Archive for the ‘Holidays’ Category

New Family Members!

24 January 08

This week the DH & I became aunt & uncle for the 10th time! My sister had a healthy baby boy on the 20th. Congrats!

Baby nephew Seth is not the only new addition, however, a very special dinosaur also joined the family on New Year’s Eve:

Our new Pleo!

Shrek – a Pleo dinosaur

Shrek (so named by a nephew) is a Pleo – an advanced dinosaur robot. He can walk, make noise and react to life forms around him. (He also knocks over empty soda cans in his path.) He has advanced sensors all over his body and he knows when you are petting him. Evidently, Pleos can adapt and learn over time. He really is incredible to see. Shrek was a gift from the DH & I to our Spanish nieces & nephew. I want one now, too!

David & Shrek

Our nephew David & Shrek. He loves to be scratched behind the ears.

Shrek dancing

Shrek singing & dancing Christmas songs (an added feature)


Going Home

25 December 07

This is just a quick post to let everyone know that I am SUPER busy trying to get ready for our trip to Spain and onward move…somewhere!

Merry Christmas and Happy Eid and Best Wishes for a Wonderful Holiday!

We will be in transit for the next few days, hopefully arriving in Spain for the weekend. Posts will resume upon our arrival, I can’t guarantee any updates in the meantime. Take care, I’ll be thinking of you all!

Happy Turkey Day!

21 November 07

Today I am thankful that I have finally finished my two term papers. I know that is not what I am supposed to say thanks for, but really, that is all that has been on my mind for the last two weeks. The semester is not over yet, but I feel like I can finally breathe.

On that note, I am also setting an early New Year’s resolution: I shall never procrastinate a school paper again. I swear.

Now that the papers are done, I will have more time for blogging!

Happy Thanksgiving Americans! (Canadians – I am SO sorry. I forgot your thanksgiving this year. I guess I am back to being a typical American again…)

**Update at 1500** I just realized that it is not Thanksgiving Day yet. I’m a day early. In my defense, I started work this week on a Sunday instead of Monday, so to me it really does feel like a Thursday. I’m not a bad American, I promise. So come back tomorrow and read this post!

Happy Halloween!

31 October 07


I’ve been a Pippi lookalike since birth. In fact, this

is how I usually dress for Halloween. I didn’t win

“Best Pippi Longstocking Impersonation” my senior year of

high school for nothing. Sadly, this year my hair isn’t long enough

and I’m not too sure how well Pippi translates in China.


Have a ghoul day!

Golden Week

1 October 07

Happy National Day, China. I know I’ve been hard on you lately, but only because I care.

This week is called Golden Week and most workers will be home celebrating with family. We love work so much, our company will stay open.

Enjoy the holiday!

It’s Mid-Autumn!

26 September 07

I should’ve known something was up when all the bread disappeared from the supermarket and was replaced by mooncakes.

It’s that time again: Mid-Autumn Festival! This is the day that the Chinese traditionally celebrate the end of the harvest and admire the full moon. It also means that it is time to eat mooncakes.

Mooncakes are little round pastries that are given as gifts to family, friends and business acquaintances. I remember when we first arrived in Beijing, two years ago. Boxes of four mooncakes were on display everywhere – hotel lobbies, supermarkets, businesses. We thought it odd, but had no idea that in the month of September, mooncakes take over China. Mooncakes can vary in flavor from delicious to gag-worthy. Usually that depends on whether or not they are moist and sweet or dry and odd. They can be filled with paste made from lotus root, red bean or who knows what. Sometimes they have an egg yolk inside, to represent the moon, as can be seen above. The Washington Post has an interesting article on what those Beijing folk are doing with mooncakes. Green tea ice cream mooncakes? I looonnggg to be in Beijing!!


I had some mooncake last night at our company party, and it wasn’t bad. Yes, I did say company party. Did you read about our last company party? Well, this was more of the same: lots of food, lots of toasting, some puke and some passing out, but not too crazy as we were all home by 10PM. The highlight of the evening for me was when two of the company managers told me I am really fat. I know. Gotta love that tact. I wanted to tell them they were ugly, but since I don’t know how to say that in Chinese, and they don’t speak English, I just walked away. (Or waddled..)

The infamous mooncakes – with lotus paste & red bean paste

Our students at the party.

Celebrating 6 Years

4 August 07

Ivan & Heather

The DH and I

The End of the Spring Festival

6 March 07

This past Sunday was the Lantern Festival. This festival marks the end of the Spring Festival/Chinese New Year celebrations. It always takes place on the first full moon following New Year’s Day (which is held on the new moon).

According to tradition, Chinese people head into the streets under the full moon to look at lanterns, play games, watch dragon dancing. It sounded like a charming holiday, so the DH and I headed to Linyi’s People’s Square (the plaza in the city center) to watch some lanterns, or see some dancing.

I was expecting to see some lanterns, but all I saw was a BUNCH of fireworks, going off loudly and colorfully in every direction in the city. Literally, you could hear booms and see color or shadows of color everywhere one looked. The square was packed full of people, but there were no lanterns. Not one! I guess tradition has gone out the window in favor of fireworks. The DH was in heaven with all the color and noise. Personally, I felt like I was in the midst of the London Blitzkrieg with the booms and bams and the lit up sky and all the burning embers.

Back in the states, fireworks are generally banned in most cities. On major holidays like Independence Day, the city will usually arrange a spectacular fireworks show. In China, many major cities have also banned fireworks, but Linyi has not. The city government here also arranged a fireworks show, but it was one (albeit bigger) display among hundreds. I’ve never seen or heard anything like it.

After checking out the square, we returned to our neighborhood, across the river that divides Linyi into several districts. From our side of the river bank, we had a panoramic view of rockets and lights and embers all across the city. It would have been more beautiful had it not also been -5 C and demoniacally windy. We are now living in a 5th floor apartment inside a small apartment complex. (I almost wrote “flat” there – I am being brainwashed by all the Brits!) Some of our neighbors were shooting off fireworks inside the complex. The “treat” for us was that they would explode more or less in front of our living room windows. Nothing like being inside a fireworks display!

So, with the end of Spring Festival, we can expect to hear much less fireworks. The fireworks street vendors have moved on, along with all the red paper decoration vendors. A few weeks ago, the roads were lined with temporary stands selling all the necessities for the New Year. Now everything is getting back to normal.

I had hoped that Spring weather would actually arrive with the festival, but no, we are experiencing a frigid cold front, with temperatures once again below zero. Lhasa is looking warm right about now!

A Little Break

15 February 07

Tomorrow is day one of our Chinese New Year vacation. We will be spending the 16th, 17th and 18th in Chengdu, in Southwest China. The 17th is Chinese New Year Eve and the 18th is Chinese New Year Day. The evening of the 18th we will board the train for Lhasa and 47 hours later we will arrive in Tibet! We will be in Tibet for a grand total of 5 days. 😦 Then we will fly to Shanghai for a day or two and then, back to Linyi for work on the 27th.

I will be looking for internet connections throughout the trip to keep the  blog updated.

Happy New Year!

Spring Festival is in the Air

31 January 07

Spring Festival Decor

Spring Festival, aka Chinese New Year, will begin soon, and nowhere is it more evident then in the streets of China. All the restaurants and shops are gearing up for the festivities by decorating the windows, doors, entrances, walls, etc. with red banners and all manner of bells and whistles. The supermarkets are also selling decorations for home use. Where before there were Christmas decorations, now there are red paper cutouts, gold and red banners, glittery Chinese characters proclaiming happiness and good fortune and big red lanterns. I’ve even noticed that supermarket sections that usually sell bed sheets, socks, housewares, etc. have pulled out all the red and gold colored sheets, socks, housewares, etc. to sell for good luck.

Ivan and Spring Festival Decor
DH browsing the decorations in Linyi’s Wholesale Market

Soon the skies will be filled with the noise and sight of colorful fireworks – meant to scare away the bad spirits. Families will be reunited – already the train stations are filling up with people trying their best to make their way home. (Millions of Chinese travel far away from their homes to work or attend University. There is no guarantee they will get a train ticket home, so many start the migration early.) And, Global Gal and the DH will be doing some traveling of their own.

Last year we spent Chinese New Year in Cambodia & Thailand. This year we have decided to journey to Lhasa, Tibet on the new high-altitude railway.

Red Lanterns
Red Lanterns for sale in Linyi’s Wholesale Market