Merry Christmas everyone! As I sit now, almost going to bed with "It's a wonderful Life" on Dave's computer... and getting ready for our 24 hrs of train transportation tomorrow!!! We had a fun day of friends and fellowship for Christmas... and enjoyed it a lot. Here are a few pictures from this morning when Adam, Sally and the Schoons joined us for a breakfast brunch.
Monday, December 24, 2007
Thursday, December 20, 2007
A lot has been happening in the Christmasy land of Tianjin! First, we had a mongol invasion (just kidding, really, a wonderful time with our friends from Mongolia!) last week. I think one of the funiest moments with Sara was in my kitchen with Ayi. Sara, a girl with no fear when it comes to interacting with other people, was found tapping Ayi in the arm and making many strange syllables-- when asked why she was doing so, replied "well, maybe if I make enough sounds, Ayi will know what I'm trying to say!" Poor Ayi didn't know what was going on, but the 2 ladies had a wonderful time together making Mongolian and Chinese dumplings.
Sara, Beck and Mujig all enjoyed spending time in TJ, where we could catch up, celebrate, plan for the summer and have fun together.
More fun at our house with our friends. This time a good bye party for Derek and Channing. They've been here 3 months and helped a great deal with lots of things. Soo... we had yummy french bread pizza, sang Christmas carols and entertained poor Moyer with Rock ballads. As you can see, he was curious... and they a little scared of Derek, Rob and Dave's seredade:)
Sunday, December 09, 2007
I spent a good 30 minutes today with multiple samoyed puppies in my arms-- little ones that were SOOOOOOOOOOOOo cute! It was all I could do not to take one home with me. Dave of course reminded me we live in a tiny apartment, and having a little cute puppy would change when it became a big dog... but oh how adorable they were! About a 20 min taxi ride from us is a very large plant market-- acres of greenhouses and many kinds of plants, antique furniture and.... a wholesale dog market!! Now, dogs of all kinds are becoming more and more popular and accessable here in China, so it's not as uncommon as when I first arrived to see golden retrievers or dalmations. I have spotten a couple of huskies as well. So, when we walked to the maret and saw a dog that looked like a lion (really!), it wasn't too surprising. But then I saw 2 sams playing with each other, and looked behind me to find cages and cages of samoyeds. And inside, a open pen with 6 puppies!! I know only my mother and grandmother can understand why this was so exciting, but I really was in dog heaven. I think someday we should just invest in getting really cute dogs at school to make everyone a little happier!
So, the reason we went to the plant market was to get our Christmas tree... well... we did- sort of.
As you can see, we got a modified pine. Not really a pine at all- but a fruit tree with very small and sour orange-like fruits (they are as sour as lemons!). But it's kind of festive. We also uploaded the Charlie Brown Christmas Album... and as you can see, Dave is really enjoying his "quiet time" as he listens. Finally our house is getting a Christmas face lift.
Tomorrow we begin our marathon guest visits-- from Tomorrow until the day after Christmas people are coming from Mongolia, and then Korea to visit! It is sure to be a festive season!
Thursday, December 06, 2007
Tuesday, December 04, 2007
Adventure Ed in the office..
My friends Derek and Channing (Ziolkowski) Alden have been here the past 3 months helping with all things experiential education. Derek’s latest project has been to write a manual for and to train all the people in the LDi office principles and practices of adventure education for transformation that can be used during their leadership development seminars and at the ropes course. I’ve sat in on the training sessions, offering my own $0.02 and participating. It’s been really fun actually. I’ve been a trainer before.. and love doing that. When I came back to China last year I thought I would be doing this full time.
Well, last year didn’t hold that job description at all!! (Obviously). But it’s been really good to get back in the swing of thinking experiential education and cross-cultural uses now that I’m back. It’s fun to be with a group of Chinese businessmen and women who want to learn how to do such things. Hopefully we’ll be able to move into training to do wilderness trips at some point, but small steps.. small steps. The next challenge is to get the teachers (who feel overwhelmed and overworked) excited about using adventure ed in the things we do naturally in the school like our Spring Trips.
I’m in the midst of putting together our 3 summer trips right now, and that’s obviously a natural fit with people who want to do education outside of the classroom. Small steps. Small steps.
Yesterday I surprised myself and my husband when I made dinner, then popped up to wash dishes. I’m used to a household that does one or the other… not both. I don’t think that Dave is used to being a constant dishwasher so this has been a very small point of contention and discussion topic in our household. Mid-washing, Dave kissed me and told me his prayers were being answered… and I wondered why I was standing at the sink and laughed. The reason I’m not accustomed to hand washing dishes every day is because I’ve been completely spoiled my entire time living in China. Spoiled by… My Ayi.
This special woman deserves her own special blog update…Zhang Ayi. I met her the first day I arrived in China in August of 2001, and ever since she has worked for me cooking, cleaning, organizing my drawers, ironing, shopping and cheerfully taking care of me and my housemates. She loves learning how to cook new dishes—today we learned American Chili and cornbread… she’s been making awesome whole wheat bread for us for a couple of months. When we discovered she really can make anything—well, the sky is the limit, and learning new things the norm as we both adjust to cooking various kinds of vegetarian dishes.
Tonight 8 or so students are coming over for dinner (I’m waiting for them right now) and so when I showed up from work a little overwhelmed with the task of cooking for them all, Ayi got right to work cleaning and helping chop veggies… especially when I sliced my finger cutting onions with a big cleaver. She assured me that American’s weren’t so good using the big knives Chinese people were used to using.
We’ve had a good working relationship—and as my Chinese improves, I’m learning to talk to her more and more about different things in life. We still spend a lot of time using simple words to communicate, but she’s also super helpful teaching me conversational skills.
Since I’ve been married, Ayi’s new tactic is to organize my drawers and put my clothes away. When I lived with other women, she would fold and put all our clothes on the couch; but now, it’s almost obvious which clothes belong to which person… almost. Dave and I regularly swap socks and t-shirts though But that’s a very small mistake and hardly worth talking about!
Right now Ayi is cleaning up the kitchen from the cornbread, whole wheat bread, gingersnaps and chili that were just made this afternoon. I’m catching up with this update to keep our readers informed I really have the best Ayi ever and hope I never have to live without her as long as I live in China.