Monday, September 15, 2014

for the love of campus

No surprise that these guys are learning early and often that a university campus is a sweet spot on the planet.

After dinner Sunday evening we walked a few blocks towards this campus - a personal favorite of ours and a major landmark in our city.

And then we couldn't resist heading inside.  You (usually) don't have to walk far to find something interesting on a university campus and this one is no different.

This elderly man set up a little spot for himself on the sidewalk and played his erhu (a two-stringed instrument).  Isaac was impressed with how much money he was making :)

I guess from a 5 year old perspective, it did seem like a good chunk of change in his jar... and we saw several folks toss in money while we were watched.

This is the second time we've eaten dinner near this campus gate - it's a great spot for us, close to our apartment, easy parking right on the curb, gobs of restaurants to choose from, and a perfect spot for post-dinner walking.  I think we'll be back again soon.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

scraping caulk off the bathroom wall

Just another Saturday, ripping the tub off the bathroom wall.  Again.


This repair has been on the list since we returned from the U.S. earlier this summer.  Major leaking and drainage issues meant that we were going to need to pull the tub out and get some serious work done.  The worker guy finally came today and got us fixed up - we hope.

The silver lining to this whole story is that I got to attack all our moldy bathroom caulk with my deadly bleach and exact knife combo.  All that nasty once-white-turned-black-with-mold-growth caulk is gone and now that the tub is re-installed and re-caulked it looks so nice and WHITE!

The workman also helped out with a few other little projects and is slated to be back again later in the month for a few more things... sigh.  Tis the tune we sing around here - the land of poor quality construction supplies and hardly-trained construction workers does not lend itself to long term durability.  oh well.  I'm getting used to it.

Friday, September 12, 2014

today's lesson

How to use a Chinese Dictionary.

Good 'ole a-b-c order doesn't do the trick around here.

Thankful for their tutor, thankful that we are now at a place with Chinese studies that I can confidently call "sustainable'.

Monday, September 8, 2014

the neighborhood square

It seems most every community here has some sort of open gathering area.  Usually it's a planned public space, a big open patch of concrete, a large paved gap between high rises.  There are several smaller areas in our complex, but for our neighborhood the hot spot is definitely at "the 广场".  

The 广场 (roughly translates as plaza, or square) is right next to the school gates, surrounded by some of the older complexes that were here long before ours was built.

And all weekend long Julianna's been begging to go up there at night.  I don't blame her.  It's a holiday weekend and that public square is hopping with activity even on normal nights!  People dancing, music blaring, in line skaters, venders with all sorts of food and trinkets and glow in the dark doo-dads spread on tarps lining the edge of the square.  She knows her classmates are up there, and she knew this was the perfect weekend to go :)  

So after dinner they were off - Matt and the three older kiddos.  [I stayed home and read books with the little guys til bedtime.  Some things are best experienced without your favorite 2 and 3 year olds along for the ride!  Plus I knew it would be a late bedtime!]

It's not much to look at, but this concrete square is the heartbeat of a neighborhood.  {and yes, they recently added a fancy mega-flat screen... i have no idea who 'they' is, or who would even fund such a thing, but they do turn it on occasionally}

Once the sun went down, the place lit up.  Isaac is not faking excitement in this picture.  When he got home the enthusiasm was still leaking out of his pores.  He stood (not sat!) next to me on the couch telling me all his stories!

Bounce houses, arcade games.... it's a small town carnival.  And it happens over and over and over again throughout the city.  I bet most everyone in town lives walking distance from this kind of a park (though my neighborhood pride thinks ours might be one of the best! ha!)

Our big three are hooked.  Pretty fun stuff, if noisy-sweaty-crowded-gaudy entertainment is your kind of thing.  

Any guesses where I stand on the issue?  

ha.  i'm just glad they can go and have fun!  [with Matt]

Sunday, September 7, 2014

early dismissal

As the only teacher at our home school I'm also the only administrator (well, unless you add in Matt!)... so when the sky is a perfect blue and the temps balmy and the clouds wispy - well, it's early dismissal.  Due to weather, of course :)  We needed to get outside!

No trouble convincing these little ladies!   And of course all the brothers were on board too.

We can catch up when the skies are gray and the streets slick with rain.

Later in the day we even moved dinner outdoors - packed up what was in the cook pot and took it to clover field.  Our neighbors did the same and it was the perfect impromptu potluck.

Tomorrow (Monday) is a national holiday, so no local school for the kiddos.  Then Tuesday marks the beginning of fall travel for Matt.  I'm kind of dreading it.  He hasn't travelled since April!  Actually our entire time in the U.S. he had a only very few trips and just one longer time away.  This fall it's back to travel again.  It'll definitely take a while to get into the swing of things.  We tend to get into a good groove and it becomes easier, but I think the first trips will throw us a few surprises as we make our adjustments.

Much grace needed here, all day every day.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

summertime {eating ice cream}

Our summertime is winding down.  School in session and the temps are (dare I say this?) almost fall-ish!  The fall season is a quick one here and we'll be in big jackets soon enough, so we will enjoy it while it's here.  

And eat our final ice cream cones of summer too.

This is what my littlest two look like right before they make a SERIOUS mess :)  Nothing a bath can't fix.  But oh my the sticky-ness.  Oh my.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

two days in

Two days in to the public school fall semester.  And we are here.  Sometimes just getting through the day is a victory worth celebrating, huh?

Sunday morning's news from the academic dean was exactly what we were hoping for - the girls were cleared to attend only in the afternoons ... this is our dreamed of situation.... the academic intensity lessens in the afternoon sessions and we are also exempting ourselves from the home work overload :)  good news for everyone!  

The first day wasn't without hiccups, but for the most part, we'll count it a good one :)  Today went even smoother, and I'm learning to navigate the pick up scenario too.  So very grateful this school is super close to our house, but there's just no easy way to dismiss hundreds (thousands?) of students at the same time!  Yesterday was chaos, today seemed like a comparative breeze.  Plenty of kinks to work out for everybody.  

I feel even better about our home schooling set up.  It's busy busy busy with the little boys underfoot but we are enjoying the material and enjoying one another.  I still have a few ideas of things to add to the current curriculum but we're gonna hold off a month or so and just focus on getting into a good solid groove around here.

It feels good to be in September.  All summer long I've had this feeling - like I could see and talk about all the balls in the air, but wasn't quite sure where they were going to land when they came down :)  And now it feels like they are landing, and with few mishaps along the way.