Archive for August, 2009

Back to my old tricks…

Well, it’s been fun re-cutting our Chinese chops this past week. It’s amazing how quickly we’ve become a bit rusty in the language after a couple of months of straight English. It’s coming back quickly though (thank goodness!), and we’re finding our way just fine.

It wouldn’t be right though, without one nice huge mistake to start the new year off. On the phone with our ayi, I told her that the characters in the note she left us were “ugly” instead of “difficult for me to read” – (characters are already difficult to read, and then try to read someone’s quick cursive handwriting). Luckily, as time goes on here, I am able to catch my own mistakes, and I quickly told her that her handwriting was not ugly, just difficult to read. She’s used to us by now though, and thought nothing of it.

We’re back

Yes, we made it. We’re back in our home in Nanjing. How do we know we’re really here?

1) Within 3 hours of landing, four people asked to take Leo’s photo.

2) The unmistakable aroma of China air.

3) Having to figure out how to break the Great Chinese Firewall again to surf our blogs and Facebook.

4) Personal space? Is there even a word for that in Chinese?

5) Dumplings, and more dumplings, yum!

6) Jet lag has us awake at 3am every night.

7) Within 3 days of arrival, having the first bout of stomach.. discomfort.

8 ) Squat pots, no Western toilets in public spaces (and no hot water or soap!).

9) Cheerios are $10 a box again.

10) We can’t read the news anymore!

On to round two

We’re going back.  Tomorrow we board the plane for China for the second time in our lives.  We’re leaving from the same airport (Vancouver), saying goodbye to the same group of friends, but it feels so different from the first time around.  We have our own apartment waiting for us on our return. We have a job lined up.  Most of all, we have the Chinese language on our side this time!   Talk about a huge difference in our outlook.

And for those who may not have seen us this summer, our good news is that we have another baby on the way!  Stay tuned for reviews of maternal care in China, both prenatal and possibly delivery.

We’ll do our best to keep our entries frequent here on the blog.  It’s been a great way to stay in touch with all of you States side.  And we’ve heard about so many people we’ve never even met reading our posts.  At the very least, we hope we’re not boring you all.

So on to round two for our lives in China.  We have to admit we’re eager to go back, excited for whatever adventures cross our way.

The half pound difference

We’ve flown a lot this summer. A lot. And we’ve encountered a lot of different airline procedures in the process. Since we chose to fly only on airlines that aren’t charging for the first checked bag to save as much money as we could, this limited us to Southwest, JetBlue, and Alaska Airlines.

We have three suitcases stuffed to the gills with things we are taking back to China this week (yes, we’re going back for two more years!). Each one is right at the limit, 50 pounds per bag.

Checking in at every airport so far has gone well, with ticketing agents seeing us struggling to lug the suitcases, a carseat, a toddler, a food bag for the plane, and JM’s violin. They haven’t once objected to one suitcase being 51, 52, or 53 pounds.

Not once, that is, until our Alaska Air flight from Dallas this past Saturday.

Our bag weighed 51.5 pounds, and the agent with a blasé expression informed us the bag was too heavy. “Really?” we asked, explaining that each suitcase was at the limit already. “Yes, I can’t tag it if it’s overweight.”

Okay. So weighing the next bag showed 51 pounds, but with some jiggling of the scale, it went down to 50.5. “I guess I can tag this one before the number goes back up again.” Thanks.

The last bag was 49.5. Great, some room to even out. We took one jogging shoe and transferred it from the overweight bag. That again brought the scale up to 51 pounds, but with a little more jimmying, we got it to read 50.5. Quick! Tag it before it changes!

What’s ironic to us is that the shift of one running shoe made all the difference in the world to this ticketing agent. We don’t know what sort of policies at Alaska Air force them to take such a hard line, but it can’t help but seem just a bit petty to us. But travelers beware: the half pound running shoe can make or break your luggage allowance on this airline! Don’t be caught unawares, especially if your airport scale can’t be budged off the mark like ours did.

[PS- with all the time it took quibbling about the weight, Alaska Airlines wasn’t able to get our bags on our flight in the end anyway. We got them delivered later the next day at our destination. At least they made it, including the two bags holding the divided pair of running shoes.]

Summer in the USA

We’ve been in the US for over two months. Next week we’ll be back in China, and we’re just about ready for it. If you’ve wondered where we’ve been, you could have bumped into us in one of the following cities:

Ann Arbor, Austin, Chicago, Dallas, Fort Worth, Galveston, Green Bay, Madison, Milwaukee, New Haven, New York, Seattle, Steubenville, Toledo, Vancouver

We’re not eager ever to repeat such a hefty itinerary again, but we’ve made such great memories on this trip. Thanks to all you for taking us in on our Odyssey!

4th of July

Bike riding

Playing ball

Rural sunset

Feeding chickens

First view of the beach

Beach time

Zoo time