September 05, 2009

Paul Bunyan is in China!

That's right! Paul Bunyan is in China... along with Babe, Jesse James (the notorious one, not the obvious Jesse James Frey), and John Henry. For months we stumbled along, reading the same tired Curious George bedtime stories, refusing to go to the Foreign Bookstore and spend ridiculous amounts of money on children's books. But no more! Tall tales have saved the day. Not only do the boys get to hear thrilling tales, their imaginative Papa is having a pretty good time making them up.

Paul Bunyan has only to move a few feet and he's already grown six inches. But that's because he's always eating so much. Consider the story from last week where some lumber jacks made the enormous Paul Bunyan (at 59ft7in tall) a pancake 200ft wide, and they buttered it by skating across the pancake with butter on their feet. Then there was the time that Paul Bunyan learned how to swim in the ocean and found sunken ships filled with candy. After that he ate candy for all of his meals. He also scared a pack of fearsome bears into making themselves into a giant fur coat for him. He fells 200 trees with one swing of his axe, Chipper.

And that John Henry, well he's just strong. The boys can easily visualize just how strong he must be when Papa bares his arm and pretends to flex giant, black, muscles for them. They can imagine a racing steam engine when Papa whistles his piercing whistle. Their eyes widen with terror when bears roar loudly at them. Jesse James was only introduced tonight, and so far he is normal, except for the fact that he has everything under his coat from a 7/8" crescent wrench to a toilet if you happen to need one.

As Papa weaves his tales, Ari and Jude burst into giggles, widen their eyes with terror, and smile about someone getting a hug. Their eyes are filled with awe to think of eating candy for every meal and being allowed to pee out of the top of a tree (James really knows how to play into their boy humor). By the way, at the end of the video the song James is singing says "Craisin Train! Rolling down the track!", because the train is full of Craisins (one of their favorite snacks back in Canada).

It all really makes me think (and not for the first time), how happy I am to be married to James and to have my boys.

I have also been able to be a little more creative with the boys now with the piano that we are "loaning" for the next three years. Ari and I have sat down usually once a day to play and sing songs together. We are doing some Negro Spirituals (Go Down Moses, Swing Lo Sweet Chariot, etc.) some classics (Clementine, Oh Susanna, Yankee Doodle, etc.) some slow beautiful songs (Morning has Broken, The Ash Grove, etc) and more. I have great plans for his song repertoire and he is really enjoying himself. Currently our big project is The Erie Canal. I am taking song suggestions, anything from goofy to poetic ballad. Throw them on me! Especially if you can scan sheet music and email it to me!

Ari was very ripped off the other night when James interrupted our singing of Swing Lo Sweet Chariot by singing, "I looked over Jordan and what did I see? Papa coming forth to brush my teeth! Coming forth to carry my to bed!" and picked him off the piano bench, whisking him away to his bedroom. I laughed quite hard, but Ari failed to see the humor in it!



derrydown said...

I am so proud of you two! I think it's so important to keep up the "cultural literacy" and it helps so much with forming an active imagination. I credit myself with some part in what my kids have turned out to be! I will scout around for appropriate music!

derrydown said...

Oh, I forgot! When Paul Bunyan greases his pancake griddle, he does it by strapping whole sides of bacon to his feet and skating around the griddle! By the time the pan is greased, his bacon is cooked!

The Freys said...

That guy is ingenious!

Sue said...

I love your blog. And I can't wait to hear "the rest of the story"!
Mike and I are arriving in Beijing on the 12th, then we leave for Inner Mongolia on the 13th. Our hotel is Jianguo Hotel. If that is anywhere near where you live/work, I will bring Craisins for you--and whatever else you can think of. We'll be back in Beijing on the 23rd, then fly home to Houston on the 25th.
Sue Noel

The Freys said...

Hi Sue
Did James' dad give you our contact information? There are a few Jianguo Hotels but they all seem to be located in the Tiananmen Area. We are roughly 7km away from Tiananmen.

Sue said...

Oh, I am so sorry I didn't see this earlier! We arrived back home at midnight and are now slow-motioning through the day. Our hotel was about 1 block from the Silk Market, if you know where that is.
Steve sent us your blog link when he heard about our interest in China. We (my husband, youngest daughter, and I) went to Mexico several years ago and stayed with Steve (whom we knew from church)to help with a medical clinic.
The Inner Mongolia trip was great. It is a LONG train ride (30 hours!) but worth it to see some hearts changed. The people in IM are lovely.
Next year we may fly into Shenyang, where our in-country partners live, but if we're in Beijing, I'll let you know--and bring Craisins!