Monday, April 27, 2009

A secret admirer

Today Audrey got a postcard at her school from a secret admirer. It says:
"Audrey Gao
Audrey Gao I miss you.
Audrey Gao I {heart} you."

The whole thing just makes my heart flutter. I asked her all kinds of questions like:
- Do you have any idea who it is? (No.)
- Why do you think they say 'I miss you'. Has someone left your school lately? (No.)
- Do you think it's from a boy or a girl? (Not sure.)
- Are you going to do anything to try to find out who it is? (Of course not.)
- Will you smile at all the boys tomorrow and try to guess by the way they smile back if they're the secret admirer?

In answer to that last question she said, "You never got one of these when you were little, did you?"

"In fact I didn't. How can you tell?"

"I can just kinda tell."

I need to try to be more cool.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

"I'm sure only half of them will come"

For Grant's birthday we decided to invite his whole class to our house for a party. We thought maybe half would come since it was in the middle of a long weekend but to our surprise almost everyone RSVP'd so Buddy and I found ourselves planning a party for 18 kids and 14 adults! He and I were up until 3am the night before the party - dyeing eggs (120 of them), making sandwiches, pizzas, soup, ants-on-a-log, and 160 Easter cookies.

Check out my work - I was so proud of myself!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Lollipops, Tanks and Lakes

My son Grant has a little bit of a competitive streak. He gets it from my husband, who once heard that the lake in the apartment complex next to ours is bigger than ours and he makes us all jog over there every once in a while after dinner to look at it and see if it's true. The whole family has to stand there analyzing the lake from many different angles trying to decide if it really is bigger than ours. And if it is, would we consider moving?

He says he would move over something like this.

I say that he would be moving by himself then.

Anyway when Grant and I do homework together we usually have to have competitions to see who can write their Chinese characters better. Grant gets to name our teams. Last night he was the Tank Team.

He named me the Lollipop Team.
Yes, the Tank Team was lobbing cannon balls at the Lollipop Team before the games even got started.

So far I am letting Grant win in these games. I could kick his butt if I wanted to - I'm decent at writing Chinese characters since I used to live in Japan and Japan borrowed China's letters many centuries ago (and still haven't given them back) - but one day soon Grant will start kicking my butt, I know he will.

That will be a sad day for the Lollipop Team.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Audrey goes to a regular Chinese school so they weren't celebrating Easter last weekend and she had her regular load of homework. Which is always a lot on the weekends.

Saturday night we told her she had to finish her homework before we would let her decorate Easter eggs. She said we were very mean parents and voila, the ensuing English essay:

"Easter. I like Easter but this Easter is not god [sic], because I did my homework.

Tonight was not fun, but today was fun. I hope I will have a great day tomorrow."

Why "The Downtown Diner"?

If blogs were restaurants mine would be a downtown diner. The food you get here wouldn't be haute cuisine or especially nutritious but it would always taste good.

Basically I'd be the grilled cheese sandwich of blogosphere.

But the waitress here knows your name and she always has a smile for you, and it's a good place to stop by whenever you need a little break.

If your blog was a restaurant what would it be like? Leave me a comment.

I'm not sure these children are mine

Here's something you would never seen in my childhood home.

It's a chocolate Easter bunny. In its entirety. Two.days.after.Easter.


This is why I'm not sure these children are mine. No self-respecting Parsons would let a chocolate bunny see the sun set on Easter Day.

I grew up in a home that was absolutely Darwinian when it came to snacking. The strongest got the best snacks and if you showed any sign of weakness at all you would soon find yourself at the bottom of a heap and they would be eating your Ho-Ho.

Except you'd have lost the right to call it "your" Ho-Ho when you put it down on your plate to take a sip of your milk. You hesitated. Don't blame the shark for eating the wounded fish, it's what he was made to do.

My youngest sister Amanda was naturally at a disadvantage since by the time she came along there were already three sharks swimming the waters. She says that sometimes when a fray ended and she had once again gotten nothing she would climb up to the the cabinet and sneak herself a grape-flavored Flintstones vitamin.

She does have great teeth.

There was no hierarchy in our snacking power struggles. Adults got no more respect than kids. Once my mom bought a pie for Easter and she wrote "Don't Touch" on the top of the box. So naturally my two younger sisters ate it before the rest of us got up on Easter morning. When my mom discovered what they had done - I can still see here there in her bathrobe, gasping, pointing at "Don't Touch", saying something about Easter being a holy day and company and could we not show some restraint?! - they feigned wide-eyed innocence, swearing they thought that box top said "Don's Touch" and that that was the name of the bakery.

We were creative.

And we did well under pressure.

And thus I just cannot figure out how my own offspring have left this chocolate bunny on the table this long. There was another bunny, which they've eaten, so I know they know what it is.

Meanwhile there's a half-eaten pan of granola on the stove top. (Which by the way comes from Boomama and believe me it is every bit as delicious as she says it is!) (I prefer the baked oatmeal from Stretchmark Mama. But that's just me.)

Is it possible the hospital would have switched them both at birth?

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Overheard at The Orchard today

Today some friends and I had lunch at the Orchard and I wish I had recorded some of the comments.

"Frequent flyer miles are like fireworks - they're just for fun." (- Buddy)

"I find gnomes repulsive." (- Chantal)

"Next week I'll be in the land of free diet Coke refills." (- Greg)

"My son is good at mopping? Is that all I'm getting for $10,000?!" (- Helen)

"You need eggs, vinegar and food dye? Can you write that down for me?" (-Ray)

"Just stay calm, I'll talk you through this." (- Sheri)

"I had some serious trust issues after that." (- Grace, after her husband completely surprised her with a huge birthday party)

"I'm sorry I lied to you. And it was a bad lie. I was under duress." (- Dalton)

"I'll watch the kids." (- Damien, noted here because those are the sweetest words to any mother's ears)

Friday, April 10, 2009


I'm excited about turning 40 today because I think this is the sexiest age ever. (You see why I moved from the corporate blog over here, I would never have ventured to write "sexy" on my company's blog space even though I mean it in the most un-sexy way possible.) (You know what I mean.)

So what is so sexy about 40?

40-year-old women know themselves. I mean, we've been living with ourselves day in and day out for four decades now so I guess we really should know ourselves. We know our strengths (first impressions) and our weaknesses (anything cheese-flavored). We know what looks good on us (long earrings and scarves) and what doesn't (hiking boots and shorts). We know what we like (a long dinner with good friends, bubble baths) and what we don't (pettiness, sesame paste). We don't waste time on things that we used to (reading trashy magazines, worrying about our thighs) and we invest in the things that we find rewarding (doting on our friends and family, flax seeds).

And we've come to love ourselves as we are. When we look in the mirror we see more good than bad, more character than wrinkle, more curve than lump, more shine than oil, more sparkle than grey, more radiance than ruddiness. And we've learned that in order to love ourselves more, we need to look in the mirror less anyway.

And people who know and love themselves are more capable of knowing and loving others, and really, what more does anyone want than to be known and loved? And thus the virtuous circle is created that, trust me, leads us back to the conclusion that 40-year-old women are sexy. Just trust me on this one. You'll understand when you're 40.

In addition to feeling sexy at 40, I am completely content. I have every single thing I ever wanted in life. I have had more love, adventure, fulfillment and joy than I ever thought would be possible in an entire lifetime. And here I am just now 40. So I figure if anything good happens to me in the next 40 years or however many I have left, it's just icing on the cake. My cup runs over. I am blessed beyond words.

And thank you Mom for all you did for me this day 40 years ago. And every day since then.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

I am bang

One of the best things about Beijing is the taxis, or more specifically the hearty guys (rarely women) who drive them. There's something about them - they've been around the block a few times so they know you the moment you sit down. Most of them love to chat and they have great stories to share. And you can share all kinds of crazy stories with them and know that a few hours later over potstickers and beer they will share your story with their friends, who will share it with their friends, and suddenly you are even more intricately woven into the colorful tapestry that is Beijing folklore.

And it's all anonymous. That's good for us introverts. Or maybe it's good for the paranoid among us, either way it's a good thing.

I love it when my husband drops me off somewhere to get a cab. The same conversation always ensues.

The cab driver asks me where I'm from. I say I'm from America.

He asks me if that man who just dropped me off is my driver. I smile and say he's my husband.

The driver asks incredulously, "Your husband is Chinese?" I smile again and say that he's born and raised in Beijing. (Have you ever noticed that lots of Chinese girls hook up with Western guys but it almost never goes the other way around? I have many theories about that, that'll be a whole other post some time.)

Then 9 times out of 10, the driver turns around - don'tworryaboutthosecarsinfrontofustheywillswerve - and gives me a big THUMBS UP sign and says "zhen bang!" which means something like "great!"

Which is so sweet. Buddy and I have wondered together what's prompting the thumbs up. Is it that I'm married to a Chinese? Is the thumbs up for him, that he's married to me? Is it that an American and Chinese would marry? Is it a sign that relations between China and America are getting better and better? Is it overall world peace? We have no idea.

I tried asking once.

"What's great about that?"

"It's just great," the driver replied. "Zhen bang!"

So there you have it, ladies and gentlemen. I have no idea why but I'm bang. Or we are bang.