Thursday, February 26, 2009

Diamonds are a girl's best friend

There is something of a tradition in expat circles (and beyond) that when a female consents to allow her body to be used to create the next generation she is rewarded in diamonds (because the gift of a child clearly isn't sufficient to make up for the 9 months of discomfort). Most of my friends in HK who have had babies have been lavished with rings, earrings and all manner of sparkly items from their husbands and boyfriends to thank them for bringing life into the world. Never one to shy away from all things sparkly, I have been rather looking forward to this part of the whole pregnancy and baby thing.

However, after a year, and one trip to Tiffany's with the Boy when even I nearly fainted at the prices, we took the bull by the horns when we were in London and went to De Beers. It seemed sensible to take advantage of the combined whammy of the pound being very weak and getting the VAT back. Sadly, there was nothing I liked and I was very put off by the sales agent who seemed to think that someone in jeans dragging a baby around couldn't possibly afford their rings. Silly, silly her.

Anyway, the Boy was flagging in enthusiasm about all of this and I was starting to wonder whether spending a small fortune on a huge ring was really a good idea during a global recession and when we need to buy a bigger apartment.

So, today, I went and bought my baby ring. It is a lovely silver, chunky ring (thereby not upstaging my engagement ring) from Bulgari. It is a fraction of the cost of the diamonds and limited edition for the Bulgari 125 year celebration.

And the best bit is that for this particular ring 20% of the cost is made as a donation to Save the Children. Wholly fitting for a ring that celebrates the birth of my particular child. See here for a pretty picture.

The Boy will be refunding me the cost shortly.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

My mate, marmite

There are a number of things that can divide a normally happy British household. Football, who puts the rubbish out, whether the toilet seat should be left up or down.

However, nothing quite divides a British family like Marmite.

If you are not British then you won't get Marmite. H, our nanny, doesn't quite understand why I love this toxic smelling black gloop. However, Marmite is as much a part of my childhood as school, horses and dressing up dolls. I love the stuff. About half the population do. The other half loathe it.

The Boy is one of the latter group.

Since Eve has been born, and looks so obviously like the Boy, he has been secure, nay smug, about his certainty that she would hate Marmite. Like many men, he's not great on empathy so thinks I am sad, mad or dangerous to know because I like Marmite. He just can't understand why anyone could like it.

So, it is with great happiness, joy, and commensurate return-smugness, that I discovered today that in this small, but important way, Eve is like me. She loves Marmite and happily shoves small squares of toast, covered in the stuff, into her mouth.

H, the nanny, rather likes it too.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Yummy Daddies

The credit crunch, and the reliance of Hong Kong on the financial sector, is having an unexpected impact on the playground where Eve goes. After a whole year of never seeing a father during the week, there are now a couple of mid-40s, well dressed Dads there with their young offspring. They join the nannies and mummies by the slide at a time when they would have, presmuably, previously been working at their highly paid banking job and never seeing their children.

There are some upsides to global meltdown then.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Feline education

The cat seems to be taking her role as surrogate aunty very seriously. After a game of book shop I played with Eve this morning (she puts her bag over her arm - at the elbow with one hand sticking out, just like Mummy - then comes over to the bookcase where I show her various books, she leafs through them and picks one for me to put in another bag for her to take away), Eve moved onto fashion but decided to be seller rather than buyer.

She picked up a pair of doll shoes, walked over to the cat, and tried to put them onto the cat's feet. The cat made it very clear that cats do not wear shoes. Despite Eve's best atempts to pick up her feet and put them into the shoes, the cat was having none of it.

Feline lesson for today - cats do not wear shoes

Monday, February 16, 2009


The last post reminded me of one of my all time favourite children's poems.

Macavity's a Mystery Cat: he's called the Hidden Paw -
For he's the master criminal who can defy the Law.
He's the bafflement of Scotland Yard, the Flying Squad's despair:
For when they reach the scene of crime - Macavity's not there!

Macavity, Macavity, there's no one like Macavity,
He's broken every human law, he breaks the law of gravity.
His powers of levitation would make a fakir stare,
And when you reach the scene of crime - Macavity's not there!
You may seek him in the basement, you may look up in the air -
But I tell you once and once again, Macavity's not there!

Mcavity's a ginger cat, he's very tall and thin;
You would know him if you saw him, for his eyes are sunken in.
His brow is deeply lined with thought, his head is highly domed;
His coat is dusty from neglect, his whiskers are uncombed.
He sways his head from side to side, with movements like a snake;
And when you think he's half asleep, he's always wide awake.

Macavity, Macavity, there's no one like Macavity,
For he's a fiend in feline shape, a monster of depravity.
You may meet him in a by-street, you may see him in the square -
But when a crime's discovered, then Macavity's not there!

He's outwardly respectable. (They say he cheats at cards.)
And his footprints are not found in any file of Scotland Yard's.
And when the larder's looted, or the jewel-case is rifled,
Or when the milk is missing, or another Peke's been stifled,
Or the greenhouse glass is broken, and the trellis past repair -
Ay, there's the wonder of the thing! Macavity's not there!

And when the Foreign Office find a Treaty's gone astray,
Or the Admiralty lose some plans and drawings by the way,
There may be a scrap of paper in the hall or on the stair -
But it's useless to investigate - Mcavity's not there!
And when the loss has been disclosed, the Secret Service say:
`It must have been Macavity!' - but he's a mile away.
You'll be sure to find him resting, or a-licking of his thumbs,
Or engaged in doing complicated long-division sums.

Macavity, Macavity, there's no one like Macavity,
There never was a Cat of such deceitfulness and suavity.
He always has an alibi, and one or two to spaer:
At whatever time the deed took place - MACAVITY WASN'T THERE!
And they say that all the Cats whose wicked deeds are widely known
(I might mention Mungojerrie, I might mention Griddlebone)
Are nothing more than agents for the Cat who all the time
Just controls their operations: the Napoleon of Crime!

T S Eliot

Animal magic

As Eve gets older I find myself increasingly worried about discipline and boundaries. I know that boundaries are good, but discipline on a child only 13 months old seems a bit early. I read an article online at my favourite baby website a couple of weeks ago saying that, until the age of 2, children generally can't understand cause and effect. They see your anger but cannot associate it with something they may have done. This is certainly true of Eve. When I recently raised my voice (she was about to climb into the toilet) her instinctive response was to burst into tears. Best leave that for a while then. So, my current line is to try to teach Eve to share and be aware of her impact on others. We have progressed a little way in that she now likes to give things to people, and will give them back if asked. However, she hasn't quite got past the shove and grab approach to other children and their toys.

I am finding, however, an unlikely ally in the cat. Eve loves to play with ribbons, so does the cat. Most of the time this is adorably cute to watch as Eve runs around the room draped in ribbons while the cat chases her, followed by Eve deciding to chase the cat and throw ribbons at her, which the cat enjoys a little less.

However, when cat has decided that enough is enough she has taken to simply grabbing the ribbon and running into another room with it, usually perching in the middle of the bed or table where Eve can't reach either of the two desperately desired items of the cat or the ribbons. Not one to really share her things, Eve has taken to stomping (yes, a 13 month old can stomp) to the nearest adult, pointing at the cat and shouting in a disgruntled manner.

Simple life

Life has not been great in Mummy world for the past month or so. Throw in a bereavement, long haul flights, constant worry about the stability of my job and a couple of, ahem, female issues and it has not been a great start to 2009. However, there is something about the constant amusement and cheeriness that Eve brings into my life that makes even the darkest day seem brighter and happier. I find myself taking enormous pleasure in all of the silly things that she does, like trying to climb onto chairs and beds that are far too high for her and then, frustrated, shouting at them as if they will instantly bend to her will (there is a lot of her mother in that child).

I take the greatest pleasure in just being, well, Mummy.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Is there a doctor in the house?

Earlier this week I had to go and see Dr D for some female things "down below". It was the first time I have seen him since my post-natal check. It was like seeing an old friend, and we had a good chat.

While there, he told me that he would be retiring in the middle of this year. At 71 he feels he has worked long enough. Entirely selfishly, I told him he couldn't retire because I needed him to deliver my second baby (not, as yet, conceived, or even planned). I think I must have looked so distressed that he gently patted me on the arm and said there were lots of good doctors in town and he would recommend someone.

I will really miss him.

Theology for dummies

Eve is slowly dropping her morning nap, and her godfather has moved back to HK, so church on Sundays has become a possibility again. After my previous experiences with the slightly insane professional expat wife brigade, I am a little apprehensive about going as a single Mum. However, upon arrival I realised that it seems to have turned back to a more normal place and a newly engaged couple sat next to us and smiled at Eve while she ate the pew sheet.

I suppose that after complaining about the scary communal singing experience, I shouldn't then complain when the Sunday school today was a video. It was about the good Samaritan, so all well and good, but once Eve and I had been perplexed about why there was a gopher in ancient Palestine (me), and the box of raisins had been finished (Eve), we were left sitting in a dark room watching TV in silence and getting a bit bored.

So we left. We bunked off the rest of church (I assume God won't hold this against Eve when she eventually reaches the pearly gates).

Back at home, I took Eve's religious education in hand and talked to her about the story. She was playing with the cat at the time, but I hope something went in.

Tonight, when I put Eve to bed, I read the creation bit from her little bible. As I was putting her into her cot I told her that God made Mummy and Daddy and the cat. She pointed at her toy giraffe, which I explained was not made by God but was made in China.

Friday, February 6, 2009

And again

I saw one of the women from my baby yoga class today at the indoor play thingy. She'd never been especially nice to me, being a bit of an expat-wife-mafia-type. Thankfully she didn't seem to recognise me, or if she did, she chose to smile politely but ignore me too.

Anyway, she was heavily pregnant again.

Fuck. That was fast.

Pop art

Today, after taking Eve to the indoor play area at our local toy store, I decided that the time had come to buy her some paints and see whether she has any creative genius.

Why did I wait so long? It was the most fun I have had on a Friday evening for years, and I have had some pretty wild Friday evenings in the past. She merrily stuck her fingers in the pots of red, green, blue and yellow gloop and spread it all over the paper...and her chair...and me...and herself...and my very expensive Hermes watch (I know, but it just didn't occur to me to take it off BEFORE we got paint everywhere).

Masterpiece in red/orange is now proudly drying on the table. It definitely has something of the Rothko about it.

Home and away

It's been a busy three weeks in Eve's world, during which she has flown halfway round the world, twice. She was angel baby on the trip to the UK when she was just with me (and I found sanity with a mother of an 8 month old who similarly had decided that the steps to the top deck on the jumbo and a bag of peanuts to rattle was the only way to keep her little one occupied), and a bit of a devil baby on the flight back when the Boy accompanied us.

Once we got back, however, I then had to leave my darling baby girl for the first time since she was born.

Considering the huge amount of travel I have done since I came to Asia, I have been remarkably lucky that I have not had to travel on business at all since Eve was born. For a whole year there has not been one night that I have spent without her, until this week.

It was awful.

I cried when I left my sleepy and jet lagged daughter on Monday at 7am. I cried when, at the airport, I realised I actually had time on my hands to do what I wanted rather than wrangling my daughter away from all manner of dangers. I cried every day when I called home twice and she chatted to me on the phone, I had taken her little toy bunny with me to remind me of her, and, yes, I cried every night as I cuddled it to sleep.

I had dinner one night with a friend and her two little boys, both under 3. I don't think anyone could have ever hugged them harder.

I am so very, very glad to be back.