Friday, May 27, 2011

Back to Work

Once I got back to Beijing in April, after going home for my brothers wedding, I had to start job hunting seriously again. I've been back for 6 weeks now, and I am pretty busy. I got a few different jobs, like I did in Dalian. I work a few hours a week at each of them. They all have different pros and cons, so its nice to be able to switch it up.

I work at a Japanese kindergarten just 3 hours a week, but the pay is great. I teach one 45 minute class on Tues, Wed and Thurs. The kids are really well behaved and overall it is a much better experience than the kindergarten I started working at in Dalian just before we moved. Its hard to keep their attention for that long of a class, so I get to play a lot of games. The Japanese teachers are also really helpful and make it a lot easier on me.

I work about 12-14 hours a week at an English school close to my home. The pay isn't as high, but I can walk there in 10 minutes, and I can get hours in the morning and early afternoons there. Most English schools wanted me to work nights and weekends, or the only times Nick is home. This school does one-on-one tutoring. So I basically talk about whatever the student wants. Sometimes they bring materials, and sometimes we just talk for awhile. It is really flexible. They are always trying to give me more classes than I really want, but I can always say no, which is super nice.

I'm tutoring another woman at my house 6 hours a week. Her English is pretty good and we can have good conversations as long as I keep a dictionary close by. She has already taught me to make some traditional Chinese food for one of our classes. It was awesome! She brought all the ingredients, showed me how to make everything, and then paid me for my time. I will definitely post pictures of it soon. It is nothing like cooking American food. I wish I could find more students like her. I don't want to invite just anyone to our house though, she is a friend of one of Nick's coworkers so I felt ok inviting her over. When she comes to our house it leaves me more time to do other things so I'm not traveling 30-45 minutes each way to her home.

Last but not least, I am tutoring just once a week right now for some older Japanese students. It is in the same building as the preschool and starts right after my classes there so I don't spend any extra time traveling. This is a pretty crazy class. It is 3 ten year old Japanese boys and they talk non-stop the whole time. The problem is getting them to talk in English. One of them is focused, but the other 2 are always quick to get distracted. I try to keep it fun with games and word searches for them to practice new words with, but it doesn't always work. I'm hoping I will be able to get a few more hours tutoring here since the pay is good and I go there 3 days a week anyway.

In just a few weeks I have managed to fill up my schedule pretty well. I have a few classes everyday, but I also have time to go grocery shopping and do other errands during the week. Most of my classes also don't require too much preparation so I don't have to spend a lot of time worrying about them except when I'm actually there teaching.

So far I am still happy at all my jobs, but the good thing about having so many is I can drop one and I don't have to start completely over job hunting. Life in Beijing is pretty good right now!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Drum and Bell Towers

A few weekends ago we had a chance to go out sightseeing around Beijing with some friends. We went to the Drum and Bell Towers. They are old towers built next to each other in the 13th century. They were used to announce the time and were the official timepiece of the Chinese government til 1924 (Wikipedia teaches me so much!)

We had to climb some crazy steep stairs to get to the top, but there was a nice view of the city from each of them. At the drum tower we waited 20 minutes to see the "drum show." It was pretty theatrical and the drummers were really getting into it swinging their arms around and posing a lot.

The drum tower was pretty cool. Only one of 25 original drums was left, but they had good replicas of the others. They also had a couple different ancient time telling machines. Water ran through a couple of barrels on one of them and every 14 minutes or so it would ring a bell. It's amazing how accurately they were able to tell time with them.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

I can't believe I lived 25 years without trying...


They are amazing. I went to the market the other day with a friend, and like always I was tempted to buy green grapes. They are a guilty pleasure though since they cost 60 RMB (nearly $10) for a bag of them. While I was trying to decide whether or not to get them, my friend asked if I had tried frozen grapes. I was intrigued so I had to buy them to try it.

Nick and I completely spoiled ourselves that night with Papa Johns pizza and the frozen grapes. There will be a lot of pizza in our future since we discovered Papa Johns here. The Pizza Hut is no good, but Papa Johns tastes just like home. The frozen grapes made a perfect dessert.

I have a feeling I'm going to spend quite a lot of money the next few months every time I pass the fruit stands at the market.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Beijing Tailors

For months we have been planning on getting Nick a new suit made. Every weekend we would get lazy or something else would come up. We finally motivated ourselves one day when Nick had a holiday from work. (They have a lot of random days off here...It's great!)

There are a lot of tailor shops that I have seen around town, but we just went to the Silk Market for convenience. We didn't want to have to go pick out fabric at one store and then take it to the tailor. There are about 10-15 different tailoring shops at the Silk Market. We went to most of them to look at the fabric selection and bargain for a good price. Nick almost made the decision based on the pictures one store was displaying. They had made a suit for Paul Pierce and had a picture with him in their shop. He was impressed. We ended up at a different store though and got this suit made for 700 RMB including the fabric. Hopefully we got a decent deal. I haven't heard from too many people how much they paid.

We went to the store for the first time on Friday afternoon. Nick was measured for the suit and a few new shirts as well. He had the first fitting on Monday afternoon, and on Tuesday I picked up the suit for him. I can't believe how fast they get things done. I am thinking of getting a new coat made next winter. They had some nice ones displayed, and my coat last winter in Dalian got pretty beat up. I'll be googling pictures for the next few months til I find one I love, then it will be my turn to head to the tailor.

I did get myself a little present while picking up Nick's new clothes. A friend from our branch came with me because she needed new shoes, while she was bargaining I wandered off and ended up with 3 new pairs of TOMS. I got such a good deal I couldn't resist. Plus, I couldn't decide between the black, grey and pink ones. The Silk Market is still a dangerous place for me to go unless I leave my wallet at home.

Monday, May 9, 2011


CoCo is getting so big. He is definitely feeling 100% better from the Parvo incident. He likes to shred things (like toilet paper) so I am constantly walking around the house sweeping up after him. I'm just glad he hasn't decided to be destructive with anything valuable. I can afford for him to play with the toilet paper... leather shoes that Nick can't find in his size here in China would be a bigger problem.

Isn't he cute?

Friday, May 6, 2011

Chinese Imperial Dessert Tea

Last week I had the chance to go to this tea at a super nice hotel here in Beijing. There is a girl in our branch at church who works for the Global Times, a paper in English here. She is in charge of planning events once a month to advertise different places around the city and to help foreigners learn more about Chinese culture.

There were only about 30 people at the event. They keep it exclusive. The wives of a few different ambassadors to China were there and a bunch of other important people, and then a group from church. We started out with the "desserts." I had to use quotation marks since not one of the desserts had any sugar in them. It was interesting. The story behind them is interesting because they are apparently the recipes that were used in the Imperial kitchens hundreds of years ago. We got a demonstration on how to make some of them. It is very precise work.

After the desserts we got a tour of this hotel. It's gorgeous. Now all I have to do is talk Nick into staying there for a few nights with me. Only 3000 RMB a night when they are running a special, so I doubt that will happen, but I can dream. The rooms had some gorgeous Chinese decorations. Beautiful carved wood doors on the closets and all over the room. It's hard to describe, and I couldn't get a picture, but it was amazing.

Here's some pictures. The middle one of us around a table was in the Global Times newspaper the next day. It was in the very middle of the paper. I tease Nick now and tell him his wife was featured in the centerfold. HA!

Overall I had a great time, the desserts themselves failed to impress my sweet tooth, but I always enjoy little cultural experiences like this. It also happened to be one of the first really pretty spring days we've had and I got to enjoy it outside on this beautiful patio.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Our Apartment

This post is for my brother Mike. He's been asking to see pictures of our apartment since we are finally settled. I posted pictures awhile ago that I took when we were here with the realtor. Hopefully it looks significantly better now!

Some of the pictures are a little blurry, but I haven't cleaned up the house yet today so I can't take new ones right now...

Our closets. I can't believe I fit most of our clothes in here after getting used to all the space we had in Dalian. It was tough.

Our bedroom is boring, but the IKEA bed is so much nicer than the Chinese mattress we were sleeping on before.

Our office.

Guest bedroom. You know you want to stay here!

I just included this picture so everyone can see Nick's artwork on the wall. Painting supplies are super cheap here, so he has been taking advantage of the chance to paint.

Where we spend most of our time. The couches aren't the most comfortable, but I haven't found anything I love to replace them yet. I do love all our big, tall plants you can see though. They were so cheap and make me feel like I am breathing at least slightly cleaner air.

Entryway/Dining Room. Our landlord before we moved in promised us a new table since before it was a rickety little thing. Silly me, I assumed that included new chairs that matched. NOPE! We got a thick glass table and got left these ugly little chairs. I really want to paint them, but I don't know how well that will go over.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Sanyuanli Wet Market

These are pictures of the wet market where I buy most of our food. I get fruit, vegetables and meat here. They also have olive oil, cheese and a lot of the other random things we eat. It's one of the cleanest markets I've been to in China and its only a 20 minute walk from my house. I walk over at least once a week and usually buy as much as I can carry home. We have a closer market I go to for things I forgot, but it doesn't have as much variety. At this market I can get avocado, zucchini, fresh basil and lots of other yummy things that aren't at regular Chinese markets.