Ethan Makes Local News With China Presentation

Ethan at the Montclair Community Pre-K presenting "An American Boy in China," his slideshow

Ethan at the Montclair Community Pre-K presenting “An American Boy in China,” his slideshow

Quite proud of Ethan, who after graduating fromt he Montclair Community Pre-K 5 years ago, returned to show his PowerPoint presentation, with music, “An American Boy in China,” to about 125 very interested four year olds! It was covered by The Patch, our local online news service.

Graduate Returns to Pre-K to Share “An American Boy in China” Slideshow

Lovely how there were a couple of little boys who had just moved here from China. We hope it helped their classmates learn more about their birthplace so everyone can become better friends. The Patch story used a great photo of Ethan and a calligrapher he met in Xi’an, who did a calligraphy for Ethan, because he was impressed Ethan had a chinese name (Li San) and that he could write it in Mandarin characters. The story tells more about it.

In Xi'an with a calligrapher. The poem he inscribed says, TO see far, you must climb high," which means...Study hard!

In Xi’an with a calligrapher. The poem he inscribed says, TO see far, you must climb high,” which means…Study hard!



Lambie’s Point of View

Hey! Stop mooning me!

By Ethan

Lambie thinks that tushies should not be legal in China! They should be put away!

Just kidding. Lambie says that tushies are fine in China and she doesn’t mind seeing them around. In America you’d probably get told off by the police for having tushies around. But tushies in China are just fine. It’s much less expensive than diapers, you just go wherever you feel, some babies don’t even wear pants! Lambie’s glad to have her tushy covered by all her wool. That is, if she had a tushy.

When Lambie grows up (that is, if she does), she wants to move back to China and she wants to become a lamb in a herd out in the countryside.


Lambie thinks that it’s time to go to bed.

Big, Big Buddha

We rode a sleeper train to see Buddhas, carved inside mountains, in human-dug (not natural) caves (or shiku), on the Silk Route. The Yung Gang Shiku were created around 400, funded by a Northern emperor. Carvers roped themselves up high, dug a hole, and began with Buddha’s face.

There are hundreds of caves, large and small, filled with Buddha and carved tales of his life. Some Buddhas were destroyed by water, coal dust from nearby mines in Shanxi (a rather poor, mining area with distinctively eroded white cliffs, almost like the Badlands), and vandalism during the Cultural Revolution. Some were colorfully painted about 600 years ago during a restoration.

Some Buddhas were painted outside the caves.

A lot is going on inside these caves.

Preservation is a huge challenge with millions of visitors.

A cave beside Buddha was a good place to meditate.

In all, there are 55,000 Buddhas here.

A few more pictures:

We were told it took about 40,000 people about 60 years to carve. A few weeksago, the Chinese government opened a sprawling complex of Buddhist temples, ponds and pavillions as an entryway. There, the Great Hall Buddhas are molded of plastic.

Lost (a personal post)

About having a complete break down and crying in public.

I was to meet my boys after Kenny played a baseball game against the German School, at a spot none of us had ever been to before. We were arriving separately (nearly an hour from my university). My phone ran out of juice. Ethan’s phone was lost. Two different cabs tried to find the spot and both got lost. I wasn’t late, but could one or both boys have been early? Since the spot was hard to find, had Ethan’s driver gotten lost? He’d never been there. He doesn’t speak English. I couldn’t be reached — with a dead cell phone.

I found the spot–another outpost of the British School. My instructions were to find Ethan by a Construction Bank of China “across the street.” There wasn’t one.

How would I find him? Where was he?

And did Kenny really play a game? What if the bad pollution cancelled? Where was he?

Beijing (counting outlying areas) is 90 miles wide. And if he’d played, where would the baseball bus actually stop? School, yards, parking, covered a large area. Sightlines were blocked by office towers and garages. If he’d arrived and not seen me, maybe they took him to the next bus stop–an hour away. How would I know?

Where were my children?


After calls by lovely people still working at school at 6 pm and many tissues, about 45 minutes later, they turned up. Ethan’s driver had, in fact, gotten lost. And Kenny’s team had lost the game.

The Sun’s Gonna Shine

After a rain, the sun just came out!! View from our balcony.

Beijing city gates throughthe smog, yesterday, AQI around 385.

In Los Angeles, air pollution rated 90 on the AQI (Air Quality Index) has been shown to hurt kids’ lung development. Over 100 in most places is called “ozone alert day,” unsafe for sensitive people, like those with ashthma. The danger here is ultrafine dust. The same EPA index (there’s a monitor on the rooftop of the American Embassy) rated Beijing’s air the past few days over 300, or “Dangerous.” “Emergency” conditions occurred, with AQI over 500 (also called “Beyond Index,” and “super crazy bad”) twice this fall. Once was Sunday.

Note that 200 is four times worse than 100, and Beijing is only China’s fourth most polluted city.

Expats are obsessed with this. We “splurged” on a Swedish air purifier for the kids’ room. The international schools use air purifiers and cancel recess and sports over 250. Our special Japanese “Totobobo” masks required a daytrip to the 1 store that carries them.

China Daily today reports today Chinese lung cancer rates up 50% in the past decade, nationwide. (Pancreatic cancer, newsy after Steve Jobs’ death, was reported, in Shanghai, to be up 500% in 2010, versus 1980.)

Considering the lavish love given to [only] children here, the carefree attitude about kids’ seatbelts & helmets surprises. Brilliant academics don’t have air purifiers at home.

And I have never seen an air mask on a child.