Thursday, June 30, 2011

HKG121: Happy Valley

today dawned construction-less (construction is delayed b/c of continued wet weather) and illness-less, so we got the heck out of dodge. i was so glad to set foot out of our apartment. i had not been out in almost 48 hours except to put trash and recycle out.

first off, we headed out to get some teacher gifts, and then to school to deliver them. next, we headed out to meet up with our chicago friends. we all journeyed over to happy valley to show our friends the race track, the playground, and the indoor play area we enjoyed so much when we lived there. we took two taxis b/c there are too many of us to ride safely in one. hmmmm. that was a bit of a mess. our friend's taxi got them to happy valley quickly. our taxi? not so much. i think he might have been playing games with me to get a higher fare because it seriously took him almost 2x as long to get us there (vs our friends' taxi).

we had a blast playing and getting caught in some rain. our timing for the indoor play area was terrible. we were there less than five minutes before they closed both areas for an hour of cleaning. that's the last time i take us to one of these without checking the schedule beforehand. when we were forced to leave many, many HIGH DECIBEL tears poured forth from q. everyone else handled it just fine.

after the idoor play area debacle, we went out in search of lunch. after stopping at two famous coffee places that usually have a good selection of sandwiches, we ended up getting some pizza from the hut and eating at the small playground that is right behind our old apartment.

the kids had a blast with their al fresco pizza experience...especially the boys as they repurposed a water fountain into a sprinkler park. q went home wearing a very frilly shirt of sissy's simply because i had forgotten to pack an extra shirt for him and he was soaked to the skin.

it was a great day...a perfect kickoff to SUMMER!

kids getting into their pizza picnic

two of the girls playing in the exercise area

all three of the girls playing in the exercise area

q explains to me how he got his arthur train so sparkling clean after dredging him through mud and making it look look like it was going to take me and a toothbrush a lot of time to de-mud him.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

HKG121: Kenneled

today we were stuck in the apartment. all day. i am ready to climb the walls. i feel like i imagine our dogs feel when we kennel them. i don't do the "stay-at-home" part of being a stay-at-home parent very well. i get stir crazy. we were in lockdown today for two reasons: construction and illness. livie now also is sick, so she did not go to school today...her last day for this year. she was kinda sad, but kinda not. the construction took up a good chunk of the day, and unfortunately, the part it did not take up was ruined by a pretty heavy downpour. i had planned to get us out to buy teacher gifts that we will deliver tomorrow, but when the rain just never stopped, i decided not to get us out.

the entertainment for today was dry ice in the sink (from grocery delivery), putting livie's room back together and trying to destink it from the smell of sweaty smoker, and the beginnings of a fun art project where we will use sea shells we collected at the beach last weekend.

i am seriously hoping that tomorrow is better. typically, livie has a crazy good immune system and is sick for a fraction of the time the rest of us are sick. let's hope this holds true for this cold as well.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

HKG119 and HKG120: Shopping, Pet Playdates, and Care Packages

yesterday was a rather mellow monday. quinny woke up with a cold, so we kept it really low key. we waited most of the morning for construction crews to arrive...and then found out they weren't due until late afternoon. the crews came in to put up scaffolding, which only took an hour or so. the kids and i worked on a fun craft from artzooka until josh came home. as soon as josh got home, i took off to meet up with friends to go shopping in the ladies market. q needed some shirts. some sort of bug has infested his clothing, and most of his shirts have holes in them. i had fun picking out some cute stuff, but i have to say that i am still fluxomed by the sizes. i bought him european sizes 10 and 12 along with a child's medium. they all fit him well, but i think that was just crazy luck. i also got sissy a couple of cute shirts, looked around with my friends, and then had a delicious dinner with them.

today, quinn woke up feeling a little better. the weather was super rainy, so the construction that was supposed to happen today was canceled. this worked out really well, though, because this afternoon, la fu was scheduled to have a playdate with a dog he grew up with. yes. my cat had a playdate.

i am glad the crews weren't here b/c it just would have been more hectic and frightening for both pets. as it was, the two pets had a great time. la fu's dog is a king charles spaniel named dollar, and she is just about the cutest and sweetest dog i have met in a while. she is orange and white just like la fu...they actually look like a matching set.

la fu enjoyed getting snuggles from his foster mommy, and he also seemed to really like playing with his dog. he was shy at first (but never ran off to hide...just puffed up and hissed a couple times). he spent quality time trying to capture her tail, and a couple times, he rubbed his head on her chin and chest. i wish i understood enough about pets to know if it's possible that he remembers his dog.

late this afternoon, we received TWO boxes from home, and we had an absolute ball opening them and going through all the fun stuff. thank you infinity to grammie and lan!!!!!!!

it's blurry, but this is waffle la fu rubbing on his dog

la fu with his foster mommy and his dog

la fu contemplating swatting his dog

dollar sitting in the bug's lap

before the construction was set to begin yesterday, i cleared livie's room to keep her stuff from getting covered in construction dirt and debris. it took me less than five minutes to clear the room. i guess it won't take much to pack and move out of this place when the time comes.

i piled the contents of livie's room in our room. the kids thought the mess was an amusement park and had a blast playing with the relocated stuff.

kids playing together at the playground today

bug looking adorable. this is one of the new shirt-dresses i got her

q mid bubble

Sunday, June 26, 2011

HKG117 & HKG118 : Weekend Roundup

this was a pretty fantastic weekend. saturday, we took the kids to the zoo and to victoria park. saturday night, miss sally kept the kids while josh and i got out to a birthday gathering for one of josh's office mates and then to an all-night diner for a very american-style breakfast (the diner reminded me a lot of kerbey lane). while we were at the birthday gathering, i was introduced to a young man from the states. from texas. from san antonio...and then he said something to the effect of "oh, i am really from a small town called boerne." turns out, i graduated with his sister. talk about a small, small world!

today, we took the kids to discovery bay to play at the beach and wander around. we had a really great time both days, and we are sufficiently worn out

tomorrow will begin another 3-day stint of construction in/on our apartment. the communal area pipes are being worked on, and the crews will have to access them and/or build the scaffolding to access them via the windows in livie's room. i have learned my lesson about the mess these crews make, so i will be pulling everything out of livie's room first thing in the morning....all bedding/mattress, books, toys, and stuffed animals. i will probably tape garbage bags over her dresser. poor waffle kitty is going to have to be relegated to our room and bathroom. he has become very curious about the front door and the windows...can't take the chance he gets out.

pirate livie at the beach park

kids on swings at the beach park

bug mid-air on a doohickey at victoria park

kids looking adorable at victoria park

q found dirt at victoria park. actually, it was mulch. it is REALLY difficult to get mulch off a sweaty, sunscreened child!

q sportin' dinosaur horns. we got these for him and olivia while we were out in lan kwai fong last night. lan kwai fong is a little like mardi gras and/or sixth street in austin...there's a lot of revelry and silliness going on...and a lot of drinking.

livie making the horns look cute ;p

livie on a balance beam thingy at the beach park

quinn right after he ate his fifth mouthful of sand. he liked the sound/feeling it made when he crunched it between his teeth. meanwhile, josh and i were doing the heebie skeebie dance every time we heard q grinding sand between his teeth!

Friday, June 24, 2011

HKG116: Planes, Trains, and Automobiles

okay, well, no planes :-) but there were boats!

today, i held livie out of school so that we could have a bunch of fun playing with our friends from the u.s., and so that i could take the kids into TST to meet up with an expat i met at the book club meeting i went to last week.

we had an absolute ball. the plan had been to head over to kowloon park for some playground and pool fun, but the pool closes at noon each day for an hour of maintenance, so with travel time, that would leave us less than an hour to play in that pool. instead, we joined our friends at their apartment building pool. 4 of the 5 kiddos played in the water for close to 2 hours before we broke for a delicious lunch. after lunch, quinn and i headed out to TST to meet up with my friend, and the bug stayed back to play with the girls.

when i collected olivia this afternoon, i found a very happy and tired girl. she had a great time. q slept a good portion of our adventure, but was awake enough to chug most of my caramel macchiato, flirt with my friend, and then enjoy a quick and fun ferry ride back to central. he kept asking for sissy and for his friend, c, but he mostly was pretty happy to have mommy (and all of mommy's drink) to himself.

this afternoon, we had some play time at the apartment playground, and then i made butter chicken for dinner. taz, if you're reading this, i screwed it up again. i finally figured out how, though. in texas, i use large boneless chicken breasts, but here, the chicken is much smaller...either just a smaller breast piece (hahaha IBTC) or chicken fingers. i was using the tandoori powder ratio that i used in texas, but it's too strong for the smaller amount of chicken i use here. tonight's version was better than the last time i made it, but it still wasn't as good as it should be. so sad. i need GOOD butter chicken. NOW! ;-)

q giving me cutie face on the ferry. notice that buzz came along for the ride. notice, also, the three seats to q's left. he sidled across all three of those seats until he was right next to the passenger who was sitting beside the window. i am not sure what q thought he was going to do...maybe climb over the guy and off the boat? fortunately, he got a little bit shy right as he got into the chair next to that passenger, and then we got to the dock. potential crisis was averted.

pic from the ferry

a picture for our friend, russ. i swear i think i have taken this picture for russ before, but i'm not entirely sure. it bears repeating, though. russ, you have your own coffee company here ;-p

q was pretty thrilled to be reunited with his stroller. we borrowed it from our friends for this adventure. i knew that after 2 hours in the pool, q was going to crash hard. he did. 30 seconds after i buckled his belt, he was out. i had to get him out once to get through an MTR turnstile. he didn't care. he murmured to me in his sleep, and then went right back to sleep when i got through the turnstile and dumped him back in the stroller. he slept soundly while i walked around looking for the starbucks and then continued sleeping soundly for about 20 minutes after we got to starbucks. he woke up just in time to flirt himself a portion of my friend's drink and then to polish off more than half of my drink.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

HKG115: Kindy Graduation

today, livie graduated from kindergarten! it seems silly considering that she just started this school, but yes, she's already graduated. of course we are thrilled for her, and we enjoyed attending the ceremony, but at the same time, there was just something just didn't feel like the culmination of long-term effort because she/we are still so new here.

after kindy graduation, we grabbed some celebratory ice cream and then headed over to hang out with our new friends who are visiting from the states this summer. we had an absolute ball sharing a delicious chinese dinner and watching the kids play. livie thoroughly enjoys hanging out with the two bigger girls, and q did a great job of connecting with and playing with our friends' 2yo boy. it is absolutely awesome to watch q develop one of his own friendships....he is always tagging along with sissy and playing with whoever she plays with...he has yet to initiate a friendship of his own. on the way home, all he talked about was this other little boy and playing with him. AWESOME! we will see our friends again tomorrow, and i am sure that the kids will have a great time.

bug with one of her teachers

bug receiving her certificate from the assistant principal

bug in her circle of friends

q got to play on the playground while we waited to see sissy graduate. here, he's inside the playhouse preparing us pretend lunch.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

HKG114: T3 - Not Just a Networking Protocol

today dawned dark and rainy. at times, the rain was moving at a distinctly sideways slant, but i didn't think much of it. i knew that a tropical depression (now storm) called haima was moving into the area and that the weather might get bad, but i was still waiting for it to do seemed pretty mild to me. well guess what? i was of the minority opinion.

the weather was classified as a T3, which refers to the level of typhoon. we are very close to the harbor, but we are protected by the umpteen high rise buildings around us, so the wind we felt wasn't bad. again, it felt like a rather mild storm to me. it seemed like everything shut down, though. livie's school was closed. when we went out to run an errand, we found about 30 to 40% of nearby businesses closed. we found the escalators empty at lunch time, which is typically not the case. oddly enough, livie's flamenco class was still on. q and i tried to have adventures while livie was in dance class, but it was just too much...especially since he kept whipping his poncho off.

i heard, in casual conversation today, that there has been an outbreak of scarlet fever in hong kong. i was told this as i tried, for the third time in a row, to get quinn to stop licking the mirror at dance class (my kid is weird sometimes. okay. a lot of the time. :-). now i have a new worry. my worry list is now comprised of typhoons and scarlet fever. ;-p

i wonder if i should sanitize q's tongue. nah. then he'd act drunk!

q soaking wet after he insisted upon whipping his poncho off. the search for a thomas- or buzz-themed rain jacket is ON.

bug rockin' the lady-bug rain coat baba got for her when she was just under 2. i cannot get over the change in how it fits her. it used to be she'd get lost in there and did so often b/c she loved to play dressup in it.

q woke up at 5:45 this morning. by 9:45 he was cuddled up on this pillow on the floor. i would like to have joined him, but there wasn't room ;-p

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

HKG113: The Toilet

q is obsessed with the toilets. he is forever throwing things in them and trying to flush whatever he's put in. today, he put in a cup and sissy's toothbrush. it does not matter how many times i tell him not to do it, he is just fascinated with the idea of flushing things away. for the first time ever, he flushed something he was supposed to today! he used the potty! he asked to go on the potty and was pretty excited about his potty success, but i am not sure what this means for potty training. we will see.

other than the toilet obsession, today was a pretty slow day. we kept it really low key for the morning, but got out for some adventures this afternoon. we had another fruitless search for those darn pipe cleaners. part of the issue is that many of the street markets and shops in SOHO close at 6. so, i guess we will have to try again tomorrow. i think this will be my and quinn's mission during dance class tomorrow night.

not that you can tell, but those are livie's knees covered in a blanket and sticking out of the egg chair. she's "hiding."

yes, we do feed quinn. i am not sure why his ribs are sticking out so much...the kid weighs well over 35 pounds and eats us out of house and home. here, skinny q is laying in a pile of toys that he and sissy threw out of her bed. they were playing their own sleepover game of sorts.

Monday, June 20, 2011

HKG112: Panda Mandarin

today was a pretty quiet day. we stayed home for the morning, and then q and i had a couple of quick adventures after we took sissy to her bus. on one of those adventures, we met a poodle puppy (shop dog) and had a great time playing with him. later this afternoon, we took sissy back to that store to meet the puppy, and then we continued on in hopes of finding pipe cleaners for an art project we are working on.

i bought pipe cleaners a month or so ago...and i have misplaced them. the hunt for pipe cleaners was long and fruitless though we did find a paper store that had postcards from the 1970s! along the way, we found a building FULL of kids' activities. i know someone told me about this building when we first moved to the mid-levels, but i had forgotten about it. after looking through several brochures, i think we've decided to send both kids to mandarin playgroups for about 3 hours a week for much of this summer. livie has really started to take off with the mandarin that she's learning at school, and quinn repeats what he hears on ni hao kai-lan flawlessly...we want to capitalize on that.

on our long and fruitless pipe cleaner mission, we also found a pet store where we stopped to look at stuff for la fu. we found stuff. he loves the stuff. see the video ;-p

when i am out with the kids, i often am so concentrated on watching them and looking for what we are trying to find that i don't look around me. today, i looked around me. we were right next to a prison. there was a 50-foot high brick wall next to me...with this sign on it. duly noted. you couldn't pay me to drive here, but if i was crazy enough to drive here, i would be sure not to park here.

some of the english translations here make me batty. i am collecting a folder of images of strangely or badly translated english, but i just couldn't sit on this one. this sign is instructing you to disable the access? or telling you were to access the building if you are disabled? i know, i know...though it's incorrect, it is understandable. it still makes me nuts.

livie has been working hard on her kindergarten workbooks each morning, and la fu insists on being part of the action. actually, anytime livie sits down to draw or work in her books, la fu lays right down in the middle of them, bats all her pens off the table, and then chases them all over the apartment. this makes livie crazy. if la fu could laugh at her frustration, he would...that's the look he gives her ;-p

livie showing us she can count to five in mandarin and sing a song in mandarin

waffle la fu playing with a new toy. quinn named this toy cocoa.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

HKG111: Father's Day

today, we celebrated father's day with some homemade cards and goodies, a dinner by request, and by dragging josh to our newly favorite train-themed park. he survived the trip, and i think he enjoyed the park...but enjoyed the harbor even more.

we went down to the edge of the harbor to check out some really cool ferries and speed boats and a couple of junks that looked a lot like pirate ships. we then decided to walk toward a pier we could see in the distance thinking it might be the central pier and that we could pick up a ferry to lamma island. it turned out to be the macau pier, so we decided to get some lunch and regroup/plan out the rest of our day. lunch was DELICIOUS if a little hectic with the efforts to keep quinn from breaking anything and/or disturbing other patrons.

after lunch, we decided that it would prolly be best to head home and try to get a nap in for quinn, and then head to a family-oriented pool in kennedy town. this particular pool has sprinklers and slides and a 1-foot-deep area for the kiddies. as it turns out, it was pretty late by the time we got home and got q down because after lunch, we stopped to shop in the western market (HUGE fun). so, instead of the kennedy town pool, josh took the kiddos to our pool before we had dinner. we WILL get to that fabulous pool one of these days!

josh requested enchilada casserole for dinner, which was a nice change of pace...we haven't had that in a couple months.

cool speed boat

q devouring snacks. he had just had a snack at home before we left for the park. i think he's entering another phase of eating constantly.

livie looking adorable next to a fountain in the harbor

cutie bug posing at the park

bug mid-ring with the tongue of concentration

Saturday, June 18, 2011

HKG110: Quinnado, Category F5

meet hoover, the newest addition to our fish family. vortex is now sulking in a corner. i guess he wanted all the slime to himself ;-p

today was a crazy day for the quinnado. he got to go to a bday party with daddy and sissy, where he acquired a 2nd degree burn on his hand and some sort of nasty looking abrasion on his leg. the source of the burn is known, the source of the abrasion is not. this afternoon, while coming home from the park with daddy and sissy, quinn took off for the elevators and got in just as one was closing. by himself. destination unknown. somehow, a family we know from the playground ended up with him. the mom heard a baby crying outside her front door and opened it to find quinn. she brought him to our door. i do not yet know how she knew what floor or flat we live in.

everyone has a headache now. except quinn. i got to escape much of the drama b/c i had a couple of social events to attend today: book club this morning, and then a nice dinner out with a friend. the book club event was my first in hong kong, and it was pretty interesting; i met several interesting people and hope to meet up with a couple of them for coffee/chat. while i was in central, i also did some fun shopping for the kids and josh, and i picked up a friend for vortex. the bing residnce now also includes hoover, another sucker fish who will help vortex keep the tank sparkly clean. dinner was great b/c i got to share some delicious thai food with my friend and catch up with her as she just returned to hong kong after a visit home.

it is currently 11:18 p.m. we normally go to sleep around 1 a.m. tonight, i think 11:30 is looking REALLY good. let's all hope that the hurriquinn is recategoried to an F1 tomorrow after today's repeated showings at level F5.

Friday, June 17, 2011

HKG109: Random Pics and Video

today was a pretty good day. we went into kennedy town to check out a children's clothing resale event that benefits a local charity. we didn't find anything that we were looking for, but we stumbled upon a pretty cool playground while we were out there. we got a picnic lunch at the grocery store across from the playground, and then played for about an hour. today was another wet day, but that didn't stop us.

livie did not have school today due to some administrative stuff, so our afternoon was one part quiet and two parts exciting. the first excitement was having a playdate with a school friend. the girls had a blast, and quinn didn't do too much damage. he even got livie's friend's baby sister to play with him a little.

after the playdate, we headed into central to go to toys r us to do some bday party shopping for a friend of the kids' whose bday party is tomorrow. going to toys r us is always fun for kids and almost always headache-inducing for moms. we survived ;-p

livie enjoying some ring-like thingies on a park we stumbled upon today

livie and quinn posing in the pretend ice cream stand at the random park

view of the hills above the random park

quinn let go of buzz long enough for livie to snuggle him this morning

random videos of the kids and la fu

olivia's class practicing for "the three little pigs" play they will give on graduation day, which is next week. livie is "mommy pig."

Thursday, June 16, 2011

HKG108: Wetures (Wet Adventures)

today dawned dark and rainy with an amber storm warning. i figured with the weather the way it was, we were in for a long day of being cooped up in the apartment, but i was wrong! we got out for some morning errands, but no play time because it was raining very hard. the kids survived all the delays and errands, and we were able to continue on with our afternoon as normal : school for livie and nap for quinn.

after nap, q and i headed out early to meet livie at school so that i could attend a parent-teacher conference while the monkeys played. the conference was great, and the classroom was still standing when i went to get the kids out of it. we waited for eons for a taxi to go home, but never saw one that was empty and on duty. the rain had slowed quite a bit, so we started walking to see if we could find a taxi lower down. we still didn't see any, so we just kept walking until we got to a park where the kids played for quite a while.

as we began walking home from that park, i realized we were very close to our apartment and there was no sense getting a cab, so we just kept hoofin' it. the route we were on took us right by the playground at the zoo, so we stopped in. the kids had a ball. it continued to rain lightly on and off, but by that point, we were already wet and did not care. the only issue was that the grounds at the zoo playground become pretty slippery when wet. i am super clumsy. the combination was not pretty. i wiped out pretty good landing on my bad wrist and my good knee. bleh. we still had a fantastic time looking at birds and lemurs before heading home.

on the way home, we picked up a takeout menu from an italian place near us. everything on the menu looked good, but we were a little wary b/c of previous bad experiences with other italian restaurants. also, the fact that the menu advertised "real italian taste" didn't bode well. we threw caution to the wind and ordered dinner delivery from this place...we were very pleasantly surprised to find that everything we ordered was absolutely DELICIOUS!

big bird at the zoo. he was intrigued with the kids and kept his eye on them the whole time we were standing there admiring him.

cute lemur

pretty flower at the zoo

crappy cell phone camera pic of a stunningly beautiful flower

spike, the plant. the kids insisted this was the scariest plant ever. 15 minutes later, they adopted it. 20 minutes after that, q removed all of those pokey things. he carried them home, stopping at least 3 times to rescue them after he dropped them on the sidewalk. we had to pry them out of his hands so he'd eat dinner, take a bath, and go to bed. i am not sure what these are, but i have seen a version of them in the wet markets...bigger, with red coloring, and just as spikey. the wet market version is some kind of fruit.

bug looking cute

q figuring out how this stepper works

notice my extra knee cap...lovely, isn't it? it has gone down now, but it's still sore. getting old sucks.