Chinglish #1

We think this is funny….but maybe we are just easily entertained!

Macaroni: The best leisure food

"We like the new taste. We need the quality and we need the best food. Here you will find what you want. Cool fashion need cool taste. Give you the minerable feeling."

Ahh...I feel so fashionable and minerable now.
Such cheap entertainment tho: 5 kuai = 69 cents!


in transit

This battered, tattered, cardboard box was in transit for 404 days (14+ months!). It was sent on January 19, 2007 from San Jose, California by some devoted friends - and arrived TODAY! We can only imagine the route it survived....boats, trains, multiple checkpoints/inspections, rolls of EMS tape and finally HOME! It is filled with quality kids books, many given by friends, bought at thrift stores or online for great deals. It literally contains 66 pounds of BOOKS!!

We rejoiced when we got a phone call: "Jus-ting, you have a large box. It takes three men to carry it from Post Office!" We had literally written off this box for good - it is amazing that it made it here!!

This box is almost as old as our baby girl Sydney!!
Here is some of the quiet hours that ensued.....what bliss!! Books are priceless, and worth the wait!!


product experimentation + taste testing

We are making ice cream.
Making it! ....with all the raw ingredients - in CHINA! We need to choose quality products, rich in flavor, texture and creaminess, and all within our budget! We are currently experimenting with different creams & milks - to choose the best combination & flavor! These are all Chinese-made, and different from cream in the west. Each has a different cream % concentration - so we need to modify the recipes a bit.

Being very visual/sensory (and loving anything that feels like a game) we bought 6 of our favorite milks - and had a taste-testing event (did you know milk comes in a bag?). This may have eliminated some of the competition! How fun to get closer to real production for real people!!

Wish you could taste our Banana Ice Cream - made with all natural ingredients! It's so creamy, chewy & fresh. Now we are toying with alternative names: Banana Bonanza, Monkey Business, or Banana Creme? Any creative suggestions?

just boil it??

Yep. That's what she insisted we do....

We invited a Uyghur neighbor over to help prepare the infamous horse meat gift last week. The "only way" to prepare horse meat - is to BOIL it, according to her mother. No spice, no marination, nothing. So I succumbed to the cultural pressure. Yup. I boiled the meat PLAIN. It boiled for about 45 minutes, to become more tender. We all tried it, a bit unimpressed. Very plain and sorta dry & tough.

So - I used some of the meat, and attempted to dazzle her with some garlic-onion-mushroom-horse meat saute - with a splash of red wine. She was unimpressed too, tho WE enjoyed this variation much better! I guess the cultural barrier was not crossed well. Anyhow, here's a picture of the outcome!

TOP LEFT: boiled horse meat
BOTTOM LEFT: garlic-onion-mushroom-horse meat saute, with red wine
RIGHT: Turnip Salad with Vinegar

We loved the red Turnip Salad that she made tho! I need to work on it, so we can share it soon. We hope you are inspired to try new cultural delicacies - at least once!! I doubt we would ever purchase this meat of our own volition, but the adventure was worth it.


a special gift

Warning to animal activists, vegetarians, equestrains or horse-lovers: sensitive material ahead

We were given a special gift. A Hui (pronounced hway) friend gave Justin a kilo of horse meat (马肉 mǎ ròu) which his sister had given him. It was nicely wrapped in a plastic grocery bag. What a nice gesture...we thought. When Justin got home – he tasted a small piece. It was smoked & salty - for preservation purposes, but not cooked thru. Since this is the first time I have ever seen, let alone cooked horse meat - I scoured the web for some exciting recipes, and information about this new delicacy. I could make horse meat stew, horse meat fajitas, smoked horse meat for sandwiches, horse burgers, BBQ horse steaks, deep fried horse meat, horse meat salami, sauteed horse meat with wine, and even horse meat sushi!!

Now, before you freak out about us eating Mr. Ed or Black Beauty - I will have you know that many cultures have eaten horse meat for centuries, and it’s common practice across many European countries (Italy, Sweden, Germany, France), much of South America and many Central Asian nations as well. I just read that you cook it just like you’d cook beef/venison – but its even more nutritious. Anyhow, I will refrain from any debate on the humane-ness of eating meat from any animal. We are being culturally appropriate! There is a small minority of Kazakh people in our city, and horse meat/horse sausages are very common in their diet.

Horse meat is very tender and doesn’t take long to cook. I read that it is best to sear it quickly, and reduce the heat until cooked thru. It can be grilled, roasted, sautéed or pan-fried, with similar seasonings that you’d use with beef (tarragon, basil, sage, rosemary, thyme, oregano, mustard, peppercorn, garlic). Horse meat has the inconvenience of being extremely fragile so it is easily contaminated, particularly when ground. Most often, horse meat is vacuum-packed (but not in our case!). The flavor is stronger than beef, with an insistent sweetness & tang.

Nutritional value
Horse meat is rich in protein, iron & glycogen and is very low in fat and cholesterol. It is very high in Omega3. It has been found to have 40% fewer calories and 50% more protein that the leanest beef. The deep red color attests that it is very iron-rich. Horse meat is ideal for people requiring more iron: pregnant women, people who are anemic or athletes undergoing intensive training.

I will write again to share the outcome of this delicacy. I am not sure if I am excited yet or not. Maybe a little nervous. We plan to have a friend come over and teach me....


post celebratory environmental sadness

The festival is over...but remnants remain.....

This may be the Santa-Cruz-environmental-steward in me - but my environment needs help. If you'll notice the red firecracker debris, the coal soot buildup, or the discarded garbage frozen in the ice pack...it all needs to go. No, that is not dirt - its coal soot from the Plants that heat the city.
What is an ecological-minded gal to do? Can I make lasting change? .....

My mom (bless her heart) was fanatical about recycling, organic foods, homemade everything, simplicity, and saving the earth - which has deeply influenced my sense of responsibility to care for the earth as a steward of an irreplaceable gift. I remember as a child crushing cans with such gusto - knowing that I was going to earn some cash in return. Maybe I didn't fully understand the lasting impact of those acts as a child, but it has shaped who I am today. Recycling is something that is ingrained in my being, and even more so as I see the Earth as a gift to mankind. There are many other ways we can preserve the planet - but it starts with ME first.

Here are some small ways we have chosen to live lightly on this planet, and be mindful consumers on earth.

Avoid being excessive - home-size, waste
Downsize: clothing, toys, gear, kitchen items
Walk/bike instead of using the bus/taxi
Take stairs more often - save electricity, be healthy!
Turn off unneeded lights, electric items, heat
Take shorter showers (yikes)
Don't let water run while we wash dishes
Use less paper - go paperless with bills!
Use more cloth - less paper waste
Wash only full loads of laundry & hang laundry to dry
Make meal plans: stop wasting food
Strive to buy things with less packaging
Take a canvas bag to the market for my groceries (no plastic bags!)

Cups! ...less dishes to wash
Use biodegradable items
Reuse water bottles (carry one with us!)
Utilize hand-me-downs, pass on what we don't use
Buy second-hand items

Recycle our plastic, glass, cardboard, tin/aluminum (give rebates to needy)
Pick up others' trash when appropriate

These simple ways of stewarding the earth will leave a smaller ecological footprint on the future, even in this nation! I am sure there are more ways we could live greener, so please share your ideas with us! I know that even one persons/family's lifestyle-change will add up to BIG change. You don’t have to be a radical tree hugger to take care of creation. It’s just part of stewardship.

light your lanterns...

Yuánxiāo Jié 元宵节 is the Chinese Lantern Festival!

Today began at 5:00 am with a barrage of firecrackers - and went out with a bang too. More like 5 hours of continual BANGS! with little rest in between. The closer to midnight - the more intense the bomb-noises became, and when Justin went out for a quick market-run - he had to duck-and-cover to make it back inside. The kids enjoyed the firework display - and managed to sleep thru the last few hours!!

The Lantern Festival always falls on the 15th day of the first month of the Lunar Year (under a full moon) - and marks the end of Chinese New Year celebrations across Asia. It has often been compared to Valentine's day in the west. The Chinese Festival dates back to numerous shrouded legends of the Han Dynasty over 2000 years ago (206BC-25AD). The different origins are based on spiritual practices of honoring Buddha, or a Taoist god - Tianguan, or even Yuanxiao (a homesick maiden). Another story speaks of people seeing spirits flying in the light of the full moon - so they used lanterns to illuminate the sky. Either way - its an old festival!

On the night of the Festival, many people fill the streets with their lanterns to watch the dragon parade, stilt-dances, play Chinese games/riddles and light off heaps of firecrackers. Some craftsmen create incredibly intricate lanterns in the likeness of butterflies, dragons, birds, etc - as well as the common red globes. Brightly lit floats parade the streets, as entire roads are shut down for the events. There is deep symbolism behind Lanterns, which you can read about here.

Another common custom - is to eat Yuanxiao (or Tangyuan) which are sweet sticky rice filled with sesame, peanut, walnut, veggie or meat filling. They can also be cooked in soup. The round shape symbolizes wholeness & unity, and is considered essential to any proper celebration!

As a family - we made our own paper lanterns (above) and lit candles in symbolism of the lights we are in this world. We sang songs and watched the fireworks from the safety of our cozy apartment!


buying in BULK

While living in the States, we typically bought our non-perishable items in larger quantities to save time. I used to frequent my neighborhood Costco about 1-2 times per month for diapers, spices, toilet paper, frozen items (chicken), and Odwalla Superfood.

Here on the other side of the globe, we also try to buy in bulk - but in a different way. We buy in bulk because its cheaper! Here are some items that we purchase in BULK:
rice - 10 kilo bag
flour - 5 kilo bag
butter - 3-5 kilo frozen chunk
cheese - 3 kilo block

We do go thru rice quite quickly, and I am baking more than I ever have - so the flour is used for breads, tortillas, noodles, sauces & goodies. The butter & cheese last a loooong time, but they are harder items to find in this region - so we buy in BULK. Sometimes I will split the purchase with a foreign friend/neighbor, but this is my Asian Costco.


McTravel Tips: Flying with Kiddo's

We have been asked countless times for travel tips when traveling with young kids on long flights. Obviously, we have a bit of experience in this area - and now we have survived flights with 3 youngin's (outnumbered & still sane!). Our girls really enjoy flying, and it doesn't have to be stressful!! So, for those who might benefit from this lengthy discourse, here goes.

Planning your trip
Make your kids part of the planning! Share about your destination, people you will visit, etc. Prepare them for the experience as best you can. Explain security guards, take-off & landing, etc. Remind them to stay close, and what to do in case you are separated/lost. I have heard some people "label" their kids with emergency info for this kind of situation.

Reserving your flight
Ask if you can reserve your seats ahead of time. We prefer a block of seats (window+middle+aisle) with more legroom. Window seats are great so kids can watch the world move! An early departure is wonderful, unless you want to plan a nap-time flight. Ask if your flight has special meals for children, or fun games they might give out. If traveling with an infant, ask for bulkhead seating - usually bassinets are available in those seats. Also, ask about pre-boarding options for families. If you are making a connection somewhere, ask if you can reserve those seats ahead of time too, in case the connecting flight is delayed.

Packing for the trip:
Carry-on Bag

Bring - Tickets & passports, birth certificates if necessary, & health documents/immunization records. Also pack diapers/wipes, change of clothes for each traveler, hat for baby, & medication if sick. Maybe a sippy cup for beverages, so they don't spill (esp grape juice!). Also bring chap-stick, laptop computer(?), mp3 player/ipod, and digital camera - if it fits. We allow our oldest (4+yrs) to pack her own small backpack with a few select items, and she really enjoys carrying it herself. You might also want to bring a small stroller/sling/front carrier/backpack/carseat if you have more than one kid!(?). These can be checked at the gate!
It is vital to bring Captivating toys: picture books, game books, paper/coloring books & crayons, memory cards, favorite animal/doll, scotch tape!, mp3 players with music or books on tape (there are great FREE kid-podcasts on itunes!), magnet-doodle board, paint with water books, a good read-aloud book, stickers/sticker book, simple lacing/sewing/knitting projects - the ideas are endless. Sometimes we purchase a NEW toy to surprise them with during the flight! Its worth the cost. Whatever you decide to bring - we suggest to bring toys with less "parts" that will fall below the seat, etc. If you are able to bring a laptop/portable DVD player - then that is another option, tho the battery doesn't last forever!
Do not forget the essential Snacks & drinks! Items that keep their jaw moving (to help with *air pressure/ears) like gummy chews, gum?, pacifier, hard candy to suck on, dried fruits, yogurt raisins, packaged crackers, PBJ, cheese, carrot sticks, granola bars, or other things your kids love. *We have special treats that we only use for take-off & landing, which distracts during any bumpiness we might encounter. Remember you cannot pack any liquids (milk/water) for kids. Any fruit must be consumed before arrival too (international flights). We also take Airborne for Kids/Vitamins 1+2 days before trip to boost our immunities.

Check-on Luggage
Besides all your necessary items, we try to pack any change of clothing/jackets on top in case we are stranded somewhere (a more common occurrence over here). Its easier to access.

What we wear during flights
Comfortable clothing with socks & shoes! We also dress in layers, with darker colored clothing for occasional spills. Planes can get really cold!

Boarding & Takeoff
We arrive early, check-on and claim an area near the gate ASAP. During this waiting time, we change diapers/nurse/drink fluids/visit potty. Usually one of us will run around the airport (with kids) to get exercise & energy out before the long flight, while the other guards any gear. Once aboard your flight, get situated and point out all the new things before take-off. Wait to nurse your baby until the plane takes off, so their ears can adjust easier. Nursing/eating is essential to help with the change in air pressure on take-off AND landing!

During the flight
Keep their hands busy, read books, talk about what they see outside! Sing songs if they are nervous (make up your own words) or just for fun! Bust out new activities as needed, or take a walk thru the aisle if possible. Our oldest loves to take picts with the digital camera, and listen to books/songs on the mp3 player. We take multiple *potty breaks and daddy often takes the opportunity to teach them about cloud formation or jet propulsion if they will listen. I am not kidding! The key to holding their attention is lots of short activities because in such a small space, nothing keeps their focus for too long, unless they are older. *If your little one is learning to wear big undies, we recommend pull-ups or plastic pants for the trip. It can be hard to get there in time, and the bathrooms are tiny for two.

We wait till most of the passengers have gotten off before we attempt it ourselves. We double check for any items under seats, etc. Listen for baggage claim info, and ask the attendants for your stroller/carrier as you leave.

Remember to do all of these things (and be even more creative) FOR your kids - not for others. Don't worry about what others on the flight might be thinking of you/your kids, but focus on your kids. You will have a great time, and you will catch up on your sleep eventually. Happy travels!


a lovely day

Valentine's Day is a huge holiday here in China, which was surprising! So many couples feel the pressure to impress their loved one with flowers, chocolates, gifts, etc. We are not huge Valentine's Day advocates, but its always fun to spread some love! The girls love making cookies to give to neighbors or share with friends. Enjoy the pictures of our day...

Eden loved using the cookie cutter, eating the dough, or putting her fingers in the hearts. She also sat on one.

Asia is very meticulous like her momma, and she is becoming quite a little baker. She loves to measure and mix ingredients with precision.

Here are all four of the McNabb girls in the kitchen. Sydney is hanging onto momma's legs and pulling her pants off....
The end result: Pink icing and one giddy kid!!

The best part of our day was a surprise phone call from a great friend who hadn't been home to Urumqi in over 1 year. He hadn't met Sydney or seen our girls in that long either. He came for dinner and we all caught up. The girls welcomed him with open arms! He is like an uncle to them, complete with gifts and all. Isn't he cute??


cultural superstitions

Chinese New Year is a time for family, friends, and age-old traditions - and there are many superstitious beliefs behind the festivities & rituals.

House cleaning - the entire house is cleaned before New Year's day. Then all brooms, dusters & cleaning gear is put away! Cleaning is strictly forbidden, for fear that good fortune might be swept away. Sweeping resumes after the holidays are over. This is a time to put up your feet and relax! ......I think I like this one.

- the Chinese way of sending out the old year and welcoming the new, as well as scaring away any evil spirits. At midnight, all doors & windows are opened to allow the old year to "go out," and good luck to come in freely. Also, staying awake all night might give your parents a longer, healthier life. These firecrackers last for about 2 weeks!

All debts are paid
- start the year off right, without any debts owed. Nothing should be lent on this day. There is a belief that any activity you participate in will be perpetuated the entire year thru, so many avoid such predicaments as lending, cleaning, arguing, crying, etc. Children are often tolerated during this time, and never spanked even though they might be mischievous. Your attitude sets the tone for the entire year ahead.

Refrain from foul language - especially unlucky words like "four" as it sounds like the word for death. Ghost stories, death & dying are also taboo conversations.

Personal appearance
- everyone dons new clothing, shoes and many people wear red - the lucky color, inferring a bright future and will scare away any evil spirits. You are not supposed to wash your hair on New Year's Day, so you don't wash away any good luck.

- it is a very lucky thing to hear songbirds, red-colored birds or swallows singing outside. Everyone always greets each other with kind words!

Knives & scissors are not used
- so as not to cut off any good fortune. Any sort of sharp object is avoided, even hairdressers.

Eating candy
- this is said to bring a sweeter year ahead!

Red envelopes - young children are given red envelopes with new, crisp money inside - for good fortune. They are often given in pairs.

While some people do not fully believe these taboos/lucky signs - these traditions are still practiced and can provide continuity with the past & provide the family with greater cultural identity. I think many people throughout the world are like this - which really makes me think about the holiday traditions we choose to perpetuate without truly thinking of their meaning & significance. At the same time its so fun to learn about other cultures and how they celebrate differently across the globe.

auspicious foods

This time of year (Chinese New Year) lots of foods are commonly prepared for celebrations or given as gifts, usually for auspicious reasons! We especially enjoy the mandarin oranges that are in season!

Mandarin oranges come in many varieties - but they are sweet, typically seedless, easy to peel & devour. They are very kid-friendly, and healthy in so many ways! They are high in vitamins A&C, anti-oxidants, & fiber - and are known to reduce the risks of liver cancer, hardened arteries/heart disease, strokes, and possibly kidney stones. It makes a great snack too!

Mandarins receive their names from the bright orange robes worn by the Mandarins (ancient Chinese court officials), and are known to have originated in China. They were often reserved for the privileged/wealthy class. They did not reach the Western world until the 19th century! And the first mandarin oranges exported were shipped from Tangiers, Morocco (where Tangerines get their name). Tangerines are the most common variety of Mandarin orange found in the US.

Here in China these yummy fruits symbolize health, long life & good luck! If the leaves are intact, that can also signify long-lasting relationships, fruitfulness & wealth. Many people give Mandarin oranges as gifts, and you will see them displayed in homes & stores. The word for tangerine in Chinese (橘子 júzi) has a similar sound as luck/gold and the word for orange (橙子 chéngzi) sounds like the word for wealth.

Other Auspicious Foods:
Symbolic significance is sometimes based on appearance, or by the sound of the word. They are meant to communicate hope & prosperity in the coming year. Here are a bunch of foods that carry well-known meaning in Chinese culture:

A whole Chicken - togetherness/happiness, it is bad luck to cut them, so you will not sever the luck to come. Head, tail & feet intact!
Clams & Spring rolls - wealth, because of their resemblance to bouillon or gold bars.
Noodles - longevity, they are stretched but never cut.
Lettuce - sounds like "rising fortune" which is a lucky event.
Fish - this word (鱼 yú) sounds like wish & abundance. It is also served whole, with head & tail attached, eyes too.
Sweet cakes/Sticky rice - a rich/sweet life, with layers representing rising abundance, and the round shape signifying family reunion & completion.
Duck - fidelity
Eggs - fertility
Jiaozi/Dumplings - sometimes a coin is placed inside the center of one, and whoever bites into this jiaozi will have an exceptionally lucky year. Eating them brings the promise of wealth & prosperity.
Bamboo shoots & Black moss seaweed - wealth
Bean Curd/Tofu - avoided because its white color suggests death & misfortune.
Lychee nuts
- close family ties
Peanuts - a long life
Seeds (watermelon, lotus) - having a large # of children

Yum yum!! Eat healthy, live happy.


Ice Cream update:

During our recent Family Getaway - we secured 5 new Visa's for our clan! We were able to get F-Visa's, which are Exploratory Business Visa's that last 3 months, with opportunity to extend. We are already beyond the "exploration" phase of this Ice Cream Shop start-up, but this temporary Visa will give us time to finish the application process and get approved!!

Once we get approved - we will be able to change our Visa status to Z-Visa's, which are Work Visa's, and allow us to get residence permits. To finish this process we will need another trip out of the country, most likely to Hong Kong. Soooo....the next three months will be a busy season for our clan!

Top Business Goals:
  • Find an amazing location: remodel & purchase equipment! Hire & train employees
  • Register our business: finish the paperwork, and get all needed approvals/licenses/unknowns taken care of
  • Perfect our recipes: develop a menu, seasonal flavors, locate products & supplies


high fevers @ high altitude

warning: this post contains graphic bodily functions

Feb 7th - Kunming, China
9:00 pm
- Eden had a high fever that lasts thru the night. Poor gal was limp and listless. It went as high as 104 degrees F.

Feb 8th - Kunming to Urumqi, China
7:00 am
- Sydney woke up and vomited all over the hotel bed. She threw up 2 more times before we left the hotel, and once more in the taxi on the way to the airport. We are wondering what this day might hold??
11:30 am - Board 1st flight to Xi'an. Sydney threw up 3 times, mostly in those nifty air-sickness bags, or on mom. Eden's fever still above 102 - thankfully she napped on and off. Asia complained of tummy cramps. Mom & dad hang in there.
2:00 pm - Board 2nd flight to Urumqi. Sydney can't keep anything down. She is either wimpering, throwing up, or sleeping in mom's arms. Eden's fever persisted. Asia very mellow and even takes unsolicited nap!!
6:30 pm - Load into taxi for home! Taxi man threw a fit when we asked him to use the meter. He began to speed and angrily yell at Justin. Justin calms him down while trying to understand his frustration (holding feverish Eden), but he was not happy about our suggestion to follow the law. In the meantime, mom balances two sickies in the backseat. Asia continues to complain about her tummy, and Sydney clings on tight. All of a sudden Asia throws up all over the backseat of the (mean) taxi. We try frantically to "clean up" with wet wipes, so that taxi man won't become more angry.
7:00 pm - Arrive home to our heated apartment, smelly clothes and all. We all take showers - and Asia immediately feels better! Eden's excitement to be home temporarily overcomes her fever and the girls play with missed toys. Sydney konks in bed, waking only to nurse/throw up/wimper.
9:00 pm - Justin slept on the couch so he could hear/check on the girls every 2 hours thru the night, as Eden's temp continued to fluctuate up to 104. Mom stays with Sydney and changes bedding each time she vomits (we won't mention how may times).

Feb 9th - Home sweet home
8:00 am - Wake to a new day! A&E are increasingly better throughout the day, tho Sydney still unable to keep much in her tummy. She stays hydrated with small amounts of water & re-hydration solution for babies. Mom & dad are surprisingly energetic and healthy.

In closing: Traveling with sickness is not favorable, but extra strength is given in times of need!! We are on the mend and thankful to be home.


Xin Nian Kuai Le!! 新年快乐

Happy Chinese New Year!! There are still remnants of fireworks going off all over town....and the official celebration was 2 days ago! Yup, this is a major holiday in our world. We missed the BIG firework display - but there is more to come! We look forward to the Lantern Festival next week, and the decorative colors across town. Chinese New Year is the most important of the Chinese holidays - with lots of feasting, fireworks, gift-giving, and neat traditions. It begins on the first day of the new moon, and ends 15 days later with the Lantern Festival, on the night of the full moon.

The Chinese calendar features a cyclical dating method that repeats every 60 years. The calendar is based on two cycles that interact with each other—the Chinese zodiac (divided into 12 parts); and the 5 elements (metal, water, wood, fire & earth).

Each year of the Chinese Zodiac is represented by a different animal: the rat, ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, sheep, monkey, rooster, dog & pig. The five elements are assigned to the 12 animals/years, giving different characteristics to each animal/year. Assigning each of the five elements to the 12 years creates 60 different combinations that results in a 60-year cycle!! Many Horoscopes base their predictions on combinations of these beliefs. Legend says that Buddha* invited all the animals to a celebration, and the first to arrive would have a calendar month named after them. The first to arrive was the Rat, as he was the most cunning and sly.

The Year of the Rat = a time of hard work, activity & renewal. The Chinese believe this is a good time to begin a new job, get married or make a fresh start. Opportunity is out there, and patience will bring success. People born in this year are believed to be charming, shrewd, charismatic, ambitious, inventive, hard-working, logical, resourceful, perfectionists, thrifty, easily angered, gossipers, yet very successful. Those born in a Rat year are also respected & considered courageous, enterprising, adaptable & bright. There are thoughts that babies born during this year will grow up to be leaders, pioneers or conquerors.

*Although Buddha is typically the central figure in many stories about the origin of the Chinese Zodiac, some evidence suggests it may predate Buddhism. Early Chinese astronomers devised a system based on the 12-year orbit of Jupiter to tell time. The system included earthly branches, which existed long before Buddhism.

This is also called "Spring Festival" as we all welcome the end of winter - and look forward to a new year with new growth. This is the Chinese character for Spring = chūn 春. We can't wait for the spring-like weather.... but there is still snow & ice on the ground....so it might be awhile!

*check back for more Chinese New Year traditions later next week!


thinking of home

We hear reports of horrible weather conditions and major travel systems shut-down as blizzards hit China. Fox News reported mass hysteria at a train station in Guangzhou, with people trying to board trains for travel before the Spring Festival. Over 60 people have died because of the weather & travel-related incidents, and many others are stranded as they attempt travel for Chinese New Year (Feb 7th). Everyone has been advised to abandon any travel plans! The weather report in our city mentions negative 20-25 degree C weather....with more storms to come. I can't imagine the crowds & hysteria as so many Chinese workers attempt to visit loved ones during their holiday season.

At the same time, we are glad we have 5 more days of warmth before we attempt any travel - so we are soaking it all in and enjoying every minute - even the rain! This week we are connecting with sweet friends, riding songthaews & tuk-tuks and visiting Dentaland!