old summer palace

ok, up and at ‘em! It’s been one week since we arrived here in Beijing. I was asking eric if it seemed like longer than a week, or shorter than a week!? The time has passed so quickly, and despite the stress of it all, I think we are all feeling remarkable peaceful and enjoying all the ‘new’! the weather has been so beautiful-that has been so nice~! Monday night was a thrill, after the big trip to IKEA, we were able to keep the kids up until about 9pm. I woke up yesterday morning at 6:45am, and the kids were all still sleeping! I was SO HAPPY to have had such a nice night’s sleep… course I was still up w/ Connor once, but he is easy, just eats and goes back to bed-no sweat. So yesterday we were planning on a little excursion to the ‘Old Summer Palace”. This place had been built like 300 years ago by an Emperor just for his personal use. It is about 860 acres of what once was  gardens and beautiful buildings that were destroyed when armys came through at some point (are you impressed w/ my historical knowledge! Sorry!) anyway…we planned to meet some of the families from the branch over there at noon to eat lunch and let the kids run around.   We didn’t have much of a map to get there, but we loaded into the JINBEI and headed out. The driving is a blast, I must say! It’s just funny. People pull such crazy stuff! As eric said, you have to keep one foot on the brake and one hand on the horn. He is loving the ‘creative freedom’ of driving. So we headed in the direction indicated on the less-than-detailed map, and as we started getting closer, eric just would lean his head out and yell to people driving other cars, or bikes what direction to go. Miraculously, we made it and hooked up with our group! There ended up being about 40 of us. i think about 7 families or so. It was the PERFECT place to go and take kids. There are some ruins…what looks like a HUGE building that was very ornate carved marble and granite that had all been knocked over… the kids could climb all over it. Then we found our way to the ‘labyrinth’. You know, a maze. The walls are about 4’ tall, and you can wind your way through to get to the big gazebo kind of building in the middle. Can you guess how our kids did the maze? Yea… they climbed up on top of the walls, and walked along.. totally NOT how you are supposed to do it. and luckily, they were able to be an example for the other kids. So imagine a bunch of American kids up on the walls – a bunch of blondes no less… pretty soon someone that looked official came with a bull horn and started yelling at the kids in Chinese. I have no idea what he was saying it scared them off the walls. It was pretty funny.
So lots of people warned me about the taking photos, and wanting to touch the little blondes. Holy cow, do we ever stand out! Not just the American thing, but the blonde with all the kids thing. Anyway, we were definitely part of the ‘attraction’ yesterday! Because it was a holiday, there were a lot of Chinese people out for the day… and it was spectacular weather, and you can tell by the photos, that the park was totally decked out for the holiday with huge decorations and beautiful flowers etc. By the way… I am intrigued by the way they add flowers… instead of planting flowers, they just arrange potted flowers into lines and patterns…they are beautiful and easy to “place” instead of “plant”! they do it all over the city. It really is so beautiful here. Anyway, we were just trying to walk along the walk-ways and we couldn’t hardly even move. Everyone wanted photos of the kids, to talk to the kids… it was funny at first, then it just became a huge annoyance. It never stopped. So after a little while, Colton and Cory learned how to tell everyone it cost money for their picture… then people started paying them! We were told to do that, and that then they would just leave you alone…but that didn’t work! We were all dying laughing (Colton would say “1 RMB”-which is about 14 cents or so… Capri was definitely the major draw, but she didn’t have the sense of humor the older kids did! (are you kidding, you ask quincy to smile for a photo, and she is ON IT!) if we stopped, we would be swarmed with people… like 15 people standing around us taking photos of it. it was freaking us out! We’ll have to go back there when it’s not a holiday, cause it was a really, really cool place to go hang out and let the kids totally run and play and climb! We were all exhausted when we got home, and fell asleep too early, but still did pretty good through the night. Today is a little overcast, and I have to get serious about school stuff.
Entrance_park
Audience

American_kids

Cory_mimicing_statueLabyrinth

Floating_decor

Flower_potsKids_giant_lilypadsNew_friends
Me_and_eric

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