Happy Birthday Steve

Well today is Steven’s 38th birthday. He has spent most of the day playing a video game on his xbox 360 (viva pinata). We did try a new place for lunch today together. As per his request we are doing nothing for his birthday. He didn’t get any presents either. The day of uninterupted video games and sleeping in are his presents. He took today off work. I made him a card and Zoe is making him one at school today.

I think Steve looks much the same as he did when I met him when he was 19. He may have a bit more grey hair (which he blames on me) and be a few pounds more but who doesn’t weigh more than they did at 19. He still the witty, charming, intelligent, and handsome guy I fell in love with all those years ago.

If you are reading this and thinking it is too early remember we are ahead in time. Steve did say he is not officailly older until tomorrow because he was born in the Pacific time zone. LOL Maybe it just means you can try to get extra special treatment for 2 days instead of one.

Anyway Happy Birthday Steve hope you enjoyed your quiet day of video games and time with me and Zoe. We sure do love you a lot.

If you find my mind please return it

This week has been one of those weeks. I have put apple juice in my tea instead of milk a few times, lost my phone in the house several times, been going to do something then forgetting what it was almost instantly, and the Mahjong day I missed was because I went to the wrong house. So apparently this week I also can not read simple email messages and understand numbers. LOL The lady who hosted has been kind enough to invite me over to teach me the general rules. Hopefully today I am able to find the right house.

So if you find my brain somewhere please mail it back. I am hoping it is just because I haven’t been sleeping well this week.

I am also suprised when someone other than our friends or family read our blog. I guess I figure it would bore most to tears who didn’t really care about Zoe because that is mostly what it is about. Of course I do tell people about it so I guess it shouldn’t suprise me when they read it. For anyone reading for the first time I am a rambler so read at your own peril.

Today it is sunny again this week has been rainy and cloudy. Last night there was a lot of wind and when we were leaving dinner Zoe wanted to go for a walk until the wind started going and the dust started swirlling. It is almost like getting a fully body scrub with the sand/dirt coming at you. It is windy today too but I am sure that will stop by the weekend. It usally isn’t windy the days we decide to take the kite out.

Some random things

So on Tuesday it rained really hard here all day. It made me a little homesick. It was nice because before that it was really windy and the dust was blowing. Zoe loves the rain she put on her rain coat and hat and walked all the way home from school jumping in every puddle along the way. Steve dropped her that day on the way to work so I wouldn’t have to walk out in the rain.

I did go out in the rain twice that day before going to get Zoe though only to be dissapointed both times. The first time was to the clubhouse for the coffee group no one there, the second was to a ladies house for the mahjong group it was moved and no one told me and her ayi didn’t speak english so couldn’t help me out. So I came to the conclusion that people here are whimpy when it comes to going out in the rain. I had my gortex coat so there were no worries. Then I went to get Zoe with her rain cover on her stroller. She however would not sit in it and as I said before puddle jumped her way home.

Zoe is still loving school. There is now a little boy who is about 6 months older than her that will be there everyday too so she will have a playmate. There is another girl that comes 3 days a week but she is 6 months younger than Zoe. Hopefully Zoe doesn’t mind sharing the spotlight with the other kids now that she is used to getting all the attention.

I am trying to go to the gym 2 or 3 times a week while Zoe is in school. I have gone twice this week and think I over did it a bit yesterday because I am now very sore. But I may go get a massage and try to go again tomorrow afternoon after my chinese lesson.

My chinese lessons are going well. Although the stuff we covered last class is really hard for me to say. It is like a tounge twister and trying to get the tones right is even harder. I will never say I am studying or am a student those are the phrases causing me problems. I am very tired after my hour and a half lesson. I can’t imagine doing it for any longer than that at a time. I have my lessons on Wednesdays and Fridays. Steve has decided not to take lessons so I will be the one who can sort of understand and say things. I am hoping it will come in handy at the markets. Often the vendors talk to each other in front of you and you have no clue what they are saying. I am hoping to catch them saying something and say something back in chinese to them. I think that day is a ways off yet. I am just figuring out intros and ordering things. Wo shi Jianada ren. I am Canadian. I hope that pinyin is right.

Well I hope everyone is well. For those of you on facebook you will be able to tell when I am bored by the extra photos I post there. It is easier for me to put them there than on flicker with the app that I have in Iphoto. If you are not on facebook and don’t know what it is you might be missing out.

Zoe loves school

Zoe has been in school for just over a week. She is still the only full time student so has much of her time spent one on one with the teacher. Or one on 2 or more with the other teachers and assistants playing with her too. She now just gives me a quick hug and kiss goodbye and runs into her class.

I have been told when people come to check out the school with their kids Zoe takes the kids by the hand and shows them around where everything is. Which I must assume is adorable. The teachers all love her and say she is a very well behaved little girl. They also say she is very helpful.

On Friday she even let one of the teachers help her and she went to the bathroom in the potty. The school has miniture toilets for the kids. They are very cute and Zoe loves them so maybe they will help potty training along. She also loves washing her hands and does that several times a day. Anything to do with water and she is there.

As for me I am having less trouble trying to find ways to occupy my time while she is in school. I have my chinese lessons 1 1/2 hours twice a week and try to review it daily during the week for about an hour or so. I have done some reorganizing and decluttering. I even manged to get to the gym. Maybe this week I will work in a spa visit for a massage. I do have a coffee group, mahjong group, and my chinese lessons already on the calendar so it will be a full week.

Zoe is getting so grown up

Today Zoe said she didn’t want to go to school and cried a bit at home. I gave her some fruit snacks to eat while we walked there and she seemed happy enough. When we got there she sat on my lap for a minute while I helped her put her indoor shoes on for school then gave me a quick kiss and hug and ran into class. This is a huge change from the tears and crying of yesterdy. It made me a little sad that she didn’t mind me leaving. I am sure time will fly and before I know she will be off for summer break and I will be wishing she was back in school some of the time.

I know it is a good thing that we have managed so far to raise an independent, confident and curious little girl. I think today was way harder on me. I think over the next few weeks we will be seeing a lot more changes in Zoe as she gets exposed to more kids and activites to stimulate her. Right now she spends most of her day painting and playing with water. She loves pouring water, washing her hands, and squirting the window. The class allows kids to do the things that intrest them there is story time, snack time and a couple of structured things but for the most part she is free to do whatever intrests her.

I am sure we will have a house full of paintings in no time. I will save a few near the end of the school year and bring them back when we come so I can give them to anyone who would like one. Maybe she will decide to be an artist one day.

As for me I don’t really know what to do with myself. I have decided today will be my relax day so we will see how that goes. Maybe I will have a nap and then go get a massage or a manicure and pedicure today. It is cooler than yesterday so walking to the clubhouse won’t be so hellish. It was super hot yesterday it is cloudy/smoggy today and cooler. Still tshirt weather though.

Tomorrow is my Chinese lesson then I want to organize the kitchen cupboards a bit they are a mess. I also want to go through Zoe’s toys and clothes and weed some of them out while she is not here. And I want to get Steve’s shelves in his den a little more organized so I can take some of the stuff from the playroom shelves up there. Probably won’t get all that done tomorrow but over the next couple weeks should be able to manage it.

You will probably see a lot more blogging now that I will have the time on my hands.

Zoe's first days of school

Well after a long wait Zoe has finally started school. She started last week on Tuesday. I went with her that day and we hung out with her teacher for about 3 hours. It was a kind of open house day. Zoe was the only kid there. Wednesday Steve and I dropped her off together and I snuck out before him so I didn’t have to see her crying. I picked her up at around 12:30. She again was the only kid. Thursday there was an 18 month old named Alexa for her to play with and Steve took her and picked her up that day. Zoe said Alexa was too small to play with. On Friday Steve again took Zoe because I was not up to seeing her cry. I went to get her at 1pm and she was napping and looking adorable so they called me at 2 when she woke up and I went to get her. There had been a little boy there that day for her to play with.

Today (Monday) I took her in and said I would be back to get her in awhile and we would go look at the goldfish in the pond. She said ok and her lip was trembling and the tears started flowing. She did say ok though and went to her teacher for a hug. I then went to the gym and walked on the treadmill for 45 mins to get rid of some of the stress and tension I had about leaving her. In the end I think school will be great for her and me. She loves the activites like painting, and cleaning the dishes. And this week when the other kids starts to come it will be much more fun for her.

Well I am going to go and pick her up it is now 2pm and I have been antsy to get her since about 12:30. So it is up to the school then off to the fish pond for me.

Zoe’s first days of school

Well after a long wait Zoe has finally started school. She started last week on Tuesday. I went with her that day and we hung out with her teacher for about 3 hours. It was a kind of open house day. Zoe was the only kid there. Wednesday Steve and I dropped her off together and I snuck out before him so I didn’t have to see her crying. I picked her up at around 12:30. She again was the only kid. Thursday there was an 18 month old named Alexa for her to play with and Steve took her and picked her up that day. Zoe said Alexa was too small to play with. On Friday Steve again took Zoe because I was not up to seeing her cry. I went to get her at 1pm and she was napping and looking adorable so they called me at 2 when she woke up and I went to get her. There had been a little boy there that day for her to play with.

Today (Monday) I took her in and said I would be back to get her in awhile and we would go look at the goldfish in the pond. She said ok and her lip was trembling and the tears started flowing. She did say ok though and went to her teacher for a hug. I then went to the gym and walked on the treadmill for 45 mins to get rid of some of the stress and tension I had about leaving her. In the end I think school will be great for her and me. She loves the activites like painting, and cleaning the dishes. And this week when the other kids starts to come it will be much more fun for her.

Well I am going to go and pick her up it is now 2pm and I have been antsy to get her since about 12:30. So it is up to the school then off to the fish pond for me.

Hutong Tour/ Shopping Do's and Don'ts

On Saturday we went on a pedicab Hutong tour. At one point we were accousted by a couple of ladies selling bags. Steve and I ignored them and they moved on to Jim and Heather (the Macbeths) behind us. Heather decicded to ask how much one of the bags were and that was a huge mistake. The two ladies started walking along beside and yelling out prices shoving the bags at them. The alleyways in the hutong are barely big enough for the pedicabs so it is very close quaters and we were moving slowly so they had no trouble keeping up. We thought that when we entered the courtyard house to tour it we had finally shaken them and they would move on to someone eles. But sadly no they were waiting outside shoving the bags back in everyones faces. Steve actually physically put his arm between the one of them and his mom and shouted no she doesn’t want any so his mom could pass and get back in the pedicab. They ladies yelled at Steve and were soon all over his parents again. Finally wearing them down Jim handed them 50RMB about 6or 7 dollars Canadian for a bunch of the bags. The second lady was then angry because none of her bags where bought but luckily she did not keep persuing us on our tour.

The lesson is do not under any circumstances talk to someone selling something. Ignore them or say no firmly and move on. If you show any interest or weakness by chatting or explaining why you don’t want something you are fair game and will be relentlessly heckled until you buy something. This goes at some of the markets too. If you are intrested in an item decide the most you will pay then once they give you their price counter with yours and if they won’t give it to you walk away. They almost always cave and give you your price. Also your final prices should be no more than 25% of their starting price in most cases.

We did see a couple of lovely courtyard homes and some nice shops on our tour though and after enjoyed a drink by the lake at a Starbucks.

Then we saw a cute little chinese girl about the same size as Zoe. Zoe walked over to say hi and we took a picture as did the adults with her. Within a minute or two a crowd had gathered and she was surrounded by people. They then started stepping in and posing with her for pictures. These where adults not kids. After a couple Steve swooped in and rescued her out of the crowd which did watch and a couple kind of followed but mostly dispearsed after. She will know how celebrities feel after living here for awhile.

We are off to the Forbiden City today so it may be another day of crowds for Zoe. We will take pictures and try to get them up so everyone can see them.

Hutong Tour/ Shopping Do’s and Don’ts

On Saturday we went on a pedicab Hutong tour. At one point we were accousted by a couple of ladies selling bags. Steve and I ignored them and they moved on to Jim and Heather (the Macbeths) behind us. Heather decicded to ask how much one of the bags were and that was a huge mistake. The two ladies started walking along beside and yelling out prices shoving the bags at them. The alleyways in the hutong are barely big enough for the pedicabs so it is very close quaters and we were moving slowly so they had no trouble keeping up. We thought that when we entered the courtyard house to tour it we had finally shaken them and they would move on to someone eles. But sadly no they were waiting outside shoving the bags back in everyones faces. Steve actually physically put his arm between the one of them and his mom and shouted no she doesn’t want any so his mom could pass and get back in the pedicab. They ladies yelled at Steve and were soon all over his parents again. Finally wearing them down Jim handed them 50RMB about 6or 7 dollars Canadian for a bunch of the bags. The second lady was then angry because none of her bags where bought but luckily she did not keep persuing us on our tour.

The lesson is do not under any circumstances talk to someone selling something. Ignore them or say no firmly and move on. If you show any interest or weakness by chatting or explaining why you don’t want something you are fair game and will be relentlessly heckled until you buy something. This goes at some of the markets too. If you are intrested in an item decide the most you will pay then once they give you their price counter with yours and if they won’t give it to you walk away. They almost always cave and give you your price. Also your final prices should be no more than 25% of their starting price in most cases.

We did see a couple of lovely courtyard homes and some nice shops on our tour though and after enjoyed a drink by the lake at a Starbucks.

Then we saw a cute little chinese girl about the same size as Zoe. Zoe walked over to say hi and we took a picture as did the adults with her. Within a minute or two a crowd had gathered and she was surrounded by people. They then started stepping in and posing with her for pictures. These where adults not kids. After a couple Steve swooped in and rescued her out of the crowd which did watch and a couple kind of followed but mostly dispearsed after. She will know how celebrities feel after living here for awhile.

We are off to the Forbiden City today so it may be another day of crowds for Zoe. We will take pictures and try to get them up so everyone can see them.

Canadian missing in Syria!

When I lived in Vancouver I played a lot of ultimate frisbee, one of the teams I played on a lot was called The Fluffy Bunnies. When I return to Vancouver for vacation I often have a chance to play with the team. A few years ago, when I was still living in Redmond, WA I went up to Vancouver and played with the team for a few games in the summer, I think it was probably around 2003 or so.

There was a new player on the team that I hadn’t met before, but was quite good (especially since she had never really played Ultimate before) and was a super nice person. Her name was Nicole (Vienneau), I didn’t know her last name until very recently.

I received the following information about her from a friend in Vancouver and wanted to do everything I could to help. Here is her story, hopefully someone that reads this will be able to help, or at least pass the story on to someone that can.

Nicole (Vienneau) has gone missing during the final weeks of a trip to Northern Africa, the Middle East and Turkey. She was last heard from at the end of March, and we believe she was in Syria at the time on her way to Turkey.The Canadian embassies in Syria and Turkey, the RCMP and Interpol have been involved in searching for her for the past two weeks.I am sending this to you for two reasons: 1. the story will be in the media today. Since Nicole is a resident of Vancouver, there may be somewhat more media attention there than in Toronto. I wanted you to be aware of this from me before you heard it elsewhere2. if anyone has any connections, or knows of anyone who does, with people in Syria and possibly Turkey, we would most appreciate if we could take advantage of contacts there to help in our attempts to track where she has beenHer brother Matthew has set up a blog entry (link below) which has a lot of the details.


Website: http://vienneau.livejournal.com/39588.html

Her brothers blog postings also got dugg on digg, if you don’t know what that means, you probably will want to stop reading now.

Here is the story on Digg:

People often talk about how Web 2.0 is the future and the future is now, using Digg as a key player in the life altering transformation. When I read the commentary on Nicole’s story on Digg I was sickened. The maturity of many of the comments is frighteningly low, I hope this isn’t the future of the Internet and our society. It reminds me of the kind of behaviour you used to see on Newsgroups and BBS’s in the early days of the Internet. In fact these are probably the exact same people, just a generation removed. They are not blazing a trail to the future, they are just wasting their lives away wading through their own muck.

Have a read of the comments on the story, I would be interested if you really think these are the people we want to be representing the current climate in our high-tech society. I for one would emphatically say “NO!!!”.

I Hope there is a turn for the better in Nicole’s story, I will be thinking about the brief time I spent with her and remember the lasting impression she made.