Spring photos

Playground, dining out, visitors, bathtime & paddling

With the advent of spring weather comes Mummy’s opportunity to dress the girls up in pretty clothes, which Ilse then does her best to cover in water, milk, sand, paint or food. Edie is prim and proper by comparison.

We all enjoy going out to eat on the weekends, the girls now happily trying most things and insisting on feeding and drinking by themselves.

We had Popo and Kong Kong up for a visit in May, and Popo stayed on for a longer visit while Mummy was away. Auntie Anne Smart is here now for the month of June for a good long China visit. The girls really enjoy our family visitors.

The plum rains have come now so the weather is a little cooler. When they dry up, the weather will get much hotter and more humid and the swimming pool will play a larger role in our daily lives!

Here are the best of the photos in May and June. We’ve got lots of trampoline action, lunchtime clowning, cat-stalking, Edie having her hair done, Ilse painting her face with chocolate sauce and paint, spring dress fashion shoots in the meadow, and playing in Kai & Keegan’s paddling pool.

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Playtime pics [1]

Tantrum Time

Much as we’d like to think of our girls as model citizens, there comes a time in every toddlers life when a tantrum is the preferred mode of communication. We are, I fear, reaching that very moment.

Ilse refuses to take anything offered to her first, imagining that the other one must be much better. Both feel that having their nappies changed when it suits Mummy and Daddy (i.e. before they explode) is the most excruciating torture known to humankind since the Spanish Inquisition.

Thankfully, their talking is coming along in both Chinese and English and they are starting to read a few words in English. We’re think they might like each other when they’re not trying to steal each other’s toys, blame the other for something or thwacking each other over the head with anything handy.

This weekend we went to Allison and David’s Easter Egg hunt party and David pushed Edie around on wheeled wooden horse.

Here are some photos:

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A movie for you…

Moving pictures

I have taken a few photos since I last posted, but frankly they’re a bit same-same, so I decided to get some video clips up for you. No commentary or subtitles, just babies playing, reading and general cavorting. Most of it here in Shanghai, with one clip from Singapore.

If you can’t see it in the page above, you can see it here


You can hear a little of the girls saying things on the video, but off-camera they are a little less shy. They speak and understand Chinese words as well as English and will respond to instructions in both languages. Apparently children learning 2 languages unsurprisingly take a bit longer, but words we’ve heard from them recently (and the list keeps growing) include: cat/ mao, bird, this (zhe ge), gorilla, carry (bao), no, yes, dog (gou), jacket, hi, nose, mouth. They understand many more.


Spring is here in Shanghai and the weather is very pleasant. On sunny days, the sky is what we call ‘Shanghai Blue’ – a pale and foggy grey. Still, there is a nice breeze, some very heavily scented flowers on the bushes, green grass and flowering trees – probably the best time of year.

This means that the girls get to run around outside and the grassy areas at our compound are coming into their own. There are lots of places to explore, an outdoor playground, birds, squirrels, cats, and of course lots of other kids. So really a very good environment for the girls.

Visitors welcome

We’d love to hear from you and even see you. We are expecting guests in June and July and our main guest room is free at various times thoughout – come and visit! There’s lots to see and do. At least drop us a line and let us know what you’re up to.

Love from all of us.

Justin, Sharon, Ilse & Edie

Hooray! New gallery page makes updates 1000X easier [3]

I can now update the photos automagically so in theory, updates should be more frequent.

Here are some photos from November – Dec 2010 in Singapore and Shanghai.

Both girls are walking with increasing confidence, and talking in Chinese, English and Babyish. They are thankfully eating almost regular food so we’re don’t always have to bring loads of special stuff when we go out. And they really are as adorable as they look!

Happy New Year, BTW!

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First Birthday Special! [1]

We all made it!

Happy Birthday, Ilse & Edie!!

Holy Something, is it that time already?!? Seems like last month when I was putting the finishing touches on the first entries to this blog. What an achievement (not the first time, but still…)!

We had a little party to celebrate. Mama ordered a set of fancy cupcakes in a flower shape and candle letters spelling it out. We invited all our local friends and enjoyed some delicious spring rolls and snacks from a local caterer.

Thank you to everyone who brought cards and gifts – it was extremely thoughtful and certainly not expected. The girls had a huge amount of fun just unwrapping their presents, let alone playing with them. Thanks to all.

Miss Smiley Ilse

Miss Thoughtful Edie


A Cupcake Flower

Blowing out candles.
That is NOT my bald patch.

End of party.

Cupcake boxing

Ewww! Can I have some broccoli?

Ilse at the pre-match trash-talk – “You lookin at me, cupcake?”

Edie and Ilse had their own cupcakes, each with their names on them. Edie tasted hers and decided it was too sweet (good girl!). Ilse decided to take on hers in a cupcake boxing match and was declared winner by TKO in the first round.

The loser was taken to cupcake ER and given a chocolate icing transfusion, which tragically failed to revive him/ her/ it. The World Cupcake Boxing Federation is planning a memorial service for this plucky confection who rose from an obscure smalltown bakery to become an inspiration for millions of other athletic sugary treats. His remains were consumed by the other party guests.

Ilse sizes up her opponent…

…probes for weaknesses…

…and it’s all over in a flash.


Here are a bunch of recent pics. No real order to them, just random fun.

Nanna comforts a sick Edie

You there!

Edie mischievous I

Edie mischievous II

Edie mischievous III

Ilse scrambles through the undergrowth in the dark and forbidding Forest of Chairs

Edie v slide. The slide wins, THIS time.

Mama explains trees.

Cap’n Ilse pilots the playroom tugboat.

Edie crawling through the playroom tunnel.

Poppy and Edie take tea on the 87th floor of the Hyatt.

Auntie Molly, Ilse and a spoon in deep conversation.
As our neighbour sings (in a very nice voice) Edie appears critical and Ilse is downright disapproving.

After singing Happy Birthday, during which the girls didn’t even cry.

Nanna & Ilse

More cuteness

Are you SERIOUS?

Renowned mountaineer Edie Mencher begins her ascent of Mt Dada

Thinking about walking, but not there yet.

She’s watching you.


Infant Dentist Edie Mencher’s interest in teeth began at a very early age.

Poppy & Ilse analyse propaganda in the Shanghai Daily.

Edie attacks with a claw to the eye…

…and Ilse counters with a heel kick to the ribs.

Dada shows off his double quick-draw baby holsters.

Ilse takes in a DVD

Autumn Update [1]

The Formidable Twosome

We’re at the end of September already and the girls are coming up to their first birthday (22nd Oct).

We’ve spent the summer unpacking and settling in and the girls are doing just fine. Both are furniture walking, though haven’t been brave enough to stand up unaided yet. They were ill last week with Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease (totally different from Foot and Mouth, I’m told) which is basically a big cold with spots. It was uncomfortable for both, but they have really bounced back and are making up for lost time and are returning to their comfortable routines.

They are starting to eat regular food, finding their mush boring by now. “We want more grown up food,” they cry in loud Babyese. Both are very vocal and are starting to say “Ma ma” and “Da da” and mean it.

Mum and Dad Mencher are currently visiting from the US along with Auntie Molly and cousins Anne and Caroline from Australia. We’ll have some photos of them to post when they return from their first China side trip.

In the meantime, here are a few snaps of the babes this summer.

Post breakfast playtime in the playpen

Edie fishes in her bib pocket for a dropped morsel.

Ilse examines a toy in the paddling pool.

Edie cools off in the pool.

The coolest girls in their Juicy Couture sweatshirts!

Ilse models.

Edie poses.

When Ilse looks cheeky, you know she’s feeling better…

Please let me stand 6 inches from the TV screen? Please?

Ilse enjoys a kleenex snack.

Ilse and Edie chilling with Baby Einstein after a long day of baby business.

Pictures from Shanghai [4]

Edie and Ilse showing off Auntie Anne’s lovely dresses (Ilse is slouching down a bit – she’s slightly smaller, but not that much!)

News from Shanghai

Our house – mock Tudor/ Swiss Chalet tastefully executed in concrete throughout

Our living room after the moving in day

Unsurprisingly, many things arrived damaged

Since I last posted, we have settled in to our home in Shanghai, Phoebe left us on her travels to the UK, we had a visit from Por-por and Ah Kong from Singapore, and our sea shipment arrived. We’ve been busy unpacking and getting rid of more stuff (we already did a clean out before we left the US.
What a lot of stuff we had.

Geography lesson

Here is a map of showing where Shanghai is for those of you who might appreciate a hint (not George):

View Where is Shanghai, China? in a larger map
The “plum rains” as they’re called, go on through June and they soaked everything. There wasn’t any flooding here as there was in other parts of China, but that wasn’t for lack of rain. The nice thing about them is that they stave off the heat.

Summer Heat

It starts off at about 30C (86F) at 8am and works its way up to 35C (95F) or 38C(101F) some days. The air conditioners have trouble keeping up and it’s very humid.

Mama and Ilse play in the private Mencher family swimming pool.

Edie loves swimming!

This means that we take the babies only to places where there’s aircon. Afternoon walks are curtailed and then it’s only to the compound playroom. We have a little paddling pool to cool off the girls, which they very much enjoy in the late afternoon when it’s cooler.

The other reason that we don’t go out in very public places is that we get mobbed by curious Chinese tourists, in town for the Expo, who are beside themselves with excitement at seeing TWINS. As there is a Chinese legend about the dragon (male) and the phoenix (female) they always ask “One boy, one girl?” hopefully, even though the girls are both wearing a pink dress, for example. “Liang ge nu er,” we reply, “2 daughters”.

This is freaky. I think I’ll sell tickets next time.

Are you kidding me?!? Local paparazzi jostle for position to get a big celeb mag payoff (the babies are in the pram in the foreground)

We took a stroll down Nanjing Lu a while back and haven’t returned due to the crowds of pointing (and touching) gawkers. I’ll show you more in the upcoming video, but here are a couple of stills.

It’s quite unnerving having complete strangers come up and touch your children on the leg, hands or face. One of the first phrases I learned in Chinese was “please don’t disturb them!”

We’ve been eating well and have had many nice meals with local friends, visitors and new acquaintances. The Shanghainese have a special kind of dumpling – it’s got soup inside and is delicious, if you don’t burn the your mouth out. (Note to self: wait for them to cool down before biting). However, they also have good Sichuan (spicy), Cantonese, Japanese and Western food all over the place.

Most of my camera time this month has been on video so there aren’t as many photos. I’m going to post the video when I can.

Donna and Edie

Karen and Ilse

Kelly & Christina entertain Edie and Ilse at brunch

Pippa and Sally feeding Edie and Ilse

“What?!? I’m busy!”

Ilse studies for her baby exams.

Edie shows off Auntie Alex’s dress…

…and Ilse in hers.

Por-Por and Ah Kong came to visit from Singapore

Justin’s girls frolicking on the sofa

Edie shows of those super long lashes

Ilse sleeps. And so do her cheeks.

Thanks for your patience everyone! We’re thinking of you all and hope to hear from you soon.

Events leading up to, and including, The Shanghai Move. [4]

Edie and Ilse stand up to show how pretty they look in their new home. (Full disclosure: the wall provided considerable support)

Hero of the month

Heroine Phoebe with Edie

This month we start out with a movie of our little adventure moving to China. But before we do so, let’s give a hand to our hero, cousin Phoebe! Phoebe’s been incredibly helpful and relentlessly cheerful and has helped make our last few weeks very manageable. She’s been a pleasure to have along and we’re really going to miss her when she leaves on her travels (fancy staying a bit longer, Phoebes?!)

Our Move

The container i) parked for loading outside the house and ii) disappearing down the street with most of our worldly possessions inside.

Our movie

If you can’t see it in the page above, you can see it here


Before we left we had some great farewell meals with all our lovely friends (in no particular order) George and Deborah, Peter and Tim, Celina, Dapo and Cruz, Larry, Erin, Alice and Michael, and John and were delighted to catch Annie, Joe, Sophia and Elena in Chicago.

Deborah and Ilse

George meets Ilse

Alice and Ilse

Michael & Ilse

Auntie Erin shows Ilse’s first encounter with finger paint in which she fell asleep, hands behind head, immediately thereafter.

Edie takes “couch potato” to a new level.

Edie tastes Ilse’s hand, mmm-mmm.

Sisterly love, or the start of battle?

Mama and Edie dining at Saffron

Uncle Tim suppresses his excitement while feeding Ilse

Uncle Peter cuddles Ilse

Cruz in a sea of ladies at R Bistro – Celina, Mama Sharon, Phoebe, Edie and Ilse

R Bistro group shot including Larry and Dapo

Annie and Edie, in the darkest restaurant I’ve been to, besides that one on Pluto, 4.5 billion miles from the Sun. Food was great though!

Sophia feeds Edie

Sophia and Ilse

Annie and Ilse

Ilse contemplates the world from 32,000 ft

Ilse, with the cheeks.

The shopping is nothing if not varied at Carrefour Shanghai

Food Hall staff come out to see the babies

Interesting name for a store

I dread to think what that 5cm refers to…

So if the President thing doesn’t work out, you know, there’s always this supermarket in Shanghai to run…

In case you retain any lingering doubts that life in Shanghai isn’t interesting, I leave you with the following photo. Yes, that is a basketball shoe with giant springs on the bottom, probably standard equipment for the London 2012 Mens Basketball.