With Jiajia away on business it fell to me to attend the parents meeting for JD's class. It lasted two hours and I understood about 10%. Fortunately they only have one per term, so I've done my bit, pointless though it was!
Over recent weeks, Jiajjia and I have been making a concerted effort to encourage JD to be more independent; helping with cooking and cleaning, doing homework without being monitored, keeping his bedroom tidy, making his own way to after-school club, choosing his own clothes, packing his schoolbag each evening, etc. It's a slow process, but I think we're getting there!
My University started up again this week. I've seen five new classes so far, with two more to follow in a week or two. Class sizes are about 20-30, which is a lot better than some previous classes of 50-60.
After some begging from me, all my lessons have been squeezed into Monday to Wednesday. This allows me to do IELTS examining on Thursdays and Fridays ...except that British Council have suddenly changed their examining days to Monday to Wednesday. Just my luck!
We had "cross-the-bridge noodles" for lunch yesterday with a teacher friend of ours who is helping us to find a suitable tutor for JD. JD starts a new term next week and Jiajia and I are aware that we won't always be able to pick him up from school (because of our work commitments) or help him complete his homework (because of language/patience issues!). So, if we can employ someone to help, it will relieve the pressure on us and give JD some stability in his after-school care.
"Cross-the-bridge noodles" is Yunnan's most famous dish. A scalding hot chicken broth is delivered to your table along with raw ingredients such as quails' eggs, thinly sliced meat and diced mushrooms or vegetables. These are poured into the broth which quickly cooks them. The noodles are then added and it's time to tuck in! It can be a cheap lunch option, but we took our friend to the most famous noodle restaurant in Kunming for some quality eats!
My examining week in Lanzhou is finished and I boarded the plane to Kunming last night, tired but generally pleased with my work.
Favourite examinee errors:
"I want to travel to broaden my horizontals."
"I own a small horse now but I'd like to get a big horse when I get older so that my grandparents can live in it with me." [...house!]
One of the most frustrating things about life in China - perhaps THE most frustrating thing - is the costant blocking of large parts of of the Internet by the powers that be. Useful sites like Google, Facebook, blogs, YouTube and the BBC are only accessible by using special software. And occasionally, even that software is blocked for a few days because of some "meeting in Beijing" or a "sensitive anniversary" or something, I'm back in today after three annoying days with little news, little personal contacts and no blog updates. Catching up now!
Once I've dropped JD off at his thrice-weekly basketball class, I cross over the road and do my own exercise.
LianHua Park has a roughly circular path around the central lake, signposted as being a convenient 500m long. So, ten steady laps means I can run 5km and still get back to catch the last half of JD's class. The route includes two small Chinese bridges, a gentle hill and a couple of little shops selling bottles of cold water, should I need to rehydrate. The only negative is having to dodge groups of Chinese folk dawdling along, oblivious to the elite athlete trying to dodge past them!
Today marks the 15th anniversary of my little blog, initially started on a Yahoo! platform (since discontinued) and since then on Weebly.
With entries every couple of days, I reckon I've made some 2,700 blog posts over the years, documenting my time in China. The blog gets about 50-100 individual readers a day, most of whom are unknown to me! Do feel free to say "Hi" in my guestbook, on the tab above.
Our neighbourhood continues to be upgraded. Plants now cover the garage roof opposite JD's bedroom window and the concrete square outside our front door now has a pagoda on it.
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