Mae-Ling's Blog
blogging in Shanghai

August 2022
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My Young Padawan
Filed under: General
Posted by: Mae-Ling @ 7:48 am

A Padawan is an apprentice who learns how to use the Force from a Jedi master. The Star Wars Clone Wars animation is coming out in August, and Kyle and I started reading a children’s book which tells the story.  It’s perfect timing for me to work on my new parenting focus of teaching Kyle good behavior.

After reading the first couple of chapters, I came up with the idea that Kyle is my Padawan, and I am his Master. Taken straight from the book (it’s great that Annakin is his role model who must learn to control his emotions because we know what happened to him…), I can now remind Kyle that it’s a privilege for him to be learning the ways of the Force (rules and manners), and that it’s his duty to practice to be good at it and to respect me as well. I’ve also told him that a Padawan’s job is to shadow and mimic his Master’s moves, but he can also help me by being mindful of appropriate behavior. For instance, sometimes I get tired and cranky and might snap at him. That’s not behavior becoming of a true Master.

We’ve been talking a lot about how to work through his tantrums. They’re so exhausting!  I already told him next time he gets upset, I’m going to ride it out. All he gets is my hair (it calms him to touch my hair).

May the Force be with us during our training!

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A Real Summer Vacation
Filed under: General
Posted by: Mae-Ling @ 7:38 am

I’m in Hawaii with Kyle and staying at Alan’s mom’s house. It’s a familiar setting which is stable for Kyle and comfortable for me. After our Disney cruise to the Mexican Riviera (an adventure more than a vacation) and 2 weeks in the Bay Area, I was really looking forward to finally having a real vacation - no schedule, beach time, undistracted time to read, and most importantly, an opportunity to truly relax and pursue what brings me joy - all the above plus scrapbooking, writing in my diary (now blogging), quality time with Kyle, and hopefully, going to the movies as well. One other important aspect about a real vacation is I finally get a chance to slow down and think about my life, my dreams, my goals, and plans for the future. I’m a big believer of “happy parent makes a  happy child and marriage”, and isn’t that what we ultimately want in life? I have more energy and focus to live my life successfully, to love and give to the people and community around me, when I first take care of myself. It’s my personal vision statement. I think it’s a bit Ophrahish.

I’m aware of how extremely fortunate I am to be living the life I have. For the most part this blog will focus on the positives. But, I also want to admit that life isn’t all glossy for me. There are stresses and challenges as well, which are too personal for blogging. I say this so that whoever reads my blog is aware that I’m not living a charmed life every day, that my life is not perfect, but generally speaking, I am happy with the cards dealt to me.

Blogging is interesting as I am fully aware of everything I write is accessible to friends, family, and perhaps even strangers who happen to visit Therefore, I don’t necessarily write as freely as I’m careful about what I’m writing.  One trick to blogging I’ve learned is to just cut and paste portions of emails to friends or even Alan where I was writing from my heart and uncensored. Admittedly, it’s a great way to document my thoughts without having to save all theose emails. Some entries below may also just be a summary of what’s going on in my activity-filled life.

So here goes:

August Schedule and Ladies Fundraising Luncheons (from an email to a SH friend)

My August is crazy! The first week I’m back I have 2 sets of visitors and an overnight to Suzhou on the weekend.  The 2nd week I’ll be joining Alan in Lijiang  (Yunan). He has a meeting at the Banyan Tree so I couldn’t miss that opportunity to join him! Then the 3rd week, Alan has another meeting in Spore so Kyle and I will join and catch up with friends in Spore before heading to HK the 4th week to visit family and friends. We’ll be celebrating my godmother’s Aunt Rose’s 60th birthday.  And, at this point September and October look full as well with more travel. Alan will be getting a 4-week sabbatical from PayPal during those months.

On a personal volunteer front, I’ve turned my Ladies Luncheons with young mommy and professional lady friends into Fundraising Luncheons. I’ll be choosing a different group every month. Before I left SH in June, I was able to raise 7k rmb for Half the Sky’s Children’s Earthquake Fund with just 30 ladies! I still think about organizing another AWC (American Women’s Club) family event or even mommy orientation, but I’ll just have to see how that fits my schedule. Kyle is starting 1st grade at new school in September so I also want to make sure I’m available to help him with the transition.
More about Ladies Fundraising Luncheons
I was recently quoted in a City Weekend (SH expat magazine) article written by Kathy Lawn, a SH friend and one of the founders of Kidtown:
Family Matters
Mothers get involved in order to help out the community

The Shanghai mom community is a subculture that is so much more than just a group of moms chit-chatting over lunch. Once you have a child, you become much more sensitive to the plight of children around the world. Something in your heart is triggered whenever you hear about a suffering child and you look at your own thriving child and wonder what you ever did to deserve such a lucky life. To spread this luck, I wanted to share more information on community organizations in Shanghai.
Mae-Ling Tien, mother of one, moved here from the U.S. three years ago. At first, she organized monthly morning “Mommy Teas” to gather friends together. “A year later,” she explains, “these ‘Mommy Teas’ turned into ‘Ladies Luncheons’ to include working moms and friends who didn’t have families yet.” After the recent events of the Sichuan earthquake, naturally, she decided to use her network of friends to hold fundraisers. Her first Ladies Fundraiser featured the Half the Sky’s Children Earthquake Fund. Half the Sky is a community organization that trains and places nannies in orphanages to work one-on-one with orphans as well as trains preschool teachers to teach in rural areas in China. Tien plans to continue these fundraising luncheons in the fall.
…If we all take five minutes out of our days to do something good for someone else, just imagine how much positive energy we can create in this massive city that we live in.
Email to Alan - July 26, 2008 - Raising a Son
Hi Sweetie,
It’s 11:15pm my time Sat night (in Hawaii) so that should be 7:15pm Sunday your time (in Sydney). Kyle was getting cranky right before 9pm so I got him to bed. I realized he has absolutely no bedtime routine so that’s yet another thing I need to work on with him.  He needs boundaries and consequences whether he likes them or not. I’m beginning to feel what I’m dealing with is a product of our own parenting (or lack of) and structure. Kids need a routine. We travel a lot, but we can still enforce rules for going to bed, TV time, eating sweets, etc. I don’t think moving around is the only issue. We are ultimately in charge of guiding his life no matter where we are each day and night. I think this is where the family retreat would be helpful so we make it clear to Kyle how we want to live as a family and involve him on what rules we’ll be making and enforcing.  I feel that what I discovered about our marriage back in Feb (and since then I’m extremely pleased with how far we’ve grown - and I hope it continues) is similiar to a wake-up call with Kyle now. If we don’t take action now, it’s only going downhill.  Let’s make sure Kyle stays a priority with us.
The good thing about Kyle going to bed by 9pm is I was able to catch up on magazines the last 2 hours. Your mom has a great collection of magazines! I love one interview question for Obama about his Middle East trip from Time magazine:
Was there anything you saw on this trip that changed your mind? John McCain, as you know, is saying, “Well, he already knew what he was going to think before he got there.”
Obama:  Well, I thought John also suggested that I’m always changing my mind, so he’s got to make up his mind about what he says about my mind.
Did I mention I was watching the Hannah Montana and Miley Cyrus concert with Kyle tonight? (after note: the next day at the beach Kyle was singing her songs to himself while building sand castles) He wasn’t completely into it (he missed seeing the Jonas Brothers as I knew it was time for him to go to bed), but surpisingly, he knew one of her songs “Nobody’s Perfect” and even sang the first two lines before she performed it (looked this up on internet):
Everybody makes mistakes
Everybody has those days…
I actually realized she is a good role model with her songs. Here’s one other part which I repeated to Kyle:
Sometimes I’m in a jam
I’ve gotta make a plan
It might be crazy
I do it anyway
If I’m not doin’ too well
Why be so hare on myself?
Nobody’s perfect
I got work at it
Again and again
’til I get it right
I still dream about having a second child, hopefully a daughter to grow up with girl things like Hannah Montana! Instead I have Transformers, Bionicles, TMNT, and Ben 10 for our son. But, at least I like how Star Wars can help teach things with the Force and training at a young age. I think it would help if we found better role models for Kyle beyond all the superheroes.
On a different note, but still about music, I read that Yaz just came out with new new CD which has all their old songs re-mixed plus new ones.  When I return maybe you can help update my Shuffle with new songs including the “Only You” remix.
Love ya!
I Call It Mid-Wife Crisis - email to a girlfriend July 24th, 2008
You’re not alone. Back in February, I was really down about Alan and my marriage. The way I described it to him was I felt like it was a slow death since it’s not like we were arguing all the time.  It has been a lot of work to focus on re-building our marriage, and as you were asking, yes, Alan had to be a participant. I’ve been reading some books, too. Some to consider:

by Gary Chapman:

The Five Languages of Love

(my language is somewhere between Words of Affirmation and Quality Time; Alan’s is Acts of Service)

Love as a Way of Life (his newest one I’m reading now)

by Echart Tolle

The Power of Now (Alan has started reading it - check out his blog)
A New Earth (Ophah totally endorses this one for her book club)

by John Gray

Men are from Mars and Women are from Venus (good to read when you’re dating)

Forever Together (makes it more relevant for married couples who have lived together; gave me hope that Alan can support me emotionally)

I’m sorry it’s a tough battle for you… Hang in there. I’m a true believer in there was something which brought you together, and if you can re-discover that and figure out how to open communications, things can get better.

And, it helps when your children are so beautiful and loving!! Sometimes I just tell Alan that Kyle knows how to love his mom - why can’t you? ha ha!!

ML’s Summer Reading List Highlights
by Michel D. Borba

12 Simple Secrets of Real Moms

(has made me realize I have a lot of work/improvements to make as a mom and maybe one of the best and maybe last parenting books I have/need to read; one great idea is Alan and I will start a family retreat tradition to talk about our individual and family values and goals)

by Stephanie Meyers

Twilight Series (Twilight, New Moon, Eclipse, Breaking Dawn)

from Wikipedia: Twilight is a young adult vampire novel written by author Stephenie Meyer, originally published in hardcover in 2005. It is the first book of the Twilight series, and introduces seventeen-year-old Isabella “Bella” Swan who moves from Phoenix, Arizona to Forks, Washington and finds her life in danger when she falls in love with a vampire, Edward Cullen.

from an email to Alan recently: The cover of Entertainment Weekly has the actors for the movie “Twilight” which is the vampire book I read on the cruise.  Turns out this random book I picked up is the next Harry Potter phenomenon! It’s amusing to me that I just found this book (not sure if you remember it took me forever to choose 1 book that day we played Scrabble). As you recall, I was really engrossed with the book, and no wonder. Literally, the book has sold millions. The 4th and final book comes out August 2nd (darn I’m going to miss getting it, but I still have 2 books in between to read). They say the fan club base is huge. Publishers didn’t think there would ever be another Harry Potter type of gem, and one year later it happened!

One other appeal is the author is a mother with 3 young kids and has a fan club of just moms. I may have to join…

also by Stephanie Meyers

The Host - for grown-ups!

by Joshua Ferris

Then we Came to the End - still deciding if I like this book which makes me reminisce about my Apple and dot-com days at GreatEntertaining.

by Markus Zusak

The Book Thief - an ‘06 best seller now in paperback

also from Wikipidia:  The Book Thief is set in Germany, during and post-World War II. The story is told from the point of view of Death, a reluctant collector of souls, who doesn’t enjoy the job appointed to him. One of the few pleasures he has is in the story of the book thief, Liesel Meminger, whom he encounters three times. Liesel’s story begins when she and her brother are sent away by their mother to the Hubermanns, a foster family…


I guess I’m a junkie for self-help type of books and bestsellers, and now I’m finding young adult books (which are intended for all ages) fun to read as well. Earlier this year, I zipped through The Golden Compass series by Philip Pullman. My theory is just before and even during the Disney cruise, Alan and I got hooked on the idea of dreaming.We saw “Shark Boy and Lava Girl” by chance in our hotel room with Kyle, and this whole idea of capturing and living out your childhood dreams really inspired us. Following our chlidhood dreams may be the key to finding our true passions.  Perhaps another reason I’m so drawn to the young adult books (other than the fact that it’s easy reading) is because I find them to be more imaginative on a young heart and mind level, and it just feels good to go back to that time in my life when I can dream again. I find adult books make me ponder and think and contemplate about life. Young adult books opens up my eyes to a time of innocence and perspective on life which isn’t cluttered with grown-up issues. And, they’re just plain fun!

A few weeks ago when I first went home to the Bay Area, I dug up all my old diaries to try to remember what my childhood dreams were.  I found more than just my dreams. I think two passions I found were how important friends are to me (and my current realization that my relationships with girlfriends around the world could also use some maintenance on my part) and my love for giving gifts.


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More About ME
Filed under: General
Posted by: Mae-Ling @ 1:39 pm

Following Alan’s example, here’s another description of my type ENFP written from a first-person perspective:

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Portrait of My Husband
Filed under: General
Posted by: Mae-Ling @ 11:41 pm

Portrait of an ESTJ - Extraverted Sensing Thinking Judging
(Extraverted Thinking with Introverted Sensing)

The Guardian

As an ESTJ, your primary mode of living is focused externally, where you deal with things rationally and logically. Your secondary mode is internal, where you take things in via your five senses in a literal, concrete fashion.

ESTJs live in a world of facts and concrete needs. They live in the present, with their eye constantly scanning their personal environment to make sure that everything is running smoothly and systematically. They honor traditions and laws, and have a clear set of standards and beliefs. They expect the same of others, and have no patience or understanding of individuals who do not value these systems. They value competence and efficiency, and like to see quick results for their efforts.

ESTJs are take-charge people. They have such a clear vision of the way that things should be, that they naturally step into leadership roles. They are self-confident and aggressive. They are extremely talented at devising systems and plans for action, and at being able to see what steps need to be taken to complete a specific task. They can sometimes be very demanding and critical, because they have such strongly held beliefs, and are likely to express themselves without reserve if they feel someone isn’t meeting their standards. But at least their expressions can be taken at face-value, because the ESTJ is extremely straight-forward and honest.

The ESTJ is usually a model citizen, and pillar of the community. He or she takes their commitments seriously, and follows their own standards of “good citizenship” to the letter. ESTJ enjoys interacting with people, and likes to have fun. ESTJs can be very boisterous and fun at social events, especially activities which are focused on the family, community, or work.

The ESTJ needs to watch out for the tendency to be too rigid, and to become overly detail-oriented. Since they put a lot of weight in their own beliefs, it’s important that they remember to value other people’s input and opinions. If they neglect their Feeling side, they may have a problem with fulfilling other’s needs for intimacy, and may unknowingly hurt people’s feelings by applying logic and reason to situations which demand more emotional sensitivity.

When bogged down by stress, an ESTJ often feels isolated from others. They feel as if they are misunderstood and undervalued, and that their efforts are taken for granted. Although normally the ESTJ is very verbal and doesn’t have any problem expressing themselves, when under stress they have a hard time putting their feelings into words and communicating them to others.

ESTJs value security and social order above all else, and feel obligated to do all that they can to enhance and promote these goals. They will mow the lawn, vote, join the PTA, attend home owners association meetings, and generally do anything that they can to promote personal and social security.

The ESTJ puts forth a lot of effort in almost everything that they do. They will do everything that they think should be done in their job, marriage, and community with a good amount of energy. He or she is conscientious, practical, realistic, and dependable. While the ESTJ will dutifully do everything that is important to work towards a particular cause or goal, they might not naturally see or value the importance of goals which are outside of their practical scope. However, if the ESTJ is able to see the relevance of such goals to practical concerns, you can bet that they’ll put every effort into understanding them and incorporating them into their quest for clarity and security.

Jungian functional preference ordering:

Dominant: Extraverted Thinking
Auxiliary: Introverted Sensing
Tertiary: Extraverted Intuition
Inferior: Introverted Feeling

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Portrait of Me
Filed under: General
Posted by: Mae-Ling @ 11:34 pm

I found a desciption of myself on

Portrait of an ENFP - Extraverted iNtuitive Feeling Perceiving
(Extraverted Intuition with Introverted Feeling)

The Inspirer

As an ENFP, your primary mode of living is focused externally, where you take things in primarily via your intuition. Your secondary mode is internal, where you deal with things according to how you feel about them, or how they fit in with your personal value system.

ENFPs are warm, enthusiastic people, typically very bright and full of potential. They live in the world of possibilities, and can become very passionate and excited about things. Their enthusiasm lends them the ability to inspire and motivate others, more so than we see in other types. They can talk their way in or out of anything. They love life, seeing it as a special gift, and strive to make the most out of it.

ENFPs have an unusually broad range of skills and talents. They are good at most things which interest them. Project-oriented, they may go through several different careers during their lifetime. To onlookers, the ENFP may seem directionless and without purpose, but ENFPs are actually quite consistent, in that they have a strong sense of values which they live with throughout their lives. Everything that they do must be in line with their values. An ENFP needs to feel that they are living their lives as their true Self, walking in step with what they believe is right. They see meaning in everything, and are on a continuous quest to adapt their lives and values to achieve inner peace. They’re constantly aware and somewhat fearful of losing touch with themselves. Since emotional excitement is usually an important part of the ENFP’s life, and because they are focused on keeping “centered”, the ENFP is usually an intense individual, with highly evolved values.

An ENFP needs to focus on following through with their projects. This can be a problem area for some of these individuals. Unlike other Extraverted types, ENFPs need time alone to center themselves, and make sure they are moving in a direction which is in sync with their values. ENFPs who remain centered will usually be quite successful at their endeavors. Others may fall into the habit of dropping a project when they become excited about a new possibility, and thus they never achieve the great accomplishments which they are capable of achieving.

Most ENFPs have great people skills. They are genuinely warm and interested in people, and place great importance on their inter-personal relationships. ENFPs almost always have a strong need to be liked. Sometimes, especially at a younger age, an ENFP will tend to be “gushy” and insincere, and generally “overdo” in an effort to win acceptance. However, once an ENFP has learned to balance their need to be true to themselves with their need for acceptance, they excel at bringing out the best in others, and are typically well-liked. They have an exceptional ability to intuitively understand a person after a very short period of time, and use their intuition and flexibility to relate to others on their own level.

Because ENFPs live in the world of exciting possibilities, the details of everyday life are seen as trivial drudgery. They place no importance on detailed, maintenance-type tasks, and will frequently remain oblivous to these types of concerns. When they do have to perform these tasks, they do not enjoy themselves. This is a challenging area of life for most ENFPs, and can be frustrating for ENFP’s family members.

An ENFP who has “gone wrong” may be quite manipulative - and very good it. The gift of gab which they are blessed with makes it naturally easy for them to get what they want. Most ENFPs will not abuse their abilities, because that would not jive with their value systems.

ENFPs sometimes make serious errors in judgment. They have an amazing ability to intuitively perceive the truth about a person or situation, but when they apply judgment to their perception, they may jump to the wrong conclusions.

ENFPs who have not learned to follow through may have a difficult time remaining happy in marital relationships. Always seeing the possibilities of what could be, they may become bored with what actually is. The strong sense of values will keep many ENFPs dedicated to their relationships. However, ENFPs like a little excitement in their lives, and are best matched with individuals who are comfortable with change and new experiences.

Having an ENFP parent can be a fun-filled experience, but may be stressful at times for children with strong Sensing or Judging tendancies. Such children may see the ENFP parent as inconsistent and difficult to understand, as the children are pulled along in the whirlwind life of the ENFP. Sometimes the ENFP will want to be their child’s best friend, and at other times they will play the parental authoritarian. But ENFPs are always consistent in their value systems, which they will impress on their children above all else, along with a basic joy of living.

ENFPs are basically happy people. They may become unhappy when they are confined to strict schedules or mundane tasks. Consequently, ENFPs work best in situations where they have a lot of flexibility, and where they can work with people and ideas. Many go into business for themselves. They have the ability to be quite productive with little supervision, as long as they are excited about what they’re doing.

Because they are so alert and sensitive, constantly scanning their environments, ENFPs often suffer from muscle tension. They have a strong need to be independent, and resist being controlled or labelled. They need to maintain control over themselves, but they do not believe in controlling others. Their dislike of dependence and suppression extends to others as well as to themselves.

ENFPs are charming, ingenuous, risk-taking, sensitive, people-oriented individuals with capabilities ranging across a broad spectrum. They have many gifts which they will use to fulfill themselves and those near them, if they are able to remain centered and master the ability of following through.

Jungian functional preference ordering for ENFP:

Dominant: Extraverted Intuition
Auxiliary: Introverted Feeling
Tertiary: Extraverted Thinking
Inferior: Introverted Sensing

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Filed under: General
Posted by: Mae-Ling @ 11:44 am

According to the Myers Brigg Personality Test, I’m ENFP, and Alan is ESTJ. We only match on one personality type - Extrovert!

The following descriptions are very telling about who we are. In fact, it’s almost eerie how exact they are:

How to Love an ESTJ (how ML is supposed to love AT):

    * Appreciate how dependable and accountable I am.

    * Respect my opinions and listen to my advice.

    * Notice, acknowledge, and thank me for my hard work and dedication to you and our family.

    * Be honest, direct, and specific when discussing problems.

    * Try not to disrupt my routines, and to keep the house orderly.

    * Above all - respect my desire to be in charge and in control as much as possible.

Tips for Communicating with ESTJs:

    * Be assertive and to the point (bottom line it!)

    * Be prepared to support your ideas with logical reasons

    * Appeal to their innate sense of fairness

How to Love an ENFP (how AT is suppose to love ML):

    * Appreciate my creativity, curiosity, and uniqueness.

    * Tell me how much I mean to you and be patient with my need to process how I feel privately before sharing it with you.

    * Re-establish harmony quickly.

    * Support my need to try new experiences and maintain my many friendships.

    * Try not force decisions too quickly, or bug me about being messy.

    * Above all - encourage me to keep growing, changing, and experimenting with life.

Tips for Communicating with ENFPs:

    * Focus on interesting and innovative possibilities and new ways of solving problems

    * Don’t overwhelm them with facts and details

    * Keep things relaxed, warm and flexible

The jobs/occupations using both dominant and auxiliary functions are:

The jobs/occupations using both dominant and auxiliary functions are:
Computer specialist


Relations of ACTIVITY between psychological (”personality”) types

These relations are the easiest and quickest to start. Activity partners do not experience any visual difficulties when starting relations which can be surprising to them at the beginning. Partners stimulate each other into activity. Interaction with an Activity partner becomes really satisfying especially if both partners feel a mutual attraction. However, with continuous interaction over a long period comes overactivation which normally results in an overall tiredness of each other (a good example is when you watch a comedy that is so funny that after half the film you do not have the energy to laugh anymore). When this happens Activity partners need a short rest from each other, after which they can enjoy a positive interaction once again. This pattern repeats itself giving these relations an oscillating character. If partners cannot take a break from each other, it can cause negative stimulation to take the place of positive.

Although overall interaction between partners is nice and easy, when it comes to fulfilling everyday duties and matters together, partners usually meet with many problems. Instead of solving the problems, Activity partners tend to give advice to each other on how to solve these problems, often affecting each others weak points. The advice of an Activity partner is always useful as it can strengthen your weakness, but not so much that it will ever become your strength.

The other problem with these relations is that information between Activity partners always needs some adjustments. One partner may think of it as too foggy and not concrete enough, whereas for the other partner it is too unrefined. Collaboration is also difficult, because partners cannot predict each others behaviour and actions in what seem to be ordinary situations. Because of this, partners cannot rely or count on each other in full. Most of the problems that arise during Activity relationships are because one partner is always Perceiving and the other is always Judging, meaning that they live in different life rhythms.

These relations are excellent for leisure, but not for day to day activities. When two Duality pairs gather together (forming a complete Quadrable) they experience a feeling of elation. The reason for this is that when two Duality pairs interact with each other, the two introverts (one from each Duality pair) and the two extroverts (again, one from each Duality pair) interact with each other as relations of Activity. Introverts in relations of Activity become slightly extroverted and more open, whereas two extroverts will often calm down a little.

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Last Cold Day in Shanghai
Filed under: General
Posted by: Mae-Ling @ 1:47 pm

It’s definitely Winter in Shanghai. In fact, this will be a memorable Winter because China has been hit with the worst snow storms. According to news reports the last time China witnessed similiar devastation was perhaps in 1951. Some people still remember. It was snowing in Shanghai all last week. Kyle threw his first snowball. I escaped to Hong Kong first, and then Kyle joined me for a weekend in warm Singapore to visit with his preschool friend Jax Crockett.

I’m back in Shanghai for one day - semi-packed after being on the road for a week - and ready to escape the cold again to sunny California.  I do have to take to heart how lucky we are to have business class air tickets to fly home to see my family (family I JUST saw last month for Christmas) for Chinese New Year. There are hundreds of thousands of migrant workers stuck in Guangdong province because the snow storms prevented them from catching a train home to their provinces. It’s really, really sad. Alan has already donated to two charitable organizations in China.  We hope our ayi Ding Ding can make it home to her province Anhui to see her two children and family.

This is an interesting time for me personally. I will remember the beginning of 2008, almost 10 years since Alan and I got married, as a critical turning point in our relationship. Most of it is too personal to publish on this iTien blog, but I can say that in this past week we learned A LOT about each other.  The truth hurts, but pain helps people grow and become stronger so that’s the hope I hold on to as we weather through this period in our relationship. 

More travelling and visits with people are on the calendar for me!  I’ll try to blog more this year. It’s actually quite relaxing to blog.

Kyle has been a joy to us. We’re also learning more about him day by day.  For starters, he constantly wants to play with us!

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Back in Shanghai Again
Filed under: General
Posted by: Mae-Ling @ 8:37 am

I seem to have a crazy travel schedule, but travelling is a normal part of life for expats.  Two nights ago I returned back to Shanghai from a one-week trip to the US on my own.  I’ve come to realize these occasional solo trips away from Kyle and Alan (and even Shanghai) have been refreshing, allowing me to think about my priorities, to off-load my worries because I actually have time to write in my journal or catch up with a few friends, and to actually get +8 hours of uninterrupted sleep! I’m fortunate to have these opportunities, and I’m especially thankful for having a supportive husband who truly is the best Dad in Kyle’s eyes.

I recently re-connected with a childhood friend, and I think the following paragraph (from the email to this friend) summarizes how I’ve been feeling about many dear friends I’ve lost touch with these past years:

I think I need to apologize for not being in touch with you for so
long.  Living abroad and being married with a child, I’ve realized my
time invested in staying in touch with friends isn’t like it used to
be. In my HK days, I remember how much I loved writing letters back
home with friends - and receiving them! For some reason, now that I’m
10 years older and in a different stage in my life with more
distractions, my best form of keeping in touch is actually physically
seeing people when I’m back home, or if they visit Asia. I’ve truly
enjoyed some great “hanging out” time on these occasions. As you know
I’ve always loved planning parties so sometimes planning an event
(whether it’s a group thing or 1:1 visit) is my way of showing my love
to people. For some friends who keep a small group of close friends,
this drop in presence may seem dramatic, but for others who are as
social as me, I’m thankful that they’re probably feeling just as guilty
as me! You know it’s also hard just staying in touch with my mom
because she hardly answers the phone so I finally decided to make
regular trips back to the US to see her. Anyway, in a nutshell, I want
you to know that I still consider you one of my dearest friends (we’ve
only known each other since we were babies!!), and I’m truly sorry for
not keeping up with the personal correspondance and connection with
you. But, you know it’s not too late to re-start as we’re doing now,

Facebook is the lastest craze!  I love finding friends on Facebook.

Diva Life is opening a second spa in Pudong on November 1st.

Alan’s mom and Bob (stepdad) are in town.

Halloween is around the corner. I haven’t planned a ladies luncheon or any big Tien party in a couple of months. I think all the travelling and visitors have made me tired! It’s hard to believe I’m almost burnt out from party planning.  I used to think being around people and planning events gave me energy, but now it exhausts me. The last-minute me actually has a couple of Halloween play dates and an evening Halloween wine party planned this week.  Admittedly, I enjoy the fact that friends come to my events and appreciate the oppotunity to connect with friends. It should be a good week. Check in a couple of weeks for all the fun pics.

Who is reading my blog? It’s a mystery to me. Let me know or come find me on Facebook. By the way, don’t forget to use my current email address:

My latest business ideas:

-Working with my friend Kalika to distribute a cool purse hook in Shanghai:

-Designing an event scrapbook product

-Setting up a Transformer play room (Kyle’s latest passion, but he wasn’t allowed to see the movie because it’s PG-13) and becoming a reseller of Transformers

A couple of weeks ago I was seriously considering going back to work. I think I was going through an early mid-life crisis and asking myself, “what do I want to do with my life?” I have a loving husband and son, a comfortable and exciting life in Shanghai, many wonderful friends and travel opportunities, BUT what are my goals and dreams? Am I living out my passions? I thought party planning was my passion. It still is, but I think it’s best left as a hobby passion and not my life work passion.  Earlier this year, I helped organize a Grameen awareness event in Shanghai. It was quite successful, and I understand that one connection was made which resulted in a large donation to start a project in India! But, I’m not as motivated to pursue Grammeen work. I still fully support it, but I think it’s more Alan’s passion.

Battery is low so I better post this before I lose all my precious thoughts!

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September has arrived!
Filed under: General
Posted by: Mae-Ling @ 9:29 am

It already feels like Fall in Shanghai. I love the cooler (but not too cold) weather. Feels great to be outside! We’ve been walking Kyle to school every day. He’s finishing up his 2nd week of school. So far, everything is going well with Ms. Jin. He doesn’t say much about school, but he seems happy at pick-up, and he doesn’t complain so I think things are fine. Yesterday, his teacher announced that Kyle gained 2 kilos - so Chinese! I have noticed that Kyle grew taller and heavier over the summer. He still wants to sneak into bed with us, but we are able to be more strict now because of our fear of being kicked and having it hurt!

Alan and I will be returning to the Pudi Boutique Hotel for our monthly (around my Day 14) get-away! I’m looking forward to it.  Hopefully, one of these months will finally be a successful baby-making month…

Activities are filling up our schedules - nothing new with Alan and me! Last night we attended the opening of a new steakhouse called Roosevelt. The owner is George Chen who also owns Shanghai 1930s in SF. Tonight I’ll be going to a B&B dinner. B&B is a wine dinner club which originated in Australia as a men’s club. One of my friends, Julianne Huh, started a women’s version in Shanghai. The club meets once a month at a nice restaurant and beef and red wine are always served, of course. Since many of my friends are now members, I enjoy attending, and the meals are usually amazing! This month’s B&B will be at the new Hyatt on the Bund.

I’m getting more involved with marketing for Diva Life. With a new shop opening in Pudong this month, I’m motivated to see my efforts benefit two spas instead of one. I’m trying to keep my focus on event marketing - meeting new potential customers at events and getting them to visit our spa. There are many expat groups and events which offer plenty of opportunities for us to market to our target market.  Today I’ll be interviewing two college students to be interns for Diva Life. I’m excited to get young people to help with side marketing projects (teaching English to staff, building a corporate database, etc), but I just hope I don’t find managing them more burdensome.

I also started taking aqua fitness once a week!  Sad to say it has been almost 6 years since I last exercised on a regular basis.  The class is perfect for me. It’s a group, and the exercising can be at my own pace.

What I wish I had more time to do is scrapbooking! I still dream about my party scrapbook business idea. Just waiting to find the right partner to plan and more importantly, help execute with me. I left my camera battery charger at home so interestingly enough, I have no pictures from the past few weeks, but I hope friends will forward copies to me so Alan can post on In some ways, I’ve more free without my camera. It’s like not having my phone! Text messaging is addictive here.

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Non-stop life in Shanghai
Filed under: General
Posted by: Mae-Ling @ 12:20 pm

Saturday, September 8, 2007 (Eugenia is 17 today!)

The last 2 weeks have been crazy hectic, but admittedly, quite fun.  First, I organized a Play Date Camp. Each day, a small group of kids went to someone’s house or on a field trip. The idea was to have each mom host one day.  I ended up hosting 2 days and participating in another 2 days, and I organized the carpools every day!  Although it was exhausting, the time spent with Kyle that last week before school started was priceless.  My favorite day was the first day on Monday. We had a games and ice cream sundae play date. It was simply pure fun!

This past week, we have had 3-4 houseguests (Dennis, Cindy, & Ken, + Steve), SCU MBA students (hosted a Diva spa party and played tour guide for dean and professor’s wives), Aunt Rose and Emma visiting for one night, and Kyle starting school in his new all-Mandarin class! We’re opening a second Dive Life Spa in Pudong this month so I’m also now finding myself in business meetings…

Next week will be my SH expat womens’ groups meeting. There are 3-4 events, and I’m hoping to help get the word out about our new spa in Pudong, but also it’ll be nice to see old friends and meet new ones, too. Networking…. which is good because Alan is more motivated to do some grassroots marketing with geni and JUCCCE (Peggy’s energy project).

Kyle will be turning 6 in two weeks!  We decided to cancel having a big party at Kidtown (maybe after feeling overwhelmed with people the last 2 weeks), and now we’ll have his Knights party at home with 5 other boys.  We’re going to turn our living room into a big play castle and make costumes for the kids.

For October holiday, we’ll be flying to Bali for Joy and Jamie’s wedding celebration - yay!  On the way back, I’ll spend 4 days in HK on my own.

I’m also planning to go back to the US in October for Chengy-Yi and Greg’s wedding, and also to visit family and friends. I’m not sure how long I want to be away from Kyle and Alan.

Alan and I are doing monthly get-aways and staying in a hotel over night. Last week, we were at an amazing boutique hotel called Pudi near Fuxing Park. We truly had a fabulous time (also at the Hawaii Hilton Village in July). It’s nice to have something to look forward to every month…!


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