Wednesday, March 28, 2012


On Saturday, March 24, we were able to go to a potential site for a school/rehab center for children with special needs.

Here is a closer view of the white building, which is one of the three buildings on the property. If we are able to purchase the property, the buildings will need to be remodeled to accommodate kids with disabilities. A team of engineers has provided blueprints.

The property is near a seminary, so we hope we'd have many volunteers help us. The building below is another one on the property; we were unable to get a photo of the third building.

Since this property is located within a resort district, we were able to enjoy lunch at a fabulous restaurant. You can tell by the crosses and stained glass images behind us that the owner of the restaurant shares our beliefs.Thankfully, the restaurant staff graciously allowed Molly and Hudson to dance and sing when they weren't eating.

The snow fell gently all morning, adding an extra beauty to our outing. Molly and Hudson enjoyed the snow, although the powder wasn't wet enough for snowballs.

Hopefully, we'll be able to return soon.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Preschool Shopping

If you ask Molly what her favorite day of the week is, she'll say that she has two: Tuesday and Thursday. That is all thanks to her wonderful preschool/mother's day out program she attended in Waco, Kids' Kastle. Needless to say, she has been asking about when she gets to start her new preschool in China. We've been looking into a few different options here. Our first thought was that it may be better to start with a Chinese language learning program for several months before enrolling in preschool. I was excited because I thought it would be fun to be there with the kids and learn with them on a level geared for children. :)  Unfortunately, the only classes meant for children are focused on learning English, not Chinese.

We began looking into preschool options, and visited three within walking distance from our apartment. (Only one allowed us to take photos.) They are all full-day programs (8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.) with small meals provided for breakfast, lunch and dinner plus morning and afternoon snack times. The classes are divided into age groups: small, middle and big. Hudson would be in the small class and Molly in the middle one.

We visited the first one with our British friend and her daughter. We arrived just before lunchtime, so they took us to this classroom and fed the girls lunch.

On the left are thin sheets of dried tofu. You picked up two or three at a time and wrapped the meat inside like a burrito to eat. Molly ate it all up!

There seems to be more emphasis on math than other subjects. This is a desk in the oldest class:

 There were lots of drawings and art projects hanging along the hallway:

They have an exercise room plus outdoor and indoor play areas:

If you're curious, here's a shot of the washroom. (The lady in the bottom left-hand corner was washing toys.)

We also peeked into the classrooms and the kids seemed cheerful and sweet. After lunch is rest time, so we didn't stay too long. Our favorite preschool of the three we visited is actually a Montessori school. It is larger than the one pictured above, and each classroom has its own washroom. It also is the only school with three teachers in each classroom instead of two. And it's the closest one to us -- bonuses all around!

It's more expensive than I was expecting, but they did say they would cut the tuition in half -- since our kids would plan to attend only two days a week instead of the standard five -- and they would lower it even more if I would teach a class or two on the days Molly and Hudson are there. Without teaching, it would cost about $225 total each month (two days/week for both kids). We'll see what we can negotiate this week -- Molly is so eager to start!

In fact, we just had this conversation:
Me: "Do you think it will be hard to be in a school all day where they only speak Chinese?"
Molly: "No, I know ni hao and zai jian!" (hello and goodbye) 
She has such a great attitude!  :)

Friday, March 23, 2012

Our Apartment

Welcome to our apartment!
We are thankful our organization found such a nice place for us to live. It has been remodeled and feels very contemporary. It's fairly near the center of town, in the Shenhe district. The rent is approximately $435 per month, which seems very reasonable to us for such a spacious place in a big city. It has three bedrooms and one bathroom, a living room, dining room, kitchen and enclosed porch for hanging our clothes to dry. It's on the fifth floor (75 steps with no elevator), but that hasn't been too much trouble. Molly can climb up quite quickly and Hudson has made it all the way to our door by himself as well.

Here's the entryway (note the slippers for guests to wear):

Here is the living room:

The tall thing to the left of the window is an air-conditioner. That will come in very handy this summer. The big window provides a nice, sunny alcove. We have lots of natural light, as well as all kinds of neat light fixtures. Great lighting all around!

There are three stairs leading up to our bedroom, the bathroom and the office/guest room. This landing provides the perfect place for Molly and Hudson to perform. They dance and sing constantly. They can see themselves in the entryway mirror, which is a plus for them.

The dining room has lots of storage space, with cabinets below the counter to the left and shelves behind the mirrored wall:

The kitchen is a nice size. It has one gas burner for cooking, a microwave, a refrigerator and an automatic washing machine. We purchased a rice cooker and may invest in a toaster oven before too long. In the past there was a water heater for the kitchen sink, but it's no longer there now. We heat water in the kettle for washing dishes.

It's hard to get a good shot of the "porch" or enclosed balcony, but it runs the length of the kitchen:

The bathroom has an enclosed shower and a water heater that heats the water for the shower and the sink. This is fantastic! Every night for the two years we lived in Changchun, I wished to be able to wash my face with hot water.

We picked out the bedding for Molly and Hudson's room and brought many of their special toys from home. Their room came with a desk, shelves and Snoopy curtains! We added a chest of drawers.

Hudson's bed, note his "girls" -- Dora, Soccer Dora and Sweet Pea Beauty:
Molly's bed:

Our bedroom has a king-sized bed, end table and wardrobe. We added the chest of drawers:

And finally our office and guest room, where Kevin's mom has been staying. Note the pretty but very sheer curtains! They're not so great about keeping out the morning sun -- but I don't think that has bothered her too much with Molly and Hudson still waking up so early as they adjust to the 13-hour time difference.

Wow, 20 photos is a lot for one post! Thanks for making it all the way through. :) We've enjoyed adding personal touches to our apartment to make it feel more like home. Let me know if you'd like to come visit!

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Our Corner of the World

Sorry for the delay in posting photos and details of our life in China. We've been here for 10 days now and are starting to learn our way around. It has helped Kevin and I so much that we lived in northeast China from 2001-2003 so we're not completely clueless about how to go about things -- however there have been many, many changes since we left. I'll start with a tour of our immediate surroundings.

Here are two views of the street outside the gate to our apartment complex:

 The entrance to the apartment complex is between the green restaurant with the white flowers and the building with the columns :

Here is the door to our apartment building:

We are on the 5th floor of the 6-story building. Many people who live in this complex have cars, and there are quite a few parking spaces around the building plus garages along the ground floor. For now, we are thankful to not have to worry about driving and are very content to walk or take taxis. (We haven't learned the bus or subway routes yet.)

Today I visited three preschools within walking distance from our apartment. Molly is excited to start school here, and we know it will be a great way for our kids to learn Chinese. I'll have more details about preschool coming soon, plus pictures of our apartment. Stay tuned!

Friday, March 9, 2012

Onward to China

In two days, we are flying back over the Pacific. We signed papers to sell our house on Monday, and this week was filled with documents and American government agencies and more documents and Chinese government agencies and more documents, all costing a lot of money to process. We now have to finish packing and saying final goodbyes -- which is very hard -- but we are excited that all is ready for us to depart!