Now having experienced the depth of Urumqi winters - we find the above Webster's definition an inadequate description. We have found there to be variations of this uncomfortable predicament. Here is our expanded definition:
1. COLD: 50 to 35 degrees F; this is when jackets/sweatshirts become necessary, headgear is optional and when appropriately dressed there are no hindrances. Snow can fall, but never stays for long. This can make for a pleasant winter, full of family outings and strolls in the park. This is all we knew before we moved here to northwest China.
2. VERY COLD: 34 to 15 degrees F; proper attire is necessary to assure comfort & ease of movement. Earmuffs, scarves, long-johns & gloves are all important when endeavoring outside for any length of time. Hindrances still exist, but are quite manageable. Snow falls, and sticks. This temperature can make for a beautiful winter when endured for the appropriate amount of time (less than 1 month).
3. BITTER COLD: 14 to -5 degrees F; proper attire is now essential for survival. Covering as much skin as possible is highly desirable when exposed for long lengths of time. Transportation is slow and difficult. In our case: be prepared to wait for extended periods of time for a taxi, or squeeze on a crowded bus of people huddling together for warmth. Snow falls in large flakes, and any liquid quickly becomes ice. While not impossible, going out is challenging at best (without a car) and bundling children up requires significant motivation (for all involved). The picture below shows how condensation build-up froze overnight. And yes, this is indoors!!
4. BONE CHILLING COLD: -5 to -30 degrees F (and below); there is no such thing as proper attire. As the name suggests, cold finds its way thru any fibers to grip your bones and turn what should be a casual stroll or trip to the market into a survival experience. All forms of transportation are undesirable. Leaving the comfort of your warm house (if is it still warm) is only attempted under the most necessary circumstances. Blinking often is necessary so that your eyeballs don't freeze. In our part of the world, when it is bone-chilling cold - one buys hot nan bread to stick in your jacket as you walk. We might eat it later. A redeeming beauty of this otherwise dire situation, is the frosted trees glistening with ice crystals and the hot tea waiting for you at home.
Finally WARM - enjoying some hot tea, popcorn & a good book in my comfy chair.
2 great Weather Forecast sites: AccuWeather & Yahoo Weather
Here are three Uyghur sisters....we tried to get our three chicas to pose with them, but only Sydney would cooperate! Aren't they beautiful??
A group shot - 4 Uyghurs, 5 Americans, 1 Hui, 2 Chinese! An intercultural festive affair!
By the way - we chose a name!! It will be translated into 3 languages!
In English = Ice Mountain Creamery
In Chinese = Xinjiang Bingshan Bingqilin Youxian Gongsi 新疆冰山冰淇淋有限公司
In Uyghur = Muztagh Marujna Shirkiti
We chose this name (Muztagh) because it is a famous Mountain in this area of China. The mountain is over 24,000 feet tall and is known for its beautiful glaciers & ice-capped peaks. We hope our Ice Cream will be associated with its clean, clear, fresh glacial ice. Here is a picture of our glorious namesake....
So yes, we are amazed that the process is coming along, and we hope the TIMING continues to be on target!
On the other hand: This was our first time witnessing a Korban Celebration, and whoa....it was graphic. Early in the morning, trucks unload hundreds of sheep on all the main intersections, where herders corral them into temporary pens. The crowds are already gathering - hoping to get the best pick. Some families will share one sheep with another family, so its not too expensive. Muslim Imams will bless the sheep right there, and slit its throat right on the street. The sheep don't make a sound, but there is lots of blood. Its messy and not for weak tummies. We saw men with skinned sheep all over town. Ali saw a huge cow on the road being skinned, and huge plies of sheepskins on almost every major intersection. This holiday is quite intriguing. Maybe next year we will kill, gut & pluck our own turkey for Thanksgiving. We'll see. If we are feeling inspired.
This is one of the only places in the city where you can order some homemade tortillas and refried beans. Believe me, its a craving! We have gotten great at making it ourselves at home, but its so nice to have a place like this in our city - complete with chili, burgers, pan pizza and milk shakes!
Here are some Korean classmates posing for a picture. This is my teacher on the left, and her friend on the right. And I am proud to say that all our conversations were completely in Chinese. Well, except if Eden needed some translation. I mean, she translated for me. :)
From our reading, Korban was first celebrated the 2nd year after the Muslim migration to Medina. I am not sure of those exact dates, but on or around 622CE.
Korban Laws, Rituals & Practices...
The practices have all been laid out in the Qu'ran, Sunnah & Ijmak. Very early in the morning, the homes are throughly cleaned, and everyone takes a bath & wears beautiful clothes (women wear sparkling jewelry & bright scarves, and most men wear their traditional doppa cap) - to visit the mosque. After prayers, families gather in homes to share a feast of mutton dishes, fruits, traditional cakes, and more!
There are different kinds of Korban/offerings; not all are compulsory acts. Each animal must be slaughtered in a humane way, and only certain animals are acceptable: goats, cows, camels, oxen, or sheep (healthy & of certain age) - depending on your family's ability. Acts of charity are highly encouraged and many families give a portion of the meat to the needy.
Korban is an act of worship, remembering the historical act of obedience of Abraham when God asked him to sacrifice his beloved son on Mt. Moriah. God provided a substitute sacrifice (a ram) after witnessing Abraham's obedience (Gen 22).
Activities may be different across the globe, cultures, ethnicities, etc. Uyghur people celebrate with lots of singing & dancing, while Kazakh, Uzbek, Tajik & Kirghiz people enjoy horse-races and even wrestling! **This morning - Justin saw a huge truck of sheep awaiting their final destination. We have also been invited into a friends' home to be part of their family Korban celebration on Saturday. It is such an honor to share this festival with her & her family. I will try to post pictures after the party.
Here is our class singing "O Come, O Come, Emmanuel" in three languages!
Ali & Sydney sitting with our Dean of Foreign Student (Waiban = 外办) and a Russian translator. Our Waiban has been such a help to us as we got settled, and deals with all of our visa issues while at the University.
This is most of the students in my class -- Americans, Koreans, Kazahks, Kirghiz, Tajiks -- all trying to learn Mandarin!!
Sydney took the show. I think it was the shiny stage that she was attracted to.
My mom instilled in me a love to create things from scratch, including sewing & cooking. Both of my grandmothers also were wonderful with a needle & thread. I have such fond memories sitting at the old sewing machine with my mom, trying to finish up a costume or skirt. She always had a project in the works (sounds like our house!). I liked to think of myself as an amateur seamstress, until yesterday!
In an attempt to make our home feel more Christmassy this year, I made Christmas Stockings, with my limited supplies. Asia & I hunted for some beautiful material & notions downtown, and I drew a simple "pattern" on newspaper. In one short evening I managed to finish three Chinese-y stockings for the girls, complete with colorful fur & ribbons! I miss this sort of crafty outlet - so it was relaxing to hand-sew the hems and add unique decorations for each girl. I think I will figure a way to embroider their names or add them in felt (next project!). I think I also have my mom's hands.
And because this is China, this project would not be complete without a funny educational experience as well: I gained great respect for the Chinese woman who patiently, graciously taught me to use her hand-powered sewing machine. Its called a Treadle, for those who have never seen one. Growing up in America - I was blessed to learn on an old Singer, powered by electricity! A Treadle is what modern sewing machines are modeled after, with electric motors added. But a Treadle is powered by your foot! If your foot is coordinated enough, you can keep the momentum of the wheel rotating to sew without being plugged into the wall! Its amazing. The woman was so patient, soft-spoken & precious....also incredibly skilled, precise & fast! Eventually, she had me move over (after I broke the thread 3 times) and she finished my small amount of stitching. She even let me use her Treadle for free! Total cost = 48kuai = $6.48! Here are the finished products!
p.s. Isn't Eden's camera smile classic?
Here's some of the other kids beautiful creations!
By they way, does anyone have a great Gingerbread recipe they could share with us?
22 days until Christmas - He is amazing.
40 days until our family vacation.
248 days till Beijing Olympics begin!
...not that we are counting, but when winter hits - its nice to have something to look forward to!
Asia absolutely loves laying/crawling/flopping/digging in the soft snow, and its hard to get her to come inside! She is also quite skilled at making a lovely snow angel.
Eden, on the other hand - isn't convinced that snow is fun yet. She stands in one place and just smiles. Maybe next year?
We are excited for the winter months, even celebrating our first Christmas in a foreign land. Our next goal: find a real tree, and make decorations! ...stay tuned!
gotta love this silly gal!!
For a fun home-school project - we made a 'Thankful Tree' filled with all the things we were thankful for. If you look closely, you can see all the different things they mentioned! It's very sweet. They love any project with glue & scissors. Who doesn't? :)
And here is Sydney, content with a ball. She is such a joy!
We hope your holiday festivities are filled with sweet memories & deliciousness too.
Here I am posing near "The Bund" - an old promenade on the Huang Pu (the Yellow River) lit up by the dazzling Shanghai nightlife.
Here are some TALL towers - the one on the left was the tallest building in all of mainland China - the Jin Mao, at 1381ft with 88 stories (the 6th tallest in the world), until the one on the right was built alongside. The Shanghai World Financial Center, 1614ft, 101 stories (which will be the 2nd tallest in the world), is still under construction. Either way - they are tall. ...up in the clouds!!
All in all, it was a productive trip: I took care of my passport issues and learned even more about the ice cream business at the Trade Expo (and made some good contacts). And of course it was great to see our friend again and spend some quality time with him! Here I am with him - saying goodbye at the train station.
Three beauties sleep soundly. Yup, they are all peacefully slumbering (for the time being). I really hope they sleep the entire night thru, as I am not sure how to juggle A&E in one room, and Syd in our bed on my own. We shall hope for the best, as mommy needs the rest.
I am off to read a good book and sip some hot vanilla chai tea (with special thanks to our family in Durango).
FU 福 (happiness, wealth, good fortune) + WA 娃 (child)
The FUWA were designed to express the playful qualities of five little children who form an intimate circle of friends. They embody the characteristics of four of China's most popular animals - a fish, a panda, a Tibetan antelope, a swallow - plus the Olympic flame! Each character has a rhyming two-syllable name - (a sign of affection for kids), Beibei, Jingjing, Huanhuan, Yingying, Nini - and when read together say "BeiJing HuanYing Ni" which means "Beijing Welcomes You!" - which is their goal as young ambassadors for the 2008 Olympic Games. They also embody the landscape, aspirations and well-wishes from the nation of China. In their origins and their headpieces, you can see the five elements of nature - the sea, forest, fire, earth and sky - all rendered in ways that represent the traditional influences of Chinese folk art and ornamentation. Their work is to unite the world in peace, friendship & harmony with the Olympic spirit.
Let us introduce to you these cute characters, each corresponding to one of the five colored Olympic rings.
Beibei - In China's rich culture of art, the fish symbolizes prosperity & harvest. Beibei carries this blessing of prosperity. A fish is also a symbol of surplus in Chinese culture, another measure of a good year and a good life. The ornamental lines of the water-wave designs are taken from well-known ancient paintings. Beibei is known to be gentle & pure. Strong in water sports, she reflects the blue Olympic ring.Jingjing - a sweet panda to bring the blessing of happiness & harmony between mankind & nature. He has a charming naivety in his dance, and optimistic outlook on life. As a national treasure and a protected species, pandas are adored by people everywhere. The lotus designs in Jingjing's headdress, which are inspired by the porcelain paintings of the Song Dynasty (A.D.960-1234), symbolize the lush forest and the harmonious relationship between man & nature. Jingjing represents our desire to protect nature - and to preserve this gift for all generations. He is an athlete noted for strength who represents the black Olympic ring.
Huanhuan - A child of fire, representing the bright Olympic flame, is regarded as the older brother of the five, expressing the Olympic spirit, and the passion of sports. Be brings a blessing of passion - to run faster, jump higher, and be stronger. He is also open & inviting - sharing warmth & a welcoming spirit. The fiery designs of his head ornament are taken from the famed Dunhuang murals - with a touch of China's traditional lucky designs, which is also fitting with his red color. Huanhuan is outgoing & enthusiastic. He excels at all the ball games and represents the red Olympic
Yingying - The Tibetan antelope is fast & agile, and can swiftly race across the earth. He is a symbol of China's vast landscape, and carries the blessing of health & strength of body. Yingying's flying pose captures the essence of a species unique to the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau, one of the first animals put under protection in China. The selection of the Tibetan Antelope reflects China's commitment to a Green Olympics. His head ornament incorporates several decorative styles from the Qinghai-Tibet & Sinkiang cultures and the ethnic designs of Western China. Strong in track & field events, Yingying is quick-witted & agile, representing the yellow Olympic ring.
Nini - The swallow, brings the blessing of happiness & good luck. Chinese children are known for flying beautiful kites, decorated most often by a golden-winged swallow. Nini's golden wings symbolize the infinite sky. Swallow is also pronounced "yan" in Chinese, and Yanjing is what Beijing was called as an ancient capital city. Nini is innocent & joyful like a swallow. She is strong in gymnastics and represents the green Olympic ring.
We hope you enjoyed reading some creative meaning behind these cute creatures, and that you might even have a favorite! We like Nini the best (because we have a joyful friend named Nini). Hi Nini!