Today's Alarming Statistic:
Average number of new cars hitting the roads of Beijing every day during the first week of December 2010.
China Daily Newspaper
Well Christmas is almost here and Greta and Ivy are still shaking their packages and trying to peek into the wrapping. It's pretty cool I must admit! Here is our "Chinese Christmas" family photo. This is how they pose - no kidding - for wedding photos and other special days. I'm sure you've seen it around. My dear friend Carrie said she's seen nearly the exact photo pose at her local Vietnamese restaurant!
Some sad news to report... every year since Greta was born we've had photos with Santa. Even last year here in China we were able to find a Santa! But this year we missed out. So these are going to have to do...
They ARE quite Chinese looking though, don't you think? Perhaps even better than the standard Nordstrom one we did for years.
Don't you LOVE the one with the million light bulb "Xmas" sign?
And how about that zombie-eyed elf on the Rubix Cube? Gotta love China!
Actually, these were taken at a place so similar to University Village you wouldn't believe it. The only difference is there's only one Starbucks instead of what - five? It's even called "The Village" at Sanlitun.
Let's see... Eric's parents came for a visit in October and then spent nearly three weeks in Taiwan on a birding trip.
They were great sports while we were here - you'd never believe they are 82 and 78. They're in amazing shape and walked and walked. They spend several hours at Ivy's soccer game too.
Here they are on the Great Wall.
Eric and his mom on the exercise equipment.
This type of equipment is available everywhere in Beijing. It is the older people's main activity to go out and hit the "gym" and then sit around smoking and playing mahjong with their friends.
Right after they left, our dear friend Ben Wilson come for a business trip. We took him to our FAVORITE restaurant where you can eat more delicious noodles and spicy soup than you can fit in your stomach for 50 cents. Okay the ambiance may not be all that you dreamed of but...!
We commandeered ALL his free time and even got him out on a bike.
It was so fun to show him around Beijing. He saw some of the worst and some of the best air quality while he was here. Thank goodness it cleared up after a big rain so he could see a rare blue sky. It hasn't rained a drop since he left. Last rainfall was October 22nd. We have to slather lotion on now.
The first Saturday of December Ivy had a birthday party and these are the kids who came ice skating.
Ivy's the one in the giant white earmuffs. They are a great bunch of kids. Skated for a solid three hours with breaks in and out of the "Party Room" for junk food. I can't even describe the tackiness of the party room. But they did personalize it for her!
They put a fire extinguisher at the edge of the doorframe so the door couldn't close, but it kept getting jostled and every time the door closed we had to find someone with a key to open it...
SO NOW IVY IS TWELVE!!!
(Well actually not until the 26th of December, technically).
Recently Ivy's math teacher said, and I quote, "It's Ivy's world and we're all just living in it." So true!
We're leaving for Christmas vacation in two days. We're heading back to a small village called Xizhou in Yunnan Province in the south west of China. It lays at the foot of the Himalayas and is really beautiful with springtime weather all year round. We spent last Christmas and new year's there at a place called The Linden Centre which is a fabulous courtyard hotel meticulously restored and with very friendly, accommodating American owners. They offer an educational, experiential vacation experience by taking you on adventures in the area. I wrote about it last January and have tons of photos if you want to look back.
HAPPY HOLIDAYS TO YOU ALL, MERRY CHRISTMAS (Sheng Dan Kuai Le!), HAPPY NEW YEAR (Xin Nian Kuai Le!), AND SEE YOU IN 2011!
Miss you, love you,