Thursday, February 19, 2009
Chloe chews out mom for putting her in the bath again.
After finishing with mom, Chloe has a friendly chat with papa.
Mystery Grocery Item
This is a typical grocery item (in the states as well as China) that Ethan picked up on his way home from work yesterday. Can anyone guess what it is?
Chloe has been sucking on her thumb since before she was born (we have the ultra sound to prove it!), and she's continued with the habit, but has picked up on a new comfort of grabbing a fistful of hair at the same time. This does go bad every once in awhile when she gets really upset that someone is pulling too hard on her hair (which makes her arm constrict and pulls her hair harder). She's learning, though, and it's pretty cute to see new habits emerging.
Not without a lot of hard work and exercise, Chloe woke up yesterday morning with a new-found realization that she has a neck and she knows how to use it!
Snow in Beijing
Yes, it's been snowing here in Beijing. For the past few days we've woken up to about an inch. It's been mostly melted by the afternoon, but then there's more the next day. Ethan's cousin said this should be the last cold of the season. We are really hoping so! Katrina's getting a little stir-crazy staying in the apartment with Chloe.
Saturday, February 14, 2009
Rolling over and eating
Chloe is getting good at the rolling over bit, but only if the arm on the side that she's rolling toward is stuck under her. It's been an interesting few days since you last heard from us.
We've been eating out a lot, since eating out costs roughly the same as staying at home. Plus, it's kind of hard to cook here. We've only got a small electric hotplate, and it's a bit hard to find things that we know how or want to cook. There are a lot of restaurants in the vicinity of the apartment. We've had some good and bad experiences. Ordering at most places is kind of like Russian roullette, except that the gun is about half-loaded with different kinds of bullets: way too spicy, way too odd, way too unidentifiable, way too old, or way too not for a Westerners' pallet (p.c. for gross.) The other half is totally delectable. We've found about three places nearby that are consistently good. The most entertaining place is about a 10 minute walk toward the Renmin University, which is quite close. It's a hotpot restaurant. If you're unfamiliar, hotpot restaurants have a single burner in the center of every dining table, where they put a big pot of broth, which can come as spicy, sour, and so on. Then you order stuff to put in the hotpot, raw meat, veggies, tofu, etc., and you cook it all right there. At a lot of restaurants they have a greeter outside the restaurant who tries to lure you in and then escorts you. The greeter called in reinforcements and about three people clung to Chloe's stroller while they herded us onto the elevator up to the restaurant. I think every server in the whole restaurant at some point came by to take care of us, including the owner. A swarm of about five servers hovered around us for the first ten minutes or so, and after that we got a visit every thirty seconds or so. Eventually, they only came by every few minutes.
Ethan can't read the menus very well, but fortunately he caught the character for brain next to the pig character before he ordered it. The owner visited us a few times too and gave Katrina a fragrance bag as a gift for coming. As we left, she pushed Chloe's stroller to the escalator while a vanguard of bouncing waitresses followed behind us. Katrina commented after we left that if there was an emergency she was going to come right away to that restaurant, and she was sure they'd take care of her.
Unfortunately, our first major food tragedy occurred on Valentine's day. We've been getting cheap breakfasts from a nearby vendor who makes these tasty little egg crepe thingies. But on V-day morning one of them made Katrina sick, so we spent Valentine's Day laid up in the apartment. We ordered Papa John's for V-day dinner, which was surprisingly good. Katrina's feeling a bit better now.
Tuesday, February 10, 2009
We've finally gotten internet up and running in the apartment! There is a lot to write about, so we'll get down to business. On Sunday the 1st, Ethan went into the city to meet up with his Chinese friend living in Beijing, Dragon. Dragon had taken it upon himself to find us an apartment, and so he'd already scoped out a place. They visited the apartment, and after approving it, they went to a dingy Century 21 office and the landlord tucked them away in a small fluorescent lit cigarette drenched conference room where the landlor and Dragon yelled at eachother in unintelligible Chinese for awhile (yelling is a normal, amiable way of communicating in China, seriously). Documents passed back and forth, and Ethan came out figuring he'd either been sold an apartment or sold into a human trafficking ring in Thailand. Turned out to be the former, so we moved in the following day. Ethan's mom's cousin (is that once removed?), Billy, helped us get situated. That night Katrina stayed home and got things situated while Ethan went shopping at Carrefour, a multi-level shopping nightmare with crazy music, scary meat, and lots of bodies. But it's cheap. We shopped there three days in a row. It's about a 20 minute walk from our apartment. Then we took a taxi to Wal-mart, which was a dramatic improvement.
The apartment has a washing machine, bath, microwave, refrigerator, and a huge flat screen tv. It also has a single electric hotplate for cooking, end of story. Katrina's been learning to cope with that. Fortunately, it is literally no more expensive to eat out than it is to eat, so we do eat out a lot.
Ethan started work last Thursday. So far he has cataloged the closet and done some research on public defender standards in other Asian countries. Things are slow right now, because employees are still on vacation from the spring festival.
Speaking of the spring festival, Beijing is like Normandy on D-day during the holidays. Fireworks seem to be the primary means of communicating their holiday cheer here. Anyway, last night was the Lantern Festival, and we were afraid that Chloe was going to go deaf. It's fun to watch though. Every evening since we've been here except tonight has been punctuated by blasts from fireworks and firecrackers all over the city. Their main form of fire safety is placing a whole bunch of fire extinguishers out all over the streets. There is no single designated area for fireworks, they just go off everywhere, no matter how big they are. A major hotel under construction burnt down last night because of fireworks.
Chloe's been doing great. She's on a good schedule now. We've just started to lay her down awake and let her put herself to sleep. Works like a charm, and she's sleeping a lot more now.
There's lots more to say and it will be said, but we're stopping here for now. Chloe's apartment tour wasn't complete, but we thought we'd put up in here now anyway. We're having a lot of fun, and we're excited to be here. We'll write much more very soon!
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