New Year’s Clothes

February 7th, 2014

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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.

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.

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. 

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.

New Year Celebrations Are Over…Mostly

January 30th, 2012

Except for random firecrackers going off at any time of the day or night, thanks to kids still having a week of their winter break remaining, and the fact that there was absoluetly no meat for sale at the market today, the holiday is over.  Work resumed on Sunday in order for employees to make up for one of their seven days off.  The other day was made up before the holiday.  It’s a very odd system that I still haven’t made complete sense of.  I just search online to find out when the public holidays will be and hope that our local government decides to observe those dates as well.  At least once a year they don’t. 

Nathaniel goes back to school next Tuesday, the day after the Lantern Festival.  More firecrackers. I need to remember to air out his bedding a day or two before so that it doesn’t smell.

    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.