Saturday, September 27, 2008

Jack's Day

Today we took Jack downtown to buy glasses but first we took him to lunch at Hooters. The girls LOVED Jackie. He talked with them in Chinese and they talked with him in English. He said he thinks they are smart girls because they speak Chinese and English.

The girls wear pantyhose under their shorts and one girl had sort of control tops on and you could see the band around her thigh. Classy!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Things that make you go ewww

Jack and I were working in the office when we heard a familiar noise. Jack said, "is someone cutting their nails?" I had thought the same thing, but knew that the boys wouldn't do that on their own and Xing Ayi and Zeke were out, so thought it must be something else. I told Jack to go investigate. He came back and said, "it's just Chef Bai, he's using his own clipper to cut his nail, that's all." I made a face and Jack said, "what, he's using his own clipper and clipping them over his apron." He was doing it in the kitchen!!! EWWW.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Great Wall Hike

A true blue sky day!

Jack is one of the three yellow shirted boys walking together up the Great Wall.
Cub Scout Pack 3944 of Beijing hikes at the oldest site of any other pack in the world. Pretty cool!

The man staking his claim on chestnuts.

Cub Scout Great Wall Hike

Jack and his great friend, CJ (red shirt)

Jack and CJ participating in the group activity. About 45 scouts took part
in the outing.

This is the view (up) from where we ate lunch.

This year, I drew the short straw and became the parent to go along on the Cub Scout Great Wall Hike. It was nice to go with Jack but it was a long hot day.

We hiked up a long winding trail for about a mile + or so until we reached the Great Wall. Then we walked through a tunnel to reach the other side of the wall and the boys did some games and songs and we all ate lunch. Then we took a walk on the wall.

Along the trail, we found thousands of fallen chestnuts. Locals were collecting them on the ground and some were even using long sticks to shake them out of trees. One man shouted at us to leave the chestnuts or we'd have to pay him for any we took. I'm not sure how he can claim ownership, but he seemed to think he had a legitimate claim.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Bathroom habits- Revisted

It is nearly impossible to live in China and not address the bathroom differences. I have posted before about squatty potties, and probably, though I can't say for sure, I have also addressed the split pants issue. In case I haven't, or for those of you who are new to the blog, I will explain a bit.

Traditionally, the Chinese have trained their children to use the toilet from a very young age. Babies do not wear diapers. They wear open clothes, called split pants so that the pee or poop, theoretically, does not mess the clothes on its way out. Parents must work hard to "train" their children to go on command or stick to a strict schedule of elimination. This explains frequent sightings of parents with young children squatting by the side of the road.

There is a movement (no pun intended) in the states right now, to toilet train babies from a young age, also. It is called "elimination communication."

A few days ago, I came home and Xing Ayi proudly proclaimed that Zeke had pooped on the potty. While I was surprised, I can't say I was shocked. She said she could see he needed to go so she put him on the toilet to go. I tried to picture the logistics of this episode but didn't think too much about it. Then, yesterday, Zeke seemed to need to go again so she took him into the bathroom. Curiosity got the best of me and I knocked on the door and took this picture. I have encouraged her to continue this habit. If she can get him toilet trained by the time we leave here when he is 18 months, WOW!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Mid Autumn Festival

This weekend is Mid Autumn Festival. It celebrates the harvest, the brightest moon of the year and middle of the lunar calender autumn. It is a time to celebrate with family and enjoy the bright moon. Sunday and Monday are national holidays, so we give the ayi and driver the weekend off. I am guessing that Tom will have to work at some point.

Mid Autumn festival occurs on the 15th day of the eight lunar month. Chinese families come together at a family feast to celebrate the abundance of the harvest and the richness of life. Mooncakes, reported to have played an important part in the overthrow of Mongolian rule in the 14th century, are a traditional mid-autumn treat. Once “filled” with secret messages about rebellion, nowadays they contain plums, bean paste, and other delicacies. This year, the official festival falls on Sunday, September 14.

The kids learn about the festival at school and Huck made mooncakes at his school and Jack and Jed did the same at theirs. Mooncakes are a baked item filled with various Chinese delecacies. Lotus bean paste is one traditional filling. Huck was explaining to me what they learned about at school. He was telling me about moon cakes and the Chinese vegetable, which confused me since the cakes are usually filled with something sweet or, in some cases, egg yolk, to represent the moon. Finally, when I asked him to explain more, I realized he was talking about the Chinese FESTIVAL. Here you can see him explaining it.



The boys went fishing with Tom and two of our Zimbabwean friends. "Uncle" Boet was so kind to arrange the outing. The pond is near the Great Wall. The water is mountain spring fed, so it is surprisingly clean. There is no catch-and-release here, so everything they caught was paid for and taken home. Huck caught 1, Jack caught 2 and Jed caught 4. The workers at the pond gut and clean the fish for you!


Monday, September 08, 2008

See Below this post for a new post that just went up, though it says an earlier date.

Saturday, September 06, 2008

Today was a busy day. We had friends over for breakfast. We went to a flower and craft market. We shopped for stone lions for outside our door. We went by a friend's house to drop off a gift. We put gasoline in the car. We went for a family walk. None of these things sound particularly interesting, but as we live in China, each has its own Chinese characteristics.

At the flower and craft market, we bought a beautiful bouquet of flowers for a friend who is recovering from surgery. The flowers contained small roses and large lilies of several varieties and they were all arranged in a large glass vase. Total for the purchase: 70 rmb, a little more than $10. The boys, of course, attracted much attention. We priced some lions at this market. 40 cm stone lions were priced at 900 rmb. We ventured across the rode... literally, across the street, no further, to a small local shop where the same size lions were priced at 550 rmb. A difference of more than $50 USD. We haven't bought any yet but want to before we move frm here.

I took a picture of the sign at the gas station to show a typical situation at a station here. The sign is in dissaray. The prices have gone up as they have in the US. There is a marked entrance and exit to the station and an attendant direction traffic, yet people still go in and out the wrong way. Gasoline has to be pumped by an attendant. Usually, our driver gets the tank filled for us while he waits for Huck to finish school.

We decided it would be a nice idea to go for a family walk after dinner. It's nice to get out, spend some time together, and the kids like to get ice cream or popsicles from the clubhouse. So we went out. The above picture is before our walk. The humidity was as high as I have ever felt, it was incredible. We walked to the clubhouse, bought the ice cream and a few other groceries and took the long way home. On the way, we spotted dozens of spiders like the one above. They are quite large, about an inch to an inch and a half. I hope they eat the mosquitos that are everywhere. No matter what we do, they get into the house and bite us at night.

So, we ended our day with showers for everyone. The pollution, combined with the humidity, make is so spending more than a few minutes outside makes you dirty enough to need to bathe. It was a day we could taste the pollution in the air. Thank goodness for our cool, clean house with air filters.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

From start to finish

These big signs are located at various places throughout the city- by the expressway, in front of the International School, downtown, etc. They've been in place for more than two years and they counted down the days, hours, minutes and seconds to the Olympics. We saw one on our way home from the airport on the day we first arrived in China. Here you can see it was the last day before the games began. Nice air, right? It was not a cloudy or rainy day, that's the air pollution.

After the completion of the games, signs went up on buildings. We passed this one on our way home.

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