One afternoon, Asia & I joined the bride in search of her wedding gown. It was a fun outing!! Asia loved all the sequined dresses and lacy tresses. She tried on a cute white dress, and gloves & tiara's while the Chinese ladies gasped and giggled over her. She even managed to smile for a quick cell phone picture from one of the ladies in the shop (this is a big deal!!).
This opportunity has given her a chance to grow thru some cultural challenges too. Our girls receive large amounts of attention when we go outside (and that is being modest). Most of the attention is challenging to deal with on a daily basis, and some of their responses are quite merited (rude faces, yanking away from pokes & or people grabbing their arms/skin/hair, and sometimes screaming). The girls have gotten so much better in the past year, but this is part of life in a foreign country. Anyhow, I began prepping her for the BIG wedding day, knowing that she will receive even MORE attention than usual - since she will be wearing a beautiful white dress!
Here are some things she is working on:
1. Smiling at people wherever she goes.
2. Responding to people when they speak to her, with a kind 'hello' or 'thank you' - we don't require her to speak in Chinese, but that is encouraged.
3. Using respectful responses if she is not comfortable with a situation, or asking for our help.
Being in a wedding here is a BIG choice for her, because it puts her in the center of attention (even more) in a sea of dark hair and dark eyes. Having blonde hair and blue eyes kinda sticks out!! ....She's a beauty, that's for sure!! I am constantly amazed at her maturity and ability to handle hard situations. She is such a gracious little girl, with a heart of gold.
Depending on the day, there is not enough water pressure to pump UP to our floor. This means that dishes, washing fruit/veggies, laundry, baths for the kids, etc - are all on hold until the water pressure builds up again. Weekends and evenings are the worst times! The wait can be hours long, and even DAYS. Everyone underneath us has water, but we are left high and DRY. This causes a few rational responses:
1. Go out to eat for every meal so that dishes never pile up.
2. Eat finger foods all day long, which saves on dirty dishes too.
3. Wear the same clothes as long as possible.
4. Heat drinking water on the stove for baths in a storage bin. The kids LOVE this! (too bad we don't fit)
5. Good excuse to stop shaving for a week, and work on my Uyghur beard.
6. Get angry at the Maintenance Office for not fixing the problem (c'mon - it's been a year!). Call them multiple times a day to share my frustrations.
7. Laugh at the funny ways we cope with our silly problems, realizing there are far worse things to be annoyed over. Laughter is the best medicine!
p.s. I learned to make bagels!
Anyhow, all that to say: They LOVE their gifts! We also got butterfly helmets that they LOVE as well. Eden asks us multiple times a day if we can go outside to "ride bikes." If we can't go outside right away, she will wear her helmet inside instead.
Here is Eden on her blue scooter. She loves that she can carry it downstairs by herself, and she is getting quite coordinated as she pushes herself along. She is such a beautiful and amazing almost-4-year-old!
Asia picked out this blue bike! The height adjusts, so she can use it for awhile. It has a nifty basket on the front, and sturdy training wheels too. It even folds up, if you can imagine. She is getting much more coordinated with steering and using the hand-breaks, so we are working up to the training wheel removal....slowly! I can't believe she is almost 6!
It’s been fun preparing each week, deciding what & how to teach them English. I have been starting out slow with the ABC’s, some familiar greetings, and colors. We try to incorporate games and songs throughout the visit, and using art to keep them attentive, while helping to connect the words with their meanings. It is very challenging to know the best way to teach (and love) these children, but I think that just being there with them, holding their hands and praising their efforts is a huge encouragement. I am still getting to know each child’s personalities, dispositions and trying to keep them engaged for 2 hours. They are all so funny and want to be my shadow when I come. I wish I could share pictures, but I don’t think that would be good. Either way – they are beautiful faces, with dark brown eyes that sparkle and arms that reach out to be held and loved without fear. I hope my heart continues to be strong each week, as I would bring them all home with me if I could.
Next trip I will try to take some pictures of our favorite veggie stalls and the people we visit almost daily. We really love the family that makes the Uyghur Nan bread for the neighborhood. They are so kind and love to chat.
The weather has been amazingly warm, tho we've been having quite a few dust storms as well. We also enjoyed a few days of rain in the past 2 weeks, which is always a welcome break from the dry weather. I am not sure when Summer will officially hit, but we are definitely enjoying the changes that Spring brings!
The mechanic up on the corner has 6 baby chicks that roam his "yard" while he welds and fixes old taxi's. They eat leftover rice and other scraps that he throws along the sidewalk. I guess it's not a pretty sight, but the girls LOVE visiting the chicks each day when we flag down a taxi on the corner. It's kinda like we have pets without the responsibility. I think Justin is quite happy about that too.
You can find grilled mutton kebabs, polo (zhua fan 抓饭), hot nan bread, fresh-squeezed pomegranate juice & sliced melons all over. Restaurants & street vendors spill out into the streets, so the smells of food are always wafting your way (which we think is a good thing!).
You can also pose with a native Bactrian Camel (the ones with 2 humps) or take a ride for a small fee. The camels are quite ornery, and are known to bite and spit. This one is still wearing his winter coat.
At many spots along the sidewalk you can find underground walkways that lead to MORE shopping areas below. Wherever we go - we must watch our possessions with care. I hope that won't keep you from visiting tho!!
We took them to one of the highest parks in the city - Hóng Shān (Red Mountain). It is a historic park that overlooks a panorama of the city - and it was great weather! The mountain is made of aubergine rock, hence the name Red Mountain. We hiked the stairs, explored the pagoda, and the kids had many pictures taken of them by locals (without many smiles).
All week the kiddos enjoyed exploring, reading, imagining, and bonding with their buddies since birth. I have known J since I was 16, I believe - and now our children are buddies too! I have way too many pictures to share, so here are some highlights: