I expect to come out of this with deep admiration for single parents who do even more than that for longer. Out of respect for them, I'll try to keep my complaints to a bare minimum. After all, James will return (May 2), and its not as though he's off on a shopping spree in Milan either. I wonder if James would even enjoy a shopping spree in Milan?
That said, I will try to stay up beat, since I really don't want to be in a bad mood for two weeks. Its up to me, and I have God on my side.
This weekend as promised we celebrated Jude's birthday at the "jumping palace" (I'm sure the pictures are self explanatory). A far cry from the other child/parent bankruptcy-inducing attractions I have complained about, this one charged 30RMB (~$5) for both of them to play for as long as they wanted. In fact it was almost like a date for James and I since we could talk for hours beside the palace while they threw themselves around wildly on a giant, painless balloon.
You can see in the next photo that the jumping palace is quite elaborate. In the center is a tall column, speckled with heavy-duty handles for the kids to climb up. But in case they should fall, the owners have rigged up a pulley system, with a harness that attaches to the child's waist. James hitched up Ari and sent him up like a little cabin boy into the crow's nest. James has the other end of the rope, in case he slipped.
Here you can see the chaos that broke out at the various bottlenecks on the jumping palace. All the kids wanted to get up on the "drawbridge", which flopped back and forth, dumping kids all over the place. Several times, we caught a glimpse of Ari and Jude leaping daringly across the gulf. (On a side note, there were a squad of 7 year old girls who spent the whole time taking care of the boys...)
As busy as the weekend was with preparing for James to leave (stocking up food and such) I did absolutely no studying for Chinese. As such I was dreading going to class today (getting ready for an exam no less). But to my surprise, when Aiyi got here today she and I communicated very well in Chinese. This bolstered my confidence and I went and had a really great class. Since it is rare to have a very good Chinese lesson, I have decided to celebrate by posting a picture of the Chinese characters I have so far learned to write. No two in this picture are the same contrary to how it may look.
Also, just to increase my "brag-factor", each of these characters has a specific order that you have to write the strokes in, which of course increases the level of brute memorization. But it's coming, little by little!