Monday, September 29, 2008

Fish Ride and Looking for Clothes

Finally! I always plan to post when Abbey goes to sleep, then I end up falling asleep myself. We are on a break now in honor of National Holiday (anniversary of the founding of the PRC). We will be leaving for Xian tomorrow with our friend Heidi. This may be a little wild as this (and of course CNY) is the main time that everyone in China is able to travel. But we are going for it and hope to see the terra cotta warriors, Wild Goose pagoda, etc. Little Miss is asleep right now, tired out from a shopping trip to try and get some warmer clothes for our trip. We were not very successful. We had hoped to get a coat but it is still so hot here and we only managed to find a few long sleeve shirts and a hoodie jacket. We went to Children's World, our third time to that place and let me tell you it is not for the faint of heart. It's a two story building with clothes on the bottom and shoes, toys, and a place like Chucky Cheeses on the top. In China when you find something you want to buy you get a reciept from the sales ladies, go to the cashier to pay for it, get a ticket and go back to pick up the item, and then go to customer service to get a fa piao (another little reciept I need for tax purposes). I thought just the oprhanages put all these mismatched clothes on children, but everyone does it here (adults too). I am now joining rank. Gone are the days of matching outfits and hairbows. I take anything I can find that fits and that will do. We also went to Book City which is like a 5 story Barnes and Noble. We wanted to get a little book for her to take on the trip and of course the children's things were on the 5th floor and you have to take escalators. So ready or not we will be going tomorrow and we may have to buy warmer clothes when we get there. We have been living in flip flops and tank tops and didn't bring much more with us. We had our 3rd typhoon this week and it helped tremendously with the weather. I can now leave our airconditioned bedroom and walk into the bathroom without immediately beginning to sweat. I just cannot tell you how hot it has been here. Also, because it cooled down we were able to walk down the street to a new mall for the first time. We bought a stroller there which has been a huge blessing and we had a great time. They have a new TCBY frozen yogurt and a really nice Funoland area for kids. Abbey was so happy. It was her first time using one of those guns that shoots foam balls and going on a downhill zip line. We had a little incident at McDonalds where I was attempting to get Abbey a little pack of 5 chicken nuggets. We waited a long time and finally they came out with this big carton and about 20 chicken nuggets. The sales girl was very unhappy that I said "bu yao" (don't want) and counted how many I did want on my fingers again in Chinese. The manager was nice however and straightened everything out. A brazilian mom whose daughter is in my Mommy and Me class saw it all and was laughing at me and sharing the things that have happened to her here. We then went in the grocery and on the cereal isle Abbey pointed and said "Who's that?" I looked up to see our friend Heidi studying the cereal boxes. It is such a big deal to see any caucasian during the week and I think Abbey was totally surprised. It's such a comfort to run into someone that you know.
I still haven't emailed anyone yet but I will, soon! She's up now so I have to go.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Rising Up

Just a quick note to say that we are alive and well and doing much, much better. It's been two weeks now that I've been feeling like we've broken through the culture shock and are beginning to feel somewhat normal. I know that many of you were "lifting us up" in regard to this and it has made all the difference, please don't stop!
I have much to share, but not the time right now to do so. I hope to be able to post more this week, but if not we have a week off coming up for the National Holiday and I know I can catch up then, if not sooner.

And for those of you that have emailed recently I really appreciated hearing from each of you and will respond at some point this week.

Zai Jian for now!

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Staff Party

Our staff had a Mid-Autumn celebration dinner Friday night. School will be closed on Monday as people celebrate with their families. I cannot believe how many moon cakes I've seen in the past two weeks. They are everywhere and people are buying tons of them. After dinner we played some American style party games like Catch Phrase/Catergories and People Bingo where you find people in the group who can sign a space on your paper for certain things they've done. I got to sign for a lot of the chinese staff on the space that says "can make lasagne", something I don't think any of them have ever done, and they could sign for me for all kinds of things I haven't done here. The funny thing to me was the prizes. There were typical Western and Chinese style prizes. The Western ones were coffee, cookies, and tea cups. The Chinese gifts were very practical - cooking oil and large bags of rice. It was explained to me that during the years of rationing these items they became very meaningful gifts and it has just stuck. Toilet paper and milk are also appreciated gifts. They also recited a fun Chinese poem that everyone knew and joined in on and taught the children a little song and dance. It reminded me very much of staff Christmas parties back home. Abbey was thrilled that she received a whole shopping bag full of goodies - chocolate squares being the highlight. The children shredded wrapping paper while the adults chatted. Two of my co-workers are from England and it's been fun getting to know them and learning from their experiences while living here.
FYI, a friend just explained to me the significance of a circle in Chinese culture and how it represents your whole family and life coming together. The moon is significant in this way with it's circular shape. I love moon gates and the entrance for the new school in the orphanage is a big red moon shaped arch.

Moon Festival

On Thursday we went to the B* A* orphanage for their Mid-Autumn Festival.
It was wild and wonderful. It was quite an elaborate show for the children and I am posting some video clips so that you can get the feel of it. Abbey loved the "princesses" that danced and sang. Our friend Heidi got up impromptu and did two songs with her violin. In another one of our surreal China moments we ended up on stage with the supervisor for all the orphanages in this area. We somehow were honored guests and all these people were clapping, TV cameras rolling, etc. The children were all given toys and special attention had been given to getting them ready, lots of pretty hair things for the girls. I sat right behind them and could not stop thinking about the adoption community at home. Here are all these waiting children and my heart ached for them and for all the waiting parents. Why are things at a standstill? I thought of Alison and Mali, who came from this very place. If Alison had not gone through all the paper work, red tape, waiting, etc., Mali might still be there and would be sitting in front of me. I mean yes, she could have been matched with someone else, but if everyone stopped, or never started the process, this is where these children would be. I walked through the new class rooms of our school that started two weeks ago and was so thankful for what can be done for the ones who are still here. They have a wonderful new teacher that is giving her life away for theirs. Still, the whole situation is hard to swallow. I don't understand. But we must do what we can, where we can, while we can. And inspite of trying to take the whole situation in, the show was really amazing and fun.

Bubbling Blue

Photo Sharing - Video Sharing - Photo Printing - Photo Books

Yellow Bounce

Photo Sharing - Video Sharing - Photo Printing - Photo Books

Swirling Red

Photo Sharing - Video Sharing - Photo Printing - Photo Books

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Does Your Starbucks Sell Mooncakes?

We came home last Sunday afternoon to a home filled with mooncakes. A bunch of children came over and spent the morning making them. We were gone to a meeting so we missed the process but enjoyed the lovely results. I've since been able to reset my camera and spare you the blurry photos.
One very wonderful and special child.
She keeps talking about how she is going on a vacation with Laolie, my mom. Sometimes they are going to the beach and sometimes to the swimming pool. She is also planning on marrying her.
Abbey is great with building blocks. Love her work! She always has unique design features.
Starbucks finally opened and we finally made it down there and found they have their own Starbucks brand mooncakes. I tell you they are EVERYWHERE here as we gear up for the Mid-Autum Festival next Monday. They are quite the gift to give and recieve but I am still trying to find out who really likes them. Abbey and I will be going to a holiday party at the orphanage on Thursday and we are just taking it all in.

So, I am momentarily doing better, but I am really having my up's and down's and to be honest I am feeling really torn about whether or not we can be here for a year. I overestimated our flexibility and underestimated the effects that culture shock would have on us. I am also realizing after my first full week of the regular school year that I have no more time with Abbey than I did at home. My main hope in coming here was more time with her. We are seeing what adjustments can be made and I am really just having to take things day by day. One thing is for sure, having our new friend here from the US is very encouraging. We don't see her much because of our schedules but she is really a pillar of strength when our paths do cross. She's worked in an orphanage in Romania so she's already overcome a lot of the issues that you process when you make a move like this.

Oh, and thanks to Donna of Double Happiness and the proxy TurboHide, I can now access Typepad and Wordpress. Now if I can just get to Textdriven. Any easy way to double space on posts? I've had a few requests for that.
Does this bigger font help?