Friday, September 18, 2009

How Do You Say Box Wine in Mandarin Chinese?

I’ve been a bit absent lately for a couple of reasons. First, I haven’t been feeling all that great, but I am happy to report that I am starting to feel better. Hooray! Second, my head is going to pop thinking about some life changes coming down the pipeline. You know, little things.

Like what, you ask?


Yup. You read right. Now, it isn’t etched in stone, but Greg’s work wants to send him to Beijing to train a new group of people in the art of game making. And being a stay-at-home mom, there is no reason why we can’t go along with him for this uber cultural experience. Now, I have to admit that at first I was all WHAT? CHINA? BUT… BUT… AGH!

*pop* <--- The sound of my head exploding.

And then I started talking to people who were all CHINA! COOL! WHAT AN EXPERIENCE!!! So, I actually started to think about it seriously, and now I’m very excited about it. I’m nervous beyond belief about everything we need to do to prepare a family for this temporary move, but also very excited. I’m nervous about the submersion into a culture with which I’m not hugely familiar, but also challenged. So far to get prepared, we have:

  • shown the kids on google earth where Beijing is (“the other side of the world”)
  • checked out a bunch of books and movies from the library about Beijing and Chinese culture
  • checked out a Mandarin Chinese language program from the library
  • scoured the Internet on expat experiences and recommendations
  • asked about a bazillion questions
  • created to do list after to do list
  • started recording Ni Hao, Kai-Lan on Nickelodeon

So, I’ve only learned a couple of words in Mandarin Chinese so far. It is a very tough language to learn. OK, maybe it’s that I’m older now and it doesn’t stick to my I-have-had-two-kids-and-subsequently-lots-of-wine brain. Whatever the reason, I remember one word and forget the last one I learned. It’s freakin’ hard! Nothing like the Spanish and French I learned in school. So, thanks to Kai-Lan and her grandpa, I have learned:

  • Ni hao – hello
  • la – pull
  • yeah-yeah – grandpa

As you can see, I have a lot of work to do. Since the language relies a lot on tone to deliver meaning, one word or sound can have multiple meanings depending on the way it is said. The word for wine, from what I understand, can mean old, nine, or wine. So, when I go into the store asking for box wine, I’m either going to get beat up for calling someone old, going to be constantly escorted to aisle nine, or going to get the golden liquid that I desire. Please, please, keep your fingers crossed for the latter.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Bouncy Houses for God

I am appalled by the amount of shit that hit the fan when the President of our United States wanted to address the students of our country. Parents threatening to not send their kids to school. Facebook was crawling with polls about this “controversial speaking to students”. News sites were reporting stories of parents freaking out with worry that their children were going to be brainwashed. And all of these panties in a bunch and ruffled feathers were for what? Because the President wanted to encourage students to take an active role in their education.


He wanted to talk to them about the value of an education.


He wanted to energize kids who might find school difficult.


He wanted to express the importance of doing homework.


My Kindergartener did not get to see President Obama’s speech. I wanted him to, but he didn’t get to. His class didn’t see it. I have not found out yet why this is. Did enough people call and complain? Did the school district as a whole decide they weren’t going to air President Obama’s address to their students? Did they think Kindergarteners wouldn’t watch?

On the VERY SAME DAY that my son DID NOT see an encouraging speech from the President of the United States, he came home with a flier he had been given for a “community event” hosted by a religious organization. Cross on the flier and all. But they are giving away a Wii! But there will be seven different bouncy houses! What kid wouldn’t be enticed by that? Apparently the school district can get away with pushing a religious event (let’s call a spade a spade) by placing the following disclaimer at the bottom:

Distribution of this material does not constitute an endorsement by the school district. It is provided as a community service.

So, I’m trying to wrap my brain around this one. Work with me here.

Encouraging speech for the students?


Religious propaganda distributed through school?


Students enlightened by a President who cares about them?


Schools encouraging bouncy houses for God?


OK, I’m still trying to wrap my head around this very whacked scenario. It may take me a while… Thinking… thinking… thinking…

Nope. I don’t get it. You?

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Out with the Old, In with the… Turtle?

Greg and I finished getting rid of our 200 things without a whole lot of effort. Actually, the largest effort came trying to find the time to pick our 5 things each day. On a couple of occasions, we would go a few days without picking anything. Then we’d have a frantic, “Oh damn, I have to pick 20 things today!!” But we prevailed, and got rid of a room’s worth of crap we just didn’t need.


I’m frantically looking over my shoulder as I type this however, because the entire time Greg and I did our contest, we kept the door locked to the room that held all of this stuff. It has been weeks now and even though the kids haven’t noticed any MIA toys, if they saw them in a picture, the waterworks would never stop. “But that was my FAVORITE toy!” Uh-huh. Sure.

We got rid of most of the stuff - gave some away, had another yard sale, and the rest is still in the back of the car waiting to be dropped off at the Salvation Army. And what did we do with the $97.60 we made at said yard sale? We spent it on the newest member of our family:


Blogoshpere, meet Spikey Back Rock Star III. Spikey Back Rock Star III, meet the blogosphere.

Our neighbor found this little guy in his back yard stuck head first in his drainage pipe. It is a good thing he was discovered because he surely would have met his demise before too much longer. We were having a family BBQ when our neighbor poked his head over the fence with the little guy and said, “Hey, you guys want a turtle?” After all the kids stopped screaming “YES!”, Greg took him from our neighbor and got fondled by all the kids. The turtle, not Greg. So, Spikey Back Rock Star III, or Spike for short, lived in our cooler outside for about a week until we figured out what we were going to do. Keep him? Give him away? Decisions, decisions.

After a couple of days filled with hemming and hawing, and hawing and hemming, Greg found someone selling an entire turtle setup on Craigslist for the low, low price of $100. Being the consummate bargain hunter, I said, “email them and ask them if they’d take $50",” thinking there is no way they’d take half the asking price. Then we’d be tipping the scales toward the turtle-free solution. Yeah, not so fast. They took half the asking price. And now we have this little critter in our lives. I also keep hearing from Emily how pretty the lady was that sold it, so it was a little bonus for our pick-up guy, aka my husband.

Now that he is in an actual turtle habitat with the correct water temperature, food, etc., Spike couldn’t be happier. And honestly, neither could we. He’s really fun to watch.

So what if we spent $50 on the setup and another $50 on all the accoutrements a turtle could need. We didn’t technically go out of pocket. Right? At least this pet won’t pee on my carpet.