Saturday, February 26, 2011


Dalian is not making it very hard for me to leave... Last night on our way home there was lots of icy rain, this morning we woke up to snow. Chinese New Year aka Spring Festival was supposed to mark the beginning of spring. This is not cool!

Thursday, February 24, 2011


We are moving to BEIJING!

It all happened pretty suddenly, but we are getting excited about it. I have had a few awkward conversations having to quit jobs I've only had for a week, but it hasn't been too bad since they expect foreign teachers to be really flaky here. We are going on a house hunting trip on Monday and hopefully will be moved by the next week.

We are planning on living really close to Nick's office so he can walk there everyday. It will be kind of weird not having him working out of home and around all the time, but hopefully I can find a job or two to keep me busy. I'm also looking forward to exploring a new city, especially the import stores in Beijing. Hopefully they have a few more things than the one here does since the expat population there is so much bigger.

We will be living in an area called Sanyuanqiao. I don't know much else about it right now except for the name and that it is close to the embassy, but I will definitely post more details soon.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011


Is it sad that before we teach CoCo to sit or do anything else, we taught him to dance? It's just too funny. CoCo is still eating constantly. His life revolves around food and getting more food! When he thinks Nick has food in his hands he will stand up and follow him around and do a little dance. He's getting really good at it.

Dinner Party

When I quit my job back in January I promised to keep in touch with a lot of people. After our successful and delicious Thanksgiving dinner, everyone wanted to come back to my house for another meal. Chinese New Year was a crazy time for everyone, so the dinner finally happened this week.

Nick and I planned a really simple meal. Spaghetti, Chicken Alfredo, Salad, Bruschetta and Brownies. I invited everyone and told them to just show up and that we would have everything ready. I was informed that no one would come if I didn't let them bring things, so we ended up with much more food than we planned. We had Korean sushi and fruit salad added to dinner, along with a lot of other gifts they brought for me and Nick. They were all so generous. Even the people who couldn't come sent gifts with the others. We have lots of chocolates and cookies now, and even a bouquet of flowers. They all went to different stores to find American products for us. I feel a little bad now because the meal was so simple, I guess none of them know that spaghetti is a back-up meal for Nick and I when we are too lazy too cook! Next time I will cook something more exciting so I don't feel guilty for all the expensive gifts they bring.

Our aiyi also likes when we host parties because she gets to take home all the things we will never eat (like dried squid and Chinese sunflower seeds). She thinks we are crazy for not wanting it all, I'm just glad it's not going to waste.

Here's a picture of all the gifts we got. I forgot to take a picture with everyone before they left. It was the same group from Thanksgiving minus a few people who had to work late.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

New Jobs

Since I quit my job back in January, I have slowly been accumulating new ones. I decided I didn't want to look for a full time job. I wanted to have a more flexible schedule, so I've been looking for part time jobs. I started the first one a few weeks ago. I teach a 2 hour class on Saturday mornings to a group of 6 eleven year olds. The school uses a British curriculum, and I rotate between teaching classes on English, Science and Math. The things I teach are basic (preschool level) but the English is difficult for the kids. There is a Chinese teacher in the classroom with me, so I only end up working half the time. I started out slow to make sure I enjoyed the job; I will probably start teaching more classes for them in the afternoons soon.

I started my second new job this week. This one is kind of random. A new preschool opened up right by our house. I thought it would be nice to work close to home since the commute at my old job was so bad. I walked in one day and asked if they were looking for a teacher. This was during Chinese New Year, so I had to wait a few weeks to start. I teach 4 different classes only 20 minutes each. The kids range in age from 2-5. I end up singing a lot of songs and looking really silly, but it doesn't matter. It's nice working close to home, and teaching such sort classes. Twenty minutes flies by compared to the two hour class I teach on Saturday.

My third job is about to end and I'm sad about that. I have been tutoring a rich Chinese lady in English. By tutoring I really mean hanging out with her and talking. She just wants to practice and to ask me about a new word once in awhile. She pays me to hang out with her for 2 hours twice a week, and usually she'll take me to Starbucks or Haagen Daaz during our "class." I wish I could find more jobs like this one. Sadly, she only needed a tutor during the Chinese New Year break since she already had one, but he went on vacation for that time. She has mentioned needing a tutor again in May, and I'm keeping my fingers crossed that her current tutor chooses to go home!

I have gotten a couple other calls from people looking for part time English teachers, so we'll see what happens with those. My days are really starting to fill up, but I like being able to go from job to job instead of staying in the same place all the time. I'm starting to finally know my way around town. I know the bus routes now and can get anywhere I need to. It's been really nice not feeling lost all the time.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011


I understood my first complete sentence in Chinese last week! It was while we were going to have lunch at our aiyi's house. Her husband is a taxi driver and he came to pick us up to bring us to their home. I think I've mentioned before that taxi drivers here in China can be a little intense. They drive like they are in a video game. Seriously. We were just leaving our apartment and traffic was a little crazy on our street and Nick told him in Chinese to watch out because a car was coming. He just waved at Nick and said...

"Wo kai cha hen hao."
(I'm not sure if I spelled the pinyin right there, but Nick's not here for me to check with and most people that read this blog probably don't read pinyin either so it doesn't really matter.)

It means "I drive the car very good." I was so excited. It was completely in context and I understood. It definitely motivated me to study a little more now that I'm finally seeing some results. Until now I've mostly been relying on acting and body language to communicate. That has been working out pretty well for me, but its good to be able to speak too.

Sometimes my Chinese friends would be so amazed that I could follow a context of a conversation just from watching them. They thought I understood them...Ha! I usually couldn't catch a word, but they use their hands a lot when they speak so it makes it easier to catch on to what they are saying.

Now I'm off to study some more since Nick gets home from Beijing tomorrow and my studying will probably be neglected for a few days.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Lunch with the Li's

On Saturday we had lunch at the home of our aiyi. She is the woman sitting in front of Nick wearing glasses. She had invited 2 of her sisters and a friend also. We had a good time with them. Mrs. Li prepared 15 different dishes for us. You can see the variety on the table in the picture. They have a smaller kitchen than ours, and yet 3 of those women were crammed into it cooking for hours.

Everything they made was delicious, but I was particularly excited for a vegetable dish with green peppers, eggplant and potatoes. I watched them make it and I can't wait to try it at home. If it turns out well maybe I'll share the recipe. I never really ate eggplant before we came to China, but it is prepared so well here. I love it. I did learn one secret from Mrs. Li that I will share. Apparently you shouldn't cut eggplant. You have to rip it into pieces with your hands. Maybe that is why it never turns out as good when I make it.

Mrs. Li was such a good hostess. She was a little embarrassed to have us in her home, but it was great. The food was amazing and she made an effort to have all the things we like. She knew I like to eat eggplant so she made that dish especially for me. She also knew that Nick and I don't drink so she had gone out and bought about 25 cans of Sprite just for us because it is the only thing she had ever seen us drink in our house.

It was a crazy day with Nick having to translate everything for us to communicate, but they really loved any little Chinese words I could add to the conversation. They wanted to make sure I got enough to eat and kept telling Nick to serve me more. I finally managed to say "Chibaole" or "I'm full" and everyone laughed and clapped. I am learning Chinese slowly and am starting to recognize more and more. I still have to concentrate pretty hard and translate slowly in my head, but it's slowly getting easier.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

CoCo loves to eat!

From the way he eats you would think we were starving him!

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Foot Binding

I had heard about this before but I never thought I would ever get to meet someone who had their feet bound. Today we were invited to our aiyi's house for lunch. Her husbands mother lives there with them. She is 88 and has the tiniest feet I've ever seen. She commented first on the size of our feet and held up her own. Nick talked with her and she told him about having her feet bound.

Her parents did it when she was 6 years old, so her feet are the size of a 6 year old girls. They bound up her feet and then crushed the bones. She told us for about 5 years she was unable to walk outside her house. She only moved when absolutely necessary. She lived before TVs and her family couldn't afford books so she sat all day long. She was so young and went through something so painful. I can't even imagine what it must have been like for her and yet she was the cutest little lady with such a positive attitude. She was very happy and told us she still goes down 3 flights of stairs to go out walking for exercise everyday.

I'm glad we got the chance to meet her and get to know her story. Its very humbling to meet someone who has gone through so much and then to think about all the silly things I complain about daily. It was a good lesson.

Here is a picture of her foot next to Nick's.

Friday, February 4, 2011


They are very good at fireworks here in China. Last night we crammed about 35 people into our little apartment for a delicious dinner of finger foods (we don't have that many forks! and plastic silverware here is a joke), and then we headed out to watch the show. It was 30 minutes long and spectacular! It was by far the best firework show I've ever seen. The good news is I don't have to wait another year to see it again, they do another show at the end of Chinese New Year on the 15th.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Guonian Hao


I have really been enjoying this holiday! Not only is the city beautiful with all the lights and decorations they put up, but stores are empty. Normally I have to mentally prepare myself to walk into the IKEA here. For some reason parents like to take their children there to take pictures of them in all the little rooms. It gets hectic. We went on Wednesday though and it was practically abandoned. We went to the grocery store that night and it was the same. Usually its a battle to push your cart through the crowds of people picking over meat or vegetables, but during Chinese New Year everyone is home with their families.

The fireworks have been pretty crazy for the past few days. I don't think we could count 15 seconds in between them for all of Wednesday night. They were going off all around us. Being up on the 29th floor gave us a pretty good view to enjoy the show. Some of them would explode below us, but the big ones would blow up right in front of our window. A little scary, but really awesome! They take their fireworks seriously here.

We went for a walk last night to Xinghai Square, right by our house. Its a huge park where they had put up lots of lights and where people had gathered to set off their fireworks. Tonight is the big firework show put on by the city at Xinghai Square, and we are having a little party with some friends at our house then walking over to watch them. Apparently its a big deal. On the news two days ago we saw a story on all the work that has gone into preparing for this show. They have spent tons of money on it and have been setting up for days.

One of the trees in the park up close. In addition to putting up lights on thousands of trees, they also attached fake leaves!

Year of the Rabbit

The whole square is about 4km around. Thats a lot of trees and lights!