Sunday, November 28, 2010

The Bug in Beijing

So, Beijing in late November was perhaps an overambitious endeavor with small children. Yes, we knew it was going to be cold, but the timing worked out and we really didn't want any more time to pass without having set foot in China. The Saturday night before we left, Ian had a fever. He was sluggish on Sunday, but Monday morning when we left, his fever was gone. I, however, had a slight tickle in the back of my throat that I suspected was about to turn into a cold.

Our family was traveling with another couple. We were all greeted by the guide at the airport and taken to our hotels. It was sunny and much warmer than I expected. Our friends got settled in and then joined us at our hotel. We went walking to find lunch and decided on a noodle place not too far from the hotel. Eva promptly took off her socks and shoes. It is her current obsession. She refused to put them back on. After putting them back on about 20 times, we gave up and let her run around the restaurant bare foot.

After lunch we walked around and browsed in some shops. Eva took her shoes and socks off again. In Korea, hundreds of halmonis (grandmothers) would have dived rolled over to us to put them back on, but in China, we only got a few confused looks. When Curt was by himself with Eva, he was approached, but when I was there, no one said anything. Hey, I wanted her to wear her shoes as well, but after wrestling with her in the airport, on the streets of Beijing and at the restaurant, I realized I was not going to win this one.

By that night, I was sick. Curt and Ian started to cough as well. I had weakness, aches and a hacking cough. After a restless night, we pulled ourselves together to go see the Great Wall. Ian and I were cooked. We made it in front of the entrance to get our picture taken, but had to immediately retreat to the bus. Ian was crying just getting his picture taken. Curt put Eva in the baby carrier and hiked up with our friends. Ian and I huddled on the bus and felt like we were dying.

We stopped for lunch on the way back to the hotel. They made my boiled Coke with ginger to drink. I couldn't eat anything, but the spread looked great. They stopped at a pharmacy to pick up some medicine. The ingredients involved earthworms and dried human placenta so Curt skipped it. I am still breastfeeding and he asked if it was safe for breastfeeding and they said no. They finally gave him something else, but I didn't take it. Our friends continued on the tour and we crashed at the hotel.

By the time we got to the hotel, Curt was going down. We lay on the bed in agony while Eva skipped around the room and found things to destroy. Between the breastfeeding, nose-picking and her refusal to wear shoes, she seems to have built up quite and immune system.

The next day, we gathered our strength for the second day of tours. The guide told us to leave the stroller on the bus, but Ian was in no shape to walk, so we insisted on bringing it. I am so glad we did! There was so much walking in the freezing cold! Ian was bundled under a blanket sleeping and Eva was in the baby carrier. As the wind whipped around and through me, I started thinking that this was a bad plan. Still, we were determined to make the most of it.

The retired people gather in the park for exercises and gambling. Our guide said that the Chinese only gamble for fun, if there's no money involved, there's no fun.

Again, we bailed after part 1 of the tour. We ordered room service at the hotel for lunch. (I knew Curt must be really sick if he suggested that). Again, more lying around and more kid-destruction as Ian started to feel better.

We decided to have a much more laid back plan for Day 4, eating Peiking Duck to celebrate American Thanksgiving. Our friends were staying at the Grand Hyatt and the Peiking Duck at the Made in China restaurant there got very good reviews so we jumped in a cab and headed over.

What a great restaurant! The place is decorated with fresh ingredients, teapots and other cook wear. You can see the cooks pulling with duck out of the wood fired oven. Other cooks are making handmade noodles and dumplings in the open. We had ordered two ducks and an order of noodles for the kids. Ian loved the duck so we really could have finished 3 ducks without a problem. They carve the duck at the table for you and then make you soup out of the duck bones. The duck skin is supposed to be dipped in sugar and eaten. The soup was delicious and perfect for our colds. Thankfully, I was eating again at this point.

Our final morning in Beijing was spent freezing our butts off looking for treasures at an outdoor market. I picked up an iron Buddha head, some beads, brass door knockers and a metal fish lock. Our friend helped us bargain. I hate to negotiate, but I bought myself a bracelet and negotiated for it. My friend's perspective is good, just decide what you want to pay and as long as you are getting a good deal compared to Korea, then who cares? These people were going to be out in the cold all day so why squeeze them for the last RMB? It was too cold for how long it would take. We did, however, get their prices down a lot because the initial was almost always $100. I didn't have the energy to take pictures, but my friend did. They would have been great pictures with my camera. Again, Ian spent this adventure under a blanket in the Terrain.

We are back in Seoul, still recovering. We have a double entry visa so we might try to go back before it expires. In the meantime, we need to find a beach somewhere warm to go next!

Friday, November 12, 2010

Ian Met His President

Ian is a long time supporter of President Obama. Ian started talking to Obama on his toy cell phone during the election. He just picked up in him from tv. He would put his cell phone to his ear and say,"Hello, Barack Obama. Are you workin?"

Then, he'd put the phone down and look at me and say,"He's workin'."

I was an Obama supporter so when he started doing that, I ordered him a cool Barack Obama shirt. He wore it for Election night and day.

When Ian sees Obama on the television he says,"Hey, that's my President."

Curt asked him if he wanted to see President Obama and Ian said,"He's too far, I think he's in the 'nited States."

President Obama was in town this past week for the G-20 Summit and participated in some Veteran's Day activities on Yongsan. We had a great view and even showed the President Ian's shirt. Both Curt and Ian shook his hand and he complimented Eva's dress (which she picked out herself).

We had to be there about 2 hours before the event. A lot of gates were shut down and driving was restricted so we walked with the kids in the double stroller. It was cold and windy, but there was a warming tent. Then, it warmed up enough to hang outside. The kids had fun running around and Eva insisted on taking her coat off. I said,"Coat on."

She said,"No. My dress!"

I thought she was too young for that kind of stuff, but recently she has become very opinionated about her clothing. She didn't want her coat covering her dress.

Then, she got bored and started demanding to nurse. I had to nurse her and try to take pictures of the President. I did get her to release (not easy lately) so she could meet the President.

Here is President Obama straightening Ian's shirt so he could see it better.

Here he is talking to Eva. You can't see Eva and I in the picture, but that is the moment.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Back to the Races

We ran/walked a 5K today. Curt pushed Ian and Eva in the Mountain Buggy Urban Double Stroller. I will be blogging over at Mountain Buggy about our adventures, but this post is more about hitting the Doughnut Plant afterwards.
Warming up:

Curt and the kids had to break away from me, because I wanted to walk more than run. Even with a few stops they had to make along the way for kid issues, they still finished a few minutes ahead of me. As I was run/walking I was thinking about the women in labor that I support. Labor is often compared to a marathon, but you really can sleep during labor or go limp and your body will keep working. Not so, with running. Still, as I was having this thought, I passed a mom telling her kids,"If you would just concentrate on your breathing it wouldn't hurt so much." So, I tried to focus on breathing and it did help. I ran during the final stretch. Here I am after coming across the finish line.

Celebrating our effort at Doughnut Plant afterwards.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Photo Holiday Cards from Shutterfly

I love holiday photo cards, both giving and receiving them. It is fun to see friends and family through the years and much more personal than the standard boxed holiday cards. For the past few years, I've ordered my cards through Shutterfly. Shutterfly has a wide range of designs and offers folded greeting cards, flat stationary cards and flat photo cards. There is no minimum purchase for the folded greeting cards. Flat photo cards can be purchased in sets of 12. I like that you can have cards made with minimal investment. Personally, I prefer the folded greeting cards, but if getting all of your cards as folded greeting cards would bust your budget, you can get just a few for very close friends and family and order the rest as flat photo cards. Also, if you are really running short on time, Shutterfly will mail the cards directly to your recipients.

There are lots of great designs this year, including Story Cards. I am thinking of using the Story Cards for my holiday cards this year. This design is would be great for baby's first year or to show all of your adventures throughout the year. This design has a section inside for 4 pictures with text boxes so you can say what individual family members have been doing. This design is a short version of the holiday letter. I think people appreciate pictures with short text more than a 3 page holiday letter.

I may just go simpler, though. Something like this or this where the picture is the primary feature. Or, if I have a good grouping of related photos, maybe this. I need to look at the pictures I have. I need to get on it, to since it is November already and the time between Halloween and New Years seems to fly by.

I've also ordered many photo gifts through Shutterfly including calendars, ornaments and necklaces. Last year, our Christmas card pictures made awesome keepsake ornaments.

Do you want 50 free holiday cards from Shutterfly? Click here to go to Shutterfly for information on how you can get 50 free cards this holiday season, and make sure to select Clever 1000 as the referral source. This post is part of a series sponsored by Shutterfly.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Slacker Blog Friends

I have blog friends and friends with blogs. My blog friends are people who I got to know through comments and correspondence on our blogs. My friends with blogs, I got to know in real life and since they blogged, I linked to them. I was just checking through my links to make sure they were all still good when I started to notice that many of my good friends IRL, are slacker bloggers.

Friends, I love you, but if you don't post as least once a month (or two) I am going to have to delete you. You are probably all on Facebook anyway and I won't miss a thing. When I started Facebook, I too, seriously slacked on my blog. I'm still not sure my blog is relevant, but I will keep it going for the family at least (they STILL aren't on Facebook).

So, don't be offended if you notice that you are gone from my sidebar. If you start posting again, I will link again!

Monday, November 1, 2010

Ian's Dream Spot

The teacher asked the kids in Ian's class where they would go if they could go anywhere in the world. She got various answers like,"Lotte World" and "Burger King". Ian said,"Pennsylvania."

Teacher asked,"Why do you want to go to Pennsylvania."

Ian replies,"My grandma lives there!"