Monday, December 31, 2012

It has been a busy fall for me.  I started teaching US History and Culture and Human Geography at Suzhou No. 10 High School.  I have a great group of kids who are working hard to earn their way into good American universities.  But the highlight of the fall was November 5th when I was able to take a week off from work and travel back to Yanji, Jilin to welcome the birth of my daughter Lexi May Sharp.

Ying has opted to stay in Yanji, where her sisters can help her, till she feels Lexi is strong enough to make the trip to Suzhou.  I'm planning on going up to Yanji for the Spring Festival/Chinese New Year celebrations.  I'll be returning alone but Ying, Lexi and a sister will be following in about 10 days.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

It has been an interesting week for me.  On the 28th I flew from Yanji to Kunshan to get ready for my new job in Suzhou.  All I can say is thank God for China's high speep rail system.  I can go from Kunshan to Suzhou in about 10 minutes.  I actually spent more time on the bus and in a taxi than I did on the train.  The last few days I have been busy setting up a simplified version of my AP history class for Chinese soplomore students.  I'm using a US history book printed in China so the information it has is limited, but the director wants me to go into greate detail, but do it in a way to keep their interest.

I've also been looking for a place to live, and I must say that Magggie, the head teacher, is a jewel.  she has taken time out of her schedule to help me find a place and I value her input, especially when I have to take into consideration that when my wife gets here, we will be dealing with an infant.  The vast majority of the places I saw were marginal at best till we were showed an apartment on the 19th floor of a new highrise.  If we had to deal with stairs we would have been limited to no higher than the third floor for that reason.  But an elevator changes things dramatically, so even though the place was more than I expected, 2600 Yuan ($409.47), the company and school give me 2000 ($314.98) Yuan for housing assiatance so the extra 600 Yuan won't be a hardship. 

We went the the bank to withdraw 13,000 ($2047.74) yuan for the deposit, 2 months rent and the realtor fee.  We went to an ATM self service center to withdraw the money and the heat there was stifling.  I just wanted to get the money and get out.  Since I had to do it and keep track of it in incraments of 2500 Yuan ($393.73).  It was hot in the selfserve lost track of ended up withdrawing 15,500 Yuan ($2441.10).  In the lon run it was good that I withdrew extra beause as we were sitting in the  realtor office I realized I had left my card in the machine.  we ran back to the ATM but my card was not there.  We called the bank and was able to place a hold on my card and it the last transaction they showed was the money I had withdrawn and the balance was ok.  I hoping the machine ate my card and I can get it back.  If not I'll just get a new card.

But, I was able to secure a real nice new apartment and hopefully I'll be getting our stuff from Kunshan soon and be setting up a new home for us and baby.

Friday, May 18, 2012

The Weather is Warm and Again Bellies and Knees Are in Fashion.

The days are getting warmer and again the people of China show their fashion prowess in their daily ensembles.  On another blog I like to read, Life Behind the Wall, Jo Gan talks about women/girls who wear skirts and shorts so short you see their kitty when they bend over.
 Not to be outdone, Chinese men have their own unique fashion style of dealing with the heat.  I'm talking about the China wide practice of Chinese men rolling up their shirts and pant legs in an effort to beat the heat.  It makes no difference where you are in China, be it the Northeast province of Jilin, the cities of Beijing or Shanghai, wherever it gets hot Chinese men will without shame bare their bellies and knees for fashion and comfort.


Saturday, May 12, 2012

The pregnancy is progressing

Fourteen weeks and little things are beginning to change.  Ying is slightly more mercurial in her moods, but I continue to take it all in stride.She is also beginning to show a small baby bump.  Every now and then I listen at her tummy for a heartbeat, but it is still to faint to hear.

 It looks like I might be transferred to another city soon.  The latest information is that I will be transferred to Nantong.  Unlike Kunshan, where I am currently the only foreign or resident teacher, Nantong has two other foreign teachers, so I will have somebody to talk to.  I called one of the teachers and he and his wife said that the apartment provided was less than desirable, but since it is not that far from us, Ying and I are going to take a train to the city to see if what they say is true or if they are exaggerating. If they are right, we might consider using the allowance to rent another apartment in the area.

Right now all I can do is sit around and wait for the company to decide what I'm going to do and when we are going to make the move.  I just want to get back to work and hopefully repeat the successes I had in Kunshan.

Until then I'm enjoying a short vacation.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Ying is 12 weeks along.  We went for an ultrasound and the baby is @7cm in length. I wish I could post a picture of the scan, but alas that isn't possible right now.  If it wasn't real to me before, it certainly is now.  No idea about sex, but I'm still hoping for a girl.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Huge life changing events on the horizon

The year of the Dragon and the month of March have been life changing events for Ying and I.  It all actually started in January/February during the Chinese New Year holidays.  I had a month off from school so we went to Yanji (NE China) to visit family and friends.  Once the holidays were ended, I came back to Kunshan for work and Ying stayed in Yanji to spend another 2 weeks with her mother then fly back.  While she was there, EVERYTHING that was supposed to happen did and  and on 27 February when she came home, there was the usual celebrating and re-bonding us married couples do after a separation.

In early March I got an e-mail that home office would be visiting the schools they were contracted with to administer the International (US High School (+AP)) Program to evaluate the teachers and decide who they would offer contracts for the coming school year.  I was dreading the day they would drop into Kunshan and observe one of my US History classes. For those who don't know I teach kids who have decided to forgo the China's National Higher Education Entrance Examination (the Gaokao) needed to qualify for the top Chinese universities and instead apply for universities abroad, usually in the United States.  So far three of my students have decided on schools.  Winnie, a small quiet girl has selected Miami University- Oxford, Ohio, Sarah, the class leader, has chosen on Ohio State and Mammon, a girl as devilish as her name implies, has decided to go to Univ of Washington.  Of the two boys, I think Daniel, a thinker if there ever was one, has expressed a desire to go to Boston University and Frank, a real basketball fan, is torn between Syracuse, Virginia Tech and Ohio State. 

Then last Saturday (March 25th) Ying notices her "usual monthly visitor" was late so she went to the pharmacy and got "THE TEST" and sure enough, she's pregnant.

Initially I was stunned, but then I got excited.  After so many years of waiting, I am finally going to be a father. We told family and friends on both sides of the world and all are ecstatic. Since then we discussed different names we liked.  The boy's name was easy.  My grandfather, my father and I all have a first name that begins with a C and the middle name Edward.  I wanted to continue the trend but also wanted to make some changes.  I have always liked the name Casey and even used it as my society name in the SCA (although I used the original Gaelic spelling of Cathsasch) and part of my nom de plume on the internet, we decided it was a perfect first name.  I wanted to get away from Edward as a middle name but still honor my family.   I had learned through my research that I had a Great (to the 8th) grandfather named Enoch, His name would be Casey Enoch Sharp.

A girl's name was difficult since there were to few girls on both sides of my family and Ying did not want ti give her an actual Chinese name, we decided on a western name that would be easy for the Chinese family members to repeat.  We decided we didn't want to follow the C-E trend for her.  I could have used the name Casey for her to, but I wanted her to be unique.  In the past, I've known many women named Lexi who were outstanding people.  Ying wanted her middle name to be Marie or something similar, but I told her my last two ex's initials were L-M-S and I just would not be comfortable seeing those initials for my daughter and not think of them so I suggested Ann.  Ying immediately liked it and said it could be easily repeated and if necessary "Chinafied" for the Chinese family members, so if it is a girl, her name will be  Lexi Ann Sharp.

Finally if this month wasn't eventful enough I get an e-mail from home office that solely based on excellent feedback from the students, their parents and I guess the woman who is the school liaison for the company my performance as a teacher and not coming to actually observe me in class, offered to renew my contract for next year.  Needless to say, I accepted and tomorrow (Saturday) I and the other teachers will be conducting interviews with the students who want to enter the International Program and eventually go to college in the US.

I'll be trying to remember to make regular reports about our progress as we wait for the blessed event.  Until then, Y'all  take care.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Our Thanksgiving dinner in China

Last Thursday was Thanksgiving, but I had to work, so we decided to celebrate on Friday.  Since turkeys are hard to fine in China and it was just us two, we opted for a duck.  It came out great.  Ying even made her own cream of mushroom soup and fried onions for the green bean casserole. This was our spread.

The entire meal
The Guest of Honor
Green Bean Casserole
Sweet Potatoes

 Mashed Potatoes

 And there ya have it, the Sharp family Thanksgiving meal in Kunshan China.  Happy Holidays and I will try to post more during the holidays.