Tuesday, April 26, 2011

April Antics

Belated Happy Easter everyone! Easter isn't a big holiday in our household but there's something about celebrating it in the spring that just feels right. There's not a whole lot of chocolate to be had here in Hong Kong, certainly not in comparison to the overwhelming quantities of eggs and bunnies available in Aus at this time of year, but there's enough to make you feel like a bit of glutton. We've also managed to track down hot cross buns, and this year marked the start of a new tradition: Easter Saturday pikelets, something we all embraced wholeheartedly. We decided to forego the roast lamb that we would have had for Sunday lunch if we were down under this Easter, but instead we had quiche with a salad made almost entirely of ingredients fresh from our garden! The lettuce, spinach and herbs are going nuts, and this week I planted tomatoes, eggplant, zucchini, beans and sunflowers. I haven't been this excited about food in a long time and with the weather being absolutely gorgeous I think it's fair to say things are looking up!

We kicked off the Easter weekend on Friday with a 'safari' at Harbour City organised by Little Steps. It was Easter on adrenaline, and J had an absolute ball. There were games and giveaways and a whole lot of giant fluffy rabbit ears, plus the kid's first trip to Toys R' Us. It was a lot of fun and our boy was brilliant. He was just so thrilled to be out somewhere different that he wasn't at all demanding, and he's been like that the whole weekend. I'm sure it won't last so I'm making the most of it! Apart from that (and the Eastery food) there hasn't been too much going on this weekend. We've just been enjoying the sunshine, each other's company and four days without any construction/demolition/endless pole-driving and drilling - it's been bliss!

Working backwards, I want to write about our little sojourn to Macau last week. As I mentioned a couple of weeks ago, here, it was our first trip away without J. Leaving him was tough, and he got very upset which didn't help to alleviate the feelings of immense guilt, but the further away we got, the easier it became. We caught the ferry over (a bit hair-raising to be honest) and shuffled through immigration with the rest of the hordes. We were collected by a courtesy bus and driven to our digs for the night The Venetian Macao and the fun began. Firstly, this place is huge, and the whole vibe is composed to make you feel like you're in Venice. From the "gondoliers" at the door to the fake canals, it's all so over-the-top and surreal, but the attention to detail is quite simply superb. We strolled along the canals, shopped a little, and ate a pretty spectacular dinner at Brazilian restauraunt Fogosamba in the heart of the faux St Mark's Square. Apart from eating a meal at a table and having an uninterrupted adult conversation and a glass of wine, the highlight of the trip was Cirque Du Soleil's performance of Zaia. It was breathtaking and awesome and totally spellbinding - I can't say enough good things about it. There were a few downsides to the hotel, like it's not a place for kids, and it's so massive that we spent a lot of time walking to and from places (or getting lost). I also hated the fact that people were allowed to smoke everywhere, even in the elevators, so we were desperate for fresh air after a few hours indoors. I also got asked to leave the pool area while I was sitting at the edge dangling my feet in. Apparently you need to be wearing a swimsuit and take a shower before putting any part of yourself in the water... After spending the night in a suite that was bigger than our house we bypassed the casinos and the perpetual twilight of the canals and caught a cab to Macau city. It was beautiful, not something I ever expected to say about a city on the edge of China, but they obviously take great pride in their heritage, and if you can ignore the Starbucks and McDonald's outlets tucked into the old Portugese terraces, you will feel like you've been transported to another place. We followed the well-trodden tourist path, with a few detours and we weren't disappointed. 

We arrived back home late that afternoon and were greeted with an excited chorus of "mamadadamamadada!" Our helper looked exhausted but our little guy was fine without us. He bit me a few times just to show me that he hadn't been all that impressed about being left behind, but we have definitely been converted to the child-free mini-break. It was nice to be somewhere different and to be reminded of the kind of people we were before we had a baby, and we found we actually had other things to talk about. All in all a great experience. Here are some photos of the old city:

 The old post office

 St Dominic's Cathedral

 The old Macau Fort

 The ruins of St Paul's

And here are a few from The Venetian:

 The Vegas of Asia

 The outdoor canal
 And the indoor one

PS: if you haven't done so already, please head over to the button on the right and vote for me in the Sydney Writer's Centre blog awards (please!). Email subscribers to the blog will need to go to the actual blog to do this (please!).

Thursday, April 21, 2011

The Pilot's Wife (the last of the Lost Posts)

A recent lost post, and the most acceptable of those that remain unpublished - they're still in the draft box for a reason...

Before I married a pilot I had this vision of what life as a pilot must be like. I had grand ideas of high salaries and layovers in all sorts of glamorous locations. This may have been true once but it's far from reality now, or at least far from ours. When I met my husband he had just been informed that his airline had gone into liquidation, and he was unemployed. He'd also recently broken up with his girlfriend, and he was homeless and sleeping on a mate's couch. He was undeniably "a catch" and I was instantly smitten. I guess, despite the setbacks, I still had a vision (a cross between Tom Cruise in Top Gun and Rob Lowe in View From the Top) of what a pilot was, and I saw the potential. D was gainfully employed again by the time we hooked up officially, but glamorous it was not. A regional airline based in Sydney, which shall remain nameless, paid him a pittance to fly around NSW in very small planes. For his 30th birthday he was rostered to fly to Dubbo and I went along, not wanting him to be alone. It was one of the bleakest, coldest nights of my life, and will go down in history as one of the crappiest birthdays ever.

When a certain Hong Kong based airline came calling a few years later, it was still a tough call. We had a good life in Sydney, we were happy, we were settled, we had a garden and a dog. But my husband had the "sky in his eye" as his Aunty N would say, and his dream of flying a big plane (aka a jet) was within reach. We were also being offered the chance to actually make some money and live overseas; not something to sniff at. We took a chance and packed our bags (and the dog came too). And four years later, here we are, still searching for that high-flying lifestyle. Don't get me wrong, life here is awesome, and we wouldn't be here if it weren't for my husband's job. I want to state for the record that I know how INCREDIBLY lucky we are, and this (despite appearances) isn't intended to be a "poor me" post. It's more of a "let's get a few things straight" post, because I'm constantly amazed by the number of people who have that same vision of piloting that I did all those years ago. We've met some really interesting and worldly people in our travels but as soon as my husband mentions that he's a pilot, that's all they want to talk about. So for my readers who aren't married to pilots (or related to one), I want to dispel a few myths, hopefully without shattering any illusions for those of you who aren't aware that the guys in charge of the plane are just regular husbands/dads/brothers etc (a fact which still freaks me out sometimes).

Firstly, while destinations like New York and Milan are a really long way from Dubbo and Bathurst (on so many levels), a lot of the time the guys are only there for 24 hours and then they have to turn around and come home. My hubby tries to get out and see as much as he can when he's away, but it's usually on the wrong side of his body clock, so he comes home shattered and takes 2-3 days to recover from the jetlag. Secondly, while it sounds really cool to say "we're off to Paris for the weekend," the reality is that a 12 hour flight for 30 hours in Europe followed by another 12 hour flight is more exhausting than the first few weeks with a newborn. And you can forget about it when you have kids.

Contrary to popular belief pilots and their families don't fly for free. It's ridiculously cheap I'll admit, but you're always on standby. Yes, I'm that crazy lady hurtling through the airport trying to make it to the plane at the last minute. But only because the dear people at check-in wouldn't give me my boarding pass until after the flight closed, and not because I couldn't be bothered to check in on time (chances are I was there several hours before you). My sister-in-law had travel benefits with us one year and she went to the airport 6 days in a row trying to get home to Brisbane. Not fun. We do, correction did, have business class privileges when D first joined the company, but that only meant we could fly business class IF there was a seat available. Imagine turning up, dressed the part, ready for a 16 hour flight to New York, and being told the only seat left on the plane was the one right down the back between the toilet and the overweight snoring man. Children of staff are not allowed in business class either, so once J arrived we were sent back to economy with the rest of the punters. A sad day indeed. I wouldn't mind so much if I didn't know what I was missing. As one friend puts it; "business class isn't just a better seat, it's a better life." The idea that pilots make truckloads of money is also ludicrous. We're not destitute by any means but you've all seen my kitchen, right? And my husband may get a lot of time off in between trips, but when he's away, he's a long long way away, for days at a time. He's so tired and incoherent when he does get back that sometimes I feel like I have two kids. His job might be a hot topic of conversation at get togethers, but to me he's still the guy that forgets to take the garbage out.

At the end of the day being a pilot is just like any other job. You work your butt off for someone else (although watching movies and eating first-class meals enroute to London isn't my idea of hard work), you get paid and you look forward to the weekend, when you may or may not be flying to Paris. Just a regular day at the office really.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Love and Marriage (Lost Post #3)

This post comes from way back in September. Before you read it I have to say I adore my husband. I'm very lucky that he is such an involved dad. We were never at each other's throats, even though this post might give you that impression. This post was written at a time when our nerves were frayed and we were seriously sleep deprived, and had maybe temporarily forgotten how much we adored each other. The post is incomplete, but our story won't be...

This week I have had lots of time to indulge in my favourite pastimes, one of which is blogging. That's because my husband is in London and, at night after J goes to bed, I have the evening stretched out before me with nothing to do but whatever takes my fancy. I always achieve an awful lot (and eat more than my fair share of chocolate) when D is away, and I have to be honest, after two weeks of having him at home, I was quite looking forward to this trip. I know I sound like a terrible wife, and if you have a husband who works a regular 9-5 job and is never at home, you're probably hating me right now. But trust me when I say, you really can have too much of a good thing (the good thing in this case being my husband).

It wasn't always this way. Back when I was young and single, all I wanted was a boyfriend; someone to watch movies, hold hands, and dream of a future with. When I finally got a boyfriend and I decided he was "the One" I spent an awful lot of time wishing we lived together. When that happened it was a natural progression to wishing we were married. Naturally, a year or two after we were married, I started talking about babies. I was always looking for the next step, wanting a little more. I believe that you have to have something to look forward to, something to work towards. Since we became parents the one thing I've been wishing for is for my husband to be at home more. Last year when I was pregnant, D took on a second job. Mostly for the extra money but also because he is the kind of guy who needs to be busy, and he felt that he had too much time on his hands. His second job ended up being more work than his actual career. He worked 9-6 on his days off and still took calls once he was home. He worked every day of the week and, with a newborn baby at home, I found it really hard. The final straw came when he went to work for a day and was on call at his "proper" job. He called me at 4pm that afternoon to tell me he'd been called to fly to Vancouver that night and would be home as soon as possible. I was furious! He'd been gone all day and would only be home to have dinner and pack his bags before going away for 4 days. We both agreed that it simply wasn't worth it. We were both exhausted and cranky, and D was missing out on too much of J's growing up.

It took a couple of weeks but eventually he worked his way out of the 2nd job and now it's more of a hobby. I got my wish, and I have my husband at home, sharing the parenting, when he's not away on a trip. He's home a lot... To those of you out there going it alone most of the time, this probably sounds like a luxury, and it is at times. But it definitely creates a new set of challenges. A good friend warned me when I was pregnant that a little one can really test your relationship. She said that we should be prepared to fight more often. I like a good heated debate but my husband is such a pacifist he could work for the UN, so I had my doubts about that. After a couple of sleep deprived weeks we realised it was true, and it continues today. We do fight more and most of the major disagreements we've had over the last year have occurred at times when we've spent a lot of time together. I'm not sure if that's because we've had time to realise that we disagree or if we're both worked up because we're getting on each other's nerves. I think it has more to do with our levels of fatigue than fundamental differences of opinion, but we've both realised the importance of being on the same page when a little person is involved.

We generally agree on how we want to raise our son, which is a great start (apart from the whole christening debate, which remains unresolved!). But what we've realised through our attempts at co-parenting is that we could work on our communication skills. Shouting commands at each other over the baby's screams or grunting apathetically with exhaustion aren't cutting it apparently. One particular incident that highlighted this concerned J's routine. From the day we brought J home from the hospital I was completely focused on how our days were going to run. I let him call the shots for a couple of months and then decided that we needed a routine of sorts. Feeding, playing and sleeping were all mapped out in a very flexible, but consistent plan, based on the little man's changing needs. The trouble was, it was all in my head. I explained to our helper what I was doing each day and she knew what was going on because she paid attention, but my husband would come home and have no idea that we'd just spent 4 days teaching J to self-soothe. It wasn't until I overheard my husband comment one day on how lucky we were that J napped and ate at roughly the same time every day, and that it was purely by accident, that I realised I had never explained to him that I had been working my butt off while he was away. Initially he had no idea that J and I were like a well-oiled machine, following a carefully orchestrated routine, and I was terribly upset that he couldn't see how hard I had worked to achieve that. I now have J's routine written down on the fridge and I make sure everyone in the house knows when I make changes, but it's taken a huge effort on my part to remember to talk about it (I'm a bit more relaxed 6 months on!).

We had an argument recently over something fairly inconsequential, but because we hadn't communicated how we each felt about it, it escalated to the point where I ended up sending D an email to let him know exactly what was on my mind. I was so sleep deprived and emotional that any time I tried to talk to him I just got upset. It's not an approach I recommend, in fact, it seems crazy now, but our whole world has been turned upside down this year, so it makes sense that the way we would normally do other things has changed too.

P.S. Marriage, like parenting, is a work in progress. And something we've learned since I wrote this post is that dates and mini-breaks are essential!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Lost Post #2

Ok, so this isn't technically a lost post from this blog, but it is a post from another blog that's been neglected for some time. I started a blog when we first moved here to keep family in the loop and fill them in on what life in Hong Kong was like. I spent a lot of time on the old blog and this is one of my favourite posts from the days when I didn't have a kid to write about...

Random Observations
I've started keeping a notebook with me and recording some of the beautiful, bizarre and amusing things I'm noticing about everyday life in Hong Kong. One thing in particular that astounds me is the determination shown by the government when it comes to land reclamation. Most of the local islands, including Hong Kong island itself, are mountains emerging from the sea. They're rocky, covered in thick jungle, and in places seem to be inhospitable. Chinese engineers have achieved amazing feats with their construction of a major city on the edges of this wilderness, but there are times when it seems so ridiculously futile. With the city teetering on the edge of several peaks, subsidence is clearly a problem. The solution for this is slope management, which basically involves covering slopes with concrete or a mesh type material to prevent landslides and rockfalls.

Each slope is registered and has a little plaque with an emergency hotline number on it, should you find the slope not performing its duties. Here on Lantau there is a slope that has been cemented to a height of at least 500metres. Call me crazy but the thought of that volume of concrete falling on me at great speed, frightens me more than a few trees and some dirt. To deal with runoff in the rainy season all of the slopes come fitted with drainage holes and these are a favourite place for snakes to hide out. They're also great for growing bamboo.

Mother Nature seems determined to have the last word here and there are teams of people all over the city whose job it is to maintain the slopes and trim the parks and gardens to within an inch of their lives. I've been told that such severe pruning prevents "vermin" but I get such a kick out of seeing a bright, fire engine-red hibiscus flower bursting out the top of a hedge, or a street littered with purple bauhinia flowers fallen in silent rebellion against the man with the clippers. Here on Lantau they're attempting to build a new road over the hill. The old road is apparently one of the steepest in the region and much of it is single lane. The new road has been under construction for a couple of years now and it will be a few more before it's done. I look at the construction trucks in the shadow of Lantau Peak and they look like Tonka trucks, desperately trying to tame an untameable wilderness.

I secretly hope that one day they'll realise it's all been in vain and go home, but for now I just imagine that the workers are like early explorers, hacking their way through vines and creepers, and I cheer for nature every time I see her getting her own back. On the ferry the other morning there was a cockroach, the epitome of vermin, and as disgusted as I was to see one, I smiled a little and wished him's a jungle out there.

Monday, April 18, 2011

The Lost Posts

As regular readers will have noticed, A Mummy in a Strange Land has had an overhaul recently. I'm still not 100% content with the new look but, as that seems to be the story of my life, it's somehow appropriate. The overhaul has extended to all the "behind-the-scenes" bits of the blog as well, and I've tidied up my drafts folder a little. I've found a lot of posts that I've started and have never finished, for one reason or another. Some of them needed tweaking a little, some were a bit too short to be a complete post on their own, while others were about a specific moment in time and the moment passed before I had a chance to get them out there. I put a lot of thought and time into everything I write and it seems a waste just to delete the drafts that never made it to the publishing stage, so I'm dedicating this week to the posts that missed their day in the sun. For each one I'm going to include the date that they were originally written and links to the posts around them, so you can put them into context if you have far too much time on your hands this week. First up is this one, from the 18th of December:

The Kindness (or not) of Strangers

Firstly, I have to refer to my last post The Grinch Who Stole Christmas. Our missing bag was found, left behind by baggage handlers in Sydney for reasons unknown. I was so relieved to have it all back that I didn't ask questions. I felt guilty for assuming the worst but my husband assures me that bags do get stolen all the time, especially at this time of year, especially in Sydney.

It's also not uncommon for people to assume the worst in big cities. One of the things we both noticed about Sydney was how angry people were. It feels as if the whole city is simmering away quietly and at any moment anyone could snap. People aren't helpful generally and they don't smile at each other in the street. This came as a shock to me when I first moved there as I grew up in a town where everyone smiled at each other or said hello. In the city, if you do show any signs of friendliness it's instantly assumed that you are a loon and to be avoided at all costs. There were quite a few times where I was struggling with the stroller and trying to open a door and no one offered to help. One man went so far as to pretend he was on the phone and shot through the door behind me. Others avoided my eye and chose to linger behind until someone else helped or I managed to get the door open on my own. I wondered if these people were afraid to help in case I took it as a sign that I could engage with them on some level, or if they were worried I'd get upset if they tried to help, perhaps I might snap "I can do it myself!" Whatever the cause, it bothered me and made me realise how helpful and friendly people are here in HK in comparison.

We spent one afternoon at Coogee beach, catching up with friends over fish and chips. It was a gorgeous summer afternoon and we were enjoying ourselves immensely until I was hit across the back of the head by a drunken idiot stumbling around. We were all instantly on the defensive ready for a fight, too quick to adopt the local mentality. We brushed the guy off but noticed several police officers wandering around and the riot squad vehicles parked outside the local pub; all prepared for an evening of violence and people generally making a nuisance of themselves. I don't remember it being that bad when I first moved there 10 years ago and I had to ask myself why people were so aggressive and angry. It is such a beautiful place and Australians are so very lucky, so why isn't anyone happy? Our friends were complaining that many of their friends with kids had moved away, either to the outer suburbs or out of Sydney altogether. They attributed exorbitant property prices and the high cost of living to this exodus, with many others wanting to be closer to family. I wondered if people in the city are so on edge because it's a city of migrants? So many people move to Sydney from overseas or from smaller towns to study, to work or to play, leaving behind loved ones and support networks. I've mentioned in previous posts (Like this one) how difficult it was for me to make friends there and I think this is true for so many others.

I mentioned in my post Now You're One that J and I were sick in Sydney while we were on our own. We had D's parents helping us out but it was still very tough. I can't imagine living there, without the friends or help that I have here, and having to do it all on my own. I'd be pretty angry and on edge too and I think it'd be too easy to take it all for granted and forget how great a country it is. Being ripped off at the supermarket every day and having no one open doors for you would certainly wear anyone down after a while.

Despite all that I did have a lovely time, and it was very, very hard for me to leave. We left Sydney after a week and went to see my family in a little town called Cooma. There has been drought-breaking rain this summer and the landscape was green and gorgeous, the rivers were overflowing and the grass was waist high. It reminded me of my childhood when it was always like that. It was one of the best visits home I've had in years. I stayed with my Nanna and she showed me old photos and filled me in on the family tree. My parents spoiled us rotten and loaded us up with so many Christmas presents I had to take an extra bag. The sky was so so blue and the air was fresh, it made me homesick in a way I never thought possible. I miss being able to look out in any direction and see nothing but land and sky, I miss the horizon! I could so easily have rented a house for the summer and stayed put for a few months, but I took the advice of a good friend who grew up in the same town. He always says; it's better to leave when you feel like you could stay, rather than wait until you feel like you've stayed too long.

So we trekked back to Sydney with far too many bags in tow, and I had a minor panic attack at the airport when I realised that arriving in Sydney felt like coming home. Everywhere I went it was easy and familiar. Even negotiating the ridiculous traffic didn't bother me. In the end I found some really helpful and friendly people, all too willing to lend me a hand with my bags or the baby and restore my faith in the kindness of strangers. We spent 24 hours in glorious Bondi and caught up with a few people before I had to accept that it was time to leave. If it wasn't for the texts from my husband pleading with me to get on the plane, and the fact that we were flying back to Hong Kong in business class, I might still be there.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Modern Dilemmas

Lately I've been faced with a bit of a dilemma; whether or not to go away with my husband, sans bebe. I think it says a lot about how lucky we are, if this is the biggest thing we have to worry about, so I'm grateful for that. I don't expect any sympathy for the fact that I have to decide whether or not I can face a trip to Milan (oh, poor me!) but I'm sure that most parents, at some point, need to get away and can at least relate to that aspect of my problem. I know if we still lived in Sydney and had a somewhat normal life we'd probably have left J with his grandparents months ago and headed off to the coast for a weekend. The fact that we're talking about an international business class trip might make me sound spoiled, but it doesn't make it any easier.

Before we were Mama and Dada we did a bit of travelling together and I went on two of D's work trips. Back then he was mostly flying to North America and the Middle East so I tagged along to New York and L.A. and we had an awesome, but brief, time. At the time I was working, and spending 32 hours on a plane for a 48 hour layover required more stamina than I could muster most weeks, so I didn't go away as often as I could have. As soon as J was born and I was grounded, D started flying to places like London, Milan and San Francisco, and he's had some incredible travel experiences without me, much to my dismay. As he's due to do his upgrade in a couple of months these trips will soon become a thing of the past, and I'll be a little less envious when he's flying to Taipei and back in a day. For a while now we've been talking about taking advantage of the great rosters and the option of me going to work with him once again, since Hong Kong's proximity to the rest of the world is one of the main reasons why we moved here in the first place. This month D was given a Milan trip with 2 whole days there. We talked about a side trip to Venice, and when we realised that it was a few days before our anniversary, it seemed like it was meant to be. Then we calculated that we'd be away from J for 4 nights, 3 days, and it seemed like an awfully long time to be on the other side of the world. We talked about taking him with us but the thought of a 12 hour flight with a 15 month old and an 8 hour time difference ruled that out pretty quickly. Putting him through that just because we couldn't be away from him seemed more selfish than going without him. We tried to justify it to ourselves in so many ways. It'd be good for us, he'd be fine, we'd make sure everyone in the neighbourhood knew we were away and ask them to check in. We talked to other parents about it and it seemed that everyone felt pretty strongly one way or the other, there were very few sitting on the fence with us. There were those who were quite happy to take off for a few days and leave the kids with the helper, and they wondered why we were even talking about it, "book now," they cried. Others hated leaving their kids for even a day, and wouldn't dream of going so far away without them. Their faces would twist into an agonised grimace as they said, "oh, no! I couldn't do that!" and looked at me like I was clearly a terrible mother for even thinking about it. People with more than one child were more likely to support the idea, and the older the kids are the easier it is to leave them apparently.

I was torn, and then D announced that if we were going to go we'd need to organise our wills and make sure we had decided who would take custody of J if anything happened to us. Suddenly our little trip to Venice took on a whole new light - I pictured the infinite number of ways we could come to grief (those gondolas are floating death traps!), and it suddenly seemed less appealing. So in the end D left last night, without me. He still plans to go to Venice and even though he was trying to appear disappointed, he was buzzing with barely contained excitement as he packed his bag. As it turns out, it wasn't meant to be; I have tonsillitis and wouldn't have been able to go anyway. Surely it's better that I chose not to go rather than being forced not to at the last minute? I would've been bitterly disappointed if I'd gone through all that angst, decided to go and then had to can the whole thing.

I know a certain friend was hoping I'd jump in and take the trip to Milan so that he could use it to encourage his wife to do the same. What I think would be a better solution would be for us girls to go away together and leave the dads in charge (sorry, S!). I wouldn't need any convincing for that kind of holiday; I'd be perfectly happy on the other side of the world if I knew J was with one of his parents. You see, this whole debate has got me thinking about the kinds of travel I really want to do, because these days it's a pretty big investment. I've realised I'm less keen for global adventure, and more interested in some quiet time somewhere else. Top of my list is obviously a family holiday, just the three of us. A parents-only break would be a nice treat if we could tear ourselves away. But deep down I'd really love to go away by myself. Just for a weekend, a few days, to get some sun, sleep, eat a meal without being interrupted and lie idle by a pool. Sounds fab doesn't it? And a lot easier to commit to.

For now we've decided on a trial baby-free getaway, somewhere close by instead, and next week for our anniversary we're off to Macau. We'll be gone for a night and the ferry trip is only an hour. So we could be back in a heartbeat if we needed to be. I have to admit, I'm ridiculously excited about it already, and if it all goes well and we cope without our little man for 24 hours, we'll see what the roster holds in May.

In other news, I've put my time lying sick in bed to good use, and I've given the blog a facelift. I hope you like it.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

This Week We've Been...

I am terribly late with this week's post and I have no one to blame but myself. I could've written about a million different things but once again I'm going to cheat and give you a summary of everything that's happened in my little world since you saw me last. This week we've been:

Recovering after the 7's: A full three days of Rugby Sevens is a massive effort for anyone, and we had to do it just once while we're living here. The Friday is a short day just to whet your appetite. The Saturday is the biggest day and it's obligatory to dress up and drink all day in the south stand of the stadium. I decided to forgo the drinking (as my body is a temple these days) but I did dress up. I was not so keen when I learned that this year our group would be going as Playboy bunnies in honour of the Year of the Rabbit but I went with it...

I left early; there's only so much debauchery a sober girl can cope with, and regretted leaving my coat behind as the further I got from the stadium the less I looked like a rugby-goer, and the more people started to look at me like I'd just finished work in a bar in Wan Chai... I came home covered in beer and with no idea who played or what the day's results were, but it was a lot of fun. On Sunday we mustered the energy to go back and actually watch some rugby. We were more appropriately dressed for the 10 degree day and sat in the family stand with coffees and meat pies, and we paid attention to what was happening on the field. The highlight of the day was seeing the entire crowd on their feet cheering as Japan beat the USA in one of the semi-finals. I'm glad I can now say I've been to the 7's but think I'll be a Sunday supporter in future years.

Feeling better then feeling worse: I'm not sure if it's the placebo effect or the fact that I've generally been taking better care of myself but until Thursday I felt great. I had more energy, less numbness and a definite sense that something was going right. Then I went to work and spent an entire day running around town, forgot to take my potions and have been feeling like crap ever since. I'm pinning all my hopes (pun intended) on this Chinese medicine and acupuncture business but after this week's session had no positive results I'm starting to have my doubts. I felt ok yesterday and went to my first yoga class. It was a great workout but it left me aching and shaking all over, not what I was hoping for.

Battling a toddler who refuses to eat: My mantra this week is "it will pass" and I've been taking a lot of deep breaths and counting to ten. J has been on a hunger strike and refusing to eat his dinner. I've tried all sorts of things like giving him lunch early and no snacks in the afternoon, less milk and more finger food at dinner, but none of it has convinced him to eat. I don't know if it's a toddler power struggle or if he's just not hungry, but my husband put a stop to our battle the other night and skipped dinner altogether. I was beside myself, feeling like the worst mother in the world for letting my son go to bed without dinner, but apart from waking up really hungry, he didn't seem any worse off for it. 

Sleeping: The planets must have been aligned this week because all of a sudden J started sleeping through. Really sleeping through, like going to bed at 7pm and waking around 6.30, with no crying out or fussing during the night. The last few nights he's woken once or twice but several consecutive nights of uninterrupted sleep has been amazing! 

Celebrating Spring: The last few months have been cold and miserable and I've hated it. There have been tantalising glimpses of finer weather but the greyness has always returned. The leaves have returned to the trees, the flowers are in bloom, the birds are waking us up ridiculously early, we've had three days of warm temperatures, and the sky is blue, so I'm thinking it's time to declare that it is finally spring. I'll be complaining in a few weeks that it's too hot but for now I'm enjoying this fabulous season by...

Creating our own little piece of paradise: I grew up in the country and I like my wide open spaces. Hong Kong isn't exactly renowned for that so we live in the most rural part of it. We don't have a backyard though, and the closest thing to outdoor space we have is our rooftop. Until now this has been an ugly disused space but we recently got stuck in and created something a little more inviting. The BBQ has had it's first run for the season and the vegies should be ready to harvest in a couple of months. For now the roof is just an awesome place to chill out with my boys and enjoy our pretty special view. There is something so soul-soothing about getting your hands dirty and working with plants. I have always wanted a proper vegie garden, I just never imagined I'd be attempting it on a rooftop. I can't wait to see what grows. 


Working: I know, it's a shock right? I got a call from the school I was working in (before I decided staying at home was much more fun) and they asked me to invigilate an exam. It was a half day, no classroom work, and I had no valid reason to say no. I was shattered by the end of the day but it was nice to be doing something else. Unfortunately I'm not going to have a choice pretty soon and will need to do a fair bit of work as we are...

Renovating the kitchen: It's been a long time coming and the current kitchen has been the subject of many complaints on my part. We could've made do for a while longer but the sink needed to be repaired recently and my husband decided to do it himself. The tap has leaked since we moved in and D told me that to fix it he'd need to take the sink out. Taking the sink out involved lifting the countertop and when he did that he found that the whole cabinet was rotten and mouldy. This is what I came home to the day my handyman was "fixing the tap"...
So we now have a temporary bench from IKEA, and an urgent need to re-do the whole kitchen. After arguing about what we wanted we decided that it's not worth arguing over, and D left me in charge of kitchen design. We went to Wan Chai this week and got a quote and were surprised by how easy it was to choose what we wanted. Now we just need to finance it...

It's been a busy week, and another one of those weeks where I wonder aloud on Friday afternoon where it all went. There have also been playdates and trips into town and walks with the dog, and a million other little things that make life sweet.

So there you have it. A lazy post but a post nonetheless. Have a great week everyone.