Remember the beginning of the summer when I shared about our disastrous journey to the National Zoo in DC? (I'm not a true blogger, so I don't know how to link to past stories - sorry). I won't bore you with the details, but it involved a long drive, traffic, no parking, vomiting, and ultimately an early end to the day.
I have learned my lesson.
Last February my girls discovered NiHao KaiLan, a Nick Jr. show that is basically Dora The Explorer, but for Chinese culture. I hate to admit it, but I kind of like the show and its eastern, "think of the group" way of solving problems.
They learned about the Chinese Moon Festival, where you eat dinner under the full moon and eat moon cakes. So of course, me with my love for anything that has to do with a culture other than my own, decided to enlighten my children and make moon cakes with them. I got some pretty weird looks at the Asian market when I was asking for the ingredients. Apparently no one eats moon cakes in the winter - as the festival is in the fall. I guess it is kind of like looking for Little Debbie Christmas Tree Cakes in August.
So we waited - all summer - looking forward to the Moon Festival. Looking back, it is kind of silly. It isn't like there is some cool meaning behind the festival that we could focus on. Just another one of those "turning of the seasons" kind of holiday that is part of most cultures.
Silly or not, I planned an elaborate family outing to Chinatown in DC. And by elaborate, I mean we had no other plan than to just go downtown and eat at a Chinese restaurant. Yup, I drove to the metro, paid the parking and the train fare, dragged the double stroller and my baby in a sling through the DC Metro - just to eat at a Chinese Restaurant in Chinatown.
And it was totally worth it. Only you and I know that what we did wasn't a big deal. My girls had no clue. According to them, we had taken them to China itself, with roasted ducks hanging in the windows and signs written in unreadable (for us) Chinese characters. We went to the "Wok 'n' Roll" (corny, huh?) where the girls had bubble tea, dumplings and ramen. The servers were impressed with Annalia's Chinese words (Thank you KaiLan), and they were thrilled with Xander.
I love going places that are so influenced by another culture that the workers barely speak English. It makes you think you are getting the real thing, not just take-out General Tso's Chicken. I knew I was in one of those places when a waitress came up to me and offered to hold Xander while I ate. I can't even imagine that happening at a "Friday"s or "Chili"s. So I happily handed him off and devoured my Chow Mein. Justin just stared at me in shock.
After our yummie and uneventful meal, we packed the kids back up into the stroller and sling, and I handed the girls their mooncakes. (purchased, I learned that no one makes their own moon cakes). I had thought of taking them into a little store to buy a souvenir. You know, something else to make the trip all that way worth it. But they were ready to go home, and I didn't argue.