Monday, February 1, 2010

Our Weekend (we lived it so you don't have to...)

We have to start this post with the events of last Friday, despite the clever title. Because Friday was the day that Ainsley woke up with a stomach bug.

"Poopy, mommy!" she said to me that morning, and indeed, she smelled worse than a Chinese squattie. So I changed her.

Five minutes went by before Ainsley again announced "poopy, mommy!" So I changed her.

Five minutes more. "Poopy, mommie!"

Five more minutes elapsed, and, well, are you starting to get the picture?

Fast forward to Saturday, the start of the weekend in question.

Ainsley woke up and didn't even have to say a word. The smell almost knocked me over. But she greeted me cheerfully, calling from her crib: "poopy, mommy?"

I almost cried.

So Saturday, despite the fact that it was a rare, gorgeous, blue sky and not too cold day in Beijing, we opted to stay home, close to our dwindling supply of diapers and wipes.

Everyone was cranky. (Except for me. I'm a saint.)

Sunday was another nice day: warm (and by "warm," I simply mean "above freezing"), sunny and blue-skyed (is too a word). Ainsley's diaper situation seemed to have abated somewhat, so I made the executive decision to take the kids out.

Of course, they complained. Getting four cranky kids ready to go out when noone wants to? Really not easy. But, darn it, I was determined. And, if I do say so myself, I was patient and even-tempered throughout (this is my blog, after all, and if say it's so, then it's so. Comments closed for my spouse.).

A new Element Fresh opened recently not far from us, in Lido, so we drove down to check it out. We had to wait a bit, but the kids were excited to see pancakes and cocoa on the menu. So they waited patiently. And get this: the pancakes come with fresh fruit! It says so right on the menu. So when the waitress asked if they wanted strawberries or blueberries, Shay chose blueberries and Aidan and Kyra chose strawberries. The kids were thrilled at their luck in restaurant choice.

Until the food arrived. Turns out, the pancakes do come with a side of fresh fruit. And then, in addition to said bowl of mixed-fruits-that-my-kids-universally-hate, they cooked strawberries and blueberries Right Into The Pancake Batter!

The kids took this in for a moment, this view of pancakes destroyed by lumpy cooked fruit. And then they began protesting. All of them. Loudly. "This is disgusting," said Shay. "I'm gonna throw up," wailed Aidan. "Yummy!" said Kyra, just to be ornery, before refusing to try even one bite of pancake. Not wanting to be outdone in the act-like-a-baby department, Ainsley threw her sippy cup on the floor.


Shay eventually found a way to pick the blueberries out of his pancakes so he could eat them - that's how hungry he was. Aidan and Kyra ate my tofu and rice instead.

Once they settled down, the kids were well-behaved despite their disappointment. Still - what a waste. And the low, low price for this delicious meal? 400 RMB - about $60. (Addendum for those of you who live in Beijing: Element Fresh is actually a good restaurant, if somewhat expensive. Good salads, good sandwiches, good lattes. Just don't invite my kids when you go. You'd be better off setting your money on fire.)

After that attempt at quality family time, we drove around the corner to a tiny park called Side Park. There's a little lake in the middle of it, and I'd heard you could rent ice chairs there. Excellent news - the kids love ice chairing, but the trek to Houhai Park is just too much some days.

The kids complained some more on the 3-minute drive. "This is boring," said Shay. "I'm gonna throw up," said Aidan. "Hurray!" shouted Kyra, because she's a PITA and she wanted to shout just to annoy the rest of us. "Poopy, mommy!" exclaimed Ainsley, though thankfully this turned out to be a false alarm. I think she just wanted to add to the festive atmosphere in the car.

We found the ice chair guy and rented some chairs. Finally, finally, finally, the weekend was looking up. The kids skated around on their rickety chairs for about an hour, happy at last.

Exhausted and out of money, we headed home, the car blessedly silent.

Silent, that is, until Aidan made good on his promise - and threw up all over the back of the car.

Like I said: we lived it so you don't have to. And if you're anywhere near Beijing right now, or even just reading this blog post somewhere else, I'd highly suggest you go douse yourself in hand sanitizer after you finish reading this.

But first: enjoy some pictures of our ice chairing adventure. Note especially the crazy sled-wagon that features a blonde dolly that can actually pull kids along in the sled. Creepy.


Jill said... [Reply]

Is it wrong that for a minute I actually cursed you under my breath when you said you went to a restaurant that served pancakes? That's just jealousy ... pure and unadulterated jealousy.

Then I took it back when I laughed out loud at the pancakes coming with the fruit in the batter. I actually think I snorted.

And you have a vomiter too? At least we usually leave the smell in someone else's car... poor you!

Bet your glad the weekend was over! :)

Ken said... [Reply]

My favorite breakfast-food-in-China story: we arrived in Beijing exhausted, took a nap, and decided to order room service dinner. Katrina saw French toast on the menu and ordered that. When dinner arrived, there were two undercooked pieces of regular toast and a pat of butter. I called room service, explaining they had gotten the order wrong. They apologized, and promised to have an order of French toast rushed up to us. 10 minutes later: two pieces of undercooked regular toast and a pat of butter. In Beijing, at least at the Hilton, they apparently mean "French" in the sense of "unsatisfying and likely to make my wife dangerously irritable."

Betsy said... [Reply]

I've had those kind of weekends before. It's a little sad when you actually look forward to Monday. Hope you have a smooth week!

C said... [Reply]

Hope this week is better than your weekend. Thanks for sharing though, many memorable experiences.

Andrew said... [Reply]

For folks - that'll be me - who don't understand the thrill of an ice chair, what is it? And how does it work? Or is it simply: a chair on ice that provides hours of entertainment.

Great blog, by the by.

Donna said... [Reply]

Hey Andrew - you're right. An ice chair is simply a chair nailed to a sled. Usually extremely rickety. You get some metal ski poles and push yourself around the ice, the faster the better. It gets kind of dangerous if there are a lot of people on the ice, coz they're really hard to steer. They also rent ice bikes, which are bikes on skis. You can go really fast and they're quite wobbly. In the States, it would just be a lawsuit waiting to happen. But it's fun.

Connie said... [Reply]

Ice chairing looks like fun - and much less painful than ice skating. I am no good at that, yet had to pretend to be on first try, in order to teach my littlest one. Sorry you had a sick-filled weekend... sigh...

LeesOnTheGo said... [Reply]

Hysterical!!! This post would have made a great chapter in the book "They Only Laughed Later". Have you ever read it? It's a book full of stories written by expat women who each lived through their own version of the Weekend to Remember.

Thanks for posting this. Clearly, we can all relate. =)

fsowannabe said... [Reply]

That's one of those stories that gets fonder as time passes. At least your daughter announces her poopy time. My oldest was quite comfortable walking around in grossness when she was in diapers.
I am amazed at your ability to handle four kids.

Please. Write your own stuff.