Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Lessons by Laoshi Xan

I often get questions about Xan's school and I thought we might start sharing a bit about what she is currently or has learned.  She attends a bilingual kindergarten and her teacher is Chinese.  She also has a part time teacher that comes into the room 1-2 times per day that speaks and teaches English.  She attended this school last year as well and we have been so impressed by the Mandarin (official language of China) that she has learned.  Here are a few facts about the Chinese language: (Source: Chinese
-Mandarin is the most widely spoken form of Chinese
-Chinese language has more native speakers than any other language
-Chinese language (Mandarin Chinese) is 1 of the 6 official languages used by the United Nations
-Chinese language is written with symbols.  These symbols are called characters.  Chinese characters represent the oldest writing system in the world.  
-There are over 100,000 characters.
-Chinese language does not have alphabets.  Pinyin is a system developed to write Mandarin Chinese using the Roman Alphabet
-The most difficult part when studying Chinese language is getting your tones right and learning how to read and write Chinese characters.

Xan has been spending a lot of time this year working on learning Pinyin.  For example the following characters mean teacher
but when you read it in pinyin it looks like
and it is pronounced "lousher".  

Xan's Chinese teacher is Laoshi Lily and her English teacher is JoJo.  Hence the name of this post, Lessons by Laoshi Xan (Teacher Xan).  Xan's class is working on memorizing all the many "sounds of pinyin" which is a building block to learning to speak and read it fluently.  This is similar to us learning our vowels and consonants and how they sound.  It can be very confusing....for example the "x" in English is pronounced using the "zzz" sound  as in Alexandria or the "cks" sound as in ax.  However, when you see the "x" in pinyin it is pronounced with the "sh" sound.  For this reason many chinese people think that Xan's name is pronounced Shan.  

Tones are a whole other part of the language and we'll save that for another post.  For now, please watch as Laoshi Xan introduces herself, states that she goes to school and what they have been learning.  She then recites the sounds of pinyin.  

Stay tuned for more Lessons by Laoshi Xan.
Chat with ya later-

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Sunday Morning Cuties

Two different friends gave me some hand me down dresses for the girls this week and they actually matched.  I was so excited and couldn't resist going outside for a quick photo shoot before heading to church.

That's all folks......

Chat with ya later-

Friday, March 23, 2012

No Frills Friday

I was recently part of a discussion pertaining to journaling and in our small group of 6 the extremes and everywhere in between were represented.  Some had journaled daily for 15+ years, others had tried but never quite got into a regular habit, etc.  One of my friends shared a suggestion she had recently implemented.  The instructions were to just write one sentence at the end of each day and give yourself permission to stop.  I liked the idea and found it interesting however I have also been looking for ways to be a better communicator with family and friends back home via this blog.  So.....I'm going to try to combine the ideas while also sharing a little piece of our daily lives here in China.  My plan is to use Fridays (or maybe Saturdays) to recap our week in just a sentence or two from each day without regard to sentence structure or trying to be too cute/funny/witty/retrospective/educational/etc.  I'll add as many links as I can for those that would like to see/read more.   To some these will be the least interesting posts ever but to others that have asked about our day in and day out lives I hope it gives you a glimpse. goes starting with last Saturday.

Sat 3/17.....St Patty's Day - I teach Chinese children english once a week and today I added 2 new of four 5&6 year olds learning the basics and an individual lesson that is a 4th grader working on her conversation.

Sun 3/ church and then a friend's child's birthday party at a local restaurant that is the hot spot for expats with kids.  It was an all day affair and we didn't get home till almost 4.

Mon 3/19.....Bible study in the morning (Beth Moore with 3 other ladies at my house), grocery shopping at Walmart and lunch w/ a friend and grabbing a shirt for Xan in the same mall ( is in a mall). Home to prep snacks for Xan's Girl Scout meeting......a friend recently started a troop for her age this was only their second meeting but she is loving it.

Tues 3/20....Took the girls to have their pictures made with a local photographer and then a nice coffee and lunch with a friend (we brainstormed about blogs I call that a working lunch).

Wed 3/21....Doctors appt in Shanghai.  It was our first health issue here in China and it went great.  I had a derm issue and all is well now.  Turned into a really nice date day with Stan since he and I got to go alone and even had fajitas for dinner at a great mexican place we discovered.

Thurs 3/22.....baking day for Made by Megan (my micro baking business).  12 pans of cinnamon rolls and 2 batches of granola

Fri 3/23....(Happy Birthday to my BFF Marilyn) Went to Xan's school to share a little bit about America during their Festival of Cultures.  Taught a 30 min lesson on Abe Lincoln and then made cookie/choc frosting log cabins with the kids.  Loved being there with her.  Afternoon of delivering all the cinnamon rolls then attended meeting of homeschoolers wanting to form a coop.  We are considering this for next year so I was on an information gathering mission.  Taught another private English lesson this evening and now going to read some of this information I got today about homeschool......and that was the week.  Happy Friday!

Chat with ya later-

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Cultural Differences

One of the common things that I'm often asked about is the cultural differences that we experience here and several mentioned that on facebook recently when I requested some ideas for blog posts.   So, I thought I'd take a minute to just tell you about one that has struck me recently.  I guess after being here almost 2 years it took me back that I've actually become accustomed to it and look right past it most of the time now  The issue is one of personal space.  The local people here don't have an appreciation for it and I've learned that it is not a mean spirited, ill willed or even intentional act (or lack of ) for them.  It is, rather, a state of being and when you have always lived in a country with this many people it's just the way it is.  

You might think that I would be referring to the common "you're in my space" type of issue that we often use in the US when someone is literally getting too close for comfort to your physical body.  This is not what I'm referring too.  I'm more referring to the fact that the locals don't really have a personal space therefore they aren't concerned or worried about doing things that are normally reserved for your own personal (read private) space.  For example, picking your nose and examining what you find before "flicking" your find while people are exactly 15 inches from you is completely normal.  The same thing can be said for taking a minute to remove anything that might have creeped to where it doesn't normally belong thus causing a bit of discomfort......yep, just take care of that with me right here behind you in the elevator...don't mind me.  Then there is one of my favorites and that is the extremely loud and oh-so-close-to-me hocking of the phlegm that, from the sound of it, has been lodged there for at least 3 days.  I absolutely love to hear, witness and then walk around that large splat you just created. The teeth picking, scratching, phone conversations, and many other actions are just taken care of when and where the need arises--regardless of who might be right next to you.  

 Now, although I am writing with some humor intended I also want to share a little seriousness about the cultural differences.  As I said before, I do not believe that these things are done with any ill intent.  In fact,  there isn't even a hint of embarrassment and they can (and will) make and hold eye contact while performing any and all of these, among other, acts.    I admit that it did bother me much more when we first arrived and I won't say that there are days that it doesn't still cause me to gag just a bit to watch the taxi driver completely clean out his ears with his very long pinky fingernail as we sit at the red light but I can say that I've learned that it's just a difference and even to some extent to be a tad envious of the lack of "you just don't do that" that is accepted here.  So....that for now is my sharing of just one of the cultural differences we enjoy here in China.  

Chat with ya later-

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Just So Stinkin Cute!

Yes I am totally biased and I know it but I'm telling you this baby is just wonderful.  Here are some random shots of her this past week and I am continually amazed that she really is ours.  If you ever want to hear a little bit about the wonderful, incredible miracle of adoption just give me a call......I'll talk till you can't listen anymore!

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