How It’s Done Blog


Best Pool in Beijing

We’re here, at the Grand Hyatt in Beijing. The pool, I’m told, looks “just like Ariel’s castle” and was a huge hit. We only managed a few hours of sleep on the plane, and tried to do a little too much when we got here (even though it wasn’t much at all). We thought a swim would tire them out, and it did–so much so that they all fell asleep at dinner, which we tried to do right around the […]

Shamian Island: The Home Stretch

Shamian Island is best described as the place the British took over, back when tea and opium were in constant traffic across the sea, and although I am sure there was razing and looting involved in its creation, the result is extraordinarily pleasant. Shady verandas. Palm trees. Wide park-like walkways. Few cars. We are staying at the White Swan. It used to be right next to the consulate, so everyone stayed here. Now it’s right next to an entire cottage […]

Mob Scene in the Forbidden City

Here’s a phrase you may want to learn if you’re going to bring a lot of small, blonde children to China: Ta-men pu yao. That’s “They don’t want it.” Ta pu yao is “He doesn’t want it.” The smog today was palpable, settling down in the Forbidden City to the point where you felt like you needed to clean your glasses, even though you weren’t wearing any. It was muggy, cloudy and oppressive. While we walked to the Forbidden City […]

The Red Couch

What is wrong with that child, you ask? What are you people doing to her? Well, it’s like this. If Rory has one single, stand-out, non-endearing trait, it is (and this is SO PETTY) that she pretty much has to go potty every single solitary second of every day. Is she nervous? Unable to complete, shall we say, with relative strangers? Does she have a UTI? Dunno. Doesn’t, in the context of getting out of China, matter. But there it […]

Welcome to Quarantine, post one

It all started with a phone call. Just a little phone call. A situation had arisen that the authorities needed to discuss with us. It ends with us as the Hyatt’s most loyal customers ever. To make a long story short, mostly because tomorrow I’ll have acres of time to tell you more than you want to know about it, we’re quarantined in China. The people seated behind us on the plane have the flu. As in, really have it, […]

6 people, one room, Day One

It’s a lovely day here for staying in and not going to the Great Wall. Really, we’re all feeling quite festive about it. After that first phone call yesterday, we were quietly encouraged to get the kids down to the pool while Rob met with officials. When they called us back up, they swabbed our throats (just about the only thing that could have made Wyatt less thrilled in general about the Chinese people as a whole was one of […]

Quarantine Fun, Day One, and a Panic

Duplicates, I know–I had some trouble uploading. Ok, if all those swabs come back negative, I’ll be the best quarantine mother ever. I will make paper dolls, I will build card houses, I will teach sam to play chess. I will be 100% present, I swear. We will know in an hour. If anyone is positive, it’s more quarantine for everyone, and the hospital for the positive person. The embassy has said they will intervene to make sure an adult […]

Update

It’s 6:00 on what’s the Chinese friday–they don’t take Saturday off. They do have Sunday off. There’s been no word on our swabs. We hope they’ve decided not to tell us they were negative, because they think we’re going to start fussing about leaving, and we were very difficult about the hotel thing. They don’t, we suspect, want to come to back to us–although I’ve no doubt that if one of us is positive, we’re going down. But I think […]

Things Get Much Better

Today, we got an upgrade. No more tiny room. No more holey sheets. No more stained wallpaper. I could go on, but I won’t. We’re movin’ on up, and now we have a sitting room, a fridge, a balcony and all the amenities. We also have a date of release: Saturday, at 5:30 am. Why 5:30? Not gonna ask. Just gonna be there. So we’re bouncing along. At dinner, they had eggplant with pork–my favorite Chinese dish. And as we […]

How it all works

I’ve realized that it’s not really all that clear to everyone exactly how we got here, so I’ll try to explain. The people seated behind Rob and the boys on the plane did NOT have a fever when we got off the flight. But once they felt sick, they called the authorities (and we don’t know how sick they are, so we will forgive them for that), and two of them tested positive for H1n1. So they came for us, […]

Cicadas, lessons, card-playing

We woke up frustrated today. as a group. Last night was hot, hot, hot–it’s cooled off every other night, but not last night. There was tossing, there was turning, and two of the three of us in my room fell out of bed at least once. We woke up itchy and ready to crawl out of our skins, and with no appetite for another huge Guo-men breakfast. The troops were rebelling. And, of course, there was nothing my mom and […]

In Which Rob Tests Negative

Finally, way later than we expected this afternoon, Rob got his results back from yesterday. H1n1 no longer courses weakly through his veins. One more negative–as in, the results from today’s test–and he can, as he so elegantly put it (with all due respect, I’m sure) “blow this kung pao stand.”

Big Stuff Afoot!

Wow. So, none of what I planned to get done this afternoon got done, although, oddly, I cleaned part of the vegetable garden. Because, what with packing for Texas, finishing Rebecca’s dvd and package, finishing a pitch for my conference next week, doing a new post for the NHPR site I just started writing for, finishing the article for Parenting I wanted to have done before we left Friday…well, clearly what I really needed to do was work in the […]

The Pringle Fairy

If asked, I can state with confidence that the maximum number of days one family should spend pretty much cooped up a room together is…6. Not seven. Seven seems to be just that much too much. But we are getting there. They just took our temperature for the last time. We just had our temperatures taken for the last time. We ate our last lunch. We filled out a form that even had a box for “comments about our stay”. […]

A Solid Guess on Travel Dates

Here’s what I think: I think we’ll head out around 6/11. Here’s the tentative schedule I’ve planned for us: Day 1: leave Day 2: Arrive Beijing Days 3-4: Sightsee in Beijing. Lily tries to throw Wyatt off Great Wall. International incident narrowly averted. Day 5: Fly to Fuzhou City Days 6-9 Get used to Rory, one way or another. Day 10 Fly to Guangzhou Days 11-13 Various appointments Day 14 Fly home. I may have the whole date line mixed […]

A Quarantine Gallery

We did, indeed, get out of quarantine today. Fancy certificates, flowers and everything. TIme has nearly healed the wounds already (that and a couple of really, really good meals). Looking these over, it’s clear that once we were out of the hospital and that first awful couple of rooms, China did well by us. Considering. And the people we talked to in Q seemed to feel that the government was “doing the responsible thing” and that cooperating was a civic […]

Wyatt’s Big Day

Wyatt’s Big Day Originally uploaded by kjda I had a fabulous day with Wy. There was some suggestion, yesterday, that perhaps China hasn’t had a blanket flu-freakout, and that travel dates, for everyone who’s waiting on them, may come soon–and although I’m still hoping we’ll be heading out in June, I can be ok with SOME delay–just not infinite, or even indefinite, delay. It turns out that the combination of a little positive news and a beautiful day returned me […]

Today in Beijing (slightly delayed)

] As you can see, we had a wonderful day. It’s good to be out, it’s good to be here. And hey. we’ve certainly adjusted to the time difference. Tomorrow, the Great Wall and the plane to Fuzhou.

Travel Approval, New Job, Great Day

We just got our travel approval from China–and I just became the kids’ media reviewer for Double X (part of Slate). A double good news whammy. FAQS: When do you travel? We won’t know until Monday, because of the Dragon Boat festival. I would be more resentful, but I happen to love dragon boats! I’d guess we’ll be gone the second half of June. What’s this job thing? I’ll be doing all the kids’ media reviews for doubleX. It’s a […]

We are one sleepy family–what a day. Rory came to the hotel with three women she’d never met before today, and no one from her foster home. When we came in she was wailing–in English–I want to go home! I knelt down and started whispering in her ear–I knew her foster mother had told her that this was ok, that she could go with us and we would take good care of her, and she let me pick her up, […]

Paper Dolls in Action

RIght now Rory, Lily, Wyatt and Sam are jumping off the Great Wall on their way to tennis lessons. Or something. It’s a little unclear… No, Rory didn’t make a surprise appearance. She’s represented by a cardboard paper doll wearing magnetic clothing and played by Lily’s friend Kate. We’ve gone through a lot of ramifications with China travel lately. Wyatt took a bad fall off a swing and came up sobbing “I don’t want to go to China, I want […]

So. Tired.

The real trouble with the whole quarantine thing is that it sucked a lot of the adventure right out of us. We’re tired. We’ve eaten a lot of things we might not otherwise have eaten. We’ve hung out together. We’ve talked to people. We’ve been stared at. And now we are ready to resume our normally scheduled programming, but we still have a week of travel to go. Rory is adjusting well. She kind of collapsed today and took an […]

And…We’re Off.

We are ready. Ready, as in, weighed suitcases sitting in the hallway. My mom asleep already. Me, popping one last movie onto my iPhone and gathering a few last cords and ends. Three excited kids asleep in their room (miraculously, no reappearances!) knowing that the next time they sleep in there, there will be four. (Gulp.) I do plan to blog while we travel–there should be plenty of pictures and lots to tell. We’ll be in Beijing until Sunday 6/21. […]

A Day in Fuzhou

So we’ve agreed: Fuzhou, not set up for tourists. On the other hand, we are seeing a real China city, and not just one like Beijing that’s sort of set up to show itself off in the same way that Manhattan is–there are clearly tons of Chinese tourists–although once we let the guide start taking us places, we saw Western tourists too. I can tell you that Fuzhou-ers, rightly, do NOT go out between noon and three. I don’t know […]