Thursday, October 27, 2016

and then she was FOUR

Someone please slow down the life-train!

How is it POSSIBLE that my baby is four. FOUR! I keep forgetting. Honestly, I do. And when she overhears me refer to her being 3, or telling someone that she's 3, she is quick to correct me. In fact, she's taken to reminding me that she's 4 at random times, just because. Because that's what 4 year olds do.

She wanted a princess party. With friends new and old, we flung open the door to our tiny apartment and whooped it up. In a city where club rentals, mimosas and special-order boutique cupcakes are the norm (yes, even for 4 year old birthdays), it felt wholly 'American' to serve a bowl of Cheetos and a lopsided cake amid toys and pillows and all that we call home. It was a day of costume changes, dance party, and chocolate.

Her request: 'chocolate cake with chocolate frosting and chocolate sprinkles.'
Def not Martha Stewart.  

melts my heart -this friendship which began week one of living in hong kong, when Bunny was ONE. :)

big sister in charge 


The family-time-party was pretty awesome too. Thank you grandmas and grandpas for the fantastic gifts!!! The supreme JOY as she unwrapped each one!!!

BunnyCakes - my incredibly charming, silly, charismatic, full-of-life (and full-of-beans) girl.

Friday, October 21, 2016

Black Rain

I thought I knew rain. That was before Hong Kong.

my phone alerts
I mean, I grew up in the misty Pacific Northwest of Washington State. I was that girl who, upon moving to the East Coast, giggled in my Columbia raincoat as people ducked their heads and bumped umbrellas down the street. Growing up in the PNW, rain has about 8 different types and definitions: misting, drizzle, sprinkling, light rain, showery, pouring, downpour, heavy, blowing sideways, partial-rain, rainy spurts, sleet, hail.... I guess that's plenty more than 8. And counting. We are intimately familiar with the wet stuff. But we don't have rain-by-the-color.

Amber Rain - wear your Wellies (fashion is not worth having soaked feet)
Red Rain - forget finding a taxi or bus (schools closed if announced early enough)
Black Rain - take cover! and stay put!

Last week, Hong Kong straddled two storms coming up from the South. The second one being a 'super typhoon' headed for the Philippines, then us (well past typhoon season). We were hit with a deluge of rain unlike anything I've seen in my life, flash-floods and landslips. Most of the scary stuff happened when we least expected it - on a day in between the two storms.

It was a normal Wednesday. We (teachers) got drenched ushering kids out to the afternoon buses (boots weren't cutting it). We hunkered down for our weekly meetings (distracted by the weather, of course) and were in the thick of it when Red Rain, and then Black Rain were announced.

Must be a good newspaper!
disclosure -- This pic (of an uncle in Chai Wan) and those following, of the storm, are from hongkongers out and about Wednesday afternoon. They are not my own.

The amount of water that released from the sky was astounding. Unreal.

yes, there are people in that bus
Streets were immediately flooded all across the city. Not by a breached riverbed. By rain.
this is around the corner from us - at Pacific View, near the Manhattan - this, among other spots, between myself and ABear
We were told not to leave the building. Vehicles were stranded. School buses were gridlocked. Some were able to turn around (lucky for my oldest daughter) and get kids safely back to campus (she's on a different campus than me).

Stanley Beach Road

our bridge - over Tai Tam Reservoir

Stanley Market
ABear ended up being bused home after 8:10pm that night. Even knowing that she was safe, I was unable to think, eat, or do anything until she was safely back in my arms. I was ravenous for information. Thank goodness she remembered my number and found someone's phone to borrow.

Safe she was, along with hundreds of other children well cared for by the amazing teachers, bus drivers, TAs, and peers around them. I am so grateful and, after the shock, in awe of the warmth and capable response of everyone in the community. Everyone stepped up. Every story I heard (and there were many from friends, colleagues, and students) was filled with positivity and care. Spirits were good the next day, though every person was physically, mentally, and emotionally exhausted. I'm feeling pretty proud to be part of a gritty, capable, and caring bunch of people. And HK was prepared for the typhoon headed our way. Further precautions were taken.
home at last!
apparently she learned "flip cup" while waiting it out at school  :) hahahaha
Today, we all huddled cozily in our flats watching the T8 gale force winds blow past, whipping rain against our window sills. This, while we ate fresh baked cookies, sipped coffee, napped, and played Twister.

Lessons learned:
Black Rain is no joke.
Flash Floods are fast. Really fast.
Trust your peeps. And do what you can to help.

The gorgeous day (Thursday) between Black Rain and Typhoon
and last...
The reason everyone is safe is largely because of the many people who made split-second decisions in the moment of chaos. They kept their wits about them. They were zen. They didn't imagine it away, or pretend it wasn't happening. They didn't panic. They didn't let that sense of the surreal take them over. They saw the reality and took action. And the next day, they didn't curl up into an internal canvas of personal breath-catching. They got up, went to work, swapped stories, offered support, exhaled together. Together. And it was good. (And it's also good that we had today to do some at-home unwinding.)

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

The Ship

40th birthdays only come once -- and this was the big 4 - 0 for daddy. Water-guy, boat-geek, lover-of-all-big-and-impressive-things .... means cruise vacay for the win. Ticked off that bucket list, honey! :)

Hong Kongers are lucky to have a cruise port right in the harbor. We hopped on this Royal Carribean boat right after work for a long weekend. For three days we cruised the South China Seas with ports-of-call at Sanya, China and Hue, Vietnam.            Verdict? ... You decide:

:: Aboard the ship ::

It's like living on a floating village! A very shiny floating village.

There were theatres (plural!), restaurants (plural again!), pools, entertainment, and high-end shopping. Plus a coffee shop and an ice cream bar. What else does a family need? And once you pay to get on the thing, most everything else is inclusive. That means kids can walk up to the counter and ask for a sandwich or cookie - no payment necessary. I was a tad worried we'd feel restless or confined - but it wasn't that way at all. And the entire staff was peppy and super fun.

  ** this was our welcoming night surprise **

the proper way to eat chocolate cake 

ice skating show!!!!

music hall with a dance floor - girl channeling her great grandparents

mom-daughter-afternoon (mini golfer in training)

wait - who let the kid on the adult WALL? she's higher than any of the grown ups!
you show 'em, girl
She made it to the top & rang the bell - then managed to play it cool while the crowd scooped their jaws up off the ground. :) 'atta kid!

view from our room

Whoops - Nobody speaks English and we ditched the tour group - time to problem solve, kids! How do we get to the beach?
 Got there -- but......

huh - a swimming area anyhow - ok, we're game!

it's all about the sensory when you're a preschooler
This required the stealth locating of an outdoor shower - more difficult to find than you'd think - which consisted of a hose and an enclosed concrete cell. Cost: $10 rmb
:: Hue, Vietnam ::

After lots of wandering around and getting lost - we decided to lunch here in this market area before driving back to the ship. Super-local food. I had read about trying -Bun Bo Hue- the specialty here in Hue, and had my heart set on it. Bun Bo Hue we got. For pennies. From this woman:

Unfortunately, there was a bit of confusion. (Stupid American Moment.) Some of us sat at this stall, and some at the stall just to the right (the tables were less than a foot apart - we wrongly assumed it was one food stall, rather than two separate ones). The kids stood up and joined me at the table where I was sitting. This resulted in an extremely loud shouting match between the women stall owners - with all of the market vendors nearby stopping to watch the commotion. It was so unnerving - BunnyCakes even cried. Jasper had to pull a man-card and smack his hands on the table to get them to stop shouting at each other so we could eat our meal. Awkward.

Driver? Driver? Time to head back to the ship.
sure - just have to scoot around this herd of cows first

.... and back to Hong Kong Harbor.

Home Sweet Home