Saturday, April 28, 2007

Take a Walk on the Wild Side...

Sophie is a bit of a green-earth baby. She loves looking at clouds and trees and all manner of creatures great and small. With the balmy spring weather coming into Beijing, Fab and I went out last week to this great little place called The Orchard, and we all had a nice Sunday brunch.

Fast forward to this week, when I took Sophie to meet my friend Belize at the Kempinski hotel. We were kinda early, and the hotel had a cute little garden with grass in a kinda courtyard. So Sophie and I went to sit under a tree whilst waiting, and Sophie couldn't wait to have a good squish around in the grass. I turned my attention away for one second, and she managed to grab a handful of grass for a quick taste. I was NOT a happy camper.

This is because we are on a hotel lawn, so there must be a zillion pesticides and other chemicals they spray on the grass to keep in so verdant yet bug-free. And ingesting all that just cannot be a good idea. I managed to use my fingers to extract it from her mouth, I think she didn't eat anything, and seemed mostly fine.


Friday, April 27, 2007

At some point

At some point this week, I will chase up on the never-ending payment saga for my freelance job. I will go to the gym. I will do the gritty admin things like filling forms from our international movers for our damage claims (I'm really annoyed that they broke an out-of-production Riedel wine glass!). I will go and read up about the actual mechanics involved in making this blog private, and I will go pay the phone/gas bills before we get our utililties cut off.

But not right now. I have other priorities.

Like playing "jump up and down on a big bed untill we are both exhausted" and inhaling the smell of laughter in her tufty baby hair.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Another silly toddler game

What are Daddies good for? Completely silly games to banish all cares. Like this one:

Want to see a very puzzled toddler?

Try dropping a little ball down her pyjamas. Even better if the ball makes interesting noises.

Just remember to take it back out before you send her to sleep if you want her to sleep at all...

Monday, April 23, 2007

Make this a private blog?

Regarding my musings about going back to work.

I read about La petite Anglaise (thanks Laurie!) who was sacked for blogging, won a lawsuit against her ex-employers, and landed a sweet book deal. But I ain't her!

So Mini suggested something interesting.

To make this a private blog restricted to friends/family invited to read it.

What do you guys think? if I made it "by invite only" would you sign in to read it?

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Surfing Sunday

Am surfing and blogging at 7am on a Sunday morning whilst my toddler plays with remote controls and my husband snoozes. I don't know why, but the most inane things are fascinating to an 11 month old. Random household items like tissue paper, wallets, keys, and (the most irresistible of all!) mobile phones. I tend to take a pretty Zen approach to the exploratory drive. Unless Sophie is doing something absolutely verboten like endangering herself or another child, then she's pretty much free to try out various experiments like "hey- what does this button do" or "what sound does this make when I bang it on the table" or "I wonder what this tastes like". Anybody who's hung around small toddlers before will know exactly what I'm referring to.

I am in a FANTASTIC mood. What a worshipful Sunday.

Yesterday Fabien and I went out for house-warming drinks followed by dinner at Morel's. The housewarming was organized by 2 junior guys from his company. They were doing something like the CSNE (like a civillian French national service, but you serve it by working in a French foreign embassy or company, it used to be a more academic alternative to compulsory military service, but it's now entirely voluntary). That really brought back great memories for Fab and me. 6 years ago he was doing his CSNE in Singapore, and I was completing my pupillage there. Looking at these 2 bright-eyed and bushy tailed 24 year olds gave us a lil flashback, we resolved to be a little more like them and go out and have fun more often.

And damn we did.

And I woke this morning joyful, and grateful, and I count my blessings and praise God. It is not an easy life (emotionally, not materially) being married to my road warrior husband, but it means I never take his presence at home for granted, and every time we're together it's Valentines Day all over again.

Postscript 3 hours later: Sophie gets to wake her dad up a bit later in the morning...

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Predicted Death of a Blog

I met my boss today at the supermarket (yes, I signed the contract, and now will go back to work for Big Law Firm on 16 May). He's the big bossman of us all. But Beijing is kinda small in the expat world because there are just so many places you can go to get groceries.

This is my personal blog. But still, Beijing is just so tiny (when it comes to these things), and now that the days as a SAHM who can say whatever she thinks (and has time to think!) are exteremly numbered. But to have to self-censor (to some degree) really cramps the blog writing.

I predict that my blog will die when I start working again. Because (from past experience) I know I will have precious free time, and when I do, all I will really want to do is b*tch about work, and that's really neither discreet nor constructive.

It won't be melodramatic, but it will just fade away quietly from post to post. And then after a really long time. Silence.

Unless and until the next major milestone of my daughter, or we have (OMG!) another little Murphy. Then it'll heat up again I guess.

Thursday, April 19, 2007


I invoiced these people, I gave them a discount. I jumped through hoops, and NOW I WANT TO BE PAID. And the silence is defeaning. If I ever free-lance again, I want half the payment UPFRONT.

Let this be a lesson to me!

BTW- it completely doesn't make a difference how rich the client is. They got there by being stingy pokes...

In other news Fab should be back this weekend. Sophie is feeling much better. I think.

I went horse-riding this morning (after more than 2 years of not doing so) My body is in PAIn.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Vaccination Reactions

I'm tired and I cannot wait for Fabien to come home.

Sophie had a reaction to her vaccinations on Monday. Since we got home she's been a bit fretful and persistently running a low-grade fever even after being maximally dosed with infant Tylenol. I got a bit worried when it spiked at 39.8 degrees on Tuesday. She had recieved shots for Diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, polio and Haemophilus influenzae (DTaP/IPV/Hib) and meningitis C and the injection sites were swollen and hard.

She seems better today though, and is calling "Papa" whilst jabbing her finger at all the wedding photos that I've started unloadeding from our shipment. Just to test her, I picked a photo with me and my brother, but without Fabien and waved it in front of her. Without missing a beat she points and says "Mama" and then points at my brother and makes the ASL sign for "giraffe"!! Oh well my brother is taller than me ...

Anyway, like I mentioned, vaccinations are a controversial parenting area. I read a Pediatrics Online study checking How Do Physicians Immunize Their Own Children which said that :

Ninety-two percent of pediatricians followed the official immunization recommendations for their own children... In addition to vaccines currently recommended in Switzerland, both groups of physicians added hepatitis A, influenza, and varicella vaccines to the vaccination schedule of their own children. Pediatricians were more likely to give pneumococcal and meningococcal C vaccines to their own children

Which seems to ease any lingering conspiracy theory doubts I might have about vaccinations being simply a huge money-spinner for Big Pharama.

In other news - it seems I have to feed my incredibly active toddler more often (she burns it all up!) She's underweight for her height. I say height quite deliberately because she's standing un-aided more regularly, and I couldn't be more proud. Seems like I ought to buy a height chart for her soon.

Monday, April 16, 2007

My little Product Tester

The people who use Sophie's toys the most - her nanny and her mommy are getting bored of her current collection... So I have been surfing to find some cool toys. I'm having the discussion here on my blog because there are primarily 2 categories of friends I am addressing.

(A) Those with kids who are older than Sophie, please feel free to comment and share your feedback on what worked for you.


(B) Those who don't (yet) have children or whose kids are younger than Sophie, I will share some of my toy experiences and either enthuse wildly or rubbish them based on our (entirely subjective!) experience. Heed at your own peril!

1) Wooden Puzzle

2) Ball maze

3) Little People stuff

Items (1) and (2) are because I think wooden toys are less environmentally destructive. Sophie currently has a music making set from HABA which she really enjoys. Though for practical purposes all that plastic we currently use is just easier to clean (saving water, detergent and time!). (3) is because she loves her Little People animal train, as you can see ...

Parental Paranoia

Parenthood is a state of perpetual paranoia.

In a couple of hours, Sophie and I will go to the clinic to get a vaccination for her. She will follow the Italian vaccination schedule, which is less intense than the French one.

A quick search on the internet in the intervening hours is making me nervous about this. It's controversial, and the undelying message seems to be...

Trust no one!!

Sunday, April 15, 2007

The search continues

I tried this Gymboree class today and I was definitely under-impressed. There were at least 10 toddlers in the class, each one accompanied by 2 adults. This means teachers have to yell songs about Gymbo the clown at the top of their lungs and equipment use is crowded. I was stressed out (I have a very low threshold for large crowds), although Sophie was generally bemused at this all. I half expected her to start crying like a couple of the kids in the class, but she was just wide-eyed and taking it all in (maybe she's just in shock!). I think she enjoyed the bubble-maker, so possibly I will buy one of them. I guess we aren't going back because my nerves can't take it, and the class requires at least one parent to be there. They don't allow you to delegate to the nanny.

Tommorrow morning we are going to get shots and then have a quiet day at home. I am trying to shift Sophie's sleep times in preparation for her going to school. She currently sleeps from 6:30pm to 6:30am with a twice a day nap habit. I am trying to go down to just one nap in the afternoon. But I can't seem to get rid of her morning nap. Anyone following a sleep book is invited to email me your bright ideas.

We have a trial class ivy bilingual scheduled at 9:30am on Tuesday and I will record my impressions for further review later.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Gargle and Spit

This one is for Sandra...

And if you want to know what she was trying to do at the end of the video, the answer is this:

Now you see why it's so hard for me to go back to work? Fabien reminds me that, although I think that staying at home is fulfilling now, it probably will not look attractive in 5 or maybe 6 years time when our kid(s) is/are older and less dependent on me. When I am a bored and desperate housewife. And what about in 10 or 12 years time when I have too much time on my hands and all my friends are still busy working? Bleargh. What a dreary prospect.

In more bad news, my headhunter(s) tells me that I will become virtually unemployable if I stop working as a lawyer for more than 3 years, and I don't think she says this because she (just) wants her commission. So I have to make a tough decision now to cut them apron strings and get back to the soulessness of a law firm simply because I don't know yet if I want to give up law completely, and don't want to burn that bridge.

I'll put up with the cancelled personal appointments and burnt weekends in the office, the stress and the mind-numbing meticulous boredom; because on the basis of the current information, this is the best possible long term decision. Even though whenever I look at speedily growing Sophie, I have that little echo of doubt in my mind.

I'd have been the chief wookie caregiver for 12 glorious (and rapidly passing) months and I don't regret a second of that, but I didn't work in private practice for an Italian year before that, so my 2 years are done and the Unemployability Clock is ticking...

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

I stand accused

That's a snippet from a terrible 80s song called "love in the first degree". But I am indeed guilty of that.

Had Coffee with Julia today, who asked (with her teutonic acuity) "You don't really want to go back to work do you?". Of course I protested, and cited Sophie's incomplete potty training, the school issue, and so on. But the truth is, I've more or less set up my child care arrangements (2 aiyis in 2 shifts with an hour overlap), and my shipment is 80% set up. So I supposedly can go back to work. But I find it soooo hard.

And here is why - with all 8 teeth (Count them Sandra and Gina!!) :

So - what would you do if you were me?

We don't desperately need the money. But if we want to have a second kid at our currently comfortable standard of life, then we probably should be a double income family. If not, we would have to settle for less material well being. But is that necessarily a bad thing?

I am not an obssessive materialist, but I like our comfortable life, even if I know we don't NEED it in the way that say, a migrant child in a Beijing suburb does. I like having 2 aiyis, and I like paying them both generously. It makes me feel good. It's like going to a restaurant and giving a good tip. Sure the waiter might appreciate it. But yet in absolute moral terms, surely I should have just saved the cost of the meal and given away the entire amount?

I am tired, and I am looking forward to our Korea vacation where my parents can look after Sophie whilst Fabien and I escape for our 2nd wedding anniversary weekend.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Thar she GROWS!!!

Our shipment from Italy came in, and just for fun, we put Sophie into the little rocker seat which she used to occupy. We are giving this seat to one of our neighbours who is currently 38 weeks pregnant with their first baby, so we are pretty excited for them, and we get to vicariously re-live the entire experience. I think they don't quite believe me when I keep telling them that the year will fly by so quickly they need to record it or else they will miss it.

Anyway, I can't believe her whole body used to fit into this seat.

This is her at almost 4 months old in Hardelot and we called her our baby mammoth (boy we didn't know what we were in for in terms of Growth Spurts) ...

From our April Fools Weekend

More photos from the weekend with my parents. These are from the April fools day weekend when my parents were here from Korea. Sophie keeps trying to pull my Dad's hair so he has to hide it with a cap.

My mum tried to let her listen to the "seashell" sounds inside her stacking cups but as you can see from the photo she just looks confused without being particularly enlightened. APRIL FOOL SOPHIE!!

We went to this cute little restaurant near my house which was built inside some old imperial residence, so they had waitresses all dressed up and a traditional chinese courtyard with a pond and lots of little pavillions to drink tea in.

Run before Walking

Fab came back for a quick overnight trip yesterday, and he brought the camera back with him so I could download this video which he recorded over the weekend. You can see Sophie learning to run before she learns to walk. Listen to her yelling "Papa!" in excitement.

She stands for some time now, and applauds herself for doing so. But I am still waiting with bated breath for her to take her do her first unaided steps.

Happy 11 Months Old Sophie!

Dear Sophie,

Wow - another month and you will be a year old. Your dad and I are constantly amazed by all the things that you do and the many ways in which you entertain us.

Will post more later, because your Papa came back from Shen Yang to be with us for this day.


Friday, April 06, 2007

Month 4 Madness

Month 4 was a real busy time for Sophie. If she had a palm pilot, her planner would have looked something like this:

1) Get Baptised in Lille
2) Holiday in Hardelot
- good place to learn to roll
3) Wedding in Troyes - show promise as a budding oenophile:

4 month old Travelling involved mostly car-rides because it offers the greatest flexibility. Toys to entertain her with when she gets bored. Breast-feeding clothes and a shawl for Mom for (discreet!) whip-them-out-anytime snacking. Some of her Cds to listen to in the car (like Baby Beluga from Auntie Gina!) and updating all the songs in Dad's iPod to make sure he doesn't go nuts listening to said Baby Beluga.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Une Derniere Danse

I am mad at the landlord because we have a beautiful Bose sound system in our appartment wich cannot play CDs. So most music I listen to comes from the crappy sound on my iBook.

One of my favourite groups Kyo plays this song. I think Sophie likes it too. She has eclectic music tastes (like me) and will listen to anything from classical to jazz to pop. We go around the house together singing "3 little birds". In the begining of our relationship, Fabien and I used to chill out alot to reggae sounds, so it seems appropriate that we have a little rasta daughter...

Monday, April 02, 2007

Month 3: Explorations

Sophie turned 3 months whilst we were on holiday in Sicily. It was probably a sign, because her 3rd month was full of new experiences. Her sleeping pattern started to develop so we could plan for short outings during her relatively longer wakeful period to show her the world from her baby bjorn.

Such as her first piano concert in the French Alps.

And this is the first time she saw a horse in Fontainbleu.

The stone's throw away

One of the major benefits about living in Beijing is that we are just a short flight away from Seoul where my parents are. My parents figured that I could use a break (from being a single parent) so they jetted in this weekend to spoil their grand-daughter and give me some time to spend by myself, safe in the knowledge that Sophie is in safe hands.

I hibernated (a break from 6:30am wake up times = heaven) this weekend, and when I stumbled out of my bedroom I saw this lovely sight - grand-dad and grand-daughter playing at our bar-top counter whilst waiting for my mom to fix breakfast. Had enough presence of mind to grab a camera to capture the moment to show my husband-in-absentia.

The sad thing is, even though I was supposed to have time to go shopping for clothes this weekend, I spent it buying more crap for Sophie!

Just to complete the "childcare center" look in my house, I bought these interlocking foam pieces to pad the floor for my highly mobile baby. I had no choice. Earlier this week, she freaked me out by standing for some time ALL by herself (without holding onto anything). This normally wouldn't have fazed me, but she was standing on the sofa.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Month 2 re-loaded

I'm really having fun on this blog exercise. It's a jogging stroll down memory lane for me and I can't believe how fast and furious her rate of growth is!

Month 2
The second month of Sophie's life was slightly colicky. We tried a great many things, but the only one that worked was bouncing on a big gym ball in a completely dark room to send her to sleep. The thing which did make it all bearable was the fact that she started smiling at around 6 weeks. Month 2 milestones included sending her first email from our red ikea sofa. This sofa we are real sad to have left behind in Italy - it is I slept almost every night in the last few months of pregnancy (wierdly enough it was more comfy on the sofa than the bed) and this is where Sofa spent tummy time (so that she would be at eye-level to me when I sat on the floor).

Spending lots of time playing on her gymini. Best investment ever because she spent all her energy with the kickpad (must have reminded her of whacking my uterine wall) and playing with all those dangly toys, that I could blog about it all.

At the end of this second month I took off with her for a much deserved holiday in Sicily. More about that in the Month 3 Installment..