Finally, I can go "shang wang" (上网, go on the Internet) again! (Notice how "wang", which means "net" (like Internet), looks kinds of like a fisherman's net. The same character "wang" is used for the word tennis).
Now that I am back online, time for a big update:
On Saturday we moved from the apartment complex to our new house at Beijing Riviera. All day that day, furniture kept arriving. Paul had been shopping a few weeks ago, and all the deliveries were held till this day. We had left or sold most of our furniture back in Washington, so we needed quite a few new things. Gradually the house filled up with a sofa (shafa 沙发 in Chinese :-) ), dining room table, more tables and side-tables, and amazingly cute Tibetan cabinets and a Tibetan table with green monsters (dragons) on it. Lots of color to make me happy! We also went shopping and dragged the boys through yet another department store to get a phone, vacuum cleaner, towels, and other items you don't know are so essential till you don't have them. (Well, not that I would have quickly missed the vacuum cleaner if it had disappeared from my house in Washington, but you know what I mean.
On Sunday we did some more homey stuff, but then also went out to visit a depot for old trains. Lots of big trains, steam engines and diesel, and one beautiful black train with Mao on the front, staring at you from up high. An informative panel explained that trains in China had a rich history, but that it was really after "the liberation" that the Chinese government was able to erect a beautiful train system out of the "mess" that was left behind by the previous rulers of China. Good to know!
Living in our neighborhood has been great so far. Granted, it is a bit like Disneyland as one of you readers out there has suggested, but it is really pleasant to just call one main number to ask for someone to please come fix a phone connection and a stove, like I had to do today. And the guys (they call them "workers" here, "gong ren") speak a few words English, or at least understand that you don't speak much Chinese. And I've been getting by with my few words Chinese. "Keyi" (which means something like, "can I", "can it", "does it work?") is extremely helpful, especially when combined with "bu" (no), as in "bu keyi", it doesn't work!
Today the boys went to school for the first time. We'd gone for an orientation on Friday, so they knew roughly what to expect. I took them to the school bus this morning and, without another glance at their mother, they went! Both in bus 15, sitting next to each other. Simon told me later that he was sitting at the window with Thomas next to him, but they had agreed that tomorrow Thomas would sit at the window. Good to hear they can treat each other so well when mom is not there! (At home, it can be a different story...).
Today our lovely Ayi, Ms. L., cooked her first meal for us. I think I can get used to this life style. Simon and Thomas had just come home from playing some soccer on a nearby field --- under the supervision of some really nice ayi a couple doors over – and had a bit of rice and chicken. They even requested (demanded, some might say) chop sticks to eat with, and in between the drum concert they actually managed to transport some food from their plates to their mouths.
The boys are on the couch now, watching a bit of Sponge Bob. While America is just starting the day and Europe is in the middle of it, our day here is up. Soon the boys will hop in their new beds (delivered Saturday), read a book (borrowed from neighbors), and turn off their new bed lights (purchased Saturday at the mall). Our new life is starting to take shape!