Friday, November 30, 2007


Jack and Jed's school hosted a benefit for Habitat for Humanity. Santa was the featured guest. The kids could sit on his lap, write him letters and do all sorts of crafts. It was really nice. Compared to last year's santa visit, a skinny Chinese guy, this one was fabulous!

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Tablecloth Factory

About 3 miles from our home is a tablecloth factory. One can go there, select a pattern and edge design, specify dimensions, and leave with a tablecloth and napkins in less than an hour! I have purchased 4 tablecloths, now. They are great. They are restaurant grade, for the most part, and can be washed, dried and need little to no ironing. My most recent purchase is a brown tablecloth and napkins for Thanksgiving. Prices are very reasonable. I usually go back a day or so later to pick up my tablecloths because it's easier than waiting for them. Last time, though, there was a flaw in one, so I had to go back and they made the new one in about 35 minutes. As reasonable as the prices seem, I overheard a conversation between my driver and the sales person. He asked how much a tablecloth costs, to which she replied, "Chinese price or foreigner prices?" I did not hear the answer. They know I speak and understand some Chinese, so when they don't want me to know what they are saying, they talk very quickly and sometimes, the Beijing accent can be very difficult to understand.

Trees in the winter

Every winter, the government puts a white coating on the bottom 3 feet, or so, of every tree. Expats speculate what this is for and most people think it is to keep a particular insect away from the trees. Some trees get wrapped in a thick rope, which is a bit more attractive, so others speculate that it could be to keep the trees from freezing and dying during the frigid and windy and dry Beijing winters.

Jed, however, has another theory. Last week, we were driving down a busy road where we spotted more than one taxi driver relieving himself by the side of the road. Jed speculated that the white paint protects the trees from the taxi drivers' "pee".

International School Olympic Day

Highlights from ISB International Olympic Day
International Olympic Day Engenders Enthusiasm, Pride
The haziest day in six months couldn’t dampen the enthusiasm of the crowd at ISB’s International Olympic Day. We had a fabulous turnout of parents and community members, all eager to see our students kick off the official Olympic Continental Challenge, a year-long competition among the students of all divisions.
The Olympic Procession was led by our youngest community members. To the stirring strains of the Olympic Anthem, all the Lower Elementary School, kitted out in their blue “ISB Kid” t-shirts, formed the first of five Olympic Rings on the field. The other divisions followed, organized by colors in their Olympic Challenge t-shirts. The tableau was completed by white-shirted high-schoolers and staff who filled in the flag design on the field.
Performances began with the Middle School Dragon and Lion Dancers, organized by the Chinese Studies Department. Angela Qiu, lead designer of the Olympic Torch Design Team at Lenovo, displayed the official torch to the school and addressed the audience on her team’s creative process, describing the elements of Chinese symbolism embodied in the design.
Seven Student Council leaders each ran a leg of the Torch Relay around the track. The final hand-off was to Gao Min, ISB parent and two-time winner of Olympic gold medals for diving, who lit ISB’s own Olympic Cauldron.
Performances by ISB’s Wushu Warriors of Wisdom and the Junior Choir followed. The event concluded with fireworks as Head of School Tom Hawkins proclaimed, “Let the Games begin!”
Olympic Day was a tough act to follow, but the PTA’s International Potluck Supper in the evening aroused equal enthusiasm. About 1500 ISB parents and students turned up to sample the truly multicultural buffet. Contributions from hundreds of parents included dishes and delights to please all palates. Eurest prepared two 16-square-foot “Global Gateaux,” which were a tremendous hit with parents and kids alike. Outdoors, kids bounced and slid and danced and played, as parents settled in to listen to some of the outstanding performances by students and faculty. A fabulous fireworks display in the stadium capped off this incredible evening.
Many thanks to everyone who participated in International Olympic Day. The event showed ISB at its best—full of spirit, with parents, students, and teachers all coming together in a zestful celebration of our diversity and our common goals.
China Daily has included a video of the event on their online news story. Visit the China Daily site to view the video.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Squatty potties... revisited.

Yesterday I went to a coffee afternoon, hosted by the Pakistani attache spouses, for the Beijing Military Attache Corps spouses. (These are monthly events hosted by different countries on a rotating basis.) The event took place at a wonderful restaurant at a new mall I'd heard about and had been looking forward to visiting.

I arrived by embassy car about 30 minutes early and happily hopped out of the car and entered the mall, eagerly anticipating the shopping experience. (Yes, you can imagine what comes next...) I was quickly disappointed when I saw it was not a western style mall, but rather a Chinese style mall. The stores are all small, square in shape, with glass fronts, one worker per stall, each one filled with over-priced, Asian fashions... Five stories high!

So, I made my way for a cushion-covered bench overlooking the escalators, only to realize that the current occupant was flossing her teeth! I went up one more level to find a vacant bench and happily listened to my ipod until my Australian friend joined me to wait for the proper time to arrive at the coffee.

Once we entered the event, I decided to take advantage of the fact that the festivities had yet to begin and after setting my jacket and bag on a chair, I followed the signs to the restroom... about a 3 minute walk back into the mall. Upon entering the restroom, I immediately sensed trouble... Fearing the worst, but hoping for the best, since it is a new building, I peeked into each stall... 5 in total... My fears were realized. All five were squatty potties, not one of which had paper, or even an empty paper dispenser! I contemplated my options and in the end, decided it was not worth my time to make the trip back and forth to my bag to retrieve paper (seasoned expats know to always carry tissue in our bags), nor worth the effort or risk of squatting in my 7 1/2 month pregnant condition... Mind over matter!

Always listen to your mother, use the bathroom BEFORE you leave the house- especially if you live in China!

Monday, November 12, 2007

In case you didn't get to view the vacation pics, I wanted to post one of my favorites.
Here are my beach bums up in Port Douglas, Australia. It's up near the Great Barrier Reef.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

More flowers

We had 3 events in our home this weekend. A dinner on Friday night, a brunch on Saturday and a lunch on Sunday. I had a flower arrangement made for our table on Friday. Now all of our table cloths are in the wash, so the table is no longer as nice as it was, but here are pictures of the arrangement. I kept it small and low so it would fit on the table and we could see one another at the table. I'll probably do something similar for our 2 Thanksgiving events. This arrangement, which had about 17 large roses and 15 small ones and other flowers to fill in, cost about $11. Having affordable flowers is one of the perks of living here. Hosting three in-home events in one weekend is one of the downsides. Our dishwasher sure gets a workout! Of course it's great to have help for the food prep but that is just for the dinners. I always do the weekend events on my own and we always do the cleanup on our own because I don't like to have the ayi wait around for hours just to do the dishes. Lots of people just leave the dishes for the ayi to do when she comes back but I cannot imagine doing that.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Marine Corps Birthday Ball

Last night, we attended the Marine Corps 232nd Birthday Ball. As you can see in the pictures, I had a party shirt made for Tom. They guys leave their jackets on for the formal part of the evening and then when it's dancing time, they take the jackets off and everyone can see the shirts. It's silly, but fun. The evening was nice. Ambassador Randt spoke about the great service the Marines provide as security for our embassies around the world. He said very nice things about the armed forces, in general.

Celebrations of the Marine Corps birthday are held all around the world by Marines, no matter what the circumstances. It's a great tradition. We really enjoyed the pomp and circumstance.
I should mention that, though I took a picture of the dress I wanted the tailor to make for me, it didn't come out like the picture. It was fine, but not exactly what I asked for, as usual. She even put a bow in the front, at the top of the waist. I had her remove it, of course. I wore comfortable shoes and we had a nice time, even dancing a little.

Only 6 more weeks until baby arrives!

Marine Corps Birthday Ball

Friday, November 02, 2007

To Market To Market

My beloved neighbor, with whom I always shopped, has moved. So the last time we shopped at the wet market was in September. Here's a picture from that visit. The vendors are always so friendly and eager to chat. It's a pleasant experience. Now
Now I ask Xing Ayi to stop by the market near her house to pick up fruit and veg for us.