Friday, September 30, 2011

The perfect parent



I finished reading this book the other day. I'm not sure it's something I would have picked up as keenly if a) I didn't live in China and b) I wasn't up the duff myself and keen to start learning a bit about different ways to do the world's most important job. But I was sure glad I did.

Amy Chua, the author, writes the book about her life as the Chinese mother of two girls. She is married to a white, American Jewish man and the book is the story of her battle to raise her girls the Chinese way. And basically, how the Chinese think Western approaches to parenting are plain shite.

She sees it as her duty, at any cost, to enable her kids to be the best. Plain and simple. She pushes her kids to be excellent, and won't accept anything but. She forces them to learn the piano, the violin and practice 6 hours each day, on top of school, homework and chores. She will not allow sleepovers, or playdates. She will not accept backchat, bad behaviour, public displays of discontent. Disrespect is a felony in her household. She belittles and criticizes until her daughters achieve. She is hard, firm, unrelenting. She doesn't care if her kids hate her. They simply have to be the best.

This is obviously in such contrast to Western parenting, where we are gently encouraged to find our own path, to explore the world and what it offers, to just do our best wherever that may get us, to simply be happy. 

The book raised some serious questions for me about the 'best' way to raise a child. And made me question how the hell we are going to do it!?! I can see the merit in enabling (maybe even pushing) your child to see just how good they can be and therefore giving them the opportunity to feel that amazing feeling of success, but I can also see how destructive it could be to grow up feeling like you have to be good at something to feel good.

There is obviously no one right way to parent. We're all so different, have been raised so differently, and have different values. And I'm sure every parent before me has their opinions based on their experiences about what is the best way to do it. But it's certainly got me thinking about what I want for my child. And how, as a parent, I can do my best to make that happen. The responsibility and the impact I'm going to have scares the hell out of me, and as yet I've still got no answers to my own questions. But I am hoping (with fingers tightly crossed) that the fact I'm concerned about it at all means that I might be on the right track?

What do you think? What's your number one tip on parenting for a first-time mum like me? 

Thursday, September 29, 2011

T8


Our first Typhoon 8 in Hong Kong came noisily knocking on our windows in the early hours of this morning. Up on the 36th floor, we heard and felt every aggressive and relentless turn. Winds were howling, rain was pounding, doors were slamming, windows were shaking. It was as though some form of possessed being had a century-old bone to pick with the city, and it wasn't going to pass without making sure we all knew it, we all felt it.

A Typhoon 8 is the city's cue to stop. No one drives on the roads, no one walks the streets, no one goes to work. It is a welcome excuse to bunker down at home, cook up a feast, watch some DVDs and enjoy a guilt free day away from the everyday slog. That is, unless, you too are possessed by some intangible force and cannot tear yourself away from the trading floor. Ahem.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

On the lash with...

Kate Takes 5 is an awesome blog by a brilliant Irish lass called....Kate, funnily enough. I've joined in on her Listography posts for quite a while but lately, I've dropped my ball game.

But, oh, what a list to come back on.

Top 5 celebrities I'd like to go for a beer with.

Firstly, to be completely honest with you, I'd have a beer with just about anyone at this point. I'd even sit through a Julia Guillard monologue for a taste of the good stuff. It's been 6 whole months since I've been a) up the duff and b) out on the lash and although I dread the bastard hangover that no doubt awaits my return to the hard stuff, I'm simply gagging for the freedom just to let loose again.

Needless to say, should I be able to go for a beer with a celeb at the mo', this is who I'd choose....

1. Phil Dunphy [from Modern Family]
Because no one makes me laugh quite like this man and I'm talking proper belly laugh. If you've not watched this TV series, then get to it. There's a reason it just cleaned up at the Emmy's.


2. Denzel Washington
Because he is just the epitome of cool in my eyes. In every sense of the word. He always picks awesome films (like this one and this one and this one), plays awesome characters, has THE best American accent I've ever heard and just seems like he'd have some damn good chat. Sold.


3. Matt Damon 
Because every woman wants a Jason Bourne in their lives. And he's kinda nice to look at. And he's got a great voice. And he's got 4 daughters. What a man. He's definitely worth a beer or 45 million.....


4. Heidi Montag
Ahhhh.....just so I can see for myself. And then ask if I can touch them. And then so I can slap in her in the face and say "What were you bloody thinking?!?!?!?!?!?!?!"


5. Hugh Jackman
Last but by no means least. In fact, I think he'd be my number one. The perfect Aussie man. He dances, he sings, he Wolverine's, he's cut like a mad snake, he's got 2 adopted children AND he was an ambassador for R U OK Day. He generally bloody well rocks. And we all know it.

Hubba hubba
So there you have it! What do you think of my list?
Which celeb would you most like a lazy beer with?

Monday, September 26, 2011

Oink.

I haven't had too many cravings in my almost 6 months of pregnancy. No random desire for pickles and ice cream or anchovies and pineapple or laundry starch or chalk (I can't possibly think why). I can't even blame my incessant ingestion of blueberry muffins or hot salty chips on the hormones. No, I've pretty much just become a pig. Oink oink. A pig eating for two at every meal. Doing a damn fine job of following that whole 'eating for two' RULE which actually, when you look into it, is just a very convincing, very easy-to-obey, very "yes my time has finally come" myth. The extra calories you're supposed to ingest actually equate to about one extra roast potato at dinner. Snore. I didn't need to be pregnant to have an excuse for that extra potato. There are kids dying from starvation in Africa for god's sake. It'd just be plain selfish not to eat that last potato. 

So as I said, no cravings. That was until........last Friday. When for the first time in, what, 15 years, I wrapped my whopping pregnant mouth around one of these bad boys. You all know what it is. The humble Australian icon.....the Lamington. Casually picked up by yours truly to take to a friends place for a hit of sweetness after lunch, not really thinking anything of it. That was until, little Lammy jumped into my gob and changed my life forever.

I've never really thought much of lamingtons. I've always perceived them as a bit dry, a bit old school, just a bit of an anti-climax really. But oh boy, I was SO wrong! Even though it pains me to say it (favourite word and all), it was moist, oh so moist. And just the sweetest thing I've eaten in I don't know how long.

As a result, I'm now chomping on a lamington as we speak. Typing, chewing and drooling simultaneously. It's bloody fantastic. And luckily I bought three, you know, just in case. Right now I'm trying to come up with a strategy to manage what I can only foresee to be nothing short of an addiction. The shop is literally across the road.....oh dear. Suggestions welcome.

Oink oink....

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

4.07am

What if I have a car accident with the baby in the car?
What if we try to find a bigger apartment before the baby's born?
What if we regret moving out of the area?
What if the baby comes early?
What if no one will employ me ever again?
What sort of pram should we get?
What should we call him?
What if I want to change my mind?
When should we start looking for a helper?
What if we don't like her?
What if she's bad with the baby?
What do I need to get when I'm back in Australia?
What if she's angry with me?
What if we don't get our new visas on time?
What if we move back to Australia?
What if our baby kicking me so much means he's going to be really hard work?
What if I can't cope?
What if I'm a bad mother?
What if I never get to sleep tonight?

Monday, September 19, 2011

A whole new (mobile) world

I have been a slave to public transport since the beginning of 2005. For seven bloody years I've been catching buses, trains, tubes, subways, trams, minibuses and taxis. Seven years!! And now finally, finally, in 2011, I'm a car owner again!!!! Woooooo!

Phil and I both agreed what with the addition of a little baby in a few months time, and with the negligible skill of HK taxi drivers, it might be worth us taking the plunge and getting our own set of wheels. It's not ideal trying to navigate the hills - ok let's be honest - mountains, of Hong Kong without one, and it will make getting out and about during the day just that much easier for me.

Neither of us have bought a car in donkeys so we spent a few months looking around for a good deal for our very first second-hand family wagon (gulp), making sure it had all the necessary kid-friendly things (ie. those ISO thingy's for the baby's car seat, an ipod connection, roof racks and a sun-roof).

Phil was rather keen on something like this....

I just stared at him.

We finally settled on the bad boy in the first pic. Practical and pretty. Isn't he superb?

We only just picked him up on Saturday and I tell you....the JOY I felt when I got behind the wheel for the first time and pumped some porno old-school driving tunes (aka songs to sing very loud to like this and this and this), was unbelievable! I felt a sense of freedom I haven't felt in such a long time and the smile on my face was from ear to ear and then some. Unfortunately for Phil, he's yet to get his HK driving license, so I (begrudgingly....ahem) am designated driver for the foreseeable future. Oh, the things I do for him.....

We're yet to come up with a name for the bad boy (add that to the list of naming duties)....an essential initiation procedure for a new car in my books. But in the mean time, I'll continue to pat him and kiss him and generally praise the living shit out of him for opening up a whole new world for me......

I love you bad boy. I loooooove you.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Bump: 22 weeks

So here I am 22 weeks in. Over the half way point, well into the second trimester and 126 days to go!

The past couple of weeks I feel like I've turned into a proper, full blown pregnant lady with a proper full blown pregnant belly. Funny how that happens when you're, er, pregnant. I think I may have even started to waddle. I knooooow. It's terrifying. I'm only just over halfway for god's sake! I blame the Hong Kong hills. And my height (just 'cause I can, although it makes zero sense). And the heat. Although I won't be able to blame the heat for long because we're now hitting humidities of 65% people! And 26-30 degree days instead of 30-33 days! Do you realise how good that is? I'd go so far as to say Tremendous! With a capital T. For Tremendous.

What I haven't mentioned yet is.....drum roll............. we're having a BOY!! We're so happy to know it's a little man and it's made picturing post-20th January all the more fun. You can imagine the "Captain of the Wallabies" banter I'm now having to put up with, what with the Rugby World Cup in full swing and all. It is relentless.

It's interesting hearing people's perspectives (because everyone has one!) on finding out the sex. Some people want the ultimate surprise (which I completely understand) and so don't find out, while others, like us, are potentially control freaks are happy with finding out as much as we can, as soon as we can. Do you sit in one camp? Either way, you've got do what will make you happy. And we are so glad that we know!

I don't know whether I'm pissing the poor little man off with my poor piano playing, or bad singing or non-stop eating, or whether he's literally a Wallaby-in-waiting (don't get excited Dad), but those gentle little 'bubbles' I started to feel a few weeks ago? Now? Oh, not so gentle. More like Ferocious kicking. With a capital F. Because I'm into capitals today. I seriously feel like a punching bag. Particularly whenever I lie down to put my feet up for a while. Which is kinda fun for the first few minutes and then, not so much. He seems to know when I'm in bed too because that's when he really comes out to play. I'm not surprised though. Maybe he takes after me.....I do have a mild (ahem) tendency to 'come alive' after 11pm at night. My husband loves it. Especially with  5.45am starts and 13 hour working days. Loves it.

I'm sure he's also enjoying the constant tossing and turning going on in the bed at night. Oh yeah, he's loving that too. I've now graduated to needing a giant pillow between my legs and a little under my belly at all times which creates lots of fun when I wake up with sore hips (which is annoyingly regular) and decide that I, and the pillows, need to roll over. Oh yes, that is fun for everyone.

Now there's only a few big decisions left on this 10 month ride we're on, and the big one? The Name........ (avec capital N). We've got a few we're tossing up but it is proving rather a tough task to settle on one! I know we've got plenty of time, but I would be more than appreciative for a little help along the way.....

Soooooo, if you've got any suggestions of boys names you love, or interesting names, or wacky names that'd just be fun to mention - throw them my way!! I'd love to hear some!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Wordless Wednesday - heaven in a home

A blog friend of mine over at The Inside Story featured this house yesterday, and I couldn't resist sharing.....I'm still drooling....













And I'm still drooling....
Property details can be found here in case you have a spare $3.85 mill.

Linking up here today.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Finding my 'ear' again


Back when I was a youngin', I had quite a thing for musical instruments. I think my innate 'popstar wannabe' self has been manifesting in various ways over the years, and for quite some time, back in the day, it was through my attempts at putting my hands on something and making sounds (notice I say sounds, not necessarily music). The desire to be talented permeated the household - my brother had a (very bad) stab at the violin, my sister the guitar while I got down with the flute, the saxomophone and then the piano. Can't say any of us were particularly incredible, but we all had a good time trying, much to our parents' dismay.

While my siblings commitment to popstar-dom dwindled (sorry K&N you know it's true), my drive only blossomed and I plugged away with my lessons. The piano and I became very good friends over the years and I managed to be able to whack out a sensational "Jessica's theme" and "Send in the Clowns", 35,000 times a day. I was also partial to a Christmas carol at the time - god knows why. What good is Silent Night for 364 days of the year? Somehow, in the end, I developed what my lunatic uncles called 'an ear'. You know 'the ear'? That ability to be able to listen to something and then, with a bit of fumbling, pick up the general gist and be able to replicate it. Now when I say replicate, I don't really mean replicate. I mean I can play the melody one finger at a time, after a few hours of 'd'oh's and 'shiiiiiittt's. But the ability to be able to play a tune I'd hear on my latest cassette tape (think Alanis Morrisette or Boys II Men) gave me a giddy feeling inside, just SO much joy.  

Unfortunately my commitment, along with my talent, took a backseat when I discovered keppers, adidas jumpers and Skate2000 (think Macquarie ice rink for rollerbladers - I was so cool). Then I discovered boys and drinking, closely followed by Mansions and Hampton Court, then I went to uni, then I moved to London, then I moved here to Honkers. No piano as far the eye could see. 

That is.....until the day my darling husband bought me the best birthday present of all time, a Yamaha keyboard! Granted it sat under the bed for about 6 months (details), but a few weeks ago, we dusted it off, set it up and how's your father.....I'm baaaaaccccckkkk!! I'm sensationally unskilled and still finding my so-called 'ear' again, but I tell you, I LOVE it! When I finally got the initial riff going for Coldplay's Clocks, I almost wet my pants with excitement. I'm having a go at Brick by Ben Folds and a good ol' tear jerker (for me anyway), The Glasgow Love Theme from Love Actually. I'm still terrible and it will probably be years of dedication before I can play anything sounding remotely good, but it is slowly coming back. And the most important part, I'm in heaven every time I sit down at my Yama bundle of joy.....

Were you into musical instruments as a kid? Do you play anything now?


Thursday, September 8, 2011

Book vs Film

When I was in London a few weeks back, some friends and I were having a jolly old time gas-bagging around the dinner table when the conversation turned to this amazing book that I hadn't read it, actually hadn't even heard of. Feeling 100% out of the loop, I had to listen as everyone else (all the ladies anyhow) drooled over the novel saying how amazing it was and how the film was coming out in a few weeks and they couldn't wait to see it and what date's it coming out again and ohmygod have you seen the previews and ohmygod have you seriously not read it you will love it you have to read it I can't believe you haven't read it.....

The book? 'One Day' by David Nicholls.

Not wanting to miss out on this novelgasm, I trotted down to Dymocks in HK the minute I was back and snagged up a copy. Knowing I was in for a cracker of a read, I saved it for my week away in Phuket. And I tell you....it did NOT disappoint. I couldn't put it down, in fact I think you'll find I finished it in 3 days. Result! A refreshingly different approach to a love story, told in a refreshingly fresh way, with refreshingly witty and flawed and normal characters. I loved it.

As luck would have it, the film 'One Day' starring Anne Hathaway and Jim Sturgess was released today here in HK, so me still being high on love juice from the book and with an excited smile from ear to ear, took myself off to see it.

Alas......no such 'gasm to speak of. Devastation nation.

I don't know whether it was because the book was so fresh in my mind or whether I just made a fundamental book/film mistake, but the lack of detail in the film compared to the novel left me frustrated and disappointed in what I was watching. Obviously a film can never go into as much detail as a book, but still, I felt like the essence of crucial descriptive pieces of the book were completely ignored, not doing the book or the story or the depth of the characters any justice. And although the acting was pretty good and Anne Hathaway's faux-Northern accent passable, I just didn't really feel anything for the characters the way I did in the book. Not happy Jan. It's left a slightly sour taste in my mouth which pisses me off to no end because I loved the book!

Perhaps my fault for reading the book and seeing the film so close to one another, perhaps for seeing the film at all? Do you think the film is always disappointing after the book? Is the solution not to see the film? The Help is coming out here in a few weeks, and although I'm desperate to see that one, I don't want to ruin my love affair with that book either!! What to do, what to do......

Book or film or both?


Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Phuket in Pictures



After a rainy start which forced us to have 3 whole days of lying around, reading books, eating, sleeping and chatting, we then had some glorious sunshine for the rest of our holiday which forced us into, funnily enough, more lying around, reading books, eating, sleeping and chatting!

We stayed at the Anantara which was fabulous. Pool villa on a lagoon, club sandwich central, the friendliest of staff and set on the lovely, long, white sandy Khao beach. A highlight had to be these beds overlooking the ocean, in between 2 infinity pools and actually IN an ankle-deep pool of their own.....superb, superb, superb.....








                  


We hopped on a day trip over to Phi Phi island (tourist central thanks to 'The Beach') which did have that to-die-for turquoise water and white sand that is just heaven, along with 34,000 people to share it with....















We took this holiday to Phuket as our own little babymoon. Our last holiday away together, just the two of us, before life changes completely and our holidays become about high-chairs and floaties.....

Ahhhh.....the serenity....