A man in our neighborhood decided this was a good spot to take a nap.  Guess he was trying to use this box, headed for the adjacent recycle pile, to keep the sun out of his eyes, I don’t think it is working!


Sunday afternoon, enjoying the outdoors

Sunday afternoon we ventured out to our courtyard to enjoy the sun and somewhat cooler temperatures.  This past week we’ve seen much more rain than is normal for this time of year, so we were all delighted to see the sun.  The kids brought their sketch books and a soccer ball.  Soon after laying out the blankets and art materials, we looked up to see four little curious Chinese boys approaching us.  They were very enthralled with Rachel and Michael’s art work, and began asking question.  Here is Megan and her new friends


Megan offered the soccer ball, which she had been kicking around, and soon Michael and Rachel joined in the game.   In the courtyard there are large air ducts that blow air ventilation to the parking garage below.  Megan joined the boys as they explored the ducts, finding small snails which are attracted to that area.   She came back with handfuls of little snails.  The boys said that the snails were good to eat.  Suddenly the boys disappeared around the corner, only to come back a few minutes later all standing in the shade of a small umbrella…so cute.Sean snaps a picture from our 8th floor apartment window


Neighborhood Friend

Last week, after a dinner out at our favorite fast food Korean called Tudari, we were walking back home.  Suddenly we looked ahead to see this adorable little boy with arms opened wide towards Megan.  He was probably about a year and a half old.  He walked right up to Megan and gave her a big hug.  And she returned one back.  The picture certainly doesn’t do him justice, he was so adorable.


Dinner with Zhu Laoshi

On Wednesday, Megan and I were invited to our Chinese language teacher’s apartment, Zhu Laoshi (laoshi means teacher).  He also tutored our kids last summer during their school vacation.  Zhu, Megan and I departed from school at 4 pm and taxied to his meager one bedroom apartment shared by he and his parents.   We arrived to find his mom and dad preparing jaozi, the popular Chinese dumpling.  His mom also prepared a tofu and cilantro salad, stir fry vegetables with egg and pork, a roasted chicken, and sliced sausage, pumpkin cakes and other dishes.  Megan liked the sausage best.  I enjoyed the vegetables.  The black one you see with the cauliflower is one of my favorites.  It is a fungus, I believe, called mu guar.


Megan played with Zhu’s dad.  Although she couldn’t understand a word he said, he teased her with a snapping game and watched her draw pictures on a paper.


Here is Zhu Laoshi with Megan and his parents.


After we returned home, I received a text message from him.  Here’s what it said, “Thank you for coming.  My parents said that today is the most happy day for them in recently years.  We hope your whole family come next time, our door is always open for you.”   I was so touched knowing that Megan has brought joy to others.

Cookie Party Play Date

I invited some ladies I work with at school to my house on Saturday for some kid play time and cookie making. 


One of my friends has a 1 year old.  His name is Xiao Niu (meaning little cow).  He was born last year, the year of the Ox.  He is so adorable.  Megan had  fun sharing her plastic animals, rather Maddie’s plastic animal collection and riding Xiao Niu’s little push truck.


Another friend has a little girl who is three years old.  Her name is Ning Ning.  She was a little shy, with Megan, but very much enjoyed helping to make the cookies.  She loved tasting the cookie dough too.


My third friend has an eight year old daughter.  She also loved helping to make the cookies.  Abigail did not like the raw cookie dough.  She did, however love the baked cookies and learning to scoop the dough onto the cookie sheet.


It was great fun getting together with other moms, baking my favorite cookies and letting the kids play.

Vendors All Bricked In

Within and beyond our apartment complex many individuals who live on the first floor units, turn the front room of their apartment into a little retail store, and then live in the remaining rooms.  As I have walked along the streets I guess I never paid too much attention to the fact that many of these store fronts are actually apartments for residence.  Well, this week I suppose the zoning law for residential and commercial restrictions began to be enforced.


I frequent a little store called the DIY store (Do it Yourself).  They sell many useful products like muffin papers, baking pans, hand mixers, cookie cutters and the item I most frequent this store for…butter.  Well, today when I walked over the store to make my weekly purchase of butter, I found that I could not enter the store, unless I climbed through the newly created window in the place where the door used to be.  The sales lady told me she would bring the items I wanted to the window for purchase.

New sidewalk in the distance behind Jessie. Baracade wall on the right


As Jessie and I continued our walk, we found the old dirt walking road turned back into a paved sidewalk.  Before we arrived in China, this temporary wall was put up as a baracade to the subway construction.  There is a subway line that will eventually run a few streets behind our apartment complex.


A recycle man rides his bike down the old dirt road, you can see the crumbling temporary wall that acted as a baracade and the continuing construction on the new road.


In the distance across the street you can see the bricking up of more store fronts, and the man preparing the area for new sidewalk pavers. 

Jessie walks on the new sidewalk


A game store where the kids sometimes buy Wii games


Afternoon Walk – First Day of Spring

We were all happy to have Sean back from his trip, and also especially happy to see the sunshine, and a tad bit warmer temperatures.  We took a walk to easiest choice for a meal for lunch—Mc Donald’s.   Although it’s not our favorite, it’s nice to have the choice of familiar french fries.  The girls took Megan out ahead of Sean and me.  We found them in the courtyard playing tag.


On our walk we found many of our Chinese neighbors out enjoying the day.  Along the way we saw an interesting sight…split pants hanging on a clothesline.  Here in China, the babies are very overdressed in winter, sometimes with two and three layers of clothes.  But the funny thing is that, for toddlers down to infants, all the pants have a split in the crotch of the pants.  This is for easy “potty” times.  Chinese babies are toilet (or ground) trained at the very young age of 2 or 3 months.  Very few people use diapers for babies.


The girls enjoy their walk with daddy.


Chicken strips are on sale, down from 7 rmb to 5 rmb.


Pizza Order Substitution

Friday night when I ordered pizza from our favorite take-out pizza place (really the only choice we have for pizza that tastes like home),  some in the family asked if I would cut the mushrooms. We usually order one cheese and one veggie pizza (called The Garden of Eden Pizza on the menu). Just a side note, the pizza place is Korean-owned and is called Galilee Pizza. We are happy to support our fellow workers here in China. Anyway, back to the story…I asked the lady on the phone, could we take off the mushrooms and substitute a  few pepperoni instead?   She said, ” sure” and there was no extra charge. About 30 minutes later, the friendly man arrived at the door with our yummy pizza. I giggled when I opened the veggie pizza to find this…(I thought it funny that they lined the crust with pepperoni)  As usual, it tasted delicious. ..a little taste of home.


Eye Exams in China

Today I had my first experience with eye exams in China.  Maddie has been complaining of having headaches and this week when I was helping her with math homework she misread the coordinate pair (-1, 1) as -11.  So off we went to the E-Mart shopping center where my friend told there was an eyeglass store.We arrived and they took her to the eye examination room.  The lady had Maddie look through a machine, then a print-out was generated.  Next, she had her look at some figures on the wall, at differing sizes.   After a little more analysis, changing out some lenses, and having Maddie look through them, it was determined that Maddie needed glasses for seeing distance.  The lady handed her a set of glasses with the corresponding lens types to determine if she could see better looking through them.Here’s what she was given


Then, we were directed to an area in the store with eye glass frames for younger people.  There was an array of styles and designs…all priced at 260 rmb.  (Appr. $38)  This included the frames and lenses.  By the way, the eye exam was free and it only took them half an hour to have her new frames fitted with the correct lenses!Here’s Maddie’s new look.  What do you think?