Year in review: our broader life


January:  delivery of some of the hundreds of footie pajamas we transported from generous donors in the US.


February: I love the red associated with Chinese New Year!


March:  3 wheeled cart transporting a sign


April: early morning run in Shanghaiimg_2557

May: Our occupational therapist visitor has a message from KFC “It’s not that bad” as we embark on an outreach to children with autism; we begin our English class outreach to minority children.

June: We tried to to go North Korea, but the door was closed and the boat was leaky, so we had to be satisfied with the view across the river.

July: our local dancing grannies, puppies on a ride, and two fathers helping their children during the talent show at the weekend camp for kids with disabilities.

August: Reindeer wedding.  Enough said.


September:  Chinese history and culture–Big Z’s favorite page in his brother’s 3rd grade reader.  This scene is from a story about a teacher who sacrifice his life so that his students could have books during wartime. We also had another visit from an expert in children with cerebral palsy giving pointers on positioning.



October: dried vegetables hang everywhere in anticipation of a long winter. Plus, it’s time for a cut and shave.



November: Thanksgiving came to the minority neighborhood as an awesome group of volunteers put on a feast and entertainment.


December: Foster parents, their kids and friends watching talent show performances of fellow foster kids. Plus, even on a blustery Christmas Day, it’s never too cold for a cut and shave.





Year in review: family version

Year in review: family version

January:  I’m going to cheat and add in two very important moments from December of 2015-saying goodbye to our moms/grandmas before departing to China for another long time.  That is one of the toughest moments for me.

We returned and visited Z’s orphanage before the Chinese New Year because they all wanted to see how he had done after his big heart surgery.  Some tears were shed.  On a side note, the little sweetie in the background passed away from his heart condition later in the year.

February:  Feburary 29th ought to be memorable in some way, so we joined our neighbors in donning our swimsuits and heading out into subzero conditions for a few minutes.  Our neighbors of course, thought we were as crazy as usual.  Chinese New Year was a highlight, as usual with a pizza-and taco-deep fried dumpling feast as we enjoyed the fireworks.

March:  We went back to school for the spring semester, including Z’s first experience with preschool.  The other picture is kids packing the elevator for our Easter egg hunt in the courtyard.

April: Our newest family member joined us:  Bjørn the schnoodle. img_2909

May: The seasonal migration of expats, with our bestie neighbors leaving for 3 months, and celebrating 1 year since Z’s adoption day!


June: Somebody got her driver’s license!  Watch out, China, for the blonde Chinese woman on the streets.  The license I’m holding had a misprint and stated my nationality as Chinese-as I took the selfie I realized it and ran back inside to have it fixed to avoid the risk of having my license deemed invalid or fake in the future.

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July: Carefree summer days

August: Kindergarten graduation, one of many airport runs to pick up or drop off friends, and our first appearance as “parents of the groom.”

September: back to school, running 5k for foster care, and another tearful goodbye.

October:  autumn sports days, wedding boys, and in the mouth of the golden dragon.

November: thanksgiving of course, with my language teacher and friends in attendance, kids made a cake for “Wolf Appreciation Day” and hotpot at a coworker’s home.

December: Advent and joy throughout.




While there was heavy action in Rio and we watched the Chinese get gold on national tv here, our kids got inspired.

I was reminiscing about creating our own Olympics during the 1980s in my Norwegian childhood.

Along with a couple of other families they designed their own events, made flags and medals.

The neighbors sure hadn’t seen that before!



Water from above


Imagine waking up at 2 am to your husband grasping your arm and telling you to turn on the light because he’s soaking wet.

Then imagine the light revealing a steady stream of water coming down in a long line from the wall to the center of the room, splashing into the puddle that was your bed.

As you scurry to place buckets, plastic bags and towels underneath you dread knocking on the upstairs neighbors’s door.

That was us last week.

I volunteered to go up and try to explain the situation, after taking some pics on my phone to take along.

It only took about 10 minutes of steady knocking before they opened and let me in.

It was quite awkward due to the hour and since we were all in our PJs, but PJs are pretty typical here.

To my dismay i could not see any visible source of the water–the wall-radiators sometimes have a release valve that is unscrewed and leaks water, but theirs was fine.

So they told me to talk to the maintenance office in the am.

We parked ourselves on the couch for a couple of hours before we got up, water dripping enough to merit emptying the basins already.

At six am I went out into the courtyard and saw movement in the office, so I knocked.

A voice told me to come in, and I came in, explaining about our water problem, ony to notice the older man standing there in his shirt and briefs.

He said, wait a minute while I put on my pants.  I very quickly turned my back rather awkardly and waited a minute and we went back.

He discovered that their hot water heater had leaked underneath the flooring, so they turned it off, said things should improve and went away.

I had an early meeting and contacted our landlord as I was leaving.  By the time I returned an hour later the older two girls (at home doing homeschool and online school) said that a whole crew had traipsed through the apartment looking at things–including the neighbors across the hall, also in their pajamas.

There is a theme here.

Nobody likes to take off their warm fuzzies once it gets cold here.

Anyway, by the afternoon and a couple of full basins later, the dripping stopped.

Oldest daughter helped me haul out our king size mattress to the courtyard to dry on the parallel bars drying rack in the excercise area.  Unforunately it did not fit in the elevator so we took it down the stairs.    It stayed there until Mr. Chopstix came home from the hospital after dark and could help drag the thing bag upstairs again.

We think that workers are coming sometime, to take care of the stuff that needs to be fixed.

But, we will never be quite sure what will happen until it’s done.

In the meantime we are actually very grateful for many things: 

1) that we were at home when it happened.  We’ve had several friends with horror stories of coming back from the US or other long trips to knee deep water and mold everywhere. 

2) that we have water. Some friends have been without water for about two months, and they live on the 7trh floor without an elevator.  

3) that we have really not had any major water issues in our 7+ years here.  

4) we have very friendly neighbors and this has been a bonding experience! 

National day


We are on 60-some years of celebrating the New China today, October 1.  

It’s a government holiday but many stores and our vegetable market are open, and the shopping district was packed with pedestrians.

We, of course, attended yet another wedding with two boys as attendants to the bride and groom whom we had never met but were friends with his sister. 

Our oldest outdid herself and ate the fish eyeball. 

There was a very hard round thing in the middle. The lens???

I am still totally disgusted and have the taste of vomit just thinking about it. 

There is always something unusual to see.

The kindergarten had a field trip to the zoo yesterday as well, where we watched bears stand and beg for snacks from the public.

There were also llamas straight out of Zootopia, gourds hanging, and old army tanks.

And there’s always something unusual to see when you look out the bus window.