We are higher than many of the other buildings/apartments on this end of town, so we can see lots of rooftops, traffic jams, kids walking home from school, snow-capped mountain silhouettes, and concrete jungle sunrises & sunsets. We also get a nice breeze - which helps....since the temps are reaching into the 90's already.
The nearest major street is called Xing Fu Lu (幸福路) which means Happy Road. Also, just last week - our business partners found out that their apartment was sold and they had to move (gotta love the last minute changes here) so they began looking on this side of town. Low and behold - there is our exact apartment available 2 doors down the hall! Long-story-short: they moved in fast....and now we have Happy neighbors too. Its a wonderful gift - they have three kids (almost the same ages) and we all share the loves of ice cream, Settlers, China and many other Californian novelties. Now we can share the woes of old funky apartments too.
Tomorrow - the leaky roof will get fixed, and new tiles may start going in for the floor. Electrical & plumbing fixtures will begin to be arranged too!
Today we visited the ice cream shop - which is being gutted and cleaned out TODAY!... later walked to the bank, and to a yummy cafe for lunch. We fit a lot into three short hours, but its so nice to explore the city just the two of us. We also grabbed some sticky rice from a Uyghur vendor on the street. These ones are filled with all sorts of goodies - dates, raisins, or beans, wrapped in banana leaves. It comes served on a chopstick, rolled in sugar.
It was just one week ago at 2:28pm when the earthquake struck, and we hear the situation is now in recovery/rebuild mode....and not so much rescue anymore. This is a hard thing for many to accept. I can't even imagine.
He still lives in a cardboard box, with occasional supervised visits on the balcony. The girls can't handle his spastic movements, and worry that he will "peck them...so usually its mom & Sydney who spend the most quality time with Silly. Yup, we know who loves him most.
But on this momentous occasion - I bought a pair of her unique booties to send to my first nephew - born on May 5th in Hawaii. My little (well, ok - younger) brother & wife just welcomed their second child 13 days ago! I was hoping to have a picture to post here, but not yet. His name is Uriah Evan - and he weighed 7 pounds 14 ounces! We cannot wait to hug him in person - as we already love him so much! His big sister Arin is already three-and-a-half! We miss you all, and we hope you love your package from the Orient!
A few days ago - our business partner and I went to meet with this man to learn about future distribution and marketing. When we got there, this man had sent a car to pick us up!! That's service! He took us on a tour of his brand new 7 million dollar factory (one of four) which is a lot for a factory in these parts. Then we met in his office which was filled with hundreds of books on Western business practices. He gave us some great advice for marketing our ice cream and the market positioning we might want to pursue. He was a really nice guy and we were thankful for his advice, since we know very little about what we are doing. It was interesting to see the big business side of this place where we live. In the end, we said goodbye, talked about playing ping-pong together soon and were sent off in one of his new SUVs to take us wherever we wanted to go.
Forbid toward Hanoi (he nei=river/inside) to throw the garbage: Throwing garbage into the river is prohibited.
Forbid to fishing enter the water frolic and build a fire: Obviously, these are forbidden as well. Campfires and water frolicking don't mix well.
This next one is kinda hard to read....
No throwing away the rubbish everywhere.
No carving and drawing freely.
No spitting on the ground. (love this one!)
Cherish the communal facilities.
No carrying those that are easily burnt and bombed.
The management office.
I love their management office. They have brought so much joy to my life.
It's incredible how fast our little Eden Sofia has grown, and what a beauty (inside & out) she has become. She teaches us so much about life, love and having the wonder of a child. This day was all about HER - the fish-themed party, the goodies, candles, puzzles, legos, cars that go vroom, octopus/ocean games, banana ice cream on a cone and (even) chocolate cereal. She asked me twice today to tell her the story of how she was born (this wasn't the first time!) and she listened intently to every detail. I love telling it to her, because she really is a miracle - and I want her to know how special and cared for she is. What a sweet gift to our family: her spunk, energy, sense of adventure, easy-going-attitude, yet unfailing determination definitely challenge our socks off. She is full of strengths and character and pure JOY that is such a delight to her fumu 父母 (parents). Happy birthday my curious monkey!
**Updated - over 8,000 people have died and many more are still trapped/missing. Buildings in some of the rural counties near the epicenter had as much as 80% of their buildings collapse according to some reports. It is the biggest earthquake to hit China in a very long time. We did not feel it at all though we have friends in the area of the quake.
Here are some ways MOM'S* can leave a lasting impact: building security, identity, compassion & empathy, selflessness, tenderness, modeling a nurturing heart, a servant-heart, responsibility, dependence on God & hearing His voice, strength & sensitivity, being adventurous, playful, creative, energetic, fruitful, productive, kind, inspiring, devoted, prayerful, gentle, exemplary, a good listener, able to smile at challenges, insightful & wise, instilling value, setting boundaries, speaking with kind words & attitudes, problem-solving, giving unending love & grace, being available: teaching, cherishing, encouraging, listening, comforting, forgiving, showing patience, & giving the best hugs & cuddles.
*Everyone can impact the world, not just momma's!
He was only one week old, but he was loved. The girls cried when we had to "take him outside" and "let him go" this past week. He was still so small, weak and not flourishing. Poor daddy had to do the deed and put him out of his misery. We tried all we could to help him survive....but he just wasn't a healthy chick. It was a teary goodbye, but a great opportunity to talk about life & death. On the other hand - Silly is doing great. He's feisty and alert, and full of gumption! Now he's just a little lonely.
Where do you come from? (Mei Guo = 美国 = America)
Are these your kids? All THREE of them?
How old are you? Do you live here?
Do you rent or own your apartment?
How much is your rent? (this is a typical one!)
Do you want more kids? Don't you want a BOY?
Can I have one of your kids? (I think this is a joke, but everyone asks)
Are you afraid that someone will take one of your kids? (I wasn't, before that question)
And my favorite conversation from yesterday:
little Chinese boy: Is that one a boy or girl?
me: She's a girl. <smile & pause> Are you a boy or girl? <my attempt at a joke>
little Chinese boy: Boy.
me: (laughing) I was just joking. I know you are a boy!
little Chinese boy: he begins to laugh, then says: Look at that fat boy. He is very fat!
We made a happy home for them, complete with a heat lamp, water dish, corn millet and newspaper nest. We aren't sure how long they will get to stay - but for now the girls are enthralled with their "peeps" and watching them from above.
Asia was talking to them, comforting them - and being very attentive to their needs. I think this will be a great experience for the girls - as they learn about life, responsibility, and selflessness.
This is SILLY chick. Named 'Silly' because he likes to jump in the water dish to get a drink. This was cause for much laughter and hilariousness. Silly has a dark patch of fuzz on his head to distinguish himself from....PECK.
Here is PECK is all his glory. I think he was posing for this picture. Peck is pure yellow fuzz - and a bit more reserved than Silly. Peck got his name because he was "pecking for his food" which seems quite fitting.
We will see how long this lasts. Tonight they were acting up and being a bit rambunctious.
I will keep you posted.
Most "laborers" get the day off work (unless they work in retail, food or tourism) on May 1st. The streets are crowded and full of life & color. All the parks officially open for the Spring/Summer seasons, and the crowds are out in full force. And yes, we decided to brave the masses - making a visit to a favorite park.
With three little girls - we can tend to be one of the "main attractions." We are constantly followed by a crowd with cameras, cell phones - all wanting pictures of the white kids. We may know a smidgen of what celebrities feel like when followed by the Paparazzi. Today - Asia was amazing when dealing with the crowds: she was determined to have a better attitude, and just ignore all the attention. I was so proud of her choices today, as she really abhors the crowds and lack of personal space.
We found some open space to run, explore and blow bubbles in the breeze, away from the majority of the crowds. We ate a yummy lunch of Polo and Kebabs - and rode on the Carousel & Bumper boats.
We also met a few locals with their precious kids while exploring the park....and the girls couldn't leave without trying the cotton candy. Happy Labor Day!