Friday, December 30, 2011

Home Sweet Home

I've been home for 9 days now! It has been great...with one exception. Felt a little nauseous two days after getting home, but thankfully I went away...then I ate Taco Bell. I threw up for six hours and dry heaved for a lovely additional two hours. Then I could barely eat for four days. Silver lining, I caught up on a TON of sleep. I also lost 5 pounds...not quite what I was expecting on my trip back home.

We arrived home to my parent's house to see their 'mother in law' all set up for us. The most awesome aerobed...that was elevated like it had a bed frame and had a bed skirt. The room has a full bath and kitchen plus all of our stuff is stored down there. My mom stocked the kitchen with all of our favorites including four cases of our favorite beers.

Christmas was wonderful and we got great gifts. We both got iPads, tons of gift cards, I got jewelry and hubs got socks ;) video games and a great Swiss Army watch. I am now all I'd up...pod, phone and pad! The iPad s great and we both love it. With our gift card we got a great new camera, the CoolPix L120! Love it!

We've had a great time seeing our friends and family and they loved all their Chinese gifts. The little Chinese dresses for the baby gifts in particular were ADORABLE!

In addition, I got a wonderful surprise from my last post. A new reader who lives in Atlanta is moving to Beijing and we are going to meet for coffee tomorrow! It's nice to know that people read my blog and that I can help a future Beijing expat!

Friday, December 16, 2011

One year in China

     As I sit in my apartment with time to kill this weekend I am feeling very nostalgic. I have just finished my final term paper and I am now done with my second term! I am 3 classes closer to having a Masters degree in Marriage and Family Therapy. Last weekend I did the majority of my Christmas shopping with just a few random purchases left for tomorrow. I got adorable little Chinese outfits for my friends kids, pearl necklaces for my friends and family, and a bunch of other cute stuff. My friend Lana helped me out and haggled the vendors down to great prices. I managed to wrap up a few projects at work, so all in all in has been a good week. In 3 days, 16 hours and 14 minutes I will be on the plane on my way back home! So with that in mind I wanted to do a belated post about my first year living in Beijing.
     Last November, our plane landed in the Beijing (Peking) Airport. The day before that we had a wonderful party with our closest friends and family. They gave us a proper send off and we got the chance to say goodbye just 12 hours before we left for Beijing. We all got very drunk and had a wonderful time.
Hubs and all his buddies
Hubs and his mama
Both drunk playing with baby Emily
Drunk hubs imparting knowledge
     Just our luck, we arrived on a day with Hazardous air quality and especially in North West Beijing, it smelt of burning tires. As I learned, the effects that smell has on your stomach and brain function lessens over time but since then we have purchased masks and that helps so much. In the winter they have the added benefit of keeping my face warm and moist, because it is both FREEZING and DRY in Beijing during the winter.  We stayed in a beautiful Marriot our first night and then moved into our temporary 2 week apartment. Thank the Lord above we were only there for 2 weeks because the apartment was not at all what was advertised to us. It was right by the subway so it was loud, but also convenient. The main problem was the one sheet they offered in late November for warmth. That one sheet and the entire apartment was covered in dust. Not the dust you are used to but a dust that is made of pollution, concrete dust plus regular dust. It feels like cuddling up with a million red fire ants...yeah not comfortable...at all. So Will went out and bought cleaning supplies at 2 am and we scrubbed the place down. Couldn't kill all of the roaches (yeah) but we killed as many as humanly possible.
Outside of the 2 week apartment
The reason we're paid in China
It was FREEZING that day
First meal in China
     We saw about 10,000 apartments in those two weeks. Outside of one particular apartment I was so depressed at the idea of having to live their that I had to excuse myself and go cry in the hallway...no I am not joking. It was a 15 minute walk down skid row to the subway that was still in the middle of nowhere...in the middle of "no I don't speak English you stupid laowei" Land. We ended up moving to a complex called Peace Avenue because compared with everything else we had seen to that point it was heavenly. It wasn't dirty inside...comparatively and it had a decent set up.
Our stop 
Peace Avenue
The exercise yard
Kind of defeats the purpose but to each his own
     Within a few weeks, we met some new friends and went to a Finnish Christmas party. We saw what apartments could be like in Beijing. Now, comparatively, our new place looked as bad as the old place had. About now this is sounding like keeping up with the Joneses, but consider this...the ceiling was falling down in 3 places...true we were on the 23rd floor, but there were still 7 floors above us. Our bathroom sink was building onto the top of a cabinet, that was so water logged it was collapsing. Our toilet and shower room were on in the same with a door that left a 2 inch gap making it the coldest most drafty shower of your life. We signed a year lease and were out in 3 months. It was worth it considering where we were moving.
Our first freeze
Spring Festival
Our first snow
     That Christmas party was so much fun and the turning point for us. Until then we hadn't met many people and had been pretty isolated. In a very Chinese area where we spoke very little Chinese and they spoke no English, it was easier to just stay inside. At the party we ate and drank and made a lot of new friends. 
Will and Timo
Me and Lana
     Anyway, about 1.5 after the party, we moved into the same neighborhood. Upper East Side aka Yang Guang Shang Dong in Lido. We absolutely love this complex and hope to stay in this apartment for the rest of our time in Beijing. We did a lot of work on the place and it is now a place that reflects our style and makes us feel right at home. 


     Tomorrow I will finish our trip down memory lane, but until then...some more photos. First, a classic in Beijing photography...the smog before and after
Before
After
Skiing trip after Christmas 2010
This shot is great...don't you love how I am skiing on "snow" but the hill next door has no snow...technology is great
My studly man

Hello again...

I am a horrible blogger. It's hard to deny. That being said, I do have my excuses. This week, I not only had work, but 2 discussion posts, 2 written assignments and 2 term papers to write. You will be happy to know that except for some polishing on one paper, I am all finished. On top of that, in 5 days, we will be returning to Atlanta for the first time in 13 months for the holidays! I am so excited that I cannot think of anything else! So sorry I haven't blogged in a while, but I will try to find some inspiration this weekend! Happy Holidays! To my pregnant readers/people I follow who haven't given up on me and any other girl who likes awesome writers, check out Pregnant Chicken This woman writes so well and her shit is HILARIOUS. I am not ashamed to say that I was weeping I was laughing so hard when I was reading this at work this week....yeah that's right people, when I wasn't writing papers, I was reading this totally non work related blog...at work. Anyway, enjoy...you will thank me. 

Monday, November 28, 2011

Plans...

The day after I wrote the last post I was informed my gym membership was up...

I re upped it yesterday and had another change of plans. I will be doing the first 3 weeks of the marathon training program my sister is doing. Hal Higdon's Novice Marathon Training. Wish me luck!

AND...

Happy Belated Thanksgiving


Go DAWGS for winning 10 games in a row!


Friday, November 18, 2011

30 Day Challenge

     Something about telling enough people that I plan to do something guilts me into doing it. So here it goes. I am going home for the first time in over a year in 32 days (yes, I know the exact number of days). I was just getting into working out everyday when 2 things happened. 1) I got sick...I tend to baby myself when I get sick. 2) I started school full time...with a full time job. Aka, lots of reasons to stop working out because I am too tired. So, now I am enrolling myself into my own special 30 day program.

     Basic tenets: I WILL work out at least 5 days a week, but my goal is 6. I will try to avoid treating myself with chips and sweets for going to the gym. I will continue to drink tons of water...not hard to do when you live in the dryness equivalent to the desert. I will do strength training, cardio and stretching. I will stretch every day.

Specifics:
Areas I want to work on: Butt (Goal: tone), thighs (Goal: tone), stomach (Goal: tone), arms (Goal: Build muscle and tone)

Arms:
Determine the maximum weight you can lift for each exercise so you can build a workout routine around your maximum for each exercise. Your maximum is the amount of weight you can lift one time before failure. If you can do several reps with a weight, add more weight to determine your one-time max. Perform a warm-up set of an exercise, performing five reps of the exercise using 60 percent of your maximum weight. Take a 2- to 3-minute break, then repeat the set of five lifts using 80 percent of your max. Take another break, then perform three more sets of five reps using 100 percent of your max. Rest between each set. Perform all five sets of the same exercise before moving on to the next. Recheck max each week.” Livestrong

Everything else:
Use weight to perform eight to 10 repetitions of an exercise, using 40 to 70 percent of your maximum weight. Take only 1-minute breaks between sets. You can move from exercise to exercise each set. Repeat 3-4 times per exercise.


Cardio:
Exercise at a pace that I can maintain for 15 minutes (At this point, that is running at about 9 on the treadmill)
Each week, increase the time I run by 5 minutes.
Week 1: 15 minutes
Week 2: 20 minutes
Week 3: 25 minutes
Week 4: 30 minutes
During the end of my third week, start adding sprints. Sprint for 30-90 seconds and then take a 2 minute break.

Wish me luck! I will keep you updated on my progress! I know I have been a horrible blogger recently, but if your wondering why...check above. Work, school and now exercise! 

Friday, November 4, 2011

Tokyo trip!

Tokyo was great...from what my husband tells me ;). I found out last Monday that my boss wanted me to go to Tokyo in his place for DIA (pharma) conference. He said he would know for sure if I could go on Tuesday. So Tuesday afternoon my boss bought my ticket and I bought hubs a ticket to go to Japan! He has always wanted to go to Japan, and since his birthday was November 1st, what better time to “surprise” him. We woke up at 4:30am Wednesday and by 5 were on our way to the airport. We had quite a bit of time to kill at the Starbucks so we chatted a little and drank some coffee. Then we got in the security check line next to one of the many families in China leaving with a new Chinese daughter. The inspection that this infant got would rival any TSA rubdown. Then we taxied forever and 3 hours later we were in Japan. Nice, clean, beautiful Japan!

Everyone we dealt with was so polite. Holding doors open, smiling at us while taking our order...etc etc. Plus the streets were clean, no one felt it necessary to honk (ever) and people let you cross the street when you had the “Ok to walk” signal.

I worked all day Thursday and then went out to a work dinner with some clients and didn't arrive back at the hotel until around 11. Friday was a little better, since I got back at 5. That night we went out to Shibuya, got a VERY expensive tiny dinner and then just wandered around seeing the district. Shibuya is the shopping district (or one of them) of Tokyo. The main street is supposed to be one of the most crossed streets in the world. It's where the Tokyo “Time Square” is...complete with a HUGE 2 story Starbucks. Later that night we got a wonderful apple pie crepe that was delicious! The next day we wandered some more and then headed back to Beijing. 3 days of clean fresh air, quiet and orderly people was just what I needed. The only downfall...it is extremely expensive in Tokyo. A 30 minute taxi ride that would have cost me $8 in Beijing cost me $80! Overall though, if you have money to spend and want a cool place to visit, I recommend Tokyo.

Now for the photo dump Part 1: Camera edition...iPhone edition is to come 

View from our hotel room
So pretty and refreshing
Buildings...
Very popular donut shop
Looks awesome...I LOVE Starbucks...its almost sad
See the trend...line out the door for donuts


First course at Will and Yuki's dinner...I know...who orders vomit on purpose...it was supposedly good 
Yuki cooking up the second course
Nice clean subway :)
A building that everyone was taking pictures of...so Will did too


Ask your kids to look away
...
...
...
...
...
REALLY
...
...
...
...
Entrance to one of the many sex shops...this one was 4 stories high...
Mount Fuji in the distance
Shibuya aka Japan's Time Square 
Pretty park wedding
First and only couple picture in Japan...might be more on the phone

Loved it! Sad to come back!


Sunday, October 30, 2011

Tokyo

Got back last night from a 3 day trip to Tokyo. I was flown there for a conference but I flew hubs along with me for his birthday. We had a great time and I will be sure to post all about it this week! For now...I am going to eat dinner, relax and prepare for the second term of my MA (first term full time...scary) and another week of work. Hope everyone had a great weekend!

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Congratulations!

Congratulations to my cousin Molly! She just got engaged! I wish I could be home right now so I could give her a huge hug and a kiss but that will just have to wait another 8 weeks. Now I am even more excited to meet her fiance in December! 

Friday, October 21, 2011

I Can Breathe

I finally got my masks. I have been waiting for weeks and they are finally here. The winters here are not only bitterly cold, they are hazardous to your lungs. The pollution is definitely at its worst in the winters with coal as the major heat producer here. You can literally taste the coal in your mouth and feel it in your lungs and stomach. It sounds as nice as it is in reality.




Granted, they are a little silly looking but they help so much. I feel so much better when I go out on nasty days now. Wish it had been here on Thursday...I now have a killer head-cold because of the hazardous air quality here. Anyway, when it gets cold it will hope my face stay warm. Yay! For anyone in Beijing, the pollution masks are from I Can Breathe and are available in several countries. The US, Hong Kong and Australia to name a few. I highly recommend them!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Missing home

Gus
Nothing like your dog's first snow...in March...in Georgia
All day at work today I was thinking back to last Fall. Outside of our condo we had a drainage ditch that would get filled to the brim (5-6 feet deep) with leaves. So every once in a while, Will and I would go outside and get our exercise raking leaves. Gus would run around crazy ruining our piles like a little kid and finding there dirtiest patch of running water or mud and role around in it until he was content. I love that dog so much and I have been really missing him lately. When we moved to China I gave him to a friend of mine whose mom is his owner now. Having him for the year and a half that I did was such a fun time for me. He was such a joy to play with and was so protective of me.

This was my pup when he was brand new
Me and Gus last Fall on our hiking trip...that water was freezing!
I have been missing home this season.
I miss the trees changing colors 
I miss taking fresh air and changing seasons for granted
I miss the smell of wood burning, I miss finally being able to sit in my car with black leather seats without burning my legs (really I miss having a car!) I miss my family and my friends 
One of my all time favorite pictures 
Me and my sister 
I have been feeling sentimental and I wanted to share some past pictures. Hopefully soon I will have some more pictures of this Fall to post...but so far this Fall, this is my life:

work--> work out--> sleep--> repeat x5 --> work on school--> relax  

My sister reminded me that we need to be taking and posting more pictures for people back home...message received. Hope everyone is having a wonderful Fall!