Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Please help me!

Here is my problem (well one of them anyway)...I love the picture I chose for the blog background, but now the text color bothers me! I can see half of what is on the outskirts of my posts. I can kind of see the links to other blogs and I can only half see the blog archive...I hope someone computer oriented reads this and can help!

On a funny side note, I have learned three new Mandarin phrases in the spirit of summer.

1. xing ba ke Starbucks
2. bing ji lin Ice Cream
3. bing kafei Iced Coffee

Hope everyone had a great Memorial Day!

Sunday, May 29, 2011

More fixing

     This weekend we went at another piece of furniture. Next weekend we finish the final coat on the bed and paint the dressers. I love the way the room already looks SO different! After these transformations are done, I find a green toile pattern and finish the room! 

     Btw, my husband informed me today that no one cares about our bedroom transformation. I explained to him that, being a man, he just does not understand...that being said, if this does not make you wonder why you read my blog, leave a comment so I can show him!

Pre Transformation
Mid Transformation...obviously
The finished product...sorry it's crocked
Weekends over, hope your's was relaxing and wonderful!

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Another step toward redecoration

The bed's drawer was taped closed...and that tape left on...and a PAIN to get off
All prepped and ready to go!
One coat of paint down, one to go!

Friday, May 20, 2011

Culture Shock

Culture shock is real. I traveled to 27 countries over a period of 6 years and I thought I had experienced culture shock. I saw shocking things, but never really experienced true culture shock. The reason being, I have discovered, that I never LIVED in those places. The two places I did live, Auckland and Sydney, are both “Western” countries. Thus the culture differences in those cases were small quirky things that people mostly find comedic “Why do you call a Band-aid a plaster?” “Why are you laughing at me because I said I am rooting for my boyfriend who is playing soccer”...etc.

Beijing (I will not speak for all of China) and the US could not be more different. The US is not perfect, but it is my home. China is the new “land of opportunities” and that's the reason we moved here. Here, both hubs and I are working and making a sustainable income. Here we can pay of debt and start saving for the future. Here we can learn Mandarin and become more marketable. Yet...I have not been happy here. I just admitted that out loud yesterday for the first time and its like a weight off my shoulders. I spend most days focusing on the differences and how I wish Beijing was more like the US. I have not accepted that China is different and that's OK. I have been very stressed lately dealing with this and have had a low grade fever for over 2 weeks. No I am not joking. This pattern I have established is not healthy, for me or my marriage.

I am aggravated with everything around me and when I'm not aggravated, I'm sad, or sick. My job is not fulfilling me and it's no mystery why. I majored in Child and Family Development not Professional Recruitment. I want to get my Masters degree in Marriage and Family Therapy and work with couples, parents and children. But...grad school is expensive and I would have to take an online graduate program from Beijing. Are online schools really as reputable as campus based schools? Part time or full time? I have been thinking I could go to one of the expat hospitals and see about what kinds of positions I am eligible for, but will that be enough to sustain us? Student loans...and more debt. Not part of our original China plan. The course they offer at Pacific University in MFT looks amazing...can I find something that great online? Opinions?

So, here is what I've decided... Happiness is a state of mind. You can be miserable anywhere if you want to be, and the same goes for happiness. I can be happy here just like I can be happy in Atlanta. That being said, I have spent so long seeing things as temporary...high school, college, Atlanta and now Beijing. It gives me an excuse to not try too hard...because I'm just going to leave so whats the point. I am not a sad person, I am a happy and sarcastic person, and I need to settle in here and make some changes.

This has never been more thought provoking to me...
God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, Courage to change the things I can, And wisdom to know the difference.

I can not change the fact that there are parts to Beijing I dislike, and certain habits of the Chinese that I find rude and abrasive. It's a different culture and the Chinese people that I have gotten to know have all been very nice to me. I will not complain about things I cannot change ANYMORE. Laugh, but not complain.

Now onto another step into my “new Beijing”. I concluded that I was allergic to gluten and lactose about a year ago. My grandmother, who I was very close to and shared a birthday with, had died. I had finished college only to find the job market less than accommodating. I was deciding whether to break up with W and stay in Atlanta or marry him and move to the other side of the globe. That caused it's fair share of familial tension. Role it into a tidy ball and you will notice I dealt with a LOT of stressors. Take this questionnaire...both hubs and I scored over 450.

So...are my allergies psychosomatic? Will they go away if I work through my stressors and move on with my life? Time will tell.

Sorry that was a lot of baggage dropped all at once, but I feel better working through it all on paper...and then Word... and then the blog. :)

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

What are 5 things I can not live without?

Kate has made another list, so I am linking up again. I love list's being that I am a hardcore somewhat Type A personality. This week's theme...make a list of 5 products you can't live without...
  1. My laptop that provides me internet access. Nothing is more relaxing to me than coming home and wasting time on my computer. Facebook stalking, blog stalking, watching TV...all great habits...yeah...don't judge

  2. Skype. I would be lost in Beijing without Skype. Being able to talk to my family and friends back home adds a small degree of normalcy to living in China. Until inevitably they block Skype here...

  3. Lotion. If you had asked me to make this list when I lived in Atlanta, lotion would NOT have been on it...but since moving to the driest place on Earth, its on there.

  4. My hair brush. I loathe having tangled hair.

  5. My iPod. I am imaging myself on a deserted island with only 5 things...and I would definitely need to be able to get away every once in a while with my music in hand.   

A small glance into my psyche...please don't stop reading my blog after you read this  ;) 

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Musings on self improvement

Self improvement means so many different things to different people. For me it comes down to several different categories...

1. General health and wellness (shocking I know, such an individual concept)
2. Developing my interests and hopefully turning them into new hobbies
3. Scheduling...to get more out of my life
---and finally and most importantly---
4. Researching work at home/ work for myself ideas and hopefully going down that path myself sometime

With that said, at this point, the reason I am at my current job is because of the money and because it looks good on a resume. If I could find a way to work from home, I would take it. The perks of working for yourself are endless. You work as hard as you want to in order to achieve your goals; not the goals of someone else. You can dictate your own schedule. You can be involved in several things at once, keeping things from becoming too monotonous.  Now...with that being said, I don't even know where to start. Is this even an achievable goal without some great business plan? I have a very specific idea of what I am interested in, but is that marketable? Is there a way for me to combine things I hear about (but often end up being a scam) like data entry, medical transcriptions, coaching etc...? Anyone with any knowledge of this, please enlighten me with answers. I have a website with my area of interest, so please check it out and let me know what you think. The name is silly and too long I realized, but a lot of the good domain names are gone, so don' judge.


I've thought of one way I may be able to combine interests with a business idea, but would anything come of it? I am very pragmatic, maybe a little too much so sometimes...so I tend to over think things. Coaching sounds interesting to me, pregnancy and motherhood is the thing in life that interests me the most...so could I coach soon to be pregnant-pregnant-mothers? The only hang up I foresee is that I have never been pregnant. Small issue? Big issue? Barbara, you're a mom, what do you think?

Do any of my readers, or passerby's of the blog, have any experience with work at home/ home businesses? Or any idea they wish they could turn into a business? Let me know, I love hearing from my followers!

Saturday, May 14, 2011

New Beginnings

Until this point, my blog postings have been very similar. I feel something, experience something, witness something, and the next time I have a free moment, I blog about it. I have been searching for new blogs to read lately for inspiration, and I found several that did just that. All of these women are written by women who I believe write very well.

Tales of a Tai Tai
Kate Takes 5
A Mummy in a Strange Land

I must guiltily admit that this is not my only motivation in finding new blogs to read...I also suffer from a crippling case of what I have named "Followers Envy". It is my hope that when I find good blogs to read and begin to follow them, they will follow the reciprocal link I stealthily leave, find my blog irresistibly charming and follow me in return. This has been partially successful (Brittany, BarbaraKate) but less successful in almost every other case. But I digress...

I have spent this week mapping out my next several posts to move away from reactive posting and into thoughtful posting. I have been noting down ideas in my notebook, writing little spinets in online documents and subsequently "mind mapping" with Blumind (A free software MADE for Type A personalities). Hopefully you all like the change.

Musings to follow...

First though...Thank you so much to my mother for the AMAZING care package. I was very sad to have missed mothers day this year, but even from the other side of the planet I can feel how much my mom loves me. Here are some highlights from my latest care package shipment...3 boxes!

Yummy gluten free grits and gluten free macaroons
Gluten free chocolate
One of my favorite pair of shoes...plus 2 other pairs

Monday, May 9, 2011

Just for fun...

I see these pants everywhere but I never have the opportune time to take a picture. Thus, I stole this picture from Beijing Kids

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Oops...forgot one

Jackpot! Twins aka one of the only ways to have two kids in China! Congrats! 

Chaoyang Gongyuan

     Just for a little something different, I am NOT going to tell you about the negative events that kicked off my weekend. I have the propensity to be somewhat realistic in what I post about, but unfortunately that viewpoint can also be seen as negativism.

     So we are going to skip right past a few hours of my Friday evening and right onto the great Mexican restaurant we went to last night to celebrate Cinco de Mayo a little late. We took a cab to Solana, this great outdoor shopping mall, that also has tons of restaurants and a few clubs all around the edges of the shops. Don't imagine an American mall restaurant, instead imagine a European restaurant strip. If you type in "Solana Beijing" and look at the images on Google, you will see how cool this place is. Anyway, the food was great, the service was great and most importantly the Tequila was real and great. I say real because in China a lot of the alcohol is either watered down or worse...mixed with some mystery substance, all in an effort to save money/ be cheap. We both had great Tequila shots and great Margaritas which set our weekend back on the right track.

     Today has been a busy day. First we had a fabulous, if overpriced, lunch at Element Fresh and then headed to the park. Chaoyang Park aka Chaoyang Gongyuan (Mandarin word for park) is massive and practically right across the street from us. Yet until today we have never been. This place is unbelievable. Everything you can imagine, they have. Soccer fields, basketball courses, a paint ball course, ping pong tables, a zip line, a climbing course, an amusement park, a water park, carnival games, a wedding chapel and a bunch of walking trails throughout. I took tons of pictures so I could share them. One trend that will be hard to miss amongst the pictures is the parade of brides. We literally saw a bride every 5 minutes at the park. I learned recently that Chinese women take pictures in their dress days or even weeks before the actual ceremony.
Parade of Brides 

Red bride 
White bride 1
White bride 2
White bride 3
By far the prettiest bride 
Blue bride...dress and mood, she might be crying :(
Biggest dress
Park Pictures:
The map of the park and the husband :) 
Pedal carts and electric carts

Pottery making
One World One Dream

Jumping stilts, so cool
Wedding Pavilion 

That was our day at the park! Have a great weekend!

Tuesday, May 3, 2011


     I get so much great inspiration from reading other people's blogs these days. I just started following a blog called Kate Takes 5 which follows a stay at home, mother of 3, in Ireland. I really enjoy her blog, probably because she is a very good writer...something I myself can not claim. Anyway, this is not a pity party, she wants other bloggers to make a list of their 5 favorite things and link back to her blog...

1. Spending long lazy weekends with my husband/ spending time with my husband anytime
2. Sleeping in on the weekends
3. Iced soy lattes made my mistress Starbucks
4. Going out with friends
5. Writing my blog

Note: Except for #1, my "favorite things" change order depending on when you ask me. The more I write this blog the more I love doing it.

     My list is nothing earth-shatteringly original, but it is what it is. Today I am in bed letting my back heal from my stupidity derived injury. Needless to say after my illness, me staying home to monitor Will one day during the worst of his illness and now this, my boss is not very pleased with me. I enjoy my job, but in the end my health and my husband are the most important things. I apologized and I think I am going to ask if there is anything I could do from home on the weekends. We'll see.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Thumbs Up or Down?

Here is the coffee table that we can't decide if we like or not.
Votes? Thumbs up or thumbs down?
Positives: It's already in our apartment paid for and the top is marble so we can set drinks on it with no rings.
Negatives: It's higher than our couch, we're not sure we like the rounded legs and overall it's a little big.

On a funnier note, here is the dust in our apartment after two days of not sweeping. 

And, to mix it up with the shiny black pots we got two beautiful blue and green pots!

     In other news I think I pulled a muscle in my back. I had a great strength training workout session with hubby followed by me moving one of his weights using my back for leverage. Now I'm blogging on the couch with ice on my back trying not to move. At least I got a good workout in first! Happy Monday! 

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Another month in China

     I haven't felt much like writing my blog this week, mostly because nothing blog worthy has happened. Just another week at work. We get a three day weekend for the May-Day holiday which is great, so hubby and I are planning to relax for the rest of the weekend.
     Yesterday was a very busy day. First we had Brenda, the woman who made our curtains, over again to deliver the sheer curtains. The next thing we are having her do is cover a sofa and a chair and make a footstool. She makes rugs too, so thats next after that. This woman and her husband are one stop shopping. They do everything.
     Next we returned my khaki pants to a mall in the middle of nowhere, even though the store chain where I bought them, Mango, has 50,000 stores closer to me. I learned that in China, if you buy an item from one location, you have to return it to that exact same store. No exceptions, not even for an exchange of size. It was not a fun outing, because I had to try to explain to the salesman that the blue size fit me in the 36 but the khaki size was too small in the 36, thus I needed a 38. He pretty much looked at my like I was a nut case... apparently this does not happen in men's clothing.
     Then we went to find an Xbox for Will. He ended up getting a PS3 and a bunch of games, and has been playing them since! He finds playing video games relaxing, which I don't personally understand because they make me crazy, but to each his own. He mostly just plays them in the morning before I wake up. I'm so glad he isn't like some other guys I know who feel the need to play them all day long...I can never figure out these women who marry them and put up with that.
     Today has been very relaxing. We woke up late, watched some shows, played some games, skipped lunch due to laziness and then took a nap. Now we are hanging out before getting ready to go out to dinner. There is supposedly this great pizza place called "The Krow's Nest" that is owned by a fellow Atlantin (person from Atlanta...we weren't sure what the correct work was) so we are going with a few friends.
     Tomorrow will hopefully be more of the same. We need to clean and buy groceries but hopefully we can knock that out early. Then I am hoping my friend from work comes to have lunch with me. She is only in Beiijng, from Pennsylvania, for 3 months and that ends in 2 weeks. I'm very sad because she is really cool and when she leaves it will be back to me not having anyone to really chit chat with from work. She told me to send her emails though because she has a Blackberry and she promises to return them until midnight back in Pen. She is SO going to regret telling me that.
     Hope everyone is also having a great weekend!