Life Hacks, Adapting to the New Normal

We received our air shipment last week, finally.  Our household was packed up in Taipei July 5 and 6.  We had two shipments:  one went by air and the other by sea.  Neither should have taken very long to reach us, and we were told we’d have our air shipment in about a week.  We arrived in Beijing on July 14.  The air shipment took about 6 weeks to reach us.  I learned that this was because the person, who was responsible for forwarding the shipments after pack-out back at the origin, forgot to expedite the shipments.  That’s right.  She forgot.  We only learned of this error several weeks after our arrival because Horatio was so busy from the day after we arrived, he hadn’t had a chance to check on the status our shipments.  Of course, he really didn’t think he’d have to check up on them; after all, it’s one person’s sole job to forward shipments.

We’ve been living with only the items we brought with us in our suitcases, in addition to the hospitality kit that the embassy provides.  The house is pretty bare.



Wednesday morning, the truck arrived with our seven air freight boxes.

IMG_0531 IMG_0530

Arrival of the air shipment is one of the best parts of the overseas moving process.  It’s a small, manageable, shipment, and of course we always forget what some of the contents are, so it’s like opening birthday presents; lots of surprises.  Our air freight consisted primarily of kitchen items, linens and video games.  It might not sound like much, but it’s definitely enough to make life a little easier.

Unpacking took very little time because the shipping company opens and empties each box and our helper/ayi helped me put everything away.


Of course, it is this point when I realize the mistakes I made in planning the two separate shipments.  It hits me what would have been more useful to have sooner than later.  For instance, our ayi made dumplings/jaozi on the night of our delivery and if we’d had the wok in the air shipment, she would have been able to work much faster.  Instead, she had to use a medium size frying pan.  Also, on Thursday, she made jian bing, a traditional Chinese street food.  It’s sort of a savory pancake with meat or vegetables inside, and it’s delicious.  However, a rolling pin is necessary for rolling out the dough, and I did not anticipate needing/wanting the rolling pin so soon and did not put it in our air shipment.  Xiao Lu, our ayi/helper, had made the dough before it occurred to either of us that we might not have the rolling pin.  Fear not, this military spouse, mom, expat can figure out how to overcome most any obstacle, so this was no real trial.  I remembered a life hack I’d seen on the internet.  I grabbed a wine bottle and told Xiao Lu to use it to roll out the dough.  She balked at first, but then asked simply that I give her an empty bottle, rather than a full one.  So, I took one from the fridge, emptied its remaining contents into a hospitality kit mug, and she got to work.


She’s a great cook and is quick to improvise when necessary.  We all thoroughly enjoyed the jian bing.  Now we just wait for the sea shipment, which has arrived in a port in China but will take several weeks to reach us.


jian bing filled with carrots, egg and a green vegetable.


Dwight, eating at the kitchen counter. Too delicious to take the time to go to the table to sit. Also in the photo are our newly delivered toaster oven and Keurig coffee maker from the air shipment, plugged into the transformer, which allows us to use our 110 electronics in a 220 country.


Harold, enjoying the jian bing. Behind him you can see the refrigerator photos and magnets. I included them in the air shipment because they help make our house a home.

About Commander in Chief At home

Erin is a military spouse and, sometimes temporarily single mom to 4 boys. She's a parenting coach, writer, teacher, special needs (Autism) mom, and much more.
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