Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Maggie Cam: January

When I used Maggie's camera the other day and needed to download the pictures I took, I realized that she took over 200 pictures last month, many of which I had no idea she had taken. It also made me realize we should have screened the contents before letting her take the camera for show and tell. 
Art Supplies

Monday, January 30, 2012

Chinese Kitchen: Shanghai

During my Chinese New Year Break I decided to take advantage of my time off to use my Christmas gift card for cooking classes. One such was Shanghai cuisine, a rival cuisine to my current hometown of Beijing. Shanghai cooking tends to be sweeter due to their heavier handed sugar use. A recipe that calls for 1/2 tsp of sugar in Beijing will call for 2 tsp in Shanghai. Shanghai food also tends to have milder flavors. They use less garlic and leeks, and opt for the fresher spring onion, and their sauce tends to be rice-, rather than wheat-based.  Click below to read more about my class. 

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Farewell Shooshie

For the last few weeks, we’ve been talking to Kaleia about giving up her “shoosh.” She was ready last spring and the transition would have been easy if life had been semi-normal. But

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Graaaaama and Grumpa! Rush Visit

We received our third vistors this month. Brian's parents, Clive and Carol squeezed in a very quick trip -- 5 days! -- to come see us. We were all really excited to have them here. Click below to read about their visit.
Grandma and Grandpa arriving

Words of the Week: Too Louder and Boong

Too Louder (adjectival phrase): strongly audible beyond what is desirable; having exceptional volume or intensity to an excessive degree. Often used to indicate the sink tap is turned on too strongly because the water is "too louder."

Boong (noun):  a deep, prolonged, resonant sound
A little art therapy to deal with the fireworks that say boong too louder. 
Kaleia, age 2

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Armageddon or The Morning After

I emerge from our shelter knowing we need food. It is the morning after, not Armageddon - though it feels like it. It is Chinese New Year. I hope at least one grocery store is open. It is quiet, eerily quiet. And empty. The cars, people, and bicycles, all usually vying to get ahead, are absent.  Only the red papered litter leaves evidence of the war zone that had been.

Yesterday, Chinese New Year's Eve, the morning air was some of the cleanest we've had with an index at 39. By midnight, it is in the 400's (the cart stops at 500), nearing the worst we've experienced. As I push Kaleia in the stroller to the grocery store, trying not to be too unsettled, I notice that, along with all the people, the air has nearly cleared, but it still has the scent of gun powder. The expensive Western-style store, mostly for expats, is open, and we pick up the bare necessities. As we make our way home, the first few kernels of Day 2 begin to pop. It is only 10 am. Part of me can't help my excitement. But most of me still remembers sharing my bed with two scared toddlers. 14 more days, I sigh, what will it be like?

Monday, January 23, 2012

Xin Nian Kuai Le or Happy (Chinese) New Year

2012 is the Year of the Dragon.

Red decorations -- lanterns, banners of Chinese characters, and diamond-shaped Chinese knots -- begin to adorn every door, street light and window. Shops post signs indicating their modified hours or return date as a new world record for largest human migration is again set. People from all over China return to their hometowns, and Beijing empties.

Here in Northern China there are few of the traditional Chinese New Year celebrations, although the girls' preschool did lots of crafts and cultural lessons around the topic. As part of the school celebration, they hosted a Lion and Dragon Dance. Make sure to click after the picture to see some videos and continue reading.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Words of the Week: Dult and Peter

Dult (noun):  a person who is fully grown, developed, or of age

Kaleia, age 2.5, and Magnolia, almost 4

Peter (noun): an electronic device designed to accept data, perform prescribed operations at high speed, and display the results of these operations.
Kaleia, age 2.5

Monday, January 16, 2012

Chinese Kitchen: Vegetarian

My first day of Chinese New Year vacation I decided to take a day for myself -- my perfect day in Beijing. After enjoying getting Magnolia and Kaleia off to school, I spent an enjoyable hour connecting with my parents on skype. Then I headed to Starbucks for my favorite drink, a Black Tea Latte (the closest I can get to a Chai) and honey raisin muffin. I followed that up with a blissful 2 hour massage at a classy spa near us that gives teachers two hours for the price of one on Mondays -- one perk of my Tsinghua teacher id. 

Fully relaxed, I headed to what I thought was going to be my much anticipated Winter Comfort Foods cooking class at the Hutong. But I had done it again. My class wasn't until tomorrow. I realized this while waiting for the subway when I received a call saying it would be cancelled, again. I was the only one signed up. But I was welcome to come to today's call instead: Vegetarian. Since I was almost there, and I can hardly stomach the smell of the meat section and the sight of full carcasses hanging, I decided to give it a try. I'm so glad I did. It has been my favorite class so far. Click below to see why. 

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Maggie Cam: Blake's visit

We're a little lonely for old friends here in Beijing, so we were very excited when Blake told us he was coming for a visit.  Brian asked the girls several times to "guess how many days till Blake comes!," before he realized most people were counting down till Christmas, which was a day earlier. 

We did a little sight-seeing and Blake, who lived in China several years ago, introduced us to some new  delicious Chinese dishes. After staying with us, he did some more traveling with a friend within China, then returned for a few days. We had our hands full with the girls most of the time. Pretty much our only pictures from his visit are Maggie's. You can read more about his visit and travels in China at his blog. Maybe he'll share some pictures soon too. Click below to see the whole post. 
Blake is here!

Saturday, January 14, 2012

The Little Things: Augmented Horticulture, Part 3

The timing of Spring Festival, another name for Chinese New Year, is based on the lunar calendar. This year it happens to be really early, so Beijing does not yet look like spring but this is no problem for the Chinese are experts in transforming their plant life into convenient and consistent synthetic beauties.

This time hot glue was used to apply the "appropriate" blossoms. 
These trees in our courtyard haven't received a second glance despite their bright pink blossoms.  That is, until Brian started taking pictures for me. This lady stopped to join him, then a few minutes later, a man saw her and snapped some for himself. We can only wonder what they were thinking. Do they think it's as silly as we do?  Do they think it's genuinely beautiful?  Or are they taking a picture to share with their friends, saying "Some foreigner was taking a picture of these stupid trees.  Weirdo."

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Future Costume Designer?

Magnolia loves the movie Rio. After watching the movie recently, she started rumaging through her clothes. 

Finding this snap-up dress with long sleeves, she ran into the kitchen to ask me to tie it so she'd have a parrot tail. She tried to describe just what she wanted. It took me a couple of tries. Then she left to find tight shorts. Not finding any in her closet, she decided that if she repurposed her shirt, the arms would make tight shorts. Click below to see pictures.

She was going for this. Not a bad start, eh?

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Clara's Birthday Party

Magnolia's friend Clara turned 4 this week and invited Magnolia to her birthday party. Clara is one of Magnolia's closest friends. Usually. I'm surprised how young the girl drama begins. The day they became friends Magnolia told me, "Clara said that I am pretty and now we are friends. We held hands on the playground." Since then, they've been on again, off again. Maggie will come home and say that Clara said something mean so they are not friends anymore. I figure that some of those times it was Maggie's bossy tendency that led to the rift when Clara wouldn't go along with her plans. Clara's mom shared at the party that Magnolia taught Clara to write her name. Clara is a bit competitive and needed to be able to do what Magnolia can do. Magnolia has to have a Hello Kitty cake, with pink frosting and strawberry ears, just like Clara did. Maggie doesn't even like Hello Kitty. Oy vey. 

Thursday, January 5, 2012

The Real Question

What was this post going to be about?

During this vacation, I've been going through my old drafts finishing them or deleting them. I came upon this one from November 5, 2008.  There was no text, only a title.  I am guessing whatever it was going to be about was trumped when we were surprised to find out we were pregnant with Kaleia.

So here's your chance! Write your version of what the real question is either on your own blog and link to it in the comments or just put your post in the comments if you don't have a blog.

Check out some other posts I was able to finish. I kept their original dates for "scrapbooking" purposes, our primary reason for this blog.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

A Year in Unpublished Pictures - 2011: Part 3

Part 3 brings us to Beijing, China, where we are now. This season was probably packed with more fiascos than any other time of my life.  
July in China:
We flew to China on our 9th anniversary. Magnolia did pretty well but Kaleia struggled and therefore Mama was a wreck by the end of the 11 hour flight. We were met at the airport and dropped off at the school dormitory in the middle of the night with little direction. The next few weeks we found ourselves on a steep learning curve while we settled into an apartment and Shannon started the school year. There was much culture shock, especially on the part of Shannon. The girls got used to celebrity status. Brian realized just how tough it was going to be to set up an office in China. Make sure to click read more. 
Magnolia pretending to sleep with her new neck pillow.
Brian getting to know our new, and now good, friend Park. 

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

A Year in Unpublished Pictures - 2011: Part 2

Part 2 saw us in 5 different living locations, 4 flights, 3 states, 1 wedding, and 1 graduation. There was much rejoicing and much turmoil. Here you will see more of the rejoicing. If you want to read about the turmoil, check out the post: Not the way I thought it would be.

July in California: 
We flew to California the day before Kaleia's 2nd birthday to take advantage of one last free flight. We joined Brian at Azusa Pacific University for his graduate exhibition and graduation. Nana flew with us, and Grandpa Gracey and Grandma and Grandpa Rush joined us later in the week. We managed to fit in birthday celebrations for Kaleia and Brian in the midst of frantic art show preparations. Make sure to click read more. 

Breakfast at SeaTac airport, on our way to join Brian in California. This is one of Maggie's favorite pictures. 

Monday, January 2, 2012

A Year in Unpublished Pictures - 2011: Part 1

2011 was filled with many Rushcapades. Much is missing from our blog archive - like all of May through August. So this year's unpublished picture list grew to more than just the one or two per month I like to keep it to. I decided we needed a three part installment. Part 1 - The Lead Up. Part 2 - Travels, or Insanity. Part 3 - Intro to China. There are many more pictures on our flickr site if you are interested. Hope you enjoy! Make sure to click Read More to see the whole post.

Sisters love each other. 
Brian goes to California for his last Jan term and begins the final stretch to graduation. 
Shannon has her first skype interviews for international school jobs.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Here's to a Happy 2012!

Our friend, Blake was visiting us, but flying out New Year's Day. So he offered to man the fort while Brian and I rang in 2012 without kids. This would be our third time out alone since we arrived in August. Even though we were heading out at 11 pm, we were still excited. 

We grabbed a taxi and headed to Sanlitun Village, a more Western area near us with lots of restaurants. LOTS of other people must have had the same idea. Our taxi crawled. Eventually, we paid the driver and walked the rest of the way.