Claire and Chloe started attending a new preschool recently. We decided that Claire’s previous school was not a good fit for us after all. Not only were the teachers at her previous school allowing Claire to leave the classroom whenever she wanted, but the television in the classroom was turned on for significant portions of the day. Therefore, we enrolled both girls at a preschool that is run similar to a daycare. The class size is small, only 8-15 kids at a time. The teachers are very interactive and do activities with the kids the whole morning (which means lots of language practice). The kids do not have to sit in desks and there is no TV anywhere. I can also choose when I want to take the kids, so they currently go two mornings a week. That leaves me plenty of time for homeschool and other activities during the rest of the week. It is a perfect opportunity for the kids to be exposed to Chinese but without the pressures of the regular Chinese school system.
Last week we had some friends come over for a salsa canning party! Yes, I know that sounds like a lame party, but when you live in the middle of nowhere in Southern China then sometimes you come up with strange ways of entertainment. I was so excited to learn how to can food because making things like salsa from scratch every time you need it is a real pain. Not only that, but canning food is quite an accomplishment for someone who barely knew how to cook chicken before she left for China!
We had a couple awkward cultural encounters this week. One was in the restroom at a restaurant. I was taking the girls to use the restroom which I always dread because the restrooms all have squatty potties that usually range in varying degrees of disgusting. As usual, I tried to sound calm as I encouraged the kids to finish their business as quickly as possible and reminded them about 50 times to touch absolutely nothing (which can be difficult for kids as they try to squat over a hole). As my kids were using the restroom, I noticed a woman in the stall next to us who was squatting and staring at us with the stall door wide open. Since she didn’t seem to notice the awkwardness of the situation, I leaned my head back and stared straight up at the ceiling not caring if it embarrassed her or not. Claire noticed her too and asked me what she was doing. The lady must have understood what Claire was asking me, because the lady cheerfully responded (in Chinese), “Don’t worry, the poop is coming out soon!”
Another awkward encounter was in the small convenient store at the corner of our neighborhood. I was buying some drinks for Claire’s birthday party and as I rounded the corner of the aisle, I noticed my path was blocked by two people, one older lady and one younger. I knew by the way they were excitedly chattering and looking at me that they wanted to talk, so I begrudgingly paused and said hello. They were passing out fliers for a new preschool that had just opened up which actually interested me since I am always open to good schooling options for the kids. However, during the whole conversation, the younger girl kept squealing and jumping up and down. She was so excited to talk to a foreigner that she looked like she was doing the pee-pee dance during our whole conversation. I was happy to escape the strange interaction, but she wouldn’t let me go before taking a few selfies together. It made me sympathetic to the celebrities in the States who have to deal with that all the time.
We had a couple weeks of sickness in our home. I always have a hard time emotionally, fluctuating between feeling calm and panicked, when the kids get sick because our options for medical care are very limited here. During this most recent round of illness, Chloe’s fever got up to 104.5. It was so hard to not be able to rush her to the doctor and instead rely on the advice of online websites and a fellow foreigner who happens to have a background in nursing. I always pray a lot during those times as my faith is put to the test in a very real way. We do have the option of flying somewhere for medical care, but it is hard to know when an illness warrants that sort of action. Needless to say, I was thankful when everyone was well again.
Claire had her 5th birthday this past week! I gave her a couple options for birthday themes, and thankfully she chose an Octonauts pool party. This was perfect because I didn’t have to squeeze 20+ people into our apartment, and Octonauts is actually really popular in China as well as America which made finding the decorations for the party a lot easier. We had the party at the Ramada hotel pool down the street and it turned out great.