lizzybennet: (blog)
My tummy is troubled. Oh, so troubled.

Last night we went to The Prince for a big faculty/staff bash. It was our last throw down before the students arrive. I ate dishes of goose, beef, tofu, eggplant, cucumber, AND I even tried octopus. Raw octopus. I thought to myself, "here I am in a new culinary world. I need to try new things, be brave!" When the sushi platter arrived, I picked the most daring thing, which to my mind was the octopus. It was very lemony and very chewy. It actually got stuck in my teeth, which almost made me gag. I was quite tempted to spit it out, but I forced myself to swallow it. I have no idea why my stomach has been upset all day, but I have to wonder if it was that eight legged beast that did the trick...

My classes start today. I'm really looking forward to this semester. I've signed up for what I hope will be two easy-going classes and one intensive class. Because of the time difference, I will always have a day longer than the rest of the class to turn in my assignments :)

Whenever I go shopping here, I get massive sensory overload. In both Walmart and Carrafour, there are several sample tables. However, there is not simply a nice old lady handing out samples (like at a grocery store in the States.) No, there is a young woman wearing a microphone and she is aggressively hawking her wares. She talks non-stop into the microphone doing her best to attract the attention of any and all passerbys. And this isn't just one girl with a microphone, but about 10 all crowded into the same area. Connor always covers his ears as we walk past the sample area. It is just way too much. But this seems common wherever we go: noise. In public squares, there is always music playing. When walking along the street, stores have music blaring on speakers. I don't know, this just may be a phenomenon of living in a city. I can't say, as I've never really lived in a huge city before. I just don't like all this noise. I'm glad it's quiet and peaceful in our home.
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!

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lizzybennet

April 2011

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