There has not been much excitement these past few weeks, but we still have been busy with our normal routine. It has been exactly a year since we moved from Tianjin to Banna, and we finally feel like we are settling into a good schedule. Honestly, it has been difficult to transition from attending language school full time in Tianjin to a regular working schedule in Banna. When we were both in language school, our days felt more balanced and predictable since we both spent equal number of hours going to school, studying, and watching kids. After moving to Banna, we have been transitioning to Cameron working outside of the house most days and me being at home with the kids. This is actually the first year I have truly experienced life as a stay-at-home mom. While I do love spending time with the kids and I would not trade those moments for the world, there are times when I can go a little crazy from being around little people too much. On top of that, I don’t have many places to take the kids where we all can get out of the house and socialize a bit. There are no malls to walk around in, no parks to go to, no mothers-day-outs, libraries, Chick-Fil-A playgrounds…you get the point. Therefore, in order to avoid total mental breakdown, we have eased into this new schedule slowly and adjust as needed.
Our normal day goes something like this…
6:00 – workout/shower/quiet time
7:30 – Get kids up and dressed. Make breakfast.
8:20 – Cameron takes Claire to school and then heads to work.
8:30 – 11:15 – Cameron is at work. I go to the market or run errands, take Chloe outside to play, catch up on a few emails/administrative tasks, etc. On Mondays and Wednesdays, I have tutoring from 8:30 – 10:30.
11:15 – I pick up Claire from school.
11:45 – 1:00 – Lunchtime and playtime for kids.
1:00-3:30 – Kids nap. Mom conquers the world (or crashes completely depending on the day). Once a week Cameron and I have an afternoon “group” meeting. On Fridays, I go on a long trip to the grocery store (not on purpose, it takes a while to get across town in what equates to a go-cart).
3:30 – 4:30 – Snack time, schoolwork time
4:30 – 5:30 – TV time for kids (no shame here). Get dinner ready.
5:30 – 7:00 – Dinner, baths, bed
7:30 – Mom and Dad collapse on the couch and zone out until bedtime.
Obviously, I left out alot of details about what Cameron does during the day. Vaguely, he is either in a village somewhere (villages are usually 30 minutes – 1.5 hours away), meeting with other coworkers, at our office doing work on the computer, or going to tutoring. Occasionally, we have visitors who come to Banna on a work-related visit and in that case we drop everything and host them for however long they are here. All in all, it is nice to finally have a schedule to rely on.
After a year of not focusing on language, Cameron and I have also both started spending about 6-8 hours a week on language study. I am still hacking away at the seemingly monumental task of learning Chinese, hoping to transition from being an intermediate level speaker to an advanced level speaker. It would help if the local people spoke standard Chinese, but roughly 70% of them speak the local dialect. That means that many of the tones are different and there are many different ways that they say things. Cameron is spending 4 hours a week learning the local dialect and another 4 hours learning the Dai language (a minority group language). Therefore, some days Cameron finds himself communicating in almost 4 different languages – English, standard Chinese, the local dialect, and Dai.
We also have continued to explore possibilities of how to switch to a work visa. We are currently on a tourist visa which isn’t the best for stability or ease of life here. For us it boils down to two options – either find someone who can employ one of us for a limited amount of time each week or to start our own business. Both of these options involve significant challenges. It is very difficult for either local or foreign employers to obtain the proper permits to issue a visa to a foreign employee. Starting a business would actually be easier for us, but in order to obtain a visa, that requires us to have $50,000 in a bank account here in China. Most of our business ideas involve exporting local products such as tea or purple rice to America. We continue to brainstorm and pray for options, so we are hopeful that an opportunity will present itself sooner than later!
Obviously, no funny stories to share this time, but it was probably time to catch you up on our normal, everyday life!