Friday, March 30, 2007

Real deja vu

My clients want a discount on my discounted price.... I can't believe it!! I wish I had quoted a MUCH higher rate, then I wouldn't care. As my dad said, lawyers tend to quote a sky high price and then give a discount so clients feel happy when paying the bill.

Maybe I should go back to being a lawyer since this is the kind of nonsense that you have to deal with all the time. There's a part of me that fantasizes saying something INCREDIBLE like - why don't you just pay me what you think this is worth - just simply to see what the reaction is.

But that would be a stupid thing to do and not worth the cost of what would be a very expensive experiment in human psychology.


Time, is never time at all

In 11 days time my little baby and soon to be toddler will be 11 months old. Just to remind myself where all this time has flown, and to wax a little nostalgic about the whole process, I indulged in a bit of photo reviewing (also because I am picking photos to frame up around the house).

Month 1

So here she is 2 days old, her little face about as big as my mobile phone.

Because of the retained placenta, I lost a lot of blood, and I spent about a week in hospital attached to a great many IVs so for a long time, my arms looked alot like I had some kind of heroin problem:

So the first month flew by in a blur of breast-feeding and burping. Lucky most of the time Sophie spent sleeping, which was useful because I was mostly out of it. Fab's mum and my mum both came to help out at staggered intervals so that I was never left on my own even though Fab had to return to work. That was how I managed to be reasonably intact for Sophie's First Month celebration. We tried to hold it pretty early.

But Sophie yawned through most of it.

5 points if you can tell me where this blog post title comes from (no, googling it is cheating).

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Decorating Angst

I am trying to decorate Sophie's room. Right now it looks ummm.. undecided.

My job status is as yet undecided, so I am using this time to try to settle the house. Which is a bit difficult to do as our shipment still hasn't arrived yet! It is very stressful, but the good news is that my parents have decided to drop in this weekend so I can just catch up on sleep whilst they dote on my daughter.

Meanwhile I've got one offer to sell my soul to Mamon and make some rain. On the other hand, I am still busy applying for NGO jobs to save pandas and barely make ends meet. I know that must sound a bit schizophrenic, but I suppose it goes with the general look in Sophie's room.

I have curtains and rug in nice warm reds and a day-bed in orange and green, clashing with Dora the Explorer decals, wood furniture in Peter Rabbit blue themes.. the walls and built-in cupboards are white and will not be repainted because I have been scared off by all the toxicity reports on new paint in China. I need to buy: A ceiling lamp, a wall border, a chest of drawers. Possibly a baby sofa.

What do you think of this tree?

Originally I was going all for these really cute jungle animals. But Mom told me it was a bad fengshui idea to put fierce animals like lions and crocodiles near a child. So that is out.

No way am I going to get a room full of bloody pink faeries.

The agony of indecision over completely trivial things. One of the joys of the fairer sex it seems.

Do not even get me started on outdoor furniture . Meh...

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

In sickness and in health

Sophie scared me a little today by throwing up after her bedtime feed. It was the first time she'd ever vomitted and I think both of us were a little freaked out. I suspect it was because she'd over-eaten. She'd already had a full milk bottle and then insisted on being breast-fed and once I put her into bed she threw up over everything and started crying. Luckily the aiyi was just at the door and ready to go home, so I SOS-ed her to come back to help clean up the room (sheets, floor and bed!) whilst I calmed Sophie down with a bath and brief nursing before putting her to bed Part 2.

That little incident scared me somewhat because I realise how lucky i had been in terms of Sophie's health. Thus far, she's not experienced the discomfort of any kind of illness (touch wood - I hope I don't jinx it by typing it!) despite living in one of the world's most polluted cities, and I guess that must at least be in part due to all that breastmilk she's consumed since birth.

I'm not so lucky (wasn't a breastfed baby!).

I'm currently having a sore throat and runny nose. I went for a massage at a spa yesterday, and the room was COLD and I think I must have caught one despite asking them several times to turn up the heating. It was a pretty expensive spa by Bejing standards, so I am really quite annoyed.

The only glint of bright light now is that I finished that piece of work that I was plodding through and have just sent the invoice (and hope to be paid soon).

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Meaningless Shopping Post

The discovery of bloglines was great. I at least obtained an imperfect view of my friends blogs. Thanks Mini and ~e~! Lots of blog catching up to do. Though there were no photos by Mini of the Big G.

There was a big huge celebration in the park today, I had fireworks (again!) just in front of our home. It's apparently the start of the 500 day count down to the olympics in Beijing. Start booking your tickets now.

In other news... I've turned to some form of retail therapy since Fabien is in Shenyang and still working crazy ass hours.

Ever since Sandra introduced them to me, I love baby furniture from Stokke, but the discovery of Svan has made me seriously rethink my allegiance. The chairs are wooden works of art. The sad thing is I just can't find them in China. Even something simple like this Jaiden cannot be found, and the irony is that it is made in China!!

Friday, March 23, 2007

Fire Wall of China

They've blocked blogspot and livejournal. I can post on my own blogsite, but I cannot read anyone else's blog. Oh the irony...

You that live in a free internet space will not understand how frigging annoying it is to have these crude blocks on surfing. To block off all blogs just seems slightly over zealous no?

Thursday, March 22, 2007

The Journey of a Thousand Miles

Apart from angsting on my blog, the other (more practical) thing that I am doing to prepare for my return to life as a corporate drone is to start to prise away my daughter's grip on my life and boob.

I have been leaving her for increasingly longer periods with our regular and trusted aiyi, and all has been going well. Though on ocassion, my increasingly independent toddler displays enough of la résistance to betray her Gallic roots. Today was a bit of a watershed in terms of the hand-over.

I went out to run errands this afternoon and betrayed by Beijing traffic, I was actually too late to come back to put Sophie down for her night sleep. The aiyi was already in her room and bottle-feeding her so I left them inside and listened for any crying. Usually, Sophie would insist on the 3Bs routine (bath, boob, book), so I wanted to see if she would go down easily without Mum. It took a little longer than usual, but she did manage eventually, and I was left feeling like a bit of a spare tyre.

I am feeling that inseey weensy bit jealous actually that she has bonded so well with the aiyi. There is some selfish deeply maternal part of me that wants to be Sophie's entire universe, but I think as a whole I would rather not have her stuck to me all the time. I guess I approach the new-found freedom with a touch of nostalgia for the good old dependent infant days, and excitement at the fact that my life has not and will not be solely centered around my kid. I feel like another chapter in my life is just about to start, and I am actually getting myself all hyped up for it. This is despite the fact that the job situation is a bit complicated, and I will post more about it when it is all settled down.

More introspection

Thanks to Beliz for more random web psychologists..

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Self Feeding Part 3

Sophie the macaroni masticator. She's gotten that pincer grasp down alright, though we're clearly not going to be writing in an etiquette forum just yet.

She's growing so quickly, and I am glad that I choose this time to be a full time mom. The transformation of my sleepy bitty baby into a grunting growling wookie to a fierecely independent little girl is taking place at such a rapid rate that if you blink you miss it. I am really glad I chose to blog it because only by going back to my old posts do I remember what she could or could not do just a few short months ago.

My current aiyi is a lovely lady who adores Sophie and she is getting very well trained by my mom, and I am looking for a second aiyi to supplement. Once I get a system of 2 aiyis going, then I will be going back to work. I don't know which job I will do yet, but in principle, I am pretty convinced that I want to go back to work WHEN the system of childcare is in place. But not before then. I don't know how long that will take, but the employer that hires me will have to understand that my family comes first, otherwise I can't accept the job.

In theory, it's all pretty simple. But of course the nights are reserved for the angsting...

Friday, March 16, 2007

Peek A Booo

Sophie loves playing peek a boo especially just before having a bath and going to bed. Though she sometimes cheats by not closing her eyes!

She will play the game with her hands, her playmat, round the corner of a wall, and even our (by now famous) blackout curtains.

I will miss this when I return to work

Thursday, March 15, 2007

I need a vacation!

We are settling in pretty well over here, except there's been a small glitch - our shipment hasn't arrived yet! All our clothes, personal effects, Sophie's toys and our books, and cutlery and crockery are still making their way over from Italy. I want to wring some Italian's neck.

So my life has been a steady drip-feed of buying random things on a need to have basis. And finding out from the STUPID shipping company where are stuff is. and how to get some compensation from the idiots. The wretched thing is that the contract is signed between Fab's company and the shipper, so we have no idea what the penalty clauses are for delay.

Anyway. Fabien is still working crazy hours so we are kinda missing him like mad sometimes. Lucky I have a new best friend here - Julia. We get along like a house on fire. I am hosting a Mom's club playgroup at my house tommorrow (despite aforesaid crockery shortage). I just called a caterer. Despite having a million admin things to do, have signed up to host barbarian horde of toddlers in appartment (somebody please hit me hard on the head with a frozen mackerel).

I NEED a vacation

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

What Muppet are you?

I have been feeling a little introspective, so in order to plumb the depths of my subconcious I went off to take a Muppet Personality test, and here are the results - no surprises then...

You Are Animal

A complete lunatic, you're operating on 100% animal instincts.
You thrive on uncontrolled energy, and you're downright scary.
But you sure can beat a good drum.
"Kill! Kill!"

So go ahead - you know you want to... tell me what kind of muppet are you?

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Bath time in Singapore

This is a pretty old video that backdates to our Chinese New Year in Singapore where we stayed at Darcie and Joel's house.

Here is Sophie and her buddy Ella playing with bath toys in the bath at Casa Nelson-Hess. They looked so cute splashing around together that their mommies kinda just melted....

Monday, March 05, 2007

Lantern Festival in the Park

Last night was the 15th day of the Lunar New Year. Also known as the Chinese Valentines Day.

Fabien was at home (for once!) even though he spent alot of time on the phone to his office. Still, we managed to take Sophie who froze quietly in the baby carrier whilst we wandered around the snow covered park, accompanied by our neighbours Julia and Vincent.

Then there were bloody fireworks banging on ALL through the night. Normally I like fireworks but when they keep exploding just outside our balcony (and we live on the 19th floor) it gets annoying. Sophie being the real trooper that she is managed to sleep through it. Fabien was so exhausted that he also collapsed into bed and slept.

That left me to listen to them go off outside our window and read Malcolm Gladwell's Blink.

Saturday, March 03, 2007

more self-feeding

Yes she does feed herself, but this is the aftermath. In case you are wondering what colour the chair usually is, the answer is - white. I enlarged this picture so you can check out the crud on her hands but she is actually using a feeding spoon. If you think this is bad, wait till you look at the floor.

I am trying to record more photos of Sophie's daily life for Fabien. The poor man is just working 24/7 because his customers are nut-jobs. I told him it makes no difference whether he is in Chang Chun or Beijing because we don't see him anyway. He leaves the house at 5:00am and returns home at 11 or 12 midnight. My poor darling. If they work him like an investment banker why don't they pay him like one, at least I can deal with it if I can retail therapy away the fact that i miss him madly!

Friday, March 02, 2007

Singapore firsts

Self feeding
Originally uploaded by vacheorange.
Sophie went to Singapore for the first time between 16 to 28 Feb 07. We had an awesome time staying with Darcie, Joel and Ella, and Sophie enjoyed living in close proximity to the SUPER cute and clever little Ella girl (and chewing all her toys).

I've been so lax in recording Sophie's milestones that I am sure I'll regret that in 30 years when Sophie has her first kid and asks me "Mom, how old was I when I [insert activity]" So here are a couple of Sophie Firsts in Singapore:

1) First Swim in outdoor swiming pool at Villa Marina - Thank you Ella for your wetsuit and super bright orange float (we'll wait for photos in Darcie's camera)

2) First Banana All By Herself (except some help with the peeling part, she got most of the banana-eating mechanics figured out). As you can see from the shot above, she spent alot of time in Ella's feeding chair figuring out how to put stuff in her mouth with a spoon. She actually got pretty good in Singapore so it mostly goes to her mouth, though lots still ends in her hair/clothes/chair/surrounding floor area

3) First association of hand-clapping with compliments (e.g. "clever girl"! usually starts her off on applauding herself) Hey, I have a little narcissicist...

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Searching for Job Nirvana

I am still looking for Job Nirvana.

I had dinner tonight with the partners of that place I was interviewing at, and they feel ready to send the offer letter to my headhunter tommorrow.

But I am worried. I don't think Job Nirvana exists, but when I went to the office I happened to see a random associate there who told me he regularly goes home at 8pm. Is that supposed to be a good thing? They are also proud of the fact that they don't give blackberries to associates because (apparently) you are supposed to be able to leave the office behind when you go home.

But I wonder how flexible they would be if I asked to leave the office early, put Sophie to bed and then work from home? Let me take a look at their offer and then ask them about it.

We are back from Singapore

Boy it is good to be home. Back to the chaos. Job interviews (some more!) and trying to finish up that writing gig. Missing my friends both old and new (you know who you are).

Sophie had a great time. She looooves Ella and they went swimming and made messes together whilst their mommies got some chill out time.

This is Sophie with Sebastien who cam to take us for lunch at Blooies.