Monday, May 6, 2013

Pictures and Updates!

Mark and I had heard that there was a replica of Tower bridge in London....and we set out to find it. Of course, our trusty driver/ "go-to guy" Mr. Shen knew where it was. Yep...a total replica of it in the city of Suzhou! There is also a photo of my handsome husband in front of a statue of lions. 

Garden visits are always interesting and make for pretty pictures!
Playing poker? Heck yes! I had an OUTSTANDING month in January in the Poker Club. I ranked number 1 and was rewarded with the "yellow bangle." This is awarded to the top performer of the month. I was also the first female to achieve this honor. I am still performing well, as I am currently ranked in the top 10. Let's hope this continues...I am having fun! :)
I am also still playing mahjong on Tuesdays as well. In this gathering, I am not fairing well, but it still is a lot of fun and a great way to meet other expat ladies and socialize.

There is also the EAS lunches. These are fun and entertaining. We check out local restaurants and have lunch and visit with one another. Another great way to meet some ladies you haven't had the opportunity to meet and chat with. 

Group photo of our trip to Cohngyuan Temple. It was a great day and very interesting place. I hope to post pictures in a future post of the HUGE Buddha "Goddess of Mercy" It was amazing. I am having issues with these particular photos! :(

The "Gateway to the Orient" is STILL under construction...with a lot of stalls. I believe they keep running out of money (so I've been told) and have to wait to obtain more investor money to continue. It's going to be MASSIVE whenever it gets completed. I sure hope to see it completed before we leave... but at the rate it's going; I have my doubts. 

   So, that in a nutshell; is what has been going on here. I am still having issues trying to post through Blogspot (Google). I am going to look into moving my blog to a different server/provider to see if it may be easier to log on and post.
   It's now been over two years that I've lived here, and it feels more like home and I feel much more comfortable here. It's easier to get around, to find grocery items, and just make a life here in general. I am extremely blessed to have this opportunity to live abroad and make friends from all over the world. I look forward to heading home in 2.5 weeks for a big chunk of the summer (I will be home from May 24th-August 9th). I am hoping to reconnect with friends and spend time with my family. Mark will even be home in mid June for a couple of weeks as well. It will be nice to spend time together as a big, loud, crazy family that we are! It's going to be a GREAT summer!  

Monday, February 18, 2013

Home Sweet Home....

       Hello Family, Friends, and Followers:

                         Mark and I are planning a little mini getaway to a couple of casinos. I have to get my poker fix in, and he needs a break from working on the house and car over the past week and a half. It will be nice to just spend a couple of days together driving, and relaxing.
                         First stop will be Blue Chip Casino in Michigan City, IN. It's a Boyd property and I got an offer for a free comped room. We've stayed there before and had a nice time. Then on Tuesday we will drive just a bit back into Michigan and stay at the Four Winds. We have also been here, but have never stayed at the hotel. We got a good deal on a we are staying there on Tuesday. We will head back on Wednesday. Just a quick little R&R to relax and rejuvenate.  I may even attempt to get a workout or two in while away, but I'm not going to worry if I don't. It is a little mini vaca.
                        Time is flying by since we've been home. I am amazed I have completed all my shopping and grocery needs to take back with us to China. I had a pretty extensive list, and I got all of it completed within the first week of being home. Now....we just need to pack it and make sure that we ave room for it all! I am not too worried about having to leave some things here at home. I head back here on May 24th through sometime in August. That's really only 95 days until I return to the USA. I will be solo over the summer. I also will not be working since someone decided I was not needed as a casual contingent RN. I was pretty wrecked about it at first; but now I realize it's an opportunity for me to find bigger and better things to do with regards to my time and with future employment. I get even more satisfaction in know that "KARMA IS A %*&$!" and someone will get theres in the long run. You just shouldn't treat loyal employees like that. So, that is all I am going to say about that.
                    I will hopefully take a few pics along the way during our road trip. I will post them sometime later with an update. Take care and until the next update.... CIAO!

Friday, February 15, 2013

Pictures, lots of pictures!

                                          Cheers! My handsome hubby says!

                                      My friend Michelle and I. We refer to each other as "Bad" or Good" Michele         depending on our mood and who is exhibiting the behavior! :P
                                             The EAS "Mix and Mingle in January at the Renaissance Hotel.

                                         Dinner after the Mix & Mingle at Damario's

                                              The professional photo taken at the EAS Christmas party
                                                 After dinner and a few glasses of vino!


                                      Some of my poker buddies. This pic represents the North American team. We have a tournament (RIJO Cup) in the poker club that is Team N.A. vs. "the rest of the world" Team North America took it (again), second year in a row! Check out the American flag in a maple leaf to represent our neighbors to the north (Canada). Love these folks!! <3

                                   My friend and poker sister Cecelia! She is from Atlanta, GA. She is a hoot and I have a lot of fun with her! :)

                                       Two of the poker players, Derek, and Gareth. Derek is from  Ohio (yeah, I forgive him!) Gareth is from South Africa. Both of these guys are a lot of fun to play cards with and pretty good poker players.

                                     Mark and I at the AGM Poker Banquet.

                                     Ronny (from Germany) a crazy poker lovin' guy.

   So, that's some pics. I plan on updating this Blog while home, and hopefully get caught up. I have been having difficulties in China with uploads and just trying to post things. Hopefully, it will get better/easier and I will continue.
   Stay tuned for more over the next few days......Ciao!

Friday, December 14, 2012

December Happenings

Hello All!

     Man time just gets away from me! I cannot believe it has been almost a month since my last Blog post. I post a lot of stuff on Facebook and tend to forget about and neglect the Blog. I got to remember to be more mindful of this Blog. It's a great way to keep track and document my time here in China. Other social media has been a priority and I need to re-evaluate that in my life.
     So, what's been happening? Quite a lot actually!  The Christmas Bazaar took place at the Kempinski   Hotel on Saturday, December 1st. It was a huge success for the Expatriates Association of Suzhou (EAS). We raised quite a bit of money for charity and everyone put in a lot of effort, time, and hard work. I also had a poker tournament that evening. Long story short, did not win, nor did I place in the money :( Oh well, another time...hopefully.
     Below is a pic from the Bazaar. Two expat ladies Elaine on the left and Klattjre on the right. They got in the Christmas spirit at their Tombola table at wore light up antlers! They are both lovely ladies and I enjoy playing mahjong with them on Tuesdays as well. They are both a lot of fun!

Here' s some more photos of the happenings that have occurred these last couple of weeks. I think I am just going to post them and explain them as I go along. Getting the first one to align was frustrating!


                     The following day was the Children's Christmas party. They received a very nice buffet lunch, a visit with Santa, picture with Santa, and a present. Here's a shot of me with a couple other volunteers who helped and worked the party.

Here's a shot of the ballroom where the party was held. It was a very nice party and the children and their parents who attended enjoyed themselves!

Two more volunteers :Sylvia and Cecelia who are members of the Activities committee. They plan most of the events for the EAS members all year long. I also play poker with Cecilia. Unfortunately, after 5 years of being in Suzhou, Sylvia is leaving Suzhou in about  week. She will be missed.                      

This is December 3rd., Monday.  It was Theresa's Open House Holiday Party. I went to this event last year as well. It was a lot of fun again this year with great food, wonderful ladies, and some mulled wine and spiked punch thrown in as well! Here are Klaartje (from Holland) and Elaine (from UK) and me. I adore these two ladies! We always have TOO much fun together and end up laughing till we're crying. We have shopped, volunteered, attended EAS events, lunched, and mahjonged together and it's a great time every time!
More expat ladies enjoying the festivities....

It's a pot luck; so there is also plenty of food from around the world. It's a good thing Theresa's apartment is quite large and can accomodate a big crowd. There was easily at least 30 to 40 women at this event. Again, such a nice afternoon. It's an event I look forward to! I told Theresa I was very excited when I got the invitation that she was hosting this again. Many of the women expressed the same sentiment. you can see, that was just the first three days in December! I will post more about this month this week-end. So many events and happenings!  So, watch this space for more updates!!

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Going Ons...

Hello All!

    It's been a while, but really....nothing really exciting to blog about from here. I have been keeping busy with daily activities such as going to the gym, reading, housekeeping (light), and activities with the other expat ladies. I am thinking about taking some more classes on line. I am seriously considering taking some ESL( English as a second language) instructor  courses. This may be very helpful in a job search. I am getting extremely ansy and find myself wanting to work and be a bit more productive while here. Don't get me wrong, I have absolutely loved my free time and taking a break from working and school. It's been a nice break. I can honestly say, it's a break...not a lifestyle for me. I enjoy living here , being with Mark on a daily basis, but the tai tai/ housewife thing full time is NOT for me. I just need to find something I enjoy that occupies some time.
     Mark has been extremely busy at work which means working late and coming home and working more! The conference calls and Webex meetings never end! I have said it before, my husband works WAY TOO HARD! I am looking forward to the Christmas holiday in England and him getting away from work, seeing his family;  and enjoying  some much needed downtime.  I have been very busy with the EAS activities and gearing up for the Charity Bazaar (Dec. 1st.) and the Christmas party( Dec. 8th.). I also have a Poker Club party on December 12th. So, lots of activities and things to prepare for to celebrate the holidays before people jet out of here to go home or on holiday. There is also a big Open House one of the ladies holds at her home that is scheduled for December 3rd. It's a huge get together/pot luck with lots of food, wine and camaraderie! It is a really fun party and I am looking forward to it.  
     Here are some pics from last year's party at T's house. A lot of ladies...and a whole lot of fun that afternoon for sure!

       So, that is pretty much what has been happening on my side of the world. The weather is quickly changing and it is starting to get cold. I did take my winter coat to the tailor and got it altered so FITS! Yeah! So, now I am prepared for the cold damp winter here. Although it is short, it does get cold here and now I am ready for it!

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Nov 1st...Where did the month of October go?

   Wow, October pretty much flew by! It's been filled with different activities and adventure. The EAS held a charity event last week-end that was a "Casino Night." We raised a lot of money for charity and people who attended said they had a really great time.
  Mark and I even won one of the 50/50 raffles! was the biggest one of the night. There was a lot of casino games being played as well as dancing and enjoying a cocktail or two. A fun night for sure.
    I also went to Ikea store in Wuzi with a couple of other expat ladies. It was fun to go, it almost felt like being back home again and meandering around the Ikea in Canton! (except the signage and price tagging was also in Chinese.) I found a couple of things to buy and use while here. Oh...and hello meatballs! I forgot you can buy the frozen meatballs that they sell in their restaurant. YUMMY! I actually used them in some spaghetti sauce and it was quite tasty if I do say so myself.  I have to remember about those meatballs.
    I have also been keeping pretty busy with the EAS organization. The craft Christmas bazaar is December 1st so the craft group has been busy making things. I am not at all crafty or talented in that area, but I do find things helpful to do and have fun visiting with the ladies as well. The Christmas party is December 8th. It's been a big task of the EAS to get things organized and done for that as well. That should be a nice dinner and dancing. Mark and I attended last year and we had a very nice time.
     I have a couple of dress choices. It will either be a print or a navy dress. I had them both made at a tailor at the fabric market in Shanghai.  Great...the photo uploaded in the TOTALLY wrong place...{see above} I can't seem to upload the other. Oh well! At least one of them uploaded. I will try again another time.
   We are still planning to head to the UK for Christmas and see Mark's side of the family. I also hope to touch base with my friend Valerie that I met here in Suzhou and she left to return home before I returned to Suzhou. I will be so happy to see her! So, I am looking forward to seeing my English family as well as one of my BFF's that I have not seen since last February. It will be wonderful to see her and catch up!
    Poker has been kicking my a$$ lately. I have been taking some pretty bad beats and have been discouraged, but I continue to play and try to push through it. I have fun...but the competitive side of me hates the continual bad beats and the losing! I shall continue in my quest for a win...
   So, that is what is going on in my life on the other side of the world.  I will try to stay a bit more current and try to post once a week. But, no promises. I have the best of intentions, but you know what people say about intentions...Till next time.....

Friday, October 12, 2012

TIME MARCHES ON...October 13th, 2012's been a while since I have blogged an update. Sorry, I sure was hoping to be a bit more on top of things now that I have completed school. Oh, but planning and hoping are not the same as doing.
  I have continued with attending the Powerhouse Gym pretty much every weekday. The only time I have not gone is if I have to be somewhere early, or the holiday(s) when they are closed! So, this past week was a full week of workouts at the gym. It has been a good feeling getting back into a routine and "getting my sweat on." Last week the gym was closed, and I was NOT happy. I did ride my recumbent bike and did a few different DVD workouts. At least I got some form of purposeful exercise in during the holiday week.
  The weather here has been absolutely lovely. In the mid to high 70's and sunny! I have been enjoying walking around the city to get to places. It makes for a much more pleasurable experience when the weather is nice.
   I have been playing in my poker league twice a week, and unfortunately; my poker slump continues. I have made a couple of final tables....but not in the money. Hopefully, that will change soon and I can report some winning! :) Mark and I will also attend a "Casino Night" next Saturday, October 20th that is sponsored by the EAS (Expatriates Association of Suzhou) and all proceeds go to charity. The EAS does a lot in the community here for the local orphanages and other charitable organizations. It's nice to work on these events and do something positive for charity. There are many generous people involved that not only give monetarily, but their time as well.

   I went on a Tai Tai trip on Wednesday that took us to Tong Li. Here is a great link for information on this city:
Here is a few photos as well:

            It was a fun trip and I met a few new expats. I am certainly glad that I got to go and enjoy a different city for the day. We toured a garden,  did some sight-seeing and shopping; and even went to the Chinese Sex Museum! An interesting and fun-filled day.
       This week Mark will be working on Saturday (tomorrow) so I will be on my own and will probably just be a tad bit lazy and do some leisure reading and catch up on some TV shows through my Slingbox and ON Demand. I want to watch a couple shows that I missed this week. So, that's what's going on in my world. Till next time...