Showing posts with label China. Show all posts
Showing posts with label China. Show all posts

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Life on the Flip Side: Laundry

Or in which I go crazy and air my dirty (and clean) laundry all over the internet.

I am going to be writing a series entitled: Life on the Flip Side: Learning how things work on the other side of the world. I want to record a little bit of how our daily life works right now, so I can remember later. I'm guessing this won't be the most interesting series for that many people, but I do know one person who will appreciate it (Hi Grandma!), so I figured I might as well go ahead and publish these thoughts.

Today I'll show you briefly how I do laundry, later I'll show you how we do some other things, which may or may not be more exciting.

Our laundry set up is on the balcony off of our bedroom. Our washing machine is a bit smaller than most in America, probably about half of the capacity of a standard American machine. Dryers also aren't common here and are hugely expensive, both to purchase and power, so we just do what most people do here and line dry all of our laundry. We have to bars on the balcony to hang the laundry to dry on. They can be raised and lowered with a crank. The balcony is covered so the laundry doesn't get rained on. It actually isn't a big deal to me to hang up the laundry with this set up and now I have helpers too.

I took these pictures on a day back in February when I needed to get three loads of laundry done in one day. I normally don't do more than one or two, but I got behind had to catch up. I figured taking pictures to blog about this process might motivate my to actually catch up.

Crank to raise and lower bars
I washed one load before I started taking pictures. But since the first load I washed was the diapers, it is probably a good thing, you don't really need to see our dirty diapers. You can use your imagination or not as you see fit.

In the washer you can see the clean diapers, a green washer ball (which helps ionize the water and decreases our need for detergent), a couple other colored washer balls (which increase agitation as this machine only has an agitator at the bottom), and off to the right side of the washing machine you can see my detergent and fabric softener.

Diapers are the highest priority laundry item around here, so on days I need to do more than one load, I try to wash these first. We don't want to run out of diapers. Even if split pants and no diapers are culturally appropriate; we don't use that method for many messy reasons.

Once the diapers are done I summon my minions subjects children/helpers and set a classical music timer to get us all hanging up the laundry fast. The only way I can get anything besides basic household chores done in the day is to have the kids help, so I train them to help as soon as they are able.

I spread out the diapers over the bars and railings to get then to dry as fast as possible.

My biggest helper can grab laundry from the machine and  clip them up while standing on a step ladder.


 And the littler helper clips up diaper wipes inside. Many hands make light work.

And we're down with load number one! Many days (and definitely if it is cold and rainy and things are taking a long time to dry) I would be all done with laundry for the day. But February was warm and dry and I needed to catch up on laundry.

Alright, moving right along to the second load. We don't use many paper products so I ask my helpers to bring me the handkerchiefs and the kitchen rag/towels as I start to load up the washer again.

Here comes a cutey with the handkerchiefs.

I add some homemade laundry detergent.

And I fill up my downy ball with vinegar for fabric softener. 

The only way to get hot or warm water to the washing machine is to carry it from the bathtub as the machine is only hooked up to cold. So if we want to run a load with a hot or warm wash, if we're trying to conserve water, of if our cold water has been shut off but we still have hot solar water from the roof, we fill buckets in the bathtub and fill up the machine that way.

Here I had taken a bath and then pretreated and let soak some laundry that needed extra attention. Then we filled the washer with water from the bathtub as well.

Full to the max and ready to go.

Alright, finished hanging up the second load by 1pm. All of my hanging bars and railings are completely full now and I would definitely be done with laundry most days. But it is fairly warm and dry so this will dry quickly. I throw one more load of wash into the machine to hang up later.

 We have some things to do and leave the house for a while.

When we come back in the evening I take down the sheets and diapers that are dry and hang up the last load in between any items that are still damp.

Because of the relatively small area,
everything gets hung on hangers and then hung perpendicular
to the bars to maximize the drying space

The little boys shirts and sweater vests are cute all hanging in a row. :)

And the boys are even cuter as they help me fold the diapers, while I take care of making the bed.

In case your wondering how helpful baby is in all of this, he still only has two jobs.

To dirty the diapers.

And be a good boy and smile when we play diaper peek-a-boo.

And we're done! Three loads of laundry washed. One and a half loads folded and put away. Time to read stories, eat treats, hug my boys, and go to bed.

If I blogged about laundry more often I might not get behind, my balcony would get cleaned more frequently, but any readers might be even more bored.

For the next Life on the Flip Side post I'll talk about shopping, which should be more interesting than laundry. And at least I have cute helpers to take pictures of.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Chinese New Year Preschool Craft: Firecracker Decorations

Chinese New Year (which is actually called Spring Festival in China) festivities are underway here. Today is "New Year's Eve" and the actual Lunisolar New Year Day is tomorrow. This will start the official two weeks of the festival, but really people have been celebrating for at least a week and there are generally festivities for a month or more surrounding the holiday.

During this time there are lots of firecrackers and fireworks going off all over, even in cities where they are less prevalent in general. Today we've heard a lot more than usual and tomorrow night will probably be the biggest firework day of the year (if I remember right from last year).

Updated February 10th:
We learned later that we were kind of confused on the dates. The actual New Year's day this year was February 10, but the festival starts New Year's Eve, so people refer to this as the start of the holiday. So anyway, the biggest firework day is the New Year's Eve night into the New Year's Day. Last night/this morning there was definitely a huge amount of fireworks at midnight. I think we figured out our confusion on this subject now on to other cultural mysteries.)

In addition to lighting off fireworks, firecracker decorations like this one are all over as well. A few days ago we made this simple hanging firework decoration. We don't in any way believe we need real or decorative fireworks to scare away bad luck or vampires, but I thought this would be a good way to explain to our boys that some people here do believe that. That is why they buy and use those things, and why we don't. (Besides the strong focus of visiting with family, the big emphasis of this holiday is good luck for the New Year, and pretty much everything surrounding this holiday has to do with either inviting good luck or keeping bad luck away, so we can't really do anything related to Spring festival without addressing it.)

We also got a lot of tracing practice writing the Chinese characters for firecracker (biānpào, 鞭炮) on each firecracker. If you didn't want to write the characters you could just decorate the red paper with black and/or gold designs as well.

Street-side cart of firecracker and other decorations

Spring Festival Firework Decorations

  • Red scrapbook or construction paper (I cut up a red gift bag with a swirly design that had torn a little, but any sturdy red paper would work)
  • Pencils, pens, markers, or even glitter glue pens
  • Scissors
  • Stapler and staples (or tape could work)
  • String to hang
  1. Cut small rectangles of red paper (mine were about 3x5 inches).
  2. If you want you can write the Chinese character for firecracker (biānpào, 鞭炮) one each piece of paper and have your child trace over it. Or you could have an older child try to write it on their own. Or you can skip the character and just make designs in black or gold.
  3. Curl each piece of paper around to make a small tube and secure with a staple or piece of tape.
  4. Cut some lengths of string and attach on to each tube.
  5. Tie the tubes together at varying heights and hang. 
 If you want you can practice saying, biānpào. The pow sound with the strong falling tone almost sounds like a firecracker, which helps me remember it. :)

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Chinese New Year Themed Preschool Activity: Coloring Chinese a Chinese Gift Envelope and Money

For Chinese New Year (known here as Spring Festival), it is customary for kids and young people to be given money in special red envelopes (hóng bāo, 红包) at family gatherings during this time. As my English tutoring student told me again last week, "Chinese children are very happy at Spring Festival."

You can have kids make their own pretend hóng bāo and Chinese money to keep, exchange, or give away. Decorate envelopes red and yellow and they money brown, green, blue, or red. Or you could have them write notes to put inside the envelopes instead.

For older children, you could even have them practice drawing a Chinese character on the front of the envelope in yellow or gold.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Chinese New Year Themed Preschool Activity: Chopsticks Practice

This is a really simple preschool or tot school activity that is great for fine motor skills. You can adapt it in many ways to suit the needs and level of your child.

After we made our pretend jiao zi, I let the boys practice transferring the play dough jiao zi back and forth from one bowl to another using chopsticks or a spoon. Aaron (3 1/2) was able to do this fairly easily with chopsticks, although sometimes he kind of cheated and helped the jiao zi along with his other hand. Andrew (2) got frustrated with the chopsticks but did really well with the spoon.

The consistency of the play dough jiao zi made them stick to the bowl more even than regular jiao zi, and I think that may have given the boys extra difficulty. You could try this with just small balls of play dough or with other small objects like miniature bean bags as well. I think they would work quite well.

It is interesting because small children here don't learn to feed themselves until they are much older than in America. Sometimes they don't start at all until they are even older than our boys, and then they start learning with a spoon and later move to using chopsticks. So several Chinese people have commented on how intelligent, skillful, and clever our boys are to be able to use chopsticks as such a young age. Of course this is kind of funny because they also do things with their chopsticks, like play the drum on their bowl, or squish their nose (the outside, but still) that don't really demonstrate those characteristics.

However, practicing using chopsticks to transfer things back and forth or just to eat with is great for building fine motor control. It is great hand eye coordination practice for any young child.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Chinese New Year Themed Preschool Activity: Chinese Play Dough Creations

For our unit study this January, we're learning about Chinese New Year. For a very simple activity, I got out our red and white candy cane play dough that was a Christmas present for the boys. I had separated it after giving it to the boys into mostly red and mostly white glittery play dough.
With the red play dough, Aaron (3 1/2) made an interesting dragon/dinosaur guy all by himself. If you don't like dragons or dinosaurs you could choose another traditional Chinese animal to have the kids try to make.

Andrew (2) and I made pretend jiǎo zi (饺子), known in the west as Chinese dumplings, out of the white play dough. Jiǎo zi are traditional Chinese New Year food. First, we rolled it out and cut circles, and then put a little bit of "filling" in and folded them over. Andrew liked doing this but did need quite a bit of help, and I was definitely the only one who crimped the edges. However, older kids could do all the steps on their own pretty easily. Then the boys practiced using chopsticks or a spoon to transfer the jiǎo zi back and forth from bowl to bowl. Sometime we'll have to learn how to make real jiǎo zi since we all love it.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...