Category Archives: Family

A dog named Obama…


…Lives in our courtyard.  

He’s a feisty little chihuahua.

He likes to play with our puppy since they are both about the same age. 

His owners call him “Ow-Ow.”




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.  

Random last day kid pics for the grandparents

Random last day kid pics for the grandparents

One of the hardest things about flying 8000 miles away is the separation from our dear family.  

We said painful good byes to my mom and sister about 2 weeks before departure, then embarked on more of the same throughout the holiday season. 

We left a day later than expected due to cancelled flights, from the Papa Chopstix grandparents home.

In a way it was relaxing because my packing of several weeks stress had already been done.  We even went to a nature center.

At least, I relaxed after I repacked our way-too-many pieces of carry-on and we had a plan for hauling 16 suitcases and 14 small(ish) bags from Dayton to Louisville… Thanks, W father and son!