One of JD's Christmas presents from me was a jar full of 300 slips of paper, each one containing a statement about him. He pulls one out each morning and reads it aloud.
About 90% of the slips have something positive and encouraging ("JD, you make friends easily" or "JD, you can ride a bike pretty fast") while the others are less so ("JD, you don't know your 12 times table" or "JD, your feet are stinky"). Something to enjoy throughout the year!!
Although JD still has catch-up classes and school homework during the holidays, there is a always some free time to fill. He would be happy to use it all playing Minecraft on his iPad but, as parents, we try to be a little bit more imaginative.
Whether it's out jogging around the neighbourhood, building IKEA cabinets, hiking up a mountain, sleeping in a den, marble runs or making Lego castles, we try to keep his body in shape, his creativity active and his dexterity nimble. Not easy, though!
I spotted DongBaiShaHe Reservoir on my map of Kunming the other day and thought it looked worth a visit. Two underground trains and a 20 minute walk got me to the shores, but the supposed green grass on my map is now largely construction sites and walled neighbourhoods. I found a small path by the water but, as I walked it, it got narrower and less obvious, and I ended up climbing through a hole in a wall and skipping across a stream of effluent! A couple of buses got me home. I won't go again!
Another morale-boosting surprise for JD yesterday when he received a First Prize Certificate from the Yunnan Provincial English Speech Competition (which we'd entered by video a month ago and completely forgotten about!). We know his English is good, but to come first in all Yunnan (pop: 40m) was both unexpected and very encouraging.
Now we just hope that yesterday's mid-term Chinese exam earns him an "average" grade in his class and not "bottom five" as we've come to expect! [...UPDATE: Sadly, another bottom five score - 76%]
JD was awarded a special Certificate at school this week. He had been asked by his teacher to enter a National Art competition about a month ago (celebrating the COP15 Conference held in Kunming last year) and we were all pretty stunned to hear he came top in Yunnan Province and second out of all China!
Admittedly there was a bit of parental help in thinking up the idea and drawing some of the creatures, but that's pretty normal in China, and JD coloured in most of it. So we were all chuffed and JD's Primary School teacher apparently gained a lot of kudos.
Jiajia and I had free comprehensive medical check-ups last week, courtesy of vouchers from one of her VIP bank accounts which needed to be used by the end of the year. Neither of us had any major problems show up, but we were both told we needed to lose weight.
I've been doing 40-minute "rides" on my exercise bike 2-3 times a week for 6 months, but I think I need to up my game a bit. So last week I did an 18km (11 miles) walk from my house to the Waterfall Park in the north of the city. It took 2½ hours and I was blistered and exhausted by the time I sat to eat my sandwiches there. It then took me three buses to get back home.
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