Monday, December 28, 2009

Things That Make You Go Hmm....

We have no clue what this means, but it has got to be good.

Was it supposed to be PEACE or FAITH? Who knows.

Believe it or not...this is NOT a one-of-a-kind. The lady selling these had tons of them. She also would not negotiate price because she said it "was the best quality." I didn't have the heart to tell her that it was not the "best quality" because it means nothing to the people she is trying to sell it to. So I paid full price of 30RMB (~4.50USD) and was full of FACE with my purchace.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Our Furniture Has Arrived

Having furniture made here was a big experimental project on our part. There are no Pottery Barn's, Z Gallerie's, or even Rooms-to-Go in China. We also didn't have a real NEED to have furniture while living overseas because every home we live in is furnished. However, we don't have much real furniture at home-home.

Before we moved to Norway, we were just settling down in El Paso, Texas. We bought a house and started moving in, only to be transferred six short months later. Needless to say, we pretty much combined our bachelor/bachelorette furniture with a few new pieces and made do...all of which is in now in storage.

So why would we buy furniture here?

Two reasons:

1. Because it is dirt cheap. I LOVE a good deal. That is the truth.
2. There are wonderful people here who are experts at replicating/copying.

What made this challenging was that the furniture workshop is an hour away one direction, the fabric market is one hour in the other direction,(I'm sure our driver, Mr. Goo, is as sick of these places as I am) and there is very little English involved, which can get tricky.

At the bottom of this post is what we had in mind.

And here are some pics of what we got!!

The new things in this picture are the apothocary cabinet in the left corner. The two chairs, the pedestal table and the ottoman coffee table.

Friday, November 20, 2009


This week, while shopping at the international grocery store, I was approached by the High School PTSA President (of the international school I work at.) We had never met before. I was actually pretty flattered at "Hello." We then made small talk about having Thanksgiving in China then continued with our shopping.

As I was checking out, she approached me again.

"I had to tell you...I was so relieved when I found out that you were a teacher. The first time I saw you I thought you were in high school. I had to ask my daughter if there was a new girl in school that was pregnant!"

Funny? Yes.

Humiliating? Yes.

Needless to say, while I was working this week I felt like her:

I also found myself trying to hide my belly with my jacket and purse because I could feel the "Eagle Eye" on me as I walked past the Parent Volunteers who politely/awkwardly stopped their conversations said "Hello" and "Are you finding everything okay?"

I think I need to wear a school badge or official name tag....maybe glasses on a chain worn around my neck.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

I Dream of Chicken Pox

As a child, one of the first "Big Moments" in life that I remember anticipating was catching the Chicken Pox. My friends were all catching it and I was really looking forward to having them too. The coolest part was that (once you were no longer contagious) when spending time out in the sun you had to carry an umbrella until you were all healed.

Well, when my oldest brother Brandon caught the Chicken Pox, I knew my time was right around the corner! My time did come....and of course it wasn't as glorious as I imagined it would be. After the week or so I was ready for the pox to be all gone.

Needless to say, I am now immune to Chicken Pox!

Little did I know...I am NOT immune to Shingles. Shingles is the "Grown up" version of the Chicken Pox. This virus I had as a child (works the same if you have had the vaccine) never really goes away. It becomes dormant. Then, when you are older and your body is in a time of stress (like pregnancy), it can Shingles.

Well, that is the cause of the burning sensation that I have on the back of my right leg. Shingles settles in one specific spot and this is where it has chosen to stay on me. I am now reliving those few days I had to spend in the Pink Lotion AND once again I can even spread Chicken Pox (not Shingles) to those of you who haven't had them yet. Lucky me!

Good news is that it causes no harm to Carter...I may even pass on a bit of immunities to him.


I have just learned that I did not catch the Chicken Pox from Brandon! I caught them from a friend while we were living in Scotland.

I did, of course, rub my victory in Brandon's face by singing "I caught them first". He would then taunt me back by poking me in the Pox and sing "Well, I'm going to get them next." I don't think he caught them.

Who won that battle? I'm thinking Brandon. (As I sit here on day two in my Pink Lotion.)

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Mr. Shanghai Skycraper Window Washer

This morning as I was in my PJ's (looking so wonderful) and checking emails, Lucy became very upset about something in our window. When I went to see what all of the commotion was about, I noticed there were four ropes hanging from somewhere above and dangling all the way down to the ground.

If that wasn't scary enough for a dog to comprehend........

A bucket and a shoe (not in picture) descended from above.
I tried to calm her down with a treat. However, when I returned to the living room.......

this is what I saw (we live on the 45th floor)!!! This man is sitting on a tiny piece of wood hanging from a rope cleaning the 7th tallest building in Shanghai! Not sure if this would pass on Health and Safety standards in the US.

While neither I nor Lucy were expecting to see man staring at us from the other side of our window early in the morning...I'm sure this man also had a rude awakening when he hit our window. Not only is he hanging on for dear life but he had a barking dog and pregnant lady in her PJ's taking pictures of him...what a way to start your day.

So here's to you Mr. Shanghai Skyscraper Window Washer! Without you, our windows would never be clean!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Shang-high Days and Shang-low Days

Living in China is always an adventure. I am a pretty open-minded person and like to learn about other cultures. I think of myself as easy-going and usually see the positive side to people, places and new experiences. However, some of the things we deal with on a daily basis can be a bit stressful.

Like the public toilets.

In case you are wondering. This toilet is called a "squatter" by other foreigners like myself. It is level with the ground. The grooves on either side are where you put your feet. There is no seat. Get my point. If we are in a place that only has "squatters" I usually enter the restroom and exit with in the same ten seconds...leaving John to navigate us to another location quickly where I can try again. I refuse, unless it is an absolute emergency.

Another stressful time can be grocery shopping.

This is HuaLuan....or as John and I call it "Walmart." (We do have a real Walmart here but this is our Chinese Walmart.) Our Chinese Walmart is across the street and we frequent it regularly. It has all of your personal and household needs. Clothes, bedding, dishes, appliances, cleaning supplies and groceries.

This is a picture of the fresh produce. Yummy! Toads and Turtles!

This is not the stressful part anymore. During my first trimester it was SUPER disturbing because I couldn't stand the different smells. Like dealing with a "squatter" I would bolt out of there as fast as I entered.

The true stress and frustration comes with waiting to check out.

I have learned to totally appreciate my personal space of about 3 feet. Here that doesn't exist. In fact if you aren't inches behind someone you get cut off. With no regard, they will cut in front of you and pretend like nothing happened. And that TOTALLY gets me fired up. (Just thinking about it now gets me so angry.) But this happens to me quite a bit.

*Some of the other things to add to the list:
-People hawking lugies. (not even sure how to spell this)
-Loud, I mean REALLY loud yawning.
-Throwing trash on the street, even when there is a trash can.
-Being asked "You want Coach, Gucci, Louis Vuitton?" Over and over and over again.
-"I give you special price." "This is best quality."
-Driving on the wrong side of the road or on sidewalks.
-People driving while holding down their horn. WHY?
-Picking noses in public, even at a restaurant.
-People staring at you.
-Rushing into the elevator before you have a change to get off.
-Taking a #1 and #2 on the sidewalk.

When you have had too many of these things in a row on a particular day and you feel like you have had enough, this is called a Shang-Low Day. We all have them from time to time. They are horrible and can even make you cry.

A bad Shang-Low Day can be cured by following these two little steps:

1. First, head across the street to Bamboo 7 immediately.

Spend the $10 and get an hour long foot and back massage. I love you Bamboo!

2. Go shopping for something fun. Like a new handbag, jewelry or my latest China Here are some pics of pieces we are having made.

Once these two little steps are followed you are back to saying "I love Shanghai!" and that is called a Shang-High Day!

*I could go on and on with that list. I'll save some others for when I catch a picture of them!

Friday, October 16, 2009

Where to Begin Again

So much has happened since I last posted consistently. I am a bit overwhelmed with the amount of "stuff" I need to blog about. So overwhelmed that I just don't want to do it.

However, since it is our blog, I guess we can blog by our rules. I am going to start with what is happening now and when I have the time and can fill you in with the rest!

As most of you know, we are expecting a baby boy. We are thrilled to meet little Carter in just 12 weeks (unless he is late or early).

Here is his latest picture:

I am so amazed with the technology and can't stop staring at this picture. I think he takes after his handsome daddy. :)

This picture was taken at 24 Weeks and 3 days...which brings me to the most recent huge event. Carter's picture was taken the same day his twin cousins were born.

Luke and Hudson Van Sickle were born on September 23, 2009.

This is their first family photo. My older brother, Brandon and my sister-in-law, Suzie are now proud parents and I couldn't be happier for the two of them.

The twins are just adorable! Mommy and Daddy are doing well and I am obsessed with checking their blog for updates. I was lucky enough to be in the US this special day and got to hold them everyday their first two weeks. I miss their sweet little faces!

Finally, here are a few belly shots from the past several months that we have been away from the blogging world.


(I actually thought I was starting to show.)



(I'm sporting the bella band and the growing begins.)


(My friend Laura who is due a month ahead of me with her little girl Elle. She is 27 or 28 weeks in this picture.)


(The belly has popped and is feeling bigger each day.)

In John's words: "You're finally pregnant!"

Friday, July 10, 2009


Blogs have been blocked by the Chinese government for the past few months. One of the annoyances of the whole No-Freedom-of-Speech/Press rules.

Recently though, huge riots against the Communist party have broken out in western China (not any where close to us) and for this reason, Facebook has been blocked.

Now this was going too far. So we did something about it.

Where there is a will, there is a way...and how are you supposed to live with out Facebook!? So, needless to say...with some sneaky ways, we are back to open access internet.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Love this Place

How adorable is this cafe?
Even though we've been pick-pocketed here,

we aren't going to let that stop us! Now I just sit with my purse on my lap. That will teach them not to mess with us!!!

Friday, May 1, 2009

Back in Business

Our camera is missing....needless to say we haven't taken any new pictures.

However, we found our old camera! The last time this camera was used was almost exactly a year ago. This is what our lives looked like this time, last year:

Our back porch... Getting ready for Norwegian Independence Day! The 17th of May!

Sunny Norwegian day...not many of them! But we enjoyed every single one!

The town beach.

In town, looking toward the sea. I'm so glad we found these pictures. It is so strange to think how quickly life changes. Enjoy every minute!

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Being Artsy-Fartsy on Taiking Lu

Recently, we have joined forces with a fun group of people. They are showing us the in's and out's of Shanghai and seem to know all of the really cool spots.

First lesson: Eating Duck. it.

Second lesson: Brunch is a weekend must.

So our first brunch to join them, they took us to Taiking Lu (Lu means street). From the main street...this place looks very shady. However, once you get into the alleys it is amazing! It is a crazy combination of old and new. The bottom floors of the old homes have been converted to cafes, art gallery's, photography studios, get the idea. The upper floors are still homes. VERY COOL.

View of some cafes.

Here are some pics of the new group! Bohemia was our brunch spot. Yummy.

After brunch we wandered the area and got some pretty "different" pictures. I seemed to have taken more pictures of the strange stuff...and not so much the whole idea (or new, normal stuff) of the place. But as I've already explained, we are not the best tourists.

Love the lanterns.

Random arched alley way.

Birds in the upper window!

Laundry hanging above all of the alleys amongst cafes and art galleries. Strange...I told you!

Loving the birdies!

A larger view. See the mixture!

Pantie Chandelier!
Last but not least...........

Chicken anyone? Need I say more?

I'll leave you with that. Another day in the life of China.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Yuyuan Garden

WARNING: This place is really cool but we are horrible "tourists". So we didn't really take any pictures of important things. You'll see what I mean.

Today we went to Yuyuan Garden to take a look around. This big tourist spot is the place always shown on the Travel Channel when they visit Shanghai.

First stop,


One of the neatest things about Yuyuan Garden is the architecture. This is how I always pictured China. Ironically, in Shanghai, this is the only area like it and it is a bit crazy to see skyscraper's standing tall around this 5-acre area in the middle of the city. If you want to read more about it here is the wikipedia link: Yuyuan Garden.

Like most things we've seen so far, this too is centered around yummy food and shopping!

This lady is making steamed dumplings. They are one of our favorite.

A dumpling for lunch! Through the straw in the middle, you sip out warm soup. Then devour the dumpling. (Excuse the remains of my last manicure.)

A bit of shopping in the markets.

Steve, this one is for you! Add this one to memory: 218 Anren Jie, Huangup District, Shanghai, China.

So apparently, other people have gotten much better pictures. If you would like to see more pictures taken by people who know what they are doing click here: Yuyuan Garden Photos.