Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Our New Home ~ Hermosa Beach ~ My 500th Post!

Who would've ever thought that my 500th post would be about a new house!

The story behind this house is a crazy one. After my "fact finding trip" to Southern California from China I began getting emails for homes in the areas I liked. I must've looked at hundreds of houses and street views from google maps. There were many homes that stood out to me. After we decided that we wanted to rent it narrowed some things down for us. It also redirected our decision from South Pasadena to the beach areas.

It was very common for me to get the realtor emails in the middle of the night, Beijing time. Usually I would check my phone once or twice in the middle of the night, but never had I actually opened the home pics until the next morning. I don't know what was different about this one, but at 3:38am I opened the info and pics for this particular house. I fell in love with the pictures right away and could not go back to sleep! I googled everything I could about this house and waited for hubby to wake up. When he did we immediately applied for it, sight unseen.

We arrived in LA on Friday afternoon and asked the realtor if we could see it on Saturday. When we looked at it, in person, I was thrilled. Hubby was nervous to be taking this step, but liked it. Both kids really liked it. Four out of four people...sold! We signed the papers first thing on Monday! We move in on July 1st...wanna see?
Our street. You can see the ocean, just under a mile away.
We are up on a hill, great for view, bad for biking.
The outside of the home.
 I would never approve of a side entry (with all garage) unless it was at the beach. 

The Dutch Door lets in the ocean breezes.
The owners of the house have lived here for over twenty years and, like myself, never intended for their pride and joy to be a rental. The remodel is brand new and they picked everything for themselves. Then they decided to move to Maui!

Upon entering the house you find the one and only living space.
This will be a HUGE adjustment, as our current home had three living spaces.
I love the blue cabinets with white on top. The counter tops are soap stone, exactly what I woud choose. The door leads to the back yard. 

Butlers pantry with half bathroom.
I love the ample storage for all of my dishes. 

The farmhouse sink and subway tile was a huge selling point for me!
The modern touches are perfect for a beach house. 
The kids will share this bathroom.
The pulls are toothbrushes and toothpaste. 
The daughter's room. She is destined to have french doors wherever she goes. This room has a huge closet with mirrored doors. Perfect for a teen girl!
The view from the daughter's room. On a clear day you can see the LA skyline. Here is a sneak peak of the back yard. I am so excited to have a garden again with climate that won't fry my plants!
The boy's room. This is under debate because this room could be divided. We desperately need the extra space, but he is not giving it up easily. Stay tuned for how that plays out. 
The master bedroom is huge and you can see the ocean from the balcony. 

The owner had this wall closet custom built, lucky us!

The master bath has two motorized sky lights.

The backyard is one of my favorite places.
There is lighting and plenty of space for entertaining. 

The view from the yard. Those doors to the left house the laundry. I will definitely have to get used to my laundry being outside. But it still is a step up from our laundry in Beijing!

 Of course we have no idea how we are going to store all of our extra stuff, but we are excited to make this our home for the next couple of years. Stay tuned as I make it ours. . . and the welcome mat is always out for visitors!

Friday, June 7, 2013

What I WIll & Won't Miss About Living in Beijing, China

I have been both continually writing this post and procrastinating this post all at the same time. I have a note section on my phone that I have been recording what I will miss about Beijing for about the last year. That note section started as a tool to help me see the good in the everyday surroundings. Usually when the good was harder to see...quite literally with the air quality.

It is hard to believe our time is up. Just like China is often called "the land of contradiction" it seems fitting that I am conflicted, of course, about leaving. I have grown personally so much throughout these last 22 months, mainly because the place I started from. I didn't want to come. I didn't like China. I was bitter and resentful. Now I love China and already have choked back tears thinking about leaving. 

It is hard for everyone to explain.
For everyone it is different. 
I can sum it up by saying that this was a HUGE challenge for our family and we have all risen to the challenge and are better people (and dog) for it. Is it because it is China? Is it because we are on the other side of the planet from family? Is it because it's a different country than the US? 
All of the above!

China is definitely unique in so many, many ways. But it, also, is definitely not the hardest place we could've lived (despite my original analysis).  So, without further adieu...here we go...

~What I Will Miss about Beijing~
no particular order
okay, maybe I did mean to put this one first...

I really thought when we moved here, "How could I REALLY bond with anyone in such a short period of time?" Oh how wrong I was! It is not the time together, it is the quality...here in Beijing I have met the most amazing women who I will always cherish!

~More Hubby Time~
No commute, lunch dates, family outings, dinners together...I've seen him more in China than I ever did in the US...makes for a happy wife!
Also known as "soup dumplings"...top favorite chinese food for me!
 ~Ya Bao Lu~
We mocked it at first, as it is the Russian section with fur stalls everywhere, but this soon became home. With the all-night-truck-loaders, street hecklers, food stands...we soon realized it was ideal. Every taxi driver knows it and anything you can possibly need is within steps from our door...bank, groceries (limited), phone cards, clothes. park, subway...
 ~The Gym at the City Wall Marriott~
Going to the gym everyday became my therapy! I met a good friend who lives there (she was not happy with me at this moment). The sweat I poured there literally helped get me through the struggles of life in China. 
 ~ Shopping~

Having an H&M a ten minute walk from my apartment, I'll miss that.
Shopping trips with friends.
I even will miss bargaining at Silk! I love it!
 ~Living In A Historical City 
That is in the News Every Single Day~

It is cool to turn on CNN and see live what you are looking at through your own window.
It is not only a city of current relevance, but SO MUCH ancient history!

~Fruit, Especially Pineapples~
These pineapples are so sweet and juicy that you can eat them all the way through!
 And they carve it for you. I eat some every day...really!
 ~Cultural Elements~
I love how Chinese linger outside at night. They gather (here at The Place) and dance, play games and socialize. It is peaceful, calming and they know how to enjoy the end of a hard days work. And boy, do they know how to work!

I will miss the Chinese children (split pants and all) and the elderly people.
 Although we don't communicate, they usually have a smile and a greeting for me, usually because of Jupiter. 

~City parks~
This is the park where we take Jupiter every day (me mainly:)
Parks here are not like in suburban CA.

RiTan Park, my favorite place in Beijing.

 ~Rickshaw Rides~
We have two rickshaw drivers that treat us like VIPs whenever we want to go somewhere that is too short for a taxi or too long for a walk.
~Seeing my Children Accomplish Great Things and Overcome Challenges~
This girl has done an amazing job right smack dab in the middle of her teenage years! She has traveled on her own, been responsible, held her standards, made amazing friends, all while getting fantastic grades! 
D in The Monkey King...he struggled more with living far away from friends, but he played baseball and soared in school. He rarely ever complained and always was ready to sacrifice for others.

 ~Delivery To Our Door~

With food cheaper to buy than to cook, and my impractical kitchen, we ate a lot of delivery! And it was good! Four nights a week we ordered in while I cooked Tue, Thur and Sun. E's favorite was Ganges Indian (above). D's favorite was Gung Ho Pizza. Mom's favorite was it all because she didn't have to cook! And Dad's favorite was Tube Station or Kro's Nest Pizza.

 ~Lights in the Winter~
Even though China doesn't really celebrate Christmas like the US, they sure do deck out the city in lights all winter.
Speaking of winter, I really loved the snow in Beijing. It was the perfect amount and perfect powdery-like snow that I didn't have to shovel...great for a California girl like me! 
~Taking the Subway~
This, of course, has it's good and bad. But for the most part, it was always entertaining and efficient and cheap! America really needs to learn a thing or two about public transportation.
~Our View~
It really has been amazing living in a high rise with a view like this.
 I will really miss seeing it every day.
 ~No cleaning, No Yard Work = 
More Family Time~
Most expats have ayis (housecleaners and cooks). We chose to live in a serviced apartment. It was fabulous not cleaning bathrooms, making beds and doing floors...just for the record, I did do all the laundry and most of the dishes...by HAND.
Of course, our family fun won't end when we leave China.

 I am sure Hubby would want me to add
~Fireworks at Chinese New Year~

If you are really still reading this...I will make the next one easier...no pics.
~What I Won't Miss About Beijing~
Bad Air !!!!
Slow Internet/Blocked Internet
Rock Hard Bed
People Everywhere, All The Time
People Stopping In the Middle of a Thoroughfare without a Clue!
Rude Taxi Drivers (although this has gotten SO much better)
Walking 20 min to the Grocery Store for Greek Yogurt only to Find They Don't Have Any...Again!
Not Being Able to Find Healthy Food (like Greek Yogurt)
My Washer/Dryer Combo (that just broke so now it's just a washer)
Doing Dishes By Hand
My Impractical Kitchen with Tiny Fridge/Freezer
Not Being Able To Find the Majority of My List At One Place (can anyone say Tar-gét?)
The Spitting!!!

There is probably more, but I have held your attention for long enough (many of you for 22 months).
Who knows what Time Out For Me will look like after Beijing, but I do know that wherever we end up...I will still be putting my life out there for everyone to see! 
I hope you will follow us on our next adventure!
Zái Jīan!
Thanks for Reading!

Sunday, June 2, 2013

This Week In Pictures

Do you ever feel like things are going in slow motion, yet warp speed all at the same time? I remember I felt that way the week before my wedding. That is how I feel right now.

From the looks of these pictures it looks like ALL WE DO is eat! I guarantee we do eat a lot of really good food, but I also spend  time doing other things...walking everywhere, at the gym, taking the dog to the park, running, shopping with friends, doing dishes by hand;), and watching Castle (my current show obsession).

These first two pics aren't really from this past week, but someone just forwarded them to me from our church service project that you can see here
Total vanity of why I included these...it is not often I see pics where I am pleased with how I look but I thought these two pics were decent.

I honestly have never, even seen myself laughing before...pretty funny!

The lobby of the theater at ISB. We spent a lot of time in this theater watching music concerts, play performances, orientations, Cub Scout Pack meetings and sports award assemblies. Go Dragons!

This school will always have a special place in our hearts.

Baseball RBI!

Prom time!
 I was so fortunate to have the opportunity to serve with this amazing woman. She is our Relief Society president and I am one of her counselors. What a blessing it was for me to be able to learn from her. She invited our family over for dinner last Sunday. I am still craving her tofu! Yep, I said craving tofu...boy have I changed!
I learned a thing or two about chinese cooking. Here she is making fried rice.

Lots of yummy homemade chinese food! 

Such great women whom I will always cherish.
 Funny that my eyes are more "Chinese" than my Chinese friend. 
 Hubby has had a coworker (another secondee from the states) who has helped him with everything while we have been here. She speaks fluent Mandarin so she helped him and us out of many situations. To thank her, we took her out to a fancy lunch. E had exams that week with a modified schedule so she got to come along too.

Another fabulous lunch at Maison Boloud.
My entree of lamb. Perfect.

 After almost two years I have finally trusted to let him off his leash here next to the road. 

We had a fun night with some friends.
 D really, really hit it off with their little guy.

Donuts for dessert. E has a Popsicle that when it melts it turns to jell-o. 

Some boxes have arrived  "just in case we want to pack some clothes before the movers come". Ummm, no. Why do their job for them?

D ripstiking down one of my favorite streets. Later he crashed hard.
 A lot of the time Dad works late and E is off at various school or church activities. D and I have the opportunity to have many date nights. I love them so much. He usually chooses a french cafe.
He really likes spaghetti and iced hot chocolate.
My poor children are pasta deprived, I rarely cook it because it is not my favorite dish...sorry Mom!

My yummy dinner at the cafe...spinach salad with pears and raspberry dressing.
 This picture means a lot to me. When we first came to ISB I saw all of these enormous banners hung for the varsity teams. At the time I thought since Emma would only be a Freshman it would be a slim chance that her name would make it onto one. She did make it! I am so proud of her, not that she was on a varsity team, but because she has left a little of her own legacy at ISB.
ISB Varsity Softball team 2013!
 We love going to the Silk Market and since we are leaving there are things that we needed to buy this weekend. We picked up some sunglasses, the girls at the shop really loved my boys!
Chinese people who work with foreigners choose their own English names to use. On the left is "Carrie Underwood" and on the right is "Mona Lisa". They were so fun! The workers in these stalls work seven days a week, twelve hours a day, with only Chinese New Year off...amazing work ethics!

D still gets uncomfortable about all the attention he gets from females.
I hope that doesn't change anytime soon.

Hubby, on the other hand, doesn't get uncomfortable at all.
Here he is with Mona Lisa.
 D will be hitting a milestone at church this year when he turns twelve. He is getting a custom suit made. These women are amazing! Wait until you see what they are making me.
We totally recommend Tony's Tailor at the Silk Market!
They have made many, many shirts, suits and even a tuxedo for hubby! 

Last Saturday the air was clean"ish" so I ran outside along Second Ring Rd.
 I am getting ready to transition from mostly treadmill to mostly road running.
I can't wait to run outside everyday!
Stay tuned for a post I have been writing for the last six months: "What I Will Miss In Beijing!"
Coming Soon!
Thanks for reading!