Thursday, August 30, 2007

Happy Birthday Fab!

Happy Birthday to you! You're 30 years old, have a great career, friends and the company of a female that loves you dearly (not the cat). But I guess the greatest achievement, pride and joy in your life right now is that this little monster gets cuter by the moment...

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Reading to Mom

As promised in a previous post, I finally got around to getting the video downloaded. This is Sophie reading to Mom from her Chinese rhymes book.

I melt each time I see her do this.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Car Seat?

Compared to the previous poetic epiphany this is going to be a truly pedastrian post appealing to a tiny minority of the reading population of this blog...

The question is:
What Car Seat do you use for your kid?

You see, I am going on a road trip to Cheng De this weekend, and we need to pop Sophie in a car seat.

And I feel overwhelmed by the selection. Methinks she is not going to be pleased whichever one we select. You don't need a carseat in a cab here, so normally what I do in the cab is that I wear Sophie in the Ergo baby carrier, and then strap myself into the seatbelt. At least she won't go flying out of the windshield in the event of an accident, and she can snuggle up to Mom. She might get whiplash though!

Our standards are probably more lax in a short taxi ride down the road, but for a long road trip, then there is no question about the car-seat - she will get one.

Monday, August 27, 2007

3 Weekend Snapshots

We are at Fauchon for Sunday brunch, and Sophie toddles around in search of waitresses to charm (by going up to their knee, tugging on their trouser leg and saying "hi"). A neighbouring diner says "she is so well behaved" because despite being all smiles and curiousity, she leaves well alone the cutlery and all the other things we tell her not to touch. And my husband and mother smile because we all feel like we are bursting with pride (and chocolate eclairs).
We are having a drink, enjoying the first autumn breeze, and speaking of many things, some purely administrative, some entirely speculative. All of a sudden, in mid-conversation, you say completely matter-of-factly "I think that you are a really good mommy", and I feel suddenly awed. Loving you makes me want to be a better person because you believe that I am a much better person (than I sometimes think I am).
Finding on your wrist,
the smell of our daughter's bath,
bring bubbles of joy

Saturday, August 25, 2007

In the Summertime

I was in your presence for an hour or so
Or was it a day? I truly don't know.
Where the sun never set, where the trees hung low
By that soft and shining sea.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Is that your final answer?

I get asked quite often when Fabien and I are planning on having another kid. Which is quite funny because I don't think we really planned to have Sophie in the first place. She was a "controlled accident" in the sense that I am far too disorganised to use ovulation sticks and charting cycles to either plan for or against conception, so that we carried our general laissez faire approach to this as with other areas of our life. (is that too much information yet?!!)

At this point however, I don't know when or whether we want another biological child or adopt one. The environmental impact of having another biological kid gets to me, but the amount of legal hoops to jump through and death by paperwork almost makes me prefer labour!

In either the adoption/biological baby scenario, there is still the question of timing. Now just isn't a good one, because I am really getting into the swing of being at work now, and I do enjoy it, so I don't really want to take time out to look after another baby.

Right now, my work/life balance is so good, I nurse, read books, and play with Sophie every single morning, then I go to work. I don't feel pressured to rush home because she has an early bedtime and would be asleep anyway. My office hours are not as bad as when I was in Singapore, but I do have the ocassional late night. No all-nighters... Yet

And at least once a week, I have lunch at home with her, and at least once a month, I will spend a couple of days working from home, to make up for the time that I spend travelling for work.

With Fabien doing exactly the same thing, I guess Sophie has quite a lot of parent time overall, but both her parents can still have full time jobs. Sophie may not realise her parents are married since she often only sees one of us at a time but hopefully we have enough family holidays and weekend breaks en famille to balance it all.

This was a really long way of getting to the point that my general feeling is that we're in such a good rythym right now it seems perilous to introduce another baby into the mix! The response to the "when" question seems to be "whenever"~

Monday, August 20, 2007

Talking Heads

Sophie's first sign at 6 months was for "milk", a sign she still uses on a daily basis! She regularly uses all the regular baby signs for miscellaneous animals and daily life ("more" + eat/drink/play, up, down, all gone/ finished) but this weekend we started on some more abstract signs like "love" and "share".

Mum is here right now with Sophie and coinciding with Sophie's language acquisition spurt. So far, Sophie's sign language vocabulary far outstrips her (intelligble!) spoken words, so now that my Mum is here, she has started making sure that the princess speaks as well as she signs. My mother "reliably" informs me that I spoke in short but complete sentences when I was about 13 months old. So at least she has 50% genetic potential for early speech!!

So here we are in the middle of the first week that Mum has been here and the latest favourite activity is "reading" - she holds a book in front of her and "reads" the story herself. Interestingly enough, she actually follows the correct page order, holds the book the right way up, and "repeats" the story the way I usually tell it. I know this for a fact because when she reaches the parts of the story requiring animal noise input, she actually makes the "moo" and "meow" and "ah--choo" at the correct pages in the book!!

I've been reading aloud to Sophie since birth. Just whatever I was reading myself at that time, usually an article from the Economist or the Commercial Law review. BUT as she began to make her tastes known, she'd ask to change this boring crap to more interesting fare. Like Sandra Boyton "But not the hippopatamus" and ALL the Dr Seuss's Flip the Flap books, and "Mr Brown can Moo".

Confession - I prefer it too!!

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

More Visitors !!

Mum arrived today, and it's quite exciting because she is spending her birthday with us. This is extra special because Fabien's birthday is on the same day (spooky right?)

Anyway, I am hoping Mum will be able to help me look for a hat for Sophie from one of the many clothing stores in China. See the hat in this photo? It was soft denim and very comfortable and it was the only one Sophie agree to have on her head for any length of time without ripping it off (like all other head gear).

Of course we managed to misplace it. Probably in Qing Dao.

Anyway, we have our iteniary with Mum all planned. We will go to the great wall and stay overnight at one of the funky places they have there. And we will go to Chengde (summer retreat of the emperors) and just have a blast. Even more fun because Alessandro and Gianni (our friends from Italy) are coming on Friday, so we will have loads to do together.

And then, just after Mum leaves, Joan (Sophie's godmother) will come.

We will be extremely busy and happy.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Busy but lovin' it

I think I am going to be crushed by the tsunami of paper that is coming at me. I am getting stuck in a major FIDIC arbitration involving long nights in the office and handbanging and hand-wringing. But deep down inside I love it! Having signed up to write this article for an industry journal, I spent last Sunday in the office.

In the meantime I am juggling work, family, social life. I think if I stopped running around like a mad cow I would sleep for a week. But the thing to avoid (I guess) is burn out. I felt close to that last week, but this week is much better.

It's fantastic that my mother is coming for a vacation next Wednesday.

Then friends from Turin - Alessandro and Gianni are going to come to see us, and I am trying to arrange for us to all go to Chengde for a weekend trip.

Although that is the weekend that I (sigh) submissions due on Monday for an arbitration with my boss in Hong Kong.

So it is all madness.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Please get into HEC!!

My cousin Eugene has come to visit us in Beijing, it is nice to have family around. He's applying to go on exchange in a few different universities, and the one I am REALLY hoping he will get into is HEC, which is a great French business school. And from my point of view, conveniently located in one of my favourite cities in the world!

This is Sophie in Paris with her pal Laetitia.

It is such a "mummy" thing to do, but I like to take out old photos to look at because I am always blown away by how quickly the metamorphosis take place. Lae and Sophie were barely crawling when this photo was taken, and now they are both running all over the place.

Anyways, good luck Eugene, I hope you get into HEC, and then Sophie and I will have great excuses to visit you and your (as yet non-existent) French girlfriend!!