Archive for March, 2008

Hiding colored food products over and over


As Family members we are not supposed to fully blend into our culture (I read somewhere about being “in” but not “of” this world…). No matter where you live I think we are called to do this. I think this is one way to let the Light shine through us. I certainly don’t have this figured out. I just think that our little family lives in such a place that we are CONSTANTLY aware that we are being observed. Everything we put in our cart at the grocery store, everything we order at a restaurant, how we talk to our kids, etc. It is just part of life here. Now to be fair, even as foreigners we stand out. Four kids is three more than the average here. Two Asian daughters – one from China and one from Korean. We are begging to get stared at just by leaving our apartment.

Sometimes we don’t understand the fascination. But sometimes, if we are honest with ourselves, we truly do some crazy things. Stay with me here. Last weekend, we boiled eggs, dipped them in different colored dye, then headed to a nearby public park. The kids looked the other way while we proceeded to hide these eggs behind trees, under rocks, in bushes and behind signs. Then we said “go”. Our kids then scrambled to locate the colored food products we just hid from them. We repeated several times. And in the end we still didn’t eat them.  Who does this? How would this not be considered odd? As you can imagine we had countless people look on with wonder. One guy saw me putting a bright purple egg in a tree. His English was pretty good and asked what I was doing. In the most simple English I could muster, I attempted to explain how this activity was linked to the meaning behind Easter (please pause now and try this on a friend). I am sure he left more confused.

All that to say we are all being watched whether we know it or not. And regardless of how bizarre it looked we had a great time enjoying this age-old,albeit odd, tradition of an Easter Egg hunt.

One person’s normal is another’s blog post,

– Dan

Sara & Zach/ Zach, Aunt Rachel & Noah

Dan & Hannah



Witnessing history: Major League Baseball’s First Game in China

MLB in China 3-15-08.jpg

What an amazing time to live in China! We are so fortunate to witness historical events first-hand. As our excitement grows for the upcoming Olympics in China this summer (we have resident-priced tickets to soccer!), we got a foretaste of the experience yesterday. A group of 20 of us from our company traveled to Beijing (about 2 hours away). I brought Zach & Noah. USA’s Major League Baseball played it’s first ever professional game on Chinese soil and we were there! It was an amazing mix seeing America’s favorite pastime and China’s growth on the world-stage. One news report opened by saying: “The vendors sold peanuts, hot dogs and tea.” 🙂
Not only did we get to participate in history (in fact, the first MLB home run in China was caught by a guy two seats in front of us!) but it was an amazing father-son-son time. While we get to experience so many rich aspects of Chinese culture (meat on a stick not withstanding!) I miss not having access to American traditions. To sit in the stands, with the sun on our faces, eating sunflower seeds doing the ‘wave’ with thousands of yelling fans (granted many yelled in Chinese) was just awesome. The stands were filled with a mix of Chinese experiencing baseball for the first time, other foreigners from around the world and Americans like us who were just thrilled to sing “Take me out the ballgame”.

This short video captures a bit of the atmosphere –

— Dan, Zach & Noah




What You Can See in Just One Minute

This past weekend, we were discussing with friends how much of our lives here (different as they may be from what we used to know) just passes as a matter of course. Things that would have shocked us – things we would have devoted entire blog entries to 18 months ago – we hardly notice anymore. Ah! The amazing ability of the human mind to adapt!

In this vein, I consciously rode my bike to school a few days ago TRYING to see with fresh eyes again this amazing, raw place we live. So, in one minute, this is what I saw …

Just in front of me, a young man riding a bike, while smoking a cigarette, AND talking on a cell phone with another young man sitting on the small rack behind him. An elderly man beside me with 6 office water cooler style jugs of water strapped to his bike. A mountain of cheap plastic red baskets nested inside one another, at least 30 feet high on the side of the road. A three wheel truck (imagine a regular style truck on top of a tricycle style chassis) loading up fruit – apples rolling off the pile into our bike lane with workers chasing after them. Crossing over a canal that NEVER freezes despite our cold, long winters (hmmmm, I think maybe that isn’t JUST water down there). 20 or so migrant workers in business suits digging holes to plant the trees that are “sprouting” everywhere as our city is beautified for the Olympics (why in business suits? I’m not sure, but it is quite common for manual laborers. My guess is that they have only a few clothes – and a suit is more useful in a wider set of situations). Finally, passing the National Institute for Stem Cell Technology, I note they have installed a new security fence.

That was ONE minute of observations. Its amazing how much more you see and experience on a bike in a busy city. I am so thankful for my bike “Alice” (and that it hasn’t been stolen – though it is so rusty its probably fairly thief proof!) and for living in a country which encourages bike riding and other forms of public transportation. Even though some days we want to, we simply cannot live insulated, in-and-out of our garage lives here. Stretching, but good!

1 comment

3 Billion A Day

When you live in a major city in China, big numbers start to lose their umph. Everything is impressive – the number of cars added to the roads each day, the number of McDonalds and KFC stores per city, the number of doctoral degrees issued every June, the concentration of pollution in the air … but recently I heard a number that really impressed me. Did you know that Chinese consumers use 3 BILLION cheap plastic bags EACH DAY?!?!!? These bags are everywhere. They float through the sky like flocks of birds, they catch in tree branches, they litter the ground – they are useful as carry home bags from the open market, bike covers, shoe covers, insulation … but on June 1st, it will be illegal to give them away freely in the People’s Republic.

Heavier plastic bags will be sold at grocery stores when you check-out – but fabric and vinyl re-usable totes are becoming all the rage. Creating a law that simply outlaws the free use of cheap plastic bags in one fell swoop is one of the ‘advantages’ of this style of governance. No studies, no committees, no phasing in of the new plan … just an enforced law and that’s the end of it. We’ll let you know how it goes June 2nd!


Take the Oreo Challenge!


So the long days of winter can be really hard with four kids in a small apartment. We’ve had puppet shows, gymnastics class, science experiments and all kinds of other creative craziness in our living room. But nothing compares to the fun of watching an Oreo Challenge! Dear Rachel introduced our kids to this activity after sharing in the fun at a middle school retreat. Zach decided that he will be the Middle School Champ of the Oreo Challenge -and with only 2 and a half more years to practice, he is busily getting ready.

Of course you are asking, “what is the Oreo Challenge?”. It’s quite simple really. First, open an oreo cookie. Eat the plain side. Next, lick the cream side and place it on your forehead. The object of the challenge is to move the oreo down your face and into your mouth without using your hands (or any other tool). By twitching, stretching and contorting your face muscles, you can move that cookie right into your mouth, but it takes a lot of practice!

Enjoy these pictures of Zach – and be sure to try it yourself on a rainy day!