Monday, April 28, 2014

Autism Day Camps

Partnering with the Little Turtles Autism Training Center, we are offering day camps to kids with autism. On April 19, we had children 2 years to 5 years old. On April 26, we had teenagers 14 and older. On May 10, we will have children 6 years to 13 years old.

 The kids ate snacks.
 They made crafts.
 They had times to draw and/or color.
 This young man wrote a poem about thankfulness.
This was the art center table.
 Dion is instructing one of the teenagers in his group.
 Paper airplanes!
It was great to see this family again. We have been to their home several times.
 Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches! The sandwiches were a hit.
 Shirley led the reading and singing center with the "You are Special" series by Max Lucado.
 Volunteer Dan is playing blocks with the kids.
These volunteers all come from the caregiving training school where Dayna works.
Kevin (translated by Kristi) led a discussion about the uncertainties of the future. The mothers expressed that there is nothing offered for the children in the future.
This is the group from April 26.
Kevin with Dion, Kristi and Rei Rei outside the Little Turtle Autism Training Center

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Field trip

Hudson and Molly went strawberry picking yesterday as part of their first-ever Chinese kindergarten field trip.
They brought back two bowls full of organic strawberries and said they were surprised they picked them inside a greenhouse instead of outside on a farm.
After picking the strawberries, they ate lunch together on the  bus. (This was so exiting for them too!) It was my first time in two years to pack a school lunch to send with them that morning. The kindergarten provides breakfast, lunch, snacks and even dinner each day.
After lunch, the kids headed to a museum. I'm not exactly sure what they did there but Molly said there were toys and Hudson said there were bouncing balls. I got conflicting reports on whether they played with the toys and games or just watched them. Regardless, they thought it was neat. :)
Kevin and I were both working so our Chinese tutor went along with the kids on the field trip. We love working with her three days a week! She does an excellent job incorporating crafts and imaginative play as she's teaching Molly and Hudson to speak more Chinese. 
Molly has also gotten to go ice skating several times with a group of friends. Once a week several homeschooling moms get their kids together for PE-type activities. Hudson hasn't wanted to try it just yet, but he's thinking about it.

Around town

I think about blogging as I'm walking to work. I wish I could bring you all along on a typical 20 minute walk through our city. There are things I'd tell you about the traffic laws, which have been considerably more enforced in the two years we've lived here - especially stopping for red lights. (Although motorcycles and bicycles don't stop for them at all.)
I feel very safe living here, but hands down the most dangerous part of life is crossing the street. There's not a rule about stopping before making a right-turn on red, so even crossing with the Walk signal turns into a game of Frogger.
Construction is constantly underway. I can't count the number of new buildings, apartments and shops being built just between our home and my office. They do shut down during the winter months but now that it is April, they are back in full swing. There is often a night crew to keep up the work nearly around the clock.
My office building is on the right, with the orange billboard on top. The company is on the 13th floor. 
The company trains ladies to be live-in caregivers in Canada. I work with them 6 hours a week.
Our friends we get together with on Saturday nights invited us to a big dinner together this weekend.
I should've taken photos of the food! My favorite dish was sugared peanuts surrounded by sweet potatoes dipped in a honey-glaze and rolled with small krispies. It was warm and sweet, soft and crunchy all at once. Chinese meals don't end with dessert -- you eat the sweet dishes right along with everything else.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

A little shopping

I've been wanting to write about shopping in our city, but I hate feeling like a tourist and snapping pics everywhere. Our city has one exceptionally large market for shopping/bargaining for pretty much every kind of item you can think of. I shop there for shoes and winter gear and stationery and sometimes clothes. We are fortunate to have an IKEA so we've gotten some decorative items, kitchen utensils and much of the kids' bedroom furnishings there (like their bedding and cute containers for their toys). 
We buy fruit and eggs from local stands in our neighborhood, and that is one fantastic about living here. It is so convenient to pick up fresh produce at fairly inexpensive prices without going out of my way or waiting in checkout lines. As far as supermarkets go, we have several Wal-Mart locations and three big European stores are represented: Carrefour (France), Tesco (England) and Metro (Germany). 
We do most of our shopping at Carrefour. The location closest to us has a small import section, but the biggest store is only two subway stops away (and what is pictured here). 
Imported products we tend to buy are: cereal, granola bars, olives, salsa, pasta, tomato sauce, sour cream, refried beans, tortilla chips, cheese. Avocados are virtually impossible to find here in the northeast. I've heard of the fanciest import stores selling them on occasion for $9 each. Then last week my friend called me from Tesco and said she was holding a package of two avocados for $3.25 and did I want her to get some for me. You can imagine how fast I said YES. They were worth every penny. (And made me think I should take time to go to Tesco more often.)
I know I've mentioned this beautiful shopping mall before -- it is not far from Kevin's office and right across the street from my new job. It has a fancy (read = expensive) import store inside and nearly every designer shop you can name.
I may have taken a peek once or twice in the two-story Tiffany & Co store. I've never actually seen people buying things from these stores (the import luxury tax is off the charts) but the mall is a really nice, quiet place to walk around.
There is a restaurant/bakery in the atrium on the fourth floor that's become our favorite lunch date location. 

Speaking of food and lunch, here are two pictures from the Christmas Eve luncheon at Kevin's office. Not everyone is pictured, but it'll give you an idea of where Kevin spends his days and who he's privileged to work alongside as they assist and advocate for people affected by disability.
Living in a foreign country has its daily challenges, but it is also a bigger blessing than we imagined when we applied for work here. I know we are right where we are meant to be.