesting enough. So sure enough for us, right at the time both amber and i were a little sleepy, the pilot decided there might be turbulance and turned on the sign for 3 hrs.... not one bump. After that for the rest of the flight i lost my stomach dozens of times, but the light never came on and amber was never close to sleep. The few times she did fall asleep it was on me, and for some reason i just could not get comfortable with a 24lb weight on top of me.. i did manage to watch 3 movies between her naps and cartoon watching.
We could not get her to use the headphones, but luckily she was very amused by just watching in silence. Not for long batches of time, but enough to give me breaks and get in a movie :-) (luckily you could pause). I did get her to sit in the car seat from time to time (unbuckled), so i think it was worth bringing on board. Most of the flight was me trying to entertain amber and not wake up the rest of business class. I had 2 bags full of tricks. Sadly none of them really worked out how i had hoped. Not even the treasure bottle which i think i got from this blog. So to sum it up, dave slept 85% of the way here... amber slept less time than she played with buckles, i slept a total of 50 min. Yes 50 min in 30 hrs of travel door to door.

I will talk about the flights together in my next post... this is just about our layover in paris.

Everytime we happen to find ourselves in the Charles de Gaulle airport, I am reminded how much i hate this airport, and remember why I dont like connecting through it. top 4 reasons:
-no air conditioning. For some reason every time we are in charles de gaulle its summer. The is no air conditioning.... well there is in some places, BUT since the whole thing is this bazaar shaped thing and all glass, its like a giant sunroom and people are the plants absorbing all the radiated heat.
- the signs make no sense. There is no language french, english, or anything else on the signs, just pictures and numbers and arrows that dont make sense to anyone. You walk around in circles always to the wrong place (once Dave and I accidentally went beyond the exit and for me not a problem, but for him, he was not allowed to pass b/c he didnt have a shengen visa, so he was not allowed out of the airport. We had to spend the next 45min in a security room explaining that we were just lost).
- to get from terminal to terminal you have to take these buses, which is not that big of a deal, but again, no a/c, you now have to go outside in the humidity, and the ride is LONG. Then once in your new terminal, you have to go through security AGAIN!!!
- the airline lounges just suck. There is never enough space for everyone to sit. The food/snack/drink selection is ok, but its just not the same as other airports

By the time be board our flight I am a very sweaty, exhausted, bitchy human being.

Amber enjoyed some french cuisine

Amber took this picture of daddy, behind him you can see the sunroom windows

we arrived at the airport and dave dropped us (bags, amber and me) at the terminal while he parked. I had been a little sad that we are going to miss the 4th of july... but right as dave pulled away a fireworks display began, someplace really close by. I like to think that Dave arranged it all, the timing, the location, the fireworks, as a goodbye boston, happy 4th etc.... but in reality it was a celebration for the celtics.... still great timing. Amber was really scared for the first few mins, shaking and screaming and worried that daddy was exploding in the air... but later she calmed down and watched in awe.

so we are now leaving a full day sooner than we were originally planning (its complicated by really dave and i just dont do well when planning flights and hotels and meetings and connecting flights, even when we use travel agents). So I am just now packing. What to pack, what to pack. A friend asked me earlier, 'what does one pack for china?' well Dave had a great answer... nothing. Everything is made in china so you can get it all when you get there :-)

Our old suitcase broke on my last trip home to Oklahoma. On that trip not only did the airline lose my bag on the way there, but on the way home i had to pay extra b/c they claimed it was too heavy and then when i got it, the handle was broken off. Anyway, we needed new suitcases. First I bought 2. Nice. Big. 4 wheels each. Dave was not pleased with my fancy rollers (even after i commented that without them i never would have made it to the car with 2 suitcases and a toddler). So today i brought home 2 more. We started packing a little while ago, and about 5 min later dave announced that he had a little room left in his (he wanted the 32in World Voyager)... I think he has enough room to fit just about everyone that reads this blog. He really is packing just about nothing!

Dave also does not want me to bring the car seat, or more than one carry on for all of us. I really dont think he understands what 22hrs of travel with a toddler is going to be like.

so Dave finally caught a keeper this evening, his first since 2006.... he was beginning to think that Amber was bad luck! Of course this was our first beach visit since 2006 when i didnt have the camera so no action shots of bringing in the fish (hmm maybe thats the reason for today's catch, no camera). We also realized that he might have tossed back several keepers in the last week and maybe even all last summer. He thought that he was such a seasoned fisherman that he didnt need to measure, at least for the little ones. Today he thought it was not a keeper (28in or bigger) but it was 29.5!!
Arugula from our garden, dave's fish, and handmade dumplings