Sunday, June 15, 2014

Summer in the City: Day 3

It's only been 6 years, but the sign is already in pretty rough shape.

Oh dear.
Growing up with an architect for a father was very interesting. At times it was entertaining. It was always educational. And family vacations or school field trips frequently became "business trips" because Dad was checking out  every structure we encountered, commenting on it, photographing it, and learning from others' designs and methods.

How many times have I seen my Dad....
  • taking pictures of obscure pieces of trim, molding, beams, artful ducts, or whatever because he likes it
  • pound on walls to check for...actually, I don't know what he was checking for...
  • say, "what a bad design", as he walks through a building and notices major flaws or general ugliness
  • say, "wow, isn't that cool?! How did they do that?" in reference to any kind of awesome structure or beautiful design 
  • post some crazy example of architectural excellence or beauty on facebook 
  • say, "I want to design and build one more home before I die" 
  • Start a house renovation or addition and come up with unique ideas like a slide to get off the porch or a second story on top of the shed so that we could have a playhouse when we were little. 
I have a pretty cool Dad. He's an architect through and through. 
I have a pretty cool brother too. He's also an architect. 

Apparently a lot of our Dad rubbed off on Brad. He likes to go around to all the places we take him here, but as soon as he notices something that intrigues his architect's mind, his heart gets a little excited. 

So, we went to see the Bird's Nest and Water Cube. Though it's not my top choice of something to see, I'm glad that I checked it off my bucket list. It was also interesting to go there with Brad. He doesn't look at it merely as a historically important place, or even as a major landmark in China. He notices things like trusses and ingenuity, and comments on the designers who he has studied. 

He says things like, "It's smaller than I imagined". "It's dirtier than I expected". "They'll probably tear it down in a few years, it already looks older than it actually is". And he remembers facts like how long it took to build and that construction workers built it around the clock to complete it on time. 

Can you see the construction workers fixing those artificial shades/lights? They look so small way up there. The statue was weird, and a little shocking. Brad appreciates modern art.

We were too cheap to pay to go inside. Or maybe we were too tired and hot. I can't remember which was the reason why we just looked at the structure from the outside.

Just getting to this place, we had to take four different trains. And walk a lot. More stairs. More escalators. Bought more water bottles because we ran out of water again. We were exhausted and so miserably hot. This is becoming redundant. It's also a recipe for crabby people. The kids were super resilient though and bore everything quite well.

We journeyed next to Weird Food Street. It was a short trip, because we were out of patience and way too hot and tired to go on further. But the guys were wanting to eat something weird before we left. They decided scorpions were the safest bet. Brad said, "If I die, don't worry about shipping my body back."

Willow was disturbed on a deep, nearly existential, level. She has just started to fear large bugs.
Why on earth would her Dad and Uncle eat them?!

At this point, the scorpions were still squirming rather frantically, despite the fact that they had been impaled by kabob skewers. After we paid the price, the guy chose a stick, dipped in something, seared it on his grill for a moment and then handed it to ME! I could barely hold the stick, I was so grossed out.

Noah passed out. Silk worms and grasshoppers I think. 

Adam says silk worms taste like bacon. I am not willing to test this claim.
They were still squirming around--some were fighting each other. 

I am not even trying to look like that. This is my natural face when holding scorpions on a stick. 

They bravely shoved the scorpions in their mouths. Said it didn't taste bad at all. Then chugged water.
Brad said it was too fibrous. Adam said he'd eat more in a heartbeat.

Saddened by all the tourist market stalls selling idols of every kind.
Many graven images, yes. But we have our own weaknesses and idols that we bow down to and worship.
Where do you invest your money? How do you spend your free time? What do you think when your mind is idle. What do you worry about or obsess over? We can discover what our 'idols' are when we look at our priorities and discover what is usurping God's place in our hearts and minds. 

Social Media 
Selfish Ambitions 

Whatever it may be--we all have vices. Looking at these idol stalls, I am reminded of that which distracts me from Jesus. To cast aside my idols, to die to myself, to surrender to my King is a daily battle. How much easier it would be for me to throw away a graven image like this than to remove the idols of my heart from their high places and worship God with my whole heart. Unhindered. Uninhibited. Unburdened. I look forward to heaven, when there will be no distractions, no sin tainting creation, and no daily battle to surrender to God. The fight will be over and I will be completely free from the snares of this world. 

Willow bought some jewelry from some pretty aggressive shop keepers. They would not take no for an answer and Willow is only too happy to acquire new bracelets.

On the way down to the subway, we stopped at Dairy Queen. It was the best tasting ice cream in the world, at the very moment.

After naps, swimming, and showers, we went out for dinner and a shopping trip to the Silk Market.

Willow makes friends wherever she goes. Every shop keeper wanted her to come into their stall, sit on their stool, look at the merchandise...and sometimes they would give her a little trinket. One time, the shop keeper ladies she was hanging out with while Brad was buying shoes, painted her nails. She is a rockstar. Noah is a celebrity because of his very fair skin. They love his chubby legs and ready smile.

Noah and Willow getting their names written in Chinese calligraphy. Her work was so effortless and beautiful. I think these will be special gifts that they can hang in their homes even when they're adults. Can anyone say 'family heirloom'? Now...just watch as I lose them or something.

Hand carving chops.

Some kind of crazy glass etching going on here. He was doing it all free hand and the etching looked like a xerox copy of the photograph his customer had give him. Insane!
Noah's had enough. 

Shop keepers playing with Noah, taking pictures together, and painting Willow's nails.

Eating at Grandma's kitchen. I hadn't had a Western style breakfast served at a restaurant since I was in America. My omelet and hash browns were amazing. Adam was totally himself and order biscuits and gravy.

After dinner, we had only been walking for a few minutes when a torrential down pour started out of nowhere. We ducked under an awning outside of a bank (the bank was closed so we couldn't go inside, much to Willow's confusion and utter distress). We waited and waited for it to stop. There were 9 other people under the awning with us. They were very polite, however, and didn't mob us or try to talk too much. But somehow, we felt a sense of community with them. Adam kept trying to catch a cab. When he finally got one, he motioned for us to run out in the rain and get in. As I grabbed our stuff and the kids, the other people under the awning cheered us on and gave us 'thumbs up'. I wonder how long they stood there after we left? Even now, I feel affection for this strange little group that we shared the bank awning with. How strange.

The wind was howling, and Brad was worried the large oaks were going to topple on top of us. Willow was a bit frightened of the wind, and I was worried that Noah was freezing in the sudden temperature drop. I didn't have any blankets or sweaters with me, since it had been over 100 degrees all day. But I did have a dress of Willow's with me. So I put Noah in Willow's dress, which effectively covered his whole body. And that's how Noah ended up wearing a dress in a tropical storm in Beijing!

We aren't used to thunderstorms, since the rainfall isn't very significant in Shenyang. Willow was scared of the thunder and lighting (which were quite loud, sitting outside), and kept referring to it as "fireworks". Yes, I suppose thunder does sound a bit like the Chun Jie firework craziness.

This picture is comical because it makes the situation look a little worse than it actually was.

Once back at the hotel, Noah was checking his new look out in the mirror. We paid our taxi driver twice as much money as we owed because we were so thankful for the ride. It is such a rare thing to get a taxi in inclement weather and he was a true answer to prayer. Adam basically had to risk getting hit by him, since he couldn't see Adam standing in the road trying to flag him down.

Adam was soaked!

I forgot to take pictures of our hotel room. But this was the connecting living area between the two bedrooms. It was a pretty nice hotel, and I was glad we had so much space. It was actually larger than our apartment.

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