Thursday, August 26, 2010


A word about schools in Hong Kong. I am about to apply to three more schools (we are already wait-listed for two schools).

So here's the run-down.

*School 1 - seems to be the "in" school for our area. Loads of people apply and very few get in. When parents talk about the fact their kids go there, it is almost like talking about an exclusive club. Most of the kids who get in to this are from the feeder school. Almost the entire feeder school class was accepted last year. Catch is the child has to go to the feeder school for two terms before they can make the interview priority list. (we moved here too late to consider going there) The school has an IB programme and was originally designed to provide western families with a school for children who did not speak the local language. Well, I guess too many Westerners decided to move to the area, because there are way too many applications and way too few spaces. Between you and me, the School seems a bit run down, and overcrowded for a school that has so much attitude. I met a woman who has two girls there and they have had to be tutored in Math from early on because they aren't being given enough instruction at school. There is minimal homework. And I've heard tutors don't like tutoring kids from there because they lack focus and are all over the place.

*School 2 - seems to be "runner up" school. Takes the overflow from the first school but concerns from parents is that it is too Chinese and Western kids are ostracized. Not cool. Facilities are new and not run-down (as school number 1). Called to make an appointment in June to see the school, they told me to get back in touch in September because they don't offer tours during the Summer. Called last week (thinking I am ahead of the game) and they told me all tours are booked until October. And I have to apply in September. Not cool, not cool. So I have to apply without seeing the school? NOT COOL.

* School 3 - bilingual school. Actually top of my list these days. Combines Chinese and Western curriculum. Teaches in both Mandarin and English. Actually talks about kids getting into top universities around the world (haven't seen much about this anywhere else). Seems to have very strong academic, sport, art, language and music program. Small class size. 10:1 student/teacher ratio (compare to school 1 and 2 with 25 kids per class). Only problem - it's about 30 min away with no traffic and it starts at quite an early age = not much room each year for new students. I'm guessing there is a lot of homework from very early on.

* School 4 - Japanese school. Good facilities, education, class size is small. No telling if she will get in.

* School 5 - Applied. Last I checked, Mads (who should have the best chance of getting in) was between 170-180 on the wait list for a school that hasn't even been built yet!

*School 6 - Another bilingual school. Tempted to apply but I just don't know if we even stand a chance of getting in. And seriously, how many schools must one apply for?

Monday, August 23, 2010

My dearest Mads

Oh Madsy, Madsy, dearest Madsy,

I wanted to write you a little note because I love you so and feel as though I have been a rubbish mom when it comes to making entries about your development -- that's only because I spend every waking moment I can playing with you and your big sister.

So let me take a moment and tell you a little about you. You are brilliant. Sparkling. Shining like a star. Your laugh fills my heart with joy. You are so happy most of the time - except when you get a new tooth, and then you are miserable. It probably doesn't help I took your pacifier away and then pretended like I didn't know what you were looking for... but Mads, you are talking now! You can say mom, dad, chase. You also like saying shoes and juice a lot. You are very good at saying thank you. Not so good at saying please or waiting for your turn. You take things from Chase a lot, but to be fair, she has taken a lot from you, too - I don't blame you. We are working so hard at asking each other for things instead of taking them from each other. You need a little help with this.

You love our cat. And our cat loves you. You are the only one she allows to hold her. And you do, you hold her so close I'm not sure she can breath, so I only let you "hold" her for a second.

You love baby dolls. You love to wash them. Dress them. Play doctor with them. And puzzles. Oh you are getting so good at puzzles. At 20 months you can put single piece puzzles back together, and put train tracks together, and put large floor puzzles together (with help). You also love your little pink kitchen. You make your dollies food, before you examine them with the doctor kit.

Your smile is precious. Your skin is so soft. I just want to cuddle and snuzzle you all day long. Your eyes are a brilliant blue and your hair is pure white gold. The Chinese love you. Blond hair, blue eyes. They can't get enough.

You don't like diapers. You don't like hats or sunglasses (which worries me because the sun is so harsh here). You are fiercely independent and have figured out how to unlock our baby gates. You love our helper Jojo, and she, I can tell, loves you right back. You have a special relationship with all moms. You will cuddle every mom who comes over, just walk right over and give them a hug.

You are very physical, you love painting with your hands and getting really messy. You love play dough and water play. You are very good with the pitcher and cup. Only messing up when I hover too close.

Mads you amaze me every day, in every way. I love you sooooo much.

You are so lucky to have a big sister like Chase, and she is so lucky to have a little sister like you. I hope you continue to grow closer and closer and you will always, always be there for each other.

Thursday, August 19, 2010


So we went to a birthday party for one of Chase's friends. I met a woman. She made an amazing connection with Chase. Really amazing. It is hard to articulate the details, but I'll give it a shot.

Early on, Chase loved puzzles. Chase has been fascinated by numbers and patterns lately. She turns everything into a pattern. Weather, music, food, hair-dos, eating -- everything is a pattern. She also counts. A lot. All kinds of things. She can do simple math in her head. At just 4 1/2, she can tell you that if there were 9 cupcakes and 3 people, that each person would get three cupcakes. I'm not sure how much is talent and how much is gift and how much is normal, but I do know she has a special relationship with patterns, numbers and shapes.

So I have been asking people if they know people who are good with numbers and patterns. And I finally found a lady. She was at the party. She sat right down and started talking to Chase. About shapes. So here is a snippet from their conversation... Lady: What shape do you like most (Chase: triangles), why? (they have three), do you count points or sides (points), how many points does a door have (four), how many points do two doors have (eight), three doors? (eleven. wait, I have to recount), and how does it feel when you get it wrong (sad), and if you get it right? (happy) so what do you do (recount until it's right), do numbers make you feel safe(yes). And how do you count cats? (four) Yes there are four letters - woman told me she would eventually count by strokes made to write the letters. And the woman told me she would eventually start counting by threes or by fours, or by both. That it wasn't uncommon for a child to relate to a shape, but it was uncommon for a child to be able to express it and be connected with it the way Chase was... and she was really impressed when she asked Chase the cupcake question and Chase answered without even taking a moment to count. She said Chase will need things to be "just so," corners in place, etc, because otherwise her brain will not be able to stop. She said from what she saw Chase will need to figure out a way to find a conclusion to her pattern search (this woman, it turns out, is a counter - she counts everything, sides of windows, tires on cars, everything).

I am so happy to have met this woman. I am so grateful for finding someone who not only understands Chase in this way, but I just have a very good feeling that this woman will be a very important woman in Chase's life. And I don't even know her. But Chase really, really connected with her.