Category Archives: Culture

Year in review: our broader life


January:  delivery of some of the hundreds of footie pajamas we transported from generous donors in the US.


February: I love the red associated with Chinese New Year!


March:  3 wheeled cart transporting a sign


April: early morning run in Shanghaiimg_2557

May: Our occupational therapist visitor has a message from KFC “It’s not that bad” as we embark on an outreach to children with autism; we begin our English class outreach to minority children.

June: We tried to to go North Korea, but the door was closed and the boat was leaky, so we had to be satisfied with the view across the river.

July: our local dancing grannies, puppies on a ride, and two fathers helping their children during the talent show at the weekend camp for kids with disabilities.

August: Reindeer wedding.  Enough said.


September:  Chinese history and culture–Big Z’s favorite page in his brother’s 3rd grade reader.  This scene is from a story about a teacher who sacrifice his life so that his students could have books during wartime. We also had another visit from an expert in children with cerebral palsy giving pointers on positioning.



October: dried vegetables hang everywhere in anticipation of a long winter. Plus, it’s time for a cut and shave.



November: Thanksgiving came to the minority neighborhood as an awesome group of volunteers put on a feast and entertainment.


December: Foster parents, their kids and friends watching talent show performances of fellow foster kids. Plus, even on a blustery Christmas Day, it’s never too cold for a cut and shave.





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.



Green, dude

EKG machine on a kang at a countryside clinic (it’s a Chinese family bed common in rural  areas and heated by kitchen fires in the winter)

Drinking our newly formulated malnourished children’s refeeding solution in a public health class

Sidewalk swimsuit sale-literally.  These “shops” are open between 6-9 am, at the spot where all the tour buses pick up groups going to the water parks.

British style phone booth outside ultramodern Chinese office building.

Chinese beach extravaganza 


I am relieved that I can live peacefully and fashionably with my untannable snow-white freckled skin here in China.

Plus, the modesty factor is quite high. 

We took a three day road trip to a coastal city this weekend and did the ultimate budget vacation for 7. 

Read: youth hostel. Enough said.

We had quite the eclectic lodging experience although my kids would have liked to stay in the parked train car on the hillside instead of indoors.  

And the bonus of meeting interesting people like the German guy who’s been biking across  three continents for the past 16 months. 

So, back to the beach. 

Just let it be known that you will see less skin per capita at a Chinese beach than any other place in Europe, The Americas, or SE Asia.  

I can’t speak to the Middle East. 

The only sunbathers in sight were a couple of European women in their bikinis–everyone else (in the female category) was decked to the fingertips and toes in hats, scarves, windbreakers, long pants, high heels, and the ultimate face-kini-connected-to-jumpsuit. 

Take note of the gloves. 

Instead of parasols and lawn chairs, you could expect to see tents, tents and more tents.  

Most people came not so much to get into  the ocean as to look at it for a while–as evidenced by the high numbers of people not wearing anything remotely close to our idea of beach wear.

Although, Mr Chopstix though he spied some men skinny dipping on the far edge of the beach. 

But hey, there are many ways to enjoy the ocean and everybody was having a good time!