Things I love about having a baby in China

I go back to work tomorrow with a feeling of dread. I mean, I’ve always had that annoyed feeling at the fact the holidays are over and that I need to be responsible and earn a living again, but this time it’s different. I’ve just spent a full month with my baby. A bit of travelling, but mostly just time in and around home. And it’s been…. divine. I feel so priviledge to have had this time. And it’s made me want to be a stay-at-home Mum, which is something that I never thought would happen. 

As a follow up to Things I love about being pregnant in China, I feel inspired to write the ‘having a baby’** list.

{**How annoying is English? ‘Having a baby’ here just doesn’t sound right, but I wanted it to line up with the title of my original piece. Owning a baby? Possessing a baby? Sheesh.}

1. Walking. I do so much more walking now. And it’s great! There are so many little details of the city that you see on foot, that whiz by when you taxi or ride.

2. Making people smile. Adella is a cheeky little baby and will smile at anything. Which also means at everyone who looks her way. She’s particularly good at this on public transportation and in supermarkets.

3. Making people run. We’ve made people run, just to come and see the “Yang Wawa” (little western doll).

4. Conversation starters. I feel like I have so many more random conversations about babies. This is so good for my language skills, which I’m really trying to improve on at the moment.

5. Random advice. Ok, so the random advice can often be annoying, but sometimes it is just hilarious. For example, “I think she’s not wearing enough”, to “I think she’s too hot”. From the same person within 10 minutes.

6. Astonishing Chinese women. Our crazy western standards when it comes to raising babies. No milk powder? No disposable nappies? Not wearing 20 layers of clothing? Their shocked faces are absolute gold.

7. Eating good food. In a country of food scandals and dodgy food processing methods, it has been nice to take the time to find out more about what Beijing has to offer in terms of organic foods. And I’m sure there are many more options out there that I’m yet to find.

8. Friendship. We have already quickly become part of a playgroup with Mums and Bubbas, all around the same age as Adella. It’s wonderful to have such a great support network.

9. Coming home after work. I love coming home to her. She’s such a joy.

10. Family time. Our weekends are so special now.

IMG_2501aHere she is playing peek-a-boo on the train.

So here’s to hoping that as I step into the classroom tomorrow, my gorgeous students will remind me why I love my job and rekindle my enthusiasm. I hope.

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Red Bar Cooking Classes

As I’ve prattled on about before, it’s great to live in such a varied expat community, where I get to learn about all sorts of delicious foreign food. But occasionally…. I get to return the favour!

At school, we often get given food-related gifts. This is a bit of a Chinese thing. Since teachers in the public system are on quite a low salary, they get “bonuses” in the way of household goods. I’ve received crates of oranges, apples, cow’s milk, almond milk, a yoghurt maker and even a big pack of toilet paper (which was probably the most practical since the school toilets don’t have any! Maybe they’ll give me soap one day…).

Really, I shouldn’t be receiving these, but my wonderful, kind principal doesn’t like me being left out. So, I try to give back with the gifts by baking something with them (and no, you are not about to see a toilet paper cake). Because of this, I’ve earnt a bit of a reputation at school for cakes and often get a request for a lesson.

On a number of occasions, I’ve had a crowd of teachers piled into my tiny kitchen, marvelling at my oven (not a standard kitchen appliance over here). It’s lots of fun, and great for my language skills. The kids even turned up for the last one!

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Mixing the mixture…
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and doing the icing.

These ones are from my last school. I often intrigued the teachers with my leftover-dinner lunches.

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This was a curry class.DSC_0803

More curry.DSC_9719a

And lasagne!

For anyone who would like to do a similar thing, I’ve translated a basic cake and muffin recipe. I’ve only done the ingredients because I visually teach them the method. I’d like to reference the recipes, but I’ve been using them for so long, I can’t remember where they came from. If anyone knows, please let me know.

Cake:

125g butter 125克 黄油
1/2 cup sugar 1/2 杯 糖
1 teaspoon vanilla essence 1 茶匙 香草精
2 eggs 2个鸡蛋
2 cups S.R. Flour(or 2 cups Plain Flour + 2 teaspoons of baking powder) 2杯 白面(或者2杯白面加2茶匙发粉)
1/2 cup milk 1/2 杯 牛奶

1杯 = 大概250毫升]

Muffins:

2 cups S.R. Flour(or 2 cups Plain Flour + 2 teaspoons of baking powder) 2杯 白面(或者2杯白面加2茶匙发粉)
1/2 cup sugar 2 勺子 白糖
1/2 teaspoon of salt 1/2 茶匙 盐
1 egg 1个鸡蛋
1 cup milk 1 杯 牛奶
1/4 cup oil 1 杯 油
Optional ingredients: 自选配料:
mashed bananas 烂糊的香蕉
dried coconut 干的椰子
orange rind + orange juice 橙子的皮 和 橙子汁
chocolate 巧克力
cooked apple 熟的苹果

Why the “Red Bar” you ask? That’s the name of our apartment, because our living room looks like this:

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Things I love about being pregnant in China.

1. My co-workers arguing over whether it’s a boy or girl in there.

2. The delicate way that my friends rub my belly, until I make them poke it properly to see how weird it feels.

3. Everyone leaps up for me on the bus.

4. My co-workers insist that if I’m tired at work, I should just have a nap on the sofa in the office next door.

5. My co-workers insist that I should go home early to avoid crowded public transport, where I might get pushed around (they haven’t seen evidence of no. 3).

6. The principal doesn’t want me walking down the outside stairs because they can get slippery.

7. The looks of confusion at my belly on the street. “Is she pregnant? Or just fat? It’s too hard to tell with these foreigners…”

8. The advice. Especially about computer screens and microwaves.

9. The way my students have never directly asked me whether I’m pregnant or not. They just secretly ask the Chinese teachers.

10. The excitement when I tell people that I’m bringing my baby back to Beijing, and they will get to meet him/her!