Wednesday, August 31, 2011

HKG183: Lockdown

the lighting is pretty awful, but the look on waffle's little face is pretty clear, isn't it? i believe it says HELP ME :-) he was lying peacefully on the couch, minding his own kitty business when the kids decided it was time for him to PLAY. they were both pretending to be dogs and were trying to engage him in their game.


today dawned congested and miserable for quinn...now we know why he was so off his game yesterday and woke crying a couple times during the night. due to his feeling icky, we stayed home again today with q lying on the floor in a heap much of the day. he perked up once sissy was home from school and rallied pretty well this evening. i let him nap for 2 hours, AND he got very little exercise today...we will see what this means for ni-night time.

there was one other mopey boy in the house today...waffle. he laid on his throne the ENTIRE day and perked up only when olivia came home. after a recap of her day and a snack, she wanted very badly to play games on pbskids and another reading games site, but i convinced her to play a game with me and then play chase with la fu for a bit, first. we had a great game of go fish, and then she ran up and down the hall with waffle and threw his mouse/hair bands for him for a while. kitty and i were both much happier after getting some time with the bug.

tomorrow, if q is well, he will be attending a couple of trial classes. here's hoping he gets some great sleep and is feeling well tomorrow.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

HKG182: Homeboy

livie's second day of school went off without a hitch. josh waited with her for her morning bus, and then q and i collected her in the afternoon. the time between pickup and drop off, though, was a little like something from the twilight zone.

q woke up later than usual, but was happy and ate his breakfast well. i was mulling over the idea of packing a picnic lunch and taking him down to the train park and the sun yet sun memorial park to play, eat, and kick a ball around on the grass, but then i got a skype call from a dear friend i hadn't talked to in a while. so, we chatted for a while, and when i finished the call, i realized it was a little later than i thought, so i asked q what he wanted to do. i knew that if q was going to get down for a nap before sissy's bus got here, we had to get moving. when i asked him if he wanted to go to the train park or the zoo, he told me "no...tay home!"

i went off to do a couple morning chores while he played in the living room thinking i'd ask him again in a few minutes. i came back in the living room after only a few minutes to hear a muffled cry and to find q trapped under the couch. i am not sure how he got himself wedged the way he did, but he was really stuck...i had to pick up the couch to get him out. that kinda set the mood for q being a bit fragile. i soothed him and played a game with him, and then went to put laundry away. this time, i came back into the living room to find him crying so hard he couldn't talk. i have NO idea what happened. he was sitting next to the toy box, pointing at it, and crying. he was obviously scared of something, but i could not glean what it was. i sat with him, rocked him, and hugged him until he calmed down, and at that point, we decided to have an early lunch. he ate well and calmed down but was very subdued. he acted sleepy, did not fight when i told him it was nap time, and laid down without any fussing, but he never fell asleep...he played until i sprung him.

after the nap attempt, q played quietly for a few minutes and then told me "i want sissy!" he made it very clear i was to go get sissy from wherever i was hiding her and return her to him. it was sweet but sad to hear him say this. once sissy was actually home, q returned to his happy and rambunctious self with a side of punch drunk (whenever i question whether he still needs to nap, i remind myself how punchy he is when he doesn't). i know that he naturally wants to stay home more than livie and i do, but he always is pretty game for our adventures. i think he's pretty sad about being without sissy. i sure hope the classes we are looking at are super fun and help him get out of his funk.

tomorrow, q and i are going on an adventure come hell or high water. i can't take this much time locked in a building. q is at the playground with sissy and daddy right now while i wait for the cable guys to show up...i have to get out later to pay some bills, and i can't wait...i am actually EXCITED about walking to 7-eleven to pay bills ;-p

today's school pic...this isn't the best shot b/c it's kind of blurry, but i like it b/c livie looks so cute and isn't making one of her painfully cheesey on-command grins :-)

waffle had his own game going while q and i were playing...he kept bringing me his mouse and seemed to really like chasing it through the tunnel

q observing our color game

q and i dug up a car or train to match each section of this puzzle. he thought it was hilarious when i made the train or car talk to him to tell him to open each section to see the color and what kind of animal was inside. q's doing great with his colors, and does a great job of counting to 10, and coming from a family of animal lovers, he knows all of his domestic pets and farm animals, too :-)

Monday, August 29, 2011

HKG181: First Day of School!!!

today was livie's first day of school, and it went very well. she had a great day, made some new friends, played on the playground, read a whole bunch of books, and just got settled into her new class. this week will be pretty casual and low-key...next week, the curriculum gets into full swing.

q and i missed olivia quite a bit...the house seemed so empty without her. there were a lot of tears from q when we left sissy and then even MORE tears when we left daddy in the taxi. some chocolate milk and train time made him feel better. after spending the morning playing in his pit crew costume and playing with all of his trains, q asked for an early lunch, which was great b/c it naturally led into my getting him down for an early nap.

while q was down for nap, i was finally able to get in touch with the right person at the bus company and confirm that olivia is set on the bus run, AND there is an afternoon bus. the dropoff time for the afternoon bus is such that i now feel assured that q's naps won't be a mess. while q was down, i also was able to sign him up for a couple trial classes...hopefully, he will have some fun activities of his own lined up soon.

this afternoon, after getting livie changed out of her uniform and giving her some time to chill for a bit, we headed out to mcd's for celebratory ice cream and then to the shake-shake bridge playground. it turns out there's a number of expat kids who play there in the afternoons after school. the kids had a blast and made several new friends.

after the park, we went to my newly favorite grocery store to do the week's shopping. i had not gotten anything substantial for this week b/c josh was supposed to be in the u.s. on business. because of the hurricane that hit the east coast of the u.s., josh's trip was canceled, so i needed to stock up on supplies for this week's dinners. part of the reason this store is my new favorite is that it has carts with seats. it's still SUPER hard to navigate the store b/c the aisles aren't really wide enough for the carts, but it's still helpful to have more space to carry stuff AND to have q contained. well, it turns out that the larger space to carry stuff is a little TOO convenient. i ended up hauling home more groceries than i typically order for delivery...walking all of that home along with managing two kids was a bit of a challenge. my lord that was a long walk home...and the leg home just happens to be going up a hill that is at an approximately 65 to 70-degree angle. we were all tired and sweaty when we got home. being tired and sweaty, though, lent itself to an early bath and an earlier-than-usual bed time...a good thing on this second night of the new be-ready-for-school schedule.

school cutie all ready for her big day. it wasn't until we were in the taxi that i realized her skirt was on backward. i helped her change in the taxi (discretely).

q snuggin' up on sissy while we (endlessly) wait for a taxi. it took us almost 35 minutes to catch a taxi this morning. i am SO glad the bus issue is all worked out!

q and waffle playing trains this morning after we got back from dropping sissy off

Sunday, August 28, 2011

HKG180: Sunday Fun

q getting his cadillac hair cut on saturday. josh mentioned that this place was more than 3x as expensive as the place we have been taking q. they did a much better job on his hair, and he did get to watch thomas while he was getting his hair cut, but still....that's a lot of cash for a baby boy haircut (around 40 USD compared to the 12 USD we had been spending!).

today, we putzed around the apartment for a good bit of the morning, and then josh got the kiddos out for some fun at playtown and for lunch while i sat around on my tukus, got a few things done at the house, and then went school shoe shopping for olivia. i decided to not mess with the markets and instead went to our local department store, wing on. it was all kinds of crazy in the kids' shoe department, and it took me a bit of time and several tries to get shoes for the kids...many styles were sold out. i think this was probably still more efficient than hunting and pecking through the markets and trying to haggle. i am really bad at haggling.

this evening, josh got the kids down to the pool and playground while i got livie's stuff labeled, her bag set up for school, and packed her first big-girl school lunch. i put a note in her lunch...given her recent reading prowess, i am SUPER excited to know she will be able to read it all on her own/privately when she opens her lunch box. it's no biggie...just telling her that q and i miss her, but i am excited that she will get to tell herself that instead of having a teacher read it to her.

all evening, q's been telling us he wants to go to school. we have not put him on a wait list anywhere. he's supposed to get priority at livie's school, but that only applies if you actually put him on the list. he misses the entrance age cutoff by 5 days for her school...i am reasonably sure they would make an exception, but i still haven't put him on the list.

tomorrow, all four of us will cab it to drop livie off for her first day...i was unable to confirm bus service for monday. it will be fun to kick off the big event with all of us, though i totally anticipate a BUNCH of tears from q...and probably some from me, too.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

HKG179: Sadistic Saturday

this morning started out pretty low key. livie and i had our dentist appointments around lunch time, and josh and q were headed out to get q's hair cut and look around.

the dentist appointment ran very, very late, but all-in-all it went very well. livie came back with a sparkling clean bill of dental health. she did great for the exam and cleaning and even enjoyed the fluoride treatment.

my exam was not so full of rainbows and unicorns. i have not been to the dentist in several years...around four, i think, so this is all my fault. not only was there much work to be done, but the equipment has CHANGED since the last time i went. instead of the medieval hand-powered pokey scraper thingamabob, this dentist had an electric drilling pokey scraper thingamabob. OMIGOD that hurt like a mother you-know-whater. that's the last damn time i skip even one dental cleaning. i used to be religious about it...went every six months until i moved to austin. i kept going to my dentist in temple simply because i adored him...he was always gentle, thorough, and fun to talk to. once olivia came along, making the 1.5 hour trip to get my teeth cleaned and/or deal with anything else that came up was a pain. i tried one dentist in austin and hated them, switched back to the dentist in temple, and then had quinn. now with two kiddos, i has just not been possible to get back up to temple. now that we're in hong kong, it's even less possible :-) BUT...all that to say that i will NEVER skip another cleaning. fortunately, i do not have any new cavities, but i still can't get the taste of blood out of my mouth from the torture i rec'd today.

funny note about the dentist...they don't "do" 2-year-olds, so we will have to find a true pediatric dentist for q's first dental checkup. i kinda laughed when they told me they took very few patients q's age and that it depended on their maturity/personality. i was thinking that we all dodged a bullet by not taking q to that particular clinic :-)

after the dentist appointments, i took livie back to the jeweler to get her ear re-pierced, and here is where we ran into another sadist...this one just purely sadistic without any reason or need to be. she INSISTED on trying to repierce livie's ear by hand despite my asking for the gun no less than 3 times. i feel bad that i didn't get pissy sooner, but after the 3rd attempt, livie's little face started to crumple and she started to cry a little, and that's when i stopped being polite and demanded that she use the gun. the gun took less than 10 seconds, and now livie has two earrings and no more pain.

blurry q showing off his new 'do and trying to play the iphone tom cat game with sissy. this game is pretty fun...you can get the kitty to repeat what you say, purr when you pet him, drink milk, burp, and toot. guess which function gets the most use and laughs from our kids :-)

Friday, August 26, 2011

HKG178: Understanding the Metric System

do you think this juice box will fit in livie's book bag? i wonder if there's a straw big enough for these things :-)

here q is trying to "help" sissy play on pbskids.org. see how thrilled she looked. this started out okay with a little crankiness, but it eventually escalated into a heated battle that caused the end of any games on the computer.

the online shopper (me) strikes again! the other day, i placed an order for groceries that was largely comprised of snacky-lunchy type things to send with olivia when school starts. amongst those snacky items was an order for a case of juice boxes. fast forward to today. the groceries arrive, and i have a suspiciously hard time lifting one of the boxes. i open it to find that i have ordered six 1-LITER juice boxes...you know, the kind that can serve your kids for about a 3 days each. i got a good laugh at myself.

our other adventure for today was heading over to the pacific place mall to check out the grocery store, great, that our friends had told us about when they were living there. i figured i'd find a few more interesting snacks to send with olivia. i did. we had a great time perusing the store...i could have had a lot more fun, though, if i wasn't constantly trying do damage control with q. there were no carts with seats, and there were many rows with glass bottles on them. i will have to go back another time to REALLY peruse the store without any "help." oh, and a sidenote about this adventure, it included a round-trip bus ride that went without incident. this is a FIRST for me...i am so bus-challenged that i almost always end up using a bus for only part of a journey. this time, i finally figured out where to catch the return bus...the one going in the right direction, that is :-)

the rest of the day was low key except that after dinner, we took a nice walk to get some frozen yogurt at a nearby shop that keeps being recommended to us. we now understand the many recommendations...YUM!

tomorrow's adventures include DENTISTRY. sounds fun, eh? all of us are long overdue for dental checkups, so livie and are doing a recon for the rest of the family. supposing this dentist does not make us run from the office screaming, josh and q will soon have appointments, too. they should be very glad that livie and i are taking the inaugural scraping :-)

Thursday, August 25, 2011

HKG177: Orientation Day

this morning, olivia and i headed out for her school orientation. it was a nice gathering of half of her classmates and their parents. i enjoyed talking with some other moms while olivia played with some classmates and spent some time with her new teacher. i got the schedule for the day and the calendar for the school year, but i am still having trouble tracking down information regarding the bus run. it looks like she will be able to take the morning bus for sure, but it's the afternoon bus that's up in the air. the end of livie's school day is smack in the middle of q's nap time. i am not sure what we're going to do here...i guess we will figure it out.

i had an interesting conversation with several of the other moms regarding the navy blue skorts. we were NOT the only family to run into issues; there will be a couple other girls wearing the "wrong" item next week, and the other families also had to order the skorts from the states...could not find them here. those families have been in hong kong much longer than we have, so i feel somewhat vindicated for not having been able to find these *&^% skorts. i had assumed that i couldn't find them simply because i am new and always lost and don't know the ins and outs of the city yet.

josh worked from home for the day so that he could manage q while livie and i were at orientation. when we got home, we all headed out for a nice lunch at cafe o. it was a pretty great day!

this is one of the little projects that olivia did at orientation today.

q insisted on trying on sissy's new uniform shirts along with her.

olivia with her painfully cheesey grin modeling her new uniform shirt.

waffle curled up on a pillow. in keeping with his cog status, one of waffle's new tricks is to dig at fluffy things before he lays down on them. this is fine as long as i am not under the fluffy thing. i woke up at about 3 a.m. one night this week because waffle was digging at the fluffy comforter that was covering my legs!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

HKG176: End of the Line

we have been here nearly six months and yet i still am seriously challenged when it comes to understanding how the buses run. i had planned to take the kids to a jumpin' gym location close to us, and i knew i needed to pick up bus 23 for the trip. i google mapped our destination and asked for directions using public transport. google maps told me where to pick up the number 23, but did i listen? no. i assumed that i could just pick up the 23 near our apartment rather than picking it up at another location a little further away. i was wrong. because i picked up the bus somewhere besides where dr. google told me to pick it up, we ended up going in the wrong direction...away from the jumpin' gym location.

we ended up getting off the bus in wanchai and wandering around for a bit. we had a nice lunch at a spacious and not-too-crowded Subway restaurant, but we did not make it anyplace jumpy. we used the MTR to get back to central, and then waited for our apartment shuttle to get back to the apartment. while we were waiting for the shuttle, i noticed that the air was especially hazy...it was actually difficult to see and breathe. a few minutes after we arrived at our stop and began waiting, several emergency vehicles rolled up. i cannot imagine how stressful it is to drive an emergency vehicle in such a crowded place and/or to attempt a rescue inside a crowded building that is umpteen stories high. while we did see rescuers standing around outside a building, we did not see any evidence of an evacuation in progress...not sure what was going on or how serious it was or if the hazy/stinky air had anything to do with the rescue in progress, but it was all interesting to watch.

this afternoon was mostly quiet with just some indoor play, cleanup, and exercising. it turns out that it's pretty hard to plank with a kitty walking under your tummy and a 2yo trying to climb onto your back :-)

q was all about the daddy snuggles when josh returned from china this afternoon.

waffle loves to sit in the middle of this train set. he usually prefers that q be busily playing trains around him, but today, he decided to sit inside the set even without q there. he is a funny little cat.

for peyton f....peyton, this is a fire truck in hong kong...it looks a little different from the ones in pville, eh?

this is actually from yesterday. q climbed up next to sissy on the couch and proceeded to sit as close to her as he possibly could.

Monday, August 22, 2011

HKG175: Super Sized

one of two cute little blue-jean skirts we got for livie to wear until her large collection of navy blue skorts arrives

today, we headed into kowloon to find the uniform shop someone from livie's school office recommended as a place to find a navy blue skort. i don't really even know where to begin with this story, but i will say that my normally patient and polite self took a holiday today. i was rude and pissed off. i do feel slightly bad for my behavior b/c it was misdirected, but i am STILL pissed off.

it turns out that the uniform shop carries ONLY uniforms ordered for specific schools. did livie's school order uniforms? no. did they do any research about this shop before sending me (and i am assuming others) on a mission to find a skort here? no. was it possible to adequately communicate my needs to the poor, unsuspecting shop ladies? no. did i embarrass myself? YES!!!!

it took a lot of back and forth and fits and starts and me getting madder and madder and madder that these ladies were refusing to sell me a frickin' navy blue skort before one of them recalled the term "logo" in english. once she remembered the term, it became clear that she COULD NOT sell me a skort that did not have some other school's logo on it. 900 apologies, thanks, and embarrassed smiles later, the kids and i left the store with me seething at the ridiculousness of this situation. i have to say that i am getting a little worried about how well organized and put-together olivia's class will be this year. this is the first year the school is offering this class/level, and it doesn't seem to be coming together smoothly. it's taken me more than a week to track down orientation information, we still have not been informed of what time class will start and end, and we do not know whether there will be a bus run. i am assuming we will get these details in orientation, which is on thursday. school starts on monday. this does not leave much time for planning things like transportation (in the event there is not a bus run).

i will be interested to see if livie's school gives us trouble for the blue jean skirt...i am guessing they might be too disorganized to notice it does not fit the uniform description. hopefully, the umpteen navy blue skorts we ordered from the u.s. will be here by the end of next week.

while we were on this great (and doomed) skort mission, i passed a plus sized clothing shop and started salivating. in the u.s., i am an average sized person. here, i am super plus sized (as in a triple XL does not fit me). i cannot find clothes to fit me in 90% of the stores here, and considering how badly i needed a couple new pairs of shorts/capris, this has been driving me CRAZY. i found a lot of beautiful items in this shop and came away with two new pairs of capris and several pretty blouses for under 60 USD. this made my day!!

the highlight of the day for all of us was being accosted by a large group of college students outside an MTR station on our way home from the clothing adventures. a very polite boy approached us to ask if his group could take a picture with us, sing their school song with us, and then get a pic of a kiss with us. i thought we were just props, but after some prodding, it became apparent we were supposed to sing WITH them. i learned part of hong kong university's school song today. when the request for a kiss was made, i offered up quinn...one of the kids air kissed quinn's cheek while another student took a picture. it was hilarious, if a little strange and uncomfortable. if nothing else, it gave us a good laugh at the end of a rather stressful outing.

HKG174: Fish, Flash, and a Steel Trap

gratuitous snap of livie's latest drawing. her people are getting much more detailed and lifelike...she also is kinda obsessed with all things dental. notice that this person is missing teeth AND has braces...two things livie wants DESPERATELY :-)

this morning, the kids and i hopped on the apartment shuttle to catch a ride to the central ferry piers. we rode the star ferry over to TST so we could take livie back to the jewlery store to have her ear repierced. i set off knowing that the store was inside the MTR building and thinking it would be easy to find. i was wrong. i tried using my GPS navigation system to find it...no dice. i tried using the web site to find it. nada...i didn't have the right flash utility installed on my phone and could not view the web site. i got as far as knowing what road to be on...i thought...hopped in a cab and was invited to hop right back out b/c the driver had no idea where i wanted to go. we wandered around for a while and then went back into the MTR building to catch a train back to central. as we are walking toward the train, livie spots the entrance to a shopping arcade and excitedly tells me that the jewlery store is located inside. she was right. my kid's got a steel trap for a memory. unfortunately, we were not able to get livie's ear repierced b/c it is red/irritated...we have to wait a week to hopefully prevent any infection.

this afternoon, we got out to the playground for a while, and when we got back at 7:45, i noticed the fishies' aerator was not working. no prob...i had bought two so i'd have a backup. oops, i was already on the backup aerator. i hurriedly fed the kids their already-late dinner and then rushed them out to the store so i could get batteries for a portable aerator josh had gotten me...thank god for that portable. it's loud as all get out, but the fish have bubbles and i have backup batteries for the darn thing. the fish vendor in the wet markets doesn't open until 10 and closes at 6...and this is why i keep buying aerators two at a time. i have yet to have one crap out during the day when the fish vendor is open.

tomorrow, the kids and i will be heading into kowloon to check out a uniform store. we have been having a hell of a time finding a navy blue skort for olivia for school. josh found a u.s. uniform company that will ship to hong kong and ordered skorts several weeks ago. they shipped this past saturday. i also ordered a few more from crazy8.com when i figured out that the ones josh had ordered had not shipped (and this was after 3 calls to customer service to find out where they were...josh called tonight to cancel the order only to find out they shipped...finally). so, livie will have a LOT of navy blue skorts. anyone need a little girl's navy blue skort??? or two?

Sunday, August 21, 2011

HKG172 and 173: Weekend Roundup

goofy kids playing with the area rug while waffle looks on

we had a great weekend. on saturday, we got out for a fun lunch at one of our favorite places, cafe O, and then josh took the kids for a swim while i got some stuff done in the house. in the afternoon, miss sally came to stay with the kids while josh and i got out to macau. unfortunately, it was a super busy weekend in macau and we ran into a lot more lines and waits than we did fun, but it was still nice to get out without the kiddos. today, we checked out the city hall library and had low-key adventures at home for the morning and afternoon. this evening, the kids and i got out for a birthday party where the kids had a great time playing with other kids from the building.

this coming week is livie's last week of freedom before school starts. we have loose plans for several different adventures, but the theme of the week will definitely be quality time with sissy. q and i are going to miss her desperately. next week is the start of all-day school (for the first time), and it's going to be a big change for us as well as for olivia. we have had her all to ourselves except for the five weeks she went to kindergarten (preschool) in may/june. i predict there will be a lot of moping. i hope to get q into some classes that are just for him...gymnastics or soccer or something else that he will enjoy and get to have all to himself. being the second kiddo, he's never gotten this privilege...he's always had to tag along with sissy and do whatever she's doing or stay with me while she does something fun/cool. i think he will enjoy this new, big change once he gets over missing sissy.

our first big adventure for the week is going to be a ride on the ferry into TST. tonight, one of olivia's studs came out of her newly pierced ears. i did the best i could to jerry-rig what's left (just the earring), but we need to get back to the store asap to get a new back for her earring to make it secure again.

Friday, August 19, 2011

HKG171: Wrastlin'

today, the kids and i got out to southorn playground, which is in wanchai near josh's office. we played for a while, and then josh met up with us to have lunch at the flying pan. the kids had a pretty good time playing at the playground. one of their new things is wrestling...initiated by quinn. he pretty much just tackles sissy and tries to pull/push her around. she's very patient with him, and we watch pretty carefully simply because this apartment is small and has all hardwood floors. i have kinda been waiting and wondering when they would start wrestling...i think it's pretty cute and a reasonably good way for them to play together since their age and gender difference doesn't really provide many other ways for them to play together.

this evening, i got out for another nice jog down to the harbor. i love it. my shin and knee? notsomuch. it turns out that jogging downhill is pretty damn painful. i think i will keep doing it for a while though to see if i can adjust. there is another route i like, and it's a good workout b/c a huge portion of it is running up hill, but it's a shorter route and it's UGLY. all i have to look at on that route are buses, taxis, and crowds. if i can't make the downhill/harbor route work, i will switch back to the uphill route, but i can't give up on that harbor view just yet. the following maps shows the harbor jogging route and the zoo jogging route.


View Larger Map - harbor jogging route

View Larger Map - zoo jogging route

before i headed out to jog, i decided to do a little bit of exercise in the apartment. i made q my workout buddy. it turns out he weighs a whole hell of a lot more than a 20-pound kettle bell :-) he thought it was AWESOME to keep getting lifted above my head, and he wasn't super willing to let me rest between "sets," but he was a good workout buddy. i tried to teach him how to do lunges and told him we were walking like dinosaurs (nicole, he LOVES his dinosaur flash cards and is now in dino mode)...he was hilarious...he'd scamper a few steps, and then stick a leg out and roar. i am not sure he got the workout i did, but he had a lot of fun trying!

q tackled sissy on the bench, trying to get her to wrestle with him.

q looking sad/lonely while keeping a watch out for daddy while we were at the playground

Thursday, August 18, 2011

HKG170: Holy Curry!

today was a better day than the last few. i am still feeling blech, but the blech is lessening or at least responding better to tylenol. this morning, we got out to the caine road garden ...a.k.a. mosquito garden. thanks to the b family, we were all set with some california baby bug spray...it worked wonderfully AND it smelled pretty good! the garden was empty. i know i am beating a dead horse here, but i just don't get it. WHY does no one go out to play during the day?!?!? the kids have gotten used to it...they don't grumble about the lonely playgrounds as much as they did a few months ago. this is kinda sad, though my ears are happy for the relief.

this afternoon, we went out again to play at the shake-shake bridge playground...this is a nearby playground in which the playset has one of those wiggly bridges. quinn, being the thomas aficionado that he is...and the major fan of the misty island rescue movie...is really into the shake-shake bridge playground (if you have not watched hours of thomas movies and videos, this will make NO sense to you). fortunately, this playground has enough climb-y things for my monkey girl to keep her happy, too.

today, the shake-shake bridge playground was pretty full when we got there around 6:20. all of the kids there were locals and were speaking only cantonese, so olivia and quinn just kinda did their own thing for a while. at one point, q noticed two older boys playing kickball and decided to join in...this means that he chased these boys all over the playground trying to get their ball. they were super patient with him, and the older of the two boys actually gave q the ball on several occasions. this same boy was also very patient when livie wanted to join in the game. the kids had a great time. this is the first time i have really seen them interact with people they are unable to talk to.

the highlight of my day was curry. i have been in a bit of a cooking slump...i am still cooking all the time, but i have just been rotating the same recipes for a while; i haven't tried anything new for a couple months. today, i had some peaches and nectarines i needed to use up, and i remembered that i had a curry recipe that called for peaches. omigod. it turned out DELICIOUS. a couple months ago, i went out with my friend, c, and had what i decided was the best curry i had ever eaten. well, this recipe comes in a very close second. i have put the recipe in the random recipes tab. if you like curry even a little bit, you gotta try this recipe. it's super simple, and very, very good!

livie and quinn having a great time playing with some kids at a nearby playground

caine road garden. empty. that's a fantastic playground, yes? but it's empty. ?!?!?!

the kids decided to package themselves this morning. they could not be any cuter!


Wednesday, August 17, 2011

HKG169: Texas Friends Made Our Day

caught q mid sentence. this little guy has a lot to say these days...he's quite fun to talk to!

self portrait of a cutie...yes, she was wearing clothes, but had turned a long skirt into a sun dress...and thus the nekkid shoulders

i know i sound like a broken record at this point, but today was another low-key day. i am still feeling crappy, so we stayed home until early afternoon. when we finally got out, we headed to a nearby playground and to check out a pet store to find la fu his stinky fish treats. these things are seriously nasty...they're kinda like pressed fish jerky, they smell terrible, and he LOVES them. we had been supporting his habit with a pet store very near us, but they are no longer carrying this product. fortunately, this other pet store is also within walking distance AND it has better prices on la fu's food and these treats...it's a win-win.

this afternoon, right after q woke up from his nap, a box of awesomeness arrived! our dear friends, the f family, sent us a ton of awesome goodies. the kids had a blast pulling all the prizes out of the box and then playing with them for the remainder of the afternoon. have i mentioned how much i love getting mail and sending mail? f family, there will be a new box coming soon :-)

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

HKG168: The Artiste and Her Gifts

this is a couple of drawings livie left on our bed as a surprise. mine is the butterfly drawing; josh's is the orange card. it's taken me about three years, but i am finally over being the second-rate parent. now, when i hear (or see) livie declare that she loves josh best or most, it makes me smile.

olivia recently turned 5.5. she's been learning to read for a few months now. one of her recent favorite activities is to write us notes and/or draw us pictures, wrap or roll them up, and then leave them on our bed as surprises. it is pretty awesome to walk into our room and find one of these treasures. my collection of these notes and pictures is getting pretty massive. i have been using blue tack to stick them up on our closet doors and/or the bathroom mirror...she creates so many things that we are running out of display room.

other than artistic pursuits, today was another very quiet day. i am still feeling pretty crappy AND we were in lockdown waiting for a repair technician to come and resuscitate thor. thor needed a new motor and drum; he's been fussy and temperamental lately. here's hoping he can now keep up with us. i have to say that trying to get through vacation laundry for the four of us when a typical load is around 6 items AND the washer was acting up....well, it was painful. i think i will probably kiss our 3rd-hand whirlpool washer when we return to texas, and i will probably do a happy dance when i can wash more than 6 items at a time :-)

Monday, August 15, 2011

HKG167: Future Cinematographer

waffle portrait by livie

today was a slow day...i wasn't feeling so great and just didn't have it in me to run hither and yon. we did get out for a short stint at our apartment playground early this afternoon and then out for a couple errands this evening, but that was it. the kids were pretty happy to stay home, but we did have to get creative on activities. i showed livie how to use the movie feature on my phone. she had a ton of fun with that, and her creation was interesting. she also used the camera to get a great picture of the waffle kitty.


livie's first movie

Sunday, August 14, 2011

HKG166: Apple Crisp


today was a nice, low-key day. we are still catching up and normalizing after being away, and it was nice to keep it mostly quiet.

we skyped with a dear friend this morning, and then josh took the kids to the pool while i sat on my tukus and did nothing. once they got home, it was time for lunch, so i whipped up some grilled cheese and tomato soup. while i was slaving over the stove, i kept smelling burning plastic. i moved the pans around to make sure their handles weren't over the flame...still smelled the burning plastic. i then realized there was an apple behind one of the pans...an apple i bought at a fruit stand last night and that had fallen out of the fruit bowl i moved before starting lunch.

the apple was producing the HELLACIOUS burning plastic smell. this makes me wonder exactly how much wax/plastic is on this fruit to make it look shiny and fresh. finding organic food here is not really hard, but it is SUPER expensive...far more expensive than in the states. i do 90% of my fruit and vegetable shopping in the wet markets, and i know that nothing i buy is even remotely organic. i did not realize, though, exactly how unnatural it was. the apple was exposed to a high, open flame for several minutes and it has a big, crispy burn on it...like a burn you'd see on plastic that had been exposed to an open flame.

YUCK!!!!!!

Saturday, August 13, 2011

HKG165: Jogging to Victoria Harbor

this is the view at the start of the last leg of my jogging route

a couple weeks ago, i decided to become recommitted to being physically fit. exercise is something i really enjoy, but it also is something that's hard to make time for now...with two small kids and with josh's travel schedule, it is nearly impossible. i am trying very hard to just DO it no matter how tired i am in the evening.

i started out looking for a gym...too expensive. i then moved on to using the gym downstairs...cheap, but dreary and very small. i prefer to be outside, so i started the couch to 5k program...AWESOME...until the knee pain started. i tore my right ACL 4 years ago, and though my knee is largely asymptomatic, running more than once or twice a week brings on a LOT of pain, so it's back to the drawing board...at least a little.

today, i jogged down to the harbor again. man, this is just plain AWESOME. i miss texas every day...i miss jogging around the greenbelt and with friends at local tracks and 5k races, but nothing compares to this jog down to the harbor. okay, the jog down is not that great...i am assaulted by sewer gas, diesel fumes, and general city-living ick, but once i get to the harbor...i'm golden. if i was in better shape, i could spend hours just jogging around in circles with the harbor in view. i have been jogging down to the harbor, around the Sun Yat Sen Memorial Park a few times, and then along the harbor to the Western Market in sheung wan. it is glorious. i wish my knee could withstand more of this, but once or twice a week will have to do.

Friday, August 12, 2011

HKG160-164: GZ, Baby!



monday afternoon, we all piled into a cab and headed to a train depot in kowloon to catch the westbound train into guangzhou. the plan was for us to spend two days in the area near josh's work, and then the afternoon of the second day, we'd head into the countryside to a resort where we'd spend a couple more nights/few more days.

the first place we stayed was in a hotel josh typically stays at when he works in GZ. the room was spacious (almost the same size as the happy valley apartment), but it did not have a sleeper sofa, so we asked for a cot figuring we'd put one kid on the couch and the other on the cot. little did we know that the cot was going to be a crib that q would have fit comfortably when he was about 9 months old. surprisingly, he loved it and slept well in it despite the fact he could not extend his legs fully.

the weather did not cooperate with us, and in fact was so bad at times that we contemplated canceling the remainder of our trip. both mornings in the first hotel, the weather was so terrible that we basically could not see out our window. both days it cleared around 11. the first day, tuesday, that worked out fantastically. the kids and headed to a nearby zoo and had an absolute ball. thanks to a woman in josh's office, we had a booklet of cheat sheets we could use to show the taxi driver where we wanted to go (the sheets gave our requests in english and in mandarin)...genius. the zoo was very large and there was a lot to look at and do, so we spent a few hours there. after a little bit of rest at the hotel, we headed out once again to meet up with josh at his office and to join some of his officemates for dinner at a restaurant that also looks like a pet store. going through the "pet store" part to pick our dinner was sad and not really fun. the meal was very tasty, though, and josh's officemates were gracious and friendly.

on wednesday, the weather again started out bad and again cleared around 11, but since we had only a couple hours until it would be time to check out and head to the resort, we just hung around the hotel room. this was slightly painful, but we all survived.

upon arriving at the resort, we were surprised to find that our family suite was much smaller than the room near josh's work, and offered NO privacy. we basically had a gigantic sleepover with the kids. considering we are not a co-sleeping family, this was not a rousing success. there were late nights, no naps, and some tired cranky people by friday. in the mean time, though, we had a ball. the first night, we went to a circus at the resort. it was much more cirque du soleil than barnum and bailey...and it was really cool. the next day, we headed out to a safari park...this park was HUGE. it took us more than four hours to get through it, and i am pretty sure we still did not see everything. in the evening both wednesday and thursday, we headed to the hotel pool to give the water babies some fun exercise. on friday, we were all completely knackered and didn't have much adventure left in us...this, combined with a noon checkout time meant that we kept the entertainment limited to the hotel pool.

my first impression of china/GZ is that i like it... a lot...and i finally understand why other expat friends who have lived in china (and not in HK) have told me how easy we have it in HK. getting around was a bit of a challenge. being an "exhibit" was tiring. overall, though, i really liked the feel of GZ and look forward to going back and exploring more. the zoo that we spent hours in...we didn't even scratch the surface, so i look forward to going again. i also would like to check out the interesting shops around where we were staying. unfortunately, there were no playgrounds or other kid areas near that hotel (besides the zoo), but i am sure we could find something interesting to do.

the week's outtakes were mostly about being different. we got stared at a lot. we had people sneaking up on us to take pictures...we had people pretending to take pictures of one thing while they were actually taking pictures of us, and we had people just flat out request to take pictures of or with the kids. everyone we encountered in this way was friendly, but the kids did tire of it pretty quickly. the scariest outtake, by far, was quinn nearly falling off the balcony on our room at the resort. after he threw a toy off the balcony, he was on close supervision (after a timeout from it). we turned our heads for just a couple seconds only to hear livie SHRIEKING and turning to see quinn with 3/4 of his body dangling five stories up. i don't ever want to feel that feeling again. the balcony was not climeable, but he found a way to wedge himself under the railing...and fit most of himself through it before livie alerted us. again, it was incredibly scary.

the most unexpected result of this trip was my finding myself feeling at home in hong kong. i have not felt at home here, but returning to our apartment and our "normal" life after a few days away has made this transition for me. coming home to our attentive (meaning DEMANDING) cat, la fu/waffle has cemented this, too. if you are not a pet person, this won't make any sense, but if you are it will...having a fur baby to come home to really makes a house feel like a home...not just a place you stay, but a place you are invested in. i missed our crazy cat terribly while we were gone, and i was thrilled to get back to him and listen to him yowl at us for HOURS (i think he was scolding us for being gone). he yowled at us for so long that he lost his voice for a few hours. he's back to his normal self this afternoon...i think he feels more secure and that we're not going to leave him again. i don't know what we're going to do with him when we return to texas for several weeks!

Sunday, August 7, 2011

HKG159: Social Sunday and a Blogger Hiatus

waffle's beloved toy mousey...complete with burns and patchy fur. our funniest outtake for today was looking, and looking, and looking for this mouse because our fussy kitty prefers it to any of his other cool (and unburned/fully-furred toys). we found the mouse behind a stack of moving crates...displaced by an especially-exuberant game of fetch with olivia. i fully expect to be darning and repairing this mouse for YEARS to come.

we had a great day on sunday. we took the kids over to the central library and then to lunch at a french deli that's inside the library. in the afternoon, i got out for a nice jog, and josh took the kids down to the pool. we then wrapped up the day with a great visit/dinner with friends.

today, we are heading to GZ for a mini family vacay. blogger and facebook are both blocked in china, so texpat will be silent for a few days. i promise some pics and updates when we get back.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

HKG158: Scaredy Cats

gratuitous pic of waffle falafel la fu, our favorite graduate of the SPCA wanchai

this morning, i volunteered at the SPCA with the kitties. this time, i worked in a different cattery...this one is for newbies that have been there only a few days and are working on socialization.

the first room, which contained 15 kitties, included some very sweet and affectionate newbies with a couple that were shy and a tiny bit aggressive. the second room, which contained another 15 kitties, included some of the most heartbreaking kitties i have ever met. almost all of the occupants of the second room were so aggressive and freaked out that they destroyed their cages...they upturned their litter boxes, food, and water...and sometimes their beds, too. several of them had made deposits on the walls and floor of their little rooms. almost all of them growled a very deep, scared-out-of-their wits growl and/or hissed and spit. it was heartbreaking to see these beautiful animals driven to this state. one whole side of room two contained cats that were brought in on a single raid...i could not determine if they were rescued from the street or a building or a hoarding situation (due to language barrier).

i fell pretty much head over heels in love with three of the kitties in the first room, and i am pretty damn proud of myself for not bringing all of them home with me :-) one of these kitties was a short-haired black and white tuxedo kitty with the cutest little mow i have ever heard. he did not me-ow. he mow'd. the next kitty i fell in love with is the SPITTING image of la fu, only she's a girl, has a full-length tail, and looks as though someone put her through a bleach cycle as her orange spots are lighter than la fu's. she has almost identical markings to his, though, and looks to be around the same age. if i could have guaranteed no upset to la fu or the kids and tolerance from josh, i would have packed her up and brought her home with me today. she was super affectionate...kept reaching through her cage to paw at my shirt or hair as i worked on the cages below her and tried to round up some roustabouts from the shelf above her. the roustabouts were these two very tiny (no more than six weeks old) kittens who were extremely mischievous. they scampered up and through and around EVERYTHING. i had a heck of a time catching these two to put them back in their cage. they wore themselves out scampering away from me...as soon as i got them back into their cage, they curled up next to one another in their bed and crashed out.

as hard and stinky and sad as this work was today, i definitely want to work in these rooms again. i think i might even prefer these rooms to the ready-to-adopt cattery. i like to root for the underdog (or undercat, as the case may be).

after i finished up at the SPCA, i grabbed a quick lunch and headed over to a red cross donation site to donate blood. i was trying to participate in a blood drive being organized by some dear friends in wichita falls. i have not tried to donate since before my pregnancy with olivia, and it turns out that i have a lifetime restriction against donating because i rec'd platelets during and after olivia's birth. i find it a bit ironic that i can no longer repay the gift that was given to me, but apparently clotting factor products are not screened the same way that blood is, and there is enough risk of infection from having rec'd clotting factors that recipients can not donate after they've rec'd them. long ago, in my twenties, i donated blood every six weeks because my employer at the time had close ties to a local hospital and had the donation bus come to our building every six weeks. i had NO concept then of what the little bit of blood i donated could mean to someone, but i am so very glad i donated.

**if you are well and able, please please please donate blood as often as you can. you never know when your gift will give someone the chance to live or give their loved ones more time with them.**

Friday, August 5, 2011

HKG157 : Let's Call Her Penance

i have been a slacker for the 5 months that we have lived here. besides walking with the kids, i have not be exercising. i needed to just suck it up and jump back into working out. thank god for muscle memory and retaining some cardio vascular fitness. it hasn't been easy, and i am still ramping up toward a pace/routine/habit that is at maintenance level, but i am pleasantly surprised that my five months of slackerdom did not turn me to 100% mush...just 65% mush ;-p

i started the couch to 5k program the other day, but i forgot to download the app onto my galaxi mini, so i have been winging it. last night was my second run on week 1, and i had some trouble finding a pace and keeping to the prescribed rhythm of running a few minutes and then walking a few minutes. i felt like i should beat up on myself a bit at the end of my workout...as penance. i know myself and my fitness level/strengths/weaknesses well enough to know that running hills/stairs is a quick way to get back into shape. lucky me, we live on the side of a mountain. hills and stairs are EVERYWHERE. there's this one set of stairs right behind our apartment building....they are named the castle steps because they connect a major thoroughfare, robinson road, with a road called castle lane. there are many, many, many flights to this set of stairs. i estimate the angle to be around 65 to 75-degrees.

in an effort to regain some of the muscle mass i have lost since quitting my beloved bootcamp class, i am finding ways to work in some lunges, push ups, and tricep dips while doing housework. this provides ENDLESS entertainment from my hecklers (children), and it also provides opportunities for them to copy me and giggle. livie turned their copycat workout session into a yoga/meditation session...HILARIOUS.

other than exercise and stuff, today was a pretty quiet day. we got out to get food for the waffle kitty and play at the playground. it's always a joy for us to go to the pet store b/c it also is a boarding facility, and there is always someone there who would like some extra snuggles and scratches. today, there was a pretty large yellow lab who was just the softest, sweetest, and funniest thing. she stole a lollipop right out of quinn's mouth, gummed it for a few seconds, and then spit it out with an audible splat. quinn, fortunately, was having too much fun petting her to get too mad at her for stealing his lollipop. while we were there, we got a collar and ordered a name tag for waffle...he keeps trying to escape the apartment, and even though he's microchipped, i want him to have his name/phone number on him. it was a no-go. i put the collar on him and watched him for a few minutes...he was a little agitated, but fine, so i went off to put some laundry away. i was not even halfway down the stack of clothes when i heard that guttural growl/howl an animal makes in fear/pain. i came back out to find waffle with his collar caught around his neck and in his mouth. no more collar for him...it's more dangerous than his possible escape! oddly enough, the vet did not have break-away collars for cats, which i far prefer for safety reasons.

this afternoon, we went to the post office to send goodies to friends in texas, maryland, and michigan. this has potential to be fun...i love sending and receiving mail, but for some reason, the post office provides an opportunity for the kids to just be BAD. they are TERRIBLE every single time we go. *sigh* fortunately, i now know the hong kong post system well enough that we can get out quick enough that the bad-ness is somewhat contained.

after the post office, we went to a grocery store called city super in the IFC mall. i was on a hunt for american snacks. my picky little kids turn there very cute noses up at most of the snacks i can get a the local grocery store. it was time to break down and get some goldfish and cheese-its. josh met us at IFC mall with the intention of us having dinner out while were there. it was a no-go. most of the restaurants were not quinn-proof, and the one that was the most quinn-proof (pizza express) required a reservation in order to not have to wait. um. no. we ordered pizza hut and had it at home.

penance...my new exercise buddy

a view of surrounding sky scrapers from a balcony at the IFC mall

a view of the harbor from a balcony at the IFC mall

another harbor view from a balcony at the IFC mall

cute kids goofing around while we wait to meet up with josh

waffle trying to remove his bling

Thursday, August 4, 2011

HKG156: Most Expensive Recycling EVER

today was a pretty low key day. quinn was up super duper early and was tired all morning, so we just played at home, had a little time at the pool, had an early lunch, and then got him down for nap. this afternoon, the plan was to head over to the post office to mail off some goodies AND to mail off the forms we need to finalize our digital mailbox...the forms we had notarized at the u.s. consulate last week. thing is, i accidentally recycled that notarized form. i think. i tore apart the cabinet i swear i remember putting the form in...no dice. i looked through the folder of related paperwork...no dice. i dug through some other "office" areas...no dice. needless to say, it's back to the u.s. consulate for us. bleh! i am so mad at myself for this!! it wasn't exactly cheap to get this form notarized, and to have to pay for it again because of my negligence...well that just pisses me off and makes me cranky!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

HKG155: Way-More-Fun Wednesday

aaah...today was THE day...to get the heck out of the apartment. we got out this morning and headed for the play place. the kids had a ball for a few hours, we got some tasty lunch, stopped at a great bakery near the play place, got me some much-needed new running shoes, and then headed home. this afternoon, we headed out to a newly-favorite park and then to the grocery store. once we got home, we found josh was home from china, so the kids got bonus playground time with him while i made some din din. it was a great day...great to get the heck OUT.

today's outtake was making the kids walk home to keep from having to clean puke out of a taxi. on the way home from the play place, q started acting a little strange, letting out some crazy burps, and then telling me that his mouth and stomach hurt. i figured we were about to be sitting in rivers of vomit, so i asked the driver to just stop and let us out. fortunately, we were close-ish to home, so while it was mean of me to make them walk home (especially q), it could have been worse and it kept us from having to clean puke out of a taxi.

q continued to act strange once we got home, so i gave him some pepto. he PUT HIMSELF to bed for his nap, and then he woke up (on his own...rare) an hour or so later all revved up and ready to go. whatever ailed him (suspect bad indigestion (q has a history of severe reflux) or car sickness) was gone and he was back to his super q self.

goofy kids making up their own game on/under the swings...no idea what they were doing!

low blood-sugar crankiness...energy returned shortly, and we went back out for another couple hours of play time.

blurry action shot of the kids playing in the basketball/soccer area. random note: did you know it is VERY hard to hold a 40-pound kid up over your head when he decides to let his shoulders/arms go mushy? q kept asking me to lift him up so he could put a ball through the basketball hoop...then, once i had him up there for a minute or so, he'd just collapse...still holding the ball...wouldn't put it in. arrggghhh!


Tuesday, August 2, 2011

HKG154: Toned-Down Tuesday

the (un)dynamic duo...this was them at about 9:30 this morning. they did eventually ooze off the couch and go play for a while.

monkey boy quinn going up the slide

monkey girl livie climbing the slide

today was another quiet day...even more quiet than yesterday since we didn't get out of the apartment until this evening. both kids were up super early, so i think keeping it quiet today was the right thing to do. i might be climbing the walls by tomorrow morning, though.

we ran into a friendly acquaintance on the playground tonight, and we developed a tentative plan to go over to playtown candyland with this family tomorrow morning...that should perk up the natives :-)

Monday, August 1, 2011

HKG153: Mellow Monday

mellow kiddos on the swings at a nearby park

today was a super mellow day. we started off by skyping with family and friends, and then we moved right on to having a quiet day at home. we got down to the playground for a while after lunch, and then we headed out to a nearby playground and the wet markets before dinner, but in between we did a whole lotta NOTHING. it was nice :-)