Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Squeeze Every Bit of Summer

Last weekend was much less eventful than we had anticipated.  A typhoon was east of Shanghai and we weren't sure what weather it would bring.  Saturday we walked to the wet market to pick up some fruit, veggies and eggs in case we were indoors until Monday avoiding the wind and rain.  We wandered around the rest of the neighborhood center to pick up bread and find the little bookstore that sells children's books in written in English. 
I went out on a limb and left the girls with our new Ayi (household helper) and ran errands by myself for a few hours on Tuesday morning.  It was a very strange feeling being out by myself since the girls and I have almost exclusively been together all-day, every day for the last oh...8 weeks.  I went to Auchan (the place with 100 lanes, open at all times) and for surviving it, I rewarded myself with a doughnut & a regular Pepsi.  Alas, no diet Pepsi on tap here!
Tuesday night we spent another evening at the pool splashing around and munching on pepperoni pizza.  It's just a way we're trying to squeeze every bit of summer out of the last few weeks before the start of school.  I can hear the "tick-tock, tick-tock," of the clock ticking down to the first day of kindergarten.  LBean's school has an open house on the 19th and her first day of school is the 22nd.  

LBean requested a day at home on Wednesday.  So, we packed a picnic lunch and ate at our apartment compound and played in the sandbox.  Tuns out that playing in the sandbox is not the best idea.  A friend happened to mention in passing that some kids had gotten pin worms after playing in the sandbox.  Just great.  I'm so glad that she said something!  As we were walking back to the apartment LBean asked if we could go wash her hands so she could start sucking her thumb again!
 LBean got her wish on Thursday and we joined some other families in Suzhou for a visit to Wee World at Times Square.  I expected to be like a children’s museum, but it was a little more like an indoor camp.  The kids were lead around by a host and checked their passports at four different occupations.  At each occupation stop the leader walked them through an activity linked to each job.  The kids got their passports stamped and earned 5 Wee World dollars for doing each “job”.  LBean got off to a slow start because the first occupation was fashion model.  For those that have seen her at her past preschool programs, this was painful for her.  She refused to walk down the runway, but I am so proud of her for not crying or running out to find me.  Little steps!  At the next stop the kids learned about cooking and LBean was so good to try the rice/dried meat/veggie mix.

We took a break for lunch and LBean's inner "fashion model" came out then.  She got excited about walking down the runway when "no one was taking pictures" as she put it.  I'm glad that she took advantage of her second chance.

Lunch with the girls.

Trying out the runway.

After lunch the kids tried their hand at being convenience store employees and the last one was the best...a dairy farmer.  LBean was thrilled!

Friday morning the day started off with a huge downpour, not a fun way to run errands, but we had the driver and a friend to help.  We went across the street to the wet market to grab some fruits & veggies for the weekend.  We're "regulars" now with the guy at the fruit stall, which means the girls get free bananas when they go with me.  Our most important task was to get doughnuts for "doughnut day" (our Saturday mornings).  After that we ran to Singa Plaza so the girls could pick out a movie for Friday night and then it was off to Incity mall.  I promised the girls Auntie Anne's pretzels at the mall (some things never change).  

Friday night is now "date night" at our house.  One of the best pieces of advice I got when we moved to Suzhou was to include one night a week of babysitting with our Ayi.  I'm not gonna lie and say it doesn't take a huge amount of trust to leave our girls with a new person in a foreign country, but I have to trust my gut instinct and really watch he girls' reaction to our Ayi, which has been very positive.  This was the second week we left the girls with our Ayi for a few hours.  We met friends at the performing arts center and saw the final Harry Potter movie.  The girls love "date night" now because they get to watch a movie and eat popcorn with our Ayi.  Everyone wins!  

We are finding that our weekends are very special.  We have no yard to maintain, no committee meetings to attend (yet), and no household projects to steal our time.  It's complete family time.  We had considered taking the girls to the Suzhou Water Park, but there was a 70% chance of rain.  Instead, we went to the pet & plant street in Old Town.  The plant section of old town is very fun.  We wandered around back alleys and side streets looking for potted plants.  I am learning the art of negotiation (a must in China) and I'm very content to "walk away" and see if I can get a better deal.  It also helped to have our driver with us and watch him negotiate on our behalf.  He had warned us, by using the translation function on his phone, that the store owners try to cheat the foreigners.  The not-so-great part of the day was the pet section of Old Town.  We warned the girls that under no circumstances would we be purchasing a dog from any of these shops.  Jamie and I promised the girls a dog when we got to China, but these animals are kept in small unsanitary cages, in the heat, with little food and no medication.  When it comes time to choose a dog, we have found some foster/adoption dog programs in Shanghai that we will look into.  We saw turtles, squirrels, chipmunks, ducks, rabbits, cats, dogs, chickens, pigeons, fish and several other kinds of animals.  It was not a very pleasant place to be and we didn't spend much time there.  

After we loaded up the plants in the van, the girls requested a McDonald's lunch.  Our driver took us to another part of Old Town called Walking Street (named that because it's mostly closed off to traffic).  Jamie and I had been there on a Sunda during our home-finding trip, but it was a little less crowded on a Saturday.  It was fun to show the girls the temple, try to negotiate a good deal for princess wands & fairy wings (we "walked away", the girls took it well), and picked up miniature umbrellas for the girls dolls that matched the ones Jamie and I had bought for them a month earlier.

A row of E-bikes (electric bikes) in Old Town
Love this picture!

Looking at the turtles

Our driver and EBean looking for a deal
(notice the calculator in her hand)

LBean telling us to be quiet because
the animals were sleeping (or too hot to move)

Near the temple on Walking Street in Old Town

Looking at all of the burning candles at the temple

Another temple

I love this picture because if you notice all of the people that are
turned around and looking at the camera...they are looking at us,
group of white people in Old Town and they are smiling at our

Sunday was just nice, in fact Jamie and I commented on how nice it was several times.  Last week we opted to skip Fellowship because of the typhoon and instead studied at home.  I was glad to go to Fellowship this past weekend and be around other believers.  People are starting to come back to Suzhou after their summer holidays in their respective home countries and the pews are starting to fill up again.  We took a different bus back to our side of town and it dropped us off right at the Mexican place with the kids' play area.  We had lunch with two other families from Fellowship and we were at Casa Zoe for at least three hours, if not longer.  I laughed and said that if we stayed any longer we could have had supper there too.  We walked back to our apartment compound with another family and LBean cried to whole time!  Her poor, poor legs were just so tired (please note the sarcasm in that sentence). It was very tragic!

1 comment:

  1. Hey Kara,

    Dawn and I finally got around to seeing HP7 on Thursday night last week, and we missed you guys. Even though you're on the opposite side of the world, we saw the movie (almost) on the same day! Thanks for your frequent updates, it's really fun to see what you guys are experiencing.