Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Testing Testing

posted by Alan

This is a test of the video broadcasting system. This is just a test.

Janie gets out a much needed yawn and grunt...then passes out.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

A Woman's Worth

posted by Alan
click on pictures to see them full size

'A real man, knows a real woman when he sees her...
...and a real man just can't deny a woman's worth.'
- Alicia Keys
A Woman's Worth

My Mom, My Wife, My Daughter

The Female Trifecta

I knew it would be hard to adjust to playing a supporting role during this first month of Janie. At this point in her life, she really doesn't need me the way she needs Daisy. There are times when it seems that Daisy instinctively knows exactly what Janie wants and I'm like 'how in the world did you know that?' It's humbling and its challenging. My job is to basically wait around to do whatever I can so that Daisy doesn't have to do it. It's a tiring and thankless job. This isn't meant as a complaint, but it's meant as honesty. Guys, the first month of parenthood isn't much fun. At least not for me. I think if it were up to Daisy, Janie would stay this age forever. I absolutely love my daughter, but I don't think a man can ever fully understand the bond between a mother and her child.

But again, I knew it would be a rough first few months. I even asked Daisy if she could keep Janie inside until she was 3 months old. I know it's just for now that she needs to be cared for and waited on like this, but I can't wait until she starts responding. I really look forward to teaching her and growing her and encouraging her and even disciplining her. I can't wait to see how she responds and reacts to things and to see her learn. I know it's coming, just not yet. Like my mom told me last night, 'Be patient with Janie, the first month is hard'

My mom should be boarding her plane at the airport in a few minutes. I'm just now coming to understand how loved I am to have had the most influential women in my life in the same house for the past two weeks. An even bigger understanding is how loved I am to have women in my life that love me as much as these women do at all. Behind every great man really is a great woman. Even Jesus himself needed the love and help of women in his life. It's amazing that I have more than one. I'm thankful for the responsibility of raising another.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Father Hood

posted by Alan
*click on the pictures to see them full size

The title of this post is also the title of Snoop Dogg's reality TV show on the E! Channel. Not that I watched it or anything. Nor do I actually get the meaning of the title. I guess it's because he came from the 'Hood and now he's a father. I came from a neighborhood too, so I guess it still applies.

True because most of your dads are over 55 years old

Anyway, the first 10 days of Janie have been an adjusting period for sure, but overall, not too bad. She's been a good baby so far. Sleeps alot and isn't too hard to please. I think we've learned the tricks to calming her down. These include her pacifier, the magic exercise ball that I mentioned in the last post, her favorite place in the whole world (my left shoulder) and all while watching Season 12 of the Ultimate Fighter, which I just downloaded from the internet.

Christmas season is hitting Shanghai. It's a bit different here than in the US obviously, but you can definitely feel it around the city. Most of the major hotels, streets and malls have decorated with lights and ornaments. But there isn't the insane retail bombardment that most of us are used to, which is very nice. In the expat community, most celebrations are in full swing already. This is because on and around the actual Christmas Day, most people travel home for the holidays.

Thanksgiving was awesome here. We rented out a clubhouse in an apartment complex and had everyone invite their friends and bring food. There were 60 people total. People were talking about how many people there were. Funny thing is, my family back in NY is so big, they had to rent out a clubhouse to do Thanksgiving too. We had awesome food over here, but I don't think anything can top the feasts at my family Thanksgiving/Christmas dinners. Wish we could have been there and can't wait to join again in the future. But we definitely appreciate the family we've found here in Shanghai.

Up next for us, a 2 week visit from Janie's Grandma Gong. After raising three sports loving boys, Janie is the granddaughter she's been waiting for. Updates and pictures from her visit soon.

Sunday, December 5, 2010


posted by Alan
click on pictures to see them full size

Ok, so this was a pretty big week. I made a big trade for my fantasy basketball team (I actually traded away Blake Griffin), Lebron played in Cleveland for the first time since he left for Miami and my cousin George also came to visit us in Shanghai for the first time. Oh yeah, and also the birth of our first child.

Jane Nancy Gong

20 inches, 7.1 lbs - December 2, 2010

Thursday morning (China time) at about 8:30AM, Daisy casually woke me up and told me her water broke. She went to shower, I kept sleeping and about an hour later, we were on our way to the hospital. We were actually going to take the subway, but there was a taxi right outside, so we just jumped in it instead. Our room was all set up for us, so we made ourselves comfortable and basically waited for 8 hours. The calm before the storm.

We have international insurance, which allows us to go to an international hospital. Really nice facilities, only about 10 minutes away from our apartment. Its called Parkway Health and they have branches all around Shanghai. Our doctor is American, as are many of the doctors there. We had our own room, where Daisy would deliver and the baby would stay with us for three nights until we check out.

11 hours from when we checked in, we had our little baby daughter (6:40AM New York time). Daisy opted for natural childbirth, which meant no pain numbing drugs and there was some serious pain. I asked her if it was as bad as when I stubbed my toe really hard the other day. She didn't seem to find that funny. I think I'm never allowed to complain about any kind of pain in front of her for the rest of our lives.

A few notes from my first three days of fatherhood:
- I'm freakin exhausted. But you knew that already.
- My wife is tougher than I am. Some of you knew that already too.
- Invest in one of those yoga/exercise balls immediately. Strengthen your core and quiet your baby.
- Yes, she did all the work, but hospitals seem to ignore the fact that men need to eat too. Where are OUR complimentary meals?
- That being said, awesome, loving visitors (25 in 2 days!) is good. Awesome, loving visitors with food is even better.
- Pick a hospital with wifi. Seems insignificant, but you'll appreciate it.
- My thought process once Janie falls asleep: "Do I check espn.com, read emails, check Facebook, go to the bathroom or get some much needed sleep myself? How can I do that all at once? HOW!?"

Anyway, Janie is starting to get used to being outside of Daisy. I'll keep updating on here for sure, but I'll try not to make it a Baby Blog. But naturally, this website is about our life here and that life just got a little bit bigger.

Response to comments:
Corinna - Yeah, I go to the Will's at Shanghai Stadium. I have no complaints about it at all actually. It's less crowded than Zhongshan Park though.
Cheryl - Yeah, GAP seems to be doing well here. Most of Daisy's maternity clothes came from home in the US. But taobao does have everything...
Kevin - Three weeks became two weeks. There are plenty of mirrors at the gym. But I don't need to check out my glutes, I can just feel them.
Angela - THANKS!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Pumping Iron

posted by Alan
*click on pictures to see them full sized

Whenever I'm back in New York, people always seem to be surprised that I haven't shrunken down to 5'7 and 120 lbs after living in China. It's not completely unwarranted, as I did lose 10 lbs back when I lived in Henan province for a couple of years. The main reason was the lack of protein from meat. Tofu and eggs are NO substitute for some delicious, hearty meat. But we live in Shanghai now, and meat is plentiful.

Fitness is also becoming more and more a part of everyday life here in China. It's not at the level that it should be, but it's slowly getting there. In the US, most people try to maintain some sort of physical fitness level. Over here, it's sort of a niche thing. The select group of people that are into fitness are REALLY into it. The rest just aren't. Gyms mostly rely on attracting this select group, foreigners and people that like yoga and/or swimming. I go to a gym called Will's, which is a nice chain that is probably at the level of NYSC in New York. There are cheaper ones (Bally's level) and much nicer ones as well (Equinox). The standard price at my gym is $300 for a 1-year membership. I negotiated $300 for 17 months. It can get crowded in the evening, just like gyms back in New York, but I'm able to go during the day. I also do yoga class there once a week. Check it out below. Aside from the endless loop of Taylor Swift and korean pop music playing in the background, I can't complain.

In less masculine news, the first GAP store in Shanghai opened last week. Daisy was really excited because it's one of her favorite brands. She likes it enough for us to actually go there on our date night. She's easy to please. It looks and smells just like GAP back at home. It's US designs, but Asia sizing, so everything runs about one size smaller. The prices are about the same as the US. There was alot of hype about the opening, so it seems that it will be pretty popular here.

Latest pictures of Daisy. 3 weeks to go.
36 weeks and Toy Story 3

Response to comments:
Corey - Yup, it's baby season. They're popping out everywhere.
Cheryl - You guys gotta come back and visit! Although we still haven't made a trip to where you are yet. Its too cold. haha.
Corinna - We've just started playing rugby on Sunday mornings. You guys should learn it down under and come back to play.
Coolspotting - ....?
Artee - Last vacation for a few months at least. We do plan on taking her travelling though. Come with us!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

4 weeks to go

posted by Alan
*click on pictures to see them full size

Lack of updates. Been busy with the closing of the Expo and getting ready for the baby to come. We had to give up a Saturday of beautiful weather last weekend to sit through a SIX HOUR prenatal class. Let's just say I learned alot of science. Much of which I could do without knowing. But we're just about ready for her to come. Here are some recent pictures of Daisy. She carries it well doesn't she? This blog is interactive. You can put your finger over her belly and she doesn't even look pregnant. Try it.
29 weeks; 30 weeks; 33 weeks

It's the beginning of November and the weather is a comfortable 65 degrees in Shanghai these days. We're trying to enjoy it while it lasts. I played rugby for the first time today and loved it. But man, it's incredibly tiring. We also made a trip out to play paintball a couple of weeks ago. Pretty standard stuff, but much cheaper than back in the US. For about $30 USD, we each got 2 hours of playing time, mask, camouflage and gun rentals and 200 paintballs. Really fun field with lots of moats, towers and obstacles too.

Click here to see the full album of pictures: Paintball Shanghai

Really looking forward to my cousin George comin to see us on his way to Thailand at the end of the month, and then my mom being here to help us with the baby and see what life is like out here for us.

Saturday, October 16, 2010


posted by Alan
click on pictures to see them full size

Every first week in October is a huge national holiday here in China. The ENTIRE country is on holiday. Keeping with our tradition of escaping to a remote, tropical island in the South Pacific, this year we went to Siargao Island in the Philippines. It's known as their surfing island, with the famous Cloud 9 break where there is a big international surf competition every year. It's a really small and undeveloped island and we figured that this will be our last "roughing" it trip before the baby comes.

To save you from paragraphs of reading, I'll try to summarize the trip in bullet points(and pictures):
- Most beautiful natural beaches and water I've ever seen (better than Hawaii, Malaysia, Jones Beach, etc.)
- The local people on the island were SO friendly and happy. Especially our new family at our guest house.
- Fresh seafood and BBQ right on the beach
- Island hopping, surfing, kayaking, snorkeling, massages on the beach and motorbiking. And Daisy did everything except for surfing at 7 months pregnant. I got a good wife.
- Fresh tropical fruits for breakfast
- Karaoke and basketball with the locals. Two Philippines national activities.

Click here to see a full album of our trip to the Philippines: Philippines 2010

In other news, the 2010 World Expo is coming to a close on October 31st. It's a relief to many in Shanghai, but it is kind of sad to see the end of such an epic event. Just this Saturday, there was an unbelievable 1.03 million visitors to the Expo. On Saturday, the Expo was the 9th largest city in America. I'm not sure if I will ever see an event so grand again in my life. It was a huge blessing and adventure to be a part of and I'm going to really miss the people that I've worked with that are leaving. But it's time for Shanghai to get back to normal.

Here are some pictures from the craziness that is/was the 2010 World Expo in Shanghai: