China Life

Some of our new grocery store favorites:

A tiny car I think our entire family could fit in!

I had to take a subway ride across town to buy new air filters for our air purification machine. With all the bad air, they were busy and their one delivery guy wasn’t going to be able to deliver the filters for a week so I went and picked them up. I exited the subway in the Central Business District (CBD) right next to the building that looks like pants!

My visiting teacher took my on an adventure with her to buy cheese at a Costco-like store called Metro. After we finally made it there, this is the cheese!!!

We bought a loaf of mozzarella because it was cheapest (about $10USD if I remember correctly).

 Weird… bike?



Outside our Walmart there are always crowds of people playing Chinese chess, etc.

They released new 100 Yuan notes (new on the bottom).

Kit Kats showed up at our Walmart!  Before, we could only find imported Kit Kats at the expensive import stores on the other side of town. I couldn’t buy any for awhile though. I tried and the lady who weighs and prices the bulk candy waved me away. Eventually, a few weeks after we first spotted them, I was able to buy some. Not sure what the problem was. There are regular (but they taste different to me), dark chocolate, hazelnut, coffee/tiramisu, and almond Kit Kats here.

Ella’s new Ruby Redfort book showed up form

Grocery delivery truck squishing down the tiny alley.

2016 is the year of the monkey!


Kit Kat buying success!


The mall across the street from the school is finally filling with stores and opening 12/31!! Yea!


We did some Christmas shopping at the Pearl Market (and the shops behind it) and afterwards at at The Brown Door (just across the street – north) which I’ve heard about from people at church. It was … okay. Maybe we didn’t order well.


China Life

 Banking problems led B to withdraw all the money he wanted to transfer to America in October to try to use a different bank to do the wire transfer. It ended up working out differently, but it was fun to have a giant stack of money and a special, bank money envelope. Remember, the largest Yuan note is 100 which is only $16 USD.


The empty building across the street from campus is getting a Wumart (ehh) and a Decathlon!!!! Decathlon is like a French version of REI. Now… if only they’d open.

 Cinnamon rolls for General Conference.

 This is SOOOOO good. And now my grocery store isn’t carrying it anymore. 😦

Chinese Hand Signals: A Guest Post by B

Before we knew our numbers very well, we’d ask how much something cost and instead of writing it down or typing it into a calculator, the clerks would tell us a number and then, if we didn’t understand, use a hand signal.

One through five are straight-forward enough, but six through ten are esoteric. Our local newsstand guy said, “Ba,” then held up his hand with his index finger and thumb extended in the (I thought) universal signal for, “I have a gun.” It turns out that making a gun out of your hand means, “eight.” (Naturally.) And “hang loose” means “six.” And “I’m about to tickle you” means “nine.” It’s all very intuitive.

Anyway, we had to look up the hand signals on the Internet. This was how we became aware that, for simplicity’s sake, multiple hand signals correspond to a particular number. So there are two ways of showing seven, and three ways of showing 10. (Too bad there aren’t 10 ways of showing 10; I think I’d like the recursiveness of that.)

Saturday, January 17, I took three of the kids to lunch. (The other kid was busy doing something else. I didn’t leave him home because I’m a jerk. My jerkiness manifests in other ways.) As we walked past an alley market, we saw a guy selling pineapples. One of our family’s favorite parts of Thailand and Cambodia was street pineapple, so I said, “If he’s still here on our way back, when I have change from lunch, remind me to get a pineapple from him.”

He was still there on the way back, so I stopped and asked, “Duōshao?” He held up a single finger, which, according to everything we’ve seen online, all our previous experiences, and all God-given common sense, means “one.” But one yuan for an entire pineapple didn’t seem like a believable price. Even in Thailand, they start at 30 baht, which is about five yuan. So I said, “Yī yuán?” and the man nodded and held up his solitary finger at me again. He bagged our pineapple and handed it to me. I pulled out some bills and offered him a one-yuan note and said again, “Yī yuán?” Finally, he pointed at the ten-yuan note in my other hand. Because one finger by itself means “ten”?!

As for him not responding with words or responding correctly to my words, I’ve found that many Chinese people are so unaccustomed to encountering a foreigner that speaking Chinese with any accent AT ALL is unintelligible to them. Especially lower-class workers. It’s just like all my frat-boy classmates at Kansas who couldn’t understand any non-American professors. But my pineapple salesman had to know I wanted to know how much it cost, and for some reason he thought one finger was an excellent way of communicating “ten.”

It was really good pineapple.

Bangkok, Thailand- Day 3, Dec. 25

The first morning in our hotel we opted to sleep in (having arrived from the airport very late the night before).  The second morning we figured out how to take advantage of the free breakfast.  After breakfast we went one floor above our own to the roof to check out the pet garden and to take pictures of the cool buildings we could see from our hotel room. I also added some picture of Thai money (baht, divide by 30 to get a US dollar amount) and some pictures of the apartment/hotel room.

Fun signs we’ve seen around Thailand:

1st, on an escalator

2nd, a “give up your seat for monks” sign, on trains and buses

3rd, on the door of a bathroom stall

Back at the Snoopy mall, inside this time, trying to capture a Snoopy #selfie in her new Snoopy #selfie tshirt she got for Christmas.

Exploring the mall, we found a store with an adorable whale for Buddy, Little Guy’s favorite How to Train Your Dragon dragon and a minion and some other fun statues for Squirt. We also found a Mexican restaurant and fed Squirt ice cubes (he is his Grandma L’s grandson) while we waited for our food.

We bought Princess Sparkley this little Santa hat hair clip to commemorate that it was Christmas Day and so we’d always remember that when we saw these pictures.  Our first stop after the mall was The Golden Mount or Wat Saket.

And for the awkwardest picture of the trip (at least that we captured):


In a tuk tuk, waiting to leave The Golden Mount.

No photographs were allowed inside where the Emerald Buddha was, but this is outside, a very jewel encrusted building.

After taking the above picture of B and I, Buddy said, “It looks like we’re at Disneyland.”

After finishing up at The Grand Palace, we took a tuk tuk and went in search of Pad Thai.  We ended up wondering around a mall, eating yummy mango smoothies, mango pudding, mango and sticky rice and mango ice cream at a place called Mango Tango and finally finding some Pad Thai for dinner.

Out Shopping


A few years ago a friend in Virginia introduced B and I to a Japanese gel pen made by a company called Muji.  A few weeks ago I realized that being so close to Japan, I might have a better chance of finding these awesome pens.  It turns out there is a Muji store two subway stops (Wanshoulu station) closer to town than we live in CapitaMall (which we discovered later is one of two CapitaMalls within a couple blocks of each other).  And Muji stores are awesome.

It was the malls two year anniversary so they had this giant “2nd Anniversary” sign outside. We took advantage of it also being Squirt’s 2nd year.


I talked the kids into this trip by telling them it was near the CCTV tower (tallest structure in Beijing) so we’d have a better view of it.  It turned out to be a sort of long walk from the mall, and this is as close as we got before we ran out of time and had to turn back to return home for my interview with a local reporter. (More on that later.)

 I rewarded them with ice cream from our favorite newsstand down the street from home (and a candy bar for Squirt).  This all cost 20 yuan, or about $3.30.  And we got followed by a hotel parking lot guard who was an older gentleman who wanted to continually chat with me in Chinese about how many kids I had.  We walked about 200 feet and stopped to take these pictures and he came over and tried to talk to us more.