Tuesday, December 29, 2009

A Day in a Chinese Beauty Salon

Getting a Perm

So with the humidity here in Shenzhen, China, I have found that my hair is not sure whether it wants to be curly or straight (mostly I have decided that it wants to be flat and ugly). Anyway for this reason I decided to get a perm--a strait perm (not a curly one). So I went to a salon near our house. I was told that it would take about 2 hours. I brought Eve in her stroller so that she could sleep in it while I got my perm. No need really, because I walked in, said what I wanted and Eve was whisked away by several girls who wanted to take care of her for me (the stroller sat idle the rest of the time). Very sweet.

Anyway, they started doing my hair and asked if I had eaten lunch. I at not (it was about noon). So the boy doing my hair called a restaurant nearby and had some rice and tofu stuff brought to me. I wanted to pay for it but the boy doing my hair said no, it was his treat. What?! I come here to pay him to do my hair and he treats me to lunch!? However, there was no arguing with him. A little later one of the girls brought me an ice cream cone. Keep in mind, these people probably only make between 1 and 2 dollars an hour, but they are very generous with what theyhave.

So Eve was great. She slept in one of the girl's arms for about 2 hours. Then she woke up and I need to feed her. They said I should feed her upstairs so I would have more privacy. I was lead upstairs to a small private room by the sweet girl who had given me the ice cream cone. I settled down to feed Eve when I noticed the girl was not leaving. She sat down across from me to chat while I fed the baby. "Fine, " I thought, "I suppose if it doesn't bother her, then I should not let it bother me." So I started to feed the baby. Soon another girls joined us. I didn't mind, but I did find it funny that I was brought upstairs for privacy only to have two companions watch me nurse the baby. :)

Eve happens to be a very spitty baby. It's a genetic thing. most of my mother's babies were spitters and several of my nieces and nephews have been as well. Anyway, i was informed by one of my companions that I should not rock back and forth while I fed the baby because that is not what makes her spit-up. I think she just made that upon the spot. Anyway, I decided to log it away with all the other pieces of unsolicited and unfounded advice I receive constantly from my Chinese associates here. Chinese people LOVE to give advice. I'm surprised how may complete strangers feel it their duty to tell us what we are doing "wrong." For example, every Chinese person is concerned about air blowing on the baby. It will 95 degrees outside and 100% humidity, and people will tell me I need to wrap Eve up in a blanket. Sounds kind of cruel to me. Another mother once looked at the back of Eve's head and saw that it was round (like it should be) and she scolded me saying that my baby should sleep on something harder. Then she showed me the back of her son's head which was almost completely flat in the back. Okay, Right. Another day we were out and had to change Eve's diaper in public. An old grandpa came over and put his finger in under the waistline of her changed diaper to make sure we had not put it on too tight (keep in mind, these are complete strangers!). Another time Sam was holding the baby while he was shopping for some shoes for me. The shopkeeper was so busy telling him how he holding her was wrong that we could not even ask about her merchandise. He tried several times to ask questions and finally gave up and just left. One day while I was out walking a cute old grandma came over to look at Eve. Eve was sucking her pacifier. The grandma told me the baby was hungry and proceeded to pat my breast to emphasize what she thought Eve wanted. Eve was not hungry (I had just fed her) and I was a little shocked! However, I have now had two old grandmas touch my breast when giving me advice about what they think I am doing wrong. I thought I could not get More advice than when I was pregnant; I have now learned that I can now that I have a baby in tow. I guess I would get used to it, huh? =)

Anyway, back to my perm. so after feeding her the other cute girl took Eve back to care for herwhile I finished with my hair. Shortly thereafter, Eve had a huge blow-out in her pants. I apologized and tried to take her back so I could change her diaper and her clothes. The girl insisted that she could do it and let me keep doing my hair. So these sweet girls took care of the the whole mess form me! I tell you, I have not met kinder people than the Chinese when it comes to serving other. I have heard of day-cares in the US that are not even willing to changediaper (the kids have to be potty trained before they will accept them), let alone someone in a hair salon being willing to care for someone's baby for hours, messy diapers and all!

So all in all, my "two hour' perm ended up taking four hours. However, I was pleased with my hair in the end and the time was not as big a deal as it could have been because I had so much help with the baby. I made some sweet friends (who were very curious about us, i.e. "Is it truethat it is nighttime in America when it is daytime here?" "Does your hair just grow this color?", "You take care of your baby all by yourself?! How do you do it?!" "Even boys have curly hair in America, don't they?"), and remembered how cool it is to live abroad and have these kinds of experiences. I love it here! (Even though today I don't have any running water...hope they fix that soon...) and am sad to think that we will be leaving so soon (probably sometime in November).

Monday, September 21, 2009

Blog Blocked

Amy and Sam are blocked from accessing their blog while in China. If you would like to email Amy, her email is amyloucurtis@gmail.com. The previous post was an email that Amy sent that I transcribed (sorry for any and all mistakes I made typing).
-Jessica McKay

Some Pics

1) people on bikes and motorcycles often carry huge loads. I saw a motorcycle the other day carrying 4 grown men. Yesterday I saw a motorcycle with two men on it: one driving and the other holding a 20 food bamboo ladder!

2) a computer mouse Sam bought from his company. Look closely at the phrase "Build Your Dreams' on the paper that came with it--don't worry that it is the name of the company, it can still get spelled wrong!

3) outside a few streets over from our home

4) an add for corn-flavored drink in a knock-off of Burger King called "Texas Burger." The drink is describes as "Fresh Cornwater: More Health, More Delicacies"

5) of course, a picture of Genevieve!=)

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Starting Line-up

***NOW***Gladly Presenting . . .
- starring at oldest child,
- weighing 6 lbs, 10 oz,
- stretching 20 inches long,
- arriving July 10, 2009 in the evening,
- with the help of many great caretakers,
- in Salt Lake county, Utah,
- winning the hearts of whoever sees her,

Genevieve Hope!

Above is our first family portrait. We are so excited to welcome Eve into our family. She brings us so much joy (and a lot less sleep, that is worth missing :).

As we leave with her together for China tomorrow, we wanted to post this announcement, especially because we don't know if blogspot is still blocked there or not. Hopefully we can still let you know all about our adventures and also be able to stay tuned to the news in all of your lives.

We love you all!

Sam, Amy, and Eve

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

No Baby Yet, So...

So I am STILL pregnant. Our little girl is determined not to return with us to China (if she stays in there past Friday we will have no way to get her passport and visa paperwork done in time before we go!) Little does she know, she is only postponing the inevitable -- if she doesn't choose to come on her own, we will have to induce on Friday July 10th. We hope she will just come on her own before then.

Anyway, since we don't have exciting pictures of our posterity to post, I thought I would post this nearly-as-exciting couple of pictures from a Zoo in Shenzhen. Now before you think "Hey, China and America are pretty similar; they both have Zoos", get a load of these pictures Sam took of one of the performances at the Zoo.

Here we see several nice pigs gathering to gaze at the water below...
And then...

Yeah, not sure what to think about this. But check out that form!! Legs extended and all! And from a hog that size!
After the show, Sam's colleagues were concerned that Sam was offended by the display. Sam informed them that no, he was not offended, merely surprised by how much more talented Chinese pigs are than American pigs.
Well, hopefully our next post will involve news of the birth of our little girl, and be a little less disturbing...

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Born in the USA

We have encountered a few problems having our baby in China. Its like living in a little life-boat that keeps springing leaks. We fix up one problem, and another two pop up. So basically, after frantically trying to manage leaks but still finding ourselves sinking, we have decided to head home to the US to have our little girl. We found out that we have to return to the US to get a new kind of visa anyway, so having the plane ticket, it just makes sense to have the baby while we are there =)
I (Amy) arrived in SLC last night (May 15th). Since I have been pregnant, traveling is difficult for me. However, after running into the cement median on the freeway (our driver fell asleep) and missing my connecting flight (I fell asleep right there in the terminal!), I eventually made it to Utah safely.
So I would love to hear from you who are in Utah too! My cell phone number while I am here is 801-735-3387. My email is amyloucurtis@gmail.com. I will be here from May 15th to July 29th and should have the baby sometime in the end of June or maybe beginning of July. Sam, unfortunately, had to stay and work for a while longer, but will join me here in about a month (June 11th! I can't wait!!)

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Chinese Baby Shower

One day my cute coworker calls me and says "We know that if you were in the U.S. you would have a baby shower." (fyi - baby showers are not a part of Chinese culture) "We want to throw you a baby shower. So, ummm... how do we do that?" So sweet!!

So anyway, I proceeded to tell her how a baby shower works -- food, presents, games, etc. I also told her it was for girls only. Upon learning this, she seemed to be in great distress and asks me, "So what do we do with the boys?!" I told her to just invite everyone and we would have a co-ed baby shower =) Since boys were invited, Sam came too and we had a total of over 20 people -- so fun!

I organized the games (they would be REALLY lost if they had to figure out games!). We played the usual: can't say baby or you lose your pin, write down as many baby items as you can remember, guess how many candies in the baby bottle, draw a baby on a paper plate on your head, drinking juice from a baby bottle race, etc. They had a ball, even (or maybe especially) the boys! I had a baby diaper for one of the games, and one of my coworkers picks it up and asks, "so you really use these?!" Hah! Diapers are as strange to them as their split pants are to me!

To eat we had (what else?) Chinese food! Tofu, dumplings, spicy pork, stir fry, etc.

When I told them it was time to open presents, some of them looked at each other and ran into a back room. A few minutes later they emerges with bundles in their arms wrapped in bathroom towels! (I guess wrapping paper isn't really something they do here either =) Everyone was so sweet! We were given bottles, books (in Chinese, but with English too - bless their hearts!), some cute clothes, and a traditional Chinese necklace with bells (I am supposed to put it on our baby shortly after she is born.) I loved it all!

Mostly, I just feel so loved and cared for! They are so generous and sensitive to my culture. My friends here are truly wonderful!!

Friday, May 8, 2009

A not so simple task

Cleaning my toilet has been a task that is long overdue. I have not been well lately and seem unable to do much more than lay in bed all day. But today I decided the toilet needed to be cleaned. So I squirted the inside of the bowl with toilet bowl cleaner and let it sit while I put the tea pot on our single electric burner to warm some water for cleaning. However, an all-to-frequent wave of nausea hit me and I threw-up everything I've eaten today, "washing" away all the blue cleaner inside the bowl. I squatted (can't sit or kneel -- our whole bathroom is the shower so the floor is wet) hugging the bowl as the tea pot started to squeal that it was ready. I decided not to clean the toilet today.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Communism and the DMV - two things you never want to put together

So Sam and I have finally given in and decided that we need Chinese driver's licenses. We know that driving here is like toying with your life every time you get in the car, but we are finding it to be a necessity. So we hired a very expensive agent to do all the dirty work of applications and junk to get us licenses. All we were supposed to do is take the written test (you can take your own sample test I have put together for you: see next blog entry).

So we get a call from our agent that the Chinese equivalent of the DMV would not accept Sam's U.S. driver's license. So Sam took essentially a whole day off work to go to the DMV to try and work out the issue.

It turns out that because Sam's license is an older Utah license, it does not define what a "D Class" driver is (It means he can drive a normal car, not a bus or 18-wheeler or whatever). Don't worry that we brought the official definition off the web. Don't worry that MY (Amy's) driver's license defines it for them. They refused to accept it and refused Sam permission to test. My opinion is that they just didn't like the look of the old license so they decided to reject it. After much arguing, they still refused to give Sam permission to test (despite the fact that his driver's license is 100% VALID!) The only progress we made was that at the end they threatened to also take away MY permission to test too, just because. Wow, if you think working with government agencies is frustrating in the U.S. try moving to a communist country!!! Nothing has to make sense; abuse of power at it's finest!

So I ended up taking (and passing!) the DL test last week. Don't worry, though, Sam is going to need to first return to the U.S., get a new license (even though his is still perfectly valid), and return to the China DMV before he can get permission to test. Awesome. And to add insult to injury, I don't really want to drive anyway -- Sam is the one that thinks driving here looks like fun. Mostly I'm just scared stiff!!

Take Your Own Chinese Driver's License Test!

So here is your chance to take your own China Driver's License Test!! I have cut and copied actual questions from the test. I'm sparing you any of the legal and registration questions. See what you think of these translations, etc.... I have added my own comments in blue.

1. When a wounded suffers bleeding in the forearm or shank, the rescuers may place a cushion in the armpit or in the rook of the arm, crook the armpit or rook and tie up.

(What the heck!?! Does anyone understand this question?!)
Answer: Right (aka True)

2. _______ refers to the material and article that has the danger of overall explosion.

A. Explosive
B. Inflammable solid material
C. Inflammable gas
D. Self-igniting article

(Hummm, maybe it just seems silly in English…)

Answer: A

3. When discovering a road congestion ahead, the correct way to deal with this situation is to _______.

A. Continue to weave through
B. Find space and overtake one vehicle after another
C. Honk to indicate the vehicle in front to speed up
D. Stop and wait in line

(Do they want what SHOULD be done, or what they ACTUALLY do. I’ll just leave it that I have never seen answer “D” done in China. However, the other three I see frequently, along with “E. Make your own lane”, “F. Drive on the other side of the street (or on the sidewalk or in the bushes or whatever)”, and “G. Do whatever you want (which is what you will do anyway)” I’m shocked that the people on the road actually ever took this test!)

Answer: D

4. After a vehicle falls into water, the wrong method for the driver to rescue himself is to ________.

A. Close the window to prevent water from flowing into the vehicle
B. Immediately use hand to open the door (use your hand guys, using your feet is a waste of time and then you have to take your shoes off)
C. Let the water to fill up the driver’s cab so that the water pressure both inside and outside is equal
D. Use a large plastic bag to cover the head and tight the neck closely
(Keep in mind you are finding the wrong answer, so that means three of these are supposed to be correct. Since “A” is the wrong answer, I’m not sure what exactly “D” is doing grouped among the correct answers. Is it like, “Hey, I’m gonna die anyway, so I might as well put a plastic bag over my head and speed up the process!” or what?!)

Answer: A

5. The sign in the picture means _______.

A. Stop to yield
B. Yield when crossing each other
C. No yielding
D. Reduce speed and yield

(Is it just me, or are three of the answers the same answer? Oh ya, this one is easy, but reading road signs all in Chinese is a bit of a challenge for me…)

Answer: D

6. The hand signal of the police in the picture is ______.

A. A signal for turning left
B. An auxiliary signal for turning left (does anyone know what an “auxiliary signal” is?)
C. A signal for stopping
D. A signal for turning left sharply

(Oh ya, that is SO CLEAR. How could I have NOT know what the heck that means!?)

Answer: D
How'd ya do? You have to get a 90% or above to pass -- did you pass? Now imagine 100 questions in 45 minutes... ya, it was a joke...

Monday, May 4, 2009


So things are always changing in foreign Branches/Wards overseas. Our Branch President, Relief Society President, Primary President, District Counselor, (and others) are all moving within the next 3 months. This is worse than our Wymount student ward turnover! Not to mention about half the branch leaves for 2-3 months in the summertime to go back to the States while school is out. I guess it doesn't matter that we live too far away for anyone to come and bring the typical "after-baby" casserole; it looks like no one would even be in the country anymore come the end of June! =)

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Deja Vu -- not again!?!

Being pregnant is an interesting ride. A couple weeks ago, Sam and I were siting in church when I started to feel a little dizzy. I told Sam, but we thought we would just wait until the sacrament was over before getting up to go lay down. Bad idea. Right after the bread was passed, I passed out! Poor Sam had to try to figure out what to do and try to hold me up while I slid off the chair. Sam and another brother carried me upstairs to a bed. Church is held in a house and our congregation is not large, so pretty much everyone saw the pregnant woman get carried out of sacrament meeting. After I came to, we went to a doctor and everything was fine. Probably just a momentary fit of low blood pressure or something.
However, last Sunday, during the sacrament (of course, when else?!), I started to feel dizzy again! I was so mad despite the wooziness because it was exactly like last time! I could not believe it was happening again at exactly the same time and exactly the same place! This time we decided not to wait for me to pass out, but to try to get up stairs first. However, standing up wasn't a good idea either, I just fainted walking instead of sitting. Once again, everyone watched while the pregnant lady was carried out of sacrament meeting and up the stairs! At least this time we got both the bread and the water first...

Can Opener

Sam and I were thrilled to find some tomato sauce at the store. However, upon returning home we realized we did not own a can opener. "No problem," we mused, "we will just ask a neighbor to borrow their can opener." So Sam went out to ask while I started dinner. When Sam returned, our can was open; however, I think our neighbor's idea of a can opener and our idea of a can opener was a little different. Oh well, a 10-inch butcher knife jammed through the lid works too...

(P.S. I am listening to my other neighbor wail in the hall at the top of his lungs as I write this entry. Just thought you might want to know =)

Friday, April 17, 2009

Some of the more... pleasant... parts of living in China

So, I hope everyone who reads this blog doesn't think that I hate it here. We actually are really having a blast! Its just that I usually blog about the funny/unusual things about living abroad, so just laugh with me as I laugh my way through the oddities of China! =)

So spitting seems to be a universally uniting commonality among the Chinese. Having someone hawk up a big one and spit right in front of you is like saying "Good morning! How are you today?" I know people in the States spit too -- its just that it is usually quietly done into a Kleenex or toilet in the privacy of the bathroom. Here, spiting is a very public thing that REQUIRES a loud, guttural hawking to take place prior to discharge. If its not loud, it surly cannot be effective. Sam and I are privileged every morning during breakfast to hear our neighbor walk down the hall, hack a big one, and spit it in the hallway. It always makes my breakfast more appetizing. Everyday we pause, listen, grimace, and then laugh, shaking our heads at the life we have chosen to live!

Wake up and smell the...
Another daily morning occurrence is walking out from our apartment, looking at the beautiful day, and inhaling a big fresh breath of... STENCH! I'm not sure why is must REEK to high heaven, but China is just a stinky place! It is second nature to me now to hold my breath anywhere near any and all grates in the ground. But even with this precaution, I am often out, minding my own business, when I am suddenly sucker-punched with a whiff of something from who knows where that makes me want to throw up the baby! China smells really bad!!

So for a very long time we thought we had a mentally disabled neighbor who would come out and pace the hallway wailing, barking, whining, and otherwise making VERY strange sounds. Of course, we were understanding of anyone with a disability. However, after a few months of listening to our "handicapped" neighbor, I decided I just HAD to take a peek at who he was. Upon slipping my head out the door, I was surprised to learn that this man was not disabled, but was just an old grandpa walking the halls with his baby grandchild in arms. What?! A "normal" person makes noises like that!? And at top volume in an apartment complex with very sound-permeable walls?! On top of that, I had never before heard the baby make a noise - so his howling hardly seemed necessary to "calm" the kid. It is as though the man wails so that the child cannot think about wailing itself. I wish I had a recording so you could hear for yourself how VERY odd these sounds are...

When all should be asleep
Last night Sam and I were all snuggled in bed ready to let sleep take us, when we heard a drum begin to beat above us. Keep in mind, its pretty late. Okay, so we try to ignore whoever is drumming upstairs. Then another sound, this time in the hall, greets our ears -- Hammering. Hammering?! Who decides to start hammering something in the hall at after 11 at night?! So after listening the the alternating bangs of the hammer and drum for a few minutes, Sam and I just looked at each other and laughed!

Monday, April 13, 2009

Amy D. Curtis, R.N.

So I am thrilled to report that I FINALLY took my NCLEX (nursing registration) exam. I stayed overnight in Hong Kong on Tuesday last week with a total stranger who was kind enough to let me stay the night (You gotta love the Mormon network. I emailed one person who emailed others, and I had a place to stay within two hours of sending the first email!) I woke up at 4:30 am Wednesday, April 8th (the morning of my test) and could not go back to sleep -- nerves, gotta love em. I got to the testing center with plenty of time to spare (try two hours early! The last thing I wanted was to be lost in Hong Kong when I should be testing. Maybe I over did it a little...).

The testing center felt like death row:
-I had to finger print and take a picture every time I went in and out of the testing room; audio and video recording was taken the whole time.
-I had to raise my hand to go to the bathroom, and then be escorted out.
-They would only allow me to take unwrapped cough drops in (they wouldn't even let me take naked tums in -- come on people! I'm pregnant and I NEED those tums!!)
-They checked my mouth to make sure I wasn't eating anything upon entry.
-They even removed my visas from my passport because they were "loose paper" and I could not have them with me - oh please!

Anyway, this test has anywhere from 75 to 265 questions. It just shuts off when it is 95% sure you either passed or failed. My test shut off at 75 questions and I almost cried I was so happy! I had already taken 2 hours and 40 minutes on 75 questions -- I would definitely have run out of time if I had to do 265 questions (maximum time is 6 hours). Besides, by then my pregnant body was already screaming to get out of there! So I feel so, so, SO blessed to have finished that early. So even though I still did not know if I had passed or not, I was thrilled just to be done! Anyway, I checked Friday night before I went to bed to see if my results were up, and they were not. However, Sam got up to go to the bathroom at 1 am and decided to check if the results were in. Sure enough, I passed!!! Sam refrained from waking me right then, but he did wake me in the morning with breakfast in bed. My breakfast plate had a name tag saying "Amy D. Curtis, R.N."!!!

Friday, March 27, 2009

Empathy for Zoo Animals

So sometimes I feel a bit like a zoo animal whose only purpose in life is to be stared at. I have gotten better at ignoring stares, but sometimes it is just out of hand! For example, a couple days ago Sam and I went to the supermarket (as most normal people do), and while Sam was upstairs getting some stuff, I stayed on the first floor to buy fruit and veggies (weird, I know). There was a man who worked there sweeping floors who was totally enthralled by me. He would stand and stare as I picked out my produce. And it wasn't like he stood and stared from afar off -- he stood about 3 feet from me and moved when I moved. So as I picked my bananas, he was there. I moved to get potatoes, he was there. He never spoke to me although I asked what was up once (he didn't answer, just kept staring). When Sam returned, the man was not deterred -- just kept watching me. Its not like he was creepy or anything, I just think he thought I was quite the novelty -- such a strange creature in his grocery section!! We are told here frequently that meeting us is "fate" (the guy who cut my hair was sure it was fate; the man at a table near ours thought it was fate that we sat near each other (he then wanted to buy us a beer, and did, even though we told him we would not drink it); cab drivers, other passengers on the bus, etc. all feel meeting us is truly a providential experience!). I suppose it could be fate, but I don't really see the "fate" part from our end -- to us they are just more curious Chinese people who feel the cosmos intended us to somehow be a part of their destiny!

Friday, March 20, 2009


So, the war with our bed has a new element these days. Yes, it is still broken; and yes, we recently added another pad under my half of the bed (my birthing hips are starting to ache from the cement slab people here consider a bed). But these are just minor battles amid the war. The new tragedy of war is our mosquito net. After being eaten alive for a few weeks (by the way, the mosquitoes only eat me! I wake up with 16 new bites and Sam is unmarred like an angel. I guess I just taste better, which really is not a compliment.) Anyway, after being eaten alive, we decided to purchase a mosquito net. It has tent polls and zippers on all sides and everything; it feels like a fort sitting nicely over our entire bed. The problem comes at night. See, in order to keep the little killers out, we are also sort of trapped in. If I have to get up in the night to go to the bathroom (which happens at least once every night) I have to first orient myself enough to figure out why I cannot get out. Then I must find and unzip the zippers on my side of the tent and squeeze my rotund (we won't say fat), ungraceful, pregnant body out of the little window. Upon returning, I have to reverse the whole process. Unfortunately, the zippers wake up whichever of us did not get up in the first place. Sam is very patient with my frequent zipping. We cannot even reach over and get a drink of water without first unlocking our cage! My greatest fear is that perhaps our weapon will be used against us one night. What if, by chance, a mosquito sneaks in with us?! The little blood sucker will be trapped in Paradise with two helpless morsels to suck blood from all night. If it happens, I just hope he dies from gluttony!

(Notice the bed proped up with my NCLEX Study books)

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Wax People

Sam and I had the opportunity to visit the Shenzhen Museum on a company fieldtrip. It was interesting to learn more about the city we live in (as much as we could from looking at picutures and diagrams, that is, because we are both still pretty much illiterate). The museum had a nice array of life-sized wax figures depicting various historical events. Anyway, at one point we were standing watching a short video clip when a little boy (about 4 or 5 years old) runs up to us and yells to his dad, "Are they real or fake?!?" He started to hold out his little finger to poke Sam. At this point we started to move, and the little boy about fell out of his skin with shock that we were, in fact, real! Come to think of it, the only other foreigners we saw in the museum that day were wax British soldiers shown invading China. I guess I can see where he got confused :)

See, I could be a wax person :)

Monday, March 2, 2009


Sam and I comitted a murder today. Well, actually, I was the one who actually did the dirty deed, but Sam disposed of the corpse. Place: our bedroom. Weapon: my shoe. Victim: a huge cockroach! This is the first (and I hope last) sighting of the dread creatures in our abode. Maybe the example we made of him will instill enough fear and dread in the others that they will not rear their ugly heads here again. I doubt it. That tactic may work in China, but I doubt it works among the insect-kind. Well, I guess we will see. I hope I don't have to kill again, because with the size of that sucker it really did feel more like homicide than merely squashing a bug...

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Its a girl!

Sam and I are are thrilled to announce that at our 20-week ultrasound check we found out we are having a girl! We pretty much already have her name picked out, but we only ever call her by her Chinese name -- Try pronouncing this one: xia xi (sounds like "sha shee"). Don't worry, she has an English name, we will just call her xia xi here =). "Xia" means "summer" and also "Eve". "Xi" means "hope". So her Chinese name means "summer hope" or "Eve of hope". She looks healthy and everything seems to be developing according to plan. If you cannot figure out the ultrasound picture, I will try to explain. We are looking at a profile shot of her head. She has her mouth open and her hand up by her face. Isn't she beautiful!?

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Hong Kong Trip

Who knew we would see Yao Ming in Hong Kong!? Actually, this is Yao Ming's actual height (although not his actual proportions =)

The temple in Hong Kong was a huge hightlight of our trip there. It is beautiful! We stayed in temple housing for one night. This picture was taken from inside the gates of the temple hostel.

This was the other place we stayed in Hong Kong -- a real Chinese hotel (complete with bed like concrete). The room was so small we could barely walk past one another without climbing on the bed. We were lucky enough to have the room next to the cat's abode. We hear our felion friend meow long into the night =)

This is Amy inside one of the fountains at the Hong Kong botanical garden. The garden was truly beautiful! This is a tropical island, after all!

Sam and Amy in front of the Church Headquarters in HK. This building happens to be on the most expensive piece of land the church owns =)

Thursday, February 5, 2009


So walking home just now I passed a group of children playing outside. They noticed me and started staring and pointing. One little boy (about 5 or 6 yrs old), stood up, pointed, and yelled "A foreigner! It's so scary! It really looks so scary!!" I laughed in my heart because I understood every word. (Am I scary? Maybe the blue eyes and blonde hair count as scary...)

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Searching for a Hospital

So, since we are having a baby in June, we thought it of utmost priority to find a hospital that was suitable for delivering this little one. They have babies in China, right? So this will probably be no problem. Well, Sam and I set out to visit several hospitals. The first one we visited we met a fiend of a friend who is a doctor there. He showed us around and tried to answer our questions. He showed me the medication room on the maternity floor. They had Normal Saline and D-5 NS. That's it. For those of you who do not work in the medical field, those two "drugs" do nothing more than rehydrate. Our doctor friend then got me permission to enter the delivery room. I was informed that men were not allowed to witness the birth, so Sam could not be with me. After pushing it a little more, they said he could be there only if no other women were there delivering (the likelihood of that happening in a city of 16 million people is I'm sure pretty slim). Anyway, I was also told that it gets busy sometimes and I might have to deliver in the hallway anyway (I guess Sam could be with me there, right?). Okay. Next hospital. The next place we went was the women's specialty hospital. Upon entering I observed a small child being helped to pee in the plants next to the door. We then waded through a sea of people to the restroom. Just outside the bathroom, I observed a grandparent help a small child to poop in a bucket (why not walk 3 feet to the bathroom? I don't know). The bathrooms had only squatter toilets, no soap and no toilet paper. For whatever reason we still went up to the Maternity floor. It was so crowded I could not even get any one's attention to ask any questions. We left. But don't worry, upon leaving I saw another child squat and leave a gift right there on the marble steps leading out. Upon returning to the car, I was informed by our driver that "having a baby is a very simple thing". I said "according to men". And he replied that, no really, it is a very simple thing. I felt like punching him (you shouldn't tell any woman, but certainly not a nurse that!), but I just smiled and got in the car. Anyway, after making a few more visits and phone calls we have decided to deliver in Hong Kong -- I feel much better now!

The bed (continued...)

So the latest in our bed saga was the arrival of the repairman. His tools consisted of: a hammer. He beat the heck out of our bed for about fifteen minutes and then concluded the same thing that we concluded, "Its broken". Right. So our bed still slants and is currently supported by several rolls of toilet paper that are starting to bow under the weight. Its so ridiculous that I just have to laugh instead of get upset. (I might not laugh, however, if we are awoken one night plummeting to the ground with the final surrender of the last toilet paper roll!)

Friday, January 16, 2009

Chinese Public Bathrooms

A few things I have learned about Chinese public bathrooms:

- Hold your breath (that's all I'm going to say about that).
- Look in every stall before you select one. You may get lucky and find a western-sitting-toilet.
- McDonald's in China still has western toilets!!
- Bring some tissue in your pocket (just in case TP is not supplied).
- Turn on the water BEFORE you put soap on your hands. Walking around with a blob of soap in your hands because the water doesn't turn on... not sure what to do about that.
- Have sanitizer handy (in case there is no soap at all).
- The "No Smoking" sign really means "Please, come smoke in the bathroom!"
- Don't worry about bad words being scribbled on the stalls -- if there are some, I can't read them! (One of the ONLY times being illiterate is a plus!)

Religious Procession

Today I was just plugging away at my computer at work, when I heard what sounded like a band of pots and pans banging outside. We all gathered at the window to see a long procession of worshipers dressed all in red and carrying something (it was hard for me to see what). My fellow employees said that they were taking their ancestors home. I'm not sure what that means. My fellow employees seemed to think it was silly or foolish, but I think that kind of devotion and respect is beautiful. We haven't seen much (or any) religious activity here in China before today (besides in our own branch, or course), so for me it was nice to see that religion is not totally dead here.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

The Bed

Sam and I woke up at a little after 4 am on Friday morning (January 2, 2009) to get ready and catch our flight for China. Since I have been pregnant I've been kinda sick, so I was really concerned about our 15 hour flight to Hong Kong (airplane bathrooms are kind of small, especially if one is trying to face the toilet instead of sit on it). The flight turned out to be not too bad in the end (I only threw up in the morning and then the the last couple hours of the flight). Once we reached Hong Kong and made it through customs, we immediately hit the road for Shenzhen - another hour and a half north east of Hong Kong in a car. Once we arrived in Shenzhen and got to our living complex, we were taken to our apartment. I was SO ready to just hit the sack! At that point we had been up for over 28 hours and my pregnant, tired, and hungry body was pretty spent. Upon entering our apartment, however, I was faced with a few shocks. First, it was freezing cold (what happened to the whole "tropical climate" thing?!) Second, the whole place was really dirty -- but that is okay, we can clean. Our "two room" apartment turned out to be one room and an entry (I guess the entry is the other room?). No problem. We can handle that. The next room we saw was the kitchen (I had thought it was a laundry closet). The kitchen consisted of a cold narrow tiled room with a small opaque window up high in the wall, a tile counter, and a small square sink with only one faucet (cold water only, of course). Okay. Next door: Balcony - we will do our laundry out there. Next door: bathroom... sort of... there is no bath of course. And the shower consists of a shower head sticking out of a pipe that just sprays into the middle of the small room. No shower curtain or door or divider - the water just sprays all over the room. (At this point I wasn't sure if I didn't want to just get back on the plane...) The only faucet in the bathroom is of course cold water only, but at least we have a western toilet! (I think a hole in the ground would have send me into labor, at only 15 weeks along!) Anyway, the last room we saw was our bedroom. And, THERE WAS A BED!!! Oh, I was so excited! It had pillows and sheets and a comforter and a bed!! All I wanted to do was lay down, get warm and sleep forever! That bed was the whole apartment's saving grace! So without delay, that's what I did. I got my tired, hungry, shivering body into the bed. It was the whole reason I did not lose it right there. It was even okay that the bed was as hard as asphalt -- it was a bed at least! I snuggled into the covers trying not to think about where we were living. "At least we have a bed!" I thought to myself. It didn't matter that we had no hot water, or oven, or stove top, or shower curtain, or heat -- at least we had a bed! So as Sam got in the bed too, I was practically asleep already trying to think about only the bed. We snuggled together trying to get warm, when it happened -- our bed broke.


So I promised to make a blog for Sam and I once we moved to China. Well, we're here in Shenzhen, China now and I thought I better hurry and actually make this blog or by the time I do we won't have any friends left because I haven't kept in touch. Hope its not too boring, and if it is, don't read it. I'll just enjoy writing down all the funny/strange/cool things we experience here =)