February 15, 2015

Weekend wrap up!

It might be safe to say that the Bass family was the only family that celebrated Valentine's Day in Beijing.  I knew that Valentine supplies would not be very accessible in Beijing, so I made sure before I left to pack some things so that the girls had a normal Valentine's day.  I actually think they probably got more for Valentine's day this year because we wanted it to feel as normal as possible....so we spoiled them.  The girls ended up getting their first package on Friday night and this was a HUGE treat.  Their Lalee, Pops and Uncle Tucker sent them a package with Valentine goodies and the girls were beyond excited! Thank you to everyone who sent cards and for those of you who called! We read everyone and I wiped away tears because I am constantly reminded and grateful for those who love us most! 

Everyone was all smiles! They really enjoyed their American M&Ms, fruit chews from Target (gosh how we miss Target), new loveys, and new pajamas! 
Saturday morning the girls were woken up with a Barbie Deluxe Camper, some new clothes and brownies for breakfast! I honestly think the brownies were their favorite part! 
We then got dressed and ventured to our new little morning brunch restaurant...Great Leap Brewery where the girls had chocolate chip pancakes for lunch and Walt and I enjoyed incredible burgers and fries.  

After lunch, we decided since most people have left for Chinese New Year holiday it would be a great idea to go to the Silk Market and Pearl Market just to look around.  I actually had a really great time and prefer the Silk Market over the Pearl Market.  The Silk Market was extremely clean and it was all indoors.  It was so neat to see all of the different items for sale.  This is a place where you go to bargain for all of the "fake" things.  I am not a bargainer....I never have been, I never will be.  You tell me a price and I will just go with it...I don't know what it is but I cannot bargain like that.  Walt is a bargainer.  He won't budge. Our driver is a bargainer. He will tell you if you need to go lower. Those two together, you will walk away with a good deal.  They also have all sorts of toys here, so you guessed it...Walt bought the girls some toys.  It was fun to watch them bargain for toys for the girls.  While we were here our girls were once again a spectacle.  People had out their iPhones and they would walk around the booths video taping our girls just looking at toys.  It is so crazy.  I haven't learned how to say "Please, no video," but it is next on my list.  Everyone is so shocked that we have not one, not two, but three girls.  But like I have said in the past, everyone is extremely nice, and it helps having three cute girls with you when you are bargaining for things.  

Our Sunday was spent going to a lunch spot called The Taco Bar and to the fruit market.  This restaurant The Taco Bar is legit. I'm a HUGE Mexican food lover...I'm a big foodie in general, as I can see that the majority of my post talk about my kids and food, but y'all...quite possibly some of the best Mexican food I have ever had. Seriously.  Their guacamole was out of this world and the salad that I ordered was devoured in like 3 seconds flat.  This really made this Texas girl feel good...felt a little like home...knowing that I can come here and have a slice of what I know to be heaven....it made my Sunday. 
The girls clearly know how to eat Mexican food...all 3 of them LOVED The Taco Bar and we will most definitely be back MULTIPLE times! 

The fruit market. Wow. I am an idiot and thought it was just a fruit market. WRONG. This place has everything. and be everything I also mean any type of meat you can imagine just hanging there, everything. When you take a child who doesn't eat a lot, but loves meat (Eloise) through the meat market, it is not a good combination.  I had no idea that meat would be just hanging everywhere, out in the open. I watched Eloise's face in horror as she was putting two and two together.  Thankfully, she chose to eat her rotisserie chicken that we had for dinner Sunday night, but the end result could have been much worse. 
The fruit and vegetables though...very fresh. Obviously everything is fresh...even the meat. ha. 
And we were able to pick up fried fruit, nuts, they had grains...I even purchased a baking pan there. Talk about a collection of all sorts of things. It was fun, it was an experience, but I doubt that I will be going back. Although the fruits and vegetables are extremely fresh I like the supermarkets better. 

That is one really great thing here that I have noticed. The fruits and vegetables are so fresh. I think I ate an entire package of cherry tomatoes one day because they were so delicious.  

This past week in school Eloise and Emerson participated in many fun activities celebrating Chinese New Year.  On Tuesday, I was able to go to Emerson's class and help her make the traditional dish of Chinese dumplings. These dumplings are a staple for Chinese New Year.  This is what every family eats along with drinking white wine.  Emerson and I had so much fun making the dumplings, but the best part was eating them. They were yummy.  (As you can tell I am doing a lot of eating here.) 
And on Friday Eloise participated in her schools' Chinese New Year production.  It was so fun to watch her play the drums and see her with her new classmates.  The school production was so fun, and Avanell sat in complete silence for an hour just watching in awe.  It was the quietest I have ever seen her!  Eloise has definitely dove right in and made herself at home.  I am so proud of her for that, and her teachers have noticed as well. She was "spotted" and received the Star of the Week.  Makes me feel good to know that she has already adjusted so well.  

And of course my girl made the Newsletter at school....they know a cute girl when they see it and then I just had to show off her little award.  Proud of my two babies for fitting in so nicely.  

In other news, I stopped by our house last week and we are set to move in March 1st. Avanell and I are so excited because this apartment is making us go a little stir crazy.  

 In Avanell news, little Lady is finally really crawling. I think the marble floors had something to do with it...everytime she would really get started, the floors were so slick, she would fall.  But now that we can crawl, she is a little more independent, thank goodness, and isn't always crying for momma. Don't kid yourself though, girl still cries a lot for her momma. I told her it was fine, as long as she still wants to be with me a 13. Then we will be all good. 

One thing we will miss about the apartment (less than two weeks until we are out...not that anyone is counting) is the Children's playroom. The girls LOVE going in here and playing. It is really nice that the apartment provides this....we have had some fun times in this little room! 

 And let's not kid ourselves....I had to find a wine that I liked here.  Of course Walt decided that we should try out a wine called none other than "The Great Wall" and guess what...it's REALLY good! So...as of now, this is my wine of choice...so cheesy, I know! 

Can't wait to post more pictures after Thursday when we see the fireworks, I hear they are supposed to be incredible, and we are going to have a pretty awesome view.  

February 9, 2015

Aint no party like a Chinese New Year Party...

Cause a Chinese New Year Party don't stop!

Obviously Chinese New Year is comparable to Christmas in the U.S.  I'm so glad that we got here during this time because we have been able to see and do many fun things because of Chinese New Year.  On Friday night Walt and I went to Conoco's Chinese New Year party, which would be like Conoco's Christmas party in Houston.  It was quite fun and Walt and I both had a really great time.  We were able to dress up in full Chinese costumes, eat some yummy food, and we even were able to watch a Chinese opera.  As we all left everyone was given a present....a selfie stick! Just what I needed! After the party we went to a fun little Irish pub and had a drink before returning to the apartment.

On Saturday the girls wanted to go ice skating.  So after a fun lunch at a local restaurant called Wagas, with a new friend from Houston, we ventured out to what we thought would be ice skating.  Instead it was chair skating, but needless to say the girls had fun.  I was freezing cold, Avanell was freezing cold, Emerson was freezing cold, Eloise was freezing cold...Walt had the time of his life. I seriously think he would've stayed all day.  He loved it because he didn't have to wear ice skates, so the fear that he had of falling down was gone...he loved running around on the ice. 
My girls are slowly figuring out that they are warm weather people like their mother.  When I asked Eloise if she ever thought living in China would be her life she responded with this, "No, I never thought I would live here, and it is good...but it needs to get warm." She is her mother's daughter. 

On Sunday we took it easy and went to a little French Bakery to have cake and we ventured to another supermarket called Metro.  This will be our supermarket of choice when we need variety, no more Walmart for me....at least while I am here.  

This week in school the girls are doing all things for Chinese New Year.  I am going up to school tomorrow to help Emerson's class make dumplings and then on Thursday Eloise is in the Chinese New Year production...she will be playing the drums.  I love the subtle reminders I get that the girls are going to a British school: 
This was the email I received today reminding me to help out at school tomorrow...I am Emerson's mummy! :) 

All in all a very good week.  The girls are out of school this Friday 13th through the next Monday 23rd for Chinese New Year. We are hoping to catch some really great fireworks! 

And just a couple of fun things that have happened
*Avanell and I went to an electronic store to get a curling iron.  While there she decided to have a blow out in her pants, and mom of the year didn't have extra pants...so I just put a diaper on her. Within 30 seconds (no exaggeration) 7 people (no exaggeration there either) came up to me telling me she was cold (at least this is what my driver told me) They then proceeded to bring over a Dyson blade-less heater and put it right in front of Avanell while I was looking for a curling iron.  (Ive told you they are obsessed with babies) 
*Hardly any places here take credit cards. I've gone into two stores thinking they would take credit cards (Toys R US being one of them, as I have an almost 5 year old on my hands) and my driver has had to spot me cash twice. Embarrassing. 
*Emerson has tried every single thing that has been placed in front of her. She just found out that she loves Chinese dumplings! 
*Avanell has approximately 4 top teeth coming in. SO FUN. 
* Eloise has started reading... this has this teacher momma SO proud...I've tried and tried to upload her video, but I can't for the life of my figure out how to upload something that is longer than 10 seconds...any help???

Hopefully I will have lots of exciting things to post about after the "New Year" 

February 4, 2015

You haven't lived until you've been to Walmart in China

I love Walmart. I said it. I mean of course, I really love HEB, but I grew up in a town that had the first Walmart in Texas.  And the first Super Walmart.  That's right...good ol' Mt. Pleasant, Texas had the first Walmart. Hey...it's our only claim to fame, besides the fact that we have THE Pilgrim Pride Plant...and who wants to claim that? So, Walmart is all I have really known for years. HEB, Central Market, Whole Foods...those are the like the Taj Mahals of supermarkets.  I love them as well, but my first love was Walmart.  Saturday we experienced the Walmart in Beijing. Good gracious I do not know what I thought I was going to walk into.  Actually, I do....I honestly had this secret hope that it would be just like American Walmarts, only everything would be in Chinese... wrong.  This was the loudest place I have ever been to...EVER.  Everyone had on microphones and they were talking so loud over them trying to sell you produce...and it was in a language that I clearly cannot understand...I left with a massive headache.  But..it was an experience, and this is why we are here...right??
I must give them props to their floral section....it was massive and the flowers were beautiful.  Flowers over here are not very expensive, hence why I have already received a humungous bouquet of them....and don't you worry I already told Walt that since flowers are so cheap I expect fresh ones on a weekly basis.  
That picture is a 1/4 of the flower section.  
We did stock up on some must have items while at Walmart....like a Chinese dress for the girls, and of course Disney Princess water bottles for school, some Hello Kitty earmuffs, and pink "ugg" knock offs for the girls to wear to school...but all in all we walked around like crazy people.  I think at one point in time Walt and I just laughed at each other.  People would just come up to me and want to touch Avanell....I'm telling you, she is a rare find here.  Walt was trying to get by a man, but the  man was staring so hard at Avanell, just staring, and Walt didn't know how to say, "Excuse me," so he honestly sat there for about 2 minutes while the man just stared at my daughter.  I would say that after this trip I do not ever have the desire to go to another Walmart in China...I think I'll stick to the Western supermarket Jenny Lou's. 

Needless to say on Sunday I told Walt that I 
a.) did not want to ride in a car and sit in traffic forever  (have I mentioned that Beijing has about 21 MILLION people living here?) Holy smokes...I'm from a town of 12,000...
b.) wanted to walk to someplace quite...no more yelling in a supermarket for me. 
So we did just that.  We ventured out and walked to a fun little restaurant called Big Smoke.  I had a really yummy cucumber martini, Walt had fried chicken, the girls had yogurt with granola and truffle mac and cheese.  The place was really quaint and quiet.  It was great.  After that we walked into a French Boulangerie and went to a little French chocolate shop.  We then decided that it would be fun to take a rickshaw home.  The best way to describe this is a bicycle with a huge covered seat on the back.  This little old man peddled faster than anyone I have ever seen and how we all fit on that one little seat I will never know! The girls LOVED it and proceeded to tell me that it was the most fun they have had this whole time. 

It was a fun weekend by all. 
This week has been quiet.  Avanell and I started a baby playgroup at the girls' school on Mondays.  She is the littlest one in her class, but she showed everyone that she means business... she crawled over to everyone's plates and tried to get everyone's snack.... and she made sure to knock down all of the blocks that the older kids were playing with.  Yeah...don't mess with Avanell. That's my girl, make yourself known.  
Today I went shopping with a friend to look for a silver dress for Walt's company Chinese New Year Party. Really, a silver dress?! A man must have thought up the color because I could hardly find any silver dresses anywhere.  I went with a gray dress and a silver necklace...but seriously? Silver? In the winter? Talk about washing me out! Avanell had fun though, she met a friend in the dressing room and just couldn't get enough of her! 

And HUGE news that I must share. Like I said earlier Wednesdays are our driver's "no drive" days.  When you pick out your license according to the city of Beijing you have a certain day you can't drive.  I'm not quite sure how this works for the teenagers, but I haven't seen any teenagers driving a car either.  So we had a dilemma...we currently live about 45 min away from school (once we move into our house we will walk everyday)...what was I to do? I had to send my 3 and 4 year old to school ON A BUS. This wasn't just a regular school bus, it was like a tourist bus...but still! I about died as I watch my babies drive away AND to make matters worse they didn't even come home until 4:55! And what did they tell me when they got off the bus? That they loved it and wanted to ride the bus everyday! Yeah right...I never considered myself that helicopter parent...but my 3 and 4 year old are NOT riding the bus, except while we are here in the apartment.  
I think it's funny...every day I reminded some way, some how that I am from the good ol' U.S. of A. 
and if today it meant that I realized I was a helicopter parent, so be it!