Draw Off

Our latest Draw off. You may recall a ‘draw off’ can be called at any time. And one participant picks the subject, we draw, then a judge declares the winner.

Will picked the topic- aliens.

Naturally, I thought of ‘space’ aliens and therefore loosely based my creation on this guy, Marvin the Martian. (sadly, forgot about his scrub brush on top of the helmet)

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Will’s focus was more land creatures. A combo dragon, fox, fish and a I think a French dude with a long bicycle mustache.

Ok, we need a judge, who won?

 

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Nearly Summer, now June

What has been happening……?

My class and school held their final school year music concert last week. There are 3 maybe 4 concerts per year. My grade (3 classes) played two songs on these GIANT red Chinese drums. I really liked it but don’t tell my parents. We practiced for weeks or maybe months. Mom said we sounded really good.

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Can you find me, I’m right in the middle. Wearing a white shirt under my read Chinese shirt.

That same day, my grade (year3) held an open house and parents were allowed in to watch our collaborative space and group work in action. Next year, another group of YCIS classes will follow our (year 3) lead and build similar open work spaces.

Here are some random pictures from biking in the city, dad took recently. I forget where we were going but dad wanted to take a picture of these dogs in a wagon. This is at the 3rd ring road, very close to mom’s office. The nice wide bike lane is in Sanlutin, a neighborhood close to ours. Dad misses trees like this. Most of the city streets don’t look anything like this.

 

As I tell dad what to write, there is less than two weeks left in the school year. Am I really excited? Actually, I told mom that I want to keep going to school. She looked at me kinda funny.

Last Sunday was father’s day. Dad wanted pancakes, bacon and lots of syrup for his special breakfast so mom cooked up a big stack. Using a gluten free mix, so she could eat some too. Very tasty.

After our (late) breakfast, we walked to the Liangmaqiao metro station. Dad had wanted to go to the Olympic Forest Park for a long time and today we decided to go.

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Metro stop near the Olympic Forest Park. The train arrives behind this cool glass.

This is the largest park in the city, build for the 2008 Olympics. HUGE place, with walking trails, a giant lake and lots of green grass and trees. So much water and green, for a minute, you forget Beijing is a desert. It was hot, really hot today but a cool wind picked up, unfortunately, as soon as we rented a paddle boat at the big lake.

Soon after we started peddling, the sky turned a bit darker and wind picked up. Mom and Dad needed my help peddling so I helped out. Our boat didn’t go so fast, next time we’ll rent a fancy electronic boat, no peddling required.

The park was nice, Dad was impressed with all the running trails around the lake. We’ll be back.

And 10 feet from the heading down into the metro, to head home, the rain arrived.

 

Amazing April

Wow, April sure when by fast. Kinda like every month here. Summer is almost here!

Since this is ‘my’ blog, I decided to let my dad include the first picture for April. He is kinda a college basketball fan and wanted me to post this so, ok…..He says we don’t need to discuss it since the picture will explain itself.

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Kennedy Meeks, West Charlotte High school grad. Go Lions!

Early in the month, the three of us walked over to a friend’s house. My mom likes wine and since Dad is mostly a beer guy, if she gets an invite to drink some wine, we go. Our friends live near the US Embassy, it’s a quick five minute bike ride. Jon is older than my dad but exercises. Not a runner like my dad but he said he is very good at pushups. Since my training includes daily pushups we gave a demonstration:

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This month my dad signed me up for some tennis lessons. Another girl in our neighborhood also signed up. I didn’t want to do it but I think my dad really wanted me to. I’ve had 2 maybe three lessons. Our compound has two tennis courts so very quick walk. One court is new and nice and the other really old and worn out. We practice on the old one. The teacher is nice but speaks no English. I can understand some of what he says. For other words, I just pretend to understand him.

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Speaking of sports, my dad ran another marathon last month. Or maybe this was March….anyway, we flew to Seoul, Korea for his race. It was kinda cold but we ate good food and the hotel roll away bed I slept on was really soft and had three pillows.

 

The big trip of April was to the BIG Island of Hawaii, over my school spring break. We met my cousin Kate and her parents and boyfriend. I played a lot in the pool and we rode in a helicopter over active volcanoes. Wow. The food was really good and my dad said he gained five pounds, even after running almost every morning.

 

The last trip of April was hiking and camping on the Great Wall. We hiked nearly straight up a mountain. Dad said he was really ‘spent’ after getting to our campsite. Luckily, we didn’t have to carry our tent and sleeping bags and food. A donkey carried all the heavy stuff. Or was it a mule….? Dad was impressed with the pictures mom took with her fancy camera. I think some of these are really great too.

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Not sure why this picture makes my parents laugh. I was hot and wanted to sleep on the floor. What’s the big deal?

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Old friends

Way back in the day, ISL and I went to the same pre-school in Seattle. This was the school with mostly Chinese teachers and students. We learned Chinese. I went for one, maybe two years… ISL was my best friend at this school.

ISL’s mom is Chinese and his dad is American. ISL and I had several play dates, back in the day. Then we went to different kindergartens. I went to Adams in Ballard and ISL went to a fancy private school near the UW. I forget the name but dad called it something like “paying for college in kindergarten.

Before we moved to Beijing, ISL and I saw each other several more times. ISL and his family visit Beijing once a year, since his mom still has family here. So, we knew they would visit. Then came to China last summer but we missed them, we were in the states.

ISL and his mom came to town the other day and we made plans to see them. I was nervous. Hadn’t seen ISL in about a year. Would he like the same things as I do?

  • Does he read HP (harry potter)?
  • Has he read ALL the HP books?
  • Has he seen all the HP movies?
  • Does he still play with legos?
  • Does he still listen to the Beatles? (my dad asked this question)
  • Does he have a science lab in his house, like me?

What would happen if he didn’t like these things? Would we not get along, no longer be friends?

I told my mom I was nervous before he arrived. She said she was very sure he still liked many of the things I like. But if he didn’t like something, that is ok. If he had new hobbies or interests maybe I’d like those things.

After ISL and his mom walked into our house, he ran up to me and said, “show me your room.” So, we walked upstairs and in about 30 seconds we were laughing and playing with my air hockey table.  We had fun and then the next day he came over and we spent the day together. Just like old friends.

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Moving day finished

(just found this in the ‘draft’ folder. Time to bring into the light)

We left Seattle, way back in January. I forget the day, maybe the 25th…Bet mom knows the date. Today is April 18th (2016)  and our moving is now complete. Our “stuff” arrived today.

When we left our house, some stuff went into storage in Seattle, some stuff went with us on the airplane, some stuff went in a separate airplane shipment and the last stuff went by boat.

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Arrival in Beijing. Who brings this much stuff? Little did we know we’d wait 12 weeks for our other stuff to arrive. Btw, I’m really tired, can I sleep on this?

Talking to dad we tried to remember what stuff went where…

  • Storge- the furniture we didn’t bring. Some clothes and other stuff
  • In duffel bags-mostly winter clothes, some shoes, just a few legos
  • Air shipment- the MAC, my and dads guitar and….
  • Boat shipment- sofa, books, love seat, my bed, summer clothes, dishes.

All of us are very excited. Mom is happy to get her books, more clothes and dishes. Dad can’t remember what he packed, versus put into storage, so it feels like Christmas to him. And me, I get more LEGOS!!

The property manager provided some furniture that we had removed before our stuff arrived.

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Out with the old…

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In with the new

Now Beijing feels more like home. Well, “home” with a bunch of loud air filtration machines running.

 

February time

Wow, it is February, now almost the end of February. Busy time in Beijing.

This is my friend. She was my best friend. We both read HP (Harry Potter) and have seen all the HP movies. I finished all the books and she is just on book 5. We both like science and drawing. She was at YCIS last year but I never talked to her. This year we were both in Mr. Cole’s class. She sat at my table. Her dad biked her around town, like my dad does. And we had the same bike helmets.

(from dad- one day last fall I was at school, during their lunch recess. I approached them but they had not seen me yet. They were outside on the blacktop, together, facing each other and holding hands. Cutest thing ever. )

Her mom got sick and they had to move to Australia at Christmas so her mom could have surgery. We write to each other and my mom says maybe we’ll go to Australia next year and visit her.

Last Saturday or maybe two or three saturdays ago we took a bus to somewhere in the mountains to see a small town full of ice sculptures. It was a long bus ride to see ice and I fell asleep on the return bus trip home. There were some cool ice sculptures with lights inside. It wasn’t really super cold but it was cold when me and my mom walked through the ice.

 

Dad decided to bake some cookies the other day. He said he has been craving ‘real’ cookies since he has been running a lot to get ready for his mountain race. Can’t remember the last time he baked cookies…..Said mom can eat them since no wheat. He mentioned coconut and gluten free flour. May not look so good but they are pretty darn tasty. Peanut butter cookies.

Below, if you look at the gaps in the rows, you can tell someone was eating a lot of them, as he baked. Not me!

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Not sure where dad got this photo but it is a Beijing sunset during February so he said we should include it:

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Winter time

It is now January and cold and too often we need to wear masks. But they say the “weather” is the worst around late December and early January. Funny, the Chinese call bad air pollution, bad “weather.” I don’t think it is the same thing.

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This is not ‘fog’

The other Sunday, our friend Roman and his daughter Becky picked up me and dad and drove us to a nearby frozen lake. (mom was in Seattle) Traffic was nuts but I think that is normal for this town. We were supposed to be able to play on the frozen lake but didn’t work out. Houhai Lake is big, you can walk around it. It is just north of the Forbidden city so not too far. Lots of shops, restaurants ring it. Some people were out walking and riding ice bikes but because the temperature was rising they stopped letting people get out on the ice. Funny, they stopped people from getting on the ice because of thinning ice but they didn’t remove the people already on the ice… Strange. Dad said, ‘that’s how the Chinese do it.’

We found some cotton candy. Oh, and this crazy old man jumped into the lake, right beside us.

Even in the cold, my dad and I still ride his bike. I don’t get cold but my dad does. The other day, we went to buy a plant. Lots of expats are always leaving and moving to town so lots of stuff to buy cheap. Dad decided the house needs some plants so we biked over to the Kingston Apartments and the family leaving turned out to a boy from my class. Small world. So, we pick up the plant and dad said it will fit on the bike. I tried to tell dad it’s too big….. Think the long bamboo branches hit about 6 people and several cars as we biked home.

Here is a picture of me and my friend Noah walking out on another frozen lake. This is Chaoyang Park, very close to our place. My dad jogs here all the time. And the other picture is us eating Cheeseburgers at our favorite burger place, Great Leap Brewery. My parents ate a cheeseburger but I had the Sunday brunch egg burrito, pretty good.

Our Christmas tree

Few weeks ago, we biked over to a flower market to look for a Christmas tree. Chinese flower markets do have flowers, a lot of flowers on the first floor. But on the second floor they sell tons of other things. Mom and dad can practice their Chinese here but their Chinese isn’t very good and they often ask me, “what’s the Chinese word for…?”

Before Halloween, we went to the second floor of this market and bought all our Halloween gear (lights, customs and other stuff).

This year, we decided to buy a fake Christmas tree. The flower market did sell a few real (live) trees but if we bought a fake one, we could use it again next year.

Mom and dad looked a few different fake trees before picking one. Think dad said it cost less than 50 US dollars. Soon after we bought the tree and got it in the box, dad asked, “this is pretty heavy, how will we get it home?” Thank goodness for the cargo bike!

I didn’t think it would fit on dad’s bike but we found some straps and just tied it on. Dad said the bike leaned a bit to the left, since the box was so heavy, but we were able to bike home without any wrecks. I sat in my usual place inside the ‘hooptie’ and held on to the bag full of Christmas things we bought.

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Now the fake tree looks pretty good.

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Santa at school

Early December, my school celebrated Christmas a bit early. All YCIS students were asked to buy and bring in wrapped toys, clothes and other things to give to a Chinese school students who don’t  have all the stuff we do. They put all these presents under the Christmas tree, outside the administration desk, at the main entrance to YCIS. There were so many presents.

This day, each class, one at time, came down to the tree and sang a few Christmas songs with some of the parents. Then Santa came out and gave each student a candy treat. All the parents were ladies, dressed in red. Guess who Santa was?

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Santa was pretty tall and not Chinese. But too skinny. Wore dark glasses and when his beard fell off, a friend said “that Santa looks like Will’s dad. Now we knew who Santa was….My dad visited with all classes, preschool through Year5. I think he said it took about six hours and he said Santa was beat, needed to return to the North Pole for a holiday. And he said the Santa outfit was very hot. I think he did a pretty good job playing Santa.

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Santa came upstairs to visit all three Year3 classes (mine). I’m way in back

 

Beijing Halloween

This was our first Halloween in Beijing and the neighborhood goes all out. Well, some folks go all out, others no. Many houses decorated their front doors with lights, jack-o-lanterns and spider webs. One street in the compound is called the “American Avenue” since most families are from the US Embassy. We usually don’t go over there too much.

The Saturday before Halloween, a neighbor invited us over to carve pumpkins. At our house, before going, dad and me gutted the pumpkins and selected which design we wanted to carve into each of our 3 pumpkins. You can see our pumpkins, after carving, below. I think mine is the best- looks like a snake.

On Halloween night, someone from that street organized a giant Halloween parade. With some of our neighbors, we walked over Halloween night. All the kids in costume, lined up and walked around so the judges could pick the best. Not sure who one but I didn’t. Oh well, there is always next year.

There was some really good costumes, we were impressed.

After the parade, someone from the embassy brought out about 100 pizzas. Yummy. Dad said, “thank you US Tax payer!”

Soon after the party, all the kids started to trick or treat around the neighborhood. I went with a few friends and got plenty of candy. Luckily the weather was good, not too cold and good air quality.

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This was not my costume, gave it to a neighbor. Maybe wear it next year.

This is me, I am a spy!!

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Happy Halloween!!!