November Snapshots 2017
November came and went with the blink of an eye. As the month came to an end, the beautiful autumn leaves started to disappear. I wish that they were scattered all over the ground, but most of the time they are raked up before we can enjoy them… or even hit out of the trees, with straw brooms, by the street cleaning crew. The weather was quite beautiful on a number of days, but the days are getting shorter and we miss being able to play outside while we wait for Justin to return home from work. We have, very quickly, moved from cute jackets to thick insulated winter coats. Going out without boats and a scarf is now pretty uncomfortable on many days. Worst of all, our skin seems to be drying out much earlier this year. Our government-controlled heating turn on around the second week of the month, and although ours isn’t as good as the newer buildings, we can definitely feel the warmth.
The biggest change around our home, and all of Qingdao, has been the addition of huge scaffolding structures. Within a few days they swallowed all of the buildings that surround us. Thankfully the work that is being done is not too loud, but it is messy, intrusive and quite extensive. Most of the older buildings in our city are being covered with concrete, a layer of mesh, and thick polystyrene. I have heard two reason for this project: 1.) better heat-insulation for the older buildings, and 2.) Qingdao is undergoing a bit of a “facelift”. We still don’t know, for sure, which is the genuine reason. As usual, no one ever really knows!
When we look out of our windows, it looks like there is snow falling. The sad reality though, is that this “snow” is absolutely awful for the environment. To trim the polystyrene blocks, the workers are sawing them. The result of this is white particles of polystyrene flying everywhere. The poor workmanship has resulted in blobs of concrete slopped all over the walkways, on our balconies, and smeared across the windows.
In order to enter our complex, we have to walk next to these scaffolding structures, and to enter our building, we have to walk UNDER them! The worst part of all, there are very little safety procedures in place. The workers don’t use any harnesses, they toss tools from the upper levels, and they sit outside the complex drinking beer during their breaks 😳
Oh. My. Goodness!
As you can imagine, we CANNOT wait for this mess to be over. Despite the worry that I felt when the construction began, it has been much less “painful” than I thought it would be. There has only been one awkwardly intrusive incident. Since we are on the fifth and sixth floor of our building, we don’t have curtains on our dining room or kitchen. Our lounge leads onto a balcony, which the men have been climbing on. I basically covered all the big windows with sheer curtains (my photography curtains) and have done my best to ignore the fact that there are workers at our every window!
Overall, it hasn’t been very pleasant, but overly private me is DOING OKAY!
Look at all that mess on the ground! Moving into winter is a hard enough time AS IS, and now we have all of this going on. Let’s just say that I have been trying my best to ignore it all and admire any last remaining Autumn trees that I can find!
Meals in November
There have been a number of delicious soups made this month. You probably saw the blog post on our fellowship’s annual Soup Party, where my low carb high fat soup took FIRST PRIZE. There were also a number of “meals on the go”, where Eli and I either stopped in for baozi and tea eggs, or grabbed them to take on our outings. It is too cold to sit at the baozi storefront now, so we sit inside. It is cold, and rather grubby, but man oh man, the baozi and tea eggs are REALLY good!
We only ordered Korean take-out a couple of times this month. In the past we have been known to get Korean one to two times a week, but we have been cutting back lately. For this particular meal though, pictured above, we went all out and ordered three of our favorite meals to share. Grilled pork belly, odang (Korean fish cakes), and rice omelette. Of course, with Korean take-out… comes ALL THE SIDES that we know and love!
My father (aka “Moose”) sits in front of two large computer screens, in his office, so this picture made me giggle. Eli was listening to songs on his iPad, while also practicing his ABC’s on his Leap Frog tablet. As always, Eli is more than happy to play contently for hours. It is chilly now, so he spends more of his time in fleece footie PJs. I have no idea why anyone would dress their kids in anything else – we just LOVE Eli in these jammies! In fact, Justin just ordered him a couple more because the 3T’s no longer fit and he is finally into the size 4. He seems to have gotten a lot taller in the last few months.
Life in China… 😂
What a bright idea guys!
HaiDiLao Birthday Lunch
To celebrate a sweet Renae’s birthday, we met at HaiDiLao for a ladies lunch, with all the kids, during the first week of November. This sichuan-style Chinese spicy soup chain serves steaming broth hotspots that diners fill with meat, vegetables and noodles. HaiDiLao is Beijing-based, but has now opened at least ten new restaurants outside of China
Due to the intense popularity of this restaurant-chain, they offer free massages and manicures to waiting customers. There is an awesome kids room too, and parents are able to watch their little ones from the comfort of their table, via an iPad. Pretty darn impressive!
Upon arrival, the boys were all given a toy truck and the girls a Barbie-type doll. Again, highly impressive!
The kids sat with us for most of the meal, and then went to check out the playroom after they had eaten. It was my little Eli who saw the playroom and couldn’t put it out of his mind! haha.
During our meal, we were entertained by a waiter resembling a rhythmic gymnasts who twirled ribbons of dough into noodles and then plunged them into the bubbling pots of broth on our table. Look at Eli’s face, bottom left of the above image, he was absolutely memorized!
United Hospital Testing
For the first time in eight years, we have pretty decent medical insurance. Thinking that we were covered, and I could enjoy some quality treatment at the newly-built United Family Hospital, I went for some infertility testing. It has been 18 months since I last went for testing, so it seemed like a good time to go double check that nothing was wrong. I also assumed that United would have more extensive tests than the municipal hospital.
Eli went with me, and sweetly held my hand most of the way. I think that he knew that I needed support. Everything went well at the hospital, but we didn’t return for some further testing that they wanted to do… because, well…
When I received the bill, I was SHOCKED at how much they charged for the tests that they ran. OH MY GOSH! We only have to pay 20% of the bill AND I WAS STILL SHOCKED! We are a healthy family, and besides Eli’s birthing costs, we have never spent much on medical expenses. I wanted to avoid the lack of privacy and poor cleanly standards at the municipal hospital, but I don’t think that I can stomach paying bills with that many digits!
Talent Show Bake Sale
During the annual talent show at QISS, I joined some the other PTA moms to sell homemade baked goods. My no-bake oatmeal balls were a huge hit, which was quite the compliment since they were actually no bake cookies that flopped! I simply rolled them into balls and added a little more oatmeal – but everyone loved them.
I thoroughly enjoyed getting to know some of the other mothers, watching the Talent Show, and getting to spend a day at work with Justin. While I helped in the bake sale before the show, and during the interval, Justin kept Eli with him. I can’t believe that in about eight months from now, Eli will in pre-K and possibly attending this school everyday with Justin. Sweet boy sat through the whole show, munching on his snacks while he enjoyed the entertainment on the stage.
This is what happens when Eli and Justin get hold of my phone! Selfie-madness.
Check out the these peculiar Chupa Chup lollipops… BEER pops!
A Family Date Night
On a Sunday afternoon, after church, I did an outdoor family photo shoot downtown. I took a taxi to the park, while Justin ran in the same direction, with Eli sleeping in the stroller. By the time I was done with my shoot, they were sitting in a cozy cafe, waiting patiently for me. Our meeting spot was one of my favorite cafes, Maan Coffee.
Instead of a buzzer, customers are given a cute bear in a colored sweater. You find a table, settle in, and a waiter comes looking for the bear that you were issued when you placed your order. We sat by the huge glass windows, eating, sipping hot drinks, and making travel plans for the winter breaks. So far it seems that we won’t be traveling for both winter break and the Chinese New Year break. Once the coldest temperatures, and the worst of the pollution, tools in… I can’t say for sure we won’t change our minds and want to book a trip for February!
<Just to clarify, we used to have one long break for winter, but our schedule has changed since we joined an international school. We now have a three week break for Christmas, and another two weeks for Chinese New Year. Truthfully, we prefer one long break, but it will be nice to finally have Christmas and New Years off.>
It has been a good month, filled with lots of amazing downtime. Eli and I have enjoyed many quiet mornings at my bedroom window. We have also down several autumn-walks around our neighborhood. If you missed most of our posts this month, be sure to check them out in the drop down menu located in the side bar. There were a number of New Zealand and South African travel stories too!
Onto December we go. How is there only one month of 2017 left???
We are looking forward to everything Christmas-related, and of course, to our trip to Palawan.
December is going to be an AMAZING MONTH!