The coldest room in our house here in China is our kitchen. It is probably the fault of the tiles that cover the floor and wall, but even though these tiles make it frigid, there is a pro to them that outweighs the con. We can draw on them! Using white board markers we can make everything from shopping lists to little cartoon characters on the walls that are easily erased with a wet rag. It’s also fun to add little details to other people’s drawings. All of this is new for us because we did not have tiles, even in the bathrooms, in our previous house. So yesterday I drew this little picture shown below. Michael added the word “love” to it!
On the last day of school before Christmas break our class had an annual Christmas cookie party! Instead of staying at school we went to our teachers house and made cookies. The apartment was packed and everyone was either playing board games or playing on electronics. It was really fun. Also since it was a half day it was great timing!
Last weekend Sean came grocery shopping with me to E-Mart, and Jessie was in charge of watching Megan at home for me. I had a nice shopping trip with Sean (we got lots of time to visit, while we waited in the long check-out lines of Chinese people stocking up for the Chun Jie holiday which is fast approaching).I came home to find that Jessie had turned two chairs, a paper plate, and a blanket into a sailing ship. She even made a telescope for Megan out of an empty paper-towel roll. I’m so thankful for my creative kids!
Tonight a friend lent us a movie called The Legend of 1900. In this film Danny, part of the crew who worked the boiler on a ship called the Virginian, found an abandoned child on board. He raised the child and called him Nineteen Hundred, in honor of the year he was found. Nineteen Hundred was eight when he discovered his amazing talent to play the piano. Without music or lessons he could play any tune or create music based on a feeling or emotion. Nineteen Hundred was born, raised, and played the piano for first class passengers, but since he had never set even his tiniest toe onto dry land, his best friend Max pleads with him to get off the ship. I would not say this movie left me thrilled and it was not anything to ‘write home about’, but I did find it interesting and entertaining. I was very disappointed with the consistent use of foul language (such as misusing the Lord’s name and the as bad as the “f” word) throughout the movie. If you find this summary amusing and wish to watch this film by all means do, but the rest of my blog will reveal the conclusion of the film and my own thoughts of this movie, so if you wish to watch it unspoiled I would advise you to stop reading NOW!I found this film interesting but a bit depressing in a way as well. Max, friend of Nineteen Hundred, is constantly trying to persuade him to get off the Virginian. Max is a trumpet player for first class passengers’ entertainment. Since Nineteen Hundred’s youth, Danny, in fear that the government might try to take Nineteen Hundred away from him because of his lack of paper work, Danny told his ‘son’ never get off board; this plus the fear of leaving the ship, his home, keeps Nineteen Hundred from satisfying Max’s requests. Once, Nineteen Hundred actually decides to leave the ship, but because of reasons that are unknown until the end of the film he stops half way down the gangplank and turns back. Max, the narrator, eventually leaves the ship to seek a new job. At the end of the movie Max comes back to see what happened to the Virginian and his friend. He finds that the rusty boat was a day away from being blown up with dynamite because of it’s sad state. Max is sure that his friend is still on board and he searches for him. Just before it is time to send the boat out into the sea to be disintegrated to smithereens, Nineteen Hundred comes out of hiding. Max pleads for Nineteen Hundred to come with him off the ship, but Nineteen Hundred tells him that a piano has a beginning and an end, 88 keys, and with it you can make an infinity of music, but when his was on the gangplank he saw a world that had no beginning and no end unlike his home on the boat that has a bow and a stern. Nineteen Hundred could not handle a “infinity” world where you pick just one home, one scenery, one woman. He said that a life like that is meaningless. So he refused to leave the boat saying that a birth, life, and death on the Virginian is better than living in a “infinity” world. Nineteen Hundred chose death, so Max was forced to leave him.Now as a Believer in Jesus, I observed that Nineteen Hundred’s choice was wrong. It is true our lives our full of an infinity of choices that we go about making each day. What is different between myself and Nineteen Hundred is that I am not afraid to go into the world, because my choices are guided by HIM who gives my life a purpose and reason for my existence. So in a way this movie did make me think and was entertaining, but if you do not enjoy sad movies that have complicated themes, then I do not recommend this movie to you 🙂 .
On Sunday January 3rd, Tianjin had it’s largest snowfall in 59 years! While we were snug in our beds, snow began to fall early on that morning and lasted all day and into the night. The kids were hoping and praying for a day off from school the next day. We found out around 8 pm Sunday evening that their wish came true. Tianjin International School had it’s first official snow day ever. Since the Chinese government closed all public schools in Tianjin, I think our administrators didn’t feel too badly about the decision.
The kids were thrilled to have one more day to sleep in and relax around the apartment. Michael joined some of his Korean friends for lunch, Jessie and Maddie went to some of their friends’ apartments for hot chocolate and movies, and Rachel and I stayed snug indoors and made chocolate chips cookies.Megan was excited to go out to play, but not many of her older siblings. Here’s a few pictures of the courtyard outside our apartment.
We live on the 8th floor, our windows are boxed in green in the top left corner of the picture.
Someone wasn’t happy to come indoors.
But a cup of hot chocolate made her happy again.
Tonight we watched Les Choristes (The Chorus) – a french movie about a new teacher arriving at an obscure boarding school where the boys are undisciplined and the head master’s harsh corporal punishment tactics do not work. The teacher — Monsieur Mathieu — decides to introduce choir to the boys — in so doing he is able to reach out to them through music and becomes an inspiration and beloved. I especially enjoyed the movie because I could relate being a new teacher myself, changing careers late in life just as Mathiew had.I also appreciate Monsieur Mathieus disciplinary methods which are geared towards reaching the child’s heart; I believe this a key to parenting and teaching.All six of us enjoyed the movie and would watch it again. Starring: Gérard Jugnot, François Berléand Director: Christophe Barratier Rating: PG-13
Last night in Bangkok while waiting for the clock to strike midnight year 2010, we held a family meeting to discuss pros & cons of taking a vacation during the Christmas holiday.I’ll start with the con because we all felt the same way: it is bad enough that we can’t be in America on Christmas, but it is even less special without our favorite family traditions. We can’t complain too much as we were basking in the sun on a beautiful beach. But even with our best efforts — miniature tree in the hotel room, stockings stuffed for the kids; and Megan throwing a party for Jesus’ birthday — there is nothing like being home in America for the holidays.The same day American Christians celebrate the Messiah’s birth is just an empty holiday across East Asia. Asian retailers have learned they can make more money by putting up tacky Santa decorations, garland, and string lights. But among the people in Thailand (or China for that matter) there is no appreciation for the real meaning of the season. To me, Christmas in Asia is essentially the same as St. Patrick’s Day in the US. Just a day to wear green (so you won’t get pinched) or go out and get some green donuts, green beer, or McDonald’s limited-time-only green shamrock shake. But I have to admit I don’t know if this guy St. Patrick is real or myth and what did he do that deserves drinking green beer and eating bad green donuts? I don’t miss St. Patrick’s Day [please forgive me Uncle Rich and my Irish St. Patty-Day-loving-friends]. In the same way, I don’t think these Asian’s would miss Christmas.I think being away from our apartment was especially hard for Susan because she had no kitchen, hence no cookies to offer; no vegetable tray with the famous Luttmann dill dip, no turkey with potatoes and gravy.As for the pro — the kids told us that the best part of our going away was family time together. Over the past two weeks all seven of us hung out non-stop. Each morning started with breakfasted together out on the patio reading-listening to the Advent devotional Bartholamew’s Passage (by Arnold Ytreeide). Each day spent playing in the sand/water; reading books aloud on the beach — Sweet Volet (by Catherine Palmer). Eating every lunch and dinner together; shopping; and watching Survivor (Season 19) in the evenings. Over the years I’ve discovered that there are few things more important to building a strong family than spending many uninterrupted days alone together.
By the way, it doesn’t often work for us to have family time at home — even on a long holiday. There are too many distractions — chores; home repairs; meals to prepare; cleaning; homework; email; FaceBook; friends calling; etc. Instead our most memorable family times have been traveling away from home: no school, no work and staying off the internet. (Oh, the internet was down at our hotel in Thailand — a very good thing!)