Mid-Autumn Festival

Happy Mid-Autumn Festival! Zhongqiujie is an official Chinese holiday, also known as the Moon Festival. Since his U.S. office was open, The Hubs worked much of the day. The thought of creating paper lanterns floated in and then out of my mind. It was a bit of a failed holiday. However, Pu & J invited us over for dinner.
We celebrated with a good old-fashioned American barbeque. Notice the industrial-sized Ranch dressing, hauled back from the U.S. J and I each had a bottle…
Followed by a sweet, impromptu Family Home Evening lesson about Noah, the ark, flooding and animals. Ingenious kids.
The finale was moon cake. I’ve never been a fan of moon cake. I know, how very un-Chinese of me. The texture of the lotus paste or date paste is reminiscent to peanut butter but the taste is not as sweet. And thankfully, this one didn’t have the dreaded cooked egg yolk inside.

I think I’ll stick to cinnamon rolls. We ate the whole pan before I could take a picture. But there’s plenty of moon cake left.

Moon cake, anyone?

Friday, Hangzhou

Hangzhou. View from Leifeng Pagoda.
2/3 of The Circus has a four-day weekend to celebrate Mid-Autumn Festival. So we high-tailed it to Hangzhou, a two-hour drive from Shanghai.
First stop: Leifeng Pagoda.

Original temple remains from 977. The entire temple was rebuilt in 2000.

Temple grounds.
Our own secret garden.
Wood carvings depict folklore.

Ornate gilded ceiling.

Hangzhou was beautiful. But, I confess I’ve had 9/11 on my mind. So I’ll save more photos of Hangzhou for another day.

Thursday, Ballet

Prima ballerinas.
One of our favorite Eric Carle books is Today is Monday. It’s a beautifully illustrated book that goes something like this:
“Monday, String Beans.
Tuesday, Spaghetti.
Wednesday, Zoop.
Thursday, Roast Beef.
Friday, Fresh Fish.
Saturday, Chicken.
Sunday, Ice Cream.”

Today, I feel like an Eric Carle book. Monday, Family Home Evening. Tuesday, Piano lessons. Wednesday, Cub Scouts. Thursday, Ballet… 2/3 of The Circus is enrolled in ballet. Miss M and Pinky Stinky are thoroughly enjoying their class, held at Concordia but run through Active Kidz Shanghai. I’m still hoping to enroll The Kid in sports, but he’s resistant to the idea. But why not… Friday and Saturday are still free. Sunday, The Sabbath.

P.S. We love “Zoop.” Don’t you?

Tigers, Wolves and Bears…

Oh my! Principal Nagy addresses the Cub Scouts prior to first Den Meeting.

One Den Meeting down, fifteen to go…
Today we worked on Bobcat Award requirements. It was fantastic fun. I mean that quite sincerely. Despite all of the stress of prep meetings and organizing a Den Meeting within four days of receiving my manual, I thoroughly enjoyed myself with my nine boys. I could have been Josephine March and her twelve boys in Little Men.Teaching The Kid and his new compadres the Cub Scout handshake.
Teaching the Scout salute. A blurry shot of Assistant Terri. She once lived in Palmyra, New York. (We were destined to be friends.) She is an incredibly sweet lady and it’s going to be a great year working with her.

I taught the boys a simple call/cheer:
Let’s go Bears Six
(rhythmically clap 6 times.)

And I drilled it into their heads that we are Den Six, but really, we’re The BEST. After packing up, on the way to the car, The Kid turned to me and said, “Mom, that was so fun!” Sigh. That made it all worthwhile. Even the ugly nylon shirt. Can’t wait to get some “flair” to cover it.

A final aside: Tonight at dinner, Miss M explained the Cub Scout “Law of the Pack” to us. Sounds like my girls make awesome boy scouts, too.

Back-to-School Night

Fantastic Mr. Fox poster by The Kid.
After a full day of birthday celebrations for Pinky Stinky, we ran to Concordia for Back-to-School Night.
Mrs. Longstaff and The Kid.
Mrs. Longstaff is from Britain, which makes it a lovely transition from Dulwich to Concordia. The Kid is thriving in her class. We also met Dou Laoshi (“Teacher”), The Kid’s Mandarin teacher from Shanghai. Concordia has two Mandarin tracks: MFL, Mandarin as a Foreign Language and HM1-HM5, Heritage Mandarin, Levels 1-5. The Kid was initially placed in HM2 but recently moved into HM3. Dou Laoshi mentioned all of the children in his level are Overseas-born Chinese, like The Kid. His Mandarin homework entails reading and writing and is too difficult for me or The Hubs to assist with. (I know!) We are in the process of finding him a tutor. Meanwhile, Z Ayi helps him with his reading.
Miss van de Berg and Miss M. I don’t know who is sweeter, Miss M, or her teacher. Miss van de Berg has a beautiful Georgian drawl.
McQueen Laoshi and Miss M. McQueen Laoshi hails from Singapore, the “most beautiful” country on Earth, or so we’ve been told by our Singaporean friends. She teaches Miss M’s MFL Chinese class.
By the way, guess where Pinky Stinky chose to go for her birthday dinner… McDonald’s.


PS at the Jellyfish Exhibit. Shanghai Ocean Aquarium.
It’s been a rough week, as my thoughts and prayers have drifted to friends (plural) who have recently passed away or lost loved ones and friends (plural again) who have been battling that ugly beast known as cancer. From out of the blue, a Shakespeare soliloquy came to mind:
“Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow,
Creeps in this petty pace from day to day,
To the last syllable of recorded time;
And all our yesterdays have lighted fools
The way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle!
Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage
And then is heard no more. It is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury
Signifying nothing.”
-MacBeth (Act 5, Scene 5)

But in moments like these, I turn to my God and to my family, knowing there is purpose in all of our tomorrows, whether they are numbered few or many.

Pinky Stinky is celebrating her birthday tomorrow. She turns the big number four. She has requested a “Tangled” birthday party with her friends, pizza for lunch, McDonald’s for our family dinner and homemade cinnamon rolls. Tomorrow has beautiful meaning and purpose, don’t you think?

Fake Market Revisited

Kejiguan baby.

My camera battery ran out of juice before I uploaded new photos. Fortunately, I had this cutie pie. Last week we stopped at the Fake Market, also known as “The Underground” or Kejiguan, a vast maze of shops full of fake bags, designer jeans, watches and other tchotchke. Bargaining required. (Remember?) I turned the corner and ran into this sleeping doll. One of the shop owners had set up a cot for her child.

After an hour of scouting multiple shops and bargaining, we left with a new Church bag and three pairs of chopsticks for The Circus for 100 RMB ($15 USD.) Not Target, but not too bad.