Church Relief Society Party- Chinese style


For our Relief Society Birthday party at church, one of the Chinese women somehow arranged a building at Olympic Forest Park with some traditional Chinese performances. As the planning went further, they decided to invite families since there would be a magician the kids would enjoy. Bet none of you have this exciting of a Relief Society birthday activity!

Olympic Forest Park is pretty far north of downtown Beijing. It’s near the Bird’s Nest but we were too tired to walk further to see it. We went to the South Gate Forest Park subway stop (line 8) and then walked further north.

Our building had a little balcony over the water and a broken down bicycle that didn’t stop the kids from riding it.

Four different people performed martial arts… dances.  A woman played a Chinese zither. There was a magician who did traditional magic tricks. Before the show started, there was massage and something where they poked your ear and attached stickers to massage for a week (I was told it was painful, so we skipped that).


Then a Chinese dragon dance!

Squirt loved the lions dancing, not so much standing next to the lions.  PS and I didn’t realize we were accidentally being photo-bombed.

Afterwards, the Relief Society president sent out pictures taken by a photographer that was there. The two top, right hand pictures are the W family, the other homeschooling family in our branch.

Playing a Relief Society trivia themed hot potato game.

A few videos:

Walking back to the subway park through the beautiful park with all the trees starting to blossom. We walked with the Ws.


Chinese New Year

Fireworks! Fireworks! Fireworks! 
The main display of fireworks was leading up to midnight on Chinese New Year’s Eve but there was a steady banging of fireworks for at least a week. Then it slowed down and on the last night, the night of the Lantern Festival, the fireworks picked up again.
We walked around our neighborhood the first night as it was getting dark.  We didn’t want to go into town after the New Year’s celebration in Shanghai that resulted in a stampede and several deaths. We couldn’t see much walking around, too many skyscrapers.  But we could see the remnants of people setting off their own fireworks.  It turns out, fireworks are illegal here, but only sort of.  You are allowed to set them off for a certain period of time on the holiday. As we approached our apartment building, there were people setting fireworks off in the street so we stopped at watched for a little while before going in to avoid injuries that got all the same type of fireworks banned in the US when we were kids.
We tried to watch the New Year’s Gala on tv, but it was really really lame.  After the kids went to bed, and midnight approached, we could see tons of fireworks off our eastern sun porch (photos and film taken towards the north gate of campus, right near our building) from the same spot on the street where people had been setting them off earlier.
From our sun porch toward the gate.
On the street in front of our gate.
The main restriction on fireworks is due to air pollution.  This the air quality on Chinese New Year’s Eve.  Around 10 pm it jumped from a low “Moderate” to a low “Hazardous.”
A lot of stuff shuts down.  We stocked up on a few days worth of food/meals not knowing for sure what the grocery store would be like.  We also stayed home a lot so I’m not totally sure, but I think mainly the grocery store just closed much earlier. We ordered food a few times and there was always a notice up on the website showing special hours for the holiday. And to get water delivered, we just call a number and say “one” which tells them to deliver one bottle to the address associated with our phone number. I’m pretty sure we had water delivered either on the eve or on the day of the New Year. But when we ran out maybe 1 1/2 -2 1/2 days later, they didn’t answer for 2-3 days.  Luckily grocery stores were open by then so we just got the big gallon jugs that fit on the water dispenser for a couple days.