Easter Pictures At the Park

April 6th, 2015

Catherine looking at flowers Catherine looking for eggs Nathaniel, Catherine and Ethan Still looking...

This year Easter coincided with the Tomb Sweeping Festival, which is a one-day holiday which means that we got a three-day weekend and there was no weird scheduling (ie. working on Saturday to make up for having Tuesday off). I had arranged it so that I wouldn’t teach this weekend and so we had a pretty nice weekend with all of us home. Nathaniel spent about 5 hours each day doing homework and studying ahead in his Chinese book, so it wasn’t all relaxing and carefree but we managed to get to a newish park each day.
Saturday we had a picnic of snack-ish foods and some yummy banana-cranberry-chocolate chip muffins (thanks Marlys!). We went early in the morning and came home after lunch for naps. Everyone slept, even never-takes-a-nap Nathaniel and that night we watched a movie on the wall with this projector that Santiago bought. It’s kinda like the movies, only more convenient and comfortable!
On Easter we invited Santiago’s sister and her son to join us. We bought food at KFC and then waited for them to arrive, only to wait another 30 minutes while she talked to some friends that she ran into. Hence all the pictures of the kids with flowers and playing with dirt. Since we ate late, we did the egg hunt late and didn’t make it home for naps. When we did get home it was too late for Catherine to sleep so I played with her and Santiago taught Nathaniel a new Chinese lesson. Sister invited us to dinner but Catherine was very fussy (she’s been battling a cold since Friday, so coupled with no nap it was no surprise) so I made her and I a simple dinner. Then I fed her in the kitchen while sitting on tiny stools so that she couldn’t hear the guys leave! I got her in bed around 6:30 and she was out almost instantly.
Yesterday was cold but Nathaniel wanted to return to the park to try his hand at selling bubble wands. There were several women selling them for 5 yuan each, but a store by us was selling them for just 1.5 yuan. He bought 10 and hoped to make a nice profit, but his lack of selling skills coupled with the weather meant that he didn’t sell a single one. He did enjoy trying and we’ll go there again for the May holiday and give it another try.

Nathaniel and Daddy Climbing on Daddy     Nathaniel hunting for eggs Nathaniel is amazed at all the eggs Ethan found! Catherine and Daddy Catherine and Mommy Nathaniel on his pogo stick

Counting with Catherine

June 18th, 2014
She’s a very verbal child; at just over two years old, she’s far ahead of where Nathaniel was at that age. She knows to talk to mom and American Grandma in English, Chinese Grandma and Grandpa in Chinese and that she can speak whatever she wants to Daddy and Nathaniel! But she doesn’t respond well to outsiders’ requests for her to “say something in English.” Honestly, I still get the deer-in-the-headlights look when I’m mid-conversation with a Chinese person and they ask me that same thing. It’s as if I loose all memory of the language! I try to explain, though I probably just confuse them, that she’s doesn’t yet realize she’s speaking two languages, it’s just normal to speak one way to Mom and another to the black-haired family members.
Back to the title…her counting! In English, she counts “one, two, seven” and in Chinese she just says “liang ge” (two). Whenever you ask how many she wants–grapes, crackers, pieces of meat–it’s “liang ge.”
She’s also almost got the alphabet song down. And she loves “Jesus Loves Me” and “Five Little Monkeys”–both are required singing before bed.

And She’s Two…

May 7th, 2014

DSC_0012 DSC_0023 DSC_0025

She’s an energetic bundle of joy; can’t get her to sit still–not even for some chocolate pilfered from her dad’s stash!
After the guys left for work and school, we finished making her cupcakes and then went on the bus to find her a balloon.  Every night, for the last month or so, she asks if she can go on the “bus (with) daddy (to buy a) balloon.”

We didn’t find anyone selling balloons; probably because it was a weekday morning and not many kids were out and about. But she did get a balloon last week when she was sick (bought by daddy), and one yesterday (just a cheap one that a store was using for decoration, given to her by some of the ladies that work there) when we were out shopping. I took her to play at KFC and we had ice cream before coming home to frost the cupcakes and go to grandmas for lunch.

 

Happy Birthday Grandma!

May 5th, 2014

Happy Birthday American Grandma!

“I wouldn’t cooperate and sit still for a nice picture, but I did eventually smile. I love you, Grandma.” Catherine

So pretty when she smiles!

 

Happy birthday Grandma!

Happy birthday Grandma!

Other side of the airplane

“I drew this paper airplane for you. It’s you sitting on the plane when you come visit me.” Love, Nathaniel

Made by Nathaniel

Made by Nathaniel

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. 

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!

    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.