out of bed once or twice every night?
We finally managed to organise JD's flight simulator visit today - a treat promised for his birthday back in March! He had been before, along with 50 other kids for a brief 15 minute "flight". But planes are JD's passion and he very much wants to be a pilot when he grows up.
I've been giving JD English/Maths work during the holiday (only 30-40 mins from me, compared to the daily 1-2 hours Chinese from the school!) but I try and make mine as interesting and fun as possible. We've worked out how much water is in the local swimming pool, the area of various pan lids and, for English, a project writing up the specs of various aircraft (JD's passion).
But today's homework was for JD to work out how to get to the Wanda Towers (a landmark shopping mall across the city) by public transport in time for a McDonalds lunch! He worked out the best route using my phone app (walk, underground, change trains, bus, walk) and then we went and tried it out. JD took the lead, using underground maps, bus timetables and asking locals for help where necessary. I just tagged along! We arrived 12.10pm - perfect.
We planned a different route back over an ice-cream and got back home two hours later. I am hoping JD might gradually pick up the bug for independent travel as I once did in my teens.
With exams all over and a week of sunshine ahead, we've been hitting the paddle boats on both Green Lake (with some of JD's school friends),and LianHua Lake (with just JD and I).
It's a good way for JD to get some exercise in a controlled area (ie no cars or pedestrians) with fresh air and a cool breeze. The pedals are too close for me to be able to help much (...that's my excuse) so I just let the kids wear themselves out, whilst ensuring they are not about to bump into any boats, ducks or islands! And at 40RMB (£4) an hour, it isn't going to break the bank anytime soon.
JD went to the dentist with a couple of wobbly teeth last week. The dentist said they would come out by themselves if he "...ate some sticky candy". JD duly ate some sticky candy and they duly came out! But, whilst there, the dentist also said that JD would probably need some sort of braces within a few years, as there isn't enough space for his teeth to come out straight. Laster, we went to a specialist children's dentist to get another opinion. They confirmed that he would need 1-2 years of braces, and sooner rather than later. But their preferred solution would cost 160,000RMB (£2000) which seems extraordinarily expensive (especially in China). So we are going to get a third opinion/cost in the Summer holidays, before deciding what course of action to pursue. That's one expensive child!
JD went out to play on his scooter the other evening. After failing to come home at the agreed time, I spent over an hour searching for him around our neighbourhood while Jiajia rang her Mum (phone turned off), the guards at the main gate (not seen JD) and - almost - the police.
Ma eventually rang back and confirmed JD was with her, "helping her play mahjong" in her friend's house. Neither had thought to let us know. Both got a telling off once they returned!
So, for now, JD is taking care to let us know where he is at all times. Hence the note above, left on the office door sometime last night, in case we wondered why he wasn't in his bed this morning!
We had a very hot half-day at Kunming's Botanical Gardens today, courtesy of Jiajia's VIP status at the Bank of China, who invited us to attend a Children's Day activity there. It started with a treasure trail, followed by light refreshments. Then an hour's guided tour around the large greenhouses (the world's first greenhouse was built here in 200BC!). And finally, a craft activity, sticking and labelling botanical specimens. JD's was deemed good enough to be framed as a prize.
Jiajia, JD and I had a further explore of the park by ourselves for an hour before taking a taxi to a newly opened noodle bar for a late lunch, and then back home for a well-earned rest!
Carnivorous plants (pitcher plant, venus fly trap, sundew)
The family of one of JD's friends invited us all to their new house in ChengGong - a University satellite town of Kunming - to celebrate May Day. We got a lift there by car (it's 20km away) and then JD had fun playing with his friends with pellet guns inside the apartment and fishing outside. They cooked up a nice meal and, fairly late, we returned home by subway - an hour-long trip costing 5RMB (50p).
JD was learning about silkworms at school a couple of weeks ago and the teacher encouraged the children to buy a few, feed them on mulberry leaves and watch them spin their cocoons...
So JD bought half a dozen worms at a nearby toy shop, but then swapped a couple of them with another students for 30+ eggs. Last week, the eggs hatched... So now we appear to be responsible for a huge number of silkworms, munching their way through treefuls of leaves but showing no sign of pupating. Nightmare!
JD celebrated his birthday this weekend. His favourite present was a second-hand typewriter - something he's been wanting for months.
For his party we met up with five of his friends and their families for a vegetarian buffet in a quaint restaurant overlooking LianHua Lake. This was followed by two birthday cakes, the opening of presents and an hour sailing (and ramming!) a small flotilla of electric boats on the lake. It was a really fun time for all.
During odd five minute-breaks at home, in between his daily 3-4 hours of homework, JD has been gradually building an airport in his bedroom using Dupo Lego, toy cars/planes/tanks/etc and furniture legs!
Although it looks fairly random, he has a long back-story and can spend ages explaining to you how each part of the airport works and why everything is in its rightful place. Untidy, but imaginative!
JD's current dream career is to be a civil pilot. So it was with great enthusiasm that he attended a half-day "training course" in avionics, courtesy of one of Jiajia's VIP bank accounts. He had safety lectures (including trying on a life jacket and an inflatable slide), made a wooden fighter jet, won a toy glider and - his favourite - helped fly a passenger jet in a professional simulator! He was so excited!
Kunming is known as the "Spring City" with temperate weather all year. round. As such, snowfall is a once-in-a-decade surprise.
But yesterday, as I battled to work on my e-bike, Jiajia and JD were out enjoying the white stuff - snowball fights and a snowman.
JD hasn't really seen snow in Kunming before and I haven't seen this much in all my 15 years here. It's due to start disappearing today, although the unusually cold temperatures (-2ºC) will be here for a few more days yet.
I teach five private lessons each week, 90 minutes each - some to kids, some to adults. One of these is to a young couple, in their home. Last week JD joined me as they had cooked dinner for us and invited JD to play with their 4-year old son, called Paipai (pronounced "pie-pie"). JD had a sort-out of his bedroom beforehand and brought a bag of unwanted "baby toys" to pass on. The dinner was a tasty mix of Western and Chinese food and the lesson afterwards went well.
Past blog entries