Daily Life of Boot Wearin' Dirt Kickers in China

A Midwestern American family figures out how to live, love and laugh in China

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June 25, 2009 Riding Lessons with Stormie

Posted by taylorsinchina on July 5, 2009

Today, we went to Mound City, Missouri and visited with Charlie Smith, checked in on Toby’s horse, Billie Girl, and then went to Uncle Aaron and Aunt Kelly’s house.  It was insanely HOT and HUMID!  After some fun in the play pool with their cousins, Hattie and Isabella, we went to Milne Arena where Stormie gave both boys a riding lesson.

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June 24, 2009 Home in Kansas City

Posted by taylorsinchina on July 5, 2009

Our first morning home in the Kansas City house…Aaron and the boys come walking up from the creek and pasture.  It’s so fun to be taking in all of the green “stuff” in our backyard!

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June 23, 2009 Good Bye New York – Hello Kansas City!

Posted by taylorsinchina on July 2, 2009

When we landed in Kansas City, the pilot said that it was 97 F outside with 40% humidity.  Boy, when we stepped onto the jetway, we felt like a thick, hot, moist wall had just hit our bodies.

Grandpa Lyle, Grandma Linda, Uncle Aaron, Aunt Kelly, Hattie and Isabella were all waiting on us when we stepped off the jetway!  Hattie had pretty red carnations that she gave to me…we felt like royalty.

Photos to come

We headed to On The Boarder for dinner as soon as we retrieved our luggage….ahhhh, Tex Mex like we like it at last!

Photos to come

We then headed to the house to unload suitcases and settle in for the evening.  Mom warned us during dinner that something was wrong with the A/C…and she was right.  It was HOT in that place.  Aaron checked the breaker box and flipped one of the switches…we had cool air immediately but it was going to take a while to get the house cooled down.  Our crew of  “greeters” quickly filed out and got into their more comfortable airconditioned cars!  I didn’t blame them!  The boys went upstairs and were obsessed with playing with their toys even though it was even hotter up there.  Aaron and I quickly figured out that if we laid really still on the couch that the ceiling fan created enough of a breeze to keep you comfortable.  As the evening went on, the house got cooler and cooler.

It’s great to be home!

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June 22, 2009 Madame Toussaud’s Wax Museum, M&M’s and Hershey’s

Posted by taylorsinchina on June 29, 2009

Today, just the four of us took the train and subway into Times Square. The boys wanted to see the famous Madame Toussaud’s Wax Museum. It was fun and we spent more time there than we thought we would.

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After the wax museum, we ate at John’s Pizzaria off Broadway…delicious!

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I quickly went into the Sephora store to get some lip gloss…Aaron and the boys lounged on Times Square while they waited on me…pretty funny to see all these people hanging around on the street in lawn chairs!

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Next stop = the M&M’s Store…all three levels of it!

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Final Times Square Destination = the Hershey’s Store! Toby and Garrett were asked to be “Hershey Helpers” and they were pretty darned happy about it.

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June 21, 2009 Father’s Day

Posted by taylorsinchina on June 29, 2009

Today was a slow, relaxing day. The boys made Aaron a large Father’s Day card in Linda’s craft room last night. It was cool…it had glitter…lots of it. I wrapped his presents and then each of us gave him one. He received three books that recently came out on the best seller list. Linda made waffles and we all enjoyed them.

It rained and rained and then cleared off. Aaron hung out with the boys and fished with them. Linda, Lauren and I went to Marshall’s and did some shopping. I found a pair of khaki shorts and several t-shirts for Aaron.

We brought home steaks for grilling and Dennis fired up the big grill. It was another fun evening with them.

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June 20, 2009 Trains, Subways, Central Station & Natural History Museum

Posted by taylorsinchina on June 29, 2009

Aaron and all the kids fished until it began to pour. After that, we got everyone into dry clothes and Linda dropped us all off at the train station. We (Aaron, myself, Lauren, Tommy, Toby and Garrett) rode the train into the city and then took the subway into Central Station.

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From there, we walked in the rain with umbrellas. The kids all ate pretzels from a street vendor and Aaron had a hot dog.

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We then hit the final subway ride which dropped us off right at the Natural History Museum. Of course, on the way there we had some crazy, homeless guy giving speeches. He kept shouting, “King Obama! King Obama!…we’ve finally chosen one of our own…we won’t be entertainers anymore…mother’s are the most important people in the world…King Obama!” The boys just sat, stared and took in the whole show. Lauren was weirded out by him. He was harmless.

Here is Rusty from the movie “Night at the Museum.” All the kids liked the dino exhibit.

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The sea turtle was my favorite in the dino exhibit.

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June 19, 2009 Visiting Friends in NYC

Posted by taylorsinchina on June 29, 2009

This morning, we made our annual pilgrimage to IHOP. This is such a fun tradition…always our first breakfast in America! After returning home, Aaron sat on the ledge and watched the kids fish from the rocks and Linda and I visited by the pool. After the kids were done fishing, they all jumped into the pool and played for several hours. When it began to sprinkle and then gently rain, we all went inside.

So relaxing to just hang out, read a book, visit with Linda and Dennis and take it easy.

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June 18, 2009 Off to Mei Gua (America)!

Posted by taylorsinchina on June 29, 2009

Everything was packed yesterday afternoon so all we had to do today was pack our toiletries and put the final carry on items in place. I’m not traveling with my laptop this year so I already feel “naked” knowing that it won’t be in my bag. Aaron is taking his laptop so it’s not like I’ll be without if I want to get online. We plan to purchase me a new Asus EeePC net book when we get to NYC. I look forward to having a laptop that is so small and light!

We went to April Gourmet and purchased our in-flight junk food and then had a leisurely lunch at Piazza Cafe. After that, we went home and played with Bernie and said our goodbye’s. Mr. Sun showed up to drive us to the airport for our 3:45 p.m. flight.

We left Beijing on the 18th and then, of course, arrived in NYC on the 18th. The first four hours of the flight was exceptionally rough but other than that it went fine.

We were so happy to see our friends, Dennis, Linda, Brett, Lauren and Tommy!

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June 15 – 17, 2009 Final Errands Before Heading to America!

Posted by taylorsinchina on June 29, 2009

June 15 – Today was our “no drive” day so I hung out in Shunyi and packed suitcases and organized other household stuff that needs to be done before we leave town.

June 16 – Today was CRAZY…and the boys were real troopers going from place to place with me. I wanted to get all of my “in the city” errands finished today so that I could do my Shunyi ones tomorrow along with the final packing. We started out by at the Pearl Market getting those final orders picked up. Garrett and Toby went with me because they wanted Mr. Sun to take them across the alley to the Toy Market. They asked him to take them twice throughout the morning! We left the Pearl Market and headed to the Korean BBQ place afterward for lunch. It was black as night outside and a huge storm came through while we ate. The boys liked grilling their own meats and Mr. Sun liked the meal as well. I tried what I term “thousand bone fish” but gave up and let Mr. Sun have it. My favorite part of the meal was the dou fu pi (tofu skin with sesame oil and other seasonings)…it tastes like chicken…no kidding!

Once we got some energy from lunch, we headed to the Silk Market to pick up another jewelry order from Bill and Marie…the boys got to go out on the 5th floor balcony and see the city from that height so it was fun to them. Then we headed to Lido to visit Wang Li’s store and have her ship out a few boxes of her goods to mom and Betsy. The boys and Mr. Sun had a good time playing with her teensy little puppy. I purchased some Pashmina’s from her sister, Xiao Li (little Li) where she fed me a homemade fajita (I watched her make the tortilla)…so delicious! We then loaded up and headed home. Once at home, I ran up to the club house and had my hair done and finalized a few things with the front desk.

June 17 – Today, I packed the rest of my items and met Katie at Dragonfly for pedicures and manicures. I had the local Kodak shop make prints for Mr. Sun of his Hutong home and then dropped off a few boxes of kid clothing to the RoundAbout charity store. At about 4:30 p.m., we loaded up again and headed into the city with our friends Svetlana and Sasha to meet the guys at Pushkin, a good Russian restaurant. That was such a great meal! Svetlana and Mark will be moving to Brunei and then to D.C. about a week after we leave for the summer. We will miss their friendship and good laughs when we return to Beijing.

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June 13, 2009 Last Day of School – Summer Vacation

Posted by taylorsinchina on June 29, 2009

The boys were released today at 11:45 a.m. for summer vacation. Toby had a final play date with Carlos (who is moving back to Panama in July) so it was just Garrett and myself for lunch. We had lunch and then stopped by the local flower market for a couple of items.

After running our errands, we asked Mr. Sun if he would want us to go to his Hutong courtyard home and take some photos for him. He is under quite a bit of duress due to the fact that the new subway is coming through his Hutong community. Because of that, his home (and everyone elses) is being leveled and everyone displaced. It took him eight years to save up enough money to totally renovate his courtyard home wich was newly finished in January 2008. Last summer, he landscaped with rose bushes, trees and rocks (for feng shue). Now, he will lose his home, his investment and hard work…very sad because he was so proud of it and loved living there next to all of his friends and family members.

When we pulled up, I didn’t even recognize the Hutong as whole buildings had been torn down and there was debris everywhere.

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We had to scramble over large piles of bricks just to get to his front gate. He is the final resident in his Hutong so it is a quiet (except for the demolition work) place with just Mr. Sun coming and going each day. Can you imagine being expected to walk/crawl your way through this mess every day just to get to your front door or out onto the street with your bicycle?

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You can see Mr. Sun’s front doors up ahead on the right. The brick wall on the left is all that is left standing of that building…the roof and other sides have all been taken down. His older brother’s home was just ahead on the left. We peeked in a crack where the bricks had fallen and was able to see what was left, which was only one wall (partially collapsed), a window frame and the concrete floor.

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Mr. Sun and Garrett standing at the front doors inside his courtyard.

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This set of rooms faces the above photos on the south side of his courtyard. They are what I would term as guest rooms or for other family members.
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Garrett and Mr. Sun in his rose garden.

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These are photos of the north side of the courtyard where it looks like Mr. Sun does most of his living. The room to the left is a kind of living room with then another room right next to it that is his bed room, followed by his kitchen.
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One of the rose bushes from his garden…

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On our way out, I couldn’t help but take some photos that seemed strange to Mr. Sun…the left over’s from a once tight-knit community that had been “scattered to the wind” by a new subway project.

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Garrett thoroughly enjoyed the visit and climbing over all of the rubble…but he now has a better understanding about Mr. Sun losing his home.

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