Saturday, October 25, 2008

Care Packages!!

We've been really blessed to receive care packages from the states. When we first moved I told people not to send things because the cost is so high. I am now so glad they weren't listening to me because they've meant so much to us and have been a total boost each time. My sister sent CD's and italian salad dressing mix, my mom has sent two envelopes filled with goodies for Abbey that just delighted her (above all her Cinderella ring that we left behind, the kind that comes on a birthday cupcake - it's her prized possession), and then this week we had a double portion. We started the week with a great package from Kolleen and her two sweeties. They sent me teacher things like Brown Bear and Chicka Chicka Boom Boom, craft supplies like colored tissue, googly eyes, pom-poms and mom things like stain remover, which I have been longing for, and more salad dressing mix. Abbey got lots of wonderful craft things, and would you believe both Laolie and Kolleen managed to find and send the Disney Snow White cup that Abbey had been missing since we left? It's great since we can't use tap water we keep one filled at the bathroom sink for tooth brushing and one on the table next to the bed for nighttime sips. She also got lots of fun kids Bandaids (the ones in china are beige and don't stick) and a sweet panda toothbrush. As if that wasn't enough we ended the week with another treasure load from Kelly, and her family. She is so smart to have sent me powdered milk, which I am thrilled with so that if I can't find imported I can always mix up some of that. Lots more stain remover pens and wipes, some very uplifting reading material, and very fun things for Abbey. She got a darling winter outfit, a huge bag of M&M's and Twix ( her eyes popped out, she didn't even know such large bags of M&M's existed), more fun craft supplies, her own set of keys, princess everything - shoes, wand, crown, earrings, necklace, rings and for the first time ever -lip glosses and glitter make up. I can assure you this sent her over the moon. It meant so much to me to see my girl so happy. The packages have felt like love in a box. They are material things but they send a huge message from home that we are not alone or forgotten. I can't thank you all enough!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Those who waters others will themselves be watered.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Xi'an's Musical Fountain

We had a great night on the National Holiday in front of Xi'an's Big Wild Goose Pagoda at the largest musical fountain in Asia. For the first time I can remember on a trip I left my camera battery in the charger so I am borrowing a clip from youtube. The fountain is tier upon tier stretching out in front of the pagoda. Because of the holiday it was very crowded but also very fun. It is a not to be missed experience in Xi'an. There are free shows each night and no video can really do it justice. Abbey loved it! She also got to ride the merry-go-round there and eat Kettle Korn. Trying to catch a taxi afterward was very challenging. A guy kept trying to get all three of us to get on the back of his motorcycle, with my stroller and everything. Of course no helmets. I don't think so. "Bu yao" was all I could say.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Teapot Song

Photo Sharing - Video Sharing - Photo Printing - Photo Books

Funny Girl

Abbey is such a funny person and I realized the other day that I need to be writing more down (and shooting more video) so that I can remember this wonderful stage in her life.
  • As you can see, she's begun doing her own hair, and in her world more is better. She loves to put hair clips all over the back of her head as well.
  • Her voice and speech are so adorable. I need to record more, I love the way she talks and just the sweetness in her baby voice. I am getting tears in my eyes just thinking about it. Can anyone relate?
  • There is also still a little baby fat under her chin. No other fat to be found on her body, but this one little spot is so cute.
  • She is really into cutting paper and taping as I've mentioned before. She has notes and important things up all over the place. I was sad to see that she cut up her Chinese book that she brought home from school. I bought a replacement so that we have one to keep.

  • She loves to lead in our conversations. I am sort of quiet so she is always telling me to ask her certain questions to keep the conversation flowing. She'll say "Mom, ask me 'What are you doing?' Now say 'Why are you doing that?'" etc.
  • She really, really wants a camera and has for months. She always begs to use mine and I never let her. She pretends to take pictures of me with our cell phone. When she looks at pictures and video clips she always asks where I was, and I have to say that I was taking the picture.
  • She's been using her hair clips as keys, another item that she would love to have her own set of.
  • She talks about the United States a lot and asks about all our important people and things, but it's not in a sad way as before. She knows we will go back and knows everyone and everything is still there.
  • She always thinks I am 5 years old (the Ultimate in her mind) and talks to me about things she will do when she gets big.
  • She has the sweetest way of saying "Well, your welcome!" with so much charm and enthusiasm whenever I tell her thank you.
  • She's had a big jump in her fine motor skills. Her art teacher showed the children how to draw people and now she suddenly draws so many more parts and details. She drew some bunny rabbits the other day too and is starting to try to write her name. It seems to have happened so suddenly.
First rabbit drawings

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Xi'an City Wall

These little carts look much sturdier than the ones we rode in which had no little doors or sides to them. The traffic was wild and it was really something to be taking in the sites and sounds this way, but many times cabs refused to take us. Was it because we were foreigners? Because we have a little one and a stroller? Or because we weren't going far enough and with the holiday crowds they could pick and choose who they wanted to take? Anyway, we were thankful that these carts were always happy to give us lift.
Xian was an ancient capital of China and has one of the best preserved city walls. This one is from the Ming Dynasty. There are jutting ramparts, battlements, and guard towers. This is the top of the wall where people were selling crafts, giving musical performances, riding bikes and pedicabs.

This is the view looking down on the artist village that lay below the wall. We wished we had more time to really explore the area on foot but we were heading out that afternoon.

Xi'an Starbucks and the Drum Tower

We went to a great Starbucks each morning in the square that is in between both towers. There was actually another Starbucks across the street. They are all over China but they are never full and don't have lines. I see usually see foreigners in there and only a few Chinese. I know they are struggling back home and I wonder if they will take off here or not. I think the traditional tea has a pretty strong hold.

The Drum Tower and a view of the Islamic quarter that begins below it. This is the beginning of the northern Silk Road that extended to Iraq and on to the Roman Empire. Having a stroller actually made it easier I think to make my way through the crowds.

The Bell Tower

Abbey is still talking about the Bell Tower. We stayed in the Bell Tower Hotel right across the street and our room had a direct view of it. People go up and ring the bell by hitting it with a long carved carp gong at any time, so it is ringing throughout the day. Up inside the tower there are music performances throughout the day, and Abbey really enjoyed that. The view from the tower overlooks the square that we were staying in and includes the Drum Tower, which is just across the way. I really am not into the V for victory sign for photos but it is quite the Chinese thing to do so Abbey has picked it up and I am just going with the flow. We do have the victory!

Friday, October 10, 2008

Huaqing Hot Springs

After the Terra Cotta Warriors we made our way through unending roadside sellers of a huge pomegranate harvest and went on our way to the Huaqing Hot Springs. This beautiful area has palaces and spas dating back to the Tang Dynasty. It was wildly crowded so we shortened our visit and decided not to stay for the evening show that takes place on the water.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Terra Cotta Warriors

The next day we woke up early to do what all those who visit Xi'an must, and made our journey to the Warriors just as they opened. I've seen many pictures and thought I knew what to expect, but I must say they were more impressive than I could have imagined. It was mind boggling to think they had been buried for the past two thousand years and recently discovered. We made a wonderful friend named "Robert" who had studied at the well-known Foreign Languages Institute in Xi'an and spoke excellent English. He volunteers now at the museum and was so friendly and helpful. He took us to meet the farmer that discovered the warriors while digging for a well. There were originally four men, two are left living, and we were excited to meet one of them. We were asked not to take photos but he was signing books. We also went to the "in the round" movie that tells the story of all that happened there and I really recommend it. Roger explained that there are many decorative pieces, artwork, and animal statues that have been recovered but that are not on public display yet. You leave the museum a different way than you come in and let me tell you, it is hawker city. You proceed through many levels of people calling out to you and trying to sell you every kind of trinket imaginable, do not dare look to the right or left or show any form of interest or acknowledgement or you will be pounced on. Any one care for a chocolate covered ice cream cone with a tomato on top?

Xi'an, the First Feast

Well our pre-trip search for warm clothes was unnecessary. We dug out long pants and wore light sweaters and those were fine. We had a great time and saw many things that were really the chance of a lifetime. We opted to stay in a 4 star hotel because it was in the heart of the action. It's called The Bell Tower Hotel and is in the square that both the bell and drum towers reside. It was passable, but just barely. I must say, though, that the location made it worth it. We were in the thick of the National Holiday throng and could walk right out into the excitement each morning and step out of it and into our beds each night.
We arrived on Tuesday evening checked into our hotel and within 10 minutes were out the door for dinner. We met friends right across the street at the famous De Fa Chang Restaurant.
De Fa Chang Restaurant

This is the reknowned place to go for Jiaozi (Dumpling) Feasts. We were treated by our friends who had arrived earlier in the week from Shenzhen. Their son is a student in my class. They reserved us a private room upstairs and ordered 14 kinds of steamed dumplings along with lots of others cooked in a variety of ways. Some of the dumplings are shaped like animals - little birds, pigs, monkeys. There are hundreds to choose from. My favorite had mushrooms and were shaped to look like monkey faces. Abbey and her little friend played with the napkins and had chopstick sword fights the whole time and ate about 1 bite each.