Tuesday, September 14, 2010

the mundane

Sometimes it's hard to write blogs because we do so much of the same things every day. Class, take the boys outside, try to go to the market or grocery store while Johnny's home with the boys, cook, clean (sometimes--although our house helper really does most of that)...

And that's really where we are right now. Johnny just started class at the university with a new teacher--we hope it's a good relationship. Luke is in preschool, and while he doesn't love going every day, he comes home saying something new in Chinese every day. Today it is, "I love you" (wo ai ni)...It's all good stuff!!

So today's post is all about three of our favorite places:
For Johnny it's the construction market that we found a week and a half ago. See, where we live the philosophy for business is a bit different--instead of spreading out and putting a store that sells, say, wood, the locals like to put ALL the stores that sell wood all in a row. Same for lights and other things. There's a section of town that is known as the construction market. And there are rows and rows of little shops that sell wood, and wood cut outs and door handles/bathroom fixtures, paint, etc. We've heard about this market for years now and never known where it is--so we looked for it Saturday before last and FOUND it! We drove in and it was like angels were singing soprano notes behind us--it is Johnny's new candy shop (figuratively speaking)!! We bought wood cut outs for behind our couch (it has been sorely in need of SOMEthing for a while!) and wood for Johnny to build bunk beds for the boys. So he's had this really fun project to do in his spare time (which has become less now that classes have started).

The second place is in the same section of town, nowhere near where we live (which is good because if I lived near there I would go every SINGLE day, I think). It's called the wholesale market. And it's not like a market like we're used to in the states. I think it covers almost a half of a square mile or something like that. I can buy fabric, crafty stuff, stuff for the house, jewelry, clothes, toys, school supplies, and if I wanted to buy 10 pairs of the same shoes, I could buy them wholesale there...It's MY wonderland. And everything is CHEAP. Like I bought LOTS of material for a tent I want to make for Luke's circus birthday party he wants to have 6 weeks from now. I needed about 15 meters and got it for 6 bucks. I love it. I even try to think of what I need from there next. Right now my list includes cheap toys for prizes for the birthday party and some bead necklaces...I wish we could take everyone to shop at the wholesale market...

And, last but not least, the other favorite part of town is the IKEA section of town. Where there's an IKEA, and import store, and a sports store that sells everything sports related except, alas, American footballs. We go there sometimes just to get coffee (it's so cheap from IKEA) and cheap candles--it's mostly an excuse to sort of escape and be somewhere clean with a whole separate room for changing babies (it's a little taste of comfort sometimes).

So, those are three of our favorite places in town, not to mention the massage place and the Indian restaurant and the place that does awesome pedicures for a little over 2 dollars. I guess they would have to be the honorable mentions. Simple pleasures go a long way! I'll add pictures next time I post--I don't have any as of now.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

new adventures in the ol' city

Luke is in preschool. And he loves it and hates it, all at the same time. He woke up really early this morning to go to school, but then he kept saying, 'I want to hang with Mommy and Daddy...' It'll be interesting to see how it went today!

We had a new experience, in that we looked for the pres
chool with a former house helper. She had scouted the preschools that weren't completely full for the year (apparently we were a month late in the hunt--surprise surprise), and we went to look for schools and then ate us some hot pot. Now
, to some people hot pot is a boiling pot of spice and yuck. But we love hot pot. And we enjoyed eating the meal, but then when it got time to pay, it got ugly a little bit. It's often a bit of a fight to pay when we are out with our local friends. But this time, there was pushing (Johnny got pushed pretty hard at some points) and arms were flying. We got to pay, but Johnny said that next time, we'll just let our da jie pay!!!

But, nonetheless, we found an awesome preschool that has puppet shows and lots of art projects, and the kids learn to dance, and they play with
blocks and all sorts of fun stuff. So, we feel like it's a successful venture! We are excited (and a little
sad) that Luke has the opportunity to learn the language here. He wants to so badly!
We'll leave it at that and just post some recent pictures of the boys!
The boys were watching t.v. together and we caught a rare picture where both are smiling!
Luke is riding his bike in the mountains. Just in front of our hotel. (We had an awesome view)

Jace gets to cruise in the Jeep while Luke is riding his bike. Someday soon he'll be riding, too!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Tower town

One of our favorite places to go right now is this place called Danba. It's really so pretty, and the leaves turn in the fall and it's been sunny every day except one that we've been there, so it's pretty much charmed its way into our hearts. The best thing about DB is that the houses there have these really cool towers that come out of the houses--it's kinda medieval looking, and we think it would be so cool to have kids in a house like that. Can you imagine being a girl growing up in the tower room? Anyway, welike it there.

So, when the road collapsed and they made u
s close the guesthouse, we took an overnight trip to DB. We drove our friend there as a favor to him, and we also stayed in a hotel and took a much needed shower, and just enjoyed being in the sunshine. When we were getting out of our car (we had been there less than a minute), we met some really cool folks who were in their early 20s, and they saw us getting out of the car, saw the white boys, and then took about a bazillion pictures of the boys (totally common). We were chitchatting with them and found out they are dancers, and that they dance sometimes in the hotel where we stay. So, me being a big lover of dance performances, we asked if we could see them dance sometime. Coincidentally, they WERE dancing that night, so we made plans to see the
m. We were excited to have a contact in this place that we really like!

Next we walked around and talked to pretty much everyone in town, it seemed like, as we looked for a place to eat a late lunch/early dinner. We were invited to sit down with some older ladies all dressed in their really cool garb, so we sat and talked and ate popsicles.

After we ate, we went back to the hotel to get ready for the big dance show (we were thinking something kinda like a nightclub performance or the like). Then, both boys bathed, full, and ready to go, we traipsed down to
meet our dancer friends. They took us upstairs to a theater/stage that looked really professional and told us to wait a few minutes. So, we're having to totally adjust our thoughts of what this performance will be like.

About an hour and a half later, the dancing starts...and it's this really awesome show (see the picture to the left). We were so excited about it, we pulled out our video camera to try to record the show for everyone to see. And here's where our cultural experience starts. See, we weren't the only ones invited to the show--there were also some guys who are probably really important who were sitting in the first row. And they came in late and really drunk, and as soon as the show started, they wanted to stand up and start talking and taking video right in front of Johnny as he was videoing. After a few songs, they decided to join the dancers right on stage and dance with them and laugh and have a great time. We were really uncomfortable with the whole experience and left early, but we do hope to see our new friends soon!!

We get to experience new experiences every day, almost, but this was something that we'd never experienced before, and may never experience again. It was a really fun, beautiful trip, and we hope to get to go back in early October during the big national holiday here...