Since our Kid #2 is expected between 15 to 20 September, Fabien's parents are coming to visit in October. Thus, we are not planning to going back to France this Christmas, so we will have Christmas in October ! YES - We will exchange our Christmas gifts and make our yearly charity donations, in OCTOBER this year - in utter disregard of the normal calendar rules! You might be wondering if my kids are ever going to be sane in this kind of environment - you might be right!
At the same time, we will also celebrate Fab's end of August birthday, and I have decided to buy him a digital SLR. If any of you "serious" photographers have some recommendations about what to get, I am all ears - please do tell me.. (especially you girls Gina and Fioleta - I think your shots are great).
Buying Christmas presents for Sophie is pretty easy too. My dearest daughter has very simple tastes - all kinds of moving things! I originally wanted to get this cool Kawasaki tricycle, but couldn't find it anywhere in Beijing (oh well)...
On the subject of gifts, I have no idea whether it is unusual in 2 year old girls, but Sophie absolutely despises Barbie, and so we had a slight diplomatic incident recently where one of my husband's chinese collegueas generously offered Sophie a bright pink barbie doll-set with (I am not kidding) a matching wardrobe of sparkly dresses. It looked terribly expensive, and my daughter took one look at it, ignored all my promptings to "say thank you"; shook her head and then ran away to play with the toy motorcycle which another kid had. She's a normally very polite kid, but I wasn't really sure what the parental teaching is supposed to be in situations such as this - what would you have done if you were me?!!
Eventually, I smiled weakly at the collegue in question and said "thank you, what a lovely gift! I am sure Sophie will love it when she is a little older, right now she just likes moving things ..." Anyway, I've got the giant box set in a cupboard at home now, and I just need to find an orphanage to give it to. Though if anyone wants a set of very 80s looking barbie clothes, please let me know !!
Actually, I lie when I say she just likes moving things - Sophie seems to be in a Playmobil phase now. But I have a natural aversion to plastic toys for a whole bunch of reasons (see this link if you just want the health reasons, but note that there are also lots of environmental reasons as well). Also on a practical level, Playmobil has lots of tiny little parts and that's a really bad idea when you have a second baby in the house that will very soon be crawling around and trying to eat everything. I do not relish the idea of performing a Heimlich Manuever on any infant much less my own!
We have managed to keep her entertained in the mornings (yes, at 5:30am !!) by setting out the smurfs playground, or the wooden dollhouse family (except they don't live in a house but a lego appartment) for her to play with in the morning. When I can get a photo of her playing (at a more sane hour!) I will, but they keep her entertained for some 45 minutes without bothering Fabien and me, so it's working thus far - sort of... more on that later!
Also, I've been looking to get some fun pretend play toys in wood for her. I really like the stuff from Plan Toys (yes, it's a hitherto unknown brand, and when you become a parent, you become fluent in a second language called brands of children toys and gear as your kid reaches each stage).
I am considering this Pirate Ship (lovely aint' it? As an alternative Playmobil one)
The other thing that she loves is construction equipment - her favourite being the Crane.
They are all made in Thailand, and I wonder whether any of our Thai friends can find out where to buy them from within Thailand, or are they made for export purposes only... I am quite happy to pay for them, but I need someone to find out for me - (Xavier? Pins? Judy?)