Sunday, March 4, 2012

18 Hong Kong that is!

Once again it has been 2 months since my last post. I suppose that is a sure sign that I am busy! Leah turned 4 almost a month ago. Will will be 22 months tomorrow. And the end of March will be our 18 month anniversary of moving to Hong Kong. There is no doubt that we are fully settled in at this point. I know my way around, where to shop for most of what I need/want, good restaurants to go to.

We have made friends, although part of the expat life is also the revolving door. Our good friends the Korns left to return to Chicago a couple weeks ago. Kristin and I saw each other regularly and our kids were the same age. Leah definitely misses Finley, one of her best friends. Although Will probably doesn't miss Nolan much...they fought constantly when together!

Our helper Nilda had a birthday last month too - the big 40! We are so lucky to have found such a great helper. She makes my life so much easier - helping with the kids, grocery shopping, cooking almost all of our meals (deliciously!), keeping the apartment clean and keeping up with the laundry. I have not used my washer/dryer once since moving into this apartment!

Shafi and I have been getting out on the town quite a lot lately. We have had some great meals - Yardbird, TBLS, Din Tai Fung, Zuma, Saigon, Sijie Szechuan Dishes, American Peking, Heirloom, Wagyu, Le Souk. We have also been to two black tie charity balls in the last couple of weeks. It's always fun to play dress up and go drinking and dancing with friends.

Leah was incredibly excited to turn 4. She and Finley had an excellent joint birthday party with about 35 kids, a great magician, and a Rapunzel birthday cake (homemade!). She got lots of great birthday presents, including art kits, books, and a Barbie house, jet and car. She still loves school and is doing really well with learning to read. She has over 20 sight words that she knows well now, and she can write almost all of her letters and numbers.

Will has been talking more and more, putting several words together. It is just amazing how quickly his vocabulary is expanding. He also walks around singing quite a bit. He is every bit as outgoing as Leah - talking to strangers on the street, as well as always saying hello and goodbye to everyone he knows. He's gotten very good at being polite - almost always saying please, thank you, and excuse me, as appropriate. He still loves soccer and playing outside. He has gotten to really like school, as well. He still does Mother Goose playgroup with me or Nilda 2 days a week, but I think he may move up to the drop-off class when he turns 2. Will has 15 teeth now - one more incisor is still working its way in and no sign of the 2 year molars yet. He hasn't been weighed or measured lately but he's definitely been growing - and eating and sleeping a lot - a sure sign that next doctor's visit will show a lot of growth!

The dragon boat season has started back up. The Globe Paddlers are looking pretty good! Unfortunately I broke a rib (10th rib on the back right) a couple weeks ago and am off the boat for about 6 weeks. I will return to physio next week in hopes of gradually working my way back up to paddling. Not only has it been quite painful, but it's a real disappointment to be missing so much of the season. Hopefully I can get back in shape by the time we start racing in late May.

Friday, January 6, 2012

20 Months!

Since my last post was 2 months ago...I'm not even sure where to begin to catch up. Will turned 20 months yesterday. He got his top canine teeth right around 19 months. We've just finished winter break and an almost 2 week visit from my parents.

Otherwise, life has been fairly busy but uneventful. Will's vocabulary is rapidly growing. He says many foods, body parts, toys, animals, people's well as important verbs like walk, eat, and jump. He's definitely getting pretty good at making his wishes known. Although we have had some amusing miscommunications.

I made the kids peanut butter & jelly sandwiches for a light dinner one day last week (we had been out to a posh "brunch" at 1:30 and they didn't need much). I told Will I was getting peanut butter & jelly for Leah and asked if he wanted some. He said, "Some. Some. Some." So I made him a sandwich too. When they sat at the table he had a fit - crying, pushing the plate away, batting at my hands when I tried to feed it to him. And he kept yelling "Some. Some. Some." Yesterday the kids had a mix of cut grapes and strawberries after dinner. I asked Will whether he preferred the grapes or strawberries. And he said, "some." I asked him if he could says strawberries..."no." After discussing with him that those were strawberries and some could be some grapes or some clothes or some milk...he finally said "strawberries" (really more "stawbies"). Mystery solved!

And a similar one...he's been asking for cereal in the morning. He really pronounces it quite well. But then he doesn't want cereal when you serve it to him. He'll gladly eat yogurt, oatmeal, eggs, pancakes, etc. Not so interested in cereal. Pretty sure he thinks cereal means breakfast...we'll have to work on that one.

I'm sure his number of words is over 100 now. And I'm often amazed when he blurts out a word that I didn't expect him to know. Although I'm not sure why, as I can tell he understands the majority of what we say to him. And not to be the bragging mom...but I do think he's a bit advanced in a lot of things verbal...not as advanced as Leah was...but pretty darn good for a 20 month old boy. He's been correcting pronunciation on calling me "Mommy" instead of "Mama," "Needa" has replaced "Da" for Nilda, "Puppy" has replaced "Puhpuh." And he is very good at understanding categories of things. If you ask him what fruit he had for dessert, he will list fruits (although not necessarily answering which one he had) - apple, oranges, grapes, kiwi, mango. My Uncle Howard asked him on the phone the other day whether he was going to play soccer that afternoon. Will said, "Yes. Ball." He's also getting very good at answering yes and no - rather than the way he previously would say no but nod yes.

He's also gaining some new skills. He has gotten pretty good at feeding himself with a spoon. And he's looking like he could be my soccer star - loves kicking the ball and is getting pretty good at it. We had our first class of the new term yesterday and he's now one of the older ones - several of the moms of the newbies commented on how good he is - much like I felt watching the older kids back in September.

Leah is making strides in her reading from school. She has 12 sight words now - those are common words that you should know by sight in order to be able to read. She struggles a little bit between of and to, as well as in, is and it. But she gets the others most of the time - said is still a bit of a struggle - but I can't really blame her there. She does know all her letters now - and can write most of them both in upper and lower case. She proudly drew pictures for Grandma and Grandpa and labeled them with their names.

I've been having her help make cards for birthdays and such...but she only writes her name (and sometime's Will's also). But I think now I can start having her write the whole card.

We did some fun sightseeing with my parents. We visited the Chi Lin Nunnery and Nan Lian Gardens, which we all loved. It is beautiful and serene even though it's in the center of Diamond Hill in Kowloon. We also went up to Shatin in the New Territories to the Ten Thousand Buddhas Monastery and then headed out to Sai Kung for a seafood lunch on the waterfront.

We also had a nice Hanukkah. I bought way too much for the we have a house full of new toys and books. I admit that it's as much for me as for them. I get tired of the same old toys too. Leah has lots of new Barbies and My Little Ponies - time to start a Barbie / Pony Village. And Will is loving his many new cars and the big garage to play with them on.

Check out my Picasa site for hundreds of pictures of our holiday concerts, performances, toys, sightseeing, etc.

Monday, November 7, 2011

18 Months!

Will turned 18 months old yesterday! As they say, time sure flies...feels like only yesterday I was moving to Hong Kong with a 4 month old.

He is really becoming quite the little person. He got his top 2 molars a couple weeks ago - so now he has 12 teeth and is getting increasingly capable of chewing. He still eats like a champ...although he's gotten a little pickier now that he can communicate a bit better.

His vocabulary has really taken off. He definitely understands most of what we tell him. And he's adding new words daily. He says quite a few useful things - water, yogurt, fruit, pasta, up, down, carry you (which really means carry me), stroller, cars, ball. And he's added lots of other miscellaneous words - moon, head, toes, chair, shoes, dance. There are definitely many more, but he's adding them at such a rate that it is hard for me to keep up. Of course he doesn't pronounce or enunciate all that well yet - so I often understand him mostly by context and familiarity.

Will had his 18 month check-up this morning. He got 2 injections - one in each arm - and he was a champ - started to scream, I stuck a lollipop in his mouth and all was forgotten. He's grown a bit in the month since he was at the doctor last - now 13.8 kg (30.4 lbs) and 86 cm (almost 34 in). The doc said he looks all healthy - nothing to worry about.

Leah is also doing well - working on numbers and letters at school and just starting their reading program. This week we are meant to be working on the "sight words" and, a, I, the - and Leah seems to already know them a bit. She now brings home a book a week. This week's book is just pictures - and we are supposed to use it to tell a story. Gradually we'll get into the books with simple words and sentences. She's definitely very excited to learn to read. We've also started talking about addition, as they are doing that a bit at school. I taught her how to put the fingers from one hand and the other together to help add small numbers and she's very excited to show off her new skills.

We all enjoyed Halloween. Leah was Sleeping Beauty and Will was Winnie the Pooh. They got a ton of candy that I will be gradually parceling out to them over the next few months.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

2 Molars, Updated Measurements, Hand Foot & Mouth, and a Stomach Virus - Whew!

Good news first - Will got his first molar (bottom left) last weekend and the next one (bottom right) this past weekend. He didn't do too badly with the teething...but we did supply some Tylenol a couple times.

The kids have both been to the doctor recently, so we have updated measurements. Leah is now 17.2 kg (~38 lb) and 108 cm (~42.5 in). Will is now 13.4 kg (~29.5 lb) 85 cm (~33.5 in).

And the doctor visits...they did both get flu vaccines. But Leah had hand foot and mouth virus a couple weeks ago. She missed an entire week of school and had large ulcers in her mouth, with one especially bad one on her tongue. She was fairly miserable. And this past weekend Will had his first stomach virus. I have never seen him so unhappy. He slept most of Saturday, waking frequently and then falling back to sleep in the arms of whomever would hold him. Luckily it seems to have been fairly mild with only a couple days of diarrhea and only one vomiting incident...and today he has some appetite back and seems quite a bit happier, although not back to his usual boisterous self.

Other than that, we have now officially been in Hong Kong for a year. And we are settled in and living life here. My Uncle Howard was here to visit for a few days this past week. The kids really enjoyed seeing him, and I enjoyed showing off my home and my town. We had some good meals and did a little sightseeing.

I am starting back to dragon boat, with my first practice tomorrow. Looking forward to the workout, the social team and being back out on the water.

Monday, September 12, 2011

The Summer...

I realized I have not posted since late it's time for a little catch-up. We left July 9 for 6 weeks in the US. The kids and I spent 3 weeks in NYC, followed by a week in DC, a week at a beach house in Dewey Beach (Delaware), and then our final week half in DC and half in NYC before flying back home. Shafi was able to join for a week in NY and for our week at the beach. It was really great to see friends and family and visit some of our old haunts in Brooklyn Heights and vicinity. We had a great time at the beach with my whole family - GG (my grandmother), Uncle Gorilla (Howard - my uncle) and Uncle Charlie, Uncle Alan (my brother) and Aunt Rachel, and Grandma and Grandpa (my parents).

There are really too many stories, pictures, etc. to share here, but you can check out our antics on Picasa. The flights both directions were not fun at all! I had both kids for 16+ hours on my own. Will did not much like staying seated and Leah got airsick during descent (both ways). But a relatively brief amount of pain in order to take such a long trip was not so bad. The jetlag was about a week on both ends...not too terrible.

We are now back in Hong Kong and I guess the summer is over...although it's still very hot & humid it doesn't feel like fall except that school is back in session. Leah is back at Sunshine House - this year in the Cloudview Room. And Will has started there in Mother Goose (think mommy & me) 2 days a week. We've also gotten into full swing of extracurriculars with Leah in ballet, gymnastics and swimming and Will in gym for tots and socatots (soccer).

We've been spending lots of time at the pool and when the weather cools down a bit we may start hitting the beach a bit more also. Last night was the Chinese Mid-Autumn Festival - a harvest moon festival. We hung out down at Stanley Main Beach with hundreds of other expats and a few locals, celebrating with picnics, drinking and thousands of glow-sticks. It was a fun evening for all.

We have been reconnecting with friends here in HK and reaching out to those who were more recent acquaintances to cultivate new friendships. We're filling the social calendar and realizing how far we've come...we arrived in HK on the day after the Mid-Autumn Festival last year (a public holiday) while it's 2 more weeks on the Western calendar, it's been a year on the Chinese calendar.

I haven't kept up so well with Will's milestones here...but he's definitely very steady on his feet these days. He's running around and trying to jump (he puts his arms in the air, bends his knees, stretches up high, but doesn't quite get off the ground). He loves to play with balls - throwing and kicking. And he's starting to show a bit of interest in cars and animals. He's got quite a few words now - hello, bye, no, uh-oh, ball, up, mama, baba, lala (Leah), nada (Nilda), bath, vroom (car sound), beep (horn sound), woof woof, meow, ooh ahh (monkey sound), puh puh (puppy - his lovey), yes, whoa, yay. He's getting better at imitating sounds and words, but he still frequently prefers the screaming/whining method of getting attention and getting what he wants.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Walking Man

Well, walking 13 1/2 month old anyway. Will has been taking a few steps here and there since mid-April. But all of a sudden in the last few days he has started to up the distance. Yesterday he got up and walked around quite a few times without prompting. He's a bit of a control freak...doesn't like to perform on command.

At the American Club yesterday afternoon he walked the length of the Eagle's Nest (which is actually pretty big). He was definitely very proud of his accomplishment. And at home last night he walked all over the living room. He still gets down to crawl quite a bit, but I would say there is no doubt that Will is now officially walking. It's a month earlier than his sister did it...but I can't say that I'm disappointed that he ended up not being an early walker!

Unfortunately he is also quite the climber now. He can get onto the couch (which has meant several falls off of the couch...luckily onto the carpet and usually not hitting his head). He can get onto various chairs and from there onto tables - the ones in the arts & crafts corner at the Eagle's Nest are a particular favorite. And at the playgrounds at The Manhattan and Pacific View (2 large apartment buildings nearby) he has been climbing ladders and doubt he will be keeping me quite busy at the playgrounds of New York City in a couple of weeks!

No other major events or milestones to report lately. We've been quite busy on the birthday party circuit - both 1st and 3rd/4th birthdays lately. Good thing my kids are normally good eaters, as they have had more than their fair share of cake and other sweets, not to mention chicken nuggets and french fries, lately.

Leah's gymnastics and ballet classes have ended for the term, and both kids will have their last swim classes next week. Leah's last day of school for the term is the 30th, so we will then have a week of playing and packing before we head out for our 6 week trip to the US on July 9. July 1 is a holiday here - HK SAR Establishment Day. And since Shafi is not joining us for the US trip, he may take a couple days off the following week to get some extra quality time with the kids before we go.

We did have our first experience of a T3 signal this week. The typhoon warning system here is T1, T3, T8. At T8 everything shuts down and everyone is supposed to go straight home and stay indoors. At T3 most things remain open but there are bouts of high winds (60km/hr) and squally rain. And as a precaution since T3 means that it's possible that the T8 signal will be hoisted, the preschools are closed. Unfortunately that meant that Leah did not have school the last 2 days. We didn't have too much trouble keeping busy, but she does love school and was none too happy about it being canceled. As an aside, I looked up typhoons yesterday in order to better understand what the fuss was all about...they are basically the same as a hurricane...they just call them typhoons in the Eastern hemisphere. They are particularly common from May to November and require a combination of warm surface temperatures and various other atmospheric conditions, which the South China Sea provides. But luckily for us, Hong Kong is fairly protected by other chains of islands, like the Philippines, so we rarely get a direct hit. This last storm moved past us to the south and west and never got closer than about 200km.

Leah demonstrating her "big arms" at swim class:
Blowing kisses to Mommy during a neighbor's birthday party:
Elizabeth came over to play yesterday morning:
The girls made flower necklaces...Leah did it 95% by herself and was very proud:
Walking and waving...Will is becoming a multi-tasker:

Sunday, June 12, 2011

AWA Globe Paddlers - Dragon Boat Champions!

I have been very lax in posting lately...but it's because I've been very busy. The 2011 dragon boat season has just ended (for my team anyway). I joined the American Women's Association (AWA) Globe Paddlers. We participated in 4 race events. We started practicing in the off-season (October/November 2010) and got serious beginning January with an hour on the water on Tuesdays and 2 hours on the water on Saturdays. After a grueling 5 months of serious workouts, muscle pain, exhaustion, and lots of fun - we reaped our rewards. We started with the 500m races in Deep Water Bay in early May. We came in 2nd in our first 2 heats, qualifying us for the ladies cup finals - but we ended in 5th overall (out of 10 teams). Then a few days later we competed in the 250m Stanley Warm-Up Races, where we came in 1st in all 3 of our races (out of 6 teams). And just a few days after that we went out to Lamma Island for the 500m races there, where we again placed 2nd in our first 2 heats and qualified for the ladies cup finals - but we ended in 4th overall (out of 8 teams).

This past Monday was Dragon Boat Festival (a public holiday here in Hong Kong). We participated in the 270m Stanley International Dragon Boat Championship. There were 8 ladies teams, including 1 who came in from Australia to compete. We won all 3 of our races by about one and a half seconds. And we are officially the Stanley International Dragon Boat Ladies Champions!

For now I think it will be nice to have my Tuesday and Saturday mornings back...but I am looking forward to getting back in the boat in October!

There's really not much else new. Leah is in school until the end of June - and then the kids and I will be spending 6 weeks in the US this summer (July 9 - August 20).

Will just had a little check-up at 13 months, in order to get his MMR vaccination. He now weighs 12.2 kg (26.9 lbs) and measures 83.5 cm (32.9 in). Still topping the growth charts...but happy and healthy and no concerns from the doctor.

We're spending lots of time at the pool since the weather has been quite hot and humid. But the kids have become great swimmers. Leah was moved up from the Guppies 1 class to Guppies 2 (most kids are ages 4-5). She is pretty capable of getting around the pool - jumping in, swimming around (a rudimentary front crawl and also a doggie paddle), and even a little combo of floating and treading water that allows her to get her head up out of the water. Will loves the pool and is pretty self sufficient in the baby pool with floaties (arm bands) on - hasn't quite figured out how to locomote in water too deep to stand in though.

Our Winnie the Pooh at a friend's birthday party:
Along with Sleeping Beauty:
Swim time:
Stanley International Dragon Boat Races - I'm 3rd from the back on the near side:
My team celebrating after our big victory: