Thursday, May 28, 2009

Mummy flu

It's official. I have flu. I have a fever edging up to 39 degrees and ache all over. Thank goodness for the BBC World Service radio. It is keeping me sane and I now know all about hydro-electric power in Nepal and am listening to North Korea go more and more insane by the hour.

The only possible upside to any of this is that the Boy has taken Eve, on his own, to a birthday party for one year olds. After I took Eve to the rain-induced playdate with 6 toddlers last week it is his turn this time.

Back to bed...

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Word of the week

Eve's word this week is "down". She says it when she wants to, as one would expect, go down. She also says it when she wants to go up, but we will work on that one later.

She has also stated saying "please". Sometimes it comes out as "ees", sometimes as "da" but she always says it.

Mummy sick

Yummy Mummy is ill. Well, I might be overstating it a bit, but I am not feeling very well. I know this because tonight I am going to sit on the sofa and feel sorry for myself rather than sit on the ergo and it takes a lot to separate me from the gym on a Wednesday night. I have a sore throat, am achey all over, have a headache, and generally feel unwell. Of course this is all coming because we have a public holiday tomorrow,and I am off on a business trip next week.

It has, however, struck me that since I have had Eve I've not really been ill. I've had the occasional HK vomit bug, but nothing else. I've always been relatively hardy. When I was 9 my GP refused to admit there was much wrong with me right up until the point that the locum GP rushed me into hospital with pneumonia. It takes a lot to slow me down, but it seems to take an awful lot more now than it did before Eve.

I was trying to figure this out. Am I actually ill less often now? Have I chanced upon a positive side of all those hormones flying around my body for so long? Or have become much better at dealing with discomfort so small ailments bother me less? Or is it simply that I no longer have the option to spend the day in bed being ill, so I just push on through.

Answers on a postcard please. I will be sitting on my sofa for a day or two sipping lemsip and reading endless books to Eve.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Save the whales

It has been raining pretty much non-stop in HK for the last few days so the Boy and I, after exhausting all indoor activities, finally did what all HKers do on a rainy day and headed to a shopping centre at the weekend. We had convinced ourselves we actually had urgent shopping to do, but in reality it was just to find an indoor space where our overactive toddler could roam free for a bit.

As we were on the way, the Boy suggested we buy a new bath toy for Eve. She is currently making do with some empty mini-shampoo bottled stolen from a hotel, a Homer Simpson bath foam bottle, and a cool diver thingy my sister in-law bought for her.

So we went to a toyshop that seems to exclusively sell Playmobil. While I was trying to stop Eve from stealing a large pirate ship, and marveling at the portaloo (yes, you read that right, Playmobil have a portaloo you can buy), the Boy found a boat to buy. I didn't really look at it properly because by this point Eve was actually dragging the pirate ship out the door.

Only when we took it out of the packaging over lunch did I realise that the boat and fisherman comes with a killer whale, which fits nicely into the boat. Clearly due to child safety or some such there is not actually a harpoon on the front of the boat, but there is no mistaking that we have bought Eve a whaling ship.

Does anyone know where to get a mini Sea Shepherd boat and crew?

Thursday, May 21, 2009

A lovely story for Friday

Liberia has all the hallmarks of a tragic African story. Military coup, civil war, child soldiers. Slowly but surely, under the governance of a female politician, the country is getting back on its feet. This lovely story about teddies being a cherished commodity really made me smile. Eve would love it there.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Desperate housewife?

I am starting to wonder, quite seriously, whether to give up my job. I like my job and really like the people I work with. However, the last few months of banking have not been kind.

A good friend of mine, C, realised she was missing too much time with her 5 month old daughter and handed in her notice last week at her bank. The straw that breaks the camels back may well have come yesterday, when a very good friend of mine in the office was given his notice. He relocated here two years ago with his wife and two children, has another child on the way, and as of August will have no job and no home (it's a company flat). There is no loyalty.

Someone has also asked if I want to set up a consulting business with them. It is tempting.

I will mull on it a little more before I make a decision. In the meantime, I am reading all about being a full time millennium housewife, and laughing a lot, here.

Sofa so good?

After 10 years, the Boy and I finally decided to replace the sofa. The old one predated our marriage, had been wrecked by the cats, was broken on one side and starting to smell.

I am now the proud owner of a lovely new, 3 seater, leather sofa. It was the showroom model, so a hugely discounted rather expensive italian number. I have fallen in love with it.

Except it is a nice cream colour.

And I have a toddler. I think my showroom lust may have got the better of me on this particular decision.

Oh well, I can enjoy it for tonight in its unblemished form.

To share or not to share?

A valuable lesson in life for Eve down at the playground this evening. She and one of her friends T, who is 6, found two badminton racquets and a shuttle this evening. To begin with all was fine. Eve and I had one, T the other. Eve's arms are too small and she too uncoordinated to serve, so she devised a neat little trick of sitting down, placing the shuttle on her racquet, getting up and then picking up the racquet and flinging it. All was well with the world.

Until another friend, C, age 5, came to play too. And he is a boy.

C is quite a sweet, if a little unruly child. He has a new nanny, who doesn't seem to play with him as much as his last one, so the girls have adopted him and he joins in their games. He wanted to join in. Eve clearly has the measure of C and as soon as he tried to take the racquet and shuttle from her, ran in the other direction at speed. As the parent in all of this, I spent 5 minutes telling Eve that we had three toys and three people who wanted to play so she should share either the racquet or the shuttle with C so everyone could play. She ran farther away.

Eventually C managed to get the shuttle, cue a major meltdown from Eve. So much so that she threw the racquet at her feet in disgust. Whereupon C picked it up and ran off to play badminton with T. When Eve ran over, neither would give her anything to play with.

Eve cried and cried. I explained to her that if she didn't share then she couldn't expect other people to share in return. Lesson learnt.

After a little while she gave up crying and ran off and stole a push along trolley from a smaller baby. I am worried the only lesson she learnt may have been to pick on people smaller than she is.

More than words

Eve is rapidly speaking more and more. Having my parents here for a week helped loads, but every day we get something new. As before, we are getting an insight into what Eve thinks is important. So, here is the latest run down:
Ba (for bus. We are at the start of two minibus routes and she sees them a lot)
Bear (bear, she has a fair few teddy bears)
Ma ma (for mummy, usually when she wants something)
Baaa (for the cat, no idea why)
Bo (for her bottle of milk)
Dis (this, while pointing at something)
Da (that, while pointing and something, usually something she wants me to get, leading to the very common phrase of Ma ma da)

We also have had a few more unusual ones recently:
Ma dare (my chair - she has her own little green plastic ikea stool, which she loves)
Mo fair (not fair - when I took something away from her, my daughter has a keen sense of injustices done to her. Perhaps a future human rights lawyer?!)
Fooball (football, she wanted me to buy her one in Stanley market at the weekend and after 10 or 15 attempts to get me to buy it by pointing and shouting Da, she eventually decided to just say football. I still didn't buy it but I was very impressed)
Purple (this might be cheating because I had repeated it to her 20 times before she finally said it)

In the light of this new linguistic ability I have stopped swearing, for the next 14 years.

Gone but not forgotten

Well, the 10 gorgeous days of grandparent-dom is now over. They didn't end up having to babysit while I raced (I won two golds, if anyone cares) but did come over at an ungodly hour in the morning so the Boy and I could both row one weekend and generally behaved like wonderful, doting grandparents. Eve loved it, although their visit coincided with her first realisation that she might be centre of the world, and after ten days of grandparent love now is certain that she is! I loved the extra special close bond I have with Mum now that I am a a parent too, and Dad loved picking every single winner when we went to the Happy Valley horse races one night. We had no arguments, and we spent a lot of time in swim suits. Everything was as it should be. I really, really miss them now.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

The best babysitting service in the world

Two weeks ago, a call with my Mum:

Mum: We are thinking of coming over in May, would that be OK?
Me: Of course, we'd love to see you
Mum: Which dates would work best for you?
Me: I am racing on 10th May and it would be quite useful to have someone to babysit Eve when we are both in a boat so our rowing coach doesn't have to do it again.
Mum: Perfect. See you then.

Inter-continental babysitting. Brilliant!

Granddad we love you

At the start of the year my last surviving grandparent, my grandfather, passed away. He and my grandmother lived only a 20 minute drive from my parents and so he was an ever present figure in my childhood. He was a kind and generous man who loved his family, qualities also evident in my father. He worked for London Underground for many years, and used to love nothing more than taking us on tube, or out to Heathrow to see the planes, or the London Transport museum. He was the one who taught me all the words to "I'm forever blowing bubbles", which I now sing to Eve in the bath. He also rowed for the same club as I did in London, and he was so proud of watching me slog up and down the Thames. He always told wonderful tales of rowing up to Barnes to be given a pint of beer from the bank before rowing back, and the dances where he first courted my grandmother. He lived on his own until the very end in the house in Fulham where my Dad grew up. I have always been grateful that he lived to meet Eve, although sadly only once, and he adored his great grandchildren.

When I was back in January, I spent some time with my parents at his house to go through some things I had stored there and to go through some old photos and possessions. Dad kindly said I could take anything I wanted as a memento, I chose a photo of myself, my sister, the children and granddad taken only last year at Eve's Christening. While I was sorting through things, Eve was pottering around the house with Mum and came across a wooden sculpture of a cat that my grandparents had. Loving cats as she does, she immediately picked it up and wouldn't be parted from it. This was her choice of memento.

When we flew back to HK, we accidentally left the cat back in London. Eve had tucked it up nice and warm under the duvet and none of us had noticed in the flurry of packing us and small toddler up. My parents have just come to visit us in HK and brought the model cat with them. Eve is beside herself with joy and won't be parted from it. When she woke up this morning the first thing she wanted was the cat, it is the only object allowed to sit in her new chair (even I am not afforded that gift), had to sit next to us while we had breakfast today and is stroked more gently than she ever does to our real cat. It would be far too easy to dismiss this as the excitement of a new toy, but this is unlike any toy Eve has had before. I can't help feeling a little of granddad is in the cat, looking after Eve, and she knows that.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Children are bad for your health

I do a lot of sports and am mercifully free of injury. Even the more stupid activities late in my pregnancy (Macau running race, rowing, paddling) left me without even the smallest twinge. At the weekend I pulled a muscle in my shoulder and now I can't move my left arm very much. I didn't do it rowing or paddling. It was during a water fight in the sea with a friend's six year old son, throwing him into the waves after he had splashed me. I had no idea playing with children could be so dangerous!

Finally, the cat gets the attention she deserves

I feel that I've not really made enough of the cat's role in Eve's life. She has, every so often, popped up in passing but she is almost as responsible for Eve's upbringing in many respects as myself or H.

Marlow, the cat, has had a rather difficult life. She was one of two rescue moggies we got in London when I first moved in with the Boy, saving her from a fate of being called Ziggy Stardust by the foster owner. She is a real street cat who loved where we lived in London because she could catch mice and fight with the foxes. In her short life she has had a few nasty health issues and been run over, as well as moving half-way round the world, living with her hated sister in a confined space, and her sister dying two years ago (an event which she greeted with glee).

She is part of our family, and we were really worried how she would react to Eve. She's never been around children, takes up residence behind the sofa when any children visit, and is not known for being cuddly. I had also read all the stories about cats going to sleep in the children's cot and smothering them. All in all, I was worried.

I needn't have. Marlow ignored Eve's very existence for the first few months until Eve was mobile. Not even a sniff, and she would run from the room at the first hint of crying. The last thing she would have done is go near the cot and got even closer to this strange new creature in our home. Once Eve started to crawl Marlow set up residence on high surfaces and only came down when absolutely necessary. When Eve started to walk, she moved a little faster and sat a little farther away from the edges of the high surfaces.

Now Eve can climb (onto most of the soft high surfaces that the cat likes such as the bed and the sofa). She can also prod, grab, pull and poke. All of which she does to the cat despite my best attempts to tell her not to. For Eve the cat is one big living toy for her to play with, Eve adores her. I feel quite sorry for the cat.

Marlow has never, once, reacted to Eve. Not a hiss or a claw have ever been raised. She will occasionally glare at me, but nothing directed at Eve. For this I am grateful, but it doesn't help her case. My brother-in-law's cat reacted to Eve's tail pulling by scratching Eve, after which Eve gave her a very wide berth. If only Marlow wasn't so nice then perhaps she would get a little less "Eve love".

Postscript: Where we live there are a lot of large birds of prey. A friend told me they are kites. On Saturday one swooped a little too close to our balcony where the cat was sleeping in the sun. Marlow would make a rather nice lunch I suspect. Since then, the Boy have taken to referring to the cat as "bird food".