Friday, August 31, 2012

Taking a crack at the Putunghua
"Potunghua" is literally "common language" or what we call Mandarin Chinese. I took a semester of Mandarin at a local community college back in 2006. The speaking part was not too hard but after about 100 characters my brain stopped processing them. I would have loved to go on to the second class but they only offered it during the day and that just wasn't going to happen with my work schedule.

I've also listened, off and on, to the Pimsleur Mandarin CDs. As a result of my meager attempts, which includes watching several episodes of the children's cartoon Ni Hao Kai Lan ;-) I can say a few phrases. I've shared these with Georgie on occasion and she will often ask me how to say things in Chinese and I have to constantly tell her that I just don't know. One of her little friends at preschool is a Chinese girl who primarily speaks Mandarin in her home and she is therefore fluent. Several months back, after I told Georgie that I didn't know the Chinese word for something, she told me that she wanted "to learn to speak Chinese so she could be Chinese like her friend." I explained to Georgie that she absolutely was Chinese and would always be so, no matter what languages she spoke. Georgie had told me in the past that she wanted to go to Chinese school but after that exchange it ramped up.

Chinese school is not a little thing. Its a huge committment of time. Every Saturday morning from late August until early June for 3.5 hours. Due to work we are weekend warriors and normally try to do fun activities plus shop, clean etc so devoting what turns out to be about 25% of that useable time is a big deal. Plus, after the first year there is homework to be done. Of course, the positives are huge. Learning any language is important but for a person of Chinese descent obviously a bigger issue.

I have a friend, a highly educated Chinese woman, who speaks almost no Chinese at all. She's explained to me, somewhat apologetically, that she was second generation ABC and so grew up speaking only English in the home. Apparantly it didn't become much of an issue for her until she reached middle school. It was then that she first felt disconnected from the Chinese kids she encountered and the primary reason was inability to speak any Chinese. She then made an attempt at Chinese language but she said the Chinese schools were too advanced for her by that point in time and they weren't really offering Mandarin classes in the public schools in those days.

Its odd really. My descendants are from Holland. In fact, I am the second generation born in the US --the same as my Chinese friend. But, I feel no concern or embarrassment whatsoever about the fact that I speak only about 3 words of Dutch. But, I think for Chinese people this is different. Their communities tend to be more pocketed, more like "communities" in a way that certainly doesn't exist for Dutch people (and those of other ethnicities) at least as far as I know.

So there you go, it seemed important :-)

I started looking around at our options. We have a couple schools that are within a reasonable distance and they each have their advantages. I finally chose a particular school mainly because they offer an adult program. I knew G would be excited at the prospect of us both learning and she was. Once I told G that we were going to go she began doing a morning countdown of the days before school would begin. It went something like this:

G: Good morning mama
Me: Good morning baby
G: (big smile) What are we doing today? are we going to Chinese school?
Me: No, not today honey. We're going to Chinese school on Saturday. Today is Tuesday.
G: Ok so Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday... then I go to Chinese school??
Me: Yes dear.
G: (huge smile) I'm so excited to go to Chinese school mommy!

Anyway, Saturday finally arrived, yay! Georgie was incredibly excited. I'm not exactly sure what she was expecting actually. I mean, let's face it, she'd never been to chinese school but obviously had an image in her mind of what it would be like.

We got there a bit early so we could find our way around. Its done on a high school campus so its big. After a bit of initial confusion-- they had her down as a boy "Georg Lana" --it was all sorted out. We (well actually "I") got a lot of looks. I was the only caucasian person there. One man kindly asked if I was lost :-)  I was a bit lost though so his help was appreciated!

Her teacher, who is very sweet, assured me that everything would be just fine and that there would be at least a few other children in the class who had zero to extremely limited chinese language experience. She seemed to be more worried that G was going to cry when I left. Uh, not a chance. G sat down and happily began coloring!!! The class is a conversational one but I guess they use a book also. Its for 4-6 yr olds but from the looks of the kids and a bit of info from some of the other parents, it seems that most of them started kinder and 1st grade this year. G won't start kinder for another year. I think its good we're getting a bit of  a jump on it.
I spent the next couple hours in my own Chinese class going over tones and such. Its also conversational and there are just 4 students. Then it was time to pick G up and see how it had gone...

She was thrilled! She seemed more interested in finding out what I'd learned in my class than in sharing what had happened in her own which I thought was cute. She did finally share with me that they'd sung songs, colored, and learned some Chinese but she couldn't remember any of it. That's ok sweetie, no great rush.

Overall, I'd give the initial experience an A for both of us. Sadly, we'll be missing the next 3 weeks due to other committments and vacation. After that though, we're going to be diehards!

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Bro/Sis Outing
Brett and his girlfriend, Talin, decided that they'd like to take G on an outing. Brett suggested to Georgie that they go to the Page Museum where the La Brea Tar Pits. Of course, G the adventurer was thrilled!! I forced Brett to take my camera and made him promise to take pictures. He begrudgingly agreed and then took exactly one picture (well actually two of the exact same pic). I guess beggars can't be choosers. At least its a super cute pic of G!!!

Georgie LOVES spending time with her big brother and she adores Talin. She can't wait until her next bro/sis outing I'm sure!

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Cindy returns!
Back to the El Capitan for the "digitally remastered" version of Cinderella :-)

Of course one of the reasons we haul our butts all the way to Hollywood for movies, there was a special event. This time it was a breakfast with Cindy. In preparation we rummaged through G's costume box to dig up her Cinderella dress and as luck would have it we came across a pair of brand new cindy shoes that used to be too big for her but now fit perfectly!!

And away we go....

I've seen the movie a few times but it must have been a long time ago because I didn't really remember most of it. Anyway, everyone knows the story so no reason to go into it. Suffice to say that G loved it!! Its really fun going to the movies with her. Seriously, half the fun is watching and listening to her watch the movie. She gasps and makes these huge faces of surprise when something unexpected happens. Adorable!!!
The table decoration was so cute! The glass slipper and my favorite part, Cindy's little mop.
Construction outside the building is ongoing so the Mickey statue is still in the hallway inside.
Chatting about girl stuff!
The official photo op
Not the greatest pic of me
Popcorn in hand and ready for the show!!

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Theater night: without Mom :-(
My mom was in the hospital for 12 days. She's home now and doing pretty well but it was a little scary there for awhile. As the days wore on it became clear that, among other things of course, she was not going to be able to make our next scheduled show. Very depressing for both of us because we really look forward to this mother/daughter time together. I considered just skipping it but my mom encouraged me to not waste the tix and go. As it turned out, Bobby went with me and the show, Memphis, was very well done. The story was entertaining, the singing awesome and lots of funny parts. It was bittersweet fun though because without my mom it seemed very odd. The whole experience provided very uncomfortable insight into what life will be like someday when my mom is no longer around. Sigh.

We have another show coming up soon and she's already made it clear that she'll be going!!! Thank goodness for that!!
As an funny is it that Bobby and I hit the exact same pose for this photo? I guess that's what happens after you've been married 26 years :-)

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Impromptu fun
In an effort to promote G's reading skills, we've been doing these flashcards: Fry's 1000 Instant Words. We work on 100 at a time and G earns a prize when she knows all in that group. Previous prizes have been a stuffed animal and a barbie. G is one of those kids who LOVES flashcards! I think I would have been that kid too actually. Anyway,  G and I had to run an errand in Orange County and G asked if we could do her "test" on her 4th set of 100 on the way. She wanted her prize!!! I said sure, G passed her test and as a prize I asked her if she'd like to go to a character meal at one of the disney hotels. Ummmm, that was a stupid question, of course she wanted to go!!!

I called from the car to make a reservation and 1 hr later, errand complete, we were doing a meet and greet with the mouse man himself. Super fun! This was the Surf's Up with Mickey at the Paradise Pier hotel. We actually did this one before and G had so much fun I figured we'd try it again. There's one more we haven't been to but I was hesitant to try an unknown for something that was supposed to be a reward. I wanted guaranteed fun! Turned out it was a great decision. G loved it! She danced and giggled and had an all together rip roaring good time. She ate a bit too :-) Photobucket
We initially missed Minnie and had to wait forever for her to return Photobucket
Dancing with Stitch give G great joy!
I accidentally called Pluto Goofy and he gave me as much of an offended look as he could while wearing a giant stuffed head :-)
They do this dancing thing every 20 mins or so where the kids can go up and play with the characters. G got really into it.
I guess a few years ago it used to be Surf's Up with Lilo and Stitch but then they changed it dropping Lilo and adding Mickey or something. I was super surprised to see that Lilo was there. G was excited because, as you know, she's a character hunter and we've never encountered Lilo. I asked the hostess on the way out when they brought Lilo back and she said that they didn't. She was there for the first time that day and they had no idea if she'd be back the following day or ever!! Good timing on our part I guess!
When we first walked in, Mickey had just gone on break so I got G something to eat. A few minutes later he'd returned and was standing up at the front area all by himself. I pointed him out to G and asked if she wanted to go see him. She told me no, she was busy eating right then and she'd go visit with him later. It cracked me up! She might be the first 4 yr old in history who turned down Mickey Mouse for watermelon and scrambled eggs. My girl does love her food :-)
With Stitch and her baby Stitch from the gift shop... another prize :-)
And finally, after she was done eating of course, with the Mouse himself!
I have no idea what the prize will be for the 5th set of 100 sight words but I think the bar has now been set rather high... oops. In our defense, this 5th set is pretty challenging so it will probably take a while to learn them all. Hmmm, we shall see ;-)

Monday, August 06, 2012

Magician's Assistant
Summer school finished up just a week or so ago. On the last day they had a magician come in and entertain the kids. As magicians go, I don't think he was very skilled but as an entertainer for the toddler set, WOW! G was laughing her little head off just about the whole time.

In the middle of the show he asked for volunteers and Georgie's hand flew up!! Usually G is so reserved and avoids being the center of attention in a group so this was pretty surprising to me. G sat anxiously and was thrilled when the magician pointed her out and said "you, purple girl". G looked down, realized that she was wearing PURPLE and up she shot. The trick was silly... something involving a red velvet bag. I don't know for sure. I was too busy focusing on my silly, laughing, smiling girl. I love watching her confidence grow :-)