Saturday, March 30, 2013

Nesting: Painting

I can't recall how this happened, but we had a box of Dunkin Donuts on the morning we painted. Willow quickly learned to eat the chocolate frosting on top, and leave the rest of the donut for us. Thanks, kid.  

So, these pictures are from our Chun Jie Break when we painted our living room area. The pictures don't show how terrible the walls really were. Since the walls are concrete, they have a tendency to crack in spider-web patterns everywhere. And the plaster cracks off in places, not to mention all the crayon marks, scuffs, and even food that was staining the walls. It looked like some places had never been painted at all, and even the existing paint was probably only a single coat---essentially 'primer'. So, it needed help.

We asked our Landlord for permission to paint. He agreed to it, as long as we painted the walls white. So boring! I bought some very expensive paint that was supposedly water-based, eco-friendly, and non-odorous before I was pregnant. My past experience with Chinese paint (with drama sets) has been that it is highly toxic and poor quality. You have to add pints and pints of thinner to the paint just to apply it to surfaces. So, I wanted something nicer. We found out it would cost quite a lot to pay some workers to do the job for us. In light of spending money on other things we need, we decided to paint ourselves during Christmas Break. But then I was pregnant, and very sick.  So it got pushed back to Chun Jie break.

The walls had sort of become a constant annoyance to me. I would sit at home all day (because it's winter and we're cooped up a lot) and just mourn how terrible they looked. I think I was close to losing my sanity over the walls. The more I looked at them, the worst they looked. It was a prison to me! The paint color was 'white', but more of a creme, and I was hoping it wouldn't clash too much with all our hodge-podge collection of furniture and textiles.

We quickly learned that taping was futile. The painters tape doesn't stick to concrete surfaces. Or wood either. It falls off after a few minutes. Or if you apply it really well, it will later pull off the paint. So. Taping is stupid in China.

You can't really tell the differences in these pictures. But it was like putting glossy cream over grungy, cracked, gray-scale paint. It was so therapeutic, I thought I might die of delight--or at least back pain.

Adam was in charge of the rollers, and I was the edger. He's hard to keep up with.

How in the world did we do this with Willow? Friends graciously watched her while we worked away. On a Friday night, we started the work while she was sleeping. Then on Saturday morning she went to the Simmonds. She came home for lunch and a nap. She spent the afternoon with her favorite person, Emily! And by that time, we were almost finished. She came home, ate supper, watched a movie, and went to bed. Adam and I took turns taking care of her or painting, and then we finished up after she went to bed. When we closed our eyes late that night, we both saw our paint brushes/rollers going across a blank wall.

It's like when you play tetris for too long.

The next morning, we noticed we had missed a few tiny spots. But, we were not about to start painting again. We'll save that for Spring Break, we agreed. That's when we planned to paint the guest room as well. Our furniture was everywhere, paint was splattered on the wood floors, and the room was a dusty mess. So we spent most of Sunday vacuuming, scrubbing, and rearranging.

Another check off the list was rearranging the living room. We needed to fit MORE furniture in the room, and the current set-up wouldn't allow for it. Since Willow will be moving into the guest room soon (and the baby will take her nursery over), I wanted Adam's wardrobe out of the guest room. Our wardrobes don't fit into our bedroom because they are too large to make the turn in the hallway. Adam generally wakes up at 4:30am, and I didn't think ti would be a good idea for him to be getting dressed for work in Willow's room. So, we rearranged our room for like the 7th time. Now the TV is on entirely different wall and we rotated our sectional couch. It cuts the room off a bit and does make the place feel smaller--but it gave us more wall space for Adam's wardrobe. It also makes the room feel like a separate living room and dining room.

I should post pictures of the before and after.

Willow, 'helping' Adam. 
We listened to several messages from Michael Easley, who had been president of Moody while we were students there. He is such a great speaker, and Adam and I both find ourselves missing all the opportunities we had for exceptional teaching on a daily basis. 

So glad that we got to paint over the crazy-yucky walls. And sort of looking forward to painting the guest room. My back wishes that it could step out of the deal.

The Play's the Thing!

Today, I was supposed to go out to Wu Ai (a huge market) and pick up some large white columns for "Pygmalion". I wasn't sure how to do this on my own, since I have never done it before. It usually involves renting because these are wedding stalls that usually just rent their materials out. So, I had a Taiwanese friends going with me to help. 

ThenI woke up sick! We CANNOT get better here. Adam has been sick for a month, Willow has been sick at least twice, and now I'm sick again. It's Saturday, and Adam has the following week off for Spring Break. Tomorrow is Easter and despite some good intentions, I don't have the makings of an Easter Basket for Willow. I just have to remind myself that she doesn't know the difference--and it's not the reason we celebrate anyway. 

So what else is happening with "Pygmalion"? After we get back from spring break, we'll be rehearsing with backstage crew, and soon after with costumes and everything else. The students' lines are still not perfect, but I'm really hoping that they take advantage of Spring Break to really polish their memorization. 

Thank goodness for awesome markets. 
They are a charm! 

These are some of the accessories. We also have like 30 pairs of gloves, bow ties, other hats, shawls, coats, aprons, watches, key chains, broaches, sashes, etc....There are so many accessories this year.

Somehow, the students have to manage not breaking any of these pieces....or misplacing them! This pregnant women spent hours hunting down these items and was rendered unable to walk afterwards. Back pain!

These pictures are from January, when I was working on buying fabric, creating pictures for the tailor, and gluing swatches to the pictures for her reference. This year, I even had spreadsheets to help her keep all the costumes/students from becoming confused. Well, now it's the end of March and we're seeing the costumes for the first time today. About 80 costume pieces with expensive fabric and difficult patterns/textiles. Total price: 4,800 kuai for tailor services. That's the most we've ever spent on costumes! But it's possible this year.

These are the cool t-shirt designs for the drama t-shirts. A student who is in the play designed them somehow--she is quite an artist!

It's that point where I have no idea how everything that needs to get done will....get done! And the point where I start throwing out ideas and aspirations because the money or the time is just not enough. I feel like a pioneer on the Oregon Trail throwing my piano and treasured books out on the trail because the oxen are dying. 

Thursday, March 28, 2013

One, Two, Three!

Playing with friends is not easy when you're 1. You have to share and try to communicate. 

Willow trying to escape the apartment. It's a good thing that even Adam and I had to be taught how to open this door when we first arrived, otherwise I'm not sure how often she'd fly the coop. Later, I noticed she was holding keys. Guess she needed a return option. 

Snowing. Every. Single. Time. we think that spring is snows again.

Evidence of her trying to call Adam during the school day. I walked into the living room to find her like this. It's cute how she set the iPad up. She doesn't understand that her dad works at school. She thinks he sleeps at school. You can ask her what dad does at school and she'll communicate that he's resting. 

This is why we have to buy salt so often. 

True ladies pick their noses, apparently. 

This is how cool girls wear headbands. 

So, I've recently discovered that Willow will pose for the camera. I told her to put her hands on her cheeks and this is what happened. Haha! 

Trying to open her crayon box. And pointing to the kitty on her shirt and saying, 'meow"

Lunch. Pasta and sunglasses are the way to go. Isn't she cool--wearing pajamas until lunch time? That's how we roll. Who wants to eat lunch the boring way, when you could wear sunglasses and pajamas?

A crown she made at Sunday School. Not too happy about being told she can't play on my computer, or hold the camera that mom is taking a picture with.

It cracks me up when Willow gets this little bag out of the shoe cabinet. Inside of the bag is a larger shopping tote. But whenever we go out to the market/store, she insists on carrying the little bag. Sometimes she carries it around the house and pretends to shop. Last night, we went to a market, and she was throwing things in the cart left and right. Ah! Tooooo helpful.

This is what is commonly known as a "Smoooooooth" Thanks to Willow's inability to finish a word.
The "recipe" below is what we make for Willow lately. Probably what she's drinking in this picture too--although looks like I doubled it so that I could have some too. 
Willow's Smoothie: 
1 cup of blueberry or raspberry yogurt 
Fresh orange, or orange juice 
1 banana 
1/4 cup frozen raspberries 
1/2 cup strawberries

Bought this little wooden stool for Willow for the bathroom. She has started brushing her teeth in the bathroom now because it suddenly occurred to me that she is too old to get her teeth brushed on the changing table still. She is learning how to spit and always takes a turn brushing her own teeth after we make sure each tooth has been cleaned. But...the stool is famous. She loves that stool! Wants to wash her hands all the time, and carry it around the apartment as her chair. 

Cuddles with dad! Willow set this situation up. Demanded Adam lay on the floor. Covered him up, and then got her own blanket and kitty. She likes to be cozy!

One really fun milestone from March is that Willow has started organizing and counting objects. She can now count to three by herself. The first few times I observed her doing this, I was in denial. How is she old enough to count? She likes to count herself into activities too. I hear her say, "one, two, three" before she jumps off the chair or takes a bite of food. :)