A quick reminder:
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15-18 September 2016 -
It seems that flying on a holiday can be fun. We flew to Guilin (from Tianjin) on Mid Autumn Festival day on Air China. The plane was decorated and the crew had several games for all the passengers to play. I won this small stuffed toy from one of these games. After the games they went around taking photos on an instant camera. Fun!
We're staying at Yangshuo Village Inn. Check out the huge moon cake the inn had specially made. By the way, Annika LOVES moon cakes.
Steamed chicken with mushrooms and red dates in a bamboo steamer:
Our dishes: egg wrapped dumplings (actually more like miniature omelets), steamed chicken with mushrooms, stir fried pork with vegetables and oyster sauce, eggplant Yangshuo style, and green vegetables with garlic.
One last look at the entry of the hotel:
I love the warm colors, dark wood tones, eclectic paintings, tea set, stone floor and fire place. I think that might be the first fireplace I've seen in China...and it's located in southern China.
26 August 2016 -
It's voting time at IST! Today the elementary students will vote for Elementary Student Council (ESC) officers. Ava is running for the communication officer position.
Here's further evidence that girls rule (literally!). Only girls wanted to run for ESC positions!
All the girls gave excellent and impressive speeches.
And to answer any questions.....yes, Ava was voted communications officer. Actually it was a tie and she shares that position with another girl.
September 2016 -
Annika's grade 8 class is off on another WWW (week without walls) adventure. They're supposed to hike and camp on an old section of the great wall close to Beijing.
She's all packed and ready to go!
Here are a few photos (not taken by me) during the week:
Mimi and Annika are picture perfect models, don't you think? They're getting ready to board the bus and head out on their week long adventure.
Looks like they had a fun time!
July 2016 -
The girls and I flew off to stay with Mark's family in Michigan for the month of July.
It was likely to happen sooner or later...Ava's first eyeglasses. This spring when the school nurse did her routine eye check for all the kids she sent a notice home with Ava suggesting that we take her to see an optometrist. Turns out, Ava does need corrective lenses for one eye. (it's a minor correction but enough to warrant glasses)
June 11-24, 2016
The girls are finished with school for the year and we're off to spend TWO weeks in Austria - visiting Opa and just breathing the clean mountain air. Oh, and perhaps taking in a few sights along the way. :-)
First stop- Munich, Germany.
Whenever you feel like you have something to share, just remember that to your family you can lay your heart bare.
Whenever you feel that life is being unfair, just remember that Mom and Dad will always care.
Whenever you face problems that you can’t bear, just remember that your parents will always be there.
Happy 13th birthday.
10 August 2016
How many candles can we fit on to Annika's lemon meringue birthday pie??? All of them!!!
Mile-high meringue! Woot! Woot! (the drat part of the pie was that fact that it didn't taste very lemon-y, thanks to Chinese lemons that I didn't realize were nearly tasteless. Darn it! At least the meringue made up for the lack of lemon flavor.)
Breakfast of champions! Birthday lemon meringue pie for breakfast. Along with the Spiderman table cloth I brought with me from the US and Avengers napkins. Have you noticed how the girls seem to be enthralled with comic book heroes?
Annika's birthday dinner request...South Beauty. South Beauty is a chain Sichuan restaurant. And it offers loads of tasty dishes. Our favorite dishes include a rib dish, deep fried green beans, and gong bao ji ding (aka kung pao chicken). We do love eating Sichuan food!
Happy birthday to our beautiful, intelligent, creative, and independent Buggy!!!
9 August 2016 -
After having a luxurious couple of summer months it's time to snap back to reality. It's the first day of school!
This is Ava's last year in the elementary school - she's a 5th grader! The 5th graders apparently "rule the school". HA!
Annika is heading off to 8th grade - her last year of middle school.
Ava and Annika. Ava is sporting her short, cute haircut and new glasses. Both girls got to pick out new backpacks this year. Annika chose an old-fashioned style rucksack (I'm sure influenced by "Captain America" movies and comics).
HAPPY FIRST DAY OF SCHOOL!!!
10 August 2016 -
Woot! Woot! Woot!
Thirteen cheers for Annika....she's now a TEENAGER!
We celebrated her birthday with family in Michigan before we returned home to China.
We even had Aunt Karen and Uncle Chuck join us for the birthday celebration! Also celebrating with us: Grandpa, Grandma, Uncle Ray, Aunt Beth, cousins Lily, Gregory, and Henry; Ava and Mark (who flew in to be with us for entire whopping TWO DAYS).
By any chance, have you noticed a theme to this birthday celebration? If not...do you recognize this?
I'll give you a hint: it's supposed to look like Captain America's shield. Who is Captain America? All I know is that he's a Marvel comic book character and he's part of The Avengers. For more detailed and accurate information ask any of the kids who attended this birthday celebration. :-)
Annika showing off one her birthday gifts (The Avengers t-shirt).
Another new development this summer, Annika started proper archery lessons under Grandpa's guidance. They bought her an absolutely beautiful bow (I think it's a 30-lb bow) and she practiced shooting it (with Grandpa standing) nearly every day, sometimes even twice per day. She asked Grandpa if he'd teach her how to shoot with a bow and arrow this summer and she is really enjoying the challenge!
Grandpa (and Grandma) gave Annika this quiver:
PS. A quiver is the portable thing holding all of the arrows. ;-)
Family watching Annika shoot (while holding her new quiver):
And here's Ava! She's sporting her new glasses (her right eye is -1.0 but her left eye is still 0.0), a cute short haircut, and a Spiderman t-shirt (because certain comic book hero movies are ALL the rage in our family)...oh, and I almost forgot...she also has braces:
Annika, the kneeling archer (taken on an earlier day):
Happy Birthday Annika!
Never stop reaching for the stars!
We love you!!!
8 June 2016 -
This time of year brings with it a tremendous mix of emotions from one of the spectrum clear to the other side. I'm both ecstatic for summer to arrive. The kids, teachers, and parents are all ready for the drudgery of school and homework to be done for the year. However, as an expat, we also have to say good bye to droves of families and friends who are either moving on to their next destination or returning to their passport countries. It's tough to say good bye.
As an expat living in a location with constant turnover you have to learn to make friends quickly. So it's tough for someone like me - introvert and shy - to take the initial step of making friends. By the time I finally get brave enough to talk to someone, it's nearly time to say good bye.
Sadly, it also means a time of regret - wishing I'd taken the time to get to know someone, inviting friends into my home, exploring Tianjin, and just enjoying life in Tianjin. I feel a sense of "would've, could've, should've".
I shouldn't be too hard on myself. This year I did volunteer in the library and I also helped with the school musical. I finished a teaching English as a foreign language course. Yay! The certificate is on its way to me! I stepped outside my comfort zone and started exploring Tianjin via the Metro (subway). I hope to do more of that after our return. We also took opportunities this year to visit Vietnam, Thailand, England, and Bali. We enjoyed having our Kiwi friends visit us during our winter break as they were making their way to New Zealand after an expat stint in the USA. We had fun visits and get-togethers with our Chinese friends and their families. Oh! I also attempted a few Chinese watercolor painting sessions. (turns out, I think the art supplies they use for Chinese watercolors are beautiful BUT I don't have much patience to be so precise and careful when it comes to the actual painting. I felt like the poor painting teacher was gritting his teeth every time he saw me painting. LOL!)
I think the girls would say they had a great year...and now we've got a 5th and an 8th grader!!! Hooray!!!!
Have a great summer!