September 27, 2011

When Apple's Big I-s are all over in everyone's pockets, hands and heads, iPhone, iPod, iTouch, i-Whatever, I never felt like being part of it. However, before I went to China, the need for a light-weight computer made me check out mobile tablets at BestBuy.

I decided on an IPad and was sold on the first day. Because I, as many of parents before me, found out that iPad can be a pretty good baby-sitter. I got all sorts of apps for the kids. For Yung, Fish HD, Counting Bears, A-B-C, Matching games, books like Present for Milo: A Touch-and-Surprise Storybook; For Annya, one after another read-to-me books, I-can-read-books, animated books; For Emma, Math-bingo, Second-grade math. For all of them, drawing apps, piano apps, singing fingers, singing monsters. I also bought a one-year subscription of "A story before bed", where we read and record books ourselves.

It is a smash! It is a smash-proof too! Being super light-weighted and small means Yung can carry it around like anyone else, and when he drops it, it lands with a thud, yet safe and sound; it is so easy to use, Yung learn to use it before he learns how to eat with a spoon. It is probably anti-stabbing too, it survives the stabbing of pencils, forks and pens (the warranty we bought does allow us a bit of freedom and peace of mind too). The only drawback is that it is too sensitive to the touch. Too often we had open and re-open a book in the middle of reading because Yung's has accidentally or deliberately touched the home button. Touching-buttons is fun and makes you feel powerful, that is probably why Yung touches all of the buttons nonstop.

The kids have a lot of fun. And a lot of pain. Isn't true that for kids, any source of fun can easily be a pain of butt? And for three kids? Certainly. Who gets to play the iPad? Who gets to play what on the iPad? Mine, mine, mine ..., Yung would scream; No counting bears, I want a princess song, Annya gets whinny easily; No do not play with my 2-grade math, Emma would demand. And I would constantly police, Share, please, Annya. If you guys do not play together, no iPad.

In the end though, at the end of the day, the kids still want to a book that is not iPad-read.

Mommy, can you read me one more book?
Yes, Annya.
Night-night.
Yung would say and turn off the night.

The following is the book link that Emma reads Cinderella.

Cinderella (Read By Emma)



Our recordings on http://www.astorybeforebed.com

iPad and the kids

Posted by Xun  |  No comments

When Apple's Big I-s are all over in everyone's pockets, hands and heads, iPhone, iPod, iTouch, i-Whatever, I never felt like being part of it. However, before I went to China, the need for a light-weight computer made me check out mobile tablets at BestBuy.

I decided on an IPad and was sold on the first day. Because I, as many of parents before me, found out that iPad can be a pretty good baby-sitter. I got all sorts of apps for the kids. For Yung, Fish HD, Counting Bears, A-B-C, Matching games, books like Present for Milo: A Touch-and-Surprise Storybook; For Annya, one after another read-to-me books, I-can-read-books, animated books; For Emma, Math-bingo, Second-grade math. For all of them, drawing apps, piano apps, singing fingers, singing monsters. I also bought a one-year subscription of "A story before bed", where we read and record books ourselves.

It is a smash! It is a smash-proof too! Being super light-weighted and small means Yung can carry it around like anyone else, and when he drops it, it lands with a thud, yet safe and sound; it is so easy to use, Yung learn to use it before he learns how to eat with a spoon. It is probably anti-stabbing too, it survives the stabbing of pencils, forks and pens (the warranty we bought does allow us a bit of freedom and peace of mind too). The only drawback is that it is too sensitive to the touch. Too often we had open and re-open a book in the middle of reading because Yung's has accidentally or deliberately touched the home button. Touching-buttons is fun and makes you feel powerful, that is probably why Yung touches all of the buttons nonstop.

The kids have a lot of fun. And a lot of pain. Isn't true that for kids, any source of fun can easily be a pain of butt? And for three kids? Certainly. Who gets to play the iPad? Who gets to play what on the iPad? Mine, mine, mine ..., Yung would scream; No counting bears, I want a princess song, Annya gets whinny easily; No do not play with my 2-grade math, Emma would demand. And I would constantly police, Share, please, Annya. If you guys do not play together, no iPad.

In the end though, at the end of the day, the kids still want to a book that is not iPad-read.

Mommy, can you read me one more book?
Yes, Annya.
Night-night.
Yung would say and turn off the night.

The following is the book link that Emma reads Cinderella.

Cinderella (Read By Emma)



Our recordings on http://www.astorybeforebed.com

Tuesday, September 27, 2011
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September 12, 2011

In Beijing, on a little street, we met this guy who was selling animal figures made out of some thing like syrup. At our request, he made a sheep standing on a Calabash Gourd (葫芦) within one minute. We took the little sweet sheep all the way back to our hotel, eventually my son could help but eat it piece by piece.


We all had a good time in chengdu, the toy kingdom.


The kids were playing bubbles at Beijing TaoRanTing (陶然亭公园) park.

Videos from Beijing and Chengdu

Posted by Xun  |  No comments

In Beijing, on a little street, we met this guy who was selling animal figures made out of some thing like syrup. At our request, he made a sheep standing on a Calabash Gourd (葫芦) within one minute. We took the little sweet sheep all the way back to our hotel, eventually my son could help but eat it piece by piece.


We all had a good time in chengdu, the toy kingdom.


The kids were playing bubbles at Beijing TaoRanTing (陶然亭公园) park.

Monday, September 12, 2011
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September 11, 2011




Flying to China is no joke. Thirteen hours anywhere is a long time; thirteen hours on a plane is brutal. The kids were able to make beds on the plane and pretty much slept through most of the flight. The IPAD kept them entertained the rest of the way. Mommy and Daddy were too big to get comfortable and stretched out. The only things we could do was try to upload a movie that wouldn't work, eat and use the bathroom.

Eventually we made it to Beijing! The airport was modern and beautiful. Everyone on the plane beat us to the immigration check point since we have three kids and had to make a restroom stop. As we waited in the back of the line; we were then treated like Diplomats and told to enter the VIP line which only had 4 people waiting at the check point. We were then told since we have kids that we wouldn't have to wait in line with the others. So, if you ever plan to visit China make sure you rent a kid. They do come with some perks.

We then cleared immigration. It was time to get our luggage and find a taxi. There was another long line for a taxi. We then pulled out the kid card. It worked again, they took us to the front of the line for the next taxi. Our great experience in China then suddenly came to an end. The taxi driver said that our luggage was too big and refused to take us. They then escorted us to a bigger car and called it VIP Services. He then shows me a card where the rate to downtown Beijing is 480 yaun. This being my first trip to China and Mommy being away for at least 10 years, how would we know the going rate for a taxi to Beijing?

So we get in the car and think we are on our way to Bejing. The problem is that the driver doesn't really know where our hotel is. It is around 12:30 am and we told the driver that our next flight is at 8:00 am. He then said that traffic is terrible in the morning and strongly suggested that we stay at a hotel near the airport. He recommended a 4 star hotel for 480 yaun near the airport. So we took his advice and he took our money. Didn't even give us a discount. He then drives us to the Hotel. The lobby appeared to be clean and nice. I was curious to see our 4 star hotel. I was very disappointed. The carpet was filthy. The only thing clean was the sheets and bathroom. We were only going to be there for 4 hours so we just made the best of it.

We are now on the plane waiting to take off for Chengdu. The pilot said that there will be a delay due to the aircraft traffic. This will be an omen of all the people that we will see in China. We arrive in Chengdu and find another very nice airport and meet my brother and sister in law for the first time. We then load our bags in the car and taken to a private room in a nice restaurant. Grandpa, Grandma and two nephews also show up. The kids are happy to see their grandparents again.

It was nice having real Chinese food. No egg rolls here or the entire trip. Just good spicy Chinese food. My Sister In Law Yan asked if I would like some strong Chinese white wine? Sure, why not, we are on vacation. She wasn't kidding, it was very strong. After a few sips, it became tolerable and tasty. A few days later my Sister In Law tells me we have been drinking vodka instead of white wine. This now justifies the burning sensation in my throat and chest.

After a couple days in Chengdu, my other Sister in law Hong invites us to her home. This was supposed to be a one day trip including a visit to the zoo to see the pandas. So we pack for the one day trip. Big mistake. The one day trip turns into a 3 day sight seeing trip in three different cities. Even though I was forced to wash my cloths by hand to make up for the lack of luggage; we had a great time.

The first day we visited the pandas, white tigers, bears, camels, deer and all sort of critters. The second day we went to one of the highest and holiest mountains in China and visited a Buddha. The third day we visited 100 foot Buddha created one thousand years ago. He was still there watching the same river for so many years. Our one day trip that took 3 days was over. It was time to head back to Chengdu to another restaurant and meet another cousin.

Our trip to Chengdu was now over and we had to say good bye to Chengdu and family. Chinese people aren't accustomed to have much physical contact. Mama Ding is a little more Americanized and came over a gave me a hug goodbye. I basically had to force my Sister in laws to give me a hug goodbye.

We are now headed back to Beijing. The city where the taxi driver robbed us. We are no longer green and have become seasoned tourist. We wont take a taxi without a meter. It was time to flash the kids again. Once again we were escorted to the front of the lines. This time the taxi driver took us and our luggage to Beijing. It was only 92 yaun. Not the 480 yaun that was charged on the first night.

The first day we went to the Forbidden City which is no longer forbidden. This city was built about 600 years ago and had around 9 thousand people living there. It was nice seeing the great halls and gardens. I wanted to see the actual housing area of the city. Unfortunately people still live in the housing area making it forbidden for us.

We also visited Ti'an men square and the Olympic park. At night we would have dinner with some of Mommies old friends. Local shopping was also fun. We also enjoyed a local bike ride tour of old Beijing. Everyone laughed at us and the bike rider. The bike rider toured the 5 of us in his bike and cart. At the end we gave our bike tour guide a nice little tip. He was now the one laughing at the other bike riders. Three days in Beijing wasn't enough to enjoy the city. It also wasn't the same without family.

We are now home again. The girls are still too young to realize where we went. Their lasting memory of China is the restrooms. Yung wont remember anything from China. Some day soon we will return and find a bigger and better China.






CHINA

Posted by Louis  |  No comments




Flying to China is no joke. Thirteen hours anywhere is a long time; thirteen hours on a plane is brutal. The kids were able to make beds on the plane and pretty much slept through most of the flight. The IPAD kept them entertained the rest of the way. Mommy and Daddy were too big to get comfortable and stretched out. The only things we could do was try to upload a movie that wouldn't work, eat and use the bathroom.

Eventually we made it to Beijing! The airport was modern and beautiful. Everyone on the plane beat us to the immigration check point since we have three kids and had to make a restroom stop. As we waited in the back of the line; we were then treated like Diplomats and told to enter the VIP line which only had 4 people waiting at the check point. We were then told since we have kids that we wouldn't have to wait in line with the others. So, if you ever plan to visit China make sure you rent a kid. They do come with some perks.

We then cleared immigration. It was time to get our luggage and find a taxi. There was another long line for a taxi. We then pulled out the kid card. It worked again, they took us to the front of the line for the next taxi. Our great experience in China then suddenly came to an end. The taxi driver said that our luggage was too big and refused to take us. They then escorted us to a bigger car and called it VIP Services. He then shows me a card where the rate to downtown Beijing is 480 yaun. This being my first trip to China and Mommy being away for at least 10 years, how would we know the going rate for a taxi to Beijing?

So we get in the car and think we are on our way to Bejing. The problem is that the driver doesn't really know where our hotel is. It is around 12:30 am and we told the driver that our next flight is at 8:00 am. He then said that traffic is terrible in the morning and strongly suggested that we stay at a hotel near the airport. He recommended a 4 star hotel for 480 yaun near the airport. So we took his advice and he took our money. Didn't even give us a discount. He then drives us to the Hotel. The lobby appeared to be clean and nice. I was curious to see our 4 star hotel. I was very disappointed. The carpet was filthy. The only thing clean was the sheets and bathroom. We were only going to be there for 4 hours so we just made the best of it.

We are now on the plane waiting to take off for Chengdu. The pilot said that there will be a delay due to the aircraft traffic. This will be an omen of all the people that we will see in China. We arrive in Chengdu and find another very nice airport and meet my brother and sister in law for the first time. We then load our bags in the car and taken to a private room in a nice restaurant. Grandpa, Grandma and two nephews also show up. The kids are happy to see their grandparents again.

It was nice having real Chinese food. No egg rolls here or the entire trip. Just good spicy Chinese food. My Sister In Law Yan asked if I would like some strong Chinese white wine? Sure, why not, we are on vacation. She wasn't kidding, it was very strong. After a few sips, it became tolerable and tasty. A few days later my Sister In Law tells me we have been drinking vodka instead of white wine. This now justifies the burning sensation in my throat and chest.

After a couple days in Chengdu, my other Sister in law Hong invites us to her home. This was supposed to be a one day trip including a visit to the zoo to see the pandas. So we pack for the one day trip. Big mistake. The one day trip turns into a 3 day sight seeing trip in three different cities. Even though I was forced to wash my cloths by hand to make up for the lack of luggage; we had a great time.

The first day we visited the pandas, white tigers, bears, camels, deer and all sort of critters. The second day we went to one of the highest and holiest mountains in China and visited a Buddha. The third day we visited 100 foot Buddha created one thousand years ago. He was still there watching the same river for so many years. Our one day trip that took 3 days was over. It was time to head back to Chengdu to another restaurant and meet another cousin.

Our trip to Chengdu was now over and we had to say good bye to Chengdu and family. Chinese people aren't accustomed to have much physical contact. Mama Ding is a little more Americanized and came over a gave me a hug goodbye. I basically had to force my Sister in laws to give me a hug goodbye.

We are now headed back to Beijing. The city where the taxi driver robbed us. We are no longer green and have become seasoned tourist. We wont take a taxi without a meter. It was time to flash the kids again. Once again we were escorted to the front of the lines. This time the taxi driver took us and our luggage to Beijing. It was only 92 yaun. Not the 480 yaun that was charged on the first night.

The first day we went to the Forbidden City which is no longer forbidden. This city was built about 600 years ago and had around 9 thousand people living there. It was nice seeing the great halls and gardens. I wanted to see the actual housing area of the city. Unfortunately people still live in the housing area making it forbidden for us.

We also visited Ti'an men square and the Olympic park. At night we would have dinner with some of Mommies old friends. Local shopping was also fun. We also enjoyed a local bike ride tour of old Beijing. Everyone laughed at us and the bike rider. The bike rider toured the 5 of us in his bike and cart. At the end we gave our bike tour guide a nice little tip. He was now the one laughing at the other bike riders. Three days in Beijing wasn't enough to enjoy the city. It also wasn't the same without family.

We are now home again. The girls are still too young to realize where we went. Their lasting memory of China is the restrooms. Yung wont remember anything from China. Some day soon we will return and find a bigger and better China.






Sunday, September 11, 2011
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September 09, 2011

On Aug. 22, with much trepidation and excitement, we flew to China. We made it! We made little beds out of a row of 5 tiny seats, Yung managed to sleep through; Emma and Annya managed to nap on top of each other or on us; while we, being great parents, sat mostly through the 13-hour flight.

We arrived at Beijing around 12:30. The Beijing swindlers managed to cheat us 1000 RMB in the first half night we spent in Beijing. We still felt great and flew to Chengdu, my hometown, the next morning. My sister and brother in law picked us up. They have their own car, however, also borrowed another car from my nephew to accommodate our big family of 5. We were greeted and fed by my family in a private room in a fairly expensive restaurant. I found out that this was only the beginning of a quite cushioned two weeks that we were treated as VIPs and we had to fight to contribute a little to the expenses.

Anyway.

The first two days


My family drove us around for a taste of the city of Chengdu. Chengdu indeed has changed beyond my recognition. Three times bigger, newly-built 4 lane highways, skyscrapers with giant advertisement TV screens everywhere. Constructions are everywhere. Big brands, high and low-brow, from all over the world try to insert themselves in Chengdu. We saw StarBucks, walmart, Nike, Apple, Olay, pizzahut, etc. Sculptures,modern and ancient, water fountains in all flavors are views in themselves. To me, Chengdu is like 50 magnificent miles in Chicago putt together, only with 500 times big of a crowd and crazy scary traffic.

BiFengXia. Pandas and the wild animals

We spent the next two days in Ya'an, where my elder sister lives now and where we grew up. The city now has been converted into a city of tourism, where it has breath-taking mountains and cradles for hundreds of Panda bears and a zoo where wild animals roaming around.

We loved everything about it. We loved the green mountains high into the air and surround us where we went, the creeks like white ribbons falling down. We all screamed in delight when we spotted camels and deers when our car drove on the narrow mountain road. From there we never stopped screaming. We saw pandas, a lot of them. Big, cuddly panda, lying on their backs eating bamboos, or standing reaching for little orange cake that people fed them. We went panda kindergarten, saw pandas clumsily tried to climb into a swing made from a tire





Later we took a bus to tour the wild animal zoo. It was a truly a sight to see lions saunter across the street while everyone in the bus went crazy; then there were black bears standing on the "sidewalk", staring at the bus trying to figure what could his dinner; and majestic white tigers and beautiful red-sandy-stone caves, and wolves. I doubt we were ever able to have such an experience in America. We also got to see feed beautiful deers, they were like goats and sheep in a petting zoo here. Also gorrila who is completely fed up with our peanuts. After that, we went to a bird world that is billed as Asian's biggest bird world. True or not, we walked side by side with peacocks, were with reach of glamorous black swans, scary pecans, and a lot of more that I was too overwhelmed and tired to even try to learn their names.



What was more? Circus where monkeys walked on tight ropes, elephants played soccer.

EMei Mount and LeShan Grand Budda

Sensed our interests in natural views and China's rich history, my second sister and brother-in-law pitched in. After our trip to Ya'an, they directly took us the great of greatest mountains, the holy of holy places that was Er Mei mountain.

We had another eye-opening experience. Again, we loved the steep and giant and forever green mountains, the sweet and fresh mountain air. We rode the cable car to the top of the mountain called "The golden Summit", where there sits a beautiful and magnificent budda with 4 faces all gilded in gold, stone statue of elephants circles around the budda. We also visited the three temples (gold, silver and bronze) for the budda.








The next visit was the grand budda in LeShan. The budda is carved out of a cliff in the Dang dynasty (618–907AD). It lies at the confluence three rivers. By then, we were deadly tired, did not enjoy as much the worn-out yet very impressive budda.



Food

What do family and friends do when they get together after a long time? They eat. We eat! My family took us to eat, the very famous hot pot, the one and only Ya'an fish (the fishbone in the forehead shapes like a sword and can eliminate evil spirit), the various kinds of mushrooms that are freshly picked from mountains, the spicy chicken. We ate! Restaurants everywhere. All the very best.

The kids

Weren't we pampered? My sisters pretty much carried Annya wherever we went and bought them clothes, toys.

In a "foreign" culture, Yung seemed to be the least adjusted. He cried a lot and clung to me almost everywhere. Now I got a bad reputation for spoiling the little one. Emma and Annya were appalled by the squat toilets, they simply did not know how to pee or pooh squatting. Language-wise, they have picked up quite some Chinese; Emma had made friends with my nephew.

Beijing

Without my family around, Louis and I decided to take it easy during our three days in Beijing. Still, we managed to visited Ti'an Men square, the forbidden city, the Olympic park. Quite tired now, will write about them in the next post.

We were in China!

Posted by Xun  |  No comments

On Aug. 22, with much trepidation and excitement, we flew to China. We made it! We made little beds out of a row of 5 tiny seats, Yung managed to sleep through; Emma and Annya managed to nap on top of each other or on us; while we, being great parents, sat mostly through the 13-hour flight.

We arrived at Beijing around 12:30. The Beijing swindlers managed to cheat us 1000 RMB in the first half night we spent in Beijing. We still felt great and flew to Chengdu, my hometown, the next morning. My sister and brother in law picked us up. They have their own car, however, also borrowed another car from my nephew to accommodate our big family of 5. We were greeted and fed by my family in a private room in a fairly expensive restaurant. I found out that this was only the beginning of a quite cushioned two weeks that we were treated as VIPs and we had to fight to contribute a little to the expenses.

Anyway.

The first two days


My family drove us around for a taste of the city of Chengdu. Chengdu indeed has changed beyond my recognition. Three times bigger, newly-built 4 lane highways, skyscrapers with giant advertisement TV screens everywhere. Constructions are everywhere. Big brands, high and low-brow, from all over the world try to insert themselves in Chengdu. We saw StarBucks, walmart, Nike, Apple, Olay, pizzahut, etc. Sculptures,modern and ancient, water fountains in all flavors are views in themselves. To me, Chengdu is like 50 magnificent miles in Chicago putt together, only with 500 times big of a crowd and crazy scary traffic.

BiFengXia. Pandas and the wild animals

We spent the next two days in Ya'an, where my elder sister lives now and where we grew up. The city now has been converted into a city of tourism, where it has breath-taking mountains and cradles for hundreds of Panda bears and a zoo where wild animals roaming around.

We loved everything about it. We loved the green mountains high into the air and surround us where we went, the creeks like white ribbons falling down. We all screamed in delight when we spotted camels and deers when our car drove on the narrow mountain road. From there we never stopped screaming. We saw pandas, a lot of them. Big, cuddly panda, lying on their backs eating bamboos, or standing reaching for little orange cake that people fed them. We went panda kindergarten, saw pandas clumsily tried to climb into a swing made from a tire





Later we took a bus to tour the wild animal zoo. It was a truly a sight to see lions saunter across the street while everyone in the bus went crazy; then there were black bears standing on the "sidewalk", staring at the bus trying to figure what could his dinner; and majestic white tigers and beautiful red-sandy-stone caves, and wolves. I doubt we were ever able to have such an experience in America. We also got to see feed beautiful deers, they were like goats and sheep in a petting zoo here. Also gorrila who is completely fed up with our peanuts. After that, we went to a bird world that is billed as Asian's biggest bird world. True or not, we walked side by side with peacocks, were with reach of glamorous black swans, scary pecans, and a lot of more that I was too overwhelmed and tired to even try to learn their names.



What was more? Circus where monkeys walked on tight ropes, elephants played soccer.

EMei Mount and LeShan Grand Budda

Sensed our interests in natural views and China's rich history, my second sister and brother-in-law pitched in. After our trip to Ya'an, they directly took us the great of greatest mountains, the holy of holy places that was Er Mei mountain.

We had another eye-opening experience. Again, we loved the steep and giant and forever green mountains, the sweet and fresh mountain air. We rode the cable car to the top of the mountain called "The golden Summit", where there sits a beautiful and magnificent budda with 4 faces all gilded in gold, stone statue of elephants circles around the budda. We also visited the three temples (gold, silver and bronze) for the budda.








The next visit was the grand budda in LeShan. The budda is carved out of a cliff in the Dang dynasty (618–907AD). It lies at the confluence three rivers. By then, we were deadly tired, did not enjoy as much the worn-out yet very impressive budda.



Food

What do family and friends do when they get together after a long time? They eat. We eat! My family took us to eat, the very famous hot pot, the one and only Ya'an fish (the fishbone in the forehead shapes like a sword and can eliminate evil spirit), the various kinds of mushrooms that are freshly picked from mountains, the spicy chicken. We ate! Restaurants everywhere. All the very best.

The kids

Weren't we pampered? My sisters pretty much carried Annya wherever we went and bought them clothes, toys.

In a "foreign" culture, Yung seemed to be the least adjusted. He cried a lot and clung to me almost everywhere. Now I got a bad reputation for spoiling the little one. Emma and Annya were appalled by the squat toilets, they simply did not know how to pee or pooh squatting. Language-wise, they have picked up quite some Chinese; Emma had made friends with my nephew.

Beijing

Without my family around, Louis and I decided to take it easy during our three days in Beijing. Still, we managed to visited Ti'an Men square, the forbidden city, the Olympic park. Quite tired now, will write about them in the next post.

Friday, September 09, 2011
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