Tuesday, August 26, 2008


For the past couple of weeks we have introduced story time after bath time for Eve. I say we, I mean me because it was becoming patently obvious that she was finding it harder to settle after her bath time and milk and I thought adding a bit of interaction might work. It did.

Anyway, we have been given quite a large number of books from people for Eve. Some have taken us back to when we were young (my parents bought her "When we were very young" which was my first poetry book as a child and I can still recite many of them), or are our own books (we have lots that the Boy had when he was younger). Some were bought new, one of which was Alice in Wonderland.

I have never read any of the Alice books. Even by the time I got to primary school I had my fill of people asking if I was named after the books (NO, my parents have more sense than that) so had something of a hatred for them. I have a vague memory of my Mum reading it with me before school once she went back to work as part of mother/daughter bonding. I don't think we read much of it as I can't remember anything except the croquet and cheshire cat - and only because everyone knows about them.

However, willing to be persuaded that I have missed some sort of literary masterpiece, for Eve's first book I selected it to read. If nothing else it would be new to me.

I am about one quarter in and everything I had originally thought about the book is true. Not only is it utter gibberish, but it is really quite scary in parts - and not in the good way of Brothers Grim tales. I find myself skipping huge sections because it is just nonsense, and boring nonsense at that.

For the last couple of nights Eve has shown similar disgust for the book. Trying to hit it out of my hands and crying. Failing that she tries to eat it in an attempt to find one redeeming feature.

It is only a matter of time before I move onto Winnie the Pooh.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Perpetual motion

After an afternoon of watching her first ever Olympics in person, Eve was quite tired and slept rather well.

The next morning we got up, had the usual messy carnage at breakfast, I went to get dressed and while in the bedroom the Boy screamed. Eve had crawled for the first time ever.

Inspired by the athletic feats she had seen the previous day off she went.

Oh shit, the flat is oh so not very prepared for mobility.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Lost in translation #2

After our first day at the rowing I was hanging around while the Boy was fulfilling his need to buy various Olympic items of kit when two middle-aged Chinese ladies came up to talk to Eve. They were two of the cleaners for the venue and were happily chatting away in Chinese while Eve gurgled and smiled at them (she is turning into a real little socialite). My Chinese is non existent but, via the method of sign, I managed to figure out they were asking her age and held up 7 fingers. In return, in sign language, they expressed how healthy and strong she looked. I nodded and smiled. Then, one of the ladies, without a moments hesitation poked me in my nipple and looked up at me questioningly. I took this to mean that she wanted to know whether I was breastfeeding, to which I nodded. They smiled and nodded knowingly in return.

To anyone who read this a bit too quickly, yes, she poked me in my nipple.

Sometimes I forget that the concept of personal space isn't quite the same in China.

Mother's pride

Of course Eve, at her first Olympics, couldn't sit with the unwashed masses so the family found ourselves with tickets to the family and friends stand - where, as the name suggests, the athletes, their family, friends and rowers from various national associations (like ourselves) sat. It was lovely to be amongst people with a similar passion for rowing.

At one point Eve was doing her usual bouncing when a lovely American lady behind me said "She looks just like my daughter did, great strong legs". We got chatting about babies, breastfeeding (what else?!), and motherhood. She told me how watching Eve was like seeing her own daughter at that age, full of energy and always wanting to be moving. Her pride and love for her daughter was so evident that I found it really touching that not only did she share this with me, but also that she saw the same thing in me and my daughter.

Her daughter went on, the next day, to win a gold medal in the women's eights race.

Flags of our mothers

The Boy, Eve and I are just back from an amazing 4 days in Beijing at the Olympics. Everything you may have read or seen about how incredible the Olympics are in China is true, and more. It is a different city to the one I used to travel to for work 3 years ago, and the pace of change is quite incredible. I could write a long blog entry on the subject, but the blog is about Mummy-hood so I will refrain.

Eve had a lovely time. Being blue eyed and very smiley works wonders in China and everywhere we went Eve was the centre of attention and lapped it up. In Tiannamen square we got a China flag from a passing policeman who was handing them out to children (I kid you not - nationalism is the order of the day at the moment) and stuck it into Eve's carry rucksack thingy. This seemed to make her the most popular attraction in the square. The Forbidden City, Mao's mausoleum both had nothing on the appeal of a small bouncy, rather overheated blue-eyed child holding a China flag. The Boy had to ask one man to stop following us and taking photos, a few people asked if they could, and I am pretty sure Eve will be in some local newspaper or some such grinning like a loon and holding a China flag.

Not content with showing support for the land of her birth, by the time we had got to the rowing finals Eve had swapped for a GB flag (thanks to the Boy's rather boozy night out). We strolled into the venue, flag in hand, only to find she had grabbed the attention of the super yummy GB rower Ed Coode and even got a smile from the glorious multiple gold medal winning Matthew Pinsent.

While the Boy has always maintained that when he is out with Eve she acts as a chick magnet for pretty young Chinese girls I feel she works the same wonders for her Mummy on some seriously talented olympic rowers.

Monday, August 11, 2008


Eve slept through for the first time last night. 10.5 hours of sleep with no feeding required. The Boy slept through too.

I, however, woke at the normal feed time and lay awake for 2 hours expecting Eve to wake up and want to feed.


Saturday, August 9, 2008

Helping hands

There are many things that are much easier in Hong Kong, but none hits you as a parent like having cheap, experienced, full time childcare. It is a sad fact of economics that thousands of women from South East Asia can make much more money working as housekeepers, nannies and carers for the elderly in Hong Kong or Singapore than they could make at home even in professional jobs. Hence H, our nanny, who has a university degree, lives in our home with us for less than half of what it costs my sister to put my niece in nursery.

The conditions for these women in Hong Kong are often very tough. Contractually they have to work 24 hours a day, 6 days a week for a pittance. The government stipulates that they live in with a family, but we are only legally obliged to provide a private sleeping area and in many instances this amounts to a curtain in the corner of the living room or a child's bedroom.

Aside from the conditions and appaling treatment some "helpers" get at the hands of employers and the government, I find the role they perform in many families to be quite odd related to the children. There seems to be a culture here of giving the child to the helper even when the parents are not at work. I find this wholesale outsourcing of parenting very odd and rather worrying.

For example, yesterday the Boy and I were out shopping. Shopping for the Boy is a tedious exercise as he hates making decisions and will never compromise on anything. Between the two of us we negotiated 3 hours of shopping centres, with the buggy. However, a surprising number of families had their helper in tow. Sometimes the helper was carrying the child, sometimes carrying the bags, sometimes just pushing the empty buggy behind the couple and their child. This posed the question "why?". What is so difficult about taking your own child shopping and carrying your own bags?

Then, in the evening at our pool we took Eve swimming. We were the only couple with a baby who did not have their helper with them as well. One couple brought their baby and helper with them - that is 3 adults to take one baby swimming. In one case only the helper was there with the child (it was a Saturday).

When I talk to H, our nanny, she is really surprised that we do so much for Eve - in her former jobs she has variously slept in the baby's room to do overnight feeds, taken the children swimming at weekends, and even gone on holiday to look after the children. It would be easy to think this is a Chinese culture thing until I recall two English couples I know who think nothing of giving their baby to a helper for the weekend so they can play golf or go on a junk for the day.

I just don't understand the concept of having a child and then not spending time with them. Aside from building a healthy relationship with your child, it is simply fun doing things with Eve. I try hard not to judge the choices of others, but this is something I can't help but do in these instances.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Lost in translation

H, our nanny, is a lovely lady from the Philippines. She has excellent English, although with a strong American/Spanish accent. So good is her English that I often forget that she is not a native speaker.

Yesterday, after breakfast, I dressed Eve in a cute denim skirt and vest combo. The Boy had gone to work early so I left Eve with H while I had a shower. Once out and dressed I walked back into the room to find H playing with a very happy Eve who was jumping up and down. H was laughing with her shouting "look at you, you look so sexy".

To H, the term "sexy" means the same as "pretty" and she really didn't think there was anything odd in calling a 7 month old baby girl sexy.

I must have looked horribly shocked, and spent the next 5 minutes explaining to H why it was an utterly inappropriate term to use.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Baby bull shark

Anyone who knows me knows that I have something of an odd obsession with sharks. I am one of the few people I know who actively wants to dive with them, especially the big variety. Possibly one of the high points of my life was diving with a full size grey reef shark (not big, but kind of chunky) hunting around me. The Boy was a little apprehensive, I wanted to go closer. I also once spent stupid amounts of time and money sitting on a bit of rock at 25 metres waiting to see one of the rarest sharks in the world, and the most beautiful, threshers.

Anyway, I have a bit of a thing about sharks.

My favourite shark is by far the bull shark. It is an amazing creature, perfectly adapted for its environment. It can swim in fresh and salt water and move seamlessly from one to the other. It will eat anything, and explore everything as if it could be eaten. It is the biggest killer of humans, not because it likes them, but because it uses its mouth to explore everything in its environment - with a huge number of nerve endings in its mouth. It is a bit fat and doesn't really have a neck.

Did I mention that it puts everything in its mouth and will eat anything.

For more, go to you tube and look up the Nat Geo piece on bull sharks or the one for Dive Magazine (type bull shark)