Monday, February 16, 2009

Rapid catch up…

I have been chasing my own tail for so long over recent months that I’ve hardly had time to breathe. I’m certain that this adds to the sense of frustration that I have felt on a day to day basis. There seems to be an impossible mountain of tasks to complete and not enough hours in the day.

To add to this, I sprained my back whilst moving boxes over the weekend as some of them were very heavy after I had packed and sealed them. I am trying to keep moving and do some stretches, but it has been a set back in terms of packing today on my day off.

I’ve put the girls into nursery full time so that on my day off I can organise all the house move stuff. Whilst I was a bit reluctant to do this at first, it has certainly allowed me to get things done which are normally impossible. Even at the weekend, we have little opportunity to do chores as the girls are still little and require a lot of our attention. I miss them but console myself that it’s only going to be for a short time until we’ve sorted our move.

I’ve finally got up to date with our photos online – our photos from the last three months are all uploaded and can be seen by clicking the link to my Flickr albums.

Now, highlights from the last three months’ family activities!

New Year

We had a quiet New Year; unfortunately I was working at my hospital and on duty for a lot of it. Jase’s parents came to stay; sadly, Auntie Madge was unwell so could not come. There had been quite a lot of ‘flu going around prior to Christmas and she had also caught it. However, Peter and Suzanne were happy just to have some quiet family time with us and the girls (of course) loved having them in the house.

The girls had another round of present opening and enjoyed the fact that Christmas had come all over again! Here’s Lauren opening presents from Grandma and Granddad.

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She also loved this little backpack with accessories for looking after “Babies” (her doll). Both Lauren and Jocey have had great fun with this little set.

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After opening all her presents, she wanted to try on the scarf that I had received.

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Here’s Jocey investigating all the toy food for their little grocery store. They’ve had hours of fun playing with all this toy food – stocking pretend shops with it, buying it from each other and taking it on pretend picnics!

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Jase, Suzanne and the girls went down to the big new shopping centre, the Westfield to check it out. The girls looked lovely that day and they got lots of admiring looks.

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January

All too soon, we were back at work.

The girls’ nursery, originally part of the Happy Times company, was taken over by another company last May. We were initially quite apprehensive along with a significant number of other parents. Our main concerns were obviously regarding the fate of carers already at the nursery and the standards of care offered. There were a number of teething issues and a lot of us were initially pretty displeased and disgruntled, but as the months went by, it became obvious that the management team were listening to the parents and trying to change things.

In January, we had the relaunch of the nursery under the new parent company, Casterbridge. They celebrated the occasion with an Open Day for the parents with food, smoothies, face painting and a Rainforest Roadshow.

Jocey had a close encounter with a boa constrictor and was fascinated by the texture of the skin. Poor Lauren was scared and could not be persuaded to touch any of the “scary” creatures, such as snakes, spiders and lizards!

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Here’s Jase with the girls.

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Here are the girls with one of the cute, fluffy guinea pigs. Lauren just about managed to touch it!

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The day was a definite success and we were pleased to be informed of all the positive changes that had taken place at the nursery.

Chinese New Year came along at the end of January this year. We welcomed in the Year of the Ox, my horoscope sign, with the usual massive rounds of family feasting. Our fridge was groaning under the weight of all the food.

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I was really proud of our New Year’s feast. Quite an achievement for a weekday endeavour, I thought.

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Sadly, because it was a weekday, the girls were at nursery during the day and Jocey was too tired to share the meal with us. She hadn’t been particularly well and went to bed early. Lauren really enjoyed it though!

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Here she is having fun with Daddy before we tucked into the main event.

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February

The beginning of February brought our friends Jill, Mark and their children from chilly Glasgow down to London to visit us. The trip had been discussed for a long time; it was great to finally have them down with us.

We took them out to the Royal China for Dim Sum on one of the busiest weekends of Chinese New Year. The Chinese community was out in force, as well as a large number of tourists who’d come to watch the lion dances. It was a bitterly cold day but we all wrapped up warm.

The restaurant was extremely busy and it took us at least 40 minutes to get a seat. Luckily, poor Jill (who is pregnant with Baby Three) got to sit down.

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Here’s Mark with Emily, who unbelievably is almost five years old now!

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And here’s Jill with Christopher, who was still just a baby when we last saw him.

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The children played together really well, apart from the odd tantrum over sharing issues and the weekend went very well indeed. We adults also had some time in the evening to chat when all the children were off to bed.

Unfortunately, on Sunday night the heavens opened and a ton of snow fell onto London whilst we were all asleep. I knew that they would be in trouble because I had been up in the night to get milk for Jocey from the kitchen and had seen the already massive snowfall in our back garden.

When Monday morning came, I braved the 6 inches of snow to go to work but Jase was snowed in (worst snowfall had been around Epsom where he works and the roads around there were all closed) and Jill and Mark’s flight back to Scotland was cancelled. We were really pleased that they had to stay a bit longer and I suspect that they were too. The children made the best of it and had a wonderful day frolicking in the snow and building a snowman in the back garden.

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Here’s Lauren with a snowball aimed at Daddy!

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They eventually made it back to Scotland on the Wednesday; it was great that we had had that extra time together.

March

The end of February and the beginning of March saw us going on our trip to Hong Kong to see my grandparents and our extended family. We were really excited because it was finally a chance for the girls to see the rest of their family. We were a bit nervous about a long flight but hoped that they would take it in their stride, having already flown to Chicago with them.

I must admit that they did very well despite the long journey; they did manage to sleep for a lot of it and although I was very cramped holding Jocey on my lap almost the entire time, I was glad that they hadn’t really been fussy.

My grandparents met us at the airport and were thrilled to meet all their great grandchildren for the first time. Four generations of the family were finally together. I could tell that they really loved getting to know the children. We had many happy family meals together.

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Here is one of me, the girls, Gung Gung and the great-grandparents.

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Here’s one of Lauren and Jocey with Auntie Winnie, who took them to feed the goldfish at one restaurant.

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I was surprised at how shy the girls were; I think they were initially a bit overwhelmed at meeting so many new people. However, by the end of the trip they had come out of their shells and were happy to play with my extended family.

During the trip, we visited Disneyland Hong Kong and had a brilliant day out. Lauren and Jocey loved it and were so excited when they met Mickey Mouse in the flesh. It was a small site, just the right size for toddlers.

Lauren absolutely loved the marching band and the parades.

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Our ability to go on rides was quite limited as Lauren was so timid. When we went on the Winnie the Pooh ride, she was terrified by the Woozles. To be fair, I thought it was too scary for toddlers too.

Jocey, as always, took everything in her stride and was fearless. She even enjoyed the 3D musical experience, despite the loud crashes and bangs from the orchestra.

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Here are the girls with Gung Gung and Po Po.

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Here is Lauren smiling before the fireworks started. However, once they did start she didn’t like the noise at all, poor girl.

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As well as this, we managed to cram in trips on the Star Ferry over to Kowloon side, as unusually we were staying on Hong Kong island on this occasion, near Fortress Hill.

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The girls with Daddy at the Star Ferry terminus in Kowloon.

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Whilst in Kowloon, I took the girls to play in Kowloon park, which I haven’t visited since I was a little girl. It was a favourite haunt when I was small.

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On the Sunday before we came home, we visited a great street market in the streets near our hotel. It was buzzing with noise and colour, and full of locals doing their shopping.

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I was really sorry to come home to London because I had really enjoyed it and the girls were just getting used to life there. I found Hong Kong much more satisfying and less alien than on my previous trip. I think that this was because I had not been back for such a long time prior to 2005 (15 years since the previous visit) that it had come as a bit of a shock to see how changed it was. That time it was if the Hong Kong from my childhood had been taken away and replaced by something I didn’t recognise at all.

This time was definitely better. However, I was really sad that we didn’t get to see my Aunt Winnie (my dad’s sister, not the one in the previous photo who is my Uncle Eric’s wife) who is having chemotherapy at the moment. We were all anxious and worried about her but also didn’t want her falling ill from catching any of our germs whilst having her treatment.

Whilst out there, I applied for a Hong Kong identity card as I have right of abode in Hong Kong as I was born there. As well as allowing my speedy entry without a visa into Hong Kong, it will also give the girls the opportunity to apply for their own ID cards in the future should they want to spend more time there too. I’m keen for the girls to have as many options open to them as possible and for them to recognise their rich Chinese heritage. It would be all too easy for them to grow up completely Westernised, and I do not want that to happen to them.

When we were out there, I also took a little detour to Sydney, where I’d been invited to attend an interview with a hospital who have head-hunted me through an agent and are interested in giving me a permanent position as a consultant. Although there are a number of hoops to jump through before I can take up the job, we decided after long discussions in Hong Kong that we are going to try to emigrate at the end of the year. We did try to go previously but found that all the doors were closed and that all roads became dead ends.

Suddenly, I find that the way is opening up again and our dream of escaping London is fast becoming a reality. All the parts of the jigsaw are falling neatly into place and it all seems somehow fated.

Who are we to argue? I’m still not sure how we will pull it off but I’m confident that with a little faith we can achieve our goal.

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