Happily Ever After

Pinky Stinky and I are battling nasty chest colds. Curse the fickleness of Shanghai weather…one day it’s 80 degrees, then it drops back to windy 40s and 50s. Hot, cold, hot, cold…

Walking along the streets of Beijing, we passed by a Catholic cathedral. Unfortunately, we didn’t have a chance to go inside. But, I truly hope I’ll have another opportunity. One of my favorite buildings in Salt Lake City is the Cathedral of the Madeleine, which is exquisite.

Today, I was fortunate enough to watch the beautiful British wedding on CNN at V’s house, where we oohed and aahed like silly school girls. It was a beautiful ceremony until the mention of “Til death do you part.” As Mormons, we believe in eternal marriage and the opportunity to be with our loved ones forever. I take great comfort in that gospel doctrine. Especially considering the recent tornado tragedies in the southern United States.

Together forever. Now that’s a happily ever after.

Silly Serenity

Things I’d probably never do in America: Crowd ten people into a minivan every Sunday for church. Thanks to our Italian friends V & V and their beautiful kids, we make it home safely. (Trust me, a taxi ride is more dangerous.)
After four months of residing in Shanghai, there’s still quite a bit of chaos in my soul.
I am searching for serenity and it comes one day at a time. Thankfully, I believe in searching for joy in this life. 2Nephi 2:25
Silly things on my mind: Harry Potter 7 Part 2 (Woo hoo!), 50 days (but who’s counting) until I go back for a summer visit, Target, karate class, American TV with 300 channels, rib eye steak, salad, protein bars and Disneyland.
I also have more profound thoughts, I promise. Like: What happens when I just don’t jive with someone, even though I try, but I have to work with them or attend church with them? Or the cost of inflation in China. (My monthly groceries cost almost as much as my monthly mortgage. Ack!) Or health care; we’ve had sick visits but where do I take the kids in an emergency? Puxi, thirty minutes across the river.
Those are some of the more burdensome thoughts. But more often it’s: what can I do to serve others and become a better person? Or how grateful I am for my husband, children, family and friends around the world and for modern technology, which allows me to keep in contact with the people I love most dearly in this life.
Aren’t these kids silly? And full of joy.

Cloisonne Factory

Cloisonne vases.
A short drive down from Mutianyu, we discovered a small Cloisonne factory, situated in Huai Rou County. To me, cloisonne represents the beauty and elegance of Chinese art, in all of its fanciness.
Bronze beginning.
Wire pieces for inlay.
Enamel colors, hand painted.
Waiting for the hot kiln.
Burn, baby, burn.
Each piece is fired several times, once to adhere the inlay and again for the color.
Polish. Charcoal and sandstone.
Finishing touches.
The process of producing cloisonne is quite interesting and The Circus enjoyed the quick tour. Unfortunately, we didn’t pick up any cloisonne pieces for home. Maybe next time. (Because you know we’ll be back to Beijing.)

Spring Cometh

Jinqiao, Pudong, Shanghai.

Dear Utah peeps,
I heard it’s snowing out there, while the sun’s shining out here.
Don’t be jealous. You have Target. I’ve have 27 degrees C (79F).
Smiley Face Emoticon,
Circus Mom

I was prepared to post about Spring, but today felt glorious, almost like Summer. Balmy, breezy and nearly 80 degrees F. When the weather is warm and the sun is shining, all seems well with the world. Even though I’m on the other side of it.

Honesty and Integrity

Mutianyu, Great Wall, Beijing.
Tomorrow is Easter. I’ve been thinking about Judas Iscariot and the choice he made to betray Jesus. Whether Judas betrayed Christ for love of money or for lack of faith, he made a choice. I can’t help but wonder what kind of person chooses darkness when they’ve been shown the path of light and how do we keep ourselves from becoming that person…

Today is one of those “I hate China” days. Somewhere between three aisles in the little expat store in our compound, I dropped a 100RMB bill. I was rushing around with The Circus and we stopped in the candy aisle. I had items on top of the cash in my hand and when I went to pay, I noticed some cash was missing. I rushed back to the candy aisle and found my 10RMB note, but the red 100RMB note was gone. I made a announcement to the nine people standing in line. “Has anyone seen my 100RMB bill?” I asked loudly in Chinese and English. The two foreigners and seven Chinese people seemed uncomfortable that I dared to ask. They stared at me blankly. I checked with the few employees. There was no one else. One among the fifteen people around me decided the money ($15 US dollars) was worth more than an act of honesty and integrity.

While I lived in Los Angeles for five years, my friends and I had our lost items including dropped wallets, keys, Ipad and money returned to us. Tomorrow will be better as we celebrate Easter. But tonight is just gross. I feel betrayed by a culture that I find lacks a moral compass.

Beijing Hearts The Circus

Tiananmen. Not just here for Chairman Mao.
Walking around with The Circus in Beijing is like walking around with Mickey and Minnie Mouse at Disneyland.
Great Wall. This nice European man and his wife (standing behind me) thought The Circus was adorable in their hats. I can’t blame them.
Forbidden City. Notice the woman is holding Pinky Stinky. PS isn’t too thrilled.
Posing for Circus Mom?
Or these guys? (Yes, this one has potential to be creepy, I know. Unfortunately, I couldn’t cover my Circus’ faces with paper bags. We’ll just pray for the best, in all cases.)
Forbidden City. This sweet couple was quite embarrassed as they approached us.

Hutongs. A very excited group ran over and asked for a photo.
Subway station.
Temple of Heaven.

Forbidden City. Waiting in line to buy tickets, I turned around and saw women snapping shots.

Both men and women wanted to take pictures with The Circus. Some with kids, some without. They were polite, excited or embarrassed. Some asked permission, most did not. Several people (Chinese and European) tried to surreptitiously take photos with telephoto lenses. While I noticed, I wasn’t quick enough with my own shot. Too bad. It was like being stalked by the paparazzi. One Chinese guy asked me to take a photo of him standing with my family, namely The Circus and The Hubs. That was a funny one. Too bad I was shooting with his camera.

Fortunately, we’re blessed to see real stars, like Mickey & Minnie in the summer. Lest The Circus gets too big for their cute Wasian britches.

Dear Beijing,
The feeling is mutual. Heart on.
Circus Mom

Hutongs Part 3

The great thing about the Hutongs is the surprise behind every door. Like Let’s Make a Deal, you never know what you’re going to get.

What’s behind Door 15?

A serene lake, pier and Chinese boats. A stunning surprise that we couldn’t believe, either.

Behind this door…
Bicycle and birdcages with chirping birds. It was like walking into a postcard.

We also found stone dragons and lions and each Circus member wanted to pose with one.

Miss M.

Pinky Stinky.

The Kid.

After looking in some shops, we found gelato…

in China. Can you believe it?

La vita รจ bella.

Hutongs Part 2

Pedestrian alleyway.
Pardon the brief commentary, but tonight, I’ve got two kids coughing. One sounds asthmatic, the other sounds like the seal bark of the dreaded croup. It’s taken over an hour to load these photos and I’ve got another shift to administer albuterol at midnight and four a.m. While illness and asthma would occur anywhere, seeking good medical care and medicine here is much more complicated then in the States. Most days in China, I wish I were back in America…

Back to the Hutongs.
Door number 15.

Row of rickshaws.

Scores of people offered us rides around the area. Instead, we decided to walk.
Door Number 20. In my opinion, the unique doors are the best part of the Hutongs.

I couldn’t resist a family photo in front of a beautiful door. When we were all healthy and together.

Beijing Hutongs

Hutongs, Beijing.

Forgive the short posts, but I’ve been running The Circus by myself and feel a bit run down. And now, I have a sweet little asthmatic to add to the mix. The internet is slow and since I will be getting up every four hours to administer albuterol, it’s another brief post. The Hubs particularly wanted to visit the Hutongs. Unfortunately, we were short on time and managed only to walk through a few alleyways. Next time, we’ll rent bicycles and do more exploring.

For some funny reason, this photograph made me think of Alice in Wonderland:
“Alice opened the door and found that it led into a small passage, not much larger than a rat-hole: she knelt down and looked along the passage into the loveliest garden you ever saw.”

-Lewis Carroll

I suppose that’s a hint that there will be more photos of the Hutongs forthcoming.