Archive for June, 2008

The Redemptive Quality of Coconut Macaroons

This may come as a shock to some people but I have a bit of a reputation among some of the teachers at Noah’s school. Not with Miss Sonya — she knows me simply as the mom of the fabulous, goofy character she knows as Noah. His new teacher, Miss Laura, though sees me as “the flaky mom”. Yes. I have become that person. In the Woodlands system each child is given a notebook at the beginning of term which is the primary way that teachers and parents are supposed to communicate. You’re supposed to check the notebook after each class and if the teacher has anything they feel you need to know — for example, what kind of activities they’re currently working on, how your child is getting along with other kids…that sort of thing — they’ll write it in there. The parents can also communicate with the teachers in the same manner.

When Noah was in the playgroup class and the Stepping Stone class, I checked that notebook every stinkin’ time and…nothing. I think Miss Sonya only ever wrote in it once. And that was for something that she also told me in person. So I kind of fell out of the habit of checking the notebook. Miss Laura, on the other hand, writes in it after almost every class…something I didn’t find out until Noah’s third week. Turns out she was writing me little notes on Noah’s potty training progress and what he needed to bring to class for the unit they were working on (“something that begins with the letter ‘G'”). Oops. So now I’m supposed to sign each note to let her know that I’ve read it. Which is just kinda embarrassing but at least now I’ve gotten into the habit of checking the notebook again.

Last Friday was the last day of the regular term and — because I checked the notebook (yay me) — I knew that Noah had to bring some kind of treat for their end of term class in the morning. After much procrastinating, Noah and I finally ended up making some coconut macaroons for the class. When I picked him up after school on Friday, I noticed that almost all of the other kids had brought healthy snacks — fruit salads, raisins, granola, etc. I had the unpleasant idea that my new reputation at school would be “Oh, that mom. The one with all the junk food.” When I dropped Noah off at school today, I was pretty sure this was the case when one of his lunchroom supervisors stopped me and asked if I had made the cookies that Noah brought. I answered her, “Uh…yeah. But Noah helped me. He did it too!” She then started to compliment me on the yumminess of the cookies and how they were better than any store bought ones she’d ever gotten. Hehe. So yeah. I’m not “the mom with all the junk food” as I originally thought. I am now “the mom who bakes really excellent cookies.” I’m still working on losing that “flaky mom” title though.

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June 30, 2008 at 9:02 pm 13 comments

Adventures in Preschool

Because Noah is in preschool, we have the option of busing him to school now. It would be roughly the same cost as the two of us taking taxis each way minus the three hour wait at the coffee shop for me, but then if Noah took the bus to school then I would miss out on conversations like these…

When we arrived at school today, we ran into Miss Sonya — Noah’s teacher up until a month ago. We exchanged quick hellos and continued on to Noah’s classroom. Before we got to the room Noah stopped me and said, “I can’t believe it! It’s Miss Sonya. I just can’t believe it!” Oh – kay Noah…it’s not like you don’t see her in the hallways every week.

Then on the taxi ride home, this is how our conversation went:
Me: Did you like your lunch Noah?
Noah: Yes. I drink chocolate milk.
Me: Yeah?
Noah: Uh huh. And I spill it.
Me: Oh no! You spilled your chocolate milk?
Noah: I spill it on my seat. Then I used my body to wipe it up.
Me: ???
Sure enough, when we got home I checked his pants and he had a good-sized chocolate splotch on his butt. Nice.

June 30, 2008 at 3:29 pm 3 comments

Photo Challenge: What I Like Best About Summer

This week’s photo challenge topic, thought up by my lovely friend Cristina, is “What I like best about summer.” Here’s my dilemma though…I don’t, in fact, like summer all that much. It’s hot and uncomfortable, slightly boring, there are way too many out of school kids running around and messing with your vibe, and for some reason there’s always some ridiculous expectation about summer, like going somewhere far and exotic for vacation when all you really want to do is go back home and visit family. Plus, summer is usually tourist season and having a sudden influx of clueless yet cheery tourists holding up the coffee line at Starbucks is not something that makes me look forward to this season. I prefer cool, laidback autumns, cold, snuggly winters, and optimistic springs.

But now that I’ve gotten that little diatribe out of the way, here are a few of my favorite things about summer:
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June 29, 2008 at 9:56 pm 15 comments

Movie Observations and Bad Reviews

When Mark and I first had Noah, because of our lack of babysitting options we averaged about one movie in the theater per year. So you can bet we were pretty pissed off when that one movie happened to end on a cliffhanger…say, like Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest. Now that we have a helper/on call babysitter, we’ve been hitting the theaters like nobody’s business. Of course, the movie selection in Hong Kong isn’t as great as it is in the U.S. but considering where we were a year and a half ago, we’re doing alright. We’ve seen a spate of movies this past week so I thought I’d just share a few things about our movie going experience as well as (badly) recommend a few.

First, some observations:

  • Movie going in HK is not as bad as people make it out to be. The seating is assigned so you know what kind of seats you’re going to get. This cuts down having to wait in line 45 minutes before the movie starts just so you can get the centermost seats or arriving 5 minutes into the movie and having to settle for the first row.
  • Fewer people actually talk on their cell phones during the film than guidebooks would have you believe.
  • At the concession stand, they offer two types of popcorn — the regular salty kind and a sweet, caramel coated kind. They’ll also mix the two together if you ask which, in my opinion, is really the best way to eat it. Also, on top of hot dogs and nachos they also have shu mai which to me is still a freakish thing to be eating at the movies although it is less weird than octopus balls at the ballpark.
  • They’re starting to take pirating really seriously now so before each movie begins, someone comes in with a stereo and plays a recorded message explaining that if you see someone illegally recording the movie and report them, you can receive a reward of HK$20,000 (about US$2,500). You bet I’m looking out for those guys.
  • Red Bull commercials are funnier in Cantonese.

And now for some bad movie reviews…or a section that I like to call “Why I Am Not a Movie Critic”:
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June 29, 2008 at 9:29 pm 5 comments

Typhoon Alley

If you live in an area known as “Typhoon Alley”, when the the Hong Kong weather peeps issue a typhoon signal level 8, the view outside your balcony will go from this:

to this:

(A quick shout out to our real estate agent, Nanette, who neglected to mention this colorful local nickname for our region when she was showing us apartments.)

June 25, 2008 at 1:22 pm 16 comments

Baby Steps

We’ve had a couple of days of small triumphs here.

First on the potty training front…I think I’ve mentioned before that Noah likes to run around naked whenever he can (“Mama, wanna see my naked?”) and since we weren’t really going anywhere on Sunday, Mark and I let the boy run wild at home. At some point in the afternoon, Mark was in the living room watching tv while I was on the computer in my office. My naked jungle boy — who has recently learned to play independently — was off entertaining himself. Suddenly I thought I heard the boy peeing, and slightly panicked, I rushed to the bathroom. The boy had lifted the lid to his potty, was standing in front of it and was trying to pee in the bowl. The operative word of course is “trying” — he completely missed and sprayed the potty lid, the seat, the floor and the wall. But he gets an ‘A’ for effort from me. Especially since he didn’t tell anyone he needed to go — he just went straight to his potty and did his business. Yay Noah. Now we just need to work on his aim.

Our second breakthrough came tonight at bedtime. The way that I normally put him to bed is he lays in bed while I read him bedtime stories. When I’m done, he occasionally asks for milk, refuses to let me turn off the light and refuses to go to sleep by himself. I’m usually by his side waiting for him to fall asleep for 30 minutes on a good day and 90 minutes on a bad day (or longer on a really bad day). Half the time I fall asleep putting him to bed and that short nap I take is enough to throw my sleeping schedule off so that I don’t fall asleep until 3 am. It sucks pretty bad and it got to a point where I would dread bedtime. I’ve tried in the past to leave him alone only to have an upset toddler either cry hysterically for me or get out of bed to look for me.

But the past couple of days during naptime, Noah’s insisted on doing it by himself — he kicks us out of the room and then lays in bed until he finally falls asleep. So tonight I read him his stories, stayed for 10 minutes afterwards and then asked him if he could do it by himself and he nodded. I left the light on and the door ajar, checking in on him about every 15 minutes, but he stayed in bed and tried to sleep on his own. It still took about an hour for him to finally fall asleep but at least I got to go out and enjoy a little bit of me time at night instead of laying there beside him for an hour, bitter and feeling like I was wasting my time.

Of course my bragging might prove to be premature, but I have to take what I can get from him and at least this is a step in the right direction.

June 23, 2008 at 11:43 pm 14 comments

Why I Don’t Like Email Forwards

If I have any complaints about my new(ish) super smart, charming, talented sister-in-law Lien, it’s this…she just sent me an email forward with the most frustrating, most mind-melting problem ever. There is an excel spreadsheet attached to this forward that is password-protected. The password to this document is the answer to a seemingly simple fifth-grade math problem. Now perhaps my math skills are a bit rusty, but I can’t for the life of me figure it out. Which is why I’m spreading the agony around now. Here is the problem:
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June 23, 2008 at 6:09 pm 14 comments

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