School: Take Two

March 6th, 2014

After becoming a kindergarden dropout in November 2012, Nathaniel’s back in the classroom. He didn’t return to the kindergarden, where he would be in the “da ban” (big class, or level three); he attending a private class that’s held in the fromer art classroom the elementary school. Guess art isn’t important. Anyway, he’s in the xue qian ban which is a level between the da ban and first grade. Not all kids attend it, some take it as a summer course. He’ll be in it for just a sememster.

Chinese New Year Fun

February 13th, 2014

DSC_0042 DSC_0051

Seriously, Mom. You want me to sit with these two?

Seriously, Mom. You want me to sit with these two?

DSC_0055

This year Santiago’s younger sister came back here (a two-hour train ride) on the first day of the new year. That’s pretty much unheard of around here; usually families stay with the husband’s parents for the first three days. They left the in-laws back at their house and came here for a few days. The kids really enjoyed it, and Catherine got to finally make a connection with Xiang (just 8 months younger than Nathaniel) since we hadn’t seen them since last New Years.

New Year’s Clothes

February 7th, 2014

DSC_0023 DSC_0029 DSC_0013 DSC_0003

Most Chinese rush out to buy new clothes for the New Year, but we’ve never done that. Two  years ago, I started a sweater but come New Year’s Day, one sleeve was still not done. I finished it last year and Nathaniel’s worn it all year. I whipped up a dress for Catherine last year; I think it got left in America for baby Morgan to grow into. This year I had the best intentions to knit both of them sweaters, but I only got Nathaniel’s done…around 11 pm but I only weaved in ends that would be noticeable! The rest remains to be finished.

Again this year we were scolded by Santiago’s parents for always forgetting to buy new things, so a week before the holiday, I ran out for a quick shopping trip. I was certain I’d get his sweater done, so I just bought him some jeans. For Catherine I ended up buying her a cute floral shirt and paired it with jeans she had. I also put in the zipper on a sweater my mom knit her. While it didn’t match (no biggie…we’re in China where red, pink and orange can always be worn together!), it was cute.

Her red jacket and his blue sweatshirt were gifts from older aunt. Her hat was actually given to Nathaniel many years ago by Santiago’s coworker. She doesn’t have a child and apparently didn’t realize that it was more suitable for a girl. Glad no one else had a girl to pass it on to; it and the scarf are quite cute on Catherine.

Twenty Months

February 5th, 2014

DSC_0003

Belated, as usual, but well worth the wait, I think! They are from her 20th month, though. She’s a little fashionista in the making; each time she goes out to play, she has to inspect each of her three pairs of choose to select the pair that she wants! She can say “piao,” which is part of the Chinese word for “pretty,” and uses it frequently!

DSC_0004 DSC_0005 DSC_0006 DSC_0007

Chinese New Year Children’s Book

February 2nd, 2014

Here’s the cover of a short children’s book that Nathaniel and I wrote about the Chinese New Year. It includes a several pictures of him celebrating the Chinese New Year througout his five years of life.

Pork Filled Dumplings for the New Year

January 28th, 2014

My guest post on how to make dumplings for the Chinese New Year was published at My Kids Adventures today. You can click over to that site for a step-by-step tutorial (with pictures of my helpers!) on how to make traditional Chinese dumplings and a slightly spicy and sweet vinegar dipping sauce.

 

Spring Festival Letter 2014

January 22nd, 2014

Due to the chaos that occurred at the end of 2012, I never got around to sending out a Christmas letter…and I just realized that I never even sent out an email after Catherine was born in May. So I guess the whole year was chaotic! And now it’s nearly a month after Christmas and this is still waiting to be sent out. It’s now the Spring Festival letter.

Here’s a few stats about our quick and crazy, but well thought out, decision to sell the house which we’d put a down payment on back in 2009 (and in November 2011 we got to choose the house that we wanted):
  • 7 the number of days our landlord let us believe her apparent lie that she wasn’t planning to sell the house (though we’d heard via her mom that she was planning to sell)
  • 4 houses we looked at over Thanksgiving weekend 2012
  • 3 days it took to sell our other house (which wouldn’t be completed until 2014…maybe…and not in a livable condition until 2015…maybe!)
  • 1 the number of kisses I got from the wife of the couple who bought it (awkward! She would have been an interesting neighbor; now they own two adjacent houses so that one set of parents can live there to take care of their son)
  • 2 offers we placed on “secondhand” houses, but one was rejected because the husband’s parents didn’t agree with the couple selling the house so that ended their decision to sell
  • 90 minutes spent negotiating the price of house #2 with the couple and his parents; a lot of yelling was involved (by the two other women)
  • 22 days to get all the paperwork completed
  • 2 days to clean it since they seemed to go out of their way to trash it before leaving
  • 1 sink and shower we had to buy since they took them with
  • 1 trip made by the moving truck (so glad we paid to have help this time!)

So by 2013 we were settled into our new-to-us spacious 116-square-foot house on the 6th floor of a community just across the street from our old one (and Santiago’s parents). Here’s a bit of what happened in 2013:

  • 10 months spent trying to get approval for me to have a working visa to teach English at the local oil refinery
  • 1 trip to the USA to get the visa
  • 10 hours spent working before losing the job due to the president of the company losing his job, supposedly on corruption charges
  • 60 days Nathaniel, Catherine and I spent in America
  • 5 carry on bags I toted around with a stroller and two kids for five hours at O’Hare
  • 3 hour flight delay which netted us $20 in food vouchers which were promptly used on a coffee and snacks to keep the kids busy on the flight
  • 7 of Catherine’s teeth broke through, pretty much all at once, while we were in America
  • 85,081,500 the approximate number of steps (per person, excluding Catherine) climbed going to and fro our 6th floor house since we moved in last Christmas
  • 6 the number of months Catherine has been climbing all 105 steps up to our house
  • 5 minutes it takes her to walk up all the steps
  • 50+ words that she speaks in English and Chinese
  • 2 “babies” she sleeps next to at night
  • 276,079 approximate number of words I wrote in 2013
  • 60 students I tutor on the weekends
  • 1 tooth lost by Nathaniel on December 22
  • 3.45 minutes it takes Nathaniel to go through his addition flash cards (he loves graphing his time to see if he’s getting faster)
  • 9 weeks he went to his second year of preschool before being a “preschool drop out” due to him constantly getting sick and being home
  • 7 glasses of cocoa he drinks each week (the only way to get him to drink milk)
  • 27 the number of work related phone calls that Santiago got while on his three day vacation
  • 3 the number of times he’s had to go inf during the last 8 days of said vacation
  • 4 boxes of dried dates his suppliers have gifted us with in the last two months
  • 1 time a month that he takes the kids to an indoor play area and gets scolded by old women for “perming and dying” Catherine’s hair which is totally natural

 

So there you have it; a small look into our pretty average life. 

“Love You”

November 1st, 2013

DSC_0019 DSC_0021Tonight as I was tucking her into bed, I told Catherine, “I love you,” just as I always do. She looked at her doll (my twentysomething-year-old Cabbage Patch Kid) and kissed it. Then she turned back to me and said, “love you.” It was the sweetest thing!

Family Pictures

November 1st, 2013

For the second time since Catherine’s birth, we took a family picture. I’ve been trying to get this done since April…at least! DSC_0056 DSC_0070 DSC_0085 DSC_0087 DSC_0089 DSC_0099The little boy is the son of the guy who took our pictures…just some random family who was going through the park. We were on our way to dinner, which explains why Catherine is looking at the boy’s bread so longingly!

Sixteen Months

October 30th, 2013

DSC_1054 DSC_1058DSC_0028 DSC_0033 DSC_0034 DSC_0036 DSC_0049

Catching up…here’s last months’ photos. She’s quite the active little lady. She doesn’t miss  thing…if Nathaniel’s getting a snack, she wants one, too. If she hears the word “outside,” she’s at the door grabbing her shoes and taking them to the nearest person with her eyes begging for you to put them on her. And, no, those are NOT beer bottles she’s playing with; they’re Russian carbonated beverages…kind of like ginger ale.

    About Charlotte

    I'm a wife, mom and freelance writer in small town China. My two kids and I are three of the dozen foreigners that live here, though we've yet to meet them.

    We're near enough to Beijing to visit occasionally, but far enough away to make it a bit of a hassle since we don't have a car.