Things I love about China #1

The seasons are clearly defined by what fruit you can go and pick. (and fruit is always in abundance)

Its coming in to blueberry season so I decided to pack a mini picnic and take Caryn on a little trip to see if we could find a farm. After a good search online, we got in a cab and went on trust alone to go and pick some blueberries. We got a bit lost but managed to find the blueberry farm owner who took us to the farm and let us eat what we wanted! It still isnt the right season yet, we were early by a week (It would usually be packed with people) but the boss let us eat our fill and take some home. 

After we had played in the blueberry farms for a while we were then escorted to the nearest bus stop to make our way home. Sometimes I forget how welcomeing and kind Chinese people can be in the countryside. He knew we would never be able to get a taxi so took us to a place we could!🙏

A wonderful memory was made in the blueberry fields of China!

Have you ever been fruit picking?

What fruit is currently in season where you are?

Geocache fever

Have you ever heard of Geocaching?

I stumbled on this sport many, many years ago and made an account to try and do it so long ago that I forgot all about it until just recently. 

Basically, people all over the world make hidden treasures in different places then ,they go online and log the gps coordinates so that other people can find the treasure. Ten years ago when I researched this sport, mobile phones weren’t as amazing as they are now and most people needed a real hand held gps to play. 

Thanks to advancements in technology all people of any age and physical ability can play and most likely there is a geocache right near you that you can try to find!

The basic premise is you go to the website www.geocaching.com and type in your home town (or wherever you want to see if it has a geocache) and see what comes up. It can show you difficulty, size and terrain conveniently on the cache page so you can see which one most suits you. Then, there is a brief description of the area or contents and finally if you need more help (or are playing with kids like me) there is a clue that needs deciphering.

After that you just get as close as you can to the area on the map, turn on your gps (or open the app) type in the caches gps coordinates, and you are off!

Living in China, I never expected to start doing this sport in Wuxi of all places! But I found that close by me were two caches with minimal difficulty that could be found by me and my daughter!

After you find the Cache you should make a note in the logbook inside and you can either add to and take from the cache or just find it and leave it. We added our items and took something from two caches these past two weekends.
Cache 1 was “GCC homeland” and was an easy find on a lovely warm spring day. As this was our very first cache together, we planned it around a lunch at a really great Indian restaurant in the same area. We found this cache easily!

Cache 2 was “Wuxi Bamboo” which was hidden in a secluded part of Wuxi ecological gardens which has beautiful sculpted gardens, lakes and fish ponds, and of course a bamboo forest!

In my opinion, Geocaching is a great way to spend time with my daughter, encourage creative thinking and problem solving and hopefully as she grows older we can travel all over the world looking for treasures together!

Have you ever been Geocaching before? What did you find?

What have you found while “treasure hunting?”

Lots of Love,  Christi.

Qing Ming festival. 

Qing Ming festival is also known as Tomb sweeping festival and falls under the 24 solar terms as clear and bright, the start of good weather. This festival corrolates to the cherry blossom season in China and is a national holiday that people take time to spend with family, offer goods to their ancestors and to view the fragile cherry blossoms before the rain and wind makes them fall. Caryn and I spent this three day weekend at the best spot to view them, called Turtle head park. (the park is on a penninsula that juts out into Tai lake).





lovely park and lovely day (even if it was hotter than we planned)

Happy spring to you all!

lots of love 

XXxx

Spring is *finally* here!

It has been a very busy few weeks here. Caryn has moved with me to my new job in Wuxi city and we have been spending our free time mostly indoors as the final remnants of winter leave us. After finally getting Caryns stuff organised (Uniform, jackets, bedding etc) we have a weekend to explore our surroundings! We found a “park” close by but someone has put a massive wall right through the centre of it which means we couldn’t explore it as much as we would have liked.

On the way home we found some new places and saw some construction/ destruction right up close. this is where they are putting a new subway line here and my guess is that this will be you can exit the subway line when its done in a few years time.

So far Wuxi is exceeding my expectations of being an awesome place to live with its clean air and riverways.

If you are ever in the area let me know!

from Christi

soup dumplings and the start of spring.

Study fever.

I am enjoying (maybe a little too much) the student life. I have amazed myself at my voracious appetite for knowledge. I devour blog after blog on ESL theory, as well as articles on Montessori, Waldorf and Reggio style kindergartens. I day-dream daily on opening my own school. I would love it, whether in Australia or China it would be amazing!

 

Spring is in the air and it is lovely here!

Xx  from Christi.

2017 Rooster Resolutions and how to stick to them!

Spring Festival resolutions.

恭喜发财: gong xi fa cai, the typical Chinese new year greeting, means ‘wish you wealth’ and this years New year Resolutions for me are about building just that; wealth!

Well it has been an exciting year, old 2016. some things are best forgotten while others have been one of my life defining memories (the birth of my son for example!)

I have many hopes and dreams for this year, as I am sure a lot of you do. I talked about resolutions in another post and I am a firm believer that resolutions are a great way for people to at least get something done in the year!

For me, this year is going to be my BUILD year. I plan to work my ass off for the next three years to try and make sure that when I head back to Australia in a few years that I have enough to support my dreams and my family from an income that I have solely created. If my wonderful hubby has a contribution that is great too but I am extremely motivated to reach my financial goal as soon and as completely as possible.

Goals for the year.

So getting into it, I have three major thing I am aiming for this year. The most time consuming but most important to me to make two courses.

I have 2 fantastic ideas that I would love to see come to fruition. One course is about raising Bilingual Children (like i am currently doing) and another about learning Chinese. I believe Chinese is a great second language to teach English ( or Germanic/ Spanish origin language) speaking Children as it rewires the brain to a completely different phonetic alphabet and writing system, which in the future will give them so many benefits and opportunities for work and life that probably don’t even exist in our current society!

Enough about that as I wouldn’t want to give away too many details about a course that hasn’t even been written yet!

Can a hobby become a business?

I want to tell you about my third BIG idea for this year. Some of you may have noticed that I have written on my blog that I craft, but until now I haven’t posted a single tutorial, craft project or anything to do with craft except to mention I enjoy it!

This is partly because I live in China and half of the craft things I am interested in I cant find the materials for and half because i don’t have the space ( apartment in China, in-laws and 2 kids under the age of 3 under one roof) But i am really dedicated to trying to get my crafting space set up, and to begin filling my empty Etsy shop with beautiful things.

My goal is to have a few small amounts of money coming in monthly to slowly build my wealth to a point where i can return to Australia with a semi-automated passive and non passive income stream.

The year of the rooster is unlucky!

For Rooster year born people this year is unlucky! In traditional Chinese custom, your birth animal year is said to attract to you bad luck ( sorry to all those roosters out there) however, If you want to negate your bad luck you just have to do one thing all year; Wear red! Lots of people will be wearing red underwear, belts, key chains, and so on this year to negate their bad luck.

For me (a rat) This year is not looking too good. My horoscope says that this year I should be careful with my money and not do something extravagant. So, keeping that in mind, I am going to continue to BUILD my wealth while not doing anything too risky. In saying that, I am going to put myself out there with my blog and my courses, while still keeping my 9-5 work in the background.

Stick to it.

I have a plan to keep myself on track; an age old trick that a lot of people use but i find to be very effective when planning something that you can use for a long time. That is, I take the goal I want to achieve, in this case to write a course on raising bilingual children. I set myself a time to make each video (2 hours of usable content+2 hours of preparation+ 1 hour of set up+ 5 hours of additional research=10 hours) I want to do four videos each at two hours which is 40 hours +make printable worksheets and a workbook too plus set up a facebook group and weekly challenges all together lets say I may need close to 80 hours. I then divide that by the time I have set aside for me to get this set up which in my case is 3 months then I just spread those 80 hours out over the three months, then pencil in what I will do and where.

I leave myself a little leeway to get it done in case something pops up like sickness or my normal job overtime and I have myself a plan I can usually stick to.

All in all, I am hoping 2017 is going to be a great year to build my income streams and get things in order for a better home life!

Do you have a set of achievable goals that you are going to achieve this year?Have you already started your resolutions?

Leave me a comment below and let me know your 2017 resolutons!

Love Christi.

Spring Festival


Its that special time of the year again in China, only a few more days until Chinese New year, also known as Spring Festival. In China, this festival is the most important lunar festival for every family in China.

Spring Festival can be broken up into 3 (actually a million but today, three) separate important sections which are applicable to all of China. Those are, Family, Food and Traditions.

Family.

In China, Spring festival is a time to be spent with your family. Most young adults and older family members will travel back to “lao jia” the traditional family home, to see in the new year. Usually this could mean a long journey via train or car to get back to the village where your parents or grandparents were born!

In my family “lao jia” is the village my husband was raised in. There, he can see his uncles and other cousins and relatives whom he hasn’t seen since last years Spring Festival.

Food.

In China food is what really brings people together. The eating culture in China is so strong, that business deals, friendships and relationships are all made over the dinner table. China is a massive country and each region, town and village has its own special foods that they make at Chinese new year. A staple however is dumplings. Almost every family will make dumplings at New year!

My mother in law is exceptionally skilled at making dumplings. She can make the tiny little pleats as if by magic her hands move lightening fast where as my clumsy hands just seem to smoosh the seams together. She never minds though, as she has told me a thousand times “it all ends up in one place.”

Other favourite dishes that we eat as a family at this time are whole cooked fish, a whole Chicken, meatballs and many other delicious foods. My mouth is watering already and its still a few days away yet! ALL of this delicious food is prepared by my mother in law with the occasional help of my sister in law and I.

Traditions.

Every city in China has its own special traditions at New year but there are some that are universal. For one, it is tradition to set off fireworks. New year in China apparently has a legend of a monster called “sui” who would steal children so setting off fire works was the way that people can scare away this demon and all bad luck in general.

Another universal tradition is to “tie duizi” which means to stick the traditional couplets on the doors of your house. The first time i went to my husbands village at New years, my husband and his brother took me to the local market to buy the couplets. An old man with a calligraphy brush in his hand would have a big piece of red paper by his side. You would choose what special blessings you wanted on your house and he would write them in perfect calligraphy in front of you. Then you would take them home, cut them into strips and using a paste of water and flour, stick them on the door jambs and on the top of the door.

We would do this for all of our family members. The thing is, my husband always considered it a chore, but to me it was something new and exciting!

The final tradition which I find is fairly universal is “ketou” which has an almost exact English translation of kowtow, or bowing to your ancestors. Usually at some point in Spring festival you may need to bow to someone. If you are young it may be to your grandparents in exchange for a red envelope full of cash, or if you are older to the village elders or your long deceased relatives.

In my husbands village, his oldest uncle sets up a family shrine in the home and people from all over the village come to kowtow to their memory. Groups of families will go from home to home and give the ancestors three kowtows before moving on to the next home to do the same. One thing i didn’t know before was the difference between a kowtow and a bow; a kowtow is done on your knees with your head touching the floor when you bow.

At the end of the three most important spring festival days all the people in the family get together and set up a shrine on the road. They will burn fake money and paper and set out wine and a chicken for the deceased ancestors then, everyone kowtows together before setting off fireworks to see off their spirits.

To me, the most amazing part of Spring festival is the traditions that go hand in hand with the festival, the feeling of family is there just like my traditional Christmas back home and even though the festival is different, there is still that warm feeling that comes from deep down inside when you are surrounded by people who care for you. It has taken me a few years to recognize what it is but its the true feeling of family that makes Spring festival in China so comforting and welcoming.

Do you celebrate Chinese New year in your town? How do you introduce your kids to Chinese festivals?

Sincerely,

Christi

The best laid plans…

Sometimes the best laid plans can be useless. 

This has proven very pertinent to me in the last few weeks. We had such a good plan to open our English school in another city. We were so prepared, so ready to start making money off our own sweat and tears for our own profit ( not like now which is divided between six investors.) It was meant to be perfect.

Are you noticing the past tense?

We had planned to open a school in my husbands hometown, but the local government wouldn’t give us the permit. Technically, we could have still opened the school but that would mean that we wouldn’t have a legal leg to stand on if anything went wrong. It was too great a risk for us to take so we have put that idea on the indefinite back burner. Among other things it was too much of a risk for a limited award.

Sometimes, that’s the way the cookie crumbles.

Well now I have six months of  FREE time. I am not sure what it is I am going to do, I have already had five months of maternity leave for baby and I feel claustrophobic being in the house. In our original plans I was supposed to be doing marketing and promo work for our new school. Now I have nothing to occupy my time. In another way, I had plans for three months of blog posts based around setting up our school and ESL and now half of those blog posts are useless.

Waiting for July.

My current school has a foreign teacher whose contract finishes in July, after that, she will go her own way and I will take over her classes. but until then I am practically useless.

I want to improve myself, Improve my ability to find a job when I finally return to Australia. I have an opportunity now to improve myself, and I should take it.

China is such a big place and i have only seen a fraction of it.

I want to travel, want to see what I should see before its too late. Me like many others, am always putting travel, life and experiences in the “one day” basket. I have been in China 7 years and the things in the “one day” basket keep getting more and more.

All I know is that when I leave China in a few years time I want my own business, something where I can work  from home or in a studio (I craft occasionally) I want to be able to bring in enough every month to warrant me to be able to stay at home and work for myself.

I know  that this is just a good chance for me to be doing something else. So even though that school never eventuated, perhaps it was for the best. perhaps I can use this time to improve myself and my future outlook.

My advice to myself right now is to buy a new journal, make some new plans because 2017 can’t be wasted on ‘what ifs’ and time wasting thinking about what could have been.

I am sure you have your own plans and ideas too. Have you ever had a door close only to have a new one open? What did you decide to do after a major let down?