Archive for May, 2011

Angels, Angels, Go away!

This post has nothing to do with China, but I wanted to share this story because it made me smile tonight!

As I was tucking Leo into bed, I told him to, "Sleep with the Angels." This is not an uncommon sleep wish in our household, and I’ve said it before without reaction. But tonight, some alarm went off in Leo’s head. He immediately looked at me and said, "Mommy, you tell those angels to go away, I do not want to sleep with them." I had to think fast here, so I said, "Well, is it okay if they stay right outside your window? They do protect you, you know." He thought about that, and said, "Nope, I don’t want them nearby; I need my space." Smart kid. I said, "Ok, I’ll tell them they need to give you your space. They’re thoughtful, so they’ll respect that." He looked relieved and said, "Yeah, they’ll listen to Mommy."

I assured them that they would listen to me and went out of the room.

Two minutes later, Leo popped out of his room to make sure I’d passed the message on to the angels. I said I had, and he looked so relieved and said, "Thanks Mommy for telling the angels to stay in the sky." Then he added hopefully, "Maybe they’ll just melt because they’ll be close to the sun." I told him luckily angels wouldn’t melt – even if they were close to the sun because they’re made special – and he seemed a bit disappointed. ūüôā

So, we’re going to have to work on the fact that angels are generally good types.

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May is Race Month!

May has been a full month in the Nanjing Muller household, with races recently keeping us very busy! ¬†Here’s a glimpse of what we’ve been up to.

JM was up to the starting line first, taking part in the local Nanjing-Man Triathlon. He joined a couple of his colleagues on a team and ran the 8k leg (more or less – this triathlon isn’t quite official!). ¬†It was a beautiful day and he clocked a nice time. ¬†This local tri is organized by the expat community and it’s grown over the years into a really nice event – with many Chinese locals also participating. ¬†JM used the race as a tune up for his marathon training – he has his sights set on Beijing this upcoming October.

After that it was Liz’s turn – the next weekend she made her way to Beijing for the Great Wall (half!) Marathon. ¬†It was a dream come true for her to run this awesome race, and it totally lived up to her expectations. ¬†Gorgeous mountains, sunny blue skies, and a Great Wall to climb – amazing! ¬†About 4-5 miles of the race was run on the Great Wall – including 1800 steps up and down. ¬†It was a race to remember. ¬†She ran along with many students from her school, and was also happy to welcome her good friend Robin (one of her first Chinese tutors in Nanjing) who came to cheer her on!

Last up was Leo – his kindergarten organized a field day for 1700 kindergarteners and their 3500 parents. ¬†It was a monstrous event held at Nanjing’s Olympic Stadium. ¬†He competed in two events – pedaling this little cart with Liz in a relay (see pics) and then both Liz and JM competed with Leo in “Ride the Big Horse” – another relay event. ¬†The event was fun – for the first 3 hours (of 5). ¬†JM took part in the ‘cheering squad’ for our class by playing big Chinese-style drums. ¬†The last 2 hours were a bit painful as the sun was beating down and the kindergarten teachers and principals showed no signs of speeding things to a finish for all the tired spectators and little kiddos. ¬†We finally pulled the plug and left a bit early when we discovered that Leo crying because he was too tired and thirsty/hungry on the field with the rest of his class. ¬†As we left, he said, “I’m too small for this. ¬†The other guys can stick it out!” ¬†We assured him that he had competed well and that leaving was the better part of wisdom.

We marveled at all the other parents who seemed willing and happy to sit there in the beating sun to endure 5+ hours of relentless relays, dance routines, and speeches.  All the parents who we spoke to afterward raved about how fun it all was.  And we guess it was too, sort of!  But we were sure happy to get out of there and retreat back to our place for some rest!

Race month was great – hopefully next year Rosie will have a race too! ūüôā

Be here tomorrow

Ah, the concept of planning. ¬†It’s a fluid concept. ¬†For much of life over here, planning means to ask in advance.. in as little as one hour in advance, it often seems.

We got a text message from Leo’s kindergarten Wednesday. ¬†“Parents, please come to the field day practice session tomorrow afternoon at 4.” ¬†That meant both parents. ¬†And that meant leave work early. ¬†And it also meant do something with your other child at home in the case of we foreigners exceeding the one child policy.

Luckily Liz was able to negotiate an hour off work at the last minute. ¬†JM has the afternoon free most days, conveniently. And, in the absence of grandparents living nearby, we count on our faithful Chinese nanny as always to take care of Rosie when we’re busy. ¬†So it worked out- just.

But it never ceases to amaze us that this is status quo in China.  People are expected to be accommodating, plain and simple. It just underscores to us how differently we operate from a cultural perspective.  We expect individual accommodation- not accommodation to the group.  That seems backwards!

We’re trying to learn, three years into this process. ¬† I think the only way we’d ever feel comfortable with it would be to grow up here like Leo and Rosie are currently doing. ¬†But they get healthy doses of individualism from their raging Western parents at home, so maybe there’s no hope for them either!

Moving day again?

Time flies. It seems just like yesterday we were packing out of our old apartment and coming to our new one.  Looking back at memory lane:

Where would we be without our trusty moving carts? The method of choice for moving locally in China.

Ironically, soon we will be moving back¬†into our old apartment! Thankfully it won’t entail entire house contents shifting over. We will simply be squatting while our current facilities are closed.

In fact, many locals here own two apartments if they can afford it. ¬†It’s by far more common than we would have expected. ¬†We’re not quite there ourselves, as we only rent, and considering that property here costs about as much as it does in New York City!

Don’t be surprised to see us strolling down the road in suitcases before long!

Hang on!

You’ve been riding in your taxi cab over stretches of highway for about 20 minutes. Suddenly your driver, ever so nonchalantly, reaches for his seat belt and clicks it in.

Time to panic?