Friday, October 20, 2017


We (finally, according to the girls) made our way to Shanghai Disney and it was a magical day.  We found a day that wasn't too crowded and the weather was fairly perfect.  While we're not fans of Walt Disney the man, this was a great experience.  The park is beautiful, the castle is massive (biggest Disney castle in the world), and the rides were amazing. 


We loved many things not shown in the video, which included the Pirates battle of the sunken treasure, Peter Pan's flight, and a boat ride that even went under the castle!  We walked around 9 miles and the girls did an outstanding job throughout the day; there was no whining about walking or toys and we were so proud of them.  They were a bit disappointed that there wasn't much from Inside Out, Toy Story, Nemo/Dory, and Moana, but there was so much of everything else it was hard to notice.  Pip was a bit upset that the Frozen sign-a-long was in Mandarin, so she just sang over them in English.  There were cool cultural connections throughout the park like the Chinese Zodiac being represented in Disney characters.

It was an exceptional day of setting aside the worries of life, experiencing magic and the power of imagination. We can't wait to go back!



Monday, October 9, 2017

Golden Week

China was celebrating the mid-autumn festival (and Kara's birthday) so we were off school and traveled all around Shanghai.  Every day was an adventure and we were so happy to get to spend some relaxed family time together.  After a summer of fixing up a house, selling a house, preparing for a move, and transitioning, this week off was well appreciated.  Here's how we spent the days:

Sat - Get stuck in the rain, go to the Bund and hang out in some malls where the girls can get artsy and Ben can check out the Michael Jordan store.  Pip bashes her head on a concrete gargoyle and the day is cut short.  Great start to the vacay! (Full skin recovery in 2-3 days.)

Sun - Head over to Century Park next door and explore some holiday competitions.  Have fun at the beach where Chinese tourists bribe Nina and Vivian with their toys so they can take photos of the girls playing with their own children.  

Guarding the castle --- "This looks like a scary road"

Mon - Wander the River Mall which had a MASSIVE line for the art museum, a good crowd for the Cirque Du Soleil shows, and instead find some random Chuck E Cheese-like-place.  The girls had a lot of fun and unfortunately won some bouncy balls.  

Tues - Make our way to Zhongshan park where we see dancing, badminton, an amusement park, and a weird hybrid badminton/soccer/volleyball competition.  Kara and the girls try out some Tai Chi and the group was very happy to have them join.  Afterwards, bike over to Nanjing road where we look for the magical "pineapple cake" store that Kara read about in May.  After some helpful directions and google translate, we actually found the store and got a bag of desserts.

Wed - Start the day by remembering why it's hard to be a MN sports fan.  We were thrilled by the start of the Twins-Yankees game at breakfast and by the time the pub opened up for brunch (they turned the game on seven TVs for us), the game had gone to complete crap.  So we decided to take a trip west to an ancient water town (still in Shanghai) of Qibao.  It was PACKED for the holiday and there were Chinese tourists everywhere.  Between the crowds, food on a stick, and the people-watching, it felt a lot like the Minnesota state fair.  We laughed to think that we were the locals as others struggled to get their train tickets figured out.  One highlight of this trip was finding one of the many people of Qibao that raises crickets.  The one he showed us was well trained, chirped on command, and was quite huge.  

Thurs - For Kara's birthday we had a rainy day.  So we made our way to the bigger IKEA rather than our usual one to get all the homey items she felt we were missing.  We ordered some different cakes to celebrate and the girls sang to her in three different languages.  We also got to see one of our sports teams win a big game.  Go Lynx, champions! 

Fri - Kara's Birthday part II included one of her favorite things to do in a city of public transportation: Get flu shots!  We all made our way to the empty clinic (everyone else was still celebrating the holiday) and got our inoculations.  Since we were already in the eastern side of the city, we went up to a little Dutch area of town that had a nice park, a random clog and a windmill.  

Sat - We took an hour and 15 minute ride on the metro to go to a southwestern suburb.  In an area known as Happy Valley (no Joe Paterno statues) they have a waterpark, amusement park, temple, and a sculpture garden.  We went to the last of these and had a wonderful day.  It was fun to be surrounded by hills and trees rather than all of the skyscrapers and we got a lot of sunshine to compliment the lake, beach, and trees.  The girls had a blast in the pool (they were the only ones because it was too cold (80) for the Chinese), in a water hamster-ball thing, on a climbing apparatus, and a giant bouncy blob.  

Sun - We got to see the Minnesota Timberwolves play the Golden State Warriors right here in Shanghai!  The crowd was amazing, the talent was ridiculous, and the seats were unbelievable.  We are in great debt to Dave (and Bobby) Warner who hooked us up since the tickets sold out in 7 minutes online.  It was so fun to watch the new team and be close enough to talk to Tyus Jones for a bit.  Sitting with some friends and hearing the music, it felt like we were back in Minnesota, just in the wrong seats.  The game was going well until Steph Curry and Kevin Durant decided to make shots that should not be humanly possible.  It was a wonderful spectacle and we feel so lucky to have witnessed it. 

What a Golden week indeed.  We're sorry to see it end; without Thanksgiving break we've got a long run until the Christmas holidays.  Time to get back in a groove.