Saturday, April 30, 2011

HKG062: Mother's Day Has Arrived Early

meet la fu!

check out the new bing residence!

this morning, josh surprised me by telling me that for mother's day, he was thinking that instead of looking for a hamster or mouse at the SPCA, we should look for a cat. a cat! josh is not really a cat person. he's an animal person, which means that he's very tolerant of cats, but he's not a cat person. i just about knocked him down hugging him and spent several minutes having a squeaky freak attack. i was excited, to say the least.

we looked at some cats on the SPCA site, and i made two declarations: female. adult. what did we bring home? a male kitten. his name is la fu, which means love. he is around 7 months old. why did i pick him (josh says i have a penchant for crazy animals...keep that in mind)? i picked him because he greeted all of us very enthusiastically, rubbed his little nose and cheeks on my finger for several minutes (there was only a tiny hole we could reach through to pet him), and his label called him "energetic." that's code for bat shit crazy. who better to fit into our household than a bat shit crazy cat? he did not shy away from quinn belly bumping his enclosure, and he responded very appreciatively to olivia. i think he will do splendidly in our household. he and quinn might have ongoing competitions for who can be crazier, but that will work just fine for us.

right now, la fu is confined to our room, and i can't say he's super impressed. while he's shy of all the noise and activity he hears beyond the door, he still wants in. i have been going in to visit him and snuggle him in between family stuff, and i can see that the confinement is going to last only so long. he's a lover...he was hiding under the bed and still started purring when i went in to lay on the bed and look at him/talk to him upside down. it took him only about a minute to scootch up to me to push his nose into my face and hands. i think i know why his name is la fu.

in other animal news, i spent some time in the markets near our house today shopping for friends, and i also took the time to go back to the street vendor where we got monica and chandler. they needed a larger apartment and a filter...those little poopers messed up their aquarium in no time...as in we couldn't see them anymore messed it up. so, i hauled home an 18-inch long glass aquarium. um. that was hard. by the time i got home, i was shaking from the exertion. i walked about a mile uphill hauling this thing. i have bruises up and down my forearms from where the packing ties were. it was well worth the effort...monica and chandler are doing fish flips in their new apartment, and the best part is that we can SEE them doing their fish flips.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

HKG061: Jr. Randoms

livie dressed herself up, and wow did she look gorgeous!

q's sleep schedule is back to a more "normal" rhythm this week, but he still has episodes of crumpling into a heap on the floor. maybe that rug is just really comfy...?

today was mostly low key...it started out with a mini heart attack for me when i found quinn chewing josh's nicotine gum...the heart attack continued for a couple hours as i followed him around and watched him like a hawk while also trying to figure out how to call poison control in asia. other than some tummy upset, he seems to be okay.

the day ended with some playtime with a friend and a chance to skype with friends we haven't talked to in a few weeks.

in lieu of detailing all the other mundane things that happened today (like getting thor fixed and finding out that all this heartache has been caused by a sock stuck in the drum...not our sock, either...must be from the previous resident), i thought i'd share all the funny things the kids are saying and doing lately.
  1. livie came to me to tell me that she "worked so hard on her jewelry box that her apples are bleeding"....?!
  2. quinn keeps asking me "whar butt wipe?" he means where's the flashlight. it took me several tries and several outbursts of giggling to figure out this is what he meant.
  3. quinn keeps telling me "i changed the points." clear as day...i can understand only about 50% of what he says, but i don't have to ask him twice when he tells me he changed the points (on his toy train track).
  4. when we get in the elevator, quinn stuffs himself in to a corner where there are mirrored sections and then tells me over and over and over again "ook mommy, dey two hinnys!"
  5. quinn counts to two all the time...if you help, he will count to 10 easily and to 20 with lots of encouragement.
  6. overheard today "c'mon sissy, come to hinny's room!"...there's lots of interactive play these days, and i'm loving it.
  7. when i asked if he wanted to go get a bigger house for the fish or go to the playground, quinn told me "no...tay mah house!"...he did not want to leave his toys this afternoon.
  8. right now, i am still the most enamored with the fishies, but quinn did spend some time telling me "mah fissies" today, and livie wants to feed them every two minutes.
  9. though he is super attached to me, q also is very possessive of josh. when he saw a pic of josh on my computer the other day, he said "dat mah daddy" while giving me angry eyebrows and lots of indignant tone in his voice.
  10. at a dim sum restaurant today, q wanted to get the attention of the waitperson taking our order, so he looked at her and said "ooo der! hi!" while waving at her.
  11. livie's artistic ability continues to amaze me. she made me a bunny-shaped card for easter. one day later, she made me another card where she used marker, crayon, and bendaroos to create a landscape with flowers. today, while we were in a fancy mall, we passed an art gallery where all of the art was created by kids....prolly 8 and up...livie was transfixed and was NOT happy when we had to leave the gallery.
  12. livie keeps telling me "the womens here think i am very cute!" i love that she says womens instead of women. i have not yet corrected her.
  13. we rode in a taxi today that had a bell hanging from the rear view mirror, and every time it jangled, livie would start singing jingle bells.
  14. livie got to see tangled with her buddy, spencer, before we left texas and we now own it on DVD. i did not realize how much livie liked it and was taking from it until she began telling us that each day is the best day ever.
  15. while playing around in the apartment clubhouse today, quinn noticed that he could hear the fountain that is near the apartment pool. he told me "go bee!!" while tryng to take his shirt and pants off...he meant that he wanted to go to the beach/in the water. it took a LOT of convincing to get him out of there.

HKG060: Fish Are Friends, Not Food

monica (gold) and chandler (black) checking out the new bing residence

video

here's the toddler version of the exercise wheel

q kickin' back with an orange and watching the going's on in the wet market

monkey in motion...her blisters are finally becoming callouses, and so she's back to perfecting her monkey-bar moves

flower in the apartment gardens

today, we mostly just hung out and kept quiet, but as promised, we did head down into the SOHO area to get fish at the street vendor quinn and i saw yesterday. we had a blast! not only did we pick up two new family members, but while we were picking them out and getting all of their accouterments, we met a cog. a cat dog. this "cat" wore a collar and was tied on a leash. he took one look at the three of us, and made a beeline for our knees. he kept going in circles, head butting each set of knees in hopes of a few scratches. he wasn't even scared of quinn. what cat do you know that's not scared of toddlers? i think we might head down there once in a while just to say hi to the cat!

so far, the fish are doing well. their names are monica and chandler. i have no idea what their genders are, but since we got them as a pair, i figured they should have the names of some famous couple. olivia has already renamed monica "gloria," but i am not adhering to this name change :-) one fish, monica (the gold one), is a nosey one...as soon as she sees someone come close to the tank, she swims to the side of the tank the person is on as fast as she can. chandler is quieter and, frankly, he worries me a bit. he's not swimming around as much as monica. i hope that he's okay and is just more laid back.

the only other big event for today was rain. it's been super humid the last two days, and today that humidity finally broke a little when it started raining. the house has been pretty sticky and uncomfortable without a/c, but not actually hot...hard to explain....it's just stuffy, and every time i touch one of the kids, i find them to be sticky. i tried to scratch livie's back for her today (she loves this), but it was nearly impossible because i have short nails and her skin was so sticky from the humidity.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

HKG059: Smart Phone, Dumb User

i am the proud new owner of a samsung galaxy mini. i spent some time playing with my new phone today and got some great pics and video with it, but i can't get the images off the phone. i can't find the model number or driver online and have given up and am using one of those pay-for-an-answer service. so far, the tech isn't helping me any more than i have already helped myself...or not helped myself. bleh.

other than the phone excitement, today was a pretty low key day. i wasn't feeling all that great this morning, and quinn sounded a little stuffy to me, so we skipped our morning playgroup and just chilled out here. the kids actually rested this afternoon, and everyone was energetic and ready to go have some fun this afternoon.

while livie was in flamenco class, quinn and i went exploring. we had a ball getting a bunch of fruit and vegetables, picking out sandals for the kids, and just looking around. we met a puppy and some fish. we can't bring the puppy home, but as soon as we are ready to go tomorrow morning, we are going to go get some fish friends.

this is the kind of fish we are hoping to bring home tomorrow. after inspecting a tank of about 15 of these guys, quinn became enamored with the one black fish in the tank...everyone else was gold. checking out the fish and asking the shopkeeper some questions was quite fun right up until i caught quinn trying to stick his hand in the fish tank. i think he thought he could pet his favorite fish. (this pic is from here.)

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

HKG058 : Thankful for Small Spaces

i have been thankful for small spaces since we moved into this apartment...it's easy to clean up and easy to keep track of the kids...and it's still enough space that we can all get a little time to ourselves when we need it. today, i am particularly thankful for small spaces.

i put quinn down for a nap attempt. i heard him playing around pretty quietly, and i didn't worry, but i checked on him a few times. even though the space is small, i need to go to quinn's door to listen for him because the room is pretty sound proof and there's a lot of booming construction noise around our building, so i can't hear him well unless he's really loud or i am right up on his door. after checking a couple times and finding that he was still being pretty quiet, i went to sit down with livie...and then heard the kind of cry a mother never wants to hear...that panic-stricken cry of pain and fear.

i raced into quinn's room to find him trapped under his dresser where his legs were pinned but his torso and arms were free. what saved him from having the entire dresser on him from his chest down was the fact that his room is so small that his bed caught the dresser and kept 90% of the weight off of him. quinn had been standing in his bottom drawer trying to climb up his dresser when it tipped, so his legs were caught between the bottom and middle drawers, leaving bruises on his legs. he also has a nasty scratch down his back from where he must have hit the corner of his foot board as the dresser pushed him down.

i shook for nearly an hour after finding this scenario. josh had to field a rather hysterical call at work, and then leave work early to look around for some hardware to bolt the dressers to the wall. right now, the dressers are attached to the floor boards until josh can find the right tools to attach them to the wall (there is concrete behind the drywall making it impossible to use a regular drill to attach the dressers to the wall). this is a project we have been putting off for a few weeks, and wow do i regret that now.

other than this incredibly scary experience, our day was pretty quiet. this morning, we went out to look for shoes and a skirt for livie to wear to her flamenco class. while we didn't find exactly what we were looking for, we found a nice, long skirt for her and had some fun exploring a couple stores. we also stopped at a mcdonald's. why?! why do i do this to myself? today's md experience was a little less traumatic...all 3 of us got to sit together with in a couple minutes of getting our food, but it was still a madhouse. i know that one of the things i am going to enjoy most when we visit texas is going to a nice, spacious mcdonalds.

i gave livie the camera this morning, and asked her to get pics of her crazy brother hiding in the toys. funny, eh?

this scratch is the worst of the injuries quinn received from what could have been a horrible accident. i don't think i've ever been so thankful to see a scratch on my baby boy, but knowing that it could have been sooooo much worse makes this scratch seem like a blessing.

kids are sooooo cute when they are sleeping. since livie doesn't nap anymore, the opportunity to get pics of her sleeping is rare. surprisingly, quinn laid down quietly and went right to sleep after today's drama...i had to go wake him up, and this is what i found.

my two sillies hamming it up while we wait for the shuttle. don't you love livie's eye makeup...that's my fault for buying it for her in the first place. she seems to like to go for the ru paul look ;-)

livie and i worked on this puzzle today. the dakotas and most of montana are MIA, but we did later find florida.

Monday, April 25, 2011

HKG057: Hypothermia


today was a nice, slow, easy day. we just putzed around until late morning when josh took the kiddos down to the pool. he was back in about 45 minutes with two blue, shivering kiddos. he mentioned to me that he thought we needed to get a wet suit for quinn. i laughed. he didn't. he said "i'm serious!" after spending about 30 minutes trying to warm up the quinnsicle, i agreed. mr. muscle...mr. always-running-2-degrees-hotter-than-everyone-else...yeah, he doesn't do cold. at all. it took 3 blankets, body heat, and hot chocolate to get his face to stop looking blue and for his teeth to stop chattering.

other than the experiment in hypothermia, today's been a day of setup and catchup. i had to break down and take laundry down the hill. thor is ailing, and he keeps quitting mid cycle and just sitting there until we give up and turn him off. i plan to contact the landlord this week to see about some CPR for him. josh went on an electronics binge today (one of necessity)...got me some RAM for my pokey laptop, a new smart phone, and a printer. good times. livie and i got out for some girl-time...shopping for shoes for her flamenco class. it was a bust; the store recommended to us did not have kids' shoes, but we had fun looking around the mall and just being together.

in other news, i have landed some work that i am THOROUGHLY enjoying. the lovely lady that adopted my sweet baby kitty is taking her animal shelter to the next level by forming a 501(c)(3) organization. i am building a web site for her and drawing up some plans for how to help her raise the funds to get her 501(c)(3) off the ground. this is work i enjoy for a cause i wholeheartedly believe in, and it's all for someone whose kindness has touched me in a huge way. without this caring woman, my baby kitty would no longer be on this earth leaving furry little footprints on people's hearts.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

HKG056: Mount Austin Park

a view of a couple of the gardens, some grass, and a hill overlooking mount austin playground

bug mid-sentence at the top of the peak

quinn and josh at the top of the peak

bug using the landscaping decor to practice her balance beam skills

quinn and one of the gardens at mount austin playground

a rock sculpture at mount austin playground

today, we headed up the peak to check out mount austin playground. a friend had told me about this park and shown me pics of it, and once i saw that it has GRASS, i was sold. today was a beautiful day and a perfect one to visit this park. the grass was, indeed, splendid. it also was home to about a million of these tiny little shiny green beetles, which both intrigued and alarmed the kids.

after playing around at mount austin, we went to the peak galleria for lunch, gelato, and to play on the playground in the building. we also went to the top of the building to check out the skyline before we headed back down to central on the peak tram.

we also took some time to check out our apartment pool today...it opened for the season a couple days ago. the water is still quite cold, but neither of the kids care about that. i foresee a lot of time spent in that pool :-)

Saturday, April 23, 2011

HKW08: Random Thoughts

  1. i am taller than many, many people here. this works well when i am the one carrying an umbrella...i am reasonably sure i won't hurt anyone. this doesn't work so well when i'm the one walking near other umbrellas that are exactly at eye level.
  2. i have much to learn about elevator etiquette.
  3. it is imperative that one pushes the close-the-door button as soon as one enters an elevator. if one does not do this, one gets the stink eye.
  4. it is imperative that one not try to hold the door for anyone else one gets the stink eye from all other waiting occupants of the elevator.
  5. it is imperative that one be ready to defend one's position when waiting in line for an elevator...folks get aggressive about elevators here.
  6. the elevators here are very, very small...they hold no more than 8 people. the kids and i seem to take up enough space for five people.
  7. my feet are too big to fit on the stairs here...seriously...my foot is longer than most stairs are wide.
  8. i have seen three million pairs of cute shoes at stores here. none are in my size.
  9. i cannot seem to keep a change purse for more than 5 minutes. i have broken 3 zippers on change purses so far. i can't help that much of the small currency here is in coins!
  10. i have accidentally tried to use GZ dollar coins here in HK and embarrassed myself royally. more than one cashier has kindly and gently removed my change purse from my hands to dig around and find the correct change for me.

HKG055: Hollywood Road Park

this pic is from wikipedia...this is a view of a pavillion and the pond at hollywood road park in sheung wan. random thought : sheung wan is just a hop, skip, and a jump from our apartment in the mid-levels. i am sure i have gotten lost in sheung wan before...and didn't even realize how close i was to home. i am so directionally challenged.

livie listening at the speaker for quinn and daddy. i think this is my new favorite pic of my bug, and one that i will print and frame. the expression on her face and her posture as she eagerly listens for quinn and daddy strike me as being very, very sweet.

quinn and daddy talking to sissy on the speaker

fishies at the park. these guys were HUGE. i wish we'd had some crackers to give them; they stared at us longingly. i think. they ARE fish...kinda hard to tell with fish. while this feature was pretty awesome, it was not quinn proof. the fence around the pond came up to quinn's tummy. he made several older locals quite nervous as he leaned over to get a better look at the fishies...there were a lot of hands reaching out for him.

after all the fun and excitement we had yesterday, we kept today nice and quiet. we took a walk down to a park i noticed while touring a school the other day. it was a nice walk, and the kids had a nice, quiet time.

the other day, i broke down and bought an ergo sport baby carrier to carry the monster baby when he got too tired to walk. other than disney and ocean park, i am giving up the stroller...i am going to need hundreds of dollars of massage therapy for my back from carrying the monster baby in his stroller up and down many flights of stairs when he's fallen asleep or we are trying to get somewhere quickly and it's "easier" to just carry him in the stroller.

so, the ergo...it's supposed to work for kids up to 40 pounds/4 years old, but you know what...i'm not so sure. quinn was practically dripping out of the thing...bits of him were hanging everywhere. the back support didn't quite reach his mid back. he did fall asleep in it, and he seemed comfortable...he did sleep for more than an hour, but i can't say that it was super comfy for me....way better than holding a sleeping baby that is 39 inches tall and 35 pounds, but still not comfy.

hmmph. that wasn't the best cash i've ever spent. the good thing is that the ergo holds its resale value very well, so if in 6 months i am curved into a c shape, i will sell it. hopefully, the monkey will have his stamina down pat by then, and carting him around won't be an issue any longer.

Friday, April 22, 2011

HKG054: South Bay Beach

family fun at the beach

livie contemplating the cascarones

confetti-covered quinn

kids in front of tai chi man

livie in front of a statue of a bull

tai chi man

easter is a public holiday in hong kong, so josh was off work today. he and the kids went to get him an iphone this morning while i cleaned up the house, grocery shopped, and made some pasta salad to share at an easter egg hunt/picnic today. the picnic was south bay beach, which is a very nice, quiet beach near the repulse bay area of hong kong. the kids had a fabulous time as did josh and i. everyone is sufficiently worn out from the fresh air, sunshine, and still-slightly-cold ocean!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

HKG054: Call the Doctor!

because i need my head examined. project make-the-kid walk entered day two today, which was all fine and dandy until i threw caution to the wind and went marching into a china store with both kids. big mistake. after repeatedly reminding quinn not to touch anything, he hee-yah'd a stack of plates. somehow, only one broke. it was an epic moment of anger and embarrassment.

we did succeed in finding some fun stuff to send home for the grandmas to celebrate mother's day. i definitely will be going back to the store...without kids...saw many interesting and beautiful things that need a closer inspection. there's a chance i will be evicted from the store though.

other than the bull-in-a-china-shop episode, day two of make-the-kid walk went reasonably well. quinn is doing better and better with this new responsibility. though the exercise tired him into a successful naptime yesterday, the nap resulted in a hyper baby come bed time. i think we are officially done with naps, and that makes me very, very sad.

in other news, i am FINALLY an official resident of hong kong. i have an ID and a visa...look out hong kong!

the highlight of our day today was meeting up with friends to decorate egg shells for cascarones. we will be attending a beach picnic/egg hunt tomorrow, and the kids will get to crack cascarones all over one another. i expect them to thoroughly enjoy this and for us to be picking confetti off the floor for a few days. eh...it'll blend in with all the other stuff on the floor :-)

i'm an official resident of hong kong! in the spirit of not having my new identity stolen, i did some graffiti on the pic :-)

while we were out traipsing all over so-ho, we stopped for some interestingly flavored gelatto. the server misunderstood my request and i didn't realize it until he'd finished scooping the wrong flavor. i didn't want to be a PITA, so i just took the flavor i got...grand marnier. it was tasty, but it definitely had the after bite of alcohol...i think it was REALLY grand marnier! the kids got an orange flavor (livie) and a honey yogurt flavor (quinn) with sprinkles...they had NO complaints!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

HKG053: Add Locksmith to My Resume

this is how much energy they had after playgroup and the walk home...i'd say the morning was a success!

before we left this morning, the kids climbed into our bed to play "honk shoo" (a game they made up where they pretend to be asleep and snoring), and then sissy decided to read to quinn. pretty cute!

it's a terrible off-center pic, but here's the keyhole filled in. why??????????

today was scheduled to be a busy day of fun. we had a playgroup scheduled for this morning, and then livie's flamenco class scheduled for this evening. everything was going gangbusters until i pulled the hall door shut behind us in an effort to keep the bedrooms cool this afternoon (all a/c units are still broken and will be until the end of the month). and then i realized i'd left the stroller in the back, so i tried to open the hall door. nothing doing. it was locked. one of the monkeys had locked it. so, i rummage through the junk baskets in the kitchen to find the set of 15 keys that came with our apartment (each bathroom and bedroom has a key, the hall door has a key, the front door has a key, the outer door has a key, and they mailbox has a key). none of them fit. my eyesight is not what it once was, so i just kept trying to jam keys into this door knob. after the 15th try, i looked a little closer. the keyhole is filled in. WHY?!?! what sense does this make? fortunately, it's a simple handle lock and not a deadbolt. so, i jimmied it with a spatula. i'm talented like that.

the playdate was fun and wore us out. i made quinn walk the entire way home b/c i knew that if i put him in the stroller, he'd pass out cold and ruin any chance of an afternoon nap (it was just a little after noon when we left the playdate). the walk was over a mile uphill. it worked. he napped without making one peep about resisting the nap.

the kids had a great afternoon playing with each other with only a tiny bit of fighting before we headed out to the flamenco class. quinn had a very hard time leaving sissy at flamenco class and threw a wall-eyed fit for almost the entire time it took us to walk down to the wet market. he kept turning around and pulling my arm while he told me "i go dat way!!! my sissy!" it was pretty cute if a little annoying. he also did try to get a little girl in livie's class to come look for fishies with us. that was precious.

at the wet market, we had a ball picking out fruit...one piece was acquired accidentally b/c quinn sunk his teeth into it...it was an expensive one, too. we also picked up something living for our apartment...a plant! it's a flowering succulent...i recognize the leaves, but can't place/name the plant. will post a pic later so someone can help clue me in! we also stopped at a stationary store to get stickers for the kids. the highlight of the wet market was getting to play with what looked to be a 6-month-old kitten. she wouldn't let quinn touch her, but she let me pet her and scratch her tummy. it was heavenly.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

HKG052: Unooopana


video

the kids made a crazy game out of shoving the tire swing into one another.

the bug looking cute. she had to tone it down today and stay off the monkey bars because her tiny little hands have a nasty blister in the middle of her palm from all of the monkey bar practice she's been getting. she was not happy about being grounded ;-p

here, quinn is telling me that he's buzz lightyear. buzz was just about to go down the slide and agreed to stand still for a second so i could get a picture of him :-)

today was a rather difficult day with a couple sides of fun. most of the difficulty was borne of both kids being very, very tired. they both had a rough night last night and are still recovering from a busy weekend and much nap striking. one of the funniest things from today and from recently is quinn's newfound love of imaginative play. he's told us several times recently that he is dash (of the incredibles). he runs up and down the hall saying "i dass!" today, he was buzz lightyear. he even wore his buzz wings to the playground (as seen here). as he was scampering around naked after bath tonight, he came into the kitchen to inform me "i unoopana! heeya!" that translates to "i am kung fu panda! hi-yah!" the kid cracks me up :-)

i think he got the idea from his friend, spencer, who skyped with us this morning in a batman costume. unfortunately, i was only able to skype with our friends for about 30 seconds before i had to leave for a school tour.

today, i was looking at an inter.national.mont.essori school while josh managed the morning mischief. honestly, the tour was NOT worth missing skype time with friends. at all. it lasted about 15 minutes, and all i really got from it is that the wait list is long, the interview process is brutal, priority is given to children who have already attended a montessori program, and the tuition is RIDICULOUS. i am a pretty big fan of the theory and know that both of my children benefit from mixed age classroom/learning situations. i liked the building and setup a lot. i am just really worn down by how difficult it is to get a kid into school here.

though i am sad and mad about the crap that's going on in the texas education system, i am thinking all of that insanity is a dream-come-true compared to this hey-why-don't-you-give-us-a-kidney-and-enough-money-to-feed-a-small-nation-so-we-can-think-about-letting-your-kid-go-to-school-here-mmmkay? system. at this point, we are seriously considering keeping livie in preschool an extra year with some extra homeschooling at home to help her get ready for year 2, and just hope that the ESF system has space for her by september of 2012. another option we've tossed around is my going back to work, but this option is INCREDIBLY complicated because there are so many variable factors...finding work, finding care for quinn, buying a whole new wardrobe (there is no casual friday...or any other day...here), and rebudgeting for much larger travel expenses. at this point, it does not make sense for me to return to work unless i can find something part-time, which is pretty rare in the job culture here.

Monday, April 18, 2011

HKG051: Koftas

dear taz, i wudju. this is quinn speak for i love you.

taz, my dear friend in austin, sent me a recipe for koftas. i made it last night for a special dinner we shared with new friends (our first time to have ANYONE except delivery people or apartment staff over to the apartment). it was delicious. my lord. SCRUMPTIOUS. we had a great time getting to know our new friends while we gnoshed on this yummy dinner.

this is a big bowl of koftas and gravy from this website...makes you drool all over your keyboard, doesn't it. mmmmmmmmm! we have some leftover, and we will be having them with pitas tonight (can't find naan here...not even at the indian grocery i recently did some online shopping at).

other than this amazing highlight at the end of our day, our monday was pretty quiet. we did spend some time trying to get maintenance folks to see about the a/c unit that caught fire on sunday. it's rather funny to watch the facial expressions as a person processes the word "fire" even when there's a language barrier. once i got myself understood, we had someone ready to help us in less than five minutes. unfortunately, they walked in, took one look at the black smoke stains on the unit, and told us "call your landlord." we have been very lucky to have a quick response from the landlord. a repair person is coming out this afternoon. it's very likely that the unit will have to be replaced.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

HKW07: Random Thoughts

  1. how has it been six...oops, seven, weeks already?
  2. how has it been only six...oops, seven weeks?
  3. how is it that less than 3 weeks ago, we were freezing our backsides off at night, and now it is so hot and muggy at night that we've managed to burn up 3 out of 4 a/c units (only one of those literally caught fire...the other two are "just" malfunctioning)?
  4. my five-year old can now walk several miles and/or for several hours before she utters a peep about being tired.
  5. my two-year-old can manage to walk almost a mile before i put him in his stroller simply because i want to walk a little faster.
  6. two-year-olds + escalators = bad idea. there was a spill. there was a traffic jam. there was a baby being held up by his wrists. it wasn't pretty.
  7. we now all recognize enough stuff around us that we can get around the mid-levels area without getting hopelessly lost.
  8. i found cilantro...thanks to a new friend who also likes to cook with it, i now know where it is. this is good news for my tex mex efforts.
  9. shopping for fruits and vegetables in the wet markets (outdoor markets) is crazy cheap. i got several items today for less than 4 dollars USD...total. bananas, limes, cilantro, red onions, and cauliflower.
  10. i cannot find hoagie rolls here. i made an attempt at making philly cheese steaks for josh tonight...missed the mark by a bunch, but he liked the sammies anyway.
  11. ebay seems to have instituted some really great scam protection features. i "bought" a toddler hip carrier on ebay a few weeks ago, and the transaction seemed fine except for the shipping. for some reason, the seller expected the shipping cost to be paid separately from the rest of the ebay purchase. i should have wondered why the whole transaction was so inexpensive, but it wasn't until recently that i found out the seller was a fraud and the reason they asked for shipping separately is because they were stealing that money...the rest of what i paid has been refunded by ebay. all of this happened without my instigating anything...i was wondering where my stuff was and had planned to contact the seller this week, but before i even got around to it, ebay contacted me. cool, eh?
  12. i still need a toddler hip carrier.
  13. i am now addicted to my nook and have read no less than 4.75 books since we got it working last saturday. 3 of those were total brain candy (stephanie plum series by janet evanovich), one was pretty intense, but a super-fast read (Rule Number Two by Heidi Squier Kraft), and now i am 3/4 of the way through "Homer's Odyssey: A Fearless Feline Tale, or How I Learned About Love and Life with a Blind Wonder Cat," which is a pretty great book, though it does make me miss my fur babies even MORE.
  14. speaking of fur babies, i am thoroughly enjoying hearing all about their antics from my dad. i think there's a chance sookie might get herself shipped to china, but copper is being a very good dog.
  15. i am still working on convincing josh that we need some fur in this house...specifically a couple of gerbils or hamsters or something else equally cute and furry. this building does not allow dogs, but there's a contraband poodle down one floor from us (the guards know all about him, so he's only "sorta" contraband). i am THIS close to going down there to knock on their door and ask to pet the poodle. i REALLY miss living with our pets.

HKG050: Where There's Smoke, There's Fire...Sorta

one of the highlights of our day today was these swirled cones at mcdonald's. not only were they colorful, they were flavorful. quinn's, which was purple, was grape flavored. livie's, which was dark pink, was raspberry flavored. josh and i each had brown swirls, which were chocolate flavored.

this image is going on my list of strangest things i have seen. pigeons are nesting birds, right? i am guessing that, like most of us in hong kong, they are just getting a rest wherever they can regardless of whether this space is "normal" for them.

when he woke up, quinn was thrilled to get into the play-time action. here, he's waiting for those two big boys to bounce the bouncy bridge...he thought that was pretty awesome. random side note...quinn is FINALLY jumping with both feet leaving the ground at the same time. he is thrilled with his new prowess.

i asked livie to stop so i could take her pic on this chain bridge...i am not sure why she looks so pained. she was having fun.

my fearless monkey

part of quinn's nap took place in the park in his stroller with people stopping to look at him like he was the main attraction (i have yet to figure out the fascination with a sleeping kid). oh. maybe they were staring at him because he's all tatted up. heh.

quinn fell asleep on the bus...again, almost as soon as it started moving. this kid is sooooo much like me in some of the strangest ways. as a kid, i also fell asleep in a moving vehicle pretty much as soon as it started moving. in fact, i did that right up until i had kids.

today started out pretty slow...just putzing around the apartment and catching up with family on skype. in the middle of talking to uncle brian and aunt rayo, livie looks up and says "why is there smoke in here?" our living room a/c (the term is air con here) was brewing a small electrical fire. oooh goody. fortunately, turning the unit off stopped the fire, and everything is fine...hot and muggy, but fine. we have four a/c units. three of them are now malfunctioning. did i mention oh goody?

after the morning drama, we headed out to victoria park for some play time, and then off for lunch as a family, and then we split up for a couple errands. today, i got to go out shopping with just livie...this was a blast. we did get caught in a pretty big rainstorm, but we still had fun. i took her down to the wet markets i learned about the other day, and then we stopped at a small shop that has all sorts of interesting things...we went in to look for the lucky cat we want to send to our friends and family back home, which we did not find, but we found a couple of cute things for livie before we headed back home. along the way, we met three dogs and got to pet two of them. one was a collie puppy, and his mommy described him much the way we describe sookie...tries soooo hard to be good, but the badness just gets through :-)

Saturday, April 16, 2011

HKG049: Shek O Beach


cutie workin' on her sand creations

quinn playing in the sand

view of the hills surrounding the beach

another view of one of the hills

the golden that was smart enough to pick out kids who were most likely covered in or dropping food

quinn's first nap of the day took place when we were in the mtr station

today we went to shek o beach and had a ball. first we stopped off for some lunch at an outdoor cafe near the beach and had some great chinese and thai foods. the highlight of lunch, though, was the friendly golden retriever that made a beeline for our table as soon as he caught sight of the kids. josh and i thought he was a stray and saved some tidbits to give him as we were leaving...and that's when we found out he has an owner. ooops. livie had commented that the pup smelled really good, but we kinda blew that off...it turns out she wasn't kidding...he was freshly bathed and coiffed...still happy to receive a couple bits of meat, though.

the kids had a ball as soon as we got down to the water. both are water babies and would love nothing more than to be in the water non stop for hours. last year, when we went to south carolina in april, livie braved the cold water and cold air temps without a problem, but quinn didn't like it for very long. this year is a totally different story. the air temps here are much higher than in south carolina last april, but the water temps are about the same. we finally had to leave after 2 hours because we could not convince quinn to stay on the sand and warm up...his fingers were blue and he was chattering. he absolutely wore himself out and actually took two short naps today. livie also had a ball, but surprisingly spent more time playing in the sand than in the water...i expected the opposite of each child.