We rang in the new year at LAX aka the airport. It was right before boarding our flight. It was a fairly subdued affair with an annoucement over the intercom and weary travelers not really caring about it. It may be the first midnight New Year’s Eve I have seen in years. It was a long trek back to China after that. Now here we are awaiting the Chinese New Year. I enjoy seeing the decorations of red and lanterns around, but it holds no significance for me. The stores will soon close and the country will shut down. If you want to visit China, just don’t come when they are on holiday. I was shocked at how shut down services were last year. I am hoping I bought enough provisions to get by because I don’t intend to brave the stores anytime soon. I don’t really do resolutions so my new year continues on like the old.

2019 is on her final lap….

IMG20191227112146.jpgWe traveled a lot in 2019. Living abroad means seeing new things and places, but still having family obligations at home. We saw a lot of new cities and cultures in 2019, but yesterday we saw a place near home that we had never seen before. The Utah Olympic Park. My daughter was born during the SLC olympics in Salt Lake City. It was an exciting time.  We came home for the holidays in 2019.  We enjoyed my favorite thing of a “White Christmas”. Where will you be taking your final lap of 2019?  HAPPY HOLIDAYS!!!


3 years ago for Christmas, we became a dog family. I grew up with parents who grew up around lifestock and they did not want animals themselves. Growing up, we had a cat and a dog at different times and some strays adopted us at intervals, but NEVER a house pet. After getting our Christmas puppy, I learned just how often some pet owners walk their dogs. I had never noticed. I had never needed to care. After I got a dog, I started seeing dogs and their people. Before, I walked a lot, but it was JUST moi. Recently, I joined a dog walking group. My new German friend lives in an apartment and walks her 90 lb. lab A LOT. I have an active breed dog, but he is happy to walk ten miles with me one day and chill the next. I have a walking blog and even I don’t want to walk as much as my friend. I am having fun in my new club, but I don’t want to commit to walking with companions (besides my dog) more than once a week.


Have you seen the Christmas stuff in the stores? I have even in China. LOLOLOL The Christmas stuff doesn’t exactly look the same. There was a yellow Santa Claus! NO, JUST NO!!!! Well, I’m one of the people who does NOT like seeing Christmas decorations before Thanksgiving. I understand that stores have such insane quantities of stuff that the merchandising must begin well in advance of the holiday, but for me and my house we will have Thanksgiving decor until at least after turkey day.  Last year, we had a very pathetic little Thanksgiving dinner. It was the best we could muster without an oven in our home in China. Ovens are NOT a normal thing here. We have one now because we moved into foreigner housing.  I have made our entire Thanksgiving meal many many times since we have mostly lived away from extended family. I enjoy the process of purchasing a turkey in advance, preparing the menu, and executing the meal. I will be going home for the holiday. I am very excited to cook the food and EAT it. I also have some one on one hikes planned with my new teenager. We aren’t all going due to the lack of school days off. That means that children preparing for AP tests in the spring DO NOT get turkey day week off. Thanksgiving is such a cool holiday. #givethanks

Walking is low budget.

How much is that gym pass? You know the one I’m talking about. The place that looks really cool, but you pay the fees and haven’t been back since Jan 12th. There is a registration fee. There is a monthly fee. There is a fitness consultation fee…….. They don’t make it easy to stop paying their fees. When my recent gym asked me the reason I wanted to cancel my membership and I said because I’m moving to China, there wasn’t much of a counter-argument to that. LOL However, I can guarantee they would have found some way to prevent me from leaving under normal circumstances. Soooo… if your gym pass membership is on autopilot attached to your credit card, give it a 2nd look. Cancel it or go to the gym. Going to the gym is fun. I highly recommend it. However, I don’t like paying reoccurring fees for nothing. Walking is free. There is no registration fee to get started.

Public transportation in Paris

I recently took my 15-year-old daughter to Paris in September. Our summer was booked with family visits so we had to carve out time during the school year. I do NOT drive in Europe. I have been legally driving now for many years, but I’m a bad parallel parker. I avoid it at all costs. I haven’t done it since I passed the test and had to. That rules out driving in a lot of places. For the record, I have countless hours of experience on city subways. We went to our trusty google to find out the cheapest way to get around Paris for 6 days was to buy a week pass. https://parisbytrain.com/paris-train-metro-week-pass-navigo-decouverte/ For like $30 per person we were able to use all of the subways, many local trains, and buses. (We never took the bus.) $30 is a great price! We bought our passes at the airport (bring a photo of yourself for the pass-like passport size) and we were able to hop right on the train to the city center. For less than the price of the taxi ride to the city, we bought a week pass to go wherever we wanted. Since I was already a highly experienced subway masterer, I put my school skipping teen in charge of getting some real-life skills. I made her figure out our routes every time we entered the subway station. It was definitely NOT her first time being in a subway in a city, but this time she was in charge. We were feeling so awesome with all of our savings from our public transportation pass that we could splurge on some extra pastry runs. Her favorite thing in all of Paris was NOT the sparkling Eiffel Tower but was éclair framboise. (raspberry eclair) We truly had to avoid having one every chance we got so we could eat real meals. We had dinner 3 nights with friends so between that and the eclair runs we didn’t get to eat nearly enough food of our own choice so I think we will be going back for a do-over.  Using the subway was economical except that we were in Paris during a transportation strike/shut down and after using our own 2 feet the entire day, we thankfully caught a cab to get us back to our hotel. That set us back like $20. You cannot predict where the strike will be if you visit Paris, but you can predict there will be one. Our total transportation costs ended up being around $80 for 2 people for one week. (That does not include the price of good walking shoes. That will cost a lot more.) The day we were forced to walk to reach our destination was priceless since we saw cool streets that we would not have otherwise. On the other hand, we spent a lot of time looking at the Louvre art from the benches due to our fatigue. Good thing we had been there before and children under 18 get in FREE.

Tokyo Olympics 2020

We just spent the weekend in Tokyo. It was our 3rd time going to Tokyo. We had a lot of fun. It is not a cheap destination. The Olympic games are going to be there next summer. Soo cool!!!!!! I have never been to an official Olympic event, but when I was 8+ months pregnant I used to walk around the excitement of it all EVERY day. I worked in downtown Salt Lake City in 2002. The Austrian news set up camp right outside the door of my office building. In my early years, I even raced in a few ski races in Utah in the eighties. Alas, I was not destined to be an Olympic level skier, but I enjoyed the excitement the games brought.

If you want to go to the Tokyo Olympics, DO IT! It will be so awesome. We went to the city in 2014, 2018, and 2019. We are not Tokyo experts by any stretch, but the city is getting ready to host the games. If you are staying at a major hotel, you book an airport limousine (big bus) right after baggage claim and off you go. You get dropped off directly at the entrance. The subways there are crazy, but they take you everywhere. We paid about $5.50  per person for day passes. The subways are so big there though that we felt like we were on an underground mountain hike. (NO JOKE!) Some of the intricate underground passageways have stores with treats that will make your mouths water so be sure to pack your CA$H. (Insider Tip: Brioche cubes!!!)

Things to do in Tokyo if you go to the Olympics or just go cause Tokyo is awesome. 1. EAT 2. SHOP 3. WALK A LOT to see stuff 4. Wake up to see the sunrise in skyscraper land. (We did this on our first trip due to jet lag. It was awesome! 5. EAT 6. REPEAT We probably won’t be going since we will be heading back home to USA in summer 2020, but I know these games are going to be sooooo impressive. If you are planning on going to Tokyo as a mere tourist, I highly recommend a workout routine beforehand because it is exhausting. Try to be at your optimal fitness level. You may not be competing in the games, but you need to be your best YOU. It is so exciting.

What is jetlag like?

I know everyone hates when the clock changes. What about when it changes dramatically from flying into the future or to the past? Last week, I flew from China to Europe. I had a longish layover and our flight to Europe left at midnight. We were arriving in the morning local time so it was going to likely be one awfully hard day. I took a Tylenol PM to help assist my sleep. (For the record, I take medication freakishly rarely so I was fine with that.) I have tailbone issues that act up about once a year or on long-haul flights and that would also take the edge off.  I slept pretty well for about 7 hours but woke up with about 4-5 still to go. UGH!!! We exited the plane around 7 am. We went immediately to drop off our bags at our hotel and we were able to stay out until 8 pm. We probably fell asleep at 9 pm. By a miracle of keeping busy on local times, we managed to have 5 days on the ground with relatively good energy levels and sleeping on local time. It should be noted that I was with my teen and she slept even better than me. Upon return, we had flights that didn’t require waking up early to catch. I have done those aplenty in my day to save money and I really try to avoid it now. It is the worst! Our first leg back to China started in the day so I slept, then watched some movies and rotated between the 2. We had an awful layover of all day to get to our city. I guess I didn’t pay enough attention to that when booking. It was a hard day. The goal was to NOT fall asleep to accidentally miss the return flight to HOME. It was a relief when we sat in our seats and we were quickly out. We couldn’t screw it up once we were seated. After I got home, I was feeling pretty good. I ate dinner and I showered. I wasn’t even feeling tired. At 8:30, I started feeling tired. My husband told me to go to sleep. No, I want to stay up cause I won’t sleep all night if I do that. Well, I gave in a few minutes after he had that idea. I was asleep as soon as my head hit the pillow. I was out for nearly 12 hours. Wow. That was awesome! I must be back on local time. I felt great that day. Night no. 2 I laid in bed until at least 3 am. NOTHING!!! Of course, immobile in the morning. Night no. 3 I told my children to take care of the dog’s night routine and I went to bed early. I was up from 12:30-3:00 am. Again, immobile in the morning. I went to the grocery store this morning feeling like a zombie. Luckily, my teen who had to hit the ground running back to the grind was fairing a lot better than me. What is the take away from this round of travel jet lag? We were extremely blessed to be able to go go go when precious travel time was tight, but the return is not without repercussions.

Do you dream of doing something?

I just read on a travel website about a guy who dreams of seeing the ocean but has not done it. Why has he not done it? He is literally commenting on a travel website of a guy who has seen many different ocean vistas. The secret is that the guy even tells his readers how to travel. (On any budget) It may take a lot of reading though. I am not going to assume that everyone can overcome this hurdle; some people are caregivers and literally never get a break, or have disabilities, or fears.  Last year, I really wanted to go horseback riding in a certain place. I didn’t want to prebook it and get my hopes dashed if we didn’t make it there with everything we had going on. I had it on my agenda and the stars aligned and it happened. I spent some of my youth on horses.  Sometimes, I even decide it is time for me to have my own horse again, but then my husband reminds me that my oldest daughter has bad allergic reactions to them and I too have respiratory irritations from them. This week I sent the picture off for printing a big canvas of our ride.  I am very excited to hang it on the wall. At the end of the comment, the commenter mused that it was time for him to implement a plan. I agree!!!!!


Have you had all the summer fun you planned? Our summer has been over for a few weeks now due to back to school in early August. This summer, we flew to Las Vegas. We drove in the middle of the night to Southern Utah and then we had non-stop activities. I met up with some old friends and we had a lot of fun. We drove up to Boise, Idaho so my children could meet up with their friends. My 12-year-old had every minute planned on her social calendar. We stayed in downtown Boise for a week and it is a very fun small city. It was also sad because we were uprooted from there and we don’t really plan on moving back. Then, we headed back to Utah for some college tours and a small town fourth of July. When it came time to leave, I nearly caused us to miss our flight back to China. That would NOT have been good. All of my efforts to get to the airport early and then getting distracted by the airport shops at the last second nearly did us in. We were the last people to board and they had just started calling our family name. :0

Recovering from my jet lag took a long time, but then we left again a few weeks later. We went to Seoul, Korea for an awesome almost 2 days. Then, we went to Honolulu for more college stuff. I was on my own so I had some bike rides around Waikiki. It was good and bad. Being on a bike is so liberating. However, I do NOT like biking around cars. Also, I am fine with renting a bike, but a rented bike helmet on my head was just gross. Hawaii is beautiful. I wasn’t there for a normal vacay, but it is a great place to have a traditional dream vacation. We came back and it was time for school to begin. I love back to school time of year, but early August when it is still roasting feels weird.


Wearing our new college gear from the hometown in Dalian, China.