School started….. and some opportunities.

I’d been finding the Summer (school-free) days rather long by the end of week 11 but now that the children are in school  I’m feeling a little strange without them around. I was actually looking forward to some sense of freedom but because mother-in-law is still here I haven’t even had the luxury of that … yet.

I can’t believe that my two little ones have grown so much. The warning phrase so often expressed by elderly folk over the past 5 years –  ‘enjoy them while they’re young’ –  will most certainly come back to haunt me soon.  Don’t get me wrong, I have enjoyed them and feel privileged to have been able to spend time with them in their formative preschool years but I do regret not having been MORE present.

The school that they are enrolled in is called Peekaboo and the curriculum is taught 50% in French and 50% in Chinese. As the French school system starts at 3yrs of age, Antoine is officially school-aged….. but I’m thinking I might keep him back at home for a day or two here and there.  The children had a fabulous time on orientation day……

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And getting to school was fun on the morning of the first day…..  Papa even managed to accompany us despite his ridiculously busy schedule.

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But the actual first day of school was a little difficult.  My children really do get along very well together and being separated (if only by a few walls) was a challenge for both of them.  In addition, English is their primary language and so being surrounded by French and Chinese is most certainly adding to the anxiety.  And then of course, many of the students already know the school and each other.

By the third day the comments by the teachers were much more positive when I picked them up from school….phew!… but my son is still clinging to me as I leave in the morning.  He’s also not very keen on the mandatory health check every morning on arrival (nor am I as I was ‘scolded’ for not cutting his nails short enough)  The school nurses are checking for hand, foot and mouth disease which is a very common and highly contagious virus over here.

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As for me, I accepted the invitation to be an advisor at the ‘ASK A HEALTH COACH’ day to be held at a local education retail space  called Sproutworks (http://www.sproutlifestyle.com/) this Saturday September 7th, 2013.  The Australian owner Kimberley has co-ordinated  7 Hours of free Health Tips for Shanghai locals from 9 Health Coaches.  I’m looking forward to it.

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And then on the Speech Therapy front, I’ve also had an informal meeting with the founder of a multidisciplinary group aimed at helping children with special needs and have a couple of requests from ‘inpats’ for some affordable therapy for their children.  Unlike ‘expats’ with all of their medical costs covered, these anglophone inpats have  local Chinese work contracts have to cover the costs of medical services and therapy themselves.

We’ll see where these opportunities lead but somethings that I really want to do for myself at the moment (in order to cultivate space joy and lightness which I chose as my leading principals after-all!) are: to take some Mandarin lessons, to take some local cooking classes, to meet some new folk and to simply wander around the streets of shanghai – tasting the local delicacies as I go .

Shanghighs‘: A 45min Chinese massage:  for the price of a box of cereal I enjoyed a massage – in a small room surrounded by 4 other clients – including mother-in-law,  and listening to Christmas music.  I felt better and better as the massage therapist really worked those muscles in my shoulders and back that had become progressively tighter over the past few months.

Those who know me well will know that I really do not like to shop but it was actually quite fun going to one of the many markets and helping my mother-in-law negotiate some fake goods (Hermes belt for 60rmb = $10.00).  The principle is that you divide the initial price by 4 and then start negotiating while listening to the dramatic banter: ‘Oh you’re killing me’, and ‘No that’s less than cost price!’, and ‘Are you crazy lady?”

Some culinary highlights:

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xiaolongbao – delicious steamed buns filled with various fillings (especially pork and crab) and scolding liquid which makes them quite a challenge to eat.

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Tasting green, oolong and the dark fermented pu’er tea

Shanglows‘:  Feeling restricted in my choice of activities and feeling responsible for entertaining our house guest for 3 weeks.  But on a positive note, this situation also allowed for self-reflection…. more on this next week.

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