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Paul, Katherine, Grace Ann and Zoe!
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April 6, 2006
This morning I’m anxious to show everyone all the neat stuff I saw on my walk yesterday.  So Katherine, Zoe, and I meet friends for breakfast at 7am (usually before the large group of Seattle Teenagers raid the buffet at 8am), and head out afterwards.  Once again the sights and sounds are amazing, and it takes us a full hour to walk what would normally be a 10 minute walk around the block.  It seems that everyone is out exercising and there are no rules.  You can be any age, where anything you want, do whatever you want, just get out and move!  There is a game that looks like hackysack with a weird device that looks like feathers attached to tin can tops.  There is badmitton games erupting out of every alley, and there is an actual exercise park which looks like a child’s playground (same colors and building materials), but is actually made for adults.  The funny thing is that instead of having slides and monkey bars they’ve used playground materials to replicate exercise machines seen on informercials.  No joke!  We see a middle aged man on a health rider mockup made of steel tubing, two old ladies are on a dual Gazelle device, and you can almost hear Tony Little screaming, “You can do it!”  We want to film and get more video, but once again the army is setting up training stations on the next courtyard and we have strict orders to limit pictures of people and to take absolutely no pictures of the army!  By the water front there are sword dances, tai-chi, ballroom dancing, chi-kung, river swimming, martial arts katas, everything you can imagine and lots you cannot.  One can’t help thinking that America could learn something from all these people committed to getting the body moving first thing in the morning.  Somehow my walk down the stairs doesn’t seem to cut it.

A friend and I decide that we are going to go into the city today and see some real stuff, get off the sheltered island we’ve been living on and see the real China.  Our goal, get to a pizza hut that supposedly exists somewhere near the main shopping walkway we took pictures of yesterday.  We take a walking bridge across the highway and enter a completely different world.  This is the 2nd world stuff you see on TV.  Incredible poverty, but incredible beauty all at the same time.  We saw all the classic stuff, storefronts filled with chickens, foods you couldn’t recognize, and smells that nearly knocked you over.  It was incredible, and after a while we even found the pizza hut about 2 blocks over in a new modern shopping mall.  Like I said, lots of contrasts.

Zoe has decided on some very specific things.  One of those things is that she does not like to have her pants changed.  I have so many great memories of changing Gracie’s pants and singing to her the song I made up for the occasion.  Zoe, on the other hand, acts as if she’s in Olympic wrestling and you’re about to pin her.  She does everything in her power to flip over on her stomach, so skillfully that I literally can almost not even do the job.  Katherine has figured out some way to pin her down with one elbow while doing everything else with her other hand, a neat trick since you have to open up the cream cap with two.  Zoe has also decided that she likes mom.  Oh I’m fun for a few minutes or so, and good for a laugh, but she always has one eye on mom and if she disappears it’s not long before tears come.  This has also started to come with mom’s attention.  If she is talking to someone else or doing something else, Zoe makes sure that she is in the thick of it or lets you know very soon that she is not happy about it.  Kind of funny for a little girl we just met 4 days ago.

It’s now about 8:40 in the evening and I think every baby on the floor is screaming, including Zoe.  You see women and men pacing the halls and standing on their heads, praying to any god who will listen that their child will fall asleep.  But they don’t, and the crying continues, and the back pain from carrying children all day is incredible.  We’ll be helping the stocks of painkiller companies over the next few months.