Monthly Archives: December 2013

Shanghai Christmas 2013

I am amazed at how fast this year has flown by.  All of a sudden, (it seems!) it is Christmas once again.  Owen did most of our Christmas Shopping this year and I am very grateful for that.  Work has been so very busy that I have had little free time to juggle anything else with.

I rushed home from work on Christmas Eve so that we could all go over to Tim & Marie’s house for a few hours.  We were home by 7:30 so it was a lovely way to excite the kids enough without anyone getting over-whelmed!  For the first time, I forgot to take my camera (I am never without that usually!) so I have no photos from Christmas Eve.  However, it was the same group of Ex-pats staying in Shanghai over Christmas so we saw quite a bit of them!!  And, I remembered to take the camera to the rest of the events.

Once we got home, of course the children were excited.  We got mince pie cookies and brandy ready for Father Christmas and a carrot for Rudolph.  They had had such a busy day that they actually went off to sleep relatively well.  Disaster struck at 12:30 though as Owen could hear voices coming from Isabelle’s bedroom.  I was already in bed, but Owen was downstairs.  Sure enough, Isabelle had woken up and then woken Oliver up and they both decided to start opening stocking presents that had already been delivered!  Oh no!  It was time for Daddy to have some stern words and send everyone off to sleep again until a decent time in the morning.  Goodness knows how Santa managed to sneak past Owen to deliver presents AND eat the cookie, drink the brandy.  It was quite the discussion in our house in the morning.

It was a leisurely morning opening presents, playing with toys and eating breakfast.  I absolutely enjoyed every minute of this precious morning.  Watching the kids excitement and pleasure at everything they opened and received was delightful.  They were also just as excited to watch Owen and I open our presents. They had managed to keep the presents for Daddy a surprise and he certainly was surprised this year!  He also totally surprised me and made me cry with his thoughtfulness – a perfect gift for me!  Tetley was also treated to a stocking full of treats:

I know I can get my head in there - I can smell goodies!

I know I can get my head in there – I can smell goodies!

I knew it!!

I knew it!! Yummy treats for a special girl.

Christmas Tree and kids  2013

Christmas Tree and kids 2013

Family including Tetley Christmas 2013

Family including Tetley Christmas 2013

We e-biked/biked around to Rob & Jen’s house at 12:30.  Our 2nd Shanghai Christmas and a repeat of our experience from last year.  This year, Rob and Jen hosted us in their beautiful home.  They had welcomed the Intercontinental Catering team into their kitchen and they had provided all the food for our Christmas dinner.  We were totally spoiled!  Again!!

Champagne ready on ice!

Champagne ready on ice!

Turkey ready for carving (and ham, beef and sausages)

Turkey ready for carving (and ham, beef and sausages)

Salads for starters.

Salads for starters.

Pasta, seafood, vegetables, potatoes - yummy!

Pasta, seafood, vegetables, potatoes – yummy!

Desserts - mini Christmas Puddings, fruit tarts, stollen, chocolate mousse log and fruit.  YUMMY!

Desserts – mini Christmas Puddings, fruit tarts, stollen, chocolate mousse log and fruit. YUMMY!

We were thrilled to share Christmas day Dinner with Rob and Jen, with their 2 children, Freddie and Theo, plus Kevin and Jane and their 2 children, Amelie and Joseph.  It was a huge feast and the set up was perfect.  1 table for the 6 children right next to the adult table!  Crackers and chocolates were extra treats on the tables for all of us:

The kids are all ready to eat!

The kids are all ready to eat!

Our Christmas Day "Emerald Family" Jane, Rob, Jen, Kevin, Sara & Owen Isabelle, Amelie, Theo, Joseph, Freddie & Oliver

Our Christmas Day “Emerald Family”
Jane, Rob, Jen, Kevin, Sara & Owen
Isabelle, Amelie, Theo, Joseph, Freddie & Oliver

It was a long, relaxing, fun dinner.  We all made multiple visits to the buffet for plate refills!  Good conversation, good company and flowing fizz.  The kids wanted to swim after their food, so they were all in the pool for a dip and a splash.

Oliver and Joseph firing off the water pistols!

Oliver and Joseph firing off the water pistols!

Meanwhile, the adults were having fun too!

Jane, Jen and Sara

Jane, Jen and Sara

Rob, Kevin & Owen

Rob, Kevin & Owen

Oh, how we laughed through most of the day!

Oh, how we laughed through most of the day!

After the adults had finished eating and the kids had finished swimming, it was time to play Charades.  Lots of fun with all participating and some very funny gestures.

Owen, Jane, Jen and Freddie

Owen, Jane, Jen and Freddie

Freddie, Amelie and Isabelle (with her new mini Furby who talks non-stop!)

Freddie, Amelie and Isabelle (with her new mini Furby who talks non-stop!)

We all totally enjoyed our Christmas day with Rob, Jen, Jane and Kevin.  All too soon it was past 6:00 and time for us to get home to get ready for the evening get together.  We raced home, got changed and then arrived at Suzanne and Brien’s house to find the party already in full force.

Suzanne, Jane, Marie and Mike

Suzanne, Jane, Marie and Mike

Jane and Mike have just arrived in Shanghai to start their new assignment.  They were both relieved to be welcomed into the Emerald Ex-pat family!  The wonderful thing about living like this is that everyone is in exactly the same boat and are super supportive, friendly and welcoming.

Brien with some of the boys!

Brien with some of the boys!

More friends to play with! Isabelle, Siobhan, Seren, Oliver, Ciara and Caitlyn.

More friends to play with!
Lia, Isabelle, Siobhan, Seren, Oliver, Ciara and Caitlyn.

Rob, Tim, Marie, Jen, Owen and Sara

Rob, Tim, Marie, Jen, Owen and Sara

It was a wonderful Christmas Day celebration.  If you cannot celebrate with your family, then an Ex-Pat “family” get together is a great choice.

I am very grateful for our friends in Shanghai that make this whole experience so much fun and who are so supportive.

After a few too many glasses of fizz on Christmas evening, I invited a few friends over to our house for Boxing Day!!  So, we woke up late and then had a whirlwind around the house getting ready for people to arrive.  As the Chinese do not celebrate Christmas, all the shops were open and it was just another working day for all the locals!  This worked in our favor because I could run to the shop to buy a few snacks for our impromptu gathering.  It worked out well, with Marie and kids, Kevin & Jane plus kids and Rob & Jen plus kids stopping in for a few relaxing hours.  It was a nice way to close out Christmas 2013.

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My Philanthropist Daughter!

Isabelle has quite the big, giving heart.  Earlier this year she (and Ava) held a very successful bake sale and donated a big amount of money to a local orphanage.  Last weekend, Isabelle and her friend Sarah held a Toy Sale.  For 2 hours on Sunday afternoon, they sold as many of their gently used toys and books as they could to raise some money for the survivors of the Philippines Typhoon Haiyan.

Isabelle and Sarah had been planning this for weeks, sorting through toys, books and dress up clothes that they no longer wanted, had outgrown or just did not want any more.  We had quite the collection of items to sell:

A driveway full of toys and books!

A driveway full of toys and books!

Following a neighborhood wide email communication and then a reminder flyer in each mailbox (Isabelle was determined to make this as successful as the Bake Sale!) we had a few good customers and the girls made some good sales.

Open for business!

Isabelle and Sarah.  Open for business!

I was so proud of both of them as they managed to sell 660RMB worth of items and decided to give 350RMB to the Typhoon Relief effort, and then divide the rest between them as pocket money.  There is quite a lot left over, so we will be repeating the sale in January hoping to target all the new people who will arrive over the Christmas break!!  🙂

Isabelle and Sarah gave their donation to Mr King at BISS (Head of Juniors) who then wrote me an email to say he was going to recognize them during the assembly for the week.  Luckily, I was off on Wednesday and so it was a privilege to see my lovely daughter and her friend called up and spoken about in front of all the Junior School.

The backdrop to Mr King's comments.

The backdrop to Mr King’s comments.

Sarah, Mr King and Isabelle.

Sarah, Mr King and Isabelle.

Isabelle comes up with ideas on how to help others all by herself and is very focused on the underdog.  I am so proud of this spirit in her and wish for that to grow deeper over time.  She is so caring and so empathetic.  Mr King was also proud of them both – they both represented values that the school are trying to nurture.

This video clip is 2.19 long – the assembly highlight of Isabelle and Sarah and their philanthropic event:

A bittersweet Christmas celebration…….

It is time for another Emerald Christmas celebration!  Kevin & Jane were hosting their annual open house this afternoon/evening and it was wonderful to celebrate with our neighbors.  However, this was also the last time for me to hang out with our good friends Matt & Emma, so was a little bittersweet.  They are off to their next Ex-Pat adventure in Bangkok, Thailand.  Isabelle and Oliver will really miss their best buddies:

These 2 are old souls.  They play together so well and really love each other.  Neither of them really realize that this is it…. :-(

These 2 are old souls. They play together so well and really love each other. Neither of them really realize that this is it…. 😦

Best buddies for last 2 years.  Thank goodness for technology - time will tell if these 2 stay in touch with email and Face Time.

Best buddies for last 2 years. Thank goodness for technology – time will tell if these 2 stay in touch with email and Face Time.

It was a wonderful afternoon/evening with excellent hosts – Kevin and Jane.  Everybody bought something to share (Isabelle had made cupcakes earlier in the day for us to take – and they were delicious!).  There was also plenty of fizz for the adults to enjoy!  The kids were in their element with loads of arts and crafts to do, plus movie time.  It was time for me to catch up with old friends before the mass departure for the Christmas break.

The Emerald (and Tiziano!) crew.  Celebrating Christmas a little early!

The Emerald (and Tiziano!) crew. Celebrating Christmas a little early!

I actually managed to get in one photo!!

I actually managed to get in one photo!!

These 4 have been as thick as thieves for the last 18 months/2 years.  Isabelle is very upset that Ava is leaving, but it has not hit Oliver yet.

These 4 have been as thick as thieves for the last 18 months/2 years. Isabelle is very upset that Ava is leaving, but it has not hit Oliver yet.

I will also miss Matt & Emma…..

Vacation in Thailand, part 2 - here we come!!!!!

Vacation in Thailand, part 2 – here we come!!!!!

What a wonderful time, catching up with old friends and new friends.  Many are about to leave for an extended Christmas break so this was perfect timing to wish everyone the best of the season.

Sara, Marie, Jane, Emma and Jo - good times!

Sara, Marie, Jane, Emma and Jo – good times!

The kids thought that it was a fun time too!

A great group of kids!

A great group of kids!

Merry Christmas to all my Shanghai friends!