Recent market conversations…

Every time I go to the market without Lilia, I get asked where she is…even though my answer is ALWAYS the same (“Her Dad is watching her”), it often seems as though the ladies there think that *this time* I might JUST have decided to leave her home alone by herself.

When I go to the market with Lilia, she’s the subject of a lot of fussing and clucking and cheek rubbing. Lately she’s FINALLY started to be willing to talk with the ladies…I do think they were starting to have trouble believing me that she talks ALL DAY long at home.

Last week, a particularly vicious mosquito bit Lilia 5 times on the right side of her face. I went to the market, and of course, everybody needed to know what happened. I told them, “A mosquito bit her.” The next thing I knew, I was being chastised…”What? Weren’t you even paying attention at all? How could you let that happen!!!” I told them that I think it happened while she was asleep, and the ladies all said “Oh, you let that mosquito in your house and it got her…you need to pay more attention. Babies have sweet skin.” I wonder…do they think I invited the mosquito in to feast on my little girl’s sweet flesh? :) (I know, they don’t really think that, but this kind of “关心” on Lilia’s behalf did serve to make me feel a little bit guilty about the bites.)

Usually when Lilia comes to the market with me, she’s in the baby carrier. It’s just so much more convenient than carrying the stroller down (and back up) four flights of stairs when I’m just making a quick trip to buy some veggies for dinner. Yesterday I got told, “You really need to let her walk. She’s never going to learn to walk if you keep using that thing!” I tried to explain otherwise, but it seems that my vegetable seller really might just believe that I keep Lilia in the baby carrier all day long, every day.:)

In the end, it doesn’t really matter too much to me what people think, but I sometimes do wonder what impressions my neighbours and the people around me get from things that I never even stop to think twice about (like using the baby carrier). It would be interesting, I suppose, to be able to see myself from their point of view. It’s also a reminder to me that lots of the things I see every day (and which may have even served as a basis for my impressions or assumptions about China and Chinese people) could potentially be the quirks of an individual, or a family and not some widespread cultural difference (as I am prone to assuming). When one is really trying to learn about a place and a culture, it’s a good reminder to be humble…because, try as I might, I can never really see the whole picture.

No offensive

Lilia and I have recently started having play dates with other babies and moms. Yesterday we met up with a new Chinese friend and her 11 month old baby. This mom lives on one of the university campuses that is a short walk from our apartment… there is a lot less traffic on campus, and a lot more trees…which makes it a good place to go for a stroll. While we were waiting at the place we were supposed to meet our friend, Lilia played the role of “foreign super star baby.” People gathered around us, making clucking noises at her, touching her hands and face, and saying over and over “Bee-yoo-tee-full.” At one point we must have had about 10 people leaning over her, all trying to get her to smile (which is, fortunately, not too difficult to do).

Once our friends got there we found a little clearing where some other moms and babies had gathered. I was telling her about the scene she’d just missed, and my friend said (in Chinese): “She is beautiful. She is much, MUCH more beautiful than you.” Then in English, she said “No offensive.” :)

I thought it was funny. I wasn’t offended, as I know that Lilia is more beautiful than me (and want her to be). I just wouldn’t have ever said it that way myself. Yet another example of how the supposedly indirect Chinese are often very, very direct.

November 10K

Just a short post to update on the goal that I had set back in August of running a 10k on the treadmill at my gym by mid-November. The “race” was last Friday, November 14th…so this post is a little overdue.

Anyway, running the 10K (that’s 6.2 miles for you non-metric users) went really well. I’ve definitely gained a lot in endurance and stamina throughout this training process, even if my overall pace for the 10K is a bit slower than for the 5k I did in August. I’ve also been quite excited to realize how well having a specific goal and training plan really helps me stay motivated on a day to day basis. Other than a few days that I was out with a cold back in October…I really didn’t miss any runs! But the biggest surprise of all for me is that somewhere between the end of the 5k and the completion of the 10k, running actually became very enjoyable for me…and something that I would look forward to!!! My time for the 10K was 55 minutes 25 seconds…for a pace of 8 minutes 56 seconds per mile. I’m very satisfied with my time, especially since I had set a goal of 55 minutes or so for the race. Overall, I do believe that would be slower if I were running outdoors…the treadmill really helps me to push it and keep up the pace more than I might if I were pacing myself on the ground outside.

My friend Nicole, who also ran the 5k with me in August, kept going with the goal for the 10k and completed it on Saturday the 15th. She finished with a great time of 1 hr 7 minutes and 8 seconds. I’m totally impressed, as the area she runs has lots of hills and gradual inclines! Best of all, her wonderful husband and daughter cheered her on…they stopped at a few of the places they knew she would run by and cheered for her, and then when she arrived home they had stretched a “finish ribbon” for her to break through. I just thought it was so awesome to see the ways that they encouraged her throughout the process.:D I can’t wait to visit her when we are back in North America for the spring and go for a jog together…I can just imagine that the smell of the fresh air and pine tress will make the run even better!

Now…there were a few others who had planned to participate…but I’m not sure if there were any others that completed the 10K over the course of that weekend. If you did, just add your time and a bit about your run to the comments!!!