Archived entries for Kids

School security

Security at Zara’s school has been beefed up as the result of the current string of awful attacks at schools in China. There was another incident today, the fourth over the last few months.

The details of the attacks are too awful to even comment on, and any connection between seems mystifying (at least attacker had mental problems, which didn’t stop him being executed).

Zara’s school now has a ‘plain clothes’ security bloke hanging around outside, and any Chinese-looking people are monstered as they arrive to pick up their kids. It’s all pretty grim.

Zac turns one

Zac managed to turn one year old today, despite what seems to be a very real interest in doing himself some serious harm. On Saturday he head-butted the floor and so now sports a very becoming bruise on the bridge of his nose, the latest in a long line of scrapes, garks and other imperfections he has accumulated while perfecting his rather extraordinary climbing skills.

He stands, at the moment, but doesn’t walk (apart from the occasional tottering fall, that charitably gets called ‘steps’), but has a huge interest in anything on a table. To get on the table to check it out, he will push one of our kid chairs closer, climb onto that, transfer to a higher chair, then onto the table. Destruction ensues. It’s not pretty.

Zac had several rounds of presents today and appreciated the wrapping and the presents themselves each time, but is a wee bit grumpy on his anniversary – I think he has a cold, probably the same cold Zara, Reid and I have been passing around for the last three or four weeks. I am writing on the plane to Bangkok, and have spent the first two hours trying to get my ears adjusted to the altitude. Can’t wait for the descent.

Zara is off school for two weeks for the Chinese New Year long break – by the time I get back from this trip on Friday I suspect the fire-crackers will have started in earnest. Someone let a few off yesterday afternoon in a small warm-up, and I though a bomb had gone off. Qing Mei, our part-time ayi, has joined the general exodus home for the holiday, which for her means 2 days on a train. Happily Yu Mei is Beijing ren so only gets the same holidays Reid does – 3 days next week.

Last week was also supposed to mark the start of spring – we’re all getting pretty sick of the sub-zero temperatures – but any progress there was dampened by more snow yesterday, and apparently more all week. We’re over it. Bring on the warm.

Reid is busy preparing for Foreign Minister McCully’s visit, which she is looking after – he will up here several times this year, along with the rest of the cabinet it seems at various times. Minister of Trade Tim Grocer was here last week, and he said the Government’s commitment to the Shanghai Expo and China in general could be seen in the number of ministers hurrying to pack their bags for Beijing. You could almost see the diplomats flinch.

And I’m in week 4 of a awfully intense 6 week sprint to the finish line of (this phase of) the Thai project. I haven’t been much fun lately. But the end is in sight.

I may have said that before.

Zara’s school report

For those desperate to read some highfalutin Montessori teacher-speak, here is Zara’s second school report.

(Zara loves school, and adores her teacher, Kay, who is fantastic).

New Year’s Eve 2009 – domestic update

It’s 5pm on New Year’s Eve. The kids are downstairs somewhere with the ayi, Reid is having a nana-nap…. all is quiet- hopefully time for a quick update before witching hour begins.

The big news of the last few weeks is poor Yu Mei was hurt in a bus accident – the bus jammed on the breaks to avoid a car, and Yu Mei, who was a passenger in the bus, fell over and hurt her neck. She was taken to hospital in an ambulance and, much testing later, her neck was put in a brace. Obviously she can’t work, so she’s been relaxing at home getting better – sending her son over to us to deliver vegetables and fruit (fairly sure it’s supposed to be us sending her stuff?).

Anyway, she’s getting better, and has appeared at the apartment a few times to see Zac, who she misses a lot (and to have a coffee). We think she may be back next week, but don’t really know at this stage.

In her absence I completely panicked and over-compensated with childcare. Zara’s teacher offered to keep Zara in school for the whole day (finishing at three), and I rounded up three more ayis, plus extended the hours of the cleaning ayi we already have. Zac was starting to get a ridiculous amount of attention – but now everyone’s hours have been reduced a wee bit and things are approaching normal.

Isn’t this domestic stuff interesting? Perhaps I should move on…

Nikki’s medical adventures have settled down, but she was considerably more ill then we thought she was going to be. A sad offshoot of all this is for a while she was unable to pick up Zac or Zara, so for a few weeks there was no discussion on who was going to see what the problem was at 3am (yes yes, it’s all about me really).

She finished for the year on the 24th and is taking three weeks off over Christmas as Helen (her mum) is in town. Next year is going to be all about the Shanghai Expo, which will be madhouse busy for her, so holidays next year will be few and far between.

Zara has finished school for the year and also has three weeks off now. The week of full days at school left her completely munted at the end of each day, but the school does do very cool stuff in the afternoons (art appreciation, modern dance etc), so there is thought we’d try and extend her hours next year. The cost is positively frightening….

Zac is crawling around the house like a little demon, and particularly enjoys investigating the toilets and unloading dirt from the pot-plants. He is standing by himself for minute periods, and likes pushing around chairs and buggies while standing up – it’s only a matter of time before he loses the supports. He is still a lovely bugger, and occasionally sleeps in until 6.30am. Bless.

And me? Well, I’ve been busy working. And yes, I know you all ask, and yes, the answer is the same: no, I have not got paid (for anything yet), but hope springs eternal in the human breast.

In recent events…. for Christmas we started with champagne and kid-related consumer madness here – Zara was very excited this year, once we’d explained that Santa could take the lift to get the apartment since we didn’t have a chimney. For lunch we moved to a friend’s place (Tushka and John), and ate considerable food with a few other families, retreating home at 6pm. Kids asleep by 7, parents shortly after.

The next day Helen arrived – she’s been completely monstered by Zara who has demanded (and received) lots of attention. Helen is here for two weeks, so last night Reid and I snuck out for a night leaving her in charge (supported by Ayi Miao). We booked a room at the Graceland Courtyard Hotel, a 8-room hotel in a hutong west of the Forbidden City, went for dinner at the Da Li Courtyard and a few drinks at the East Lake Jazz club. It’s our first night away from kids since Zac was born – and the time before that was that trip to Chinese fantasyland, Qiqihar. Fantastic.

We’re going to try again next week, on a longer trip to Shanghai.

Anyway. It’s now 6.30. I’ve pushed some pasta into Zara and she is now watching Harold and the Purple Crayon. Zac is starting to nosily head toward bed after clambering around under my desk unplugging stuff. I’ve been taking photos of the Blue Moon that is rising through the clearish-skies. Reid is making coffee in an attempt to amp up – as we now have to get geared up for a New Year’s dinner and drinking, being careful to dress appropriately as it is already -7 outside, and getting colder.

Happy New Year y’all.



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