Archive for May, 2007

Mother’s Day

Mother’s Day began to be celebrated in China about 10 years ago. Generally speaking, it is an urban phenomenon – as rural areas are not as deeply influenced by western culture as the cities. Cards are written, phone calls made, flowers (carnations) given.

My friend (a Taiwanese-American) decided to host a Mother’s Day Brunch for the mothers of her daughter’s class. She invited me to join the party as the guest speaker – someone with four children must have something to say on the topic of mothering!


It was difficult to think of a topic that would cross the inevitable cultural barriers. The women assembled all work full time, are only allowed by law to have one child, send their children to full time school at the age of three, and are parenting their children by very different values. I wanted to speak on something that we share, not just on the things that are distinct between our cultures.

After much thought, I felt that I was to speak (via translation) on the Five Love Languages. What a wonderful conversation we enjoyed! This kind of subject is not common here, and the women were quite eager to hear and discuss. Through tears, one mom shared that her heart was very moved – she felt that she had alot to think about in the way she loves others.

Many asked questions about our adoptions of Mia and Hannah. It was great to hear their honest questions and concerns – and to share with them who is the author of adoption and the nature of that kind of love.

After our discussion, my friend asked them to sign up on a sheet if they would be interested in getting together for another “heart talk”. Of 14 in attendance, 12 signed up!

What a joy to celebrate Mother’s Day this way.


Recipes, Edition 1

By far, our family’s favorite breakfast is “yogurt with crunchies” (granola). Well, that is not exactly true, but with imported breakfast cereal costing upwards of 50 yuan a box ($6.40), it is our favorite AFFORDABLE breakfast. We’ve discovered the joy of making easy, tasty granola that has no preservatives – and thought we’d share it with you. It’s delicious on top of fruity or vanilla yogurt.

  • 5 cups uncooked oats (I like old fashioned, but quick cooking are OK, too)
  • 3/4 tsp cinammon
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup vegetable or canola oil
  • 1/3 cup honey

Preparation: In large mixing bowl, stir together oats and cinammon. Set aside. In small saucepan, stir together honey, oil and sugar until sugar liquefies (only about a minute on medium heat). Toss with oats. Spread evenly on cookie sheet. Bake at 350 for 10 minutes, stirring 3 – 4 times to keep edges from burning. Let cool before crunching up. Store in airtight container. Yummy!

Some of you have read about the homemade sour cream we make. I know it sounds awful – the preparation sounds awful, too. But, kuddos to my dear friend LaWanda in Changsha, she gave it a try and found out that it really works! Now, I realize that your local grocery store has an entire section devoted to various types of sour cream. But just for kicks someday, give this recipe a try!

Sour Cream

  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 5 tbsp plain yogurt (must have live cultures)

Preparation: Put ingredients in a large, clean glass jar, shake to mix. Let sit in warm place for 24 hours. Refrigerate for 12 – 24 hours. If it hardens too much, you can dilute with milk when you serve.

Please post a comment if you try either recipe. You might inspire someone else. Enjoy!


Pictionary, bi-lingual style

A few weeks ago, we hosted a group of 25 students from the English Corner at a local university for games, western style snacks and family time. For the majority of students, this was their first visit to the home of a westerner, and they were fascinated by everything. It was incredibly fun!

Each of our children proudly showed them their room, favorite stuffed animal and their picture album from the States. We then played Pictionary, which was doubly fun with a language and culture gap (for example, one student drew a beer when given the word bear – she sure got alot closer than I would with Chinese characters!). On a large map of China, each took a moment to show where they were born, and brag a little on the famous food or destination in their hometown.

Mia makes friends/sharing photos/Zach takes on the Wu Zi Qi Champion (they tied)/Bi-lingual Pictionary

Our western style snacks of cut vegetables with onion dip (made with homemade sour cream – recipe to follow on a coming post), chocolate chip cookies, pretzels, Hot Tamales (thanks, LW!) and watermelon met with mixed reviews. Eating raw vegetables is just not done here. Salads are few and far between – raw celery, carrots, broccoli and peppers? Never! The pretzels were tolerable, the cookies too sweet … but the watermelon saved the day!

With 500 students in the English Club I work with each Sunday, it is really hard to build meaningful relationships. We are so thankful for this special night and the deeper relationships we’ve been able to build since. We have so much to share this summer!


Zach and Noah make welcome signs for our door/the unpopular Western snacks – oh well, it was a cross-cultural learning experience!


Noah the Artist

On his own, Noah (age 5.5) created this amazing picture (L), based on this book (R). He traced the duck and free-handed the rest. Ironically, this week I hired my first graphic designer. It was me (I’m cheap). I am interviewing for a second position and it looks like Noah might be a strong contender!

– Dan

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My Sons, The Bubble Boys

See next post for vague explanation. I recommend clicking Play button, then pausing immediately to allow video to download a bit (you will see a red bar showing its progress).


May Holiday

The first week of May we celebrating the cleverly named… May Holiday. Thanks to the stranger who permanently and anonymously borrowed my camera from my hotel room a few weekends ago, these pictures are compliments of our friend Rachel. We hosted her along with dear friends from another part of our company. As always, you can click on any image to enlarge. Come with us…

Visiting our local Water Park (think park next to water, not wave pool)


At said park, our group of 10 foreigners were a prime attraction. If you ever desire a false sense of celebrity…


Still at the park, Zach and Noah experience what hamsters would feel like inside of bubbles floating on water (video pending).

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Hannah getting some extra reading in (I love the irony of the title…)


Zach running an experiment (it was a demonstration of the destruction of Pompeii by volcanic eruption)


No one is safe from the Braid Fairy!


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