Tag: family

Thankful

Thankful

It’s easy to dwell on everything that is not going well in 2020, plans that fell through and things we don’t get to do. Since it was Thanksgiving last week, I thought I’d jump on the bandwagon of everyone reflecting on the things they are grateful for. Here are my 5 things:

Family

I’m not just thankful to have them but that so far, everyone is staying healthy.

Friends

I’m really grateful for having so many lovely people in my life across the world. Right now, I’m especially grateful for our Shanghai friends who will make sure I don’t just cry straight through Christmas but actually enjoy the holidays.

Shanghai

I love living in Shanghai – it’s a great place with so much to do, see, explore and eat. I appreciate it even more in 2020. Besides a short sort of lockdown after CNY, things have been pretty normal here. We’re going out, dining out, meeting friends and just living life. If it weren’t for the masks in public transport and other public places, you’d hardly know there is a pandemic going on.

Technology

Seeing family and my friends abroad, living in Shanghai and Covid don’t really go together, so getting together in person is not possible. Therefore, I love WeChat, E-Mails and Instagram more than ever because it let’s me stay connected across borders and time zones. While our family video calls may be a bit chaotic, they are really fun and it’s great being able to chat up and see each other in real time.

Thanksgiving festivities

Finally, I’m thankful for the 2 fantastic Thanksgivings we were invited to. The food was almost as excellent as the company. We don’t just have great friends but friends who are great hosts and cooks 🙂 Both potlucks were really fun and the food just as yummy as what we enjoyed last year with my host family in Arizona.

Thanksgiving in Arizona

Thanksgiving in Arizona

This year, the annual US trip was a bit slower than last time, only Arizona was on the agenda, so no crazy flying around between 3 states. We spent 7 full days with my host family, and had lots of fun and food.

Family fun

Games, charades, swimming in the pool, cooking, baking, eating together, snuggling (or yelling at) the 4 dogs, watching movies, and just hanging out talking – that’s how we spent the majority of our trip. I was lucky that I got to see 4 of my host siblings, plus my host sister’s super adorable twin girls, which let me practice my auntie skills a little 🙂

Burgers & Shopping

In N Out deserves it’s own category! I managed to get 2 cheeseburger meals in, which we worked off with a day of outlet shopping. We also took a trip to Costco to give Thorben the full American experience 🙂

Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving was our second to last day and we spent the day before and half of Thanksgiving itself making lots and lots of yummy food. We had an awesome buffet with all the classics: a 15 pound turkey, gravy and cranberry sauce, stuffing, mashed potatoes and a potato hash casserole (which I named heart attack potatoes), homemade rolls, green beans and roasted veggies. The desserts were an American-German collaboration: pumpkin pie, pecan pie bars, apricot bars and Apfel-Streusel-Kuchen plus the first round of Christmas cookies, which I’d finished just in time for our trip 🙂

I’d say the 2019 US trip was a big success. As always, I wish it could have been longer and hopefully, I’ll manage to see the Utah part of the family on my next visit! Thanks to my awesome host family, it’s been 13 years now that they put up with me at least once a year 🙂

A long weekend in Singapore

A long weekend in Singapore

Fourth time is the charm …or whatever the saying is 🙂 Last Friday was a public holiday in Shanghai (Mid-autumn festival), so I took the opportunity to visit my sister and her husband in Singapore.

I arrived Thursday night and flew back Sunday night, which gave us 3 full days to eat, explore, chill, catch up and eat some more.

Friday – Afternoon Tea and Singapore After Dark

Sandra had Friday off while Timo had to work, so we had a fun sister day. We explored her area a little and had some breakfast, then lounged by the pool for a while. In the afternoon, we headed to the Ritz-Carlton to have afternoon tea, which was my birthday present 🙂 The afternoon tea was really great, so much good food and it was all beautifully presented.

To walk it off, we headed to Chinatown in the evening because they had some lanterns for Mid-autumn festival. There wasn’t too much to see, so we decided to walk around Marina Bay once and visit the Merlion. Sadly, he wasn’t lit up, but it was still great to be back in my bay 🙂 On the way home, we also stopped at Lau Pa Sat, an old hawker center in the middle of the CBD. Luckily, after 20,000 steps, I was able to fit in another snack.

Saturday – Food, Flowers, and Food

Saturday, the air was really bad due to forest fires in Indonesia. The worst haze in 3 years and you could really see and smell it. We still managed to go out for breakfast and then went to Gardens by the Bay. Since my last visit almost 2 years ago, another exhibit opened. Floral Fantasy lived up to its name. The flowers were really pretty and we were lucky it wasn’t crowded, maybe because of the haze. Of course we took advantage of that and took many many pictures.

We spent the rest of the day indoors and my sister made us a really German dinner – Linsen mit Spätzle und Saitenwürstle 🙂 It was amazing. Tasted just like home.

Sunday – Pool Time and Brunch

On my last day, the haze was a bit less, so we hung out by the pool again and tried to work up an appetite by swimming a few laps. I’m pretty jealous this is just an elevator ride away – just one more reason to come back really soon!

Our final food adventure was brunch at the W where Marlyn’s cousin Santy is the pastry chef. She is a true artist, I could not stop taking pictures of all the beautiful cakes and dessert. The rest of the brunch buffet was amazing as well – there were 20 different cheeses! Of course we ate way too much and moved very little for the rest of the day 🙂

Thank you very much to my awesome hosts for a great long weekend. Until next time, Singapore!

Good bye Germany – Hello again Shanghai!

Good bye Germany – Hello again Shanghai!

After 5 weeks in Germany, I got back to Shanghai on Saturday. It was a crazy mix of work, vacation, friends & family visits and more work.

Let’s start at the beginning: The day I landed, I hosted a mini bachelorette party for my sister, we attended her wedding the next day and then 5 days later Thorben’s sister got married. We visited 2 new babies, had the first snow of the season, went to the office for a week, had 2 birthdays in our families, met friends for dinner, at the Christmas Market or for brunch, got out of an Escape room (my team was a minute faster then Thorben’s … just saying), had awesome breakfasts and meals with our families, celebrated Christmas, went to see Bohemian Rhapsody and a musical … and that was only during the 2 weeks in December.

In January, Thorben drove up to the North Sea to visit family for a few days, while I went to the office and hung out more with friends and family in the evenings. After catching up with some work at the office, I started an 8 day training course. We escaped from a Harry Potter themed escape room, just in time for Thorben to catch his flight to Shanghai the next day. Actually, we escaped after only 37 minutes, like the amazing wizards and witches we are 😉 LUMOS!

In the evenings, I took it a little easier in my final 2 weeks: My sister and I had a spa day and went to an ice hockey game (Mannheim won!), I met a few friends and former colleagues and finally had a good bye dinner with my family followed with a good bye Brezel breakfast with my mom.

And this is the trip in pictures. As always, I didn’t take enough because I was too busy having fun … and eating … and somehow acquiring so much stuff I needed 3 suitcases to fit everything. Oops.

See you soon, Germany!

Golden Week Travels: USA

Golden Week Travels: USA

My Golden Week was quite different from Thorben’s. Instead of exploring a new part of the world, I flew to the US for the 18th time – I just counted 🙂 My trip can be summed up with 3 words: family, food and shopping. In total, I spent over 30 hours on 5 different flights. It was definitely worth it because I managed to see all members of my American family within 8 days.

Fun Fact: My flight to L.A. arrived 3 hours earlier than it left Shanghai because there is a 15 hour time difference between China and the West Coast.

Utah

From L.A. I hopped straight on to a plane to Salt Lake City to see the Utah side of the family. I spent 3 nights at my American grandparents house and got to hang out with 2 of my host sisters, aunt and uncle, and my host sisters adorable kids. 2 of them got Feiyue shoes, which were promptly used at Show & Tell at school: “Look at my shoes! They’re from China!” 🙂

We also had lunch at In N Out. Biting into their cheeseburger for the first time is always magical, as were the home cooked breakfast and dinners I got!

Arizona

The next stop was Arizona to see my host parents and my remaining 3 host siblings. All we had on the agenda for 3 days was eating – Hello Chipotle and Cold Stone! – shopping and hanging out. And we went on a mission to find cool cacti to take pictures of 🙂

California

With 2 days left, my host mom and I flew back to California to see her mom, brother and his wife. The ocean view is so beautiful and the weather was perfect; it was hard to leave the balcony. The chocolate, almond and ham & cheese croissants we had for breakfast didn’t hurt either 🙂 We did manage to do some more outlet shopping, got another In N Out cheeseburger and saw “A Star is Born”. After a drive down the Pacific Coast Highway back to L.A. it was sadly time to fly back to Shanghai.

Thanks so much to my awesome host family for yet another awesome trip. I can’t wait for my 2019 US visit!