Putting a Wrap on Preschool/Kindergarten

June 20th, 2014
Today Nathaniel had his final exams in math and Chinese. Last night was the first time he didn’t have homework, um, maybe all semester long! We didn’t make him do anything either. We went outside and played after dinner, something we haven’t done in ages.
It turns out that there was a parents meeting after the exam, but Santiago missed it because he doesn’t check in with the online group that the class has. Anyway, Nahtanile got a 96 in math and 95 in Chinese. For Chinese, he simply didn’t answer four of the questions though he couldn’t give us a reason as to why he didn’t. But I was stunned; I was sure he’d have a score that was closer to the age of one of his grandparents!
For the summer he’s doing an online summer math program from Amazon. He’s done a few lessons already; they’re nice and short. Even with me reading all the questions and answers to him it takes less than ten minutes. At least what we’ve done so far have been like that. I have to change out the names because he gets hung up on understanding just who is “Miguel” or “Kareem.” I just use his name of those of his cousins. Not sure what we’re doing for Chinese besides playing with the pin yin game I made for him. Maybe I’ll dig out my character cards and he can learn to read more of those. And then there’s English. His speaking is quite good now, so I want to finish Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons (we left off a little more halfway through) and the BOB Books that I’ve got.

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

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

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


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.

Twenty Months

February 5th, 2014


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!

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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.


New House

March 13th, 2013



Two-plus months after moving here, I’m finally posting pics of our new-to-us sixth floor, 116-square meter house! It’s more than twice the size of our first house and about a third bigger than the rental. More on the crazy events leading up to buying this place later.

 As you enter the house, you are in the living room and the bedrooms are along the wall on your left. In front you can see the dining room and off to the right of that room are the bathroom and kitchen. The door that you see to the side in the first picture is the middle bedroom. The open doorway leads to the dining room (where the table is) and the kids’ bedroom is on the left wall (you can see a bit of sunlight shining on the floor in the first picture–and that bedroom door is opposite the bathroom). DSC_0149DSC_0148DSC_0159

This is the first bedroom, otherwise called the playroom. Santiago’s sister gave us her (terribly ugly) rugs which actually were their parents’. They’re 30+ years old and scratchy as can be. But they provide a nice place to play. The bookshelf and extra bed are in there and the wall opposite the door has sliding doors that go out to the porch. These are old pictures, the first was from before we bought the mattress, the second once it arrived and now it has a sheet on it and Nathaniel occasionally naps on it.

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The porch is big and warm when it’s sunny. There’s a cabinet that the previous people left, so we can store shoes and stuff in it. The first picture is the east end and the second is the west end, both taken from the doorway. Looking out, you mostly see fields–I’m not sure what they grow there, but there’s bits of green poking up already.



 The middle bedroom which has no window to the outside, but looks out to the porch. You can actually climb through the window (as nephew Ethan did the first time he visited).


The kids’ bedroom which has a bed and wardrobe left from the previous owners. Not anything I would have bought since neither are very practical for storing things, but they work for now. The mosquito tent is still on to prevent Nathaniel and Catherine from falling onto the floor during the night. It’s saved them at least twice, each!


The dining room–before and after we got a dining room table. Santiago wasn’t planning to buy one, but one day while I was working, he went out and bought one. Not sure why his parents decided that the fridge should be in the dining room…but it is.



The kitchen with it’s hideous orange cabinets.


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The bathroom, complete with a new sink and shower since the previous owners decided to take them, even though they’d previously agreed to leave them.


Welcome to Chinese Potpourri

March 12th, 2013


Thanks to Jocelyn of Speaking of China for listing me among the 50 blogs that she listed in celebration of International Women’s Day. All of the blogs are written by non-Chinese women who were, are or hope to be in a relationship with Chinese guys.  I’ve been reading Jocelyn’s blog for several years and have found many great blogs from prior years’ lists.

Nine Months

March 6th, 2013

Just a day shy of her turning 10 months, here are last months’ pics for ya!DSC_0173 Nine Months Old DSC_0166 DSC_0174

8 Months

March 6th, 2013

Sounds Like A War Zone

February 14th, 2013

It’s the fifth day of the Year of the Snake and fireworks have been going off like crazy pretty much all day long. This morning was the worst, but now at 8 pm, it’s pretty bad again. It took me ten minutes, rather than the usual five, to get to my in-laws house because I kept having to change my route due to running into firecrackers exploding everywhere I usually go.

Apparently the reason today is so bad is because it’s the fifth, and on days that are multiples of five–5, 10, 15–people are supposed to set off firecrackers before leaving their home to go out. One student told me that they line them up around their car and light them. That sounds a bit dangerous considering the price of cars here.

The kids are sleeping well, even with all the noise. I think I’m tired enough, from being up from 3:40 to 5:30 this morning with Catherine, that I’ll be able to sleep pretty well tonight, despite the noise.

    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.