6th Grade ROCK’S

It has been great these two first weeks of school. 6th grade is great and I can’t wait for more fun to come! I’ve gotten a locker that is really nice and I have decorated it with pictures of family and friends. Another privilege we get is that you get the choice to eat ice cream and soda any time you like!Also after school on some days I have soccer practice. Those are the days I always look forward to. Even though we get a lot of homework I think I’m going to have a great time on Middle School!

A Walk with Maddie and Megan

One day before school started, Maddie, Megan and I went out for an afternoon walk.   During the late afternoons (after the 1 – 3 pm rest time) street vendors come out to sell their evening wares.  Maddie loves this type of flatbread that is made right on the back of a vendor’s three-wheeled cart.


The guys rolls the dough and cooks it on a huge cast iron grill that has a coal-based fire underneath.   See below…the guy separating the dough and about to roll it.   Just above his rolling space you see a large circular grill.  This is placed on top of (what I would call a big 50 gallon drum that has been cut in half) with a fire underneath for cooking.  And see above that is the handlebars of his bike.  His entire cart is on a three-wheeled bicycle.


Next to the flatbread guys a lady is selling steamed soybeans and corn on the kob.    We like the soybeans which are seasoned with a star of anise seasoning, but not the corn…it’s not like the yummy sweet corn from back in South Dakota…more like feed corn…yuck!


No “Yellow” School Buses in China

Besides riding their bike, the kids also have the option of riding the bus every day to and from school.   They catch the bus at 7:30 am outside our apartment building gate.   The bus first goes to the ECC (Early Childhood Center) building to drop off pre-school kids.  Then it heads to the main campus to drop off the remaining students.  In the afternoons at 2:50 pm, a bus picks up all the ECC children and brings them to the main TIS campus.  The pre-schoolers are then taken off and brought to their respective buses.  All the Elementary and High School kids, which are dismissed at 3 pm then come out and board their buses, which drive  to various parts of the city.   The buses are named after fruits.  So we have the Pineapple line, Apple line, Orange, etc.  Now, these buses are not what we normally see in America for children’s school buses.  They are big charter buses.  I am amazed when I see the drivers maneuvering these huge vehicles into the small parking area on our campus.

Here, the ECC bus pulls into the TIS campus (Megan is in the front seat)


Megan watches out the window while the other kids are unloaded to their respective buses.

(Megan stays on this bus, since it is the one what will take all our kids home.


Megan and her friend, Lily


Kids bike to school today

We had a little break in our hot, humid weather and the kids decided to bike today to school.  They have made this ride many times over the summer, but this is the first time to go for school.  Here’s some photos I took out of our 8th floor apartment window.

The girls are walking down into the basement bike garage


Jessie’s coming out


Maddie coming out…the guy in black pants white shirt is the guard.   He is really nice, but just don’t disturb him during the hours of 1 and 3 pm, that’s when he’ll be napping in a small room just inside the garage.


Michael and Rachel leaving through the courtyard


Jessie and Maddie follow close behind


Cookie Monster Family

Sometimes I feel like I could perfectly fit into the role of the Cookie Monster on the children show Sesame Street. When it comes to Nestle’s Chocolate Chip Cookies I can’t resist! You could say that our family’s signature food is Chocolate Chip Cookies. When we were younger our Mom would make them with us, and while Rachel helped mix and bake them I would sit near by waiting for a chance to snag some cookie dough! (We agreed that the Chocolate Chip Cookie dough is almost as good as the actual cookie, no matter how many raw eggs are in it:) ). Rachel is our Chocolate Chip Cookie Queen! She has the Nestle’s Toll House Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe memorized by heart, and there is rarely a time that or cookies aren’t made by her! Ever since my Mom trusted us with cooking supplies we’ve made Nestle’s Chocolate Chip Cookies! In the fun of Summer I forgot the warm Chewy taste of Chocolate Chip Cookies, but yesterday when Rachel and I made some I think “How could I have forgotten!”

Chinese “Western style” Wedding

When I say Western style, I don’t mean Country and Western, for all you Texans out there.  What I mean is a wedding in China with some traditional elements known to us Westerners.  We were invited to a Chinese wedding, the groom being a young man who used to work in our school as a liason helping to obtain work visas, etc for new foreign staff.  He and Sean became friends, soon after our arrival last August.   From what we’ve been told most weddings are held in hotels  or nice restaurants, depending on the economic level of the families involved.  It’s usually one big party with lots of drinking, karaoke, celebrations, etc.


But this couple desired something different.  One of the teachers on our team has been doing premarital counseling with them, and the groom asked this teacher to officiate the wedding.  His teacher’s wife became the wedding coordinator.  She did a great job adding a “Western” style to the event, which was held in a nearby hotel ballroom.  A center aisle was formed, with round tables on either side, which the bride walked down and onto a stage.  They exchanged vows and rings, and lit a unity candle.    One interesting tradition that Chinese couples do is to serve tea to their new parents in-law.  Then each of the parents give red envelopes to the bride and groom with monetary gifts.  Also during the reception, the bride changes dresses, make-up and hair, a few different times.   Then she and the groom go around greeting each table with toasting.  At that time the guests present red envelopes with monetary gifts to the bride and groom.  No one really gives wedding gifts, only money.    All the female guests are give an red “thing-a-ma-bopper” to put in their hair.  I didn’t get what that represented.  See picture below:


The food was very different than what we would expect at a wedding reception.  There were over 26 course of food served, including cold vegetables dishes, chicken feet, two different soups, fish skin, shrimp, flounder, roasted chicken, stir fry vegetables, mushrooms, pork pieces (with a layer of skin, fat then the meat), clams, tofu, a dessert rice mold and fruit.  The number of courses represent the status of wealth in the family.   With the amount of food served we were able to find many that we liked.  However, for the dishes we weren’t brave enough to try, the servers kept coming to take away, saying they would bring back a smaller portion;  but we really think they were placing the untouched food on new plates and serving it to other guests!


We were joined by a few others on our team.   One family with two young daughters were asked if their girls could be flower-girls.  And another young boy on our team was the ring bearer.  Here, Jessie helps to serve the cake (the flower girls and wedding coordinator’s daughter helped too).


We felt very honored to have been invited and hope to continue our friendship as we get to know our friend’s new bride.


“So long, farewell auf weidersehen good-bye”

“So long farewell, auf weidersehen good-bye I hate to go and leave summer behind!”Today is my last day of summer break before school starts and I must say that this summer has been one of my favorites.  Even though I spent a lot of time at home hanging around with Jessie and Maddie, it was very relaxing and fun! At the beginning of summer I did a lot of reading and in all I read seven books! Usually I’m not a very big reader so that was a pretty big achievement for me: )  Other than reading, though, I also enjoyed going to the pool, bike riding, and staying up late to watch movies: ) Finally last week one of our friends, Christine Orsini, came to visit and we had so much fun together! We got to show her all around Tianjin, such as our favorite restaurants, shopping malls and other places.  These few months have been  a lot of fun and a good break but I’m also excited to start school again!


Good-Bye Summer, Hello Mr. School Year

Today is my last day of SUMMER! It seems as if Mr. School Year never permits Summer to stay long, but on the other hand he lets Summer stay just long enough to be enjoyable! I had a wonderful summer! I got to relax and play a lot, but I can’t help but feeling like it was just last week that I got out of school. Since I have been Home Schooled all my life until now, it seems like I have never fully appreciated Summer because I didn’t have a strict schedule. Now that I have tasted the Sweet and Sour flavor of 9 and 1/2 months of waking at 6:30, home work, Science Fair, and schedules I believe I can now FULLY appreciate Summer! And I have appreciated her; long afternoons of laying on the couch with a book and not a care in the world or waking up at 8:30am and snuggling back down for another half hour! Now that Mr. School Year is looming right behind the corner I am kissing Summer good bye and grasping in vain at whats left of her! I am excited to see my friends again and to actually be busy in the day. I’m also happy to see all my beloved teachers again and to be able to participate in school activities! Though Mr. School Year demands the leave of my dear friend, Summer, I will look forward to seeing her next year in June!

Baozi and Jiaozi – My Favorite Chinese Food

China has many Traditional, gross, and delicious foods in their Country. I’m gonna tell you about the traditional foods. There are two main dishes Chinese people eat a lot Bao Zi and Jiao Zi. Bao Zi is like  a bun with Meat, Vegetables, and sometimes Shrimp.Jiao Zi is like dumplings or what we call potstickers. It has a noddle outside and the same fillings you put in Bao Zi. There is a also another snack that we like, steamed  Soy Beans. They are soy beans boiled with seasonings. They are also delicious. Chinese people always eat Jiao Zi during their Chinese new year celebrations. We eat these foods at least once a week.


Jiao Zi


Bao Zi


Soy Beans

School begins — again

Although the calendar says differently, the summer has almost ended for us. The kids begin school this Thursday, August 13th. The new change for us this year is that little Megan will be going to school too! She will attend our school’s “Foundations” class for 3 year olds. She’ll be in the preschool building called the “Early Childhood Learning Center” or ECC. We went last week for her to have a pre-test for readiness. She loved the bright classroom filled with toys, puzzles, games, books, etc. She was thrilled especially since she is limited to a small amount of toys at home, because I had gotten rid of most of my toddler things before she was even born. Her favorite thing to play at home is Plastic Animals, Maddie’s collection of adult and baby hard resin jungle and farm animals.  Today we went to the school to pick up her new backpack.  Here she is…all smiles!


Megan in her new classroom book nook!


She was excited to play in the classroom kitchen and didn’t want to leave.


Sisters go along for the fun occasion.