Friday, July 29, 2011


So Chase really wanted to study castles. And I thought, I'll just go down to the library and check out a book for inspiration. Well, there weren't any books on castles (go figure), and there aren't any castles we can visit, and I've made about 1,000 castles out of cardboard boxes for barbie already. And I was tired and feeling "off" all week (I blame the insane heat!) - I hate to admit I couldn't even come up with a craft idea.

We did, however, check out a book on living royalty - a book that profiles all of the princes and princesses all over the world. And Chase asked if she was a princess, and I told her "you're always going to be MY princess," but that wasn't exactly what she wanted me to say.

I think she was really hoping I would say, as I once hoped my parents would say, "oh yes! And I was waiting for the day you would ask. Come with me and we will go to your castle and I will tell you all about how to rule your kingdom." Seriously.

So then she said, "well then we need to arrange a play date with a prince. Mom, can you do that, please?"

Sooooo, if anyone happens to know a bored 4- to 6-year-old prince who is available for a play date, please let me know.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011


Chase was rolling around on the floor yesterday. No particular reason, it seemed. Just couldn't get up. And then she stood up and came over to me. Hung on me. Really hard. I sat down. She cuddled up to me in a way that made me feel as though I was going to be pressed right through the couch.

"What's up?" I asked her.
No response.
"Are you angry?"
A shaking head no.
"Are you sad?"
A shaking head no.
"Are you lonely because you don't have anyone to play with?"

Oh yes! Fierce nodding. And then she said, "but I'm not lonely for friends, Mama. I'm lonely for you!"

Oh, melt my heart and fill me up with guilt. But here's the thing... I'm around all the time. So I'm not exactly sure how to fix the lonely for you thing. She is probably just getting anxious about school. About being away. Or maybe she is just sensing I am feeling sad about it.

Monday, July 25, 2011

What to do?

We have to make a difficult choice.

Hubs' company has informed us we have less than a year left in Hong Kong (the company needs to cut costs by hiring locally - quite understandable and not a surprise). Having been expatriates for some time, this is not a new or unexpected concept.

And so we find ourselves weighing the benefits of trying to stay here (Lifestyle!! Yah!) with the benefits of moving elsewhere (pretty sure you can't beat this lifestyle anywhere else in the world).

And I find myself on an emotional roller coaster. I love so much about Hong Kong, and our life here, but I am so worried about the air quality. About my children's health. And I can't help but wonder if we moved elsewhere if I would get to see my husband more? Would we be able to keep up Chase's Mandarin? Would Madoc's breathing improve? Would I seriously have to cook and clean again? (I am trying to remember how to do this).

Oh and I do need to start a business, go back to school for my Masters in Communications. And maybe even find a part-time job. Oh and raise two kids. And spend time with my loving (although I think his nose doctor removed part of his brain) husband. Hmmm, not quite sure how to get all this done.

And it's getting late - so I must run... much to do

Friday, July 22, 2011

My Seven Links

I was recently nominated by a friend to participate in My Seven Links, designed to unite bloggers and revisit favorite posts.

It sounds like a really nice way to revisit previous posts, but I've been blogging for over 5 years. In that time, we've lived in 5 countries. We've visited at least 13 countries (lost track along the way). Had two kids. Had ups and downs. Health scares. Joys and sorrows. So when I sat down to pick seven posts to fit into someone's proposed categories - I found I couldn't do it. Not the right way, anyway.

So here goes my version.

Your most beautiful post:
OBVIOUSLY the exact minute my daughters took their first breath of air. But I'm not going to post that. So instead, I chose this post, which I think is the most beautiful - my eldest daughter holding her new sister on the day she was born.

Your most popular post:
I really have no idea. I know people read my blog, but no one ever comments on it. One friend told me the posts seem "too personal" and commenting doesn't seem right.

Your most controversial post:
I don't write controversial posts. Or at least I don't set out to write them. Probably the hardest post I've written in a long time was the one just before this - about the pressure kids are under in Hong Kong. It was hard because I didn't want to offend my Chinese friends (because I really really get the pressure their kids are under) and most of my Western friends have a completely different approach (more play, less classes).

My most helpful post:

This would be easy if I was writing a self-help blog. But I'm not. And my posts aren't exactly designed to help other people do anything. They are to help document my children's lives, so they have something to treasure and maybe, just maybe will be able to hear my voice when I am long gone. And so I guess I would say my Flowers post is most helpful - should anyone want to study flowers with their children, this might be a good starting point.

A post whose success surprised you:
This might sound funny, but I guess that I am most surprised that people read my blog. People who I haven't seen in years and years. I don't have many comments on my entries, so judging a blog post's success is too hard to do. So instead, I have to say my blog has most surprised me. Because it gave me an outlet where I could express my feelings about transitioning from full-time career woman to full-time mom. It gave me a way to express my feelings when I was feeling isolated and missing home after moving to a new country. It gave me a place to share things I've seen and things I've learned, and keep track of friends and family along the way.

A post you feel didn’t get the attention it deserved:
I'm not even sure what to say about this one.

The post that you are most proud of.... Only because I somehow managed to keep my cool.

My blog nominations:

Thursday, July 21, 2011

I fear for the children

I met a little Chinese boy at Chase's tennis class. He is adorable. Funny. Loads of energy. And Chase adores him - and even better, he adores her! They laugh through the entire class. Turns out they are born the same week. No wonder.

So I started talking to his helper (I have no idea who his parents are...) I asked her about his schedule (one of my favorite subjects with Chinese parents). She rambled off his class list - school, drumming, art, tennis (they actually commute an hour each way to this class), etc... I asked her if he could do math - oh yes, she said. Could he read? Oh yes. When does he see friends? Did he have any availability for a play date? Oh no. He has classes all day, every day.

One thing I love about Hong Kong? I think they really GET that children are incredibly capable. Capable of learning all kinds of things if given the opportunity. The fact I can find a tennis class, ballet class, Mandarin class and soccer class for my 2-year-old is proof enough. I know my friends and most family members think I have lost my mind, but my mom, who is an educator (and I think doubtful of what I was doing to my children) left Hong Kong with a firm understanding of how people really GET children here - their potential, and how conditioning kids early can really create a mind-set and capabilities for the future.

The problem, of course, is when it's taken too far. The pressure the local kids are under is unreal. At the same tennis class, I met a mom from South Africa, who told me her kids who went to an American-style school, were given 2-hours of homework a night (ages 5 and 11), and that parents were pushing kids to do more. That her 11-year-old's friend was learning four languages and 3 instruments (how?). I asked her how could this be? And she told me that competition in HK is so fierce, there is no other option - you have to do your best to outshine the others (which is hard when everyone is pushing their kids to the absolute limits). But I understand it. Apparently it is near impossible for kids to actually land a spot at University.

And so, while I think pushing kids this hard is wrong, I find myself surprised and delighted that my kids have access to so many kinds of classes. They can be taught to copy a masterpiece at age 5. It's crazy. And yes, I think it's wrong that kids, especially local kids, are under so much pressure. It will surely wreck a child if a parent pushes too hard - but what other choice do parents here have? No other choice. They are not going to get a space for their child at university because their child is good at playing. Or socializing. So I guess what I'm saying is that I get it. I'm in awe of it. But I worry for the children. For the next generation.

And I worry for America. Kids are very, very good at socializing. Or at least they were, until TV and video games and fast food came along. The kids here are too busy to eat crap and watch TV. Well, they may eat crap, I don't know, but they aren't just hangin out in front of the TV. They are too busy learning 13 languages.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Brainiac Strikes Back

So I just had this amazing idea (as I started stressing over the whole concept of having to make my children lunch and snacks for school). And because you're reading this, I will share it with you.

I am going to make a menu plan for one month. Different food each day. At the end of the month, you just start over from the beginning. Which means your child only eats the same meal once every month (long enough for them to forget they didn't like it). You see, I really am a genius.

If Chase/Mads feel very strongly they don't like it, I will just cross it out and add another in. It's brilliant I tell you. Brilliant.

Summer in Hong Kong

Summer is Hong Kong is hot. Sticky. Rainy. Quiet. And filled with bugs.

This evening, our helper opened the kitchen door and in seconds, our kitchen was filled with giant mosquitoes. Really fast ones, too - and I have to believe that if they are fast, they are also hungry.

A shame, really, because I'd love to tell the girls "go outside and play." Which would be the same as saying "go jump in that pond of Piranhas, they won't hurt you, see they're friendly, they're smiling...."

This Summer - time for that matter - seems to be speeding up for me. Already we are nearly through July. How did that happen? So here are the updates...

- Chase -

Chasie-Boo has been in charge of learning how to read, write - as well as addition, subtraction, multiplication and division. Shhhh, don't tell her, but she is going to be WAY smarter than me next year. I actually do very little, except answer occasional questions and throw worksheets in her direction when she is looking bored. She is also doing extremely well in Mandarin. I looked at her vocabulary list and thought "how did she get this far already?" Darn, I have a lot of catch-up!

As for sports, Chase loves her swimming, tennis and gymnastics. Today she told me tennis was her favorite and that she was sad other kids could hit the ball and she couldn't, so I told her we would practice every day this week and she would be better by next week. (fingers crossed!)

Overall Chase is such an eager and inquisitive girl she is an absolute pleasure to spend every waking moment with... that is, of course, until she turns into a limp noodle on the floor and complains when there is nothing to do. I am finding that she can be an absolute clown in front of her peers, she loves to make her friends laugh.

She also misses Denver. At least the idea of Denver. Terribly. With small, heaving sobs, she'll tell me she misses her friends, her school. I keep telling her we will try to find a way to go back, and then explain how every time we go back to America we need to visit our family (conveniently located on three different Coasts) and how that doesn't leave much time to visit other areas. But she is insistent. She needs to go back to Denver.

She is so sweet, so sensitive, so lovely. Oh my Chase girl, I love you so!!!

- Mads -
Oh Madsie-Loo, where do I start? Such a big girl. No more diapers. Hasn't worn one in a long time. Doesn't wear them to bed. How did you grow up so fast?

Now we're working on bedtime. On how to put yourself to sleep, instead of having your mom cuddled next to you. Talking her into it, night after night - no really Mads, you can do it! Not quite there yet - will have to introduce the bed time fairy soon if things don't change.

Mads is taking Mandarin, Soccer, Tennis and Ballet. Her Mandarin is great. She's a pro at soccer. She's a natural at tennis and she loves, loves loves to twirl in ballet. Being a little sister can be hard work, but I have to say it does amazing things when it comes to skill development. All that time trying to keep up with Chase has paid off.

Mads is also learning how to "be sad," how to get her way, how to make other people laugh, and how to get through the day without a nap. Just the other day, she was really sad about something (I don't recall) and she went and sat by herself, with her head low between her shoulders. I went over to comfort her and she turned around and put her head in between her arms. (SO SAD). So I started blowing raspberries on her back. And she started giggling. And that was that.... but it was work to turn her around.

And of course, if her big sister does or says anything... anything at all... Mads will, for the most part, agree. And throw a fuss on her big sister's behalf.

The girls play together quite well. For about 15 minutes. And then I've got to change it up to keep them from squabbling, which usually ends up with Chase putting her head on Mads (like our dog, Taggart, used to do to her), and Madoc will just make a little fist (no idea where she learned this) and whack her big sister. You get the picture. So it's all about running them until they drop. Until they are too tired to fight each other. Until they happily fall into bed at the end of a very busy day.

New Look/Feel

Wait! Don't go! Decided to *finally* upgrade my blog.

Sunday, July 17, 2011


We kicked off our week of studying Space by watching the last US space shuttle launch with Chase. Hubs and I watched it live and were torn as to if we should wake her. In the end, we decided to let her sleep and let her see it in the morning. Here it is for those who missed it, or want to see it again.

For those who are too young (my children) and those reading this who are not Americans, the last launch of the space shuttle was extremely significant. It marks the end of a 30-year space program. It was one of those moments we will always remember; one of those moments our kids will read about in history books and say "Yah, what-evah" as they grab the car keys to head out with friends - just another thing that happened in "the old days," you know... 2011.

I kept telling Hubs there was "no way" this was the last shuttle America was going to send into space. He kept telling "THIS IS THE LAST ONE!"

Chase was keen to make a pop-up space shuttle, so I gave it a go. Here she is working hard on it.

Mads wanted one, too. No comments, please.

We talked about outer space. About the Sun, how it casts light and warmth on Earth.

We talked about how the moon revolves around the Earth.

And about how Earth fits into the larger solar system.

We built a space center (back by popular demand).

And made Chase and Mads rockets (again!).

We also went to the Museum of Science. And, for the first time, the massive ball drop was working! There was a funnel section, that we managed to tie back to how the planets orbit around the Sun.

We also came across this fun exhibit that has nothing to do with Space. Little digital butterflies flutter about and land on the shadow of your child (if they stand still).

And we checked out the section on satellites. Hubs did a great job of explaining it to the girls.

And we found a giant Earth! (how great!)

I also made cinnamon rolls this week, from Jessica Seinfeld's book, but they turned out pretty funky, so Chase dubbed them "moon rocks." And Chase named her tuna noodles "moon crumble." HILARIOUS.

Next week Chase wants to take a closer look at castles ...

Saturday, July 09, 2011


Madoc started tennis and ballet this week!
Super cute! Here she is, age 2.5 on the tennis court!

I know some of my family and friends think I'm crazy - how can a 2.5 year old play tennis? I was skeptical, but there is a little boy the same age, who can nail the ball every time.

Tuesday, July 05, 2011

Pink Pony Candy Company

Chase has, for as long as I can remember, wanted to be a candy maker when she grows up. So today we established the Pink Pony Candy Company. Made (and sold) a batch of coconut kisses. Big thanks to our neighbor who MADE Chase's afternoon by actually paying her for the "sample" kisses.

Saturday, July 02, 2011

Fish fins

Our Chinese host brings his own fish to restaurants, breaks the fin, puts half in his pocket, so he knows he is being served his fish.

Madoc consumed copious amounts of fish yesterday. Clams. Squid. She could not get enough!

Chase on the other hand, had one bite of fish and some noodles.