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!