Friday, May 19, 2017

Life in Changzhou

Just a little update on what we've been up to.

The other day when Monica was taking pictures for the church, she also took some family pictures for Bailey and I!  It is so nice to have a picture of us where the subject really is just us, not whatever cool place we are at.  I think it turned out really good.  It makes us look pretty successful, haha.  And rich.  When really we are just broke students.

Also, let's note this as my first non-drama related lipstick experience.  For real - the only time I've ever worn lipstick was in a play in 9th grade!  But when nice quality lipstick at Miniso is only 15 kuai, why not give it a try?

The other day we had a lesson involving hula hoops, and while we waited for the other class to show up for rotations, I let the kids play around with them.  Samantha was definitely the best at hula hooping, and made me realize I've been doing it wrong this whole time!


It has been nice to take the past few weeks off of traveling to rest, save money, and focus on the kids.  I really love all of my students!  It has been fun to get to know some of the other teachers students too.  Here is Jake (on the very left) and three of his friends from Teacher Rachel's class.

And of course I love little Trevor, the one who calls me "Teacher Mommy".  Lately he's been very particular about keeping his shirt tucked in.  I only see him during opening, but I see him tuck his shirt in several times throughout that 10 minutes!

And here's a very Asian picture of my little Diego!

I made a chain for when my mom gets here!  I took this picture a few days ago, you should see how short it is now!  She will be here on the 28th and I couldn't be more excited.

I share my first grade classroom with Teacher Mitch's 5th grade class.  Well, when they got there the other day, one of the giant glass windows in the room was completely shattered!  It is a mystery how that happened, but oh my gosh what a mess it was when Kimi decided the best thing to do was knock it out.  Haha, it was quite the sight to see Kimi doing that with a hammer and a 2x4, all while holding an umbrella.  Actually, he gave up the umbrella after a couple of minutes.  I was mostly worried about his eyes!  But he and Bailey finished the job and I swept about 5 times.  My kids and I have still found a couple little shards of glass, but there's been no slivers yet thank goodness.

Meet my little friend, who I call "Bunny in a Crate".  Upon seeing this bunny in a crate on the side of the road I thought, "wow, what a good bunny!  Why doesn't he just jump out?" and of course two seconds later he was jumping out.  So I'm running after him, trying to block him from going into the road without actually touching him (Bailey told me he might have rabies, though I find that very unlikely now) yelling, "WHOSE BUNNY IS THIS?!" and no one was even looking at me!  I was determined though, and kept the little dude off of the street though he tried.  Eventually someone noticed the struggle, and the random passerby flipped the crate upside down and on top of the bunny, trapping him inside.  Better than roadkill for sure.  But who leaves their bunny like that, right?!

Bailey created some more Totoro art for me, this time in the form of watercolor.  He and I are getting a little anxious to hit Japan.  We are so close to the country, but yet so far!  We are hoping that we will be able to go next year.  Studio Ghibli Museum, anyone?

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Teacha Madi's 2nd Grade Class

At first I wasn't going to write a post about my second graders, because I don't enjoy them quite as much as I enjoy my sweet little first graders. But in the end, of course I love them! How could I not, as I've gotten to know their quirky, sweet, and mischievous personalities. Each kids is so different, and I always want to remember these little friends of mine. So I had Bailey come take pictures of us, and it was utter CHAOS, but they turned out pretty good!

First in line is always Avril. Avril is a unique one, that's for sure. First of all, she is an absolute GENIUS. Her ability to reason and think things through is really surprising sometimes. In the first week of teaching, Avril said to me "Teacha Madi! Either your father or your mother is a Chinaman!" She's wrong of course, but she was close! Her English is very advanced as well, she must have English speaking parents at home. I should record her speaking for you, because the way she talks is so funny and cute. She speaks with such force and certainty. It kind of reminds me of an old Russian man. Avril is always very matter-of-fact, and you can't slide anything past her. I'm quite proud of this one, I think she will go really far in life!

Next to her is always Jasmine. Jasmine is so sweet! She doesn't talk much so she and Avril make a good team. It is hard as a teacher to give the quiet kids the attention they deserve when other kids are like "TEACHA TEACHA TEACHA" and other kids are trying to climb out the window. But Jasmine has surprised me more than once with drawings and cards as gifts! And when she does talk, she speaks English pretty well and will explain things over and over to me until I understand what she is talking about. So she's patient too!

Esmee hangs out near the front of the line with the two other girls, but is  generally even quieter than Jasmine and keeps to herself most of the time. Sometimes she surprises me though, and will loudly say something hilarious in the middle of my class! She's always listening, and is very smart and witty. So she comes up with the funniest things to say! She's also thoughtful and will help out when she notices that help is needed. And she has been known to bring other teachers and me chocolate and homemade drawings, so she's a favorite!

Mr. Tony! Oh Tony. How I love him! At first he kind of drove me crazy because he's always doing something loud. And us teachers get in trouble if we let our classes be too loud! But over time I realized that he's not a naughty kid at all, he just loves to SING! Very loud! All up and down the stairs! I don't quiet him any more because I too love to sing. Anyway, Tony is super cute and friendly. He's very smart and likes to make people laugh. He's very sensitive though! Sometimes he is naughty, and I have to speak strictly with him. Then the rest of the day is he somber and then I feel bad! Don't worry though, Tony is usually good. More than once I've excused just him and the girls early, because the rest of the boys needed a good talking to.

Max is also a cutie. Well, sometimes. Sometimes I have to nag him to stay in line and stop kicking kids in the other class. Lately, though, I've been very entertained by him! His English is good and he's had this thing lately for saying "so crazy...". Like we were making paper fish the other day, and he's just looking at his fish saying, "this fish... so crazy...". Or another day when we were using glue, "this glue... so crazy." He says it so calm, but of course he spiced it up when I ask him to do it for the camera! I'll have to catch him on film when he's not looking.


Justin is one of the more wild ones. He doesn't talk a whole lot, until you put him with his friends! Teaching games can get a little overwhelming with that group of boys! He's a sweet kid though, and never means any harm.  He is always sure to say "hallo teacha!" whenever I see him by the lunchroom!  I know that he knows how to listen, because on store day, I pick the kids who are being the quietest to go first.  And on store days, he often tends to be in that group!  Haha, oh Justin...

Jarred is sweet and I love him, but oh has he been a challenge! He's not very naughty, but he has a bit of a hard time listening. His English isn't great and he doesn't always know what's going on, so you can't really blame him for spending the whole class cleaning his glasses. Haha, he always has his glasses case, spray, and cleaning cloth for optimum cleaning. But if I say "Jarred! Jarred! Jarred!" enough, he will pay attention and create some killer crafts with us.

Jack is SO good. But only when he wants to be. In fact, he was the student of the week for the first few weeks! But after that... I have no idea what happened, because now he is my naughtiest kid! I don't understand it! I have to take him to the Chinese teacher at least once a week, and it's really frustrating for me because I know this kid can be so good if he wants to be. I keep holding out hope though, because I know this kid has serious potential!

Jo is another tough one for me. Sometimes I love him and sometimes I hear another teacher say to him "Jo! You do NOT pull your pants down in ILP" and I don't have quite as fond of feelings for him. He can be a little overwhelming at times, but other times he decides to be good and listen! He has been making me smile lately because someone taught him the phrase "of course" and he uses it for everything. Like,
"Should we use glue to attach the paper?"
"Of course!"
"There are 4 apples in the bag!"
"Of course!"


Angela is very very sweet. That's really the best word for her. She is always looking for ways to help me (she LOVES to sweep!), and always sticks around after class to chat for a little bit and wish me a "happy day!" At that point she usually gives me whatever craft she made that day, saying, "for you!" Sweet Angela is a bit sensitive and often needs hugs. I would need hugs too, though, if I lived at school!

So there are my infamous second graders! Though it is a hard group, I really do have a lot of good ones. And of course there are still things to love about the not so good ones! It's been a really great learning experience for me to work with them and learn to love them all. They're definitely a talented bunch (their English as a whole is very good) and have come a long way since I met them in February!

Saturday, May 13, 2017


Today, my friends, I officially exit my teenage years.  And thank goodness too!  I've thought I was 20 for a long time, so it's nice that I actually am now.  Super crazy, though.  I always saw 20 year olds as adults, but I still feel like a kid!  That's okay, though.  I'm excited for the next decade that awaits me because I know it will be filled with exciting things like kids and houses and of course, more adventures!

Celebrating my birthday in China was a very interesting experience.  I'm used to waking up at home on a beautiful spring morning for my birthday, clear skies and plenty of lilacs to smell.  I'm used to spending the day with my mom, and ending the day with dinner out with all of my family.  It was kind of sad, today, to not be with them!  Luckily I had my Bailey who took me out to the bakery and the lemonade stand.  Which was fun, but I wish the skies were clear and that there were lilac bushes!

Overall it was a happy birthday, of course!  People were sending their love from home, and my favorite message was this sweet picture of Ayla, who I miss so much!

And later today, we met up with Shey, Petro, Andrew, and Monica for some fried dumplings and badminton!

Badminton was very fun.  I haven't played badminton since Jr. High!  But I don't think I'm too terrible at it.  It is a little bit exhausting though because the building (like many/most here in China) was not air conditioned.

There were a lot of other people there playing badminton, and it was kind of funny to watch them laugh at how bad we all were.  Bailey and Petro ae pretty decent though, so they went up to the professionals and challenged them to a game!  Haha, the professionals sent the girls to play them.  The girls were really good though!  But we don't know who won the game, because it ended when Bailey hit the birdie too hard, planting it in a curtain near the ceiling.

The facility which we played at is actually a place where Olympic ping pong players train.  So after we played badminton, we went downstairs to watch the pros play "table tennis", and of course Bailey and Petro wanted to try it out.  So the three boys played while us girls sat on the floor and chatted.

I got a couple of bug bites on our way home, but when we did get home, Bailey let me pick the movie we'd watch!  We spent the evening snuggling and laughing at My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2 (which wasn't as good as the first of course, but still pretty funny and silly).  In the end, it was a great 20th birthday!

Saturday, May 6, 2017


The other day I went to pick up some students for rotations, and the teacher who had them said that the kids had been really bad for her.  So as punishment (and because the classroom was messy!)  I told the kids that they would spend my period cleaning up!  Oh my gosh, they couldn't have been more excited!  We only had one broom, but little Shu Shu had the genius idea of using paintbrushes to help.  Leo found a little towel to clean off the tables, and everyone else busied themselves with picking up little scraps and finding paintbrushes of their own.  They were doing such a good job I said "okay, finish up!  You guys have done so well that we can play a game!" and they said, "teacha no!  We want to clean!"  And so they did.  The whole class period.

Bailey and I still have Disney fever.  I wear my ears in our room, just for fun, and Bailey carries around his lightsaber.  It is especially important for him to hold it while watching his Star Wars movies!  And of course, on "May the fourth" he had to wear the closest thing he has to a Star Wars shirt, and take his cool light saber to the movie watching party!

This is my student of the week Esmee!  She is the light in my second grade class.  I really have a hard time liking a lot of my second graders, but Esmee is always good!

The other day Bailey and I were in the supply room and Bailey pulled out a whole bunch of paper, telling me that he was going to do make a surprise craft for me.  I wasn't supposed to look but I did.

I'd say his craft turned out really good!

Last night we went with Monica, Andrew, Shey, Rachel, and Spencer to a hot pot/barbecue place.  It was a buffet, so we just went and got all of the vegetables and meats that we wanted, then we got to either barbecue them or hot pot them!  It was a really cool restaurant and we had tons of fun!
Bailey was impressive, he just kept cooking and eating long after the rest of us were done.  His favorite were the goose hearts!  He also tried frog legs, squid tentacle, cow tongue, and some mystery meats.

Tonight we went with Monica and Andrew to the night market.  I'll never get sick of the night market!  It was a little bit crowded though.  I've never been on a Saturday night!

We are having fun but seriously missing home at this point!  What we miss most is being around family.  We have family members getting pregnant, cousins and nieces starting to walk for the first time, and siblings buying houses!  That's right, Seiji and Kylie totally just bought a new house.  Not only that, but Seiji graduated college yesterday!  It's been a shame that we've been missing all of this, but thank goodness for modern technology which we can use to call home all the time!

Friday, May 5, 2017

Teacha Madi's 1st Grade Class

I just love my little first graders!  Second grade is a struggle, but luckily I teach them first, and end my day with my little kids.  My first graders remind me that not all children are horrible.  They can always cheer me up!  They are always sweet and silly.  But of course, the minute a stranger (Bailey) comes into the class with a camera, their smiles get super awkward, haha.

I'll first introduce you to Diego, because she is always first in line.  She keeps the class in order!  She says, "attention!" and the rest of the class says, "one! two!"  Then you can find her nudging kids until the line is perfectly straight.  She's not bossy though!  Once everyone is sitting down in class, she is silly and fun.  Her English is really good.  She's surprisingly good at making sentences considering her age.  Once we sang the apple pen song in opening, and she said, "teacha!  My papa LOVES that song!"

Anyway, I think Diego is exceptionally cute (I love her typical little Chinese girl haircut!)  Her parents always dress her well, and sometimes she surprises me with a hug or even a kiss on the cheek!

James is always behind Diego.  I think the Chinese teacher puts him there because Diego can keep on eye on him.  Because he is super wiggly!  He doesn't understand me very well, so sometimes I have to get down on his level and hold his hands while I talk to him.  Still he can't focus on me!  So I end up holding his head, haha, and make him say with me, "I will not climb on the bookshelf!" then the next day, "I will not jump on the tables!" then the next day, "I will not stand on chairs!"

As wiggly as James is, he is a good kid and I love him!

Candy is adorable!  She is a little bit shy, but is so sweet.  She is always good and always has the cutest things in her ponytail.  Her name is a common source of confusion though, because when I say, "I brought candy today!" or something like that, everyone points to Candy and says, "teacha, candy is there!"  Candy is really one of my best and smartest.

Samantha is so cute!  She has quite the personality.  About a month ago she noticed that there was nail polish on my nails, and she was just fascinated.  She would always pick at my nail polish, and one day I told her I was going to change it.  I asked her what color I should put on my nails and she said, "pink!"

So, I painted my nails pink and showed her... and she got a little bit offended!  Apparently she meant that she wanted HER nails to be pink!  I told her maybe we could paint her nails one day, and she felt better.  Still, that week she kept grabbing my nails and pointing to them saying, "oooh teacha Madi!!!"

Samantha cracks me up.  I really like her, and she is well behaved so that's a plus!  I was happy when she came back on a Monday with one of her nails painted pink.  She must have a good mom!

CJ is ADORABLE.  He stole my heart the first time I saw him in his little bear jacket, which gives him ears when his hood is on!  He is so sweet and so good.  He can get a little bit crazy when he is with the other boys in the class, but usually I can count on him to pay attention and yell, "NO CHINESE!" whenever his classmates start speaking Mandarin.

Oh Eno.  My little drama queen.  It doesn't take much for her to start crying, but it also doesn't take much to stop her from crying (because usually it is fake!)

The first day I learned about her dramatic ways was near the beginning of the semester, we walked up all the stairs to the 4th floor (where our classroom is) and Eno just collapsed!  I walked over to her, and she put her head in my lap and was just crying and crying.  I had no idea what was going on, so I sent my kids with another teacher as I tried to communicate with Eno.  I was kind of worried, she was acting like she was really hurt!  Eventually her Chinese teacher came upstairs and told me that Eno has just had a little cold, haha.  So, Eno was being overly dramatic, but at the same time I understood how frustrating a little cold could be!  And to have to deal with that while living at school and not seeing your mom for a week would really suck.

I love Eno though.  She is so sweet!  She always gives me hugs, even when I'm trying to walk, and likes to give my wedding ring a little kiss (which I'm a little bit confused about).

Jake is a little punk!  Can't you tell from his clothes?!  He can be pretty sassy when he wants to be.  I'll say, "Jake, get in line!" and he will say, "no."  I generally have to stand right next to him during opening because he loves to talk to everyone, but once we get to class he is always good!  He loves playing games and his English is pretty decent (though he does have to visit the "Chinese Chair" at least once a day).

Patricia is a cutie!  She can be a little bit talkative with her best friend Jake, but she's really sweet and a good listener.  So I like her a lot!  I don't have tons to say about Patricia because she's a great little student!

Brady... oh Brady... I STILL don't understand her name.  She's one of the few students who can spell her name, but she spells it "Britney".  But she clearly says her name is Brady... another teacher calls her "Birdy" though.  So that one is still a mystery.  But Brady is so sweet!  If everyone is being talkative, it is always Brady (and Candy) who is folding her arms, paying attention to me.  I love that!

So that's my cute little class!  I really lucked out, I think I got the best first grade class.  They are overall very well behaved kids, and always so eager to participate and please me.  They all try really hard to speak English, too!  I think it is a younger group than most of the first graders, so their speaking skills are a little bit behind, but their charade skills really make up the difference, haha.

I'm getting sad, realizing that my time with my sweet students is quickly coming to an end.  To think that I'll have to say goodbye for forever is so strange and depressing!  Like, I'll never see these kids again.  I will never run into them at Wal-Mart, or ever know what they end up doing with their lives.  I only hope that they will become great English speakers because I know that will give them so many opportunities!

I'm grateful for the chance I've had to be a teacher.  Though I may be trying to teach these kids, I think I've learned more from them than they have from me!

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Onto Year Two!

I can hardly believe it, but today was our first anniversary!

I can't believe it has already been a year since our wedding.  Oh our wedding... I love to think about it!  It was so perfect!  From what we could see at least, from where we stood in line.  I wish I could go back in time and experience our wedding as a guest, but I guess going through the pictures will have to do!

It is crazy that that was one year ago, and crazy to think about the things that have changed this past year.  Bailey changed his major (to political science), we've gotten further ahead in school, we've moved around, lived in three cities, and somehow ended up in China!

We've done so many fun things this past year and seen lots of new places.  We loved exploring Portland on our honeymoon, and our spontaneous fall break trip to San Francisco is one we'll never forget.  And we've been all over the place here in China, I won't even list all the places we've been so blessed to visit!

In this past year, Bailey and I have learned and grown a lot.  Marriage is not the easiest thing - it takes continual effort to put the other person's needs ahead of yours.  We can drive each other CRAZY, and we argue about really ridiculous things.  And I still don't quite understand how Bailey can't read my very obvious hints.  I'm still working on telling things to him because apparently I'm not as obvious as I think I am.  Marriage can be really hard sometimes, but our marriage has grown so strong that all of the effort has been worth it!  We are starting to figure each other out, I think.

I think it is pretty cool that we were able to spend our first anniversary here in China!  Even though we had to teach classes today.  We celebrated tonight at our favorite restaurant.  You'd think we'd know the name of it by now!  We just call it the fried dumpling place.

After fried dumplings, we stopped by a nearby bakery for a treat.  We bought two pieces of cake but only ended up eating one because the brown one was coffee flavored, haha.  The vanilla one was good even though it was weird Chinese cake (ice cream, gelatin, and cake all in one slice).  We sat on a ledge under a tree together and enjoyed our treat, reminiscing on how good of a first year we have had!

Monday, May 1, 2017


This morning we made it to the train just fine.  Thank goodness!  We had left Pingyao nice and early in the morning, and it was a beautiful walk through the historic streets.  It was so nice to see it less crowded!

Killing time in Taiyuan was another frustrating experience because we couldn't find ANY food to eat in the area we were in.  Oh and there was nothing to do and we had 6 hours to kill before we needed to be at the airport!  We sat in a courtyard and I was sad because we were wasting time, but we really couldn't find anything to do in Taiyuan that wouldn't take us far away from the airport.  So we just sat and watched some kids ride their bikes and play with their friends.  I'm still kind of bitter about the wasted time, but I'm going to put a pin in Taiyuan on my wall map at home anyway, and I think that will make myself feel better.

Eventually we decided to just head to the airport because we knew there would be food there.  We ate food, and went to the check in counter, and the angel ladies said, "your flight isn't until much later... would you like to switch it to 14:10?"  Heck yes we would!

So, instead of being at the airport for 5 hours, we found ourselves on a plane just a half hour after we checked in.  A blessing indeed!  Soon enough we were in Shanghai, and were greeted by a MASSIVE amount of people at the Shanghai Hongqiao Railway Station.  Oh my gosh.  No tickets were available for hours!  We had to wait though, so good thing there were a variety of shops and restaurants for us to kill time with.  Even though we just wanted to be home!

After a long day of travel we made it to our beloved Changzhou apartment!  What a fun vacation we had!  You know, overall.  It was really a great anniversary trip, and I feel like it was just the bonding time Bailey and I needed!  I sure am lucky to have him as my eternal adventuring partner!