lizzybennet: (blog)
We went to the Confucian temple this evening to buy a going-away gift for Isabell. Wow. That was pure craziness. Chris went into the temple while the boys and I waited outside. We didn't know if they were going to charge an admittance fee or not, since all we wanted was to buy a specific souvenir from inside.

While Chris was inside, the boys and I found a bench to sit on. It soon became clear that we were quickly becoming a spectacle. People gathered around us staring. An elderly lady smiled at me and held up three fingers (asking if I had three kids.) I smiled and nodded and she gave me an enthusiastic thumbs-up. I find it amusing that I'm the one who gets the credit for having three boys (instead of Chris getting the blame, lol.) Another woman brought her baby up to visit with the boys. Remember, all this is going on with about 20 other people staring at us. The baby shook hands with all the boys while his parents laughed heartily. I kept glancing up at the temple, wondering where in the world Chris was.

Off to my left I noticed a young woman taking pictures of us. I was starting to feel a bit panicky from all this attention. We were in a large public square and I really wanted Chris to return. Suddenly a woman sits down next to Zack and says "What's your name?" She speaks English! We ended up chatting with her for quite a while. She's a Chinese-American who lives in Atlanta and is here visiting for the summer. We also met her sister who was visiting from Seattle. When she told me she lived in Seattle, I thought she said Chicago and had to ask her twice to repeat herself. Then she asked me where I lived and I replied "Wu Tai Hua Yuan". They have to ask me to repeat it twice, lol. My chinese is as accented as their english :) The Seattle sister has a son close to Petey's age and she's very interested in doing a language swap. I teach her son English and she teaches my kids Chinese. We exchanged phone numbers. Can you imagine striking up a random conversation with someone in America, agreeing to tutor each others children and exchanging phone numbers all within a 20 minute time frame? Chris says this is one of the best things about China, being out and about among the people, getting to know them. I agree with him, it really is an awesome place.

And, while I'm chatting with my new found friends, the kids have decided to put on a show for the crowd. The begin running in circles, play fighting with each other. I could hardly pay attention to them (other than making sure they were still in my line of vision) because the two sisters demanded my attention so aggressively. Atlanta kept whacking me in the arm, to emphasize what she was saying. I had two different women come up and ask if they could photograph Connor. I held him up for the pictures, and he covered his face with both his hands. This cuteness made the on-looking crowd laugh. (Poor Connor, he's doesn't like all this attention. Chinese women are always so eager to interact with him, and help him. Last night at the restaurant, the waitresses kept trying to help him take a drink or tuck in a napkin for a bib. He just scowls and shakes his head no.)It's too bad they don't ask Zack or Petey to pose for pictures. They'd ham it up big time for the cameras. So, while the kids are running around like lunatics, showing the Chinese just how American kids act, Zack accidentally pulled off Petey's Chinese zodiac necklace and broke the string. Petey just started bawling crocodile tears, much to the amusement of the crowd. The necklace was easily fixed, and thankfully Petey's break down was just the distraction we needed to get away from the chatty sisters.

Whew. What a day. But we did get a beautiful gift for Isabell. It's a poem written based on her name. The calligraphy is beautiful and it's written in classical chinese characters. I know she's too young to appreciate it now, but when she's older she'll think it's cool.

Tomorrow: the zoo...
lizzybennet: (dear tom)
Cici is here and the kids are done homeschool, so I thought this seemed a perfect time to get caught up on LJ and email.

Homeschool went pretty good today. Zack did get a little upset by the length of his math lesson. We haven't even finished it completely, but I decided to pick it up again later today. He didn't do any reading yet either. He did work on typing, so I guess that's something. Petey, on the other hand, did reading, math, handwriting with time left over for computer games. They are so so different from each other. Cici also taught them some Chinese today and we'll probably make that a daily activity. Today she taught us the words for "big" and "little".

I think we may have solved the lunch problem. We made the boys pb&j sandwiches and just took that with us upstairs to the group lunch. Such a simple solution! And Petey still ate some chinese food as well. Personally, I don't want to give up eating with the group. I love the food and I enjoy the company as well.

Connor is doing really well with potty training. This is much easier than it was with the older boys. Could it be that I'm actually getting the hang of this mom-thing? Nah...I'm sure it's all to his credit that he's ready and willing to potty train. Also, the toilet in our apartment is larger, wider, or different shaped than the one back home. I'm not sure exactly what the difference is, but he can climb up on it and sit on it much better than the one we had before.

Ok, if you've stuck around past the gritty details of potty training, I applaud your dedication to the Life of Tina :) Now for some random observations on life in China: People spit a lot here. It is common for taxi drivers to open their door at stoplights, lean out and hock a loogie. Zack noticed this habit very quickly and picked it up right away. Also, as I mentioned before, most babies don't wear diapers. They wear split pants or no pants and they simply go wherever they happen to be. Yesterday Chris and I saw a little girl going poo on the sidewalk. Her parents were just standing beside her chatting. I wonder if they pick it up? I think they must because I've never seen any poo sitting around, not even animal poo. That's another neat thing about China. It's very clean and dirty at the same time. There are always people busy sweeping the streets or mopping the floors in the shops. Everywhere you look, people are cleaning. Yet somehow, things stay a certain noticeable level of dirty. The taxi drivers get very mad if you put your shoes (which Zack did and got yelled at) on their white seat covers, yet they have no problem smoking in and stinking up their own cabs. Quite ironic.

Enough for now. Cici will be leaving in a few minutes. Oh, I dreamt last night that she asked for 18 rmb/hour and I refused to pay it so she quit. It really is an odd dream, because 18 rmb is only slightly more than $2/hour. See what China has done to me already! I'm a cheapskate after only 3 weeks!
lizzybennet: (lj geek)
Some days I find it very difficult to find time to write in my journal. This saddens me, because I really want to chronicle our adventures here. I suppose I could justify it in saying that we're having so many adventures that I don't have time to write them down :) However, I think the fact of the matter is that we're just trying to settle into our new life here and I'm not on any sort of schedule yet. Whenever I sit down to the computer, there is so much to do that lj seems to get pushed aside. Also, our Internet connection is much slower than I'm used to (chalk that up to a just-barely DSL connection as well as a wi-fi system that Chris set up but can't figure out how to make secure. I suppose Chinese instructions are very confusing, lol. One of our collegues who lives two buildings away said she picked up our wi-fi signal. That's frustrating because sometimes when I'm in the next room over I can't pick it up! Our walls are solid cement.) Anyway, my point is that I wish I had more time and ease to just pop on LJ and write random thoughts like I used to. There is so much here that I want to comment on or remember.

Yesterday was our first day of "church". I put that in quotes because it was held at someone's apartment and there were only two other families attending. However, it was wonderful to be around kindred spirits. The Yui's are from Hong Kong. They have 2 kids and the 15 year old girl totally talks with an American accent. Ok, actually it is Canadian as they lived there for several years. The Watley's are from Michigan. They have 5 kids, spanning ages 16 to 4. They have 2 boys the same ages as Zack and Petey!! Our kids hit it off so well together, I'm very happy. Zack and Jay were sitting on the couch, making farting noises with their armpits and laughing their heads off (this was after the church service was over, not during!) Petey and Eli were wrestling. Connor bounced around from one pile of boys to the other. Unfortunately, they live pretty far away from us, so we probably won't be getting together outside of church, but still it's great that they have buddies. AND the Whatley's have an oven so she made lasagna and muffins for the pot luck. It was wonderful to have some familiar food.

Today was Cici's first day AND the first day of homeschool. I'm exhausted! Cici seems like she will work out well. She wore high heels which I find amusing but is totally an everyday footwear in China. She had a hard time keeping Connor occupied during homeschool. He just did not want her around him. I felt bad for her because she really tried, but he wanted me and no one else. She'd try to hand him a crayon and he'd take it from her and throw it across the room. I was a little embarrassed by his behavior. But later, he went in the bedroom and called her "Cici, toys." He said it in a sing-song voice, inviting her to come play with him. After lunch (we ate with the group) Chris and I took off for a couple of hours and left her alone with the kids. This was our first time alone in about 3 weeks. He took me to the electronics district where we tried to find the best deal on a printer/copier/scanner. I need one to print out worksheets for the boys. We found an HP for about $60, but we didn't get it. We kept looking for the next best deal and ended up with nothing :) We'll have to go back.

When we got home, the boys were still right where we left them: playing video games. We had told her they are only allowed to play for 30 mintues a day. I don't know if she misunderstood us or disregarded what we said. We'll have to try that again tomorrow. She did have Connor asleep so that was good. I think it may be easier for her once the weather cools off. It was much too hot/humid to play for long outside today. As Petey points out, it's almost difficult to breath because of the thick humidity. I'm pleased with her so far. She commented on how the boys hardly ate any lunch. As far as I can tell, the Chinese don't subscribe to the American custom of expecting kids to eat what's served to them, whether they like it or not. It really worries them when my kids don't eat well at lunch and they are often asking me what my kids would prefer to eat. I'm ok with what we are served for lunch, and I feel that eventually my kids will start to eat it if that's all there is. Chris says this is all part of the "little emperor"syndrome that has swept across China. Little emperor's are the pampered children of China. Because most families can only have one child, the children are usually very indulged. It makes sense if you think about it. There is only one grandchild to two sets of grandparents. Anyway, back to the point here: Cici says she can fix food that she knows the boys will like better. Apparently she has know several Italians and learned to cook Italian food. She says she'd be happy to fix lunch for the boys. I think we'll give it a try and see how that goes.

And now for the homeschool report: it went pretty well for the first day. The kids were excited about it and pretty cooperative. We did math first and then we painted Chinese characters. They liked that a lot. Next, I put one kid a typing lesson (it's a game, they really liked it) and the other did reading lessons. We swapped it up after a few minutes. We only did about 2 hours of homeschool today, but I'd like to do 3. I know everyday will go more smoothly as we settle into a routine and Connor gets more accustomed to Cici. I hope things with her will work out. I was worried she was overwhelmed, but she said she'd be back tomorrow :)
lizzybennet: (empty head)
Last night was rough. There were people having a loud party out by the pool until well after midnight. Chris yelled out to them asking them to quiet down, but they didn't. I tried to go to bed around 10:30 but I couldn't fall asleep so I read ("Driving Over Lemons" by Chris Stewart). I finally dozed off just after midnight when Connor woke up with an overflowing diaper. Once that was taken care of I slept until 3:30 when Chris came to bed. He woke me up and kept me awake for another half hour until Connor woke up again with another overflowing diaper! It was the bad-luck night all around. I ended up sleeping in Connor's bed until morning.

I was out of bed by 7 and although I wanted to go back to sleep, I just stayed up. I took the boys to the playground and we had a great time. It is actually slightly humid here right now, which is odd. We were all sweating. Usually, even if the temperature is 109, we don't sweat because it's just so dry here. I remember the first summer we had moved here, it was also a little humid. People used to say to me "Oh, you moved from Florida? Then you must be used to all this humidity." I'd think "what in the heck are they talking about?! There's no humidity here!" If there is 17% humidity, Arizonians consider that *very* humid.

After the park we stopped by the store to get the kid food essentials that we'd run out of: cereal, bread and american cheese. Now we're home and the boys are to do their chores before they can turn the TV on. I still haven't managed to feed myself breakfast although the boys have had it twice: before the park and after the park. Chris is still sleeping. He turns in his final written exam on Wednesday morning. He takes his Oral Exam on Friday and then he will officially be ABD (All But Dissertation). Once a professor is ABD, he is eligible for jobs! I know, we already have one, but it is such a relief to finally reach this point!!! I'm just very, very proud of him.

When we got married he was working at a skateboard shop full time and taking classes at the community college part time. No kidding, the semester we met he was taking sculpting, cinema appreciation and math (for the 2nd time). From being an unfocused "Humanities" major to a highly specialized Chinese historian; He has progressed so far and worked incredibly hard to get to this point. Last night I tried to read some of what he'd written for this comprehensive exam. It was far and away above my head. Of course, I haven't studied the subject he was writing about so I could use that for an excuse...
lizzybennet: (Default)
The kids are home safe and sound. It's amazing what a difference it makes having them in the house. They'd been home for 15 minutes and it looked as if a hurricane had torn through the house. That's OK! It's a hurricane of love :)

Connor was so happy to see me that he just sat on my lap saying "Too, Mama." over and over. That's his way of saying "I love you too, mama." Petey got a little teary-eyed when he was telling me how glad he was to be home and even Zack cuddled up to me and told me that he missed me. Zack looked as if he'd grown a few inches. Is that possible in only 3 days? He's going to be taller than me in just a few more years (that's not saying much, I'm a shorty, lol).

I'm trying to tie up all the loose ends that I can think of as we get ready for this move. Wendi, I was going to burn you a tmbg cd tonight but then I couldn't find any blank cd's! I'm sure Chris knows where they are but he's already asleep. I'll send your package as soon as I burn the cd (hopefully tomorrow sometime.) Shall I send you Wil Wheaton's "Dancing Barefoot" book, too? I think you'd like it.
lizzybennet: (lj geek)
The fire has spread to 60 acres. It is not threatening any homes right now, so we can be thankful for that. I was wrong. It was caused by lightening, not humans. Today is a very windy day, with gusts up to 40-50 mph. This is bad news when it comes to containing the fire.

Petey and Connor are going to a friend's house to play this morning. As always when I have alone time, I'm having a hard time deciding how to spend my time. Shall I do something productive like clean and pack, or shall I do something purely indulgent such as lay around and read the whole time....

I love having this choice!


lizzybennet: (Default)

April 2011

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