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Saturday, June 23, 2012

In Concert

I (Kevin) had the privilege of attending a piano concert at a school for children with special needs. What makes this concert so exceptional is that the concert pianist was a teenage boy affected by severe mental disabilities. He can only speak a few phrases, but his fingers can transform the piano.
When the boy attended his first piano lesson, the teacher couldn’t fathom how he could learn anything. He didn’t dress right. He didn’t move his head right. He could barely communicate. However, the boy had an ability to learn pitch and rhythm, and now, his quality of play is so high that he challenges the other piano students.
In person, he is very shy and quiet, but get him behind a piano … enjoy!

video

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Playground

One of our favorite things about our apartment complex is the playground. Molly and Hudson love playing there as much as possible. I took these pics about six weeks ago when we were first enjoying the warmer weather. Now it's hot and the best time to go is in the morning. We've been having tons of rain the past two weeks, but lately the sun has been peeking out for longer periods of time and we're trying to soak it up. Monday, the kids and I headed to the playground with bubbles and water squirters and had been outside all of 10 minutes when it started sprinkling.
Chinese playgrounds are really exercise parks, built with the idea that everyone should be able to use it (not just kids). It's pretty unusual to find swings, but thankfully there are two here in our complex. 
Molly on the treadmill:
These are meant for adults, but Molly tried to use them too. I've heard it's for exercising your lower back, and you can alternate your legs (kind of like skiing) or swing them at the same time. It's fun!
The courtyard/playground area also has a large fountain. I haven't seen the fountain part turned on yet, but there are several fish swimming in the water, and Molly likes to make me nervous by climbing up and walking around the edge. Here's sweet Hudson on our way back to our apartment.
The green ivy on the right is covering over our back gate. Nearly every day I wish that gate would be unlocked and usable. We live in the last building in our complex, and we have to walk around to the front gate to enter or exit the complex, then basically backtrack on the main street to walk to preschool, Kevin's office or our friends' apartments. It may add a few blocks to our daily walks, but I have to focus on the positive -- I'm sure it's quieter there without traffic in and out of the gate. I worry enough about cars driving fast around the turn there without having to look for cars coming in both directions. Also, the front gate has a security guard around the clock. We are thankful for this apartment complex. After three months, it feels like home.
~Dayna

Monday, June 4, 2012

Children's Day

China celebrates Children's Day on June 1, and it is a festive affair! Many companies host special activities or give employees a half day off to celebrate. Molly and Hudson's preschool put together a show in the morning where each of the five classes performed, and there were games with the parents in between  -- relays, three-legged race, tug of war... I'm still kicking myself for not taking a video of that one.
The photo above shows Molly's class lined up to perform, and the photo below is Molly in position for the class dance.
Interestingly, the song they are dancing to is "Do Something" by Britney Spears. In the video below, you can hear Hudson encouraging her to smile.
Hudson didn't perform with his class -- I think the teachers felt he wouldn't have enough time to prepare since we only attend class on Tuesday and Thursday. He was very content to sit on my lap and watch all of the other kids. Everyone received a gift bag and a prize, so we came home with four new toys to play with. After the performances, the kids ate lunch in their classroom and we went home to rest. Here are Molly and Hudson with Molly's two teachers:
The kids were so tired and slept for two full hours before getting ready for our next Children's Day activity: an amusement park! Our friend Yvonne has two children the same ages as ours and we had been looking for a time to get the kids together to play. Kevin has been tutoring Yvonne in English grammar for several weeks; Yvonne and her husband are planning to move to the US and are eager to learn all they can about American culture.
The park had several rides just right for our kids to enjoy, plus an indoor play area with slides, a ball pond, trampoline, swings and more.
The most memorable part was a car that went on a track above the entire amusement ride. Not as high in the air as a sky ride, but it had a button to push for automatic riding or manual with pedals. (Think paddle boats on a track.) Kevin and Hudson were ahead of us, and Molly and I only bumped into them one time.
Here's a short video that shows a quick view of the park below us. You can hear "It's a Small World" playing from another ride. We had gorgeous weather on Friday -- such a perfect Children's Day experience.
Yvonne treated us to a feast of a dinner at Pizza Hut and then had two new toys each for Molly and Hudson when she dropped us off at home. We were all spoiled rotten on Children's Day! It's hardly surprising that as we were getting the kids ready for bed, Molly declared it was the best day in China yet. :)  儿童节快乐! Happy Children's Day!
~Dayna