Monday, January 28, 2008

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Culture Shock

My father-in-law sent the link to this story about a Chinese teacher on a teacher exchange program. He was assigned to teach in Elberta, Alabama (population 500) for the next two years. A little slice of America for a guy from Shanghai, the 8th largest city in the world with nearly 10 million people (New York City is 13th).

Elberta is near where my in-laws enjoy their retirement. We live in a small New England town of about 10,000 people and three stoplights and WE feel culture shock when driving through Elberta. I can't imagine how this guy feels, but it sounds like a wonderful program and I'm glad to see he's here for this important cultural exchange.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Been meaning to post these pics for a while

Here are pictures of the artwork we purchased in China. We had them framed a few months ago, but still haven't hung them. The two embroidered silk pieces came out beautifully. I really struggled with how to have them framed, but they are really nice.
This one will go in Sophie's room:

Building Blocks and a new tooth!

See these blocks? Sophie LOVES them! My cousin got them for her for Christmas, and she hasn't stopped playing with them since. On the first day she had them, I swear she spent about an hour with them. She likes to see how far up she can stack them. Then she laughs when they fall over. "Bocks!" she calls them.

She is starting to talk like crazy. She'll say "eat" when she's hungry. "All Duhhhh..." when she's done. One day this week, she carried one of EJ's shoes over to me and said "shoe". Very exciting! About 10 days ago, she was very sick and missed school for several days, and boy are we glad to have her smiling face and giggles back!

You might be able to see her new top tooth if you look close enough in the photo above. Just don't stick your finger in her mouth to see it - she's a chomper!

Today, Miss Sophie was WIDE AWAKE at 5:30 AM. There was no turning back. K and I would have liked another hour of sleep. K, by the way, looks like a chipmunk today - he had a little oral surgery on Thursday to clean up a root canal from about 9 months ago. So, given the early start, we decided to get up and clean! Nothing like having your floors mopped by 7 AM, the first load of laundry in, and all the groceries bought before 9. All that's left to do is put the laundry away and vac the floor, which I can't do right now since Sophie has been napping since 10 AM! That's cheating!

Anyway, tonight we are going out to dinner with a gang of friends and leaving the girls with the fabulous Miss J, a teacher from daycare. It will be nice to get out...we haven't had a night out since we returned from China, which is pretty sad. We thought for sure we'd take advantage of built-in babysitters while K's parents were here over the holidays, but time just flew by!

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Yummy Chinese Food!

It's been a crazy week. Sophie has been sick (possible pneumonia?) and just a tad bit needy. K took her to the doctor on Wednesday and they started her on some antibiotics. She seems to be much better now, just NEEDY!!! She also developed this little "habit" over the holiday break of waking in the middle of the night.

Usually, we would hear her fuss a bit, go to her room, rub her back for all of 5 seconds and she was fine. But this was different, she was very awake - standing in the crib, wailing, etc. We tried rocking. She immediately would go back to sleep in our arms and then wail again when we put her in the crib. Then we thought maybe she was hungry, so we'd make her a bottle and about an hour later, she'd go back to sleep.

The last few days, we decided we'd had enough. It was time for tough love. And she has slept through the night the last two nights. She woke up at 12:30 last night and cried a bit, but by the time I could get out of bed and find my slippers, she was quiet again. And when she awoke again at 5:20, K went in to lay her back down and then left. She cried for about 5 minutes, and then slept until 7:15. It was simply glorious to get 8 hours of sleep last night!

Okay, enough about that. All week, I have been thinking about my Chinese recipes I learned last week. Enough so that I went in search of ingredients this week. My first attempt near where I work was a bust - the store had closed. So, on the recommendation of a few people, I went to the Super 88 Market in Malden (there are other Boston area locations). That's right, I drove about 40 minutes to get what I wanted, and it was worth every minute of it.

What a cool store! All kinds of produce, dried mushrooms, sauces, fresh noodles, and a HUGE seafood department complete with live fish. I bought some oyster sauce, fresh lo mein noodles, dumpling wrappers, dried chilis, and some bok choy. I stopped at my regular market on the way home and bought my other groceries. And then I went to work. I pre-cooked the lo mein noodles, chopped up all the veggies, marinated some chicken, and made the pork filling for dumplings.

It was all delicious--the dumplings, the veggie lo mein, and the sesame chicken. But, I reiterate that the dumpling recipe alone was worth the cost of the class for me. I haven't been able to satisfy my craving for the little potstickers since I returned from China. I made about 80 dumplings today. We cooked about a dozen of them for dinner, and then rest will be waiting in my freezer for easy access on weeknights.

The woman who taught the class, Rose Lee, has a cookbook. You can click here to see it on Amazon. It's out of print now, but there are used copies for sale, although they start at $55! I picked up a used copy on another site for much less.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Cooking class

Yesterday, I went to a Chinese cooking class at the home of one of the families we traveled with to China. There were 4 of us there with the instructor. She taught us to make Chinese dumplings, lo mein, spring rolls, spicy chicken with peanuts, shrimp with asparagus, and my favorite, sesame chicken.

I've wanted to learn to make dumplings for a long time - since we returned from China, I haven't been able to get enough of them! I'm happy to report that they aren't nearly as difficult as I expected them to be, so I'm looking forward to making a batch. But first, I'm going to have to find a local Asian market or a make a trip to Chinatown for some supplies.

We will be seeing most of our travelmates in about a month at the annual Chinese New Years party for families who have adopted through our agency. It is a completely insane party at a huge banquet hall. We didn't go last year, but the year before there were almost 1800 people there! Chinese food, a silent auction for the agency's charitable fund, and fantastic entertainment. We can't wait to go this year!

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Thanks for visiting, Grandma and Grandpap!

K's parents visited over the holidays and it was great to have them here! They were a big help with keeping the kids busy (and I do mean BUSY!) over the break. EJ probably pooped them out the most with a barrage of projects and her non-stop chatter!

Sophie enjoyed Grandpap's mustache. She leaned in to give him a smooch, but when I snapped the picture, she abandoned him in favor of playing with the camera. I showed her Pap Pap on the little digital screen, and then she kept leaning in to kiss him there! Very cute.

Luckily, Sophie warmed up to Grandma and Grandpap pretty quickly - within hours - and that was a big help. This week, Sophie started school at a new daycare...the same place where EJ went from age 3 on, and where EJ still goes in the summer and after school two days a week. It's nice to have them both in the same location. The first two days have gone very well!

Hooray...they're gone!

Today was primary day in NH. I'm so glad it's over. Of course, this means that the phone will be uncharacteristally quiet...over the past weekend, we were averaging about 15 calls each day. Heck, tonight a 7:53 (the polls closed at 8), the John Edwards campaign called to make sure I knew it was voting day. They weren't as enthusiastic when I told them I voted for someone else. If it wasn't a candidate calling, it was one of many many pollsters asking who I was voting for.

In the end, the only candidate we saw was Rudy. Mitt Romney paid a visit to the same local coffee shop over the weekend, but we were busy on Saturday. And EJ and I were hoping to see Senator Obama at the local high school on Sunday, but I came down with a horrible cold by Sunday morning, so we skipped.