Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Art Show

So I realized today, that not only had I not blogged in a long while, I had completely forgotten that I had a blog! That's pregnancy brain for you...

Today was the school's Middle School and High School Fine Arts Show, and it is really nice to have it behind me! Actually, it was a great, but busy day, and I had not one, but two pieces of cheesecake! (Cheesecake, especially good cheesecake is particularly rare here.) That alone makes for a good day.

In all seriousness, it was fantastic to have examples of all of my students' work out all together. It gave a nice sense of accomplishment, and the other students were so impressed they told me they're planning on taking art next semester! I took my camera to school, but completely forgot to take even a single picture! (Again, I blame the pregnancy brain.) However, my middle school photojournalism students were assigned to "document" the event, so if I get any good pictures out of them I'll do my best to post them.

On another note, this weekend we are taking Jillian to Xi'an to see the Terracotta soldiers. I'm excited to go on one last trip before she leaves, and of course to stay in a western hotel again! Ah, to have a bath tub...and a soft bed...what more does a pregnant woman want in the world?

Hard to believe there's only three and half more weeks of school before we head home to AMERICA! Hurray! Sorry, Texas friends, for this 10 day trip we'll only be able to make it to Oregon. But we promise to be back this summer! Hope to see you all then.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Baby Bump

From Pregnancy

From Pregnancy

So I finally have a real baby bump! Of course to me my body has felt different for ages, but last week I wore an outfit that happened to highlight the bump and nobody can deny it from these pics. Most days I can still hide it pretty well depending on what I wear (you can see from the pictures how much even angles make a difference), but I'm definitely growing out of most of my clothes! Especially my pants. I can't wait to get back to the US for Christmas to buy some "in between" outfits.

My old work blessed me with quite a few items of maternity clothes when my sister came over in early October, but I think it will be awhile before I fit into either of the pants. And unfortunately almost everyone here has had a summer or fall baby, so no one has winter clothes to lend. I did get a wool skirt tailor made which turned out really well, but is a little big so will be awhile before I can wear it too. However, I was really impressed with it so I can't wait to go back and get some more clothes made! I also want to get a good winter maternity jacket made. The cool thing is that it is so much cheaper here to have it made than to buy it in the States! My skirt came out to about 15 USD, and I looked at equivalent ones for more than 50-100 USD online! Definitely a benefit of living outside the States.

A downside is that Chinese pregnancy clothes look a lot like US pregnancy clothes from the 80's. You know, overalls, huge overshirts, and baggy pants. So I haven't been able to find anything in the stores that I like. Actually, I haven't found any maternity shops since I've been pregnant at all...oh well.

By the way, we now have our tickets and we'll be back in Portland on December 22! Can't wait to see anyone who is around!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

An Update

I thought once I was able to announce our pregnancy, I would have abounding material to write posts on. Instead I've been too exhausted to do anything but occasionally keep up on my friends' blogs! But I did want to give an update...

This Saturday we are 12 weeks! I can't believe the time has already passed so quickly. Most times I feel as though I've gotten off pretty easy this first trimester, but it has definitely been hard. Working full time is exhausting...I feel as though I sleep whenever I am not at school, and most of my days go bye in a fog. I'm waiting for that mystical "burst of energy" people talk about in second trimester, but we'll see.

The morning sickness hasn't been too miserable. Really I've had two rough weeks as far as stomach goes, general heartburn, and a lot of just feeling blah the rest of the time. But I haven't thrown up once, which is a blessing!

We've had one doctor appointment, which Nathan posted the sonogram on his blog. Don't get too excited, it doesn't look like much in the picture! But everything was healthy, we could see and hear the heartbeat, and we were even a few days farther along than I thought we were. It was exciting to see an actual living thing inside of me!

Here are a few pics. I know it's cheesy, but I hope to do the customary pregnancy "flip book". Here's installments one and two:

About 5 weeks:

And last week at 11:

From Pregnant

I have to say, last week at school a parent commented that my belly was visible. It was pretty exciting for someone other than Nathan and me to notice!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

6 Weeks And...

So, I was going to make a post, but my husband's post says it all. Check here for the big news :-)

Needless to say, we are very excited :-)

Monday, September 14, 2009

Mid-Term Reports

So I'm proud of myself. Not for getting up early this morning and doing an hour of grading before school (and then promptly leaving it at home-how frustrating!), but for actually getting in an average of six grades per class by the first mid-quarter report. Now you may say, what big feat is that? Well, with 8 classes, totally with 120 students, that's a lot of grades! Roughly 720 items worth of grading. In four weeks. And most of it done in the last week (not the assigning, but the grading, that is-I tend to get behind). Last year I think I was lucky to have 2-3 grades per class by this time. But the hard thing with that was that if a student bombed one thing, their grade plummeted. This year I'm trying to break things down into smaller parts, which helps their grades, but totally eats my time!

However, I have matured as a teacher. I now have rubrics, lesson plans, and even course outlines! (Almost) no more deciding day of what I am teaching. Adjustments always have to be made, but hey, we're talking vast improvement.

This is good, because this year I'm teaching even more classes than my crazier than ever schedule I had last year. I'm also taking an extra 1/2 hour of Chinese a week, will soon be teaching a sex-ed seminar at a local school, and have a cousin to take care of (luckily she takes care of herself pretty well). But I'm holding on. By the skin of my teeth, but it still counts.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Not Much To Blog About

These last few weeks have been pretty quiet. Nathan has been horribly ill for the last two weeks, but is finally feeling better (when the antibiotics aren't making him feel worse). Things with Jillian are great. She seems to be doing well making friends with her peers and has balanced homework, time with us, and everything else pretty well. I'm still going crazy with all of my classes (I have 6 preps-if there are any teachers out there who know what that means), and mid-quarters are due on Monday, so it's going to be an exciting weekend of grading, entering grades, and more grading (followed by more entering of grades).

Our good friends Jacquelyn and Jeremy just had a death in the family, so they are currently on a plane back to the states. Our hearts are with them and their family and we will definitely miss them over the next month.

Other than that, life is just cruising by. We have Fall Camp next week. I'll be on the High School Girls Camp leading art workshops and Nathan will be attending the Middle School camp to the wonderful beach city we went to last year. Then the week after that we have a week off school-and my sister is coming to visit! Yay! So so so excited about that.

Hope you all are well and life is going great!

Friday, August 28, 2009

So Much to Blog About, So Little Time...

Things have been busy here the past few months, and blog worthy subjects have been adding up. So...I thought I'd take a few minutes and catch up a few from the past week.

Yesterday was my birthday, but rather than celebrate it I got to be at work from 7:00 AM to 9:30 was our Back to School Open House Night. That's okay though, because I love social events and actually enjoy meeting my students' parents. (I know, I know, what a nerd am I!) My students were very sweet all day and I got many birthday wishes and even some flowers from a parent!

From August

And my wonderful, absolutely amazing husband surprised me with a brand new digital camera! It is so awesome! I love love love it. Thank you Darling!

From August

My chinese learning has slowed down since I haven't had lessons in so long, but I was still able to have a whole conversation with our helper on Wednesday. I had been wanting to ask her to buy, wash, and cut up some fruit for us to eat at school. Since we have to really wash our fruit well and always work, we almost never have time to prepare fruit to eat even though we really like it. Well, she asked me what kinds of fruit we liked, and I listed the ones that I know the names of in Chinese. I'm not sure what all I said, but this is what we came home to today:

From August

In case you can't tell, that's five containers of fruit. Watermelon, grapes, apples, peaches, and something else. There's also mangos and more peaches in the drawer. Oh, and we'd already eaten a bowl of pears at the time of this photo. Oh, my! We may have some translation issues.

Today was Color Day at school. Every student and staff is put in a "House" when they come to our school (essentially lifelong teams) that compete every year in various competitions. We are in the green house (I know, our name is Greene, why do you think they put us on that team?) and for color day you're supposed to wear as much of your color as possible. The elementary principal may have gone too far... :-) I just had to take a picture (with my BRAND NEW CAMERA!). I think he's actually glowing.

From August

The teams take things quite seriously, and pranks went on all day. Here is a photo of one our team pulled. The sign behind it previously said "Welcome to QMIS"

From August

The building I work in was remodeled over the summer, and my classroom is now awesome. I love it so much and one day will have pictures of it for you. The newest improvement to our building though was completed just yesterday--a brand new Fine Arts Macintosh Lab! Ahhh!!! It's so pretty...I am now able to teach Photojournalism and Art and Technology without having to fight MUN for lab space. Yay! And the screens are so big it gives me a headache to look at them!

From August

From August

From August

Thursday, August 20, 2009

We've become parents! (of a teenager)

Tuesday night (late!) Jillian arrived! Yay! For those of you who don't know, Nathan's cousin Jillian is living with us for a semester as an exchange student and is attending our school! It is so much fun to have her here, and we are excited about having family with us.

Jillian arrived at 10:00 PM, and by the time she got luggage, take-out KFC, and the driver took us home, it was well after 11:00PM. I think we crawled in bed sometime after midnight. Jillian was a trooper and still got up at 6:00 AM to head off to school! We didn't stick her in class, but we got to take her around and introduce her, get her schedule, and show her the school.

It will be different having a teenager in the house. Poor Nathan has to share his one bathroom with two girls now. We also currently only have one set of keys. But we're all flexible and so far things are going great. It's going to be a great semester for all of us. :-)

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Missing Friends

So, a friend got married last week. Or at least I think it was last week. Pictures were just posted online in the last couple days. Since moving to China, it's so easy to let friends slip away. The time difference makes it nearly impossible to call home, and who really writes letters anymore?

I guess that's why I've become so addicted to facebook. Every chance I get I pore over my friends pictures and notes. Each picture is a glimpse into their current lives, and a sweet reminder of what used to be. I cry over the baby pics and smile at the birthday parties, try to guess how old their kids must be these days, and wonder how they're really doing. And in a small way, it gives me the chance to be a little, albeit very little, part of their lives.

This current wedding was a friend of ours from college. I knew he was engaged, had been for awhile, but it was exciting to see the awaited event had occurred. What saddened me, or at least was emphasized through the pictures, was that we were the only ones from our group not in attendance. Even our friend who had moved at least five states away was part of the event, and I know it must have been a wonderful time for all of them to see each other again. How much I wish I could see them all again, even just for one night. I might even let them talk me into playing smash brothers with them! :-)

Most of the time I love living overseas. Times like these,'s hard. Very hard.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Back to School

Today was the first day back to work. It's so hard to believe the summer is actually over. Where did it go? Oh, that's right. We visited four different cities (one of them twice), had my parents visit, had Nathan's friend visit, and moved. Not to mention four weeks of intensive Chinese. :-)

I came home from work today on the early bus today, and yet I'm so exhausted tonight it's all I can do to stay awake until a reasonable time to go to bed. We've had a terrible time getting our bodies back on an early schedule (once school starts we'll be getting up at 5:30 every morning), which is probably part of the reason I'm so tired. The other reason is that I've had a head cold for the past week and a half and I can't seem to quite get over it. Tonight has been the first I've been able to swallow without wincing.

I guess it's not unexpected then that I'm having a hard time getting excited for the school year to start. Not to mention, I'm already finding out that I'm teaching a larger load than I was expecting. At least one more prep than last year, and they're thinking about adding another. Who knew that teaching Sex Ed makes you a candidate for teaching MS health?

On the other hand though, my classroom looks fantastic! I am so excited about it. Over the summer the school completely remodeled it. I now have cabinets on two walls of my classroom, an entire cork board wall, a fresh coat of paint, colorful blinds, and two sinks directly in my room (two new ones next door too!) Hurray!

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Welcome Home!

Today Jacquelyn and Lucas were discharged from the hospital. To welcome them "home" (or rather, to the house we're staying at this week in Beijing), Anna and I decided to bake them a cake.

Simple, enough, right?

Here's about how the next hour went. True thought process.

I brought a gluten free chocolate cake mix with me from Qingdao, I bet we can make that. Hm...I forgot to check the other ingredients this cake mix needed--guess we'll have to do without lemon juice and vanilla. Hm, don't think we need the whole cake, and these mixes are a bit expensive, so we'll just make a half batch. Ooh, wait, we don't have measuring cups. Guess we'll just have to guess about half. That looks about right. Oops, we don't have butter either. Oh, well we have oil. Just add a little less oil than it calls for butter. Oh, wait, we do have butter. Oh, well. Too late. No beater, so I'll just have Anna stir it for a REALLY long time. Keep stirring Anna! I'm still washing the dishes. Okay, ready to put it in. Wait, forgot to start the oven. How many degrees Celsius is 350 degrees Fahrenheit? Quick, look that up on line. Okay, about 175 Celsius. Wait, I don't have a pan. Hm, this is a real problem. (Sorting through kitchen) Ah ha! Maybe this will work. Sure, it's really for a toaster oven. And it's only about five inches by eight, by one. Guess we'll have to make two small cakes. Here we go. That looks about enough for the first one. Man, the oven is taking forever to heat up! Maybe this indicator light doesn't really work. It's been about a half hour, should be long enough. Here we go. Hm, how long does a five inch by eight inch by one inch take to cook? We'll just see how it goes.

(15 Minutes later)

Well, that doesn't look exactly right, but hopefully it's tasty! Welcome home didi!

From Lucas Carman

I'm not sure where the weird bumps and holes came from. Maybe from the lack of lemon juice and vanilla or "approximate" proportions, maybe from the wrong temperature, maybe from the use of oil instead of butter, could be the funny pan, or even the cooking length! Oh, well, it's the thought that counts. And, by the way, it was quite tasty. Even Jeremy said so, and he's not used to gluten free foods!

Friday, July 31, 2009

Best 3 Year Old Ever

From Lucas Carman

So after my 23 hours home in Qingdao, my very pregnant friend Jacquelyn, her daughter, and I headed up to Beijing to wait for their current baby to decide to enter this world. The "fast" train is still over six hours (plus taxis on both ends to actually connect you from house to house), so her Beijing doctor wanted her here in plenty of time in case little Carman baby decided to make an early appearance. Jacquelyn was due on August 13th, so we figured two and a half weeks was plenty of time! How surprised were we, after arriving at 11:00 PM, that her water would break a mere 2 1/2 hours later!

Lucas Raymond Morton Carman still took another 31 hours to be born, which gave his daddy plenty of time to high tail it up from Qingdao to assist the birth. If you are friends of Jacquelyn you can read about the birth story on her facebook account. But my story was a little different.

The whole point of me coming up was to keep Jacquelyn company and to help care for their daughter, Anna Mae, until Jeremy was able to join her later. We were fully not expecting little Lucas to come until I had returned to Qingdao and her sister had come from the States. I was planning on getting in plenty of Beijing shopping over the ten days I was able to be here, and a lot of good eats too! Well, though my plans have been vastly different, having the baby while I was here turned out to be great. I've had 24 hour a day Anna duty, giving Jeremy the ability to stay with Jacquelyn at the hospital the entire time, and Anna and I go up to visit every day.

While I am ecstatic to finally meet little Lucas, I just have to say, I love this little girl! She is amazing, and has the best parents who have raised her to be an awesome little girl.

I am so thankful that Anna and I have become such great friends over the last year, because this week has been great. While at times noticeably missing her parents a little, Anna has been wonderful about having me as nanny for the week. We've shopped together, played at the park together nearly every day, cooked lunch and breakfast together, even washed dishes together! Each afternoon we take a taxi and a subway to go see mommy and daddy and didi (chinese for little brother) at the hospital, and every evening we come home, get ready for bed together, read some stories, and say bedtime prayers for mommy and daddy and didi.

Yesterday we were talking about her new little brother, and I said, "Now you have two boys and two girls in your family! Two of each!" She scrunched up her face, thought for a second, and said, "no, three girls and two boys." I asked, "Who are the three girls?" She said, "um, Mommy, and Anna, and Mrs. Greene." Later I asked, "Do you have four people in your family or five?" and she replied four, so I'm not sure exactly where she thinks I fit in, but the sentiment was sweet non-the-less. So many hugs and kisses and snuggly book time makes parenting seem like a breeze! Though I have been amazingly surprised at how little "other" things I get done (like work, ha ha).

Well, as I love new babies, and this one in particular, I've put up a few pictures of the trip :-) Hope you enjoy them. Congrats Carmans! We are so excited for you!

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Back from the Dead

So...has it really been nearly two months since I last posted? Whenever I go for so long without doing something I know I should do, I always wonder if it would just be easier to let a good thing die (hoping nobody notices my defeat), or resurrect it and publicly admit my inability to do everything (I know, I know, what a shocker).

Here are somethings we have done in the past two months. As it's late and I'm headed out of town yet again tomorrow, these are just quick summaries. I'll try to plan a blog post with pictures for each one in the near future.

June 5-July 3 we had intensive Chinese classes. I completed nine out of ten chapters of book two, and added a few more characters to my memory, so my chinese is progressing! It's fun to actually be able to talk with people, but I'm getting to the point where I want to talk about more than what country I'm from and what I do in China.

My parents and younger sister arrived on June 27th, I think. We showed them around Qingdao in the afternoons after our Chinese classes for the first week, then we headed off on our big adventure, led by tour guide Ruth Greene! There's a reason why you hire professionals to organize these things. But I didn't lose anyone in russia or anything, so I think it went okay. We spent two days in Qufu (Confucius's hometown), a day and a half in Xi'an (home of the terracotta solders-awesome!), and three days in Beijing. We traveled by train, plane, taxi, tour bus, and our feet, so it was quite complex! The family arrived back safely in the US on July 13th.

We were back in Qingdao for about five days. During this time, we found out nothing had been done to the apartment we were supposed to move into, but that we would be moving regardless (in 1 1/2 days), so we hurriedly packed up, movers came at 7 AM friday, and we were moved in (at least the boxes were) by 12:00. Nathan ran off to pick up his friend who was visiting us from Austin from the train station, meanwhile talking to his cousin via skype in Oregon about her impending trip over here (she will be living with us this fall semester to attend our school as an exchange student-more on that later), and my Ayi graciously stayed way past her usual hours to help me get the kitchen unpacked.

We spent the weekend showing John around Qingdao, visited the Tsingtao Beer Museum (fascinating history of Qingdao!), the Olympic sailing center, and even went sailing for an afternoon! Then Monday John headed off to Shanghai to watch the eclipse, and we headed off to Henan to teach English for the week.

We spent the week in Henan teaching English, a great experience! We made two new amazing Chinese friends and really got to feel more of the Chinese culture than we do in Qingdao or in tourist cities :-) We visited the Shao Lin Temple (birthplace of Kung fu), saw some amazing countryside, and had lots of great massages (for cheap!) We definitely hope to head back there again someday. So much we didn't get to do.

We arrived home today by sleeper train at around 2:00 PM. I head off tomorrow with my friend Jacquelyn to Beijing. She is having a baby in just a few weeks (hurray!) and I am going to keep her company and help her watch her amazing daughter Anna. Jeremy will be joining us when the due date is a little closer or Baby Carman decides to make their entrance! (hopefully before August 5th as I have to be back to work that day). What an amazing summer it has been. Pictures and more details to follow. :-)

Friday, June 5, 2009


Today was the last day of school. I've anticipated this day with much trepidation. While I have been completely exhausted by this semester, the end of the school year means much more than summer break. It means a lot of good-byes.

Growing up in the US, I remember every year being a little sad that a friend or two was moving away. Today we said good-bye to 65 students, nearly 20 percent of our school population. We also said good-bye to eight wonderful teachers and several of their family members. People we've laughed with, cried with, and slaved with. :-) People we've come to love in such a short space of time, and yet feel as though we've known them forever. 10 months is not enough time. We've also said a short-time good-bye to another 70% of our staff as most of them will be headed to their home countries for the summer or working on their masters in Beijing. It's going to be awfully quiet around here the next few months.

So as I awoke this morning to a chilly breeze and a threatening storm, I wondered if others felt the twists in their stomachs like mine. Remembering my own last days of school, I felt as though I should feel happy, relieved, enjoying the complete a (fairly) successful school year. I thought that when I entered the campus, I would catch the excited nerves of hundreds of students ready for a few months of rest. Instead, a quiet undertone seemed to haunt the school. And to rolling thunder, students said tearful good-byes to loved friends they may never see again.

As students were exiting the school, I sat in the lobby watching them leave, saying a few last good-byes and trying to return many abandoned art projects from my classroom to their owners. For forty minutes a small group of 7th and 8th grade girls clung to each other in front of me and cried. They started crying yesterday at our good-bye ceremony, and I'm not sure they ever stopped. Some cried openly, others hid their faces as tears would not stop. My heart broke for them, aching to say something to make it all better. And yet there was nothing to say. Nothing to make it seem alright.

Among the good-byes, I signed several yearbooks. One of a student who just joined our school halfway through fall semester. He and his family came with a four year contract, settled into our school, and prepared to spend the next few years with those around them. Unfortunately, through a turn of events they are headed back to the States after just eight months here in Qingdao. The news of him leaving shocked everyone when it broke two months ago. Here was a kid with wonderful talent, eager to learn, confident with those around him, and a dream student. Someone I had laughed with too many times to count and dreamed with about how to build our art program at the school. One of those rare students that inspires a teacher to be the best that they can be, and makes their fellow students strive to be better. I struggled with what to write. What should my final words to him be? Finally, I realized the truth. No matter how short the time, I have been blessed to have met him, to have taught him for nearly a school year. I hope in the future I may meet his family again, but no matter what, I will remember the good times we laughed together.

Because life is short, and we never know how long we're going to get to spend with someone. This is only exemplified in an international school. Sometimes we get months of notice, sometimes a week, sometimes, a day. With homes all over the world, it is likely we will never meet again. But we are blessed with the time we are given, and that is what we should remember.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

So I'm bugged. As hard as it already is to keep up with people back home, blogger has now been blocked. I will do my best to still put up the occasional post, but if you find my posts even fewer and farther between, now you know why.

Tonight is the last night of our Middle School play. It has actually turned out to be pretty great! The audiences seem to love it, and it's fun to see the kids so excited. But boy am I exhausted. This is one play I will not be sad to have over! Bug Nathan for a video-we're hoping he'll get one done so we can share this fun and light play with those back home. The cast and crew has really worked hard to put it all together and they've done a great job!

Thursday, May 7, 2009

So much to do...

It's amazing how many things I would love to blog about and never have the time. Like my student that is amazing at art (she's been accepted to all but one of the top art schools in the USA) and can carry on three conversations at once-in three different languages! Or about learning characters--and how incredibly interesting if not so amazingly difficult it is. Or about the wonderful weather and pink spring blossoms we're having right now. Or about funny mishaps, like accidentally telling a chinese couple a fellow teacher was my husband--that's what I get for trying to speak completely in Chinese! However, it seems to always be a war between sleep and blogging...and the sleep option has a better offense.

Next week is our Middle School play, and we're all very excited about it! I wish I could say that it's all coming together beautifully...unfortunately not so. Things a progressing a mite slowly for my tastes, but I think it's still going to be awesome. The kids are really working hard, and we have some great musical numbers--not to mention our amazing sets! Believe it or not I've been wallpaper and sponge painting for the past several days! Our set includes two houses and a real car so it's really quite neat. However, my job from here on out only gets harder. As the lead artist, I am in charge of costumes, backgrounds, make-up, and hair. With 50 students (and many double cast) that means more than eighty costumes and hair styles. And we're not just talking a costume change between teacher and dad--we're talking between grandma and punk! I also need to get several mustaches made, a schedule created for costume changes, finish the sets, and purchase last minute costume items.

On the bright side, thanks to advice from a friend, I did nothing but rest last night-and we even went in late to school by a taxi. This means I got 8 1/2 hours of sleep! I can't remember the last time that happened. One more week...

Unfortunately, that's not really true. As soon as the play is over, I begin teaching sex ed, which means I need to review the material, make changes to better fit our students, set up some volunteers for a panel, find volunteers for small groups, and train the male teacher. And after that comes finals! Well, at least I can say only four and a half more weeks of school! Really I'll be sad for the year to end. In an international community, we'll be losing more than just our seniors. Not to mention the many students who will be switching schools due to the economy or college prep, we'll also lose some teachers. But we have many new ones coming, so that's exciting. And my parents are coming this summer, so there's much to look forward to this summer!

Friday, April 24, 2009

Hola Amigos

Last Wednesday we went to Mexico. And I've been so busy I haven't had a chance to blog about it until today!

No, really. We left China and went to Mexico. It was a bizarre experience. Wednesday, around 4:00PM one of our student's parents called us and said, "How would you like to have some real Mexican food...tonight?" Well, of course we do. One of the things I didn't realize when we moved here is that China does not have real Mexican food, or even very good Tex Mex. There is one chain restaurant, located in Beijing, Chengdu, and Shanghai, that has fairly good Tex Mex, but it's hard to tell when you taste fajitas with corn tortillas for the first time in months. Anything tastes good by then! (Peter's Tex Mex is actually one of my favorite restaurants in China, and I go there every chance I get-five times since December!) But real, authentic, habenero spiced, cilantro flavored, pulled pork, diced pepper delicacies are nowhere to be found. Except for the rare occasion of last Wednesday.

So, back to the real story. Wednesday. Our student's parents, friends of ours, had secured several tickets to the Mexican Naval Fiesta aboard their Cuahtemoc Tall Ship, and knew we'd be excited to attend! The invitations included "Tuxes and formal wear required" and was sure to be a great night. We were pumped, although a little nervous about the attire requirement. Nathan doesn't even own a tux, and I had to borrow a dress from a friend. But we showed up dressed to the hilt, as my mother in law would say, only to find out, nobody else in Qingdao owns a tux either. Oh well, the night was great! We were pampered for hours, shown around the ship, invited into the commanding officer's quarters, and had a great time. And it was incredibly strange to be speaking and hearing Spanish for the first time in months! Thank you Senora Wendling! Nathan's Spanish came back quite well...mine not so much. Every time I went to say "mi", it came out "wo", and "gracias" was always "xiexie". But at least that says something for my Chinese language learning! It was a great night. And the food...well, not to brag too much (our friends have ordered that we stop), but it was so good it nearly made us cry. I'm not even exaggerating. Real tears sprung to my eyes.

By the way, the ship was in town for a huge parade of ships that 14 countries besides China took place in. You can read more about the event here:

On an entirely different note, we (and by "we" I mean Nathan) have just about finished up the Fiddler dvd. To get a sneak peak, go to Nathan's blog for the trailer. You can get to it from the link in my bloglist. Tonight we had a private "Previewing" with all of the directors, and it was a blast. Nathan has really done an amazing job on the video. You have to get a copy!

Thursday, April 16, 2009


One thing about being in new places is that you are stretched so much! This is something that has been good for me in my art, I think. One of the responsibilities that I have "volunteered" for this year is publicity for our drama events. This fall that included creating a magazine add, adapting student work to a poster design (more work than it sounds), and then simplifying and adapting that design into t-shirt form. (and also always under last minute deadlines that people forget to tell me about!) For some reason I volunteered for this again! This time, I had essentially two days to develop the magazine/poster design for the middle school play.

I should mention, that before this year, I have never designed a poster before...and that's what I mean by stretching :-)

I have really enjoyed (though at times not so much) these opportunities to develop my design skills and gain experience using GIMP (a free program similar to photoshop--it's awesome!) Our current play was written by our Middle School assistant principal (with significant input from Nathan and our music director), and is set in the 80's. It's a fun, original work about cultural differences and finding out who you really are. As roughly 70% or more of our students are Korean, we have a lot of simultaneous scenes taking place in Korean and in English! It's going to be great!

So, here's the poster. If you're in town, you should come! If not...maybe Nathan will make an amazing video of it!

From My Art

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Happy Easter!

Happy Easter to you from a world away! It was definitely different celebrating in a country without the holiday. There were still hints of Easter around. While shopping Jacquelyn and I saw a lady and daughter with two green chicks-yes, live, and yes, dyed! And there's been an even larger amount of pastel dongxi running around the stores-even more than usual.

We however, are blessed with amazing friends on both sides of the world that made the weekend feel more like home. Our AWESOME friends in Texas, along with my absolutely amazing, best you could ever dream of sister, sent us a wonderful Easter package. Here's a pic of some of the stuff they sent-and that's after I ate a few chocolates and shared some of the candies around. How they managed to fit all of this into one box is incredible. Anyone packing tight should ask Rebekah for advice.

From Easter

In the box, you'll notice they sent an egg dying set. This came quite in handy as our friends the Carmans hosted a fantastic egg decorating party. Turns out, our dyes from Texas were the only ones fresh enough to really work, especially on the brown eggs (white eggs are apparently incredibly hard to find in Qingdao). I guess somethings are not worth stocking up on from the States. I tried to get all fancy with my eggs (hey I have a reputation to live up to as an art teacher!) but unfortunately they didn't turn out so well. Oh, well, there's always next year.

Well, I hope you all are doing well and that you have a fantastic Easter Sunday! Here's a few more pics of our holiday weekend!

Our beautiful city at sunrise Friday morning:
From Easter

From Easter

A really funny shell we found:
From Easter

My amazing husband always with his flute:
From Easter

Coloring eggs-3 and 4 year old style!
From Easter

From Easter

Anna being silly:
From Easter

Sunday afternoon:
From Easter

From Easter

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Spring Break

After the crazy traveling of last week, this week has felt incredibly boring. I hate the feeling of wasting days away, especially my precious vacation days, but it has felt like that this week. Unfortunately, I also have little desire to actually get anything productive done, like lesson plans or grading :-)

I have, however, worked on plans for when my parents come. They're visiting this summer and I'm so excited to show them around, and see places we haven't seen before too!

I've also been working on my Chinese language learning. I'm up to about 230 characters, and I'm working on learning about 10 more. After this I'm going to cool it down and go back to reviewing everything I have learned so far. I'm also on chapter 8 of my 10 chapter Pinyin and Dialogue book, so I hope to finish it before the school year is done.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

April Showers

Wow, it's April already! I can't believe it. The switch of months passed me by as we were out of town for the week. The only notice that I took of it being April was the little pranks our 7th Graders were playing on April 1st.

Every spring, all of the secondary department of our school goes on Spring Trips. Each grade has their own week long trip, 6th grade to 12th, and they are quite exciting! This year we went on the 7th Grade trip, a tour of our province. It was really interesting! As a new staff and new to China I really enjoyed getting to see all of the significant sites around our province. We hope to have pics up soon, but our camera battery died along, with the power converter, so we're just now able to charge it back up to get to the pictures.

Our 7th graders are a particularly great group of kids. It was an awesome week of hanging out, seeing the sites, and getting to know them better. I had two "girl" nights, where I did make-up and hair, and lots of time running around and laughing with them. I also had the opportunity to talk with all of the kids about the five love languages and how they apply to their relationships with friends and family. It was a good week.

Hope to have pictures up soon!

Thursday, March 26, 2009

我的 丈夫 很好

My husband is so smart! Two days ago he bought a Chinese wireless router, and managed to properly install it on our computer--in Chinese! Within an hour, he had it working and my laptop hooked up to it, which means I now have internet on my own computer. Yay!

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

My Little Friend

By the way, at the time of my "close-up" in the video you can hear my little friend Anna saying loudly, "There's misser greene!" She doesn't usually remember how to say misses, so Nathan is Mister Greene and I am Misser Greene :-)

Anna's dad is Jeremy Carman, the white person speaking Chinese at the end :-) His Chinese rocks--I want to be like him!

I'm a star!

Haha, some friends of mine and I were asked to come down to the PSB for some publicity stuff. They're working hard at helping the foreigners that live in China, and wanted to let us know what all they do for us (while being filmed for the news, of course). Anyhow, the first time it was for pics, but I didn't get any copies. This time we made the news! My friend Jeremy, who volunteered that day to be a translator when needed, posted the video on Facebook. If you have Facebook, you should be able to get to it here:

Sorry, I'm not sure how to paste it up myself on this blog, but I'll try and figure it out. Enjoy!


Monday, March 23, 2009

Waste of Make-up Day

***Disclaimer**the below may seem as if I am complaining, or even whining (don't tell Nathan), but in reality I'm laughing at a quite awful day :-)


I once read a cartoon (I don't remember which), where the teenage girl had a terrible day and labeled it a "Waste of Make-up Day". Today certainly felt that way, except, I'd like to call it a "Waste of Wearing High Heals and a Skirt" Day. I spent all this morning creating a new outfit and feeling so good about it, only for the day to go downhill from there...

This week we have SAT Testing (the all grades type, not the get into college type). I thought this would be great as, since I am neither a core subject teacher or a home room teacher, it seemed I would have very few classes, which means little lesson planning. Unfortunately, today was also the day 3rd Quarter Grades were do, and I had about 5 hours of grades to enter before 9:00 AM. Being gone so often has not helped my organization skills.

My delight in having few classes deteriorated when I discovered last week that I was signed up to "proctor relief" for several hours instead. See one of my earlier blogs to find out my opinion on proctoring. Proctor relief is better, but not by much, instead of staring at the kids for hours on end, you sit in the freezing hall and wait for a teacher to need your help in proctoring.

The highlight of the day came when I realized I had not just been double booked, but triple (or even quadruple booked depending on how you count it). As I was looking at the schedule, I realized I was supposed to be at proctor relief at the same time I was supposed to have a 17 min 7th/8th grade art class (don't ask me why it was so short...that's a whole other story). So I get someone to cover the rest of my shift, rush over to my classroom, only to pass several of my 6th graders. "Where are you going?" I ask them. "To your drama class, Mrs. Greene" "but I don't have drama class...I have art!" Quickly, I realize there had been some miscommunication in the schedule about which "elective" was at that time, and I now had not only 20, but 40 students. I decide to hold both of the classes in the auditorium and play some drama games. It's only 17 minutes, right? So we get to the auditorium and find the 7th/8th grade DRAMA students there (not my class). Another 30 students. There was some miscommunication about where they were supposed to be too. So, I figure, what's thirty more? "Okay class, we're going to do some large group activities." Just as I get the class settled, a 7th grade drama student yells, "we're supposed to be in the gym!" Oh, yeah. That's where your teacher is. So they all go rushing out the door, yelling, drama in the gym! Only now the 6th grade drama students now get confused. "Which drama?" "Not your drama! Sit down!" I manage to salvage the last ten minutes and the kids actually have a good time...confused? Me too.

The day went on from there. I then also forgot that I was supposed to teach Nathan's 6th Grade Tech class--we're doing a unit on Art and Technology. Oops. And that I was supposed to lead pilates after school for staff...Another oops. Fried, I went home on the early bus. I wonder what else I forgot to do...

And to top it off, nobody even noticed my, what I thought was, so very cute outfit. Bummer.

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Ramping Up

Just to clarify, my laoshi (teacher) said that three of my characters were drawn incorrectly! Oops...that's what you get for posting your homework on the internet.

This morning I went on a hike with a bunch of staff. It was wonderful to get out of the city, into the little surrounding villages and hike up the mountain. What a long day though! I took the short trip back, and after leaving at 9:00AM, still didn't get home until after 4:00PM, though I did stop at the grocery store for about 30 minutes on the way home. And I was hoping to rest this weekend :-)

This week is the start of the end of the semester, I think. Even though we're not quite into fourth quarter, starting next weekend I have an Art Conference to attend with my students, a women's retreat, a week long trip around our province with our seventh graders, possibly a middle school art conference, the middle school play, and of course finals. And that's without signing up for everything (I promise)! Oh, and another conference I can't go to because I have one the same weekend. If we go incommunicado for a little while, you'll know why!

Friday, February 20, 2009

Too Long

I guess the time comes for all bloggers when you just can't find the time to post anything for weeks on end. The time had come for me to fall. In fact, I began this post two days ago!

But I am back, with a new commitment to finding time...somewhere...

So what have I been doing? Well with the new semester, the school has offered us more Chinese hours, and so I upped my tutor time from two hours to four. This has given me the chance to learn not only vocabulary, but characters as well. See below for the 96 characters I learned in the last three weeks!

From Chinese

Now, really, I had figured things out like yi (1), er (2), and san (3), before from seeing them around, but since this was my first formal introduction to them, I've included them in the list.

I've also started and completed my first painting since being here (outside of the classroom). This was very exciting to me. As sort of an "emotional" painter, everything has to be just right for the paint to start flowing, so this wasn't an easy task. But, this design was requested from me by a friend, so I decided it was time to finally pick up the paint again.

From My Art

My students have also created some pretty fun work lately, so I thought I'd put up a couple pieces. This is my high school Mixed Media class, and they were given construction paper (pre-cut into strips and triangles, but they were free to alter that if they wanted), ink and/or paint, and a piece of paper. Here's what they came up with:

I was really impressed with the design of most of these projects, and how they were able to be so creative and different from each other. It was a fun project.

I've also been going to the English book club that meets near our apartment. This month we are reading Three Cups of Tea , a very interesting book! I recommend it to all, although the ending gets quite political (but how could it not, based on the subject matter?).

Lastly, I am now leading pilates once a week for fellow staff and attending an aerobics class also once a week. Between all of this, the calm of our two weeks off has effectively ended!

Sunday, January 25, 2009


When coming to China, we were told over and over again "everything is so cheap in China!" Well, unfortunately, we have not found that to be so true. I'm not sure if it is because I am a bargain shopper in the States (I rarely spend more than $6-8.00 on a shirt), or what, but many things, especially Western ones, to us are quite expensive.

For example, M&M's are around 4-5 Kuai, which converts to around $0.66. A standard can of Dr. Pepper is probably the highest markup I've found, ringing in around $1.75 (12 Kuai) in Qingdao. We expected this about western treats and delicacies though. However, meat, towels, bikes, and many other semi-necessary items have often taken us by surprise. We were particularly frustrated when it looked as though Nathan would need to pay several thousand kuai for a good bike. Luckily he was able to buy an affordable one second hand from someone we know.

I was pleasantly surprised, therefore, when a couple days ago I went to the market with around 350 Kuai(~$50 US) and walked away with four sweaters, two turtleneck long underwear, a thick jacket, two sets of earmuffs, a pair of gloves, and several snacks, spices, and veggies. And that's even with my foreign face!

What it really boils down to, I've decided, is being willing to look for the good deals. Things that are convenient to us, (where we live, this is often Western things) are often quite marked up. At our local shopping center you'll find clothes ranging from a few hundred to several thousand kuai. Fruits and veggies are often more expensive than in Texas. But when I have the time to go across town to the market, these prices quickly drop down to around 30-50 kuai a sweater, and a negligible amount for fruit, depending on how willing the seller is to bargain with.

What we have been pleasantly surprised with the prices of include services such as taxis, restaurants, hotels, massages, and repairmen. For our anniversary we stayed in a five star hotel for approximately $65 US a night! And luckily, the massage clinic down the road is less than $10 for a 70 minute massage. Ahhh, all the important things in life :-)

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

More Pics...

Here are those pics I promised...

Snow, Chess, and Pollution!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Back to School

Wow, my first post of 2009 and it's already January 14th!

So, what have we been up to the past couple weeks? So much! School has started back up, and I have all new classes. Then last weekend we headed off to Chengdu to chaperon the ISC chess tournament.

Some of you may remember, Chengdu is the closest large city to the epicenter of the huge earthquake last year. Amazingly, most of the city was spared as the shock waves radiated out in an oval shape rather than a circle, thereby nearly completely missing the city as far as damage is concerned! As far as I know, we did not see any evidence of the earthquake in the areas we visited.

What we did see though was pandas! Chengdu has a panda preserve, similar to a zoo but with large, natural areas for the pandas to live in. Enjoy the pictures of these amazing creatures!

Btw, our Chess team did AWESOME. Our HS team took first and second place, the only two places that the tournament recognized. Congrats students!

It also snowed again. A lot! In fact, we almost couldn't make our flight on Friday for the chess tournament. After it started coming down hard around 2:00 PM, they closed the airport. After a few hours it opened back up, and we were only delayed by about 1 hour 40 min. And we had a lot of fun playing in the snow at school :-) Pictures of that coming soon.

Other than all that, nothing major is happening. We have a two week break starting next Thursday for Chinese New Year, and while we could do a bunch of traveling, we're planning to just lay low and get some rest. Who knows, I might even work some and get ahead on my lesson plans!

Miss you all and hope you are well!