With LBean's start to school, the rest of last week was spent experiencing some small triumphs. Doing things that are much easier to accomplish with one child who will willingly ride in a stroller. Tuesday morning I learned the first rule of kindergarten, tell your mom you need something for class as you're leaving for school. LBean informed me that she needed to have a hat to go outside for recess to protect her face from the sun. If we had already received our sea shipment with the rest of our household goods, this would have been an easy task. But...I digress. Finding a hat for LBean became my mission for Tuesday.
I texted a few friends here and they agreed that Decathlon, a sporting goods store would be the best place to look. I called one of those friends and she graciously agreed to hop in a taxi, with her two kids and ride with me to Auchan to look for a hat. Decathlon was so much fun. It has a wide range of things such as bikes, roller blades, swimming gear, sporting clothes, fleece clothing, exercise equipment, etc. We were able to find two hats to fulfill LBean's request...even a blue one, her favorite color. I managed to find a few things for myself. After wandering around the store, it became apparent that since we've moved here I've been craving two things: chocolate and "comfy clothes". I'm happy to say that I found a few new pairs of "comfy clothes" (the stretchy kind of cloths you lounge around in on the weekend) and EBean and I already fulfilled the chocolate craving by having not one, but two brownies for snack time that morning. Mmmmm!
My friend and I then decided to celebrate our successful shopping trip by taking our girls out to lunch. I love turning an errand into an all-out event.
Wednesday was a flurry of activity at our apartment. One of the pieces of furniture that the landlord purchased for apartment (a wardrobe for the girls' room) had arrived. Our realtor came over to help oversee the delivery and during her time here people just kept showing up! The furniture guys carried in the wardrobe in pieces and assembled it. Our Ayi mentioned to our realtor that the bolt on the guest-bathroom toilet was broken, so a service man was called. I needed to have 2 more jugs of drinking water delivered, and it's our realtor who calls that man. While our realtor and I were putting together lamps that our landlord had purchased for the apartment, another delivery came. The food that I had ordered from Shanghai (free delivery over 300 RMB, ~$50) came, even though I was pretty sure that I had selected the 5 pm-11 pm delivery time slot. It actually worked in my favor, but I am so glad that I was home and my Australian beef didn't sit outside my front door all day.
We also had a service guy from the apartment complex stop by because apparently there is water leaking from our pipes underneath the floor below the washing machine into the apartment below. It started doing it before we moved in, but it needs to be fixed, but our landlord doesn't want to pay to fix it since it isn't affecting her apartment, yet. Some of the floors above us are having the same trouble, so I fully expect it to happen to us at some point. While our realtor was here I also had her talk to our Ayi about our Friday night date nights and that it is okay to stop doing housework and play with our girls. Her job is to care for them and spend time with them.
What started Wednesday morning, turned into an all-day event. To fix the bolt on the toilet seat, the entire toilet had to be taken off of the floor since the bolt was screwed in from underneath the toilet. As EBean and I were having lunch we heard an extremely loud crash and she looked at me and said,"it broken". I told to go and take a look, sure enough the ceramic toilet had tipped over onto the tile floor and shattered. When Jamie got home that day I told him that someone in our apartment had a "China day" but thank goodness it wasn't one of us!
Wednesday night we took a visiting Big Yellow employee out to dinner. The food was so-so, but the atmosphere was great and the chocolate crepes were amazing!
It was a rainy Thursday for us and I had planned to stay home again with EBean. I got an unexpected text from Jamie saying that our driver was in Suzhou because he was having routine service done on the van and wondered if I would like to use the car when it was done. Absolutely! I jumped in the shower and was ready to go. It was nice to spend a few hours wandering around the mall and grabbing lunch with EBean. Because it was raining, the mall wasn't crowded and it was very peaceful. I took the time to stroll through some clothing stores that normally I wouldn't be able to because LBean would think that it was "boring".
Friday morning was my last small triumph of the week. I really wanted to conquer my initial fear of using the bus. When I had two girls during the day, it was too much for me to think about. But, with just EBean I was willing to give it a shot. We were headed across the lake to a friend's apartment for a playdate, which is pretty much a straight shot. I figured out two buses that I thought might get me there and told myself if the bus turned a different direction, I'd just get off and grab a taxi. Last week I learned that if there is a snowflake picture on the bus marquee that it is supposed to be air conditioned. The cost for those buses is 2 RMB, 1RMB for the others. Each bus stop has a digital sign that lists the buses scheduled to stop there, then some Chinese characters, and finally the estimated number of minutes until the next arrival. Once our bus arrived, Ebean and I hopped on (took me a moment to figure out where to put the money) and an older woman immediately started calling out to EBean and gesturing for her to sit on her lap. I was happy to let EBean sit with her if she wanted to, and she did. I had the diaper bag and the stroller slung over my back, so having EBean sit on a different lap (other than mine) sounded like a good idea to me. Just a few stops down the road (push the red button to request to get off) and we were there. We had a great morning with our friends and we road the bus back to our apartment. This time EBean sat on the lap of a elderly Chinese man. She was very content to have a place to sit, I'm so proud of her.
It's my hope that I can figure out the bus system well enough to use it for those short trips to the grocery store or on a day that I want a small adventure with the girls (and we don't have a tight schedule). With my husband's company we chose the option of not sharing our van with another family. That means the company will pay for the van and the driver, but we are responsible for the gas and tolls. To take Jamie to work, it's over 20 miles and a few tolls. If I need the driver, he has to take Jamie to Wuxi, drive back and take care of me and then drive back to Wuxi to bring Jamie home. I'd like to use our driver for big trips to the grocery store, driving out to Lilly's school and the orphanage and use taxis and the bus for the little trips. I'll report back in a few months and see what we've decided.
Friday night was date night! We tried a different place for massages and they were fantastic. The atmosphere was nice, you walk on stepping stones placed in water to get to the massage rooms, and the massages were so good. At one point I had to stop myself from drooling through the little head piece that you look down when you're on your stomach. Afterwards we walked up and down Singa Plaza stopping at the international foods store for craisins, chocolate chips & shredded wheat, the bread shop for pastries for Saturday morning breakfast, and then had dinner outside at Simon's. I had Thai noodles and Jamie had a sweet and sour pork that was amazing, almost BBQ-ish.
I am happy to report that both girls were asleep when we got home and our Ayi was not exhausted either. I don't know why I had assumed the previous week that our Ayi would know just to repeat what she had done the previous week and put them down to bed. It's just like with your spouse, he/she can't read your mind and you need to clearly state your expectations so there is no room for confusion.
The only unexpected result from date night...apparently the massage was a bit more vigorous than I am used to?! (My editor says, please note the nice pair of bruises between my shoulder blades).