Wednesday, November 30, 2011

HKG275: It's Never Simple

poofy thomas....see below for more information about poofy thomas.

WARNING: whining straight ahead

today was insane. i learned, at around one this morning, that i needed to print out another set of shipping labels for our shipment back to the states. we gave away our printer. josh absconded with my jump drive. there is NO fedexKinkos, PackNMail, or UPS store here. in fact, it's pretty darn hard to figure out who offers digital printing services and where. there are kodak store everywhere, but they print only photos.

i found a listing for a store that actually has a web site (my ranting about web sites for businesses in HK will have to wait for another day) AND an upload option, so i hurriedly placed a request. the store requires a 24-hour turn for digital printing. so, i went to japan home with q and bought some writable DVDs. my computer tried for more than an hour to format the damn DVD (in the end, it took my computer 3 hours to inform me it could not format the DVD). so then i pinged josh to see if anyone is in the HK office today (he's in GZ)...nope. he suggests i use the SD card in the (new) camera though...presto-whamo, i have a way to get the document to someone who can print it.

q and i head down to the store that has a web site; it's in sheung wan, which is a hop, skip, and a jump from our apartment. along the way, i pass two or three stores that i pass all the time...they have stacks and stacks and stacks of loose paper (not neatly stacked) in their is an art/framing shop, one looks to be a stationary store, and the third one also looks to be a stationary store...until i look at the sign that is 10 feet straight up over my head....IT'S A DIGITAL PRINTING STORE!!!!!!!!!!!!!! they seem to specialize in cool stuff like photos, cards, and calendars, but they are able to print my labels. wooooooooooooo hooooooooooo. (note...i did not find this store when searching online for digital printing services in the central district of hong kong.)

the shipment was scheduled to be picked up sometime between 1 and 7 p.m. q and i get home at 12:50, and there's a love note from UPS on my door. they were here and gone. i have to reschedule. i hurriedly get q some lunch, and then use a link our mover sent me to reschedule another pickup.

the doorbell rings a little after five, and in walks two UPS guys. they look at my smallest bin and ask if this is the shipment. i look at them like they have three heads, and then gesture to the entire room full of rubbermaid containers and tell them that THIS is the shipment. one young man immediately gets on the phone and confers with his office. after about 5 minutes of back and forth, he gets approval to pick up our shipment. then he rejects my shipping labels...the ones that were so hard to print...the ones that have an RFID and barcode on them that ensure they are shipped together. he, instead, gives me one air bill for all 14 boxes. i made an error on it (entered my home addy in texas instead of the customs point in nevada), and there was some alarm, so i just asked them to come back another day. there was also some extreme confusion about payment. the UPS service here does not accept credit cards from non account holders, so the fact that i had prepaid our mover in the u.s. with a credit card was causing confusion.

the long and short of it is that our apartment still looks like a rubbermaid hatchery. i hope this stuff ships soon, because the natives are restless and keep trying to break into the bins. i already found one liberated toy...poofy thomas....a.k.a. poopy thomas according to q (he can't pronounce his letter f very well).

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

HKG274: Public Transpo FAIL

today, q and i had the opportunity to have lunch out....with real, live people! the kind-hearted mom i was talking to during the party livie attended on sunday invited me and q to meet up with her and two of her friends for lunch.

we had a great time, but the lunch ran a tiny bit late. i thought "no problem, i'll catch a cab back into central in time to meet livie's afternoon bus." i was in TST. for the life of me, i can NEVER get a cab to take me cross harbor (i have tried and failed at least five times).

for whatever reason, traffic was heavy this afternoon, and it took almost 10 minutes to find an empty cab. i found one, told him i needed to go cross harbor, and he gave me an emphatic "NO!" at this point, it was clear i was not going to get back to central in time to meet livie's bus, so i called the school and asked them to keep her there/not let her get on the bus. thank god i had that option.

q and i ended up taking the MTR, which was always an option (and a cheap one)...but it's pretty slow to get through the train station, get through the turnstiles, and get on a train...which is why i was trying to catch a cab to begin with.

livie survived her extended day, though she was sad and scared, which broke my heart. we made a special deal out of it...walked to a cool park near livie's school, went for ice cream, went to another park, and then stopped off at one of our favorite minimarts to get some fresh fruit and other necessities.

it was a pretty great day barring the 30 minutes of stress around being late to get livie. tomorrow, all of our goods begin their journey back to texas!

kids climbing at the first park

q is right in the midst of the I DO IT MYSELF phase, and here he is trying to get himself situated on the swing.

while i was working on packing slips and reorganizing the bins tonight (a couple were not completely full, so i had to rearrange/repack (if the bins are not packed super tightly, stuff breaks)), i moved this cushion to the top of a crate. waffle hopped up there as fast as he could and then gave me his regal "you put this here for me, right?!" look.

comatose q. he fell asleep on the train. standing up. he got a lot of giggles from a lot of people around us. he slept through three stops on the train, me carrying him through the turnstiles (which we barely fit through), through the train station, for the entire duration of a 30-minute wait in a taxi queue, in the taxi, and up and down the stairs at livie's school. he did not wake up until she came out of her classroom. i wish i could sleep like that!

Monday, November 28, 2011

HKG273: Tiny James

as we work on packing up our stuff to ship to texas, we also are putting aside special/favorite toys for the kids to continue playing with here and to take on the plane with them. one of q's special toys is tiny james.

tiny james came with a set we got from the b family...the set is part of a book with a foldout poster of a track and 10 or so tiny versions of thomas and friends. james and henry have been q's favorites. unfortunately, henry relocated himself to a shuttle bus at chimelong resort in GZ. james has been here the whole time, but gets misplaced often. he got misplaced last night.

josh and i tore apart several toy bins looking for luck. this morning, q starts telling me how tiny james is going on the plane with him....cue another hour spent tearing the bins up looking for tiny james. right before we left for gymnastics, i took q to the potty, and when he was done, i moved the foot stool so he could was his hands. i happened to pick up the foot stool instead of sliding it. guess who was underneath it??? TINY JAMES. the foot stool has a hole in the top of it, and i guess q slipped tiny james through that hole sometime last night between dinner and bed time because i know he was playing with tiny james right before dinner. i have never been so glad to find a toy.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

HKG271 & HKG272: Weekend Roundup

rubbermaid threw up in our apartment

we had a great weekend. on saturday, we headed over to the stanley markets to look around and get some special jeans for the kids. livie has outgrown the style, and we could not find any for her, but we found another thomas pair for q. we also got some yummy lunch and dessert/coffee before heading back to central. one fun thing we saw while in stanley was fresh christmas trees! they smelled SOOOOOOOOOO good! we spent the rest of saturday packing and our apartment now looks like rubbermaid threw up in here :-)

today, livie and i headed to the aberdeen marina club for a birthday party for one of her classmates. the club has a multi-level indoor play area that was FANTASTIC. the bug had a great time, and i enjoyed talking with another mother from class. while we were out, josh and q had a little male bonding time and ran errands. josh also organized our rubbermaid collection so that our apartment no longer resembles an obstacle course.

tomorrow, it's back to our regular weekly happenings. the big event for this week is that our household goods will be shipping on wednesday, and wednesday is livie's last day of school here in hong kong.

Friday, November 25, 2011

HKG270: The Mook & A Belated Birthday

my family has created a new definition for the term "mook." instead of it meaning an incompetent person, in our house, it refers to the barnes and noble e-reader/tablet, the nook color. quinn is the one that dubbed the nook "the mook." it cracks me up every time i hear him say it, and now it's stuck in my head.

my nook color is not really mine anymore. it's community property. i have found so many games and apps for the kids as well as interactive books, there's just no way i can keep it to myself. we are looking around for another tablet or refurbished nook to add to our collection simply because our upcoming 14-hour flight will be brutal if we have to add in arguments over whose turn it is with the nook :-)

the nook is on my mind today because it was a great tool this morning. today, i had a parent-teacher conference at livie's school, and livie had a school holiday, so that left josh with the task of wrangling both kids while trying to work. add in the nook, and presto whamo, the kiddos are managed. if we put one on my computer with some games/clips and the other on the nook, they are quietly entertained AND learning something. the conference went great; i learned all sorts of things about livie's progress at school. afterward, we all took q to his lego class and then stopped for lunch at a new restaurant, which turned out to serve DELICIOUS food!

q's teacher very patiently switched up the day's program to let q build this train station and track instead of moving forward with the day's plan...due to quinn being super cranky and uncooperative at the start of class. for whatever reason, q was fighting his lego class REALLY hard this morning, and while josh and another teacher were trying to calm him down, i was chatting with another teacher who revealed to me that this behavior happens very week. q cops an attitude, refusing to build according to the class theme, hollers for me, and then tries to get out of the classroom. this pains me. my inner child is still SUPER scarred from the insane issues we had with him in preschool during the fall of 2010 (after repeated issues and being asked to remove him from class for being a challenge/disruptive, we ended up pulling him out entirely only two months after he started). because he does not cry when i take him to lego class (usually), i assumed he was doing better with handling a class without me. i was wrong. i worry that this will be an ongoing issue, and i am rethinking my plan to keep him out of any kind of preschool until fall of thinking about trying to get him into a program in january instead. i can't see how another eight months without learning how to cope in a class setting will help to find the right program for him. while he's a sweetie and ridiculously funny, q could never be accused of being an easy kid, and finding the right program for him will be a challenge.

this afternoon, we worked on packing/purging, listened to some christmas music, and had leftovers and fresh-baked cookies for dinner. tomorrow marks the start of one of our last two full weekends in hong kong, so we are working hard on our todo list for what we want to do. though we've been a few times, we will probably head out to stanley to do a little clothes shopping for the kids and their friends. there is a style of kids' blue jeans we have found here and never seen anywhere else...they are regular jeans but with jogging pants material at the waist...super comfy AND great for people who are potty training. they also come with all sorts of popular characters on them. since we know the kids like these and we can't find them at home, we are going to stock up on them now. FUN FUN!

random catchup : while we were on our cruise last week, we missed our waffle kitty's birthday. he turned one year old on 18 november. our kitten is now a cat, and it shows. he now sleeps when we sleep instead of doing the la fu 500 over and under and around our bed while we try to sleep. he's also GROWN by leaps and bounds. he's probably grown several inches in length and height, and he has certainly put on some kitty pounds. i love a chubby kitty, and while he's nowhere near chubby yet, he is getting more plush :-) josh tells me i should limit waffle's stinky fish treats, but i am a sucker for waffle's cute little begging face and meows.

here, livie's showing us how she can hold waffle "correctly." she constantly wants to pick him up, and i have been trying to teach her to pick him up under his arms and butt and to hold him close...she's not really getting it. poor waffle. looking at him in livie's arms REALLY brings home how much he's grown. he's HUGE in her arms!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

HKG269: Thanksgiving

we have much to be thankful for today, but at the very top of our list is the opportunity to go home in a few weeks. we also are thankful for having had this amazing opportunity in hong kong.

today was a pretty great day, but it definitely did NOT feel like thanksgiving. we are very seriously missing our family and friends today. last year, we went down to boerne to share thanksgiving with my mom, dad, and siblings. it was pretty awesome...this year was pretty lonely. i am so glad we will be home for christmas...i am not sure i could take two major holidays being so lonely.

this morning, q and i putzed around the apartment for a while, and then caught a bus into wanchai to play at the southorn playground and have lunch with josh. q had a great time playing; together we found a very interesting bug, and then q practiced his climbing and jumping skills. i practiced letting go of his hands and not panicking/envisioning ambulance rides.

when josh go to the park, he snuck up on q and called his name quietly...the exuberant sprint and leap into josh's arms brought a smile to many faces. we had some delicious sandwhiches and lemonade at a french patisserie called pomme, and then followed that up with the world's most AMAZING chocolate cupcake. the kids and i will be meeting up with josh there again before we leave hong kong...livie needs to experience that cupcake!

this afternoon, the kids and i headed out to find some fixin's for a semi-traditional thanksgiving dinner. i was specifically looking for ham, stuffing, cranberry sauce, and pumpkin puree. i knew i could find all of these ingredients at a store that is a little far away, but i didn't want to deal with the delay of trying to get a cab so late in the day (this would mean standing around for 30 to 45 minutes in hopes of getting a cab not to mention the actual travel time and time to shop). since i chickened out, i decided to head to the next level down international store.

on the way there, we ran into josh! this was perfect...he agreed to take the kids to the shake-shake bridge playground so i could shop in peace. unfortunately, my choice to go to the lower level international store meant that i did not find any of the t-day goodies i was looking for, so i improvised a non-standard t-day menu : chicken fried chicken, cheesey mashed taters, green beans with bacon, biscuits, and home-made cream gravy. it was delicious! it annoys me that it took me an hour and 45 minutes to cook it all (including having to stop and wash dishes/do the cooking in rounds), but it was soooooooooooooo worth it. i am desperately craving pumpkin bread, so i am planning to go find the ingredients and make that sometime this weekend.

blurry but delicious non-standard thanksgiving dinner

q and his 'bots having a chat while we wait for sissy's bus. q is all boy all the time, but he also has this soft side to him. he cuddles these robots and makes them hold hands. he also regularly gives me a 'bot to cuddle and care for while he cuddles and cares for the other.

goofy children wrestling

really cool bug q and i found at the park. my blurry cell phone pic doesn't do it justice. look closely...he has fuzzy "ears" sticking up, and his wings are completely transparent.

q looking adorable despite the fact that he is mid burp

q burps. he's super proud of his talent.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

HKG268: Homebodies

the kids and i ran into these two boys and their auntie at the zoo park. livie takes gymnastics with the bigger boy while q and the smaller boy play together in the lobby (while we wait for sissy). the four of them had a BALL getting into all sorts of mischief at the park, and when it was time to leave, they walked four-wide holding hands.

my two goofballs...q dog piled sissy in the egg chair, but i was not fast enough with the camera...just caught them as q was finally getting off of his poor sister.

for the last couple of days, q and i have been keeping a very low profile while the bug is at school. we are enjoying being back in our own space, playing with our toys, and catching up on stuff around the house. it has taken me two days to catch up on laundry...really. the washer has been running non-stop since sunday night, and both bathrooms have looked like clothing stores with all the clothes hanging up to dry. i am finally done with all of the vacation laundry AND regular laundry build up, and i just have to say AGAIN how much i cannot wait to get back to my super-capacity third-hand whirlpool washer back home. i live for the opportunity to wash more than 3 bath towels at a time ;-p

our household goods will begin their journey back to texas next wednesday, so when i am not tackling piles of laundry, i am purging and packing. it's not exciting work, but the reason for it sure is!!

i think that tomorrow we will force ourselves out of the house. we need to head down to the american store to get some t-day provisions. it's going to be a sad and lonely t-day, but our consolation is that we will be home just in time for christmas!!!

Monday, November 21, 2011

HKG257 thru HKG267 : Vietnam and Singapore

our cruise to vietnam and singapore was a bit of a disappointment due to extreme illness for q (strep and scarlet fever) and the fact that the excursions to the main attractions included 2 to 3 hours in a way. we have definitely learned that cruising as a family is not a simple thing, and it is something we are not likely to do again. that's code for not only no, but HELL no :-)

the highlights are these : beautiful tropical weather, really delicious food in vietnam street cafes, AMAZING coffee, and truly stunning sights in singapore. in vietnam, we enjoyed exploring a small town near hanoi as well as vung tau...we did a lot of people watching, some shopping, and some eating. my favorite part of the trip, though, was singapore. i could easily have spent the entire nine days exploring singapore. we were there less than two days, but while we were there, we checked out the singapore botanical garden, little india, and china town on a cruise excursion, and then we also checked out the singapore flyer and the night safari on our own. on day two in singapore, we just walked around the orchard center area and then went to the airport. i cannot say enough good things about tiger air...super cheap way to get around asia (less than 100 USD for the four of us to fly from singapore to hong kong), and the accomodations were awesome to boot.

we are glad to be back in hong kong, and we are especially glad to be ramping up for our move back to texas. we have a TODO list of things we want to see and do before we leave, but most of all, we are excited to return to our family and friends back home.

Friday, November 11, 2011

HKG256: Dodging Bullets

today, livie was feeling really well...just about back to her normal spunky self. we had a follow-up appointment with her doctor this afternoon, and we discussed her further symptoms (peeling on the palms of her hands and soles of her feet as well as a very pink tongue). he has confirmed that she's had scarlet fever, but that the progression of it has been halted by her having been on antibiotics. i am relieved, but of course have spent enough time doing the "what if" dance that i'm a little wigged out. if i hadn't taken her to the doc on tuesday, she could be very seriously ill right now with possible heart and/or kidney complications. thank god this is not the case, but it does make me nervous that we are about to travel out of the country for nine days. we are taking a cruise to three different cities in vietnam and ending in singapore, so it's not like we're hiking the back country with no access to modern medicine for nine days, but the what ifs are ringing through my head regarding quinn. i am still hopeful that quinn has dodged this bullet, and i know that not every kid who gets strep also gets scarlet fever, but i worry nonetheless. it's my job....i'm the mom :-)

so other than the minor mental meltdown, the day was pretty terrific. quinn enjoyed his lego class, the kids and i had a great morning and afternoon, we survived the doctor's office without undue drama (i refuse to let the kids play with the toys there, and that causes some drama), and we had a nice evening with dinner at home and then a trip to our favorite frozen yogurt place. we are all super excited about our cruise. we leave early tomorrow afternoon and will not have access to the interwebz while we are floating around, so there will be a texpat hiatus until next weekend.

livie serenades waffle after she traps him inside her IKEA egg chair with her. i especially enjoyed the part about his cute orange butt :0

Thursday, November 10, 2011

HKG255: Anti Social

while i have not yet written out all of my thoughts about the more difficult aspects of our move to hong kong, i have to give you a sneak life. i have none (and quinn has none). i am a SUPER social person. i love people. i know no strangers. if you are standing still and you are within five feet of me, i am going to try to talk to you. unless you live in hong kong. my outgoing personality does not work here. this, coupled with other drastic differences in social culture, has led to me having no social life. at all. i realized, today, that i have gone almost 30 days without having an in-person conversation longer than 3 minutes with another adult other than josh. i have not had any in-person social interaction since jeanette went home.

tonight, i got out to meet up with a friend of a friend who has lived in hong kong for several years and is planning to relocate to austin soon. this person was super friendly and outgoing, and i had a great time getting to know her and telling her all about austin. she in turn, gave me lots of insights about hong kong and took me to a fabulous restaurant for some ABSOLUTELY delicious local food. it was a nice change of pace!

other than my brief foray into some sort of existence outside the house and kids, the day was pretty normal. scratch was rather awesome...the bug is finally turning a corner and feeling better. she has begun to show some scary symptoms, seems that she has had scarlet fever, which is related to strep throat and has a scary list of possible complications that can come with it. we will be headed back to the doc tomorrow to request more antibiotics and advice for what to look for in the event that she develops any other complications. knock far, the rest of us are still in the clear. we are actually starting to get excited about our trip again and REALLY hoping that none of us get sick while we are traveling.

crazy kitty trying to get one of the kids' sticky toys off the ceiling with a boost from josh. he was successful :-)

video proof that the bug is feeling better (and that the kids have been locked in the house for too long. quinn ran around the park like a chicken with his head cut off...or like a ping pong ball...or like a squirrel who drank redbull (hammy in over the hedge) was comical but tiring as i had to remind quinn to not do x crazy thing or y crazy thing or z crazy thing over and over and over again ;-p.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

HKG254: Lather, Rinse, Repeat Plus a Spoodle

comfort food designed to make my bug feel better...chicken and dumplings

family nap, day two. okay, we're missing q, but livie and i snuggled up together, and a few minutes later, waffle burrowed under the covers and joined us. he purred so loudly and enthusiastically that the comforter was shaking.

happy cat revealed. i have never had a cat who liked to get under the covers and snuggle up with me. i love that waffle is such a cuddle bug.

today dawned miserably for my poor bug. she woke up scream-crying from pain early this morning. i feel helpless to help her. i can dose her with tylenol or motrin to control her fever and give her some relief, but neither med really does a whole lot to ease the ice-pick-in-your-throat sensation. livie did a little better with eating today, but she still took a nap, and even after 1.5 days on her antibiotics, there is no improvement in the way her throat looks.

so far, q is okay as are josh and i. we are scheduled to go on a cruise to vietnam and singapore starting on saturday. i am reasonably sure olivia will be okay by then...if not 100%, at least no longer contagious and miserable. i am very worried, though, that q will be coming down with this shortly. i looked into the cancellation policy...oh, there is none. basically, because it is so close to cruise time, we cannot get any money back. so, we are making the choice to cruise with germs. it's not a choice i would ordinarily make, but we cannot justify losing the amount of money it cost for this trip. oh, and yes, josh looked into trip insurance but found that it did not cover illness, so he did not purchase it.

this morning, after some soft/cold foods, we slapped a mask on livie and headed out for some fresh air and errands. the first stop was at our favorite pet store to get stuff for waffle. while we were there, we met the world's most adorable daschund. omigod...if i could have, would have scooped him up and tucked him into my bag. he was ADORABLE and super sweet...he is a mini with long fur. just before we left, we met a spoodle. what's a spoodle, you ask? it's a poodle crossed with a cocker spaniel, and it is ridiculously cute.

after our pet store adventures, we went in search of fresh fruit for smoothies, potatoes for a special stew, and ice cream bars. we found all of the above.

tonight, i made olivia one of my all-time favorite comfort foods...chicken and dumplings. she liked it okay. q hated it. sometimes i wonder if my children were beamed down from another planet and, in fact, did not come from me at all ;-p

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

HKG253: Super Sick Day

two of my three babies napping...both feeling really crappy: livie with a throat infection and waffle after getting a rabies vax

super cute bug showing off the bows her grammie gave her. you can tell she's not 100%, but she's still beautiful :-)

well, i was correct that livie was coming down with something, but it's not a cold, it's a nasty throat infection. my poor baby girl has been so very sick today.

this morning was all about quiet activities, lots of juice, attempts at eating, a smoothie, and some tylenol for livie. q woke up a little early and was a little groggy, so he was okay with the quiet. we had to get waffle to the vet for his rabies vax in the late morning, and before that we needed to get livie a mask. it's common here for people to wear masks when ill, and considering livie's fascination with the mask AND the fact that she's pretty miserably ill, we got her a mask. poor waffle had to accompany us to the pharmacy, but he did great. i don't think anyone knew i had a feline stow away with me in the store...probably thought i just had a very large and ugly purse.

it turns out that livie doesn't like the mask so's uncomfortable. both kids and waffle did super well at the vet, and our appointment was blissfully short. waffle is feeling pretty miserable now, but he handled the vaccination and handling while barely batting any pretty little kitty eyelashes. he's such a charmer...he kissed the vet smack on the lips (waffle loves to shove his nose into your face for kisses...particularly into your nose/mouth). he got lots of compliments on how good he is. i also asked the vet to confirm, for me, that he has the biggest teeth she's ever seen on a cat :-) waffle's teeth are comparable in size to those i have seen on some small dogs...they are thick and long and HUGE. she did say he's designed for fighting, which is just kinda funny considering what a lover he is.

after our vet excursion, it was time for lunch and nap. livie actually fell asleep, which is always a sure sign that she feels really rotten. after a quick nap, we headed out to take livie to the doc. she got a quick exam and a prescription for antibiotics. this evening, she's perked up a little bit and actually ate her dinner very well. i am hopeful that she will feel better tomorrow. she will be out of school for at least tomorrow and possibly also for thursday depending on how her throat looks (think swollen, red, and full of pus).

Monday, November 7, 2011

HKG252: Windows Vista Feature Revealed by My Cat

it was a monday. monday oozed all over everything until it was spilling out the cracks. i am glad tomorrow is tuesday, though it probably won't be a simple tuesday simply because waffle has a vet appointment AND livie is coming down with a cold...nothing like at least one cranky kid and one scared-shitless cat to make the day interesting.

back to monday. it really wasn't that bad...the kids each had gymnastics today and enjoyed their classes. livie had a good day at school. q was in a foul mood this afternoon and whined and tantrumed himself into a couple of time-outs. it was waffle, though, that provided the BIGGEST evidence of monday. i was working in the kitchen preparing livie's lunch for tomorrow and our dinner for tonight when i decided to take a break to do something with the bug. i walk by my computer on my way to do said activity with bug and notice that the display is sideways. i tried restoring windows settings from backup...nope...still sideways. so, i had to google "windows vista display orientation" and read it sideways. fortunately, the instructions were short and simple.

in case you were wondering. all you have to do is press ctrl + alt + up/down arrow key to rotate your monitor display 90 degrees. hmmm. i guess i can see how this might be handy if you want to show your display to someone who is sitting across from you or hanging from the ceiling. maybe. what i am REALLY hung up on, though, is exactly how waffle managed to step or sit on exactly the right key combination to use this feature.

this is my computer sitting exactly as it should, but my display sitting sideways. good times.

this is the reason my display was sideways. he looks comfy (and innocent), doesn't he? little turkey!

Sunday, November 6, 2011

HKG251: Ice Cream Improv

today was a super low key day. we just putzed around most of the morning, and then headed out for a late-morning walk to the hollywood road park and to get some lunch. we ended up stopping off at a hole-in-the wall "steakhouse." the food was a hybrid of russian, western, and chinese. it wasn't bad, but it also wasn't anything to write home about. we were one of two tables that were occupied by westerners, so we attracted some attention to the point of one woman literally turning her back on the rest of the people at her table to stare at our table. it was disconcerting.

josh left for GZ this afternoon, and the kids and i kept it mostly quiet with some time on the wii and at the building playground before dinner. after dinner, we finished up q's bday cake with some ice cream. it's been pretty tough to not have a microwave, but i have found that softening ice cream is probably one the biggest challenges without a microwave. it's not like i can put ice cream in the oven or in a pan, but i did find a work around. :-)

ambient heat from the two burners softened the ice cream enough that i could dish it up between the three of us.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

HKG250: Roomy

today started off with getting a couple more pieces of our furniture out of the house and into a friend's place. the couch and two small book cases were passed on to a friend from josh's work. soon after the furniture left, miss sally came over to keep the kids while josh and i got out for some kid-free time.

we stopped first at a french cafe close to us that was rumored to have the best coffee in the city....yep, it does! mmmmm! after our delicious coffee, we went out for spicy garlic hot dogs and then to do some shopping for family back home. we wrapped up our adventure with a trip to our favorite home furnishings store to find something at least a little comfy to sit on now that the couch is gone. the little fold-out couch/mattress we got isn't half bad and will make a great addition to our home in pville for sleepovers.

both kids modeling the "couch." both have stated that they wanted to sleep on this thing : -) oh, to be young and to think that a 2-inch mattress is awesome :-) my joints ache just thinking about sleeping on this thing!

new "couch" and re-purposed book shelf

waffle is loving the book case we are using for the's higher and has more space between shelves...he's spent a good bit of time laying across shoes.

q wanted to model the couch

Friday, November 4, 2011

HKG249: Q turns THREE!!!!!!!!!!!!

my sweet baby boy turned three today! he had an absolutely awesome day that started off with birthday gifts and lego class and ended with a fun dinner out and some cake with homemade (by josh) frosting. several times, today, q looked up at me and told me "i so happy, mommy!"

we're still working with q on stating his age correctly and holding up the correct number of fingers, but he's enthusiastic about learning both.

personally, i can't believe that my baby is already three. in part, it seems like he's always been here, and then again, it seems like he got here yesterday. just for sentimental reasons, here are some links to pics of q through the years:

Thursday, November 3, 2011

HKG248: Again with the Silence (or lack thereof)

today was a much calmer and easier day than was very low key. q and i kept it quiet this morning with only a brief jaunt to the building playground. in the afternoon, the kids and i sat tight for a while waiting for an apartment showing, and then we got the heck out of dodge.

we headed first to the shake-shake bridge playground, which is usually a win-win. a combination of loud construction, a big fall for livie, and toy harassment for quinn ended that trip pretty quick, though. we ended up at hollywood road children's playground where the kids had a good time playing for a while before it was time to head into the wet markets for some fruit and then home for dinner.

tomorrow promises to be a great day simply because it is q's third birthday. i love watching him get so excited about his birthday. he likes to tell me that every cake he sees in bakery windows is his birthday cake, and he loves to point out any colorful object on any flier and tell me it's his birthday present. i think he's got the hang of this birthday celebration thing :-)

cheeseballs at the park. dontcha love livie's new smile designed to showcase her missing tooth?

exceedingly loud construction noise (and a cute boy)

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

HKG247: Wild Wednesday

today started out harmless enough. quinn and i headed down to the hollywood road park in sheung wan...our goal was to play and feed the GIGANTIC koi fish that live in a pond at the park. well, we got there and noticed a lot of signs that said not to feed the fish. so, we didn't. instead, q played around for a while, took a public potty break (so proud of my big boy for doing well on the public potty), and then we walked around looking for sustenance. we found the infamous hotdog bun at a local mom-and-pop bakery...YUM!

after a LOOONNNNGG walk home and a quick nap, we headed downstairs to collect sissy. we waited. and waited. and waited. and waited some more. when we reached 20 minutes past the scheduled drop-off time, i started to panic. first i called the school, and then realized that the bus company is separate from the school, so i quickly hung up. so then i googled the bus company name and called the number listed online...disconnected. then i called josh to see if he heard from the bus company and/or could do some more sleuthing online for a working phone number (my phone is super slow for web surfing, and i also was keeping a close eye and at least one hand on q since our building is on a very busy road). he did not answer. i am now in FULL BLOWN panic mode and trying not to cry. i call the school again and calmly ask the office to please, please, please give me the number for the bus company. i know this is not their job or their issue, but i was desperate...they quickly gave me a working number. i get hold of dispatch and am told that livie's bus is held up in a traffic jam. it's another 10 to 15 minutes before her bus finally shows's about 40 minutes past the scheduled drop off time. i feel relieved to see the bus until....

i go to get livie, and she's crying so hard that she can't breathe, her face is swollen and red, and she's got snot EVERYWHERE. i try to calm her down and ask her to tell me what's takes her a few minutes, but then she finally is able to tell me that three of her classmates spent the end of the day and the bus ride home taunting her and telling her that she is stupid...or really stupid. after i got through clenching my teeth and cussing like a sailor in my mind, i told her that was an incredibly mean thing to say, that i am sorry they did that to her, and then i asked her what she thought...does she think she's stupid. she proudly told me no. right then and there, her tears stopped. i am SO incredibly proud of my girl for understanding her own self worth and realizing that she is NOT what people tell her she is.

after calming down and talking about how smart olivia really is and reassuring her, we made a plan to go get therapeutic frozen yogurt after we got livie changed and q off for a potty break. while we were upstairs accomplishing these missions, hong kong post rang up and brought us PRIZES FROM GRAMMIE. grammie saved the ever-livin-shit out of our day. THANK YOU have no idea how therapeutic pretzel m&ms are :-) instead of frozen yogurt, we enjoyed our goodies from home.

recently, livie asked to go back to cheung sing, our favorite restaurant in happy valley, so after we finished hoovering up a bunch of pretzel m&ms and cheez-its, we packed it up and headed to happy valley. we played at our favorite playground, went into the tunnel between the playground and the happy valley race course so the kids could play red light/green light and make a bunch of ear-splitting echoes, visited our favorite shop kitty, doh-doh, and then met josh at cheung sing for dinner.

during dinner, olivia started crying and opened her was filled with blood. her loose tooth was just about out. we hurried out of there, headed to our favorite frozen yogurt shop, and got some yummy-ness to take home. once we got home, josh gently helped the tooth out the rest of the way, and after swishing her mouth a few times, livie made some good progress on her frozen yogurt, which was not only tasty, but made her mouth feel better and made the bleeding stop.

we kept checking skype to see which of our friends we could call and show livie's lost tooth, but alas, it is just too freakin' early in texas for people to be up and ready to skype. apology to the franz family for ringing your house at 6:30 in the morning...i hope you didn't hear that!!!!!!!!!!!

one down, 22 more to go :-)

cutie bug at happy valley

loot that grammie sent us! THANK YOU, GRAMMIE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

goofy q

cutie q on the playscape at hollywood road park

i felt compelled to obey this sign even though the fish pellets in my bag were begging to be thrown in and eaten ;-)

turtles at hollywood road park

this morning, i saw the biggest pigeon i have ever seen in my was walking around on the a/c units outside this window. i picked q up and showed him, and then i picked waffle up and showed him. he flattened his ears and chattered at the bird while he was in my arms. i then set him down to continue his bird watch...he stayed in this position for nearly 30 minutes watching that pigeon.

while my tailbone is protesting and my legs are cramping, waffle is THOROUGHLY enjoying the lack of a dining room table. he now can cuddle up on my legs while i am on the computer. he looks comfy, doesn't he?

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

HKG246: Sick Day

waffle looks on while q tries to get inside his travel carrier. i'd love to know what he's thinking as this scene unfolds. notice anything missing? we gave away our behemoth dining room table yesterday. we miss being comfy, but it's a load off our minds as this was our 2nd largest piece of furniture. it's looking more and more like we're literally going to have to give most of our stuff away to get rid of it. despite offering super low prices on our furniture, not much of it is moving. in fact, the only things that have moved are the items we're giving away: coffee table, couch, small bookcases, and the dining room table and chairs.

today, i woke feeling a bit better than i did yesterday, but it was short-lived. by mid morning, i was feeling seriously crappy. all i can say is thank god q figured out how to use the computer mouse. i scored a 30-minute nap while he watched a couple of educational videos and several thomas videos on youtube. i crashed again while he was down for his nap.

the afternoon was a little busier...we had a showing in the apartment, and then i got the kids out to the shake-shake bridge playground and to an italian deli to get some tasty vittles for dinner. there's a nyquil dose, a hot shower, and a warm blanket calling my name now...and it's only 8:45 in the evening. hopefully, tomorrow will be a better day!

HKG245: Halloween

halloween is one of our family's favorite holidays. it is also my birthday. this year, it was my FORTIETH birthday! eegads!

livie's school was closed for a teacher work day on monday, so we had the advantage of being able to change the schedule up a bit. the plan was to get out for some adventures, but i, of course, woke up feeling pretty sick. i ALWAYS get sick on/around's annoyingly consistent. i felt rotten enough that we even skipped gymnastics, but we did get out for a short stint to the playground in the afternoon. josh also took me out for a coffee/dessert date after the kids were in bed.

we had a great halloween, and i had a great birthday!

after birthday brinner, the kids got out for some trick-or-treating in our building.

josh made us a delicious birthday brinner.

two cuties

once josh got home, q made off with his iphone and huddled up in a corner to play some games uninterrupted.

cuties cuddling during quiet time

since a good bit of the morning was quiet, the kids got a little stir crazy and wild. this is the result. we finally got out of the house shortly after i took this video.

while at the park, i got a birthday serenade from the kiddos...priceless!