Today was the start of the new semester for the children, and we decided not to have Peter and Jack go back to Chinese school. Since they weren't making many friends or learning much language, it was time to change course!
In the U.S., there are ESL programs to help the foreign child adjust to the culture and language, but here it's so rare to have a foreigner in the class that this type of program just isn't available. So for the student, it's a matter of just trying to listen to the Chinese and figure out what's going on. Doing that for 8 hours a day gets pretty frustrating and BORING!
So, this morning we started our homeschooling. I put together a lesson plan for them which included their mathematics, studying the human heart, reports on Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin, memorizing US states (Jack) and the countries of Europe (Peter). I'll also teach them some basic Chinese myself. They are excited about this new program so we'll see if we can continue on a high note!
After their lessons were done, we took them on an outing for a Chinese Foot massage. On our arrival someone had set off a string of several thousand firecrackers.
Fireworks will continue to be heard until March 1, or when the first full moon appears. They seem to be lit off in unison at certain auspicious times. Today was the 18th of February, and at 8:18, 8:28, noon, and other times, explosions could be heard all of the city. 8 is a lucky number here, so the explosions tend to congregate around that number. Sue was pelted in the face by fallout from one of the giant fireworks while she was on her bicycle. She's fine, but it's dangerous out there!
We all sat in a room together and had the 4 masseuses working on us simultaneously. We were all very relaxed, but Peter had a running commentary on what he felt like, and what was happening during the whole experience. It was cute!
The back massage - all a part of the foot massage experience as our pigs are being soaked in boiling hot water.
"Cupping" our feet. They pour a little alcohol in a small bowl, light it to decrease the air pressure inside the cup and stick the cup to your foot. Once your foot is stuck to the cup, the cup is moved around on your foot to draw out the toxins. The boys thought it was pretty wild! In fact, we all did!
A cloth full of warm beans and a wonderful floral scent was placed around our necks. Heaven!
I took Peter back to the Starbuck's building and we flew his RC helicopter around inside the big atrium. I was wondering how much flight time we would get away with since it was a weekday and the businesses had reopened in the building. It worked to play the dumb foreigner for a little while but after 15 minutes one of the building administrators came over and told us we had to stop. By that time we had pretty much run out of battery but we were bummed out that we have to find somewhere else to fly it. Luckily, there are plenty of other big buildings in Hangzhou :).
I also worked on my lesson plan today for next week when Sue and I will both return to the university to resume our classes.
Sophie LOVED her first day back to school which started with a trip to a street vendor for a boiled egg and some rice and meat wrapped in a banana leaf. Delicious! Most of our regular noodle places are still closed due to the New Year, but 80% of the shops and businesses have resumed normal operations now and the city is full of people again!