Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Look who's 11 months.

DJ turned 11 months on the 28th. One more month and we celebrate the big 1 year mark. Deb got her a new stroller because she was outgrowing the old one. The big teddy bear came with it. She likes to talk to it. She can really sit up by herself good now. She also likes to kick back in her new stroller and watch TV.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Another six mile hike.

We went for another six mile hike yesterday. There was an 80% chance of light rain but it wasn’t hot. We slept in late since this was every ones day off. We didn’t have breakfast so we left the apartment around 10am and walked to Flolon’s Pizza where we had an early lunch. We then walked to TCBY and had ice cream. It started raining while we where in TCBY but we decided to continue our walk anyway. Destiny has a nice new stroller with a canopy to keep the rain out and Deb and I stayed under the umbrella while Suzanne played in the rain. We walked along the river going west. The whole river walk is about 4 miles long with half of it still under construction. It started to rain a little harder at some point and we huddled under the umbrella together to wait it out. Finally it stopped raining altogether. We saw many things and really enjoyed the walk. We passed under the train tracks that went to the train bridge leaving the river behind. We continued walking west until the road turned south and walked towards the nuclear power plant until we came to the toll booth for the road that went to the road bridge crossing the river. I wanted to see it but we had already walked a long way. We turned east to go back into the heart of the city. We could have taken a bus but we didn’t recognize the number of the bus that went by and didn’t know where it would stop. We wanted to find a bus that we knew where it would take us. We finally gave up and paid a taxi 10RMB ($1.50US) to take us home. We took some videos on our walk. One is of DJ playing with her mom. Another is of the night market street the way it looks during the day. The last one is of a corner market that we found. It is the cleanest we have seen and has the best variety.

DJ and mom playing.
Night market street in the day.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Cheap outing.

DJ can be seen in one of these pictures getting into trouble at home by playing with her sisters papers. We took a bus to eat lunch at Pop-Land today and from there we took another bus further to the West to try go see the road bridge that crosses the river. We knew which direction the bridge was in so we just took buses that were going in that direction. When the bus we were on turned to go in a different direction, we got off and took a different bus. We got off the second bus when we thought we saw the road that goes to the bridge. It was one of the roads but we couldn’t get to it because it was elevated on pillars. We walked back a little way to a park that we saw. The park was a straight ½ mile path through what used to be farmers fields. It turned into a dirt road that went by old farmers homes that we don’t know how old they were. On the other side of the dirt road was modern building. We were on the edge of town and could see the countryside on one side of us and the city on the other. We got to see lots of different parts of the city that we hadn’t see before including a different view of the mountains in the distance. We finally took the bus back home. We spent 1RMB each to take the bus each time. In total the trip only cost about $1.80US. We only had to walk less than a mile of the nearly 9.5 miles we traveled. We never did see the bridge but know which way to go next time.

Friday, July 16, 2010

No child left behind.

It’s not all peaches and cream in China all the time, no more than it is anywhere else. We all have our ‘bad China’ days for different reasons. I had one today. Teaching at a private school can be a real pain sometimes. Parents think that just because they pay for their child to go through English classes that they will learn English. I only have their kids for two hours a week and can not control their study habits at home. Some times there are kids that do not want to learn or where they are not studying at home. I have had to reluctantly recommend that some kids repeat a book or go down to a lower level class. Parents get upset at this and pull their child out of the school altogether. They never get upset when we recommend that their child should move up a class because they are doing so well. Since the school is a business and does not want to lose any kids or money, they let kids pass to the next book and do not say anything to the parents. You would think the school could build a reputation of having a high standard and showing that they care about the kids’ education, thus gaining the respect of parents, teachers and students. It can be beyond frustrating. I never did teach in America but know they have their own problems to deal with. A ‘no child left behind’ policy can do more harm than good. All kids learn at different speeds and in different ways. Some kids may need more attention than others. All kids should be given a chance. But just passing a kid to the next level when they are not ready sets the student back, because they can not keep up with the other students around them. It is hard on all the students, because the others must learn at a slower pace. It is also very hard on the teacher of course. Suzanne spent most of her primary years in private school but one year she did have to go to public school. She did not do as well in public school as she did in private school. She is doing very well at home with her studies, although not as good as when she was in Victory, but still much better than when she was at Fairview. She has started her 8th grade lessons and has a very large load. I know that she will continue to make us proud. Her baby sister, Destiny has cut a third tooth on the bottom, for a total of five now. Their mother does so much around the house and looks great in her new tailor made skirt. Thank you so much.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Kids and chocolate.

This is the class that I have three times a week for what they call spoken class. I still have all my regular Ivy classes; there are seven regular Ivy classes that meet twice a week each. This class is a nice change because their English level is much better than my other classes. Three of my regular Ivy classes are baby classes; 4-6 years old. Two of those classes are just starting, so I am spending an hour each class teaching them the basics. When we get new students in, we have to give them English names. I have probably named 20 kids myself. Not all of them come back after the first class, which is free. Sometimes it is difficult to come up with so many names for so many kids. All the kids in the spoken class already have names of course. I still don't remember all their names. Some of the names are: Bull, Cinderella, Linda, Alisa, Allen, Tom, Matthew and Jerry. It is a very nice change to teach a class of the age group of my spoken class. Too bad I only have them for the summer. Then I go back to teaching at the public schools. A lot more kids and a lot more hours. DJ had some ice cream with her dinner last night. Chocolate. Of course she loved it. She was full of energy for a little while.

New shirt.

Here is a picture of my new shirt I had made. Looks and feels great. Deb and I got out this morning and went to RT-Mart or what the locals call Fu-Mart. We got a new duster/mop for 99RMB. The price you see on something over here is the price you pay. You don't have to try and figure in for how much tax is going to be. We went into one of the department stores to look around after we left RT-Mart. We went around the corner when we left the department store to a place that sells some DVD's in English. We got 19 new movies for around $1.85US each. We had lunch and ice cream at Pop Land across the street from the DVD store. Finally we went into the underground to buy me some new shoes again. All this walking will really wear a pair shoes out in a hurry. After looking at several and having an idea of what I wanted, I stopped at a few stalls and tried some on. In the end there were four people fighting over who was going to sell me shoes. When I found some that I liked and fit I asked how much and they told me 980RMB. I put my old shoes back on and started to leave. They asked how much I wanted to pay and I wrote down 180RMB. They countered with 460RMB but my price was final. I got the shoes for 180RMB. They were 70RMB more than the last pair I got but still a pretty good deal. We left the underground and took the bus back home.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Zoo, amusement park and temple.

DJ was feeling much better today and just in time for a full day off. We went down town to pick up some pants I had tailor made last Monday. While we were waiting we found that although people are generally curious about us, especially DJ and sometimes even Spot, they are really interested in watching Suzanne write left handed. No one is left handed in China. It cost me around $40US to have two pants and a shirt made. The shirt will be ready tomorrow afternoon. Deb picked out some material for a skirt that that will be ready Friday afternoon. It only cost about $10US. They all enjoyed looking at all the different colors and patterns of materials in the gourmet market. We left from the gourmet market to go to the zoo/amusement park. The temperature was going to get near 30C today so we wanted to get there early. I looked at the hours when I was buying the tickets and they open at 4:30am. Yes, it starts getting daylight at 3am. If we come back we will come very early so we beat the crowd and the heat. It really wasn’t very crowded but it did get hot. We saw everything this time around, including the haunted house, monkey house, aviary, aquatic tanks, and the reptile house. We also climbed to the top of the pavilion and rang the bell. When we first got to the park Suzanne wanted to try the bungee jump but didn’t like it. Then she and I went up in the Ferris wheel and then she took her mom up in it with DJ. They didn’t have a problem with it since it was enclosed and moving very slow. In fact, it didn’t even stop to let people on or off. You just stepped in or out while it was moving. We then went up the hill to the pavilion and had a great view of the city and rang the bell. We went next door to the park to visit the Buddha temple when we had finished seeing everything at the zoo. It is still under construction but there were still lots to see. It seemed funny to see a statue of Buddha with Christmas trees in the back ground. You can just make them out on either side of the tall white Buddha statue. You can also see the swastika symbol on the chest of the Buddha. We finished our big family day out with a trip to Flolon’s where I had a mixed steak grill plate and fries and a parfait. Suzanne had her usual spaghetti and Deb had the grilled chicken plate and a banana split. After such a long day we decided to come on home instead of going down by the river tonight. There are two movies I filmed from the pavilion. You can see the mountains in both and if you look at the one that is zoomed in, you will see a group of six tall buildings that look almost just alike. Those are the buildings that are along the river front and just behind where we live. According to one website I found, there are twice as many Buddhist in the world as there are American citizens which include 1.5 million Buddhist living in America.

Suzanne and DJ on the Carousel

Bell pavilion

Bell pavilion zoomed