Yesterday it finally snowed… hooray! So Jessie and I took the opportunity to have a little photo shoot! We had a relaxing breakfast of coffee and toast and then bundled up for our little activity. Although, it was crazy cold, I am so glad we were able to get these shots!
Michael & Rachel,
I can’t tell you how much I’ve been missing our Christmas break together (Sanya post coming soon). This 春节 (Chinese New Year) break has been a lot quieter than in the past! I know we’ll be seeing each other soon though and in the meantime let’s dwell on my ultimate favorite verse, Lamentations 3:31-33 :: “For no one is cast off by the Lord forever. Though he brings grief, he will show compassion, so great is his unfailing love. For he does not willingly bring affliction or grief to anyone.” No matter what struggle, stress, or frustration you’re going through, God is and will be with you! I love you guys so so so much (this goes for you too, Jessie :]).
During the Chinese New Year holiday Jessie and Maddie often accompanied me on trips to the market. I was happy to have the help, carrying our fresh produce and meat.
Here is a typical pork seller’s shop. The meat is openly displayed on the counter for buyers to pick the best cut.
A new way to display apples…with Chinese characters and words of blessing for the new year! Not exactly sure how they managed to do this. I think the farmers put a sticker on the apples as it was growing.
One can also buy a variety of fish. Here, one seller has his wares displayed on the ground.
Remembering our bucket-listing events early last summer, I thought you would appreciate this wintery outing I took in December. Jillian, John and I bussed downtown to the “Strip District,” to join the Saturday-morning bustle.
Our first stop was La Prima Espresso Company for lattes. We were particularly excited to visit this coffee shop because it has a spot on Carnegie Mellon Campus, and we were anxious to visit the “base camp” per say.
After enjoying our morning coffee run, we walked strolled the district’s characteristic farmers markets, fish markets, and Asian super markets. Often stopping into small shops along the way, we experienced fresh bread at an Italian bakery, a cigar-smoking-ritual in a dark parlour, Christmas wreath-lined street corners, and, of course, the beautiful Pittsburgh snow.
We took a pitstop at one particularly adorable Italian bakery. The business had a street-front building filled with mountains…
of biscotti! …behind the biscotti palace, a small alleyway brought us to a cozy cafe serving breakfast and coffee.
I haven’t forgotten all the important homework and practice you assigned me over the break. (It seems like its been such a long time since we chatted in Starbucks about cubes!) I’m sorry that I have not been as diligent as you in working on our first theme for our sketching goal, Moose, but at least I am improving my form! I’m excited to continue our little goal and I would like to suggest that we go with plants or shoes for our next theme, (something a bit more simple for the beginner ;).
I miss you so much already and I really appreciate the opportunity I had to call you before you left China while I was at the TCK Seminar. Let me know when you have time to chat!
We were very blessed to have both Rachel and Michael with us for Christmas. Especially since I am afraid that it could be our last one together in China. Many changes are coming this year with Michael’s graduation and going into the workforce and Jessie beginning college in Pittsburgh. Getting us all together in Tianjin next year will be tricky. We spent lots of quality time together cooking, playing games and going on “coffee dates” to Starbucks. A very special friend from Virginia sent the Settlers of Catan game the kids and Sean had lot of late night competitive games.
Beautiful table centerpiece Michael put together for Christmas dinner.
Some sisters here in Tianjin are so happy to see Rachel!
Rachel arrived on December 17th to a snow-covered city. Due to the bad weather in Tianjin, the driver I hired to take me to Beijing had to cancel because the highways were closed 🙁 So I had to brave my way via taxi, to hi-speed train, to subway, then airport express train to finally get to the Beijing International Airport – nearly 4 hours after leaving home. It was my first time making this trip alone and it was an adventure, especially in the bad weather. However, to my surprise, the weather in Beijing was sunny! As I traveled on the hi-speed train to Beijing I watched as the skies and the ground cleared.
View from my train window leaving Tianjin
Fifteen minutes later, on the outskirts of Beijing, the skies are clearing
Airport Express train arriving at the airport under blue skies!
The weekend of December 6 -8th, I had the opportunity visit Michael in Hong Kong for his final exam presentation for the fall semester. During their last year of university in the HKU Architectural studies, students have a one-year project. Michael’s assignment is to design hypothetical Olympic village shops and housing for guests who will attend the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo. I am very proud of his excellent work and it was a treat to meet some of Michael’s classmates.
Here Michael helps his friend prepare her drawings for her presentation.
Above, Michael took me to his favorite Dim Sum restaurant for brunch. Later that day we took a ride across the harbor to Kowloon. The Hong Kong skyline is very beautiful from the ferry. We visited other of his favorite places to shop and eat and the weather was delightful. At Michael’s local grocery store they were even selling REAL Christmas trees. Look closely and you will see a price tag of about 700 Hong Kong dollars, which translates to about $100 USD.
This is a common sight in China, as one travels throughout the city. Trucks piled high with boxes which are then bungee wrapped together, so they stay in place (although this wrapping job did not seem to do the trick). The truck drivers ride in a small two-seater un-airconditioned cab. A much different level of comfort from the American truck driver with his extended cab rig, with full size bed, air conditioning, and television.
Maddie found this great idea online, and thanks to grandma and grandpa Headrick who sent us candycorn and malted milkballs in a fall carepackage, we were able to make these cute turkey treats. Megan had her friend, Naomi, over to play the weekend before Thanksgiving and Maddie put her creative skills to work teaching the girls how to make these turkeys.
Our sweet Chinese friend who has been working at our school for a few years now, and who recently got married and Megan was the flower girl, took a job at another company in our city. Although it was sad to say goodbye knowing that I won’t be able to see her each day when I go to work, I’m happy for her to have this new opportunity and I’m glad that we can still be in touch, since she did not move away from Tianjin.