Saturday, December 9, 2017

Birth Announcement!

You may have gathered from the lack of posts on the blog that I've given birth! 

We welcomed little Eloisa "Lola" Mae on the evening of Friday, December 1 at Matilda Hospital.
She weighed in at 3.1 kg (6 lb 13 oz) and  47 cm (18.5 in) and had her eyes wide open from the moment she entered the world.  She also has dimples!

This little one definitely already packs a huge personality in a tiny package.

It has been a heady nine days and our lives have taken on a completely different rhythm and focus.
Birth story and our (amazing, wonderful) stay at Matilda Hospital (or more like hotel) to come next.

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

39 Weeks (Fully Baked!) and Happy Birthday to Me

It's official, I am 39 weeks today and the baby is still measuring spot on, weighing in at 3.3kg (7.2 lbs) at my Monday appointment and still about average sized across the board, if the scans are accurate enough to be believed.  The head is now in the 80th percentile for size, though, which scares me a little bit (and scares Michael a lot).

I feel like a ticking bomb!  Before our appointment, Michael was worried that the baby would come too soon while we still felt like we had stuff to prepare.  Then during and after the appointment it was like a switch had been flicked - he wanted the baby out before she got too big.  The man is the epitome of anxiety as we near the witching hour. 

To add to our stress, our next door neighbors decided to move out last week, after peacefully residing next to us for nearly two years.  The landlord is making interior repairs and decoration renovations for two months (two MONTHS!), - which is just devastating timing for our newborn.  I've already spoken to the management about it, and our building thankfully does seem very sensitive to noises and its effect on babies (there are a ton of babies in the building) so I am really, really hopeful that they will be as constructive and responsive as they are promising they will be during this process.  They assure me that the decoration and renovation process will take less time, but does anyone actually believe that?

It's also my birthday today!  My goodness, 33 passed quickly.  I was listening to a podcast the other day that casually referenced "Trump's first year in office" and I nearly dropped my phone in shock.  Has it been a year already?

Michael got me more flowers (our apartment smells like lilies all the time now, not a bad thing my friends) and a nifty, very-essential-at-this-moment portable massager that can be used for the lower, middle and upper back as well as the neck and shoulders, legs and thighs.  It comes with a heat setting too - nice!
 Isn't the wrapping on the present beautiful?

And, to my utter surprise and delight, my work still gave me birthday flowers this year!  I thought they would have forgotten all about it now that I'm officially on maternity leave, but nope, I got a nice delivery to my apartment this morning.  How sweet!

So now, the apartment smells like (a lot of fresh) flowers, woodsy pine (our Christmas tree came on Monday - decorations still forthcoming - I've been working on a tree skirt made out of felt) and... apple pie.  Yes, our helper has become completely and utterly enamored with baking (we are not complaining), and today made a beautiful apple pie, adorned with cut slices of apples in the shape of roses...!  The only issue is that the scent of apple and butter and sugar is currently making our entire apartment smell incredible and really not helping with our late night discipline.

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Thanksgiving Recap, and Nearly 39 Weeks!

Here are some pictures from our Thanksgiving dinners last week.  As mentioned, I went to one with friends outside at the Blue Butcher, and then we did our own fusion thing at home on Friday.  Both meals were excellent and I felt very satisfied with how they went!

Blue Butcher put out an impressive spread.  We (actually, the husbands) ordered a bunch of appetizers and sides to start.  There was tuna salad, bone marrow, foie gras...and we had sides of corn, stuffing, and carrots and lentils.

Then the big bird showed up, paired with cranberry sauce and gravy and two heads of roasted garlic (yum)!

Dessert was an amazing, out-of-this-world pie.  I have never liked pecan pie and I was pretty reluctant to try this one but now I understand.  Pecan pie does not equal chocolate pecan pie, which does not equal chocolate salted caramel pecan pie.  WOW.  I had my entire slice paired with two scoops of vanilla ice cream and just loved it.  I ate it too quickly to get a picture, heh.

The next day, our fusion Thanksgiving went so well that Michael and I have decided that we are going to do a Peking duck coupled with sides for our next Thanksgiving too.

Action shot of the homemade cranberry sauce!

Here is our table, with Peking duck (one plate of meat, one plate of skin, one plate of cucumbers and spring onions, one plate of the wrappers, and one little tureen of plum sauce), mashed potatoes from scratch, garlic roasted Brussels sprouts (yummmm), stuffing (unashamed to admit this) and the homemade cranberry sauce.
 Michael had gotten me flowers that week and it was the perfect backdrop, along with our candles, to dinner!
 I love Thanksgiving, have I mentioned?  (Oh yeah, these are the dining chairs that we got from Taobao that I love.)
 After that huge dinner, we had a delicious, made from scratch pumpkin pie with a pecan praline topping, paired with almond ice cream.  It was also SO good.
 I attempted discipline and took a slightly smaller slice and only one scoop of ice cream.  I was quite conscious, being at 38.5 weeks (and now as I type this, being one day shy of 39 weeks) that the baby can't be too big to get out!

Finally, I forgot to post that, before I went on leave from work last week, a bunch of my colleagues took me out for lunch.  We went to Commissary in Pacific Place, and went all out on a ton of food.  The rib platter was so impressive that I couldn't resist taking a picture.  In addition to this, we had tacos (pulled pork, Korean grilled beef short ribs, fish, cauliflower), steak, salads, guac and chips, truffle cheese fries, as well as dessert... it was a total (and delicious) pigfest!

Thursday, November 23, 2017

38 Weeks, and Happy Thanksgiving!

So I didn't realize a week has already passed since my last blog post... all is well here and we are on "bebe watch" as one of my friends coined it.

Turns out things got pretty hectic as I was trying to wind down at work.  I have one last remaining deal that is still lingering - we had a fancy signing ceremony last Saturday (complete with the largest magnum of champagne I've seen in a while!) which was very exciting, but the deal is still not as fully wrapped up as I would like.

Today is my first formal day at home, officially on maternity leave.  I still have a few pesky little things that I am looking at / wrapping up on the work front, so it's not total relaxation quite yet, but it's getting there.

Now that I'm fully in the 38 week+ home stretch, I am going to the doctor every week, diligently counting kicks, and feeling quite a bit of pelvic discomfort.  I can't really complain because I've had such an incredibly smooth pregnancy journey so far, but just this week I started getting a pain in my right pelvic/hip/inner thigh area, which has made it a bit of a struggle to walk comfortably now.  The best I can describe it is that it hurts on my right side when I walk, as if I had pulled a groin muscle.  It also adds to the challenge of sleeping at night, especially when I am trying to turn over (the left/right conundrum).  Just lovely!

My parents are showing up in exactly two weeks - I am so excited!! They are also being absolute champions and bringing us two suitcases packed to the hilt with a combined whopping total of 90 pounds of stuff (just for us and the baby - that doesn't include the clothes and accessories that they need for their trip). And then a week after their arrival, my sister and her fiance show up - I am so excited!!  I love that we get to spend Christmas in Hong Kong, all together.  My only wish is that my grandmothers could be present as well.  Skipping forward a bit, I can't wait for them to meet the baby.  Then we will have four generations of women gathered together - what an amazing thing!

On Sunday last weekend I went into full DIY mode, making lots of paper ornaments by hand, and stringing my own sparkly garlands for the Christmas tree.  We expect our tree delivery by next Monday, which will really make it feel like the holidays around here (despite the very mild 70 degree weather...)

Our nursery is finally almost ready - we've got the crib, the changing table, the wardrobe, the dresser - now just waiting for the final touch, the rocking glider.

We are also slowly but steadily growing our herb and vegetable collection.  Michael plans to build a shelf out there so we can put out more potted plants.  Currently we have Thai basil, sweet basil, mint, romaine lettuce, celery, and lavender.  I would really like to add some cilantro, and maybe some chives, and then... tomato plants. 

Tonight we are celebrating Thanksgiving with a group of friends at the Blue Butcher, and tomorrow we are doing our own informal fusion Thanksgiving dinner at home (a Peking duck delivery in lieu of a turkey, plus cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes, stuffing, Brussels sprouts and pumpkin pie).

In short, we have so much to be thankful for.  As someone who often focuses on the downside or dwells on the regrets, this seems the perfect time for me, coming up on this holiday season, to acknowledge all of my incredible blessings and good fortune, and to remind myself to cherish and savor it all.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

The Belly: 37 Weeks!

Here is the Belly at 37 weeks, today!
This picture was taken after my pre-natal yoga class, which I have finally started attending this week.   I think I'm finally ready to cave and stop going to my regular yoga classes.  I previously shunned the pre-natal yoga classes because they seemed so easy and so boring, but now I'm at the point where I can't bend over and touch the floor any more and even really basic movements like moving my leg into a lunge pose from a downward dog has to be done in two steps... 

Sometimes the Belly twitches and jumps without warning.  There have been a slew of hiccups this past month, and now that the baby is currently in the right position, head down (please stay that way!) I feel them pretty consistently by my lower left hip. 

There have also been some sharp elbows/knees/feet, and it seems the baby has a penchant for a few spots in particular.  What never ceases to amaze me is how strong some of these kicks or rolls are!  One was so sharp in my right hip bone area that it actually made me exclaim aloud, and often my hand reflexively goes toward whatever sharp little knob is poking out, to try to soothe it away.

We are getting close!  Eeeeeep.

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Visiting the Maggie & Rose Social Club

Sunday dawned a drizzling and gray, low-energy day here, however, I was grateful to get out of the apartment!  I had already made plans to go with my friends to their kids' club in Repulse Bay, Maggie & Rose.  They really like it and had recommended that I check it out once we start looking for a place to hang out on weekends. 

Having checked it out, I can see why parents and kids like it.  The space is big and airy and casual and comfortable, with little nooks for kids to hang out, draw and play, as well as a birthday party space, a movie theater, a playroom and a big spacious roof deck.  The place is nice but not trying to hard and the casual vibe totally works with the laid back beach setting.

The club sits right on Repulse Bay and has a really nice view of the beach.

I loved all of the nooks and crannies for kids and the designated areas for reading, drawing, and playing.

They have a movie theater - cute!
 As well as a large play area with slides and ball pit - a must!
 It was a shame the weather was so drizzly, because the rooftop seemed fantastic, with plenty of seating and cabanas and a whole food and drinks area.

Saturday, November 11, 2017

36 Weeks and What's Been Happening Around Here

I am down to one deal to finalize and get across the finish line before I go on maternity leave, the baby is kicking and butting up a storm (except for one morning scare this past week when the baby was being really lethargic - more on that below), I have been on a shopping, reading, and podcasting rampage, and that's about it.

I am definitely slowing down at 36 weeks, or at least realizing that I have to.  I must have overdone it on Monday this week after going to a doctor's appointment and then running a bunch of errands around town, followed by a pretty good but intense yoga class, because Tuesday morning the baby wasn't really kicking and had a much later and more sluggish start than usual.  I rushed in to the clinic for a non stress test at the urging of the midwife, and was hooked up to a CTG for nearly 40 minutes.  During that time, the baby finally started moving and the doctor said the CTG was fine, "beautiful," which really relieved us.  I got a lecture about slowing down and taking things more easily (oops), then was dispatched with reassurances that all was normal.

I have been preparing my office for my upcoming leave - all of my stray papers and precedents have been ruthlessly organized and put into binders and hanging files, old documents have been shredded, and all my binders are in neat color coded order grouped by type.  This will be the first time I have been away from the firm/work for more than 3 weeks at a time in a little over 9 years (basically, for the first time since I entered the work force full-time).  It sounds a bit crazy when I think of it like that and, along with all of the other transitions that are occurring at this point in my life, seems pretty momentous.  I find myself wondering how I am going to handle it.  I am guessing that I will have so much going on with the arrival of the baby that there isn't much to think about with the commencement of leave - but I am already wondering how it will go/how I will feel when it's time to return.

I spent one entire evening looking up Christmas ornaments and fell down an intense DIY crafting tunnel, suddenly bookmarking about twenty DIY ornament projects that I likely won't have the time to do (mainly because it takes a bit of time and patience to source crafting supplies here), but I'm really on a Christmas kick this year.  Usually I am scrambling last minute for presents but this year I am almost all set on what I want to get everyone.  And except for a few head scratchers (as usual), I am mostly satisfied that the presents are really fitting.

On the shopping front, in addition to buying stuff for Christmas, I went to Ikea to buy a few items and came back with way more than I expected to (why does that always happen?).  I also have plans to check out H&M Home and Zara Hometo pick up some cushions and picture frames.

Being single is not a bad thing, and any event that celebrates numbers or patterns is a dorky one I can get behind.  To show my support, I partook in the huge Singles' Day sales event on Taobao (11/11), snapping up a bunch more homewares and a rocking glider for the nursery.   We are also still anxiously awaiting our bookshelves, dining room chairs and custom-drawers (one of which we will use as a changing table base for the baby). 

I bought some basil and mint plants, and I plan to plant another planter of cilantro and another planter of lavender to round out the herb collection.  If those all go well, I may be willing to give cherry tomatoes or peppers another try.

This nesting phenomenon must be a real thing, if all of this is any indication!

On the reading front, I am on a non-fiction kick.

I really enjoyed the book "Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City," by Matthew Desmond, which traces a few characters through the worst neighborhoods in Milwaukee as they struggle to pay their rent on time with all of the attendant emergencies and issues that come up in any given month while trying to make ends meet.

I started the book "Secondhand Time: The Last of the Soviets," by Svetlana Alexievich, but haven't been able to get into it as much so far.  I find anything to do with the Soviet and modern day Russia experience fascinating, but this one might take a little more patience on my part.

This is probably also because I've been sucked in by the gripping "Killers of the Flower Moon," by David Grann, which unravels the mystery of a whole series of killings of the wealthy Osage Native American tribe in Oklahoma in the mid-late 1920s.  It also traces the growth and development of private investigations and the FBI in the US.  Very intriguing.

The next non-fiction book I have lined up is "Weapons of Math Destruction," by Cathy O'Neill, which is focused on how big data and algorithms increases inequality and threatens democracy.  The podcasts I've been listening to have recently all been highlighting the scary amount of information that social media and search engines (Facebook, Whatsapp, Instagram, Google) have access to in our not-so-private lives.  I thought this might be a good extension/complement to those themes.

Speaking of podcasts, I am on a current events and politcal kick.  I'm still listening to This American Life, Death Sex and Money, Criminal, Radiolab, Reply All, and a few others that I've always had on daily rotation, but The Daily, The New Washington, Sam Sanders' In a Minute, and NPR's Up First have become constant on my rotation. 

Weirdly, for someone who really loves fiction, I find I cannot stand fictionalized podcasts.  I've tried The Message, The Lore, Homecoming, Deadly Manners... and have never been able to make it past one or two episodes.  Go figure, maybe the medium really affects my reception of the product?  Similarly, I've also still not been able to get into audiobooks despite how efficient it seems they could be...

Sunday, November 5, 2017

November in Hong Kong and Baby Shower BBQ

It's hard to believe we are in November already!  Hong Kong weather has finally cooled down a little bit and the humidity has lessened somewhat, although it is still surprisingly warm considering Thanksgiving is just over two weeks away.  Wow!  This year has flown by.

Since closing one of my deals this past week, I've been trying to take it easy, savoring these last few relaxing and quiet days before my life takes a momentous and irreversible turn.  I have one more deal slated to close before Thanksgiving, and then I hand over the reins and start my maternity leave.

In the meantime, we have painted one accent wall of the nursery this Dulux Aqua Tint color - after two coats, it is a little darker than this paint swatch.  We are waiting for the baby animal prints to be delivered, as well as a custom drawer/diaper changing station that we ordered.  Hopefully soon pictures of the nursery will be ready to be debuted.
Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays of the year, and I am hopeful that this year will be extra special, with all of these new and exciting things taking place!  It sounds like plenty of plans involving food and merriment are already brewing and underway, so I am looking forward to sitting down with friends here to celebrate and, of course, eat a lot.

We have never had a real Christmas tree here, and this year, given everyone that is visiting (including our new and precious arrival) we decided to get a real one.  I ordered a 4-5' Noble fir, and it's slated to be delivered at the end of the month.  I have to go get lights and ornaments and a tree topper!  It will be really fun to get into the holiday spirit.

We had a co-ed barbecue party/baby shower yesterday, but in the hustle and bustle I completely neglected to take pictures of the room and the food! It was a beautiful and airy space.  Here I am, at nearly 36 weeks!

My friend got beautiful aqua and peach balloons that we scattered around the room, with a huge spray of white tiger lilies as the center piece (you know me, never one to pass up an opportunity for fresh flowers!), and we had sirloin steaks, burgers, hot dogs, sausages, potato salad, a Greek salad with homemade dressing, corn on the cob, watermelon, cupcakes from Sift, freshly made chocolate chip cookies... and lots of alcohol.  Prosecco (with choice of grapefruit or orange juice accompaniment), beer, white wine, rose, gin and tonics...we were well stocked. 

Michael did a masterful job on the grill, and our helper, Jovielyn, was essential in helping us with seasoning the steaks and shaping the hamburger patties, making the salads and chocolate chip cookies from scratch, and assisting on the grill. 

Thankfully I did manage to get some pictures with a few friends.

 This may be my favorite photo series of the afternoon - my friend's 11 month old baby couldn't take his eyes off of one of the pretty ladies!
 Eventually, he couldn't resist reaching out.  How adorable!!
I think the party went well, judging by the fact that it went nearly three hours past the time we had the room reserved.  Thankfully our building was pretty patient and no one came down to bother us.   Despite the fact that we said we wanted no presents, everyone was super generous and brought a little something for our little one!  Yes, there is a bottle of whiskey in there - that's clearly for the parents - or maybe just for Michael in the delivery room, haha.

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Happy Halloween!

I hope everyone had a grand ole' time dressing up for Halloween!  We were pretty oblivious this year  - I didn't give any thought to costumes, we attended no Halloween parties... about the only thing I did to get into the spirit was to allow myself the guilty pleasure of a packet of sour strawberry belts (yummmmm) and some gummies (yummmmm).  Turns out, I haven't lost my sweet tooth for sour and artificial candies at all - just have been trying to keep it in check given the baby.

Michael and I went to a friend's new apartment in Tin Hau for a game night this weekend.  We ate Taiwanese food takeout, everyone (but me) enjoyed champagne and gin and tonics, and we admired the beautiful (seriously breathtaking!) and unobstructed view they had of Victoria Harbor.  Their apartment was really well designed - one of those refurbished ones in Hong Kong where you see how much thought and care had been used to make a small space not only live-able but comfortable.

They had Nintendo 64, which allowed Michael to revive some of his power-sliding and trash talking skills, and then they introduced us to this awesome game called "Ticket to Ride," which is basically a board game where you win by racking up the most number of points, which are accumulated by building up as many continuous segments of trains as possible.  Have you noticed that I really like board games that tend toward money, monopoly, cartels, control, market and economic domination, with a bit of strategy and luck thrown in?  I wonder what this says about me...

It was great fun but we left way too late (as always happens with game night) and while I was totally into it while we were throwing down, I had to admit that my back and legs were really sore and tired after hours of playing.

On Sunday, I went to a friend's baby shower, where we sat around eating all kinds of barbecued meat and sausages, followed by cupcakes and cake (it was as healthy as it sounds)!  There were lots of little kids there, and not just one but two (!) sets of baby twins.  My friend is due right around the same time as me, which is pretty fun.  We joke that we may end up in the hospital together at the same time - and we happen to be registered at the same hospital, Matilda.

Incidentally, on one of the deals I'm working on for a medical practice, a doctor told me that Matilda is good for "babies and bones," i.e., maternity and orthopedics.  Good to know!

Otherwise, the exciting news this week is that (1) we finally sold our guest bed (YES!) and (2) I've closed a deal today that started way back in early March.  Woohoo!  It feels so nice to get it completed and off my plate.

Saturday, October 28, 2017

Hong Kong Wine & Dine Event

This past Thursday, I went to the Hong Kong Wine & Dine Event with a friend.

While I felt a little awkward attending an event where the predominant event was drinking, I still had a good time because I got to walk around and see what was on offer.  I think it was doubly fun for my friend because she got to enjoy all of my wine tokens in addition to her own!


We had grand wine passes which allowed us access to the Grand Wine Pavilion, which was definitely the place to be.

My friend enjoyed at least four glasses of incredible wines, including a 1982 St Julien bordeaux, a 2005 Latour burgundy, a 1996 Italian Sassicaia and a few sample sips of Italian barolos, Napa cabernet sauvignons, and Argentinian pinot noirs.  Some of the dates on these bottles were eye-popping!

We also walked around sampling food from the various booths, which were separated into regions - France, Spain, the United States.  

 In some ways, the event was typically inefficient like many Hong Kong events - way too many people, not enough space in the food tents, poorly arranged ordering and payment system.  In other ways, it was still kind of fun to walk around and sample stuff.
 They also had a bunch of wine sampling classes.
Overall, it was a fun event and I'm glad I went even though I didn't get to drink any of the amazing varietals that were on offer!