1) Ari will be attending school as of August 1. It actually is school, not just play. We visited the school last week and saw:
- the math department (where they learn an early version of exponents and other likewise things!)
- a language corner (where they learn Chinese and English, reading Chinese characters etc),
- a small kitchen where they learn simple food preparation, dish washing etc,
- a small bathroom where they learn to do all bathroom related things by themselves
- a cleaning corner, where they learn things like washing windows (Yes! He'll be a perfect little slave!)
- Dance! Ballet to be specific. Before we know it Ari will be begging to perform in the Nutcracker Suite!
2) In preparation for school, Ari needed to have a doctor check him and pronounce him healthy. In the checkup room, Ari showed an amazing ability to understand what the doctor was saying. We had a friend there to translate, because doctor visit is fairly technical, but with each command, Ari did it without the translation. He stuck out his tongue at the right time. He lifted his shirt when the doctor wanted to check his stomach. He opened wide when the doctor wanted to check his teeth. And when the doctor commented on how pretty his eyes are, Ari opened his eyes wide and leaned toward the doctor.
3) Today on the bus I (Jess) had just finished two hours of Chinese grammar, vocabulary and listening comprehension and another hour of reading and writing characters. I had to stand on the bus because there were no seats and I found myself staring inanely at the Chinese sign over the door in front of me. To my shock, I suddenly realized that I could read all of the characters on the sign and understand it: Qing qian hou men xia che "Please get off the bus at the front or back doors". I knew in theory that is what it was, but this is the first time I knew all the characters I saw on any sign. I have never really tried that hard to read the characters out on the street, because I figured it was pointless when there are about 3000 of them in everyday use. As long as I could read them in my textbook, I figured that was fine. But I must say, this has given me the incentive to work a little harder at it.
4) I'm also learning to "elbow swim" when I am riding the bus. This is a very technical move that is required when there are so many people on the bus that you have no handholds and stand only by the power of the pressure and counter pressure of other people. It is unpleasant to be the recipient of elbow swimming (I admit to silently screaming at people who are actually using their elbows on me to keep standing or get to the door). But when my turn comes, I find it surprisingly easy to lift my elbows both to nose height and do a swimming maneuver to propel myself through the crowd. At times like this, I am also very grateful that I am a somewhat smallish human and I can fit through nonexistent spaces (given enough jabbing and pushing of course!).
And last but not least, yet another embarrassing story. This does not belong on the landmarks list. Today in my Chinese Characters class, my teacher had just taught me a new character, and told me to then instruct her how to write the character. All the different types off strokes have different names, so I was supposed to dictate which strokes she was to write and in what order. The first stroke of this character was pie (third tone), which starts from the north and travels west in a curve. Unfortunately I told her pi (fourth tone). She laughed so hard that she was bent double and her face was turning almost purple. I was filled with a humored dread to know what horrible thing I had just commanded her to do. When she could finally speak again, I found out that I had just told her to fart.