Kimberly Countdown

So Kimberly is headed back to the US to visit this summer.  And of course I am counting down!  In fact – I think I’ll steal the ticker she has on her blog!  And I am totally kidnapping the girls so they can live at my house this summer!  I am not joking about that either – Eliza and Katie can stay with me…..I’m sure I can find room for them!

Pretty awesome, huh?  Seems like a loooong time since my {Black Monday} post, doesn’t it?  Anyway, I thought I would share one of my favorite projects for the Dirty Dozen galleries at Splitcoaststampers.  This was a 4×4 acrylic album I made using the photos I had from my visit to China last year.

The album is 4×4 – I got the acrylic cover from Bind-It-All.  (I think I actually purchased it from Eclectic Paperie, but it’s made by BIA!). The digital album is from Weeds & Wildflowers.  I printed the 4×4 pages on 4×6 prints so it was incredibly cheap to get printed (I paste a 4×4 on to a 4×6 blank ‘page’ in PSE so that wherever you get it printed doesn’t accidentally stretch your image to fit or crop it poorly.). I cut the extra two inches off, corner rounded the pages (and sanded the edges), then glued them back to back.  That was it and then I used my Bind-It-All to coil it.  That’s about it!  I just love that it’s pink and sparkly and girly!  Cause the pictures are all of me, my sister, and my nieces so it can be all girlied up!

The hardest part of this album was those silly glitter letters! I have a few sets of chipboard letters. But the set that was small enough to fit on the cover had some weird slick coating on the front. So I tried several methods to get the glitter to stick and it just wouldn’t! In hindsight, I should have sanded them a bit or something.

Anyway – I ended up tracing the ruined letters on white cardstock. I cut them out then laid them face down on a strip of really wide super sticky tape from Scor-pal. Then I cut them out again. I peeled the front off the tape and laid them in the glitter (from an SU glitter stack). They are adhered to the acrylic cover with glue dots.

Yes- this was a total pain in the rear!! But it’s super glittery and pink and I love it!

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digital supplies:
template – Traci Murphy – With A Quickness 1
papers – Weeds & Wildflowers – Being Me
Doodles – Weeds & Wildflowers – Being Me
alhpa – Sausan Designs – Little Summer Breeze
staples – Jenn Patrick – Backwards Staples

Other pages:
font – Darcy Baldwin – Another Mandy

And here are the rest of the shots – you can click on them if you’d like the see them full size (eta: I thought you would be able to click on them…but you can’t.  So I uploaded them at the medium size.  Not sure why you can’t click on the thumbnails…new wordpress – I have no idea!):

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julydd-china-album-4-7-08-erg1 julydd-china-album-5-7-08-erg1

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Just a few more weeks!!!!

Enjoy!

Yuck!, Olypmics stuff, and a card

Ok – I guess I’ll do them in that order! So you know how we went to the waterpark all day Wednesday? Well, surprisingly I did pretty well staying lathered up with sunscreen and I am still as glow-in-the-dark white as I was before. Except for one place. The part in my hair! Do NOT forget to put sunscreen there!!! Mine was just kind of tender at first. Now I think I had a blister (or blisters) and it stings, itches, etc. YUCK! So remember to put sunscreen on your scalp!

On to Olympic stuff. I LOVE the Olympics! I mean really really love the Olympics! I watch them 24/7, I watch all the human interest stories, I get emotionally invested in all the athletes. I love it. All of it! The boys and I made Olympic Ring cookies for the last Winter Games. We have plans to do it again for these – I’ll share a pic of our creations! Anyway – as the Games near, I am getting more and more excited! My sister, Kimberly, has a countdown of sorts on her blog. You can find it {here} – there’s some good information about the games, China’s preparation, etc.

I have to say that having been to China recently, I share many of her concerns about how the rest of the world will react to China. I even find myself a bit defensive about all the commentary on the news and such regarding their country. The China I experienced was so warm and friendly. I can’t believe how many would bend over backward to make you more comfortable or create a more favorable view of China for guests. I truly hope that all the visitors for the Olympics are able to see past any differences to their own countries and see how hospitable the Chinese people are. They truly feel honored to host the Olympics this year and take a lot of pride in their country and want people to see how far they have come. I encourage you to watch the video Kimberly posted that interviews Tianjin locals on the Olympics and what it means to them to host this year. Their desire to be hospitable and prepare for the visitors is really beautiful.

Kimberly’s Video Link

And now for a card. This is a simple Fabriano note card we made at my watercolor class this week. I absolutely adore this May Arts ribbon (perfect match to purely pomegranate and kiwi kiss!) and I used the last of it up at this class – I’ve got to find a way to get a whole roll!

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supplies: Penny Black image; Fabriano notecord; May Arts taffeta ribbon; niji waterbrush; purely pomegranate and kiwi kiss reinkers; palette noir ink; A Muse sentiment.

Ok – off to itch my ridiculously sunburned scalp. Yuck.

The rest of my trip…

Alright, here’s the summary of the rest of my trip in China.

We went to Karaoke on Thursday night.  Wow was that interesting!  They really need Karaoke bars like this in America!  They are really nice!  Like huge fancy buildings with lots of rooms inside.  Each room has lots of comfy seating, a big screen tv, a little computer doodad for choosing songs, a coffee table for drinks and snacks….odd lighting and mirror walls…and buttons to push to make a clapping sound, laughter, etc.  Very fun!  And the best part – all the songs have the WORST VIDEOS EVER!  Like totally not the right ones.  It was awesome!

Favorite part – when Kimberly and I rocked out to You’ve Got It (the Right Stuff)! by NKOTB.  Yeah,…that was awesome, lol!  Oh and totally NOT their video either.  They were so not doing the dance right….

Other favorite part – when the girls sang Old McDonald Had A Farm.  It had a video of some kids playing on a beach.  Cause that’s where you farm!  And the verses rocked!  There was a Buck that said quack……a dog that said ouch!  Awesome fun!

Friday in Beijing was different.  I liked Tianjin much better than Beijing.  I think there is a lot more ‘community’ feel to Tianjin even though it has over 10 million people.  You get in a cab in Beijing….and they might totally rip you off…..like when you ask to go to the nearest subway stop and they pass like 7 and drop you within 2 blocks of your final destination.  Like that.

We did go to Silk Alley – that was an experience.  So many people wanting your attention.  “Hey pretty lady – want to come see my bags/clothes/underwear/etc?”  I put off a pretty strong *don’t touch me* vibe so I didn’t get accosted too much.  I am fine with the grabbing the sleeve a bit.  But when one guy grabbed my hand OUT OF MY POCKET and tried to pull me into his shop….that was a little much.  Kimberly started rattling off some Chinese at him…I’m pretty sure she told him to step off.  It was very interesting to see how the bargaining process went.  Like I wanted a silk embroidered robe for myself and for my SIL Tiffany.  They started out at 300 yuan each.  After much dickering that included Kimberly sharing pics of her girls, saying she was from Tianjin, etc….we got 2 robes for 95 yuan.  Much better!  And some people actually pay the original prices!

And here are the last pics I took there…..they are mostly from the hotel in Beijing.  Kimberly, Katie – aka the bed hog, Libby and I shared a supposedly King size bed.  That was tons of fun!

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horrid angle on me, but cute shot of the girls!

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Katie hanging out on the bus/van that we took to Beijing.

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The girls wearing their tees I bought them at Silk Alley – Libby loves the Disney princesses and Katie loves Hello Kitty.  Katie was being special that morning.  This was just before I headed out to the airport.

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Libby was in a much better mood though.  I am glad I was there then because I think it really took her mind off her surgery so she didn’t stress about it too much.

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And Kimberly and I took a pic before we went to the airport.  We got like two shots together the whole trip!  We’re always the ones behind the lens.

Kimberly made hats for the boys – she mentioned the story <here> on her blog.  Adam’s was knit and the other two were crocheted.  They each have something different about them so I can tell them apart too.  They loved them!

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Adam even slept in his – he calls it his China Hat.  When I asked if he wanted to take his Chinese outfit (a traditional costume) to school to show his class….he wanted to take this hat.

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(That’s my bed though – he likes to fall asleep there and then we move him when we go to bed.)

So that’s all!  Several people asked why Kimberly and her family live in China.  I know I’ve mentioned it, but her husband teaches 3rd grade at an International school there.  They met in Hong Kong during a semester abroad program and have always wanted to live there.  This was their chance!   Thanks for following my journey!

Seriously?!?!

Well, I was supposed to be back in Texas Saturday afternoon. Didn’t happen.

Our flight from Beijing was delayed 3 hrs. So I spent 3 hrs in line with Kimberly in Beijing trying to rebook another flight home once I landed in San Francisco. No luck.

I got to San Francisco – waited in line another 3 hrs only to be told there was nothing left that day. So I was given food and hotel vouchers and a ticket for the following day on US Airways. Get this – I would leave SF at 9am and fly to Charlotte, NC then to DFW. I would arrive in TX at 8:20pm. Totally sucked – but what could I do?

So I went to the hotel, got a little sleep, then went to the airport Sunday morning. All the while lugging ALL my suitcases. I go to the US Airways counter where I am told I have NO seat! WHAT!?!?! So I lug all my junk 2 terminals away over to the United counter and pretty much freak out. I told the lady I knew it wasn’t her fault, but I was hungry, tired, in need of coffee, and I WANT TO GO HOME! I am told there are no seats until MONDAY! I was given a standby ticket for a direct flight arriving in TX at 4pm today (Sunday) and thank goodness – I got on!

So finally, I am home. Exhausted, but home.

I’ll update the rest of my trip and pics later…..

Oh and uh…..United left one of my bags behind on the way there and then had so much joy for me in getting home…..I’m just sayin…..

so…

I wrote a whole post about yesterday and karaoke and stuff….but it’s gone in cyberspace. So I’m done. I’ll rewrite it later, but I don’t have time now. There were no pics yesterday because I forgot the flash card in my camera.

We are leaving for Beijing soon and then I will be home in the US on Saturday. (Think my boys will greet me at the airport with signs where they have drawn me at the stove because they have missed my cooking??)

Anyway, I may or may not blog from Beijing, not sure on that one. If not, I’ll share those stories when I return home. Thanks for following my journey this week!

Tianjin – Day Four

Good morning! Or evening…..

We didn’t do a whole lot yesterday – I think our feet needed a little break from all the walking! We did eat lunch with her Korean group of students. They are all wives of various execs of large companies here in Tianjin. Kimberly is teaching them English. We went to a restaurant where we sat on the floor. It was really nice – they are a fun, chatty group. Some of the food was not my thing, but they had the best BBQ’d pork ever! So tender and delicious! And they are so sweet – they brought me a gift! A tea set with some of the tea we had with lunch. I had given them postcards from Texas and Kimberly brought some of the conversation hearts I brought over because they had never heard of them before.

However, I did take a few pics later in the day. Kimberly was giving me some photography lessons. I bought the same camera she has and only knew how to use auto mode. So she gave me some tips.

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Katie and I were snuggling on the couch watching Ratatouille yesterday while we were waiting for Keith and Libby to get home.

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After they got home (and we ate dinner- ayi made Chao Mian for us) Kimberly and I took Libby outside and practiced some different camera stuff. Libby is pretty tolerant of modeling for you! I took that picture of her yesterday.

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There are many fruit or veggie stands around the entrances to their apartment complex. This is the fruit stand we have been frequenting. It is important to build a relationship with your vendor of choice so that they will give you good prices, good produce, etc. Some of the things we got were great, some were not (the strawberries one night – wonderful! the next night – over half were rotten.) You cannot pick your own strawberries, you tell them how much and they fill the bag. The other fruits you can choose which one you would like.

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And then we swung by Elle – previously Ann Taylor Loft/CK/etc. We took a peek inside and it is a small shop with some racks of clothes – all really nice western stuff. We are thinking samples or something small was wrong with them. All really nice brands. I have no idea what they cost – but I am sure they were cheaper than here! But there was only like one of each item.

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And there is your local friendly butcher. See how the meat is all laying out on the counter? It is like that even in the heat of summer…. We did not buy any meat there, but Kimberly said ayi does sometimes. However, I have not gotten sick from anything here so far!

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Want some fish? From the man with the cigarette hanging out of his mouth?  All of this is within a two block stretch outside Kimberly’s apartment. Some of it is there all day – produce, butcher, etc. Some of it is out only at night – clothing, dvd’s, bras, panties, hair stuff, jewelry, etc.

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One hairdresser shop had some ROCKIN’ music pumping out of their doorway so Libby decided she needed to bust a move…..she’s got some great moves too!

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And should you need any DVD’s – you can get them here for about $1 per disc – but unlike the US, there are MANY movies per disc. Like we saw the 2 disc set of ALL the Academy Award winning movies from THIS year (I think there were 18 movies on it). For $2. Somehow I don’t think that is approved by Hollywood……

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The entire point of this walk was that Libby wanted to take just me to the McDonald’s that is 2 blocks from their apartment all by herself. So we let her lead the way (Kimberly went along in case we had language issues……). We stopped in and got ice cream cones (they do not have much chocolate here though – no chocolate ice cream on the menu at all.)

At your local McDonald’s, can you pick up the entire series of The Soprano’s for a couple of bucks right outside the door? You can here! And notice the obligatory peace signs, they thought they were quite funny too.

Today we are going to Libby’s school to eat lunch with her. Then to find some authentic Chinese outfits for my boys. We have pictures of Andy in one from way back when Kimberly and Keith went to China before. I think they’d love some to wear now! I did tell Matthew that I wanted a whole box of Reese’s Puffs ready when I get home. I love my cereal! Here, at the import store, they cost $11 US a box!!! Yikes! So yeah – they don’t eat cereal, lol!

Tianjin – Day Three

Hello!  Here’s the stuff from Day Three.  We really didn’t take too many pictures today – we went to another market to shop, but forgot to get the camera out.  It rained which made the fact that they are digging up all the pipes to replace them in the entire city (good thing!) a very messy thing. Mud is bad!  Anyway, I’ve got a few of Kimberly and I eating meat on a stick at a little stand at the market.  It was funny – they have little “shops” and they empty all the food making stuff out and set it up under an awning  – then you can eat inside at little tables in the “shop”.  Make sense?

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So here we are with our meat on a stick (and veggies on a stick).  They were really friendly and nice – especially because it was raining so not many people were venturing into the food area as it is not completely covered.

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And Kimberly wanted one of me eating the meat on a stick.  Notice that I am wearing her hat?  Cause it is cold!  It was 52 (high) yesterday.  It’s a high of 54 today.  Chilly!  Oh and I realize that pink looks awful with my hair, but I don’t care!

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And this was Katie this morning in her new dress Kimberly bought her.  I got her the Hello Kitty barrettes over her pigtails.  And yes, she knocked her head – slipped in the apartment yesterday.

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So cute – and yes, that is her smile.  She’s in that cheesy stage.  (Not as many Libby pictures because she is at school all day).

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And this was one from yesterday when we went to Ancient Culture Street.  He was repainting murals over a restaurant’s archways.  They had whitewashed it and then started over.  Beautiful, huh?

And lastly, I thought I would share another interesting cultural aspect.  When you go to a restaurant here, it is perfectly ok to bring your own drink.  Just like home – it is much cheaper to buy one at the grocery store than to buy one at a restaurant.  And here – that is not rude!  In fact, a lot of them kind of expect you to bring your own drinks.  Also, you would traditionally get your rice at the end of your meal.  Kimberly has gotten used to asking to have it with the meal because that is the way we eat it at home.

Alright – today we are going to eat with her Korean students.

Tianjin – Day Two

Well, today we visited Libby and Keith at school. And we went by way of the fish market area…..it was…..special. Very crowded and not very pleasant smelling. It is one of the really poor areas – as you can see by the housing.

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You can see the housing here…..

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And this is the intersection we were stuck in for awhile…..Kimberly said she didn’t even notice that it was that crowded when she was driving. This is all in a road that is about 2 lanes….

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And here is where you can stop to buy your fish. I think that it is completely sanitary. And if you’re lucky, they will cut it up for you using a sharp rock.

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See – totally clean. It was really quite sad to go through there. Such extreme poverty. And I do not know where these fish come from, but the river around the corner is absolutely disgusting – Kimberly says it doesn’t even freeze in the winter and it smells hideous.

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And this was coming at us…..good thing the bike cart isn’t too big and we are able to maneuver pretty well.
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This is what happens everywhere we go. The staring – almost falling off your bike while you do so. We get stared at EVERYWHERE. And it is not culturally inappropriate so they do not hide it at all. We get this for two reasons – there aren’t a lot of tourists in Tianjin and they usually use bike carts for hauling stuff, not people.

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And this was Katie with a headband – the ponytail holder kind that go all the way around your head. I just thought that was a totally happening style she created.

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Um….I think this is just more traffic?

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The large black and red building you can see in the middle are Ancient Culture Street. This is a replica – or perhaps it’s just been rebuilt – of what it originally was. It’s a completely tourist-y area where you can buy things from little stalls. Lots of souvenir stuff.

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There is another picture of it as well. And notice the people staring.

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This is me in a rick-shaw (no idea how to spell that one….) at the restaurant we ate at. We ate some really good Tianjin food there. Something spicey-ish with chicken and something with eggs and tomatoes and some garlic broccoli that I skipped cause I don’t do garlic. Kimberly’s Chinese teacher went with us to shop and eat. She was really helpful because sometimes we weren’t sure what was a good price and what wasn’t. They will always tell foreigners higher prices.

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I got name scrolls made for the boys here. They were 50Y total for all 3 of them (works out to about $7). They are really beautiful! Quite a crowd gathered – I think mostly to gawk at us, but then the man making the scrolls could tell it was making us uncomfortable (about our bags and being stolen from) and so he whipped the scroll he was working on off the table and said there were too many people watching and he would just put it away. Then when they left, he got it out and finished. I thought that was nice of him.

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And there you can see it a little more – he wrote the name, then did a drawing at the bottom (Adam’s is some bamboo design that means “strong”?), then he wrote Tianjin in Chinese characters at the bottom, their name in English along the side at the top and then in Chinese characters under that. Very beautiful! I cannot imagine paying $7 for 3 of those in the US!

So that was our day yesterday! We came home to what is called potstickers in the US – jiaozi hand made by ayi. They were delicious! Then Kimberly and I went to the foot massage place and had that done. It was really different than US massages. Much more intense – like reflexology or something. It felt quite good, especially since my feet were so sore from all the walking.

Best news – My suitcase came!!! Kimberly and Keith said it like Christmas getting all the goodies in there! So many foods and such that they cannot get here plus some other goodies.

Today – more shopping at another market! This one is their favorite so it should be fun! Kimberly says she knows it is time to leave when she runs out of shopping bags!

My first day in Tianjin…..lots of pics!

Alright y’all, here’s pics from my first day in Tianjin! My ankle is doing pretty good – I have no idea what is in the herbal smelling patches they gave me, but it feels pretty good! The patches, motrin and an ace bandage made it pretty tolerable. Kimberly and I even managed to walk back (not really that far…) from dinner and shop at the street markets. Yes – in the evening, people just put out stuff on the street and sell it. The items greatly vary….some is the exact same stuff you would buy at the stores…some is random stuff. Very interesting!

Ok, I’m just going to start right in with the pics – this is just stuff that I found interesting today…

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First up – we went to McDonalds to hang out for a bit because we were early for Fellowship. And this is one item they have on the menu – a cup of corn! Kimberly honestly didn’t remember if they had that in the US. Nope! Although Andy would be thrilled if they did!

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This is the huge dome they built for the Olympics this summer. I believe it will have soccer games held in it. I think it is maybe 1.5 miles from Kimberly’s apartment.

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So at E-mart today…..E-Mart is a Korean owned grocery store/mall. It is 3 stories and the escalators are ramp-like and your cart will magnetize to it. Pretty cool! Anyway, today we saw this toothpaste. Do you see what is on the packaging? YES! Those are cigarettes. We aren’t sure if it is cigarette flavored toothpaste or somehow supposed to clean your teeth of cigarettes…..but does it matter? I don’t see that selling in the US….and fyi – it’s just over $1 a tube.

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So…..this is 85 proof grain alcohol sealed in a *sack*. For .28 cents U.S………need I say more?

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Here are the four of us (Keith drove and is taking the picture) in their MV (motorized bike cart). We rode around this way yesterday.

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This is the girls and I at Hot Pot – a Mongolian style restaurant Chinese restaurant. They have a bowl in the middle, divided 3 ways. There are 3 kinds of broth based soups – one spicey, one not spicey and one mushroom based. (You can get others, that’s just what we ordered.) Then you order meats, veggies, etc to put in the soups. They heat it to a boil and then you drop your stuff in. After it is cooked, you fish it out with your chopsticks. It was really good!

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I am quite proud that I managed to eat with chopsticks, and fill the girls plates. And this was my first time using them too!

Alright – that’s all for today! We are visiting Libby’s class today and then going shopping with Kimberly’s Chinese teacher.