Sunday, January 29, 2012

Yi, Er, San (1, 2, 3) Birthday Parties for EBean

It hardly seems possible, but three short years ago we welcomed EBean into our family.  It wasn’t my goal to celebrate her birthday three times this year, but it ended up working out that way, which didn’t seem to bother her a bit.
EBean's first party was a joint party with a classmate.  Those December birthdays can be a bit tricky to plan around Christmas programs and other holiday activities, so we held the party a week before her actual birthday.  I had asked a friend if she might agree to hosting a party together since her daughter’s birthday is the week after Elise’s and we would be inviting the same little girls to both parties.  Thankfully she said "yes"!  I'll be honest, throwing a party in China for the first time really worried me.  Where do I buy favors, decorations, and other things to make the day special?  There is no Hobby Lobby or Factory Card Outlet here to do some one-stop shopping.  It was a huge weight lifted off my shoulders when I knew I wouldn't be hosting alone.  The two birthday girls and moms spent one morning decorating my friend’s house for the girly-ballerina party and making cupcakes.  
So happy to be making cupcakes!

I love how EBean's friend is "helping" by holding her wrist.

On party day we had someone come and do hair and nails for the girls before they put on their new fairy wings and took a few ballet “lessons”.  All the girls enjoyed twirling and prancing around to some music.  The girls made their own personal pizzas and while they were baking, I read an Angelina Ballerina book.  We also played “Pin the Tutu on the Ballerina.”  Jamie used his superior crafting skills to construct all of the pieces for me.
She wouldn't let the woman from the salon
do her nails, but she would let me paint them.

Pin the tutu on the ballerina.  Thanks
to Jamie for making the game!

Doing our ballerina stretches.

The two remaining readers for Angelina Ballerina.

We sang “Happy Birthday” to each birthday girl and devoured cupcakes for dessert.  It was a very fun day.
Eating the homemade pizzas.

Getting ready to sing "Happy Birthday"
I couldn’t let the actual day of EBean’s birth go by without a small celebration, so I had everything planned and ready to go the night before.  We were going to have cake for breakfast (who doesn’t love that?) and open presents before LBean left for school since Jamie was going to be gone that night for a work dinner.  The table was set, pretty napkins were out, cupcakes were ready to be eaten, but I didn’t plan for the fact that EBean would be sick when she woke up.  Poor thing!  She felt a little ambushed and didn’t quite know what was going on.
I'm hiding because I don't feel good and I don't know what's going on. 
Oh, presents?  Okay, I'm happy now. :)

Lookie, a Barbie!

EBean’s third and final birthday party was back in the States with family.  My oldest niece Alison was in charge and ordered pizzas, had a banner made, and designed a Pooh birthday cake (per EBean’s request).  If was fun celebrating with friends and family and EBean truly celebrated all month long!

Cousin Alison did a great job planning EBean's third party.

That's a happy three-year-old sporting a fine
outfit of leopard-jammies & a zebra-striped skirt.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

What's That? Wednesday: Our Apartment

It dawned on me over Christmas that I haven't posted any pictures of our apartment yet.  I kept telling myself that I would take pictures after all the pictures had been hung and everything looked "Martha Stewart" ready.  Since that still hasn't occurred and probably won't, I'll just show you how it is.

We live on the 27th floor of our apartment building and each floor has two apartments, but they are accessed from separate elevators.  The apartment is about 280 square meters, which is about 3,000 square feet.  I really like the location of our apartment.  The wet market, a bread store, EBean's preschool, one of the international foods stores, the hair salon and a spa are all within a 15 minute walk.

One of two entrances to our apartment compound, complete
with guards that salute the cars that drive in.
LBean pushing the button to open the glass
to get to the elevator. 
Floor 27 please!
One side of the living room.  Our front door is on the right
and behind the wood-panelled archway is storage.
The Christmas tree and about 12 storage tubs fit back there!
Our living room light.  Even though it's a bit "blingy"
for me, I'm starting to like it.
The other half of the living room. 
Everything behind the curtains is glass that looks out
to Jijihu Lake.
Looking from the living room into our dining room.
I like the archway!
The archway and glass doors that open to our kitchen.
The bread machine is still in the box on the floor awaiting
me to decipher the Chinese operating manual.
One side of the kitchen.
The other side of our kitchen with our very small oven.
The Chinese don't bake much and I'm still trying to master
a convection oven.
Even though our oven is small, we do have a
full-size refrigerator.  You can see our water
dispenser peeking out from the left side.
The laundry room with our washer,
dryer (with up to 200 minutes of drying time,
not very efficient) and our mini dishwasher.
Our storage room with a few jars of Jif peanut
butter and other comforts of home.
Looking into the girls room.  It's a dark
picture, but it shows you the view from the window.
Same view with the curtains closed.
The girls' bathroom.
Looking out towards the hallway with a peek
of the guest bathroom and playroom.
The girls' bunk beds.  We let them put up the wall stickers, can you tell?
One of the wardrobes in the girls' room and
another view of the buildings outside.
Guest bathroom.
Another view of the guest bathroom.
The spare bedroom has been turned into
our playroom.  The couch is a fold-out and is
ready for visitors at any time!
Toys, toys and toys! 
Our office:  I love the archway, our double
doors, and the view out our window.
The other side of the office with
Jamie's Caterpillar Lego sets, our crazy
German board games and few crafts for me.
The last two unpacked boxes.  Pictures and artwork that
still need to be put up.  Maybe by the end of our first year here
I can get them unpacked!
The master bath and yes that's a remains unused.  Although,
LBean thought we could use it as a foot bath
like we see at all of the stores around here.
The large bathtub that pretty much remains
unused by me.  The girls take over the tub
almost every night.

The shower and my towel on the left
is hanging on the wall heater because
the bathrooms can be a bit chilly.  Please
disregard the Laura Ingalls bathrobe hanging
next to the shower.  That shall remain our little secret.
Looking down the hallway into the master suite.
My niece's artwork is hanging on the right.
Jamie's closet is to the left of the dresser.
Looking towards my closet and the master
Jamie's closet...I'd like to point out that it is much
larger than mine.  If Jamie were not traveling, I'm
sure that he would like for me to point out that just
before he left he moved some of his clothes so that
I could have just a bit more room. 
Looking into the master bedroom.
Can you see a few bright lights of the buildings outside our window?
This little control panel is in a six of our rooms and controls
the lights to the living room, kitchen, guest bath and all 3 bedrooms.
It's handy for a few reasons.  When I walk in the front door I'm
able to turn on the lights in most of the apartment and if the girls
need a light on in another room I can push a button in the room that
I am in and not walk down to where they are.  But, it's also a bit
confusing and can lead to some unnecessary "disco" lights if someone
starts pushing buttons.
Okay, now that I've showed you my house, it's time for you to post pictures of your house on the internet.  Ready, set, go!