Archive for February, 2009

A Modern Bedtime Story

Tonight when I was putting Noah to bed, I asked him what bedtime story he wanted me to read to him and he responded that he had a story for me instead.  And then he proceeded to tell me the following story:

Once upon a time there was a griffin.  And there was a mama griffin and a daddy griffin.  And there was a big huge tree and there was a turtle stuck in the tree and the Wonderpets had to rescue him.  But then Noah came and killed them all.  The end.

Holy crap!  I need to start monitoring what he watches a little bit more carefully!


February 27, 2009 at 11:26 pm 5 comments


The Academy Awards — HK-style
I finally just got around to watching the Oscars. They’d been showing the red carpet segment on E! for days now — but only the red carpet. Which is frustrating when you endure two hours of Ryan Seacrest only to discover that they’re showing Friends reruns next. Ahhhhh! Bastards. But finally the wonderful people on Starz Movies took pity on me (and my insane desire to watch Angelina Jolie’s reaction while Jennifer Aniston presented) and showed it last night. I’d read the coverage and watched some of the acceptance speeches online already so I wasn’t expecting to be surprised — just mildly entertained for three hours or so. Well, imagine my annoyance on discovering that they had censored out parts of the Oscars. But from what I could tell, they only censored two speeches from the entire night: Dustin Lance Black’s (best original screenplay for Milk) and Sean Penn’s (best actor for Milk). They cut out any references to Harvey Milk’s legacy, growing up openly gay, equal rights and gay marriage. Sad — not only because of the explicit homophobia but also because I thought these were two of the best, most inspiring speeches from the entire night.

Reasons why I’m glad I’m a Democrat
For now, let’s leave out some of the really obvious reasons — GWB and his disastrous legacy of preemptive war, torture, undermining the basic tenets of the Constitution, financial disaster, and running the US basically as a theocracy/ATM for big business for the last eight years — because, really, I was a Democrat long before GWB came along. But every now and then, something happens that reaffirms why I’ve chosen the party that I have. And yesterday it was watching Obama’s address to a joint session of Congress. The imagery alone was powerful stuff. Who would’ve imagined a few years ago that we would have a black man and a woman occupying two of the highest positions in government? And to see Obama flanked by Joe Biden and Nancy Pelosi, as opposed to the old white guy triumvirate of Bush/Cheney/Hastert, really brought that message of diversity and progress home. I’m going to leave the parsing of the speech itself to the experts (and to the poll numbers of course), but positivity and hope aside, there are also those reasons why I’m glad I’m not a Republican. I know that we have our fair share of bone-headed Democrats (Roland Burris and Rod Blagojevich come instantly to mind) but seeing/reading things like this makes me think that the bone-headed Republicans (**cough** RushLimbaughBillOReilly **cough**) out there far outnumber bone-headed Democrats:

  • LA Gov. Bobby Jindal is Kenneth the page:
  • Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann — she of last year’s ‘investigate Congress to find out who is pro-America and who is anti-America’ fame — and her ridiculous willingness to believe any rumor regardless of the actual facts.
  • Prevalent racial tone-deafness.  Never mind wannabe RNC chair Chip Saltsman’s distribution of the song “Barack the Magic Negro” in December, the latest example of which is an Orange County mayor emailing out a photo of the White House with the garden replaced by a watermelon patch.  Classy.  And so sad that some people still don’t understand racism when they see it (or distribute it in electronic form).
  • CO state senator Dave Schultheis voting against a bill requiring HIV tests for pregnant women on the grounds that the disease “stems from sexual promiscuity” and he didn’t think the Legislature should “remove the negative consequences that take place from poor behavior and unacceptable behavior.”  He even clarified his position by stating “What I’m hoping is that, yes, that person may have AIDS, have it seriously as a baby and when they grow up, but the mother will begin to feel guilt as a result of that.”  Being in favor of babies having AIDS to punish women for promiscuity.  Nice.  I bet he considers himself a good Christian man too.

Amusement park time again!
Mark is in Tokyo again this week. For some reason — quite possibly because of my overdeveloped sense of guilt — I always feel the need to go all-out with Noah whenever Mark’s away. I randomly buy him toys or books, we go on outings, we’ll eat out. This week, it was taking him to Ocean Park. Again. Which means, if anyone’s counting, I’ve taken him to Disneyland and Ocean park within a week. It was actually Noah’s idea. The day before he asked if I could take him to Ocean Park and after thinking about it for a few seconds I thought, “Hmmm…well, I really don’t see why not.” After all, we have season passes to the park and it’s just a 10 minute cab ride away — going to the grocery store takes longer. It would be a cheap trip, I figured, and it would make the boy happy so I told him we would go the next day.

Well, cheap trip my ass. On our last outing there, the boy blew right through their coral reef aquarium — barely stopping through the three levels of fish, sharks, turtles, rays and coral — and he can only tolerate, at most, 10 minutes of the dolphin show so I was determined to skip the scary cable car ride over the mountain and stay in the front part of the park where the kiddie rides were. Unfortunately for me, the front part is also where all the games and vending machines were. We spent half our time on rides and the other half playing games. The first game we played was that one where you get a bunch of balls, toss them in a huge area of cups and try to get the ball to land in one of the colored cups. Noah picked up his first ball, tossed it and had it immediately land in one of the red cups. The girl at the booth rang the bell signifying that someone had won a prize and another family that was there cheered for Noah as well. After that, anytime he threw a ball Noah followed it up by raising both arms in the air and yelling out, “Woo-hooooo!!!” regardless of where the ball landed. By the end of the day, he’d racked up a small collection of stuffed animals which cost me a small fortune to win. But at least he had fun.

Just because…
Noah was so pooped out after six hours at Ocean Park that he fell asleep almost as soon as he laid down in bed. You would never guess from the picture what a little hellion he is when he’s awake:

February 27, 2009 at 12:12 am 3 comments

Updates On The Boy

The boy, as you would expect from a three-year-old, is a total nutcase right now.  He’s got personality up the wazoo which means we get treated to little gems like this all the time:

Noah: Mommy, want to wear my necklace?
Me: I don’t think it fits on me Noah.
Noah: Oh right. Because your neck is too fat.

But all cutie-pieness aside, here are some of the things that he’s been up to recently…

The boy is big. Not just big for our shorty gene pool, but big in general. I think his height puts him in the 90th percentile for his age. But here is visual proof of how fast the little guy is growing:

This is the wall from our old apartment where we tracked his height. In case you can’t see it too clearly, the first mark from March 13, 2007 (two months after we moved to Hong Kong) is at 33 1/4″ and the last mark from December 29, 2008 is at 39 1/2″. That’s six inches in two years. I don’t know what’s harder for me to fathom — that he was once that short or that he’s now so tall.

School Stuff — Uh oh!
At Noah’s school, he carries a communication book in his backpack every day. Since many parents don’t get a chance to talk to the teachers personally, the communication book is how we communicate with his teachers and vice versa. If we have anything to tell them we write it in the book and they also will give us weekly reports on what how the kids are doing and what they’re learning. A couple weeks ago, Noah came home with a note in his book from Ms. Eileen explaining that he’d recently been playing a little rough with his friends. As in, he pushes them down or grabs them. To top it all off, the little stinker is apparently very sneaky about it. According to Ms. Eileen, he “seems to know it’s wrong as he often looks around to see if the teachers are watching and if he sees one of us looking at him, he quickly says, ‘Sorry’ to the child.” The stinky little booger. So Mark and I had a little heart-to-heart with Noah and we’ve removed some of the more violent movies from his movie night options (Kung Fu Panda and Shrek). I’m not sure how much he understood of what we said but it’s been two weeks and at least there haven’t been any more notes from his teacher.

More School Stuff
As you probably already know, Mark and I sent in applications a few months ago to some schools that we want to send Noah to for this upcoming fall term. Step One was the application process and now we’re at Step Two — Interviews. Noah had two school interviews last week — one for the Japanese International School and another for the Canadian International School. Basically, they both went the same way: parents and children all gather in one room and then a couple of teachers come out and take the kids to another room for a 45-minute evaluation. The evaluation is basically putting the kids in a room with toys and puzzles and watching how they play, how they interact with one another, reading them books and then asking questions about the stories, having them draw, and asking them simple questions about themselves. A little weird to think that Noah’s scholastic future depends on how well he plays with others.

We got his acceptance letter from the Japanese International School a few days ago. The Japanese School was our safety school — we knew he’d probably get in since the school is not well known compared to some of the other international schools in HK and therefore has a small application pool. Located in the New Territories, it’s also one of the farthest schools away which is probably our biggest obstacle. It’s about 45 minutes and three tunnels away which means even if we buy a car and drive him to school every day, we’re still looking at an additional HK$500 (or US$65)/week in tolls alone. Adding to our concerns is the fact that the acceptance letter was riddled with grammatical errors. Even Mark noticed — and he usually only notices things like that if they’re really bad. Otherwise the campus is great, everything is brand new, the staff is nice and friendly, and they’ve got a small teacher-student ratio. The Canadian International School is our first choice for Noah and we’ll hear back from them sometime in mid-March. The final school we applied to — Hong Kong Academy — isn’t setting up interviews until March so we’ve still got some time before we need to make a final decision.

Potty Training √
I’m happy to report the boy is completely potty trained. I had set up an elaborate reward system where if he pooped in his potty once he would get a toy, two more times he would get another toy, three more times another toy, all the way up to his ultimate reward — a trip to Disneyland. Well, he reached the Disneyland milestone a few weeks ago and has been bugging me daily ever since to take him to Disneyland. We’ve had to put it off for different reasons — school interviews mostly — but I was starting to feel like a big liar so I finally took him last Wednesday when I knew that Mark would be out working late and wouldn’t miss us when he got home.

If you ever need to go to Disneyland, going in the middle of the week after they’ve just raised admission prices is a pretty good time to go. We left after lunch and got there around 2 pm. As a testament to just how not crowded it was, in one hour we managed to ride the Dumbo ride, Merry-Go-Round, take the train, meet Mickey, Pluto and Goofy plus fit in two bathroom breaks. Amazing progress considering that when we’ve gone in the past we’ve had to wait an hour just to see Mickey Mouse.

After a snack and the Disney parade, Noah insisted on riding the Jungle River Cruise. He’d ridden it twice before and both times he was deathly afraid on the ride so I was surprised that he wanted to ride it this time. This is him after we got seated on the boat — happy and optimistic:

And this is the way he spent the majority of the ride — hiding his face in my lap:

Still, he insisted he enjoyed the ride and asked if I was proud of him for being so brave. Naturally I said yes and he promised that he would teach his baby brother how to be brave too. We caught the Lion King show afterward and then hit a few more rides before it was time for dinner followed by souvenir shopping and fireworks. He was completely fascinated by the fireworks this time so I’m glad we stayed. Finally, after six hours at the park it was time to go home.

The good thing is, I had been trying to stress to him all day that the Disneyland trip was a special treat and that we wouldn’t be going there all the time so he shouldn’t bother asking (yeah, I’m mean). The next day, on our way to the grocery store, he told me, “Mommy, yesterday we went to Disneyland. I like Disneyland very very much but I can’t go there ever again.” Ahhhhh…sweet music to my ears.

In non-boy related news, after waiting one and a half months we finally have the dining table and benches that we ordered way back in January, so yay! Happiness all around:

February 22, 2009 at 10:17 pm 5 comments

An Update in Pictures

I’ve been lazy and haven’t been posting very regularly but this is what’s been going on in the last week or two…

A Visit — Hooray!
Lianne, who I’ve known since the seventh grade (back when she was still Lian without the ‘ne’), is on an Asian tour at the moment and spent about a week in Hong Kong before continuing on to Taiwan and Tokyo. As luck would have it, I was super sick that week but with the help of lots and lots of Panadol, I managed to drag myself out of bed and meet her in Central for dim sum and street market shopping. Despite the fact that she is a gorgeous model/actress and I am a frumpy pregnant lady, I still braved a picture with her before we parted ways at an internet/videoke cafe:

Dress Up
The boy is in a big dress up phase right now. I’m pretty sure it started last October when he was Buzz Lightyear for Halloween. Then Clarita bought him a Spiderman costume for Christmas. He’s been clamoring for a Batman suit ever since so when I spotted one on Li Yuen Street while shopping with Lianne, I just had to pick it up. He loves his costumes and changes into either Batman or Spiderman almost every day after coming home from school:

A Small Pepsi Mystery
I have no idea who this guy is on my Pepsi can but he freaks me out and makes me wish I would remember to tell Clarita that we prefer Coke:

Valentine’s Day Cookies
I wanted to make cookies for Valentine’s Day and saw this recipe for Coconut Shortbread Cookies on smitten kitchen. Considering it combines two of my favorite ingredients — coconut and butter — in one cookie, I had to try it out. Noah wanted to help me out when it came time to roll out and cut the cookies so that became our small Valentine’s Day project:

He also found my airplane cookie cutter and insisted that we make “Valentine airplane cookies”, so we did:

Finished Object
I finally finished a swing-coat that I’ve been knitting for one of my friends. It had been sitting on our ottoman — 99% complete — for over a week while I procrastinated on going out and buying buttons, but I finally decided to just suck it up and finish it already. I mailed it off today so now I’m just crossing my fingers and hoping that it’ll arrive at her house before she moves:

By the way, I happened to pick up a box of MarieBelle caramels at city’super the other day which I polished off in one sitting because they were that good. Anyway, after a couple of caramels I realized that they tasted very familiar and halfway through the box I realized it was because it tasted pretty much exactly like the cajeta I’d made for breakfast the other week. So now I’m totally making this stuff on my own rather than blowing US$10 on 18 little pieces of candy. Total score. You can find the recipe I used for cajeta here in case you’re interested (and have as big a sweet tooth as I do).

February 17, 2009 at 9:51 pm 5 comments

Baby Names

Here are early candidates for names. Some are just for fun. Some are in the running. I ceded control over naming rights, but I can’t help but offer my opinion and solicit your support.

Mahalo Munoz – think of a warm welcome every time you see him.

Asher Munoz – its new and old in one! This is one of Cathy’s favorites and its growing on me. The nickname is ‘Ash’. Anyone remember Army of Darkness? “This is my boom stick!” I can’t wait to teach Ash that line.

Micah Munoz – comforting, fun to say and still rugged.

Elias Munoz – Cathy likes this name since it is close to Elijah, but Elijah is too biblical. I could go either way.

Ezra Munoz – movie star quality. The double ‘z’ is cool.

Dashiell Munoz – Another favorite of Cathy’s since the nickname is Dash. I’m not a big fan, especially of the spelling. It’s growing on me. It’s better to see it with the last name attached. After looking at this several times it appears girlish and I don’t know why.

Jonah Munoz – a perfect match for Noah. Say it three times. Good brothers with good stories behind their names. A close alternative is Jonas.

Jules Munoz – I think of Pulp Fiction and another biblical reference for all the wrong reasons.

Keats Munoz – new, unique, fun to say, but I’m not partial to the Euro feel.

Malachi Munoz – OK, this is my last movie reference but in The Royal Tenenbaums one of my favorite lines is “Go Mordichai”. This reminds me of that scene and always makes me laugh.

Manolo Munoz – Don’t think of the shoes. Think Spanish suave. Nickname – Mo (Cathy’s suggestion).

Orion Munoz – I like to think of myself as a star gazer without a telescope. This would give me incentive to go purchase one.

Om Munoz – this is why Cathy has naming rights. I plan to lobby family on this one or at least convince Noah this is his brother’s real name. You know you like it.

If you like any of the names just vote by leaving a comment. Suggestions welcome.

February 12, 2009 at 10:17 pm 15 comments

The 4 Month Doctor Appointment

Sorry for the delay in posting but I’ve been ridiculously sick all week and pretty much laid up in bed for the last three days and I haven’t had the energy to write anything until now.  I had my doctor’s appointment earlier this week which was pretty much routine — ultrasound, checking the baby’s size, development, etc.  Everything so far is going well.  According to Dr. Doo, the baby’s pretty big.  And considering Noah was around the 85th percentile for height and weight when he was born, I can’t say I’m too surprised baby #2 is on the same track.  The baby is 4.25″ long right now and weighs almost 1/2 lb.  Amazing that they can tell all that from an ultrasound.  We also found out the sex of the baby this time around and I’m happy to announce that we’re having another boy!  At 17 weeks I know it still seems a little early to be able to say for sure but the doctor suspected boy last month, he’s pretty sure of it this month and besides that, I definitely saw unmistakable peen.  So a baby brother it is for little Noah.

So my next appointment is in another month.  It’ll be my 5 month appointment which makes me think, “Wow.  I forgot how fast the first two trimesters go by” and “Crap.  That’s when I get tested for gestational diabetes.”  The first time around I tested borderline for gestational diabetes so my doctor had me go off of sugar completely for the duration of my pregnancy.  I admit that maybe I wasn’t doing anyone any favors by eating jugs of those Jelly Belly containers that you pick up at Costco, but nothing sweet — no chocolate, no cookies, no desserts, no ice cream (in the summer!), no fruit, no smoothies or fruit juices — for 4 months…well, that was just wrong.  Dr. Doo thinks that I’m likely to be the same way this time which, again, doesn’t surprise me but it doesn’t mean I’m not going to try to do something about it.  I’ve been eating a lot more sensibly this time around (minus that week when I almost single-handedly polished off an entire apple pie…but the baby wanted pie.  What was I gonna do?).  I’ve also read that dragon fruit — besides being high in dietary fiber, vitamin C and antioxidants — can help control blood sugar levels and that a lot of Asians with type 2 diabetes eat it as part of their regular diet.  So I’m giving it a shot and now I eat one of these things:

almost every day. They’re a little intimidating looking when you pick them up at the grocery store but they’re easy to prepare and actually kind of fun to eat.  So hopefully it’ll all work out.

In the meantime I’ll be scouring books and the internet for baby names.  Over a year ago, when baby #2 was still just an idea in our heads, Mark ceded his baby naming rights to me if we ended up having a boy (we would’ve collaborated if it had been a girl).  We had had such a hard time agreeing on Noah’s name that this time I have carte blanche to name the baby whatever I like.  Mwahahahaha…  I do have a couple of possible names picked out already but I’m still looking for alternatives.  I may have baby naming rights but I still don’t want Mark to completely hate our son’s name.  But if anyone has any suggestions (or bribes for me) I’m completely open to them (and I prefer chocolate over fruity candy…Teuscher if you’re really serious).

February 5, 2009 at 9:29 am 9 comments

A Rockstar Birthday Greeting

I mentioned before that my sister turned 30 on Thursday.  Well, you can’t really turn 30 without celebrating it — regardless of whether you want to or not.  So for my sister’s 30th birthday, my brother and his wife, her fiance, our parents and (to a smaller extent) me and Mark put our heads together to throw her a surprise party.  After much deliberation we settled on a Rockstar Karaoke theme for her party.  Obviously Mark and I couldn’t be there but we were able to put together a short rockstar themed birthday video for her featuring her favorite (and only) nephew.  I’m having some youtube issues right now so I can’t post the video here, but here’s a link to where you can watch it:

Carol’s Birthday Video


February 2, 2009 at 10:04 am 4 comments

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