Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Cute kids

On a walk the other day my friend and I came across these two children. I think they are brother and sister or maybe cousins is more likely, due to the one child policy. Many people around here are migrant workers, though, and have more than one child if they are from certain outlying provinces. I am not sure if they are boys or girls or one of each. The Chinese tend to dress their children in any color and style, regardless of gender.

They are so cute and were very happy to pose for a picture and loved seeing their photo on the camera. I gave them each a dum dum lollipop. I almost always carry them and American flag pins with me to give away to nice people we come across on our daily outings.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Strange things that happen in our life here...

On Tuesday we had a flat tire. So, we called the "auto club" people who came to check out the tire. They said we could patch the tire, but we already had done that once so we decided to replace it. Total cost $200+ usd.

When the driver saw what had happened, he said the "auto club" people were bad people because they were trying to cheat us by making us buy a tire and by taking our old tire to sell. I explained that we chose to replace it due to safety. Then I told him to tell the men that we wanted our old tire back. I then told the driver he could have the tire so he could sell it and keep the money.

I had to get Huck to school, but I also had to be at the house to pay the auto people, so I sent the driver and Huck in a taxi. Two drivers- one boy.

Yesterday, I took Jed and Huck to the eye doctor and dentist at the international clinic and I saw a physician and physiotherapist. The dentist if from Iran, the eye doctor and family physician are from Australia and the physiotherapist is from Germany. The nurses are all Chinese. It was quite the international afternoon. Zeke has a cold that has been going on for weeks and now it is a cough as well, so I'll likely take him to the doctor tomorrow. The pediatricians at the clinic near us are: Philippina , French and Chinese.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

The factory

This is the "factory" where the furniture is being made. It is about 1 hour from our house. The man in the picture is the father of the man we deal with to order and purchase the furniture.

A family clearly lives at the factory because there are personal effects throughout the buildings and when Gary showed me the inside of a chest I was looking at in his warehouse, there were clothes stored inside it!

bunk bed

The bunk beds have drawers that will go underneath the beds. You can see the woman in the picture below is working on a drawer.


In January we ordered about half a houseful of furniture. I researched online and found designs we liked, combined them to make the perfect furniture designed specifically for our needs and tastes and ordered them to be made by the man we have used in the past. It was supposed to be nearly finished, ready to be viewed at the factory, on March 10 and delivered to us on March 30.

Surprise! It was not ready when we called a few days after the 10th. He said to call back in a week. So, this week we called back and made arrangements to go see the progress. The bunk beds, boys' dressers, our dressers, and bedside tables were there for us to see. They look pretty good.

You can see the bunk beds are made with shelves inside so the kids can put their books in them, rather than put them on the foots of their beds like they do now. Also, the dressers are as tall as the bunk beds so the boy on top can use the top of the dresser as a shelf. You can see a picture of the dressers, the tallest ones are the boys' dressers. I designed them so the bottom drawers are smaller and will hold socks and underwear. The highest drawers can hold out of season clothing since they won't be able to reach them. All of the furniture will be stained to match what we have back in Virginia.

We were able to see the 2 bunk beds, the 4 boys' dressers, our 2 tall dressers, 1 long dresser and armoire, book shelves, and bedside tables. He has yet to start our king sized bed and coffee table and we still plan to order a study desk and hutch for the kitchen. We are having a hutch for shoes, hats, gloves, scarves and coats made at a different place. The guy making our big order says it will be ready April 15.

We'll see...

Saturday, March 14, 2009

The Driver and Huck and Zeke

We are so lucky to have such a great pair to help us. Every morning, the driver comes at 7:40, gets Jack and Jed's bikes out of the garage and sends them off to school. Then, he comes inside to play with Zeke for a few minutes before he takes Huck to school. This day, though, Huck wanted to play too, rather than wait until they get to school, where they play together on the playground. Xiao Shang was carrying Zeke around and Huck was calling to him "Shu Shu, pick me up too!" SO, he did.

Monday, March 09, 2009

Interesting times lie aheadl

Pentagon says Chinese vessels harassed U.S. ship

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The Pentagon said Monday that Chinese ships harassed a U.S. surveillance ship Sunday in the South China Sea in the latest of several instances of "increasingly aggressive conduct" in the past week.

The Navy says this photo shows two Chinese trawlers forcing the Impeccable to make an emergency "all stop."

The Navy says this photo shows two Chinese trawlers forcing the Impeccable to make an emergency "all stop."

Click to view previous image
1 of 3
Click to view next image

During the incident, five Chinese vessels "shadowed and aggressively maneuvered in dangerously close proximity to USNS Impeccable, in an apparent coordinated effort to harass the U.S. ocean surveillance ship while it was conducting routine operations in international waters," the Pentagon said in a written statement.

The crew members aboard the vessels, two of which were within 50 feet, waved Chinese flags and told the U.S. ship to leave the area, the statement said.

"Because the vessels' intentions were not known, Impeccable sprayed its fire hoses at one of the vessels in order to protect itself," the statement said. "The Chinese crewmembers disrobed to their underwear and continued closing to within 25 feet."

After the Impeccable alerted the Chinese ships "in a friendly manner" that it was seeking a safe path to depart the area, two of the Chinese ships stopped "directly ahead of USNS Impeccable, forcing Impeccable to conduct an emergency 'all stop' in order to avoid collision," the statement said.

"They dropped pieces of wood in the water directly in front of Impeccable's path."

A Pentagon spokesman called the incident "one of the most aggressive actions we've seen in some time. We will certainly let Chinese officials know of our displeasure at this reckless and dangerous maneuver."

He said the Chinese crew members used poles to try to snag the Impeccable's acoustic equipment in the water.

The U.S. Embassy in Beijing lodged a protest over the weekend with the Chinese government, a State Department spokesman said Monday.

The Impeccable's crew is composed primarily of civilians and the ship itself is not armed, the spokesman said.

No one at the Chinese Foreign Ministry in Beijing answered CNN's telephone calls seeking comment, and there were no stories about the incident in Chinese media.

The 281.5-foot Impeccable is one of six surveillance ships that perform military survey operations, according to the Navy. It is an oceanographic ship that gathers underwater acoustic data, using sonar.

It has a maximum speed of 13 knots -- or about 15 mph -- but it travels 3 knots, or 3.5 mph, when towing its array of monitoring equipment. It carries a crew of 20 mariners, five technicians and as many as 20 Navy personnel.

The Chinese ships involved were a Navy intelligence collection ship, a Bureau of Maritime Fisheries Patrol Vessel, a State Oceanographic Administration patrol vessel and two small Chinese-flagged trawlers, the statement said.

The Pentagon cited three previous instances of what it described as harassment, the first of which occurred Wednesday, when a Chinese Bureau of Fisheries Patrol vessel used a spotlight to illuminate the the ocean surveillance ship USNS Victorious.

In that incident, which occurred about 125 miles from China's coast in the Yellow Sea, the Chinese ship "crossed Victorious' bow at a range of about 1,400 yards" in darkness without notice or warning. The following day, a Chinese Y-12 maritime surveillance aircraft conducted 12 fly-bys of Victorious at an altitude of about 400 feet and a range of 500 yards.

The next day, a Chinese frigate approached Impeccable "and proceeded to cross its bow at a range of approximately 100 yards," which was followed less than two hours later by a Chinese Y-12 aircraft conducting 11 fly-bys of Impeccable at an altitude of 600 feet and a range of 100 to 300 feet, the statement said.

"The frigate then crossed Impeccable's bow yet again, this time at a range of approximately 400-500 yards without rendering courtesy or notice of her intentions."

And on Saturday, a Chinese intelligence collection ship challenged Impeccable over bridge-to-bridge radio, "calling her operations illegal and directing Impeccable to leave the area or 'suffer the consequences,' " the statement said.

In 2007, the Pentagon filed a formal protest with Beijing over its refusal to allow a U.S. aircraft carrier to make a Thanksgiving port call in Hong Kong so its crew could spend the American holiday with relatives and over its refusal to grant refuge to two U.S. minesweeping ships that were caught in a storm.

And in 2001, an EP-3 surveillance plane collided with a Chinese fighter jet and made an emergency landing on China's Hainan Island, where the Chinese held the plane's 24 American crew members for 11 days before releasing them.

Saturday, March 07, 2009

Jed and 2 of his Grade 2 friends

Jed and Kate

Jed and Max

Friday, March 06, 2009

The Cha Cha Slide

This was the entire grade 2 doing the cha cha slide, second to last act...

The circus also included spinning plates, juggling scarves, short jump rope, dribbling balls, stilts, ladder pyramids, gymnastics and balancing acts.

Grand Finale

Goodbye to the Circus. :-(
This is SO cute.

Human Dominos

This part of the circus was GREAT! It was the opening act. Boy am I going to miss this school. Really amazing.

Jed's Grade 2 Circus

The ISB Grade 2 Circus was a great success. Here is Jed's class performance.

Monday, March 02, 2009

On the road

We were on our way home from downtown Beijing this weekend when I spotted a car in front of us. I wonder what was in the boxes and I wonder from where they came...

This is on the road where we travel almost daily. It runs between Beijing and Shunyi, the town where we live.