The "Secret Forest" opened again last week now that the wet season has begun again here. JD and I apprehensively searched out our den to see if had survived the last six months. And survive it had! We've visited twice more since and added a rather pretty arch feature to the side of the main structure.
We call it the "Secret Forest" as it seems that only a handful of people know about it and we seldom meet more than 2-3 other people on a typical afternoon visit. In a noisy and crowded city like Kunming, it really is an oasis of peace, solitude and natural beauty.
Those that know any of the wider Hider family may be aware that "sticking out your tongue when concentrating" is a very strong Hider genetic trait. JD exhibits it all the time!
After a few initial bike-riding lessons back in February, we finally got the bike back out today for some more practice. Very quickly, JD was riding along without any help, tongue firmly sticking out! He seemed to enjoy it too, after the nerves of previous attempts. He'll soon be joining the older boys racing around the neighbourhood.
JD and I made the trip across the city to the Horticultural Exposition Park yesterday armed with a large picnic and a kite. On arrival we were delighted to stumble across some festive Dragon Boat Racing - I'd been told on good authority that there was no such boat racing anywhere in Kunming this year! Then we got the kite out with mixed success - blustery winds but not consistent enough to keep it aloft for very long. Exhausted, we found some shade for our picnic before searching for a couple of ice-creams.
JD is growing in confidence all the time - riding the "Danube Rapids" water ride without me, approaching a fearsome looking Clown on stilts to blag a free balloon animal, chatting with the ids of strangers, etc. Great to see. We had a lovely day but we got very sunburned!
JD [corralled by his teachers, top left] finishes Kindergarten next month. His "graduation" photo came through a few days ago. I was trying to explain to JD that he will go from being one of the oldest students in the school to being one of the youngest, but I don't think it really sank in. He'll start "ShiDa Primary School" - considered the best in Kunming - in September. Then, sometime before those six years are over, we plan to return to the UK for his Secondary education. Time is flying!
Yesterday was a small landmark in JD's life - his first milk tooth wobbled out (with a little help from some misdirection and a quick yank!). JD was very excited and proud. Many of his classmates have been losing teeth for a few months now (most are older by 6 months or more), Mind you, he did actually lose his first tooth at three years of age when eating an under-cooked corn on the cob!
JD has been involved in a few incidents of naughtiness at his school recently. Nothing serious, but he's now finding out what a punishment feels like! One small positive to come out of it was they he was quick to confess each time, without us having to pressure him or investigate. So at least he has a conscience....!
JD had his birthday party today. We had to rearrange the restaurant's balloons on arrival as they spelled "Happy Baithdry"! Ten of JD's best friends came along with their parents. Then, after lunch we headed upstairs to the cinema and watched the live-action "Dumbo" film (3D in Chinese). Everything went really smoothly and JD had a blast!
Then on Wednesday we had to take him out of school for the afternoon to collect his Chinese ID card and have some preventative dental treatment [see above]. Wednesday night JD was complaining of tummy ache again and so we kept him home on Thursday. By noon he seemed fine so I took him out for some fresh air, meeting up with my old friend Emily and her two-year old, Jonathan [see photo below]. Emily and I reminisced about when we had first met. Little did we know then that, some 16 years later, we would not only still be in touch, but watching our respective children play together! We had intended to visit the newly refurbished Science Museum, but a notice on the door said it was closed - decorations still a week away from being finished.
With "tummy ache tears" again on Friday morning we felt it was wise to take JD to the hospital to get his stomach properly checked out. Blood and stool tests later, the doctor said there was nothing obviously wrong and just gave him some digestion tablets to take. Jiajia and I suspect JD is enjoying his days off school a little too much and perhaps exaggerating his pains a bit. But of course you never know. So extra "Daddy homework" on Friday afternoon and no iPad until he does a full day at school again!
JD has attended two birthday parties in the last two weeks, and his mind is now racing ahead to his own birthday celebrations in a couple of week's time. A typical Chinese kid's Birthday party is a large meal (mostly aimed at the parents!) and then some opportunities for the kids to run around, either in the restaurant or nearby outside. In contrast, we are hoping to invite JD's friends to ten-pin bowling with a mid-bowl pizza delivery. We'll see!
JD has been back at school this week - his final term there before moving to Primary School in September. And with the return we've once again started to get last minute, and seemingly pointless, homework requests. So, for example, we get a text asking us to "...send a photo of your child inflating a balloon by tomorrow morning" which arrives half an hour after JD has gone to sleep. Jiajia and I are getting quite adept at faking this sort of thing by now (the "balloon" in this photo is actually a plastic ball), even taking photos in advance of say, junk modelling or cooking, in case we ever need to show evidence of something similar later on!
We returned to Snow Park yesterday to see the attractions we didn't get to first time round - Robot Park, Beluga Whale Show, unlimited bumper cars (the guy in charge let JD ride alone) and ice slides.
The indoor ski slope was fairly gentle, but I was still surprised at how keen JD was to have a try. Even getting to the top and donning his skis was quite a struggle for him. But he needed no encouragement to slide down the slope and wasn't phased by falling down at high speed. After an hour or so he was exhausted. I did a couple of fairly tame runs by myself before we headed back into the "winter warmth" outside!
Jiajia. JD and I went to an amazing theme park the other day, along with two other families from JD’s school. The attraction has an "Ocean Park" (large aquarium, plus dolphin, seal and beluga whale shows), a "Snow Park" (huge indoor -8ºC building with slides, aerial walkways, train, skating, skiing, "live snowing", igloos etc), fairground rides and a circus! And all this just a few hours drive outside of Kunming!
Since we decided not to make any trips away this Winter holiday, my main targets were to get everything ready in our redecorated flat to move back in, and to teach JD to ride his two-wheeler bike without stabilisers. He was very nervous at first but persevered and, despite a couple of minor crashes [see above, right!] can now circle the neighbourhood without my help. Something of a rite of passage!
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