National day


We are on 60-some years of celebrating the New China today, October 1.  

It’s a government holiday but many stores and our vegetable market are open, and the shopping district was packed with pedestrians.

We, of course, attended yet another wedding with two boys as attendants to the bride and groom whom we had never met but were friends with his sister. 

Our oldest outdid herself and ate the fish eyeball. 

There was a very hard round thing in the middle. The lens???

I am still totally disgusted and have the taste of vomit just thinking about it. 

There is always something unusual to see.

The kindergarten had a field trip to the zoo yesterday as well, where we watched bears stand and beg for snacks from the public.

There were also llamas straight out of Zootopia, gourds hanging, and old army tanks.

And there’s always something unusual to see when you look out the bus window.  

Weddings with Chinese characteristics 


Our kids are becoming old hats regarding Chinese wedding receptions.

They know the drill: early morning departure, smoky room, cigarettes, dried peas and candy at the tables, and mounds of unidentifiable food.

Our oldest has become the designated taste tester of the unknown at the kids table.

With a bottle of soda nearby she willingly risks taste buds and Chopstix to reassure the others whether they ought to try it.

Or not.

They see the bride dressed in several outfits during the reception, watch a very secularized version of lip syncing, rings, vows, bottle of wine, and lots of jokes from the MC in between everything.

The actual marriage has taken place at the city registrar weeks in advance, so this is really just the party to celebrate.

I appreciate the deep bows to honor the parents, and the group photos they do with everyone.

Once the couple comes to your table to greet you, receive the gift (red envelope with cash) and toast or light your cigarette, people often clear out pretty quickly.

Church weddings are rare here although we have attended a few of those as well.

I’m hoping our kids can attend a western style wedding for comparison sometime-this is all they know about weddings and receptions.

In the meantime, there’s always something interesting to see on our way out of the lobby where half a dozen other happy couples are also announcing their big day.

We really don’t get the reindeer thing.

Father of the groom


I think we are entering a new era.

Mr. Chopstix and I were recently asked to stand in for the parents of the groom at a very multinational wedding. 

We found this quite amusing as our own kids are nowhere near marrying age at 13 and under.  

Rather shocking actually, to find ourselves walking down the aisle, having seats with the very decked out parents of the bride, and honored in a number of ways. 

As we were eating, I was struck by the vast number of countries and continents represented at each table.  

At our table: Sri Lanka, Ghana, Zambia, Norway/Germany and USA. 

I met a girl in the bathroom who was half Eritrean and half Ethiopian but grew up in a third country.  I danced with guests from UK, Nigeria, Burundi, Costa Rica and China. 

In my language class yesterday we were discussing 门当户对, a phrase that means to be well matched in social and economic status.   

I was asked if I agreed that this was an important quality in marriage, and I just laughed to myself as I considered this recent wedding as well as the number of cross-cultural and cross racial marriages of my friends, including my own parents and myself.  

As I explained, I said of course if a couple is equally matched they have a lot more in common socially and culturally, but that to me most important is the question of common faith and beliefs affecting values surrounding marriage (which is also linked to values about money, child rearing, entertainment and more). 

If a couple has a common foundation of faith in God, we have the promise that a cord of three strands is not easily broken. 

So this wedding. Yum.

We ate tasty almond-paste coated fruit cakes handcarried in the suitcases from Sri Lanka–50 pounds worth.  Little ceramic candle holders–also a staple from the bride’s country. 

I remember when my Cuban/Puerto Rican friend’s son got married, and she traveled  from Ohio to New York with suitcases and carry ons full of homemade Puerto Rican divine wonders for the wedding guests.

At our own wedding (*gasp* 18 years ago) we had kransekake, the traditional 18-ring wreath almond cake.

These traditions that we can carry into our new lives together form part of the new melded culture we are creating as we become a new and unique family unit.  

It’s been a long time since I had that cake, but we are constantly weaving new traditions with the old as expats living in China. 

5th annual fun run for foster care


Despite early morning downpour from a typhoon somewhere in the region, a huge number of adults and kids showed up to run 5 and 10K on Saturday morning! 

With amazing help from about  75 volunteers and several key sponsors, kids of all ages were racing, playing games and getting faces painted while adults helped fund the bake sale donations and cheer on the 150-200 runners. 

Life in China is always a bit unpredictable but everything came off even better than we had hoped for! 

My favorite moment was when Timotai crossed the finish line after running the whole 5k with his foster mom, despite legs that are kind of awkward from cerebral palsy.  This boy could not even sit up 7 years ago when he first came into foster care at age 7. 

Another highlight was when current and former foster kids handed trophies to the winners of the races.  

I saw many people very moved by the enthusiasm of the children, and I feel like the moment captured the essence of the reason for this event–to demonstrate that kids have inherent value and deserve a loving family–with or without disabilities.  

Of course, it was also fun to announce the second place of women’s 5k as my oldest daughter!  

Back for more fun next year!