Wednesday, September 20, 2006


Here's Katie and Zoe in their matching dresses. Katie loves for them to look like "twins."

Zoe woke up fussy today, and she only wanted Mama. She wanted to be held by me and she didn't want me to leave her sight. It is a good sign, I know, but a little stressful. She had a lot of fun playing with Jerry, Doug, Katie, and her cousins, but only if I was right there with her. I got to relive those days of holding a baby while brushing my teeth, putting on makeup, eating dinner. I was thrilled when during breakfast, she looked right at me and said, "Mama"! (The word means the same in Chinese and English). Afterward she got all shy and hid her face. It was so sweet!

I finally got on the scale with her. She weighs 10 kgs, which translates to 22 lbs. She is a good eater, and had 3 8-oz bottles today, fish congee and eggs for breakfast, chicken, rice and veggies for lunch, and nibbles of everything we had at dinner. She's also a great sleeper, and has been sleeping about 12 hours each night, with a 2-hour nap during the day.

We are seeing a lot of her personality. Here are some of her likes and dislikes:

Likes: Peek-a-boo, blowing kisses, giving hugs and high fives (she is high-fiving Grandpa below), tipping over backwards, dropping things for someone else to pick up, looking at herself in the mirror, eating, and playing with water bottle caps.

Dislikes: Cameras (she cries whenever we point one at her), watermelon, diaper and clothing changes, loud noises, crowds, and people in her face.

The adults and babies in our family went "out" to dinner at our hotel tonight, while Jason watched the kids in one of our rooms. We went to an authentic Hong Kong restaurant. Joe made the reservations, and they set us up in a private room with two waitresses dedicated to us. We got to try a bunch of different dishes, from fried duck wings to cashew beef to chicken with peaches and broccoli, but we stayed away from the deep fried chicken feet, pickled pig ears, and ox intestines. For the seven of us, the meal cost about $100 U.S. -- including beer!

Below is a picture from the Forbidden City that Susan, a grandma from our group, took. Don't the kids look happy? You would never guess they had walked the equivalent of about 25 football fields.

The People of China

While Zoe napped, Kathy watched the kids, and Lisa and I got a chance to steal away for lunch together. We went to Noodles and Chopsticks, a great restaurant in the hotel. We had a big bowl of noodles in broth, two pork chops swimming in a yummy sauce, two orders of spring rolls (3 on each) and a huge local beer that served up 3.5 glassfuls. The bill came to about $3.50 US --and we had leftovers.

Anyway, at lunch, Lisa and I were talking about the Chinese people and how nice, helpful, friendly, attentive and accommodating they are. The hotel staff is always smiling, and each one seems to take real pride in his or her job.

There is a line in a poem called "Desiderata" that says, "Keep interested in your own career, however humble; it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time" The Chinese people seem to take this to heart.

Before we went to dinner last night, we noticed a group of waiters and waitresses standing at attention outside a restaurant, in uniform listening to the manager give out the evening's instructions. Then, in Pizza Hut, the salad bar attendee was refilling the pineapple, but instead of just placing a bowl there, she made an artful tower -- piece by piece. Why? Probably because it would look nice, and make the diners happier. She seemed to enjoy doing it, too. Also in Pizza Hut, about 7 staff members lined the exit aisle and said goodbye to us and thanked us for coming as we left.

We went to a very large department store today called Carefour (like a super Target or Walmart). There were almost more staff members than customers. They were located on every aisle, waiting to help you find what you needed. The same was true in the super huge shoe store I went to the other day. And the amazing thing is, those that aren't helping customers are busy cleaning. Very different from our Walmart!

We've also noticed, if you snooze, you lose. In America, we will wait in line for our turn. In China, they seize on opportunities to get where they want to be. Example: Your group of 8 is waiting 3 minutes for an elevator. A Chinese person walks up 10 seconds before the elevator arrives. The doors open, and the Chinese person walks by you to get in first. This is considered rude in America, but here, it's just part of life. I guess with this many people, you have to take advantage whenever you can.

The Chinese also seem to love children. We are often stopped and told how beautiful Katie is, and all of the waitresses want to play with Zoe.

One other thing we all get a kick out of is that many of the children about age 2.5 and younger do not appear to wear diapers. They wear these split pants, that are open on the bottom. You see bare bottoms everywhere. I guess their parents hold them over toilets every so often.

Oh, another amazing pricing find . . . motorized scooters at Carefour sold for about $300 US.