Sunday, December 19, 2010

Thanksgiving!

Since Christmas is just a few days away, I figured I had better hurry up and post a picture from Thanksgiving....


How do you cook a Thanksgiving meal in China? Here's how! Shop at the imported store. Then take half of your apartment (pots, pans, ingredients, knives, cutting boards, measuring cups, silverware, plates....and your TV, speakers, Christmas tree, and oven) to your mom's apartment. Have another sister do the same, minus the TV. Set up a second kitchen in a bedroom. Plug in the Wii. Cook all day, substitute turkey with chicken (turkey doesn't fit in the little oven), play Wii, decorate the tree, and eat pumpkin pie. Voila! Thanksgiving in China!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

This Is How We Roll



I never thought I would be a "No carseat/baby on scooter" type of person, but I live in China, so I am.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

One letter off....

Ryan loves to collect our change. He puts the 1RMB coins in a coffee can. After it's full, we count it up. The first time we did this, we took a few hundred worth to the bank, expecting them to put it in some sort of a change machine to count it. We handed it to the lady, and her face fell as she started counting by hand and making little stacks all over her desk. We felt so bad about that!



Another year passed, and it was time to count the coffee can again! Ryan stacked it all up on our table...it was nearly 600RMB worth of change (a little under US$100)! We didn't want the bank lady to have to do so much work again, so I individually wrapped each stack in saran wrap. At least they could count the stacks first, then open them to check the coins to make sure they were all genuine 1RMB coins. My intent was really to make it easier on them.



So Ryan went to our bank. He showed them one stack and told them "I have 600 coins." Or so he thought. His word was one letter off, so basically he told them "I want 600 coins." They said no. He said yes. They said no, they can't. He said "You are a bank. You can!" They said, "Go to another bank." He said, "But this is my bank!" Trying to stop his frustration before it started, he lifted up his bookbag filled with neatly saran-wrapped coins and asked if they could just deposit it then, instead of giving him cash for it. The light went on with the bank manager. He HAS 600 coins. Okay okay! They were quite impressed that he had collected so many. Twice, a different bank employee pulled him aside and said, "Can I ask you a personal question? How did you get so many coins?!"

And they opened up all of my little stacks, poured all six hundred out in a pile on the table, and THEN counted and stacked them.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

My Leave of Absence

Okay, okay...I know it's been awhile. Are you ready for my list of excuses?

1st Excuse: Work!



All right, I'll admit. This one hasn't taken up too much of my time. I'm helping Captivating International, Ryan's job, to have a better web presence. It has not been hard, and I've enjoyed seeing the numbers grow on our Facebook Page. I've also been helping a little with the auction/fundraiser next month for the Seng Girls' Home (www.sghannualcharity.com). While I've been not-so busy with this, Ryan's been working on his project for them. Last year, Captivating helped families out of poverty by planting walnut trees in the high altitudes of Sichuan. The families are able to harvest the walnuts and sell them to provide for their families. This year, they will be planting in Gansu.



Beautifully remote, isn't it?




2nd Excuse: Chinese!


We've been working really hard with learning Chinese. It's difficult! Thanks to Bart Beverly, Ryan's good friend in the States, we've been working through Rosetta Stone on the computer and practicing what we learn out with the community. So far, we've made a lot more progress now than we did with a Chinese tutor last year.



But even though we do this every day, it still isn't the reason I haven't posted in a while.


3rd Excuse: Rylan Isaiah!



Here he is...my sweet boy! He is almost four months old. He was born in a local hospital here in Shenzhen. I couldn't understand any of the doctors in the delivery room, but thankfully my sister Hayley was there who could translate for me. The delivery rooms in the hospital here are just one big room, so all of the women who are delivering are in there together. We didn't think it would be possible to find a place that Ryan could come in and be a part of the delivery. Thankfully, we have a friend who is a friend of someone on staff at the hospital we went to (that's how things work here!), and they let us use the private delivery room reserved for special situations. Ryan, my mom, and my sister all got to be in the delivery room while two more sisters, Lacey and Juley, were waiting patiently in the hospital.






Being pregnant and having a baby here was a little scary at times. I was told very bluntly when I was about 5 weeks pregnant that "You baby maybe is dead" when I got a test result back. They couldn't explain anything else to me because I couldn't understand! So I took my sister with me from then on. It was more like a do-it-yourself pregnancy. Google became my best friend at times. And like I said, I couldn't understand the doctors for the delivery. But I trusted that my Father has everything planned out. It turned out to be a fantastic experience all around, and I would do it all again (I'm hoping to, at least!). :)


So that's what has kept me busy....with Excuse #3 being the biggest (and best!) reason. I'll try hard to keep this updated now that I've been able to practice managing everything with a little one at home.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Things I'm Doing Wrong....

Being in China is just different all around. Our cultures are just opposites sometimes. However, I feel that being in Shenzhen, which is a very modern city, has masked some of the true Chinese culture in some areas. But one area of their culture that is still alive and well here is in regards to BABIES. Wow. Everyone, down to the homeless lady on the corner or our security guards at our apartment, has something to say to me. This is a list of some of the more common things I've been told. And they don't come as polite suggestions--

First of all, for me:
I should NOT be outside before one month after delivery.
I shouldn't shower for one month.
I shouldn't stand up for one month.
I shouldn't sit down for one month.
I shouldn't be walking around.
I should be home sleeping.
I shouldn't drink Coke.
I shouldn't hold my baby.
I shouldn't be outside in the wind.
I shouldn't drink cold water.
I shouldn't drink cold coffee.
I shouldn't take care of the baby since I don't have experience. My mom or Ryan's mom needs to come and take care of him.


And, for little Rylan:
He shouldn't be outside until he's a month old. (this one is huge!!)
He shouldn't be in the wind.
He is too cold. (It's 100 degrees here)
He needs a blanket.
I need an umbrella to shield him from the sun.
His head needs to be faced up when he is lying down.
I need to hold him so he is lying down, not straight up on me.
It's too hot for him outside. But at the same time, he's too cold.


Imagine being told each of these things about ten times each every time you go outside. I feel like my security guard looks at me with contempt now because I haven't listened to him.

Now, I'm not sharing this to complain about being here....If we had to do it over again, I would still be pregnant, deliver, and have a newborn here in China. I'm simply sharing it to point out that this is one of the most obvious clashes of culture that I've personally experienced here in Shenzhen. China is great, and the people are well-meaning, but we just raise our little ones differently!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Three "Shocking" Stories ;)

We're having a little trouble with electricity this go around in China. And our problems are seeming to get progressively worse. We've had three different instances with electrical burning and/or exploding. Let's hope we're through with that, though!

1) Our scooter.



We've run this thing into the ground. We've had it for over a year, and use it constantly. It's been really good to us. But when we came back, we were warned from our friend that borrowed it from us that it had been having overheating problems. Really? It never did that with us...you must have been doing something wrong. We learned quickly, though, when we were trying to cut off some buses by driving up the opposite side of the road, that our scooter does indeed overheat. The scooter made a really loud engine sound, stalled in the oncoming traffic lane (right as they got their green), and started smoking and smelling like burning plastic. Ryan waddled it to the middle where we sat and waited for traffic, then waddled us to the side of the road to let it cool off. Once the smoke stopped and it cooled off for awhile, we took off again. It's done it a few more times, so now we are shopping around for another one.



2) Mom's transformer



Ryan brought his dad's XBox back to China with us this time. Since China uses 220volts and America uses 110, we needed something to keep the XBox from exploding (we would NEVER just plug it straight into the wall...right? Okay, maybe we learned our lesson with the Wii last year). We borrowed my mom's transformer that she uses every day just to test it out to see if it would work with the XBox. It seemed to work great, but ten minutes later, the XBox shuts down, there's a loud pop to the right of the TV, and again we smell burning plastic and see a little fire then a lot of smoke. We cooked the transformer, and have had a hard time getting one to replace it for mom.



3) The electric cord



We charge our electric scooter out back by throwing a long cord that Ryan made out of our bedroom window. It's worked great for nine months now, except someone pulled it out of our second story window last week and stole it when it wasn't connected to the scooter. So he decided to make another one. He told me that the plug ends were a little different this time than the ones he had bought last year, but he still thought it was okay. He put it all together and wanted to test it out on the outlet that we plug our computer and speakers into. I told him to try it on another outlet that we don't use as much. So he went to the bathroom outlet, which was just out of my line of sight. But I still saw the explosion of light and heard a LOUD pop! Ryan slowly came back around the corner holding the plug (no longer connected to the cord!!) with his eyes wiiiide open. That thing blew up, and with such force that it broke the plug away from the cord! I am SO thankful that nothing worse happened. He promptly took it to the man he had bought the pieces from, paid another $1.40, and got the guy to put it all together for him.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Hanging Out...the Window.



We don't have much room to hang clothes for just the two of us, so we needed an extra line out our bedroom window for our cloth diapers whenever we start going through ten a day! The problem is, we could only get outside from the right side of the window, and we had to loop the cord around the left side of the security cage. The left side screen was NOT opening.

I reached. Ryan reached. We reached with a spaghetti scoop (my idea--didn't work). So I decided to climb out the window. I got about halfway to the other side when one of the bars on the cage underneath me broke from my additional weight (I would have been fine pre-pregnancy, right?). So I finally decided to listen to my husband and go back inside. Then he tried :) He was squished out there, but he did it!


Thanks, babe. You do so much for me!







Thursday, April 29, 2010

the mold!









We were in the States for four months (Dec-April). During that time, we kept our apartment in China. We had a friend staying there making sure the fish were fed and the apartment was taken care of. However, even though we had someone living there, we didn't get around the plague that hit everyone in China, rich or poor, really small apartment or huge, expensive house--the mold. The buildings are made of concrete over here, and it was cold for a few months. The weather then heated up really quickly causing the buildings to sweat. Some people told us they had water constantly running down their walls. Combine that problem with 100% humidity and you get mold--green, black, white, and yellow!--growing everywhere.

The person staying in our apartment cleaned most of the areas where he was staying. When we walked in, we didn't see much except for some on the ceiling. However, the little second bedroom we used for junk (which will be our baby room) was covered pretty badly. But other than that, we thought we had gotten off pretty easily....until we started opening up things.

EVERYTHING in anything was covered. I am STILL washing every piece of clothing that we left here. If the clothing itself didn't have mold growing all over it, it was next to a piece that did, leaving it smelling horrible. Poor Ryan--he washed all of the furniture, inside and out, and all of the walls and ceilings. I'm so thankful for a husband like him!

As of right now, we are mostly mold free. It's growing back in several places, but we're trying to stay on top of it.

Monday, April 26, 2010

The Spatula in the Bathroom

Our apartment is great....small, but great. We moved into this one seven months ago and have really enjoyed buying furniture and painting to make it more homey. But there are several things about this place that take getting used to. One of them being the window in the bathroom.
Our landlords had remodeled our place before we moved in, so we basically got a "brand new" apartment, and for apartments over here, that's a great blessing! But when they did, they pushed out the balconies and made them part of the living space. So before, the bathroom window opened up to the outdoors. Now it opens up to the expanded kitchen. And because of the humidity problem we have in the house, we have to keep that window open as much as possible. It makes it easy to check on my baking while I'm showering, though, "Uh, Ryan, the bread looks like it's burning. Can you go in and put it on the lower rack?"
Anyway, I was putting the dishes away in the kitchen when I dropped the spatula into the bathroom. Hence my facebook status a few days ago about the kitchen spatula on the shower floor.



Sunday, April 25, 2010

Intro to Blogging


After having it suggested to us a few times, we decided to start a blog! We hope you enjoy reading and seeing some of what we get to experience over here. I feel like I already have so many stories to share, so hopefully we'll keep the posts coming.