Thursday, May 16, 2019

A 17.5 Month Update

We often find ourselves marveling that Lola isn't even a year and a half yet.  Her language and comprehension and observation skills are phenomenal.  She never ceases to amaze us with a new skill that she seemingly has acquired out of thin air.  We have never used baby talk with her and now more than ever we don't feel the need to.

Lola learned to count from one to ten in both English and Mandarin a few weeks back, and now has taken to counting at warp speed and with a musical lilt.  She surprised us out of the blue one day a couple of weeks ago by reciting, "A B C D" and now has gotten to "H" before she falters and switches to numbers.  She has long been able to recognize red, blue, green, yellow, and orange and I think she has purple and pink down now also. If you offer her a selection of colors and asks her to pick, she can also deduce the right one by eliminating the colors she knows.

Lola can also sing the first two lines of Twinkle Twinkle Little Star in Chinese on her own.  She can also fill in the blank if you continue singing the rest of the song.  Whenever she sees a sheep now, she says "Baa baa black sheep!" very excitedly.  She continues to love the happy birthday song and wants to wish (and sing) happy birthday to everybody.  If she wants the heads, shoulders, knees and toes song, she will demand, "knees and toes!"  Lola clearly loves music and songs - she learned a bunch of phrases from her Chinese songs as well, such as "shake hands," and "bend at the waist," and "how are you."

Lola loves books and is a great mimic of our expressions and words.  Everyone says she has a real talent for language.  When I sat down to flip through her Baby Einstein books with her this week, I realized to my shock that she knew practically everything on every page.  Orange, duck, horse, pig, baby, swing, slide, ball, flower, car, tree, bird...and for every word she knows, she usually knows it in both English and Mandarin.  Her vocabulary is pretty astonishing.  She has started to put sentences together, including "I love you Mama" and "Go out to play"!  When we were looking at a book together, she pointed out an escalator, then, noticing that it was blue, she said in Chinese, "lan se de dian ti" which translates to "blue escalator".  It doesn't sound particularly difficult in English, but in Chinese, to use an adjective correctly, you have to know to put the adjective in front of the noun and use the modifier "de", which Lola did perfectly.

What makes Lola so special and funny though, is that she not only picks up words quickly, she really knows how to use the expressions correctly.  It is a never-ending source of delight to us. For example, she always knows how to use "Ooops!"  She has been saying it for a few months now in the context of a dropped item.  More recently she picked up the word "aiya!" from Jovie.  But she doesn't use it when she drops something or when she makes a mistake - she uses it to express her frustration.  One of the best stories this month has got to be when Michael and Lola were reading "We're Going on a Bear Hunt."  Lola is super, super excited about the page where they run up the stairs once they find the bear.  She kept saying to Michael, "Up the stairs! Up the stairs!"  But Michael had no idea what she was saying and kept trying to guess but was clearly not getting it.  But Lola refused to give up, and kept pointing, and kept repeating herself.  Finally, when Michael exclaimed in understanding, Lola put the book aside, threw out her hands in exasperation, and said in the loudest voice, "AIYA!"  These adult mannerisms in such a tiny little munchkin... they really slay us.

Speaking of munchkins... on our trip to Macau, Michael referred to Lola as a munchkin, and she immediately picked up on the term and mimicked him, repeating munchkin a bunch of times.  Today, I came home from work to learn that Lola said, "Lola, Lola, what do you see?" while reading her "Brown Bear Brown Bear" book.  And guess what she answered to her own question?  "I see a munchkin looking at me." I mean, I know I am coming across as a crazy doting mother right now, but that is clever! 

Speaking of Macau... Lola is very observant.  We had known this for a while because ever since she could talk she would point to different things and say who they belonged to - and she was always right.  Mommy's purse, Tita's shoes, Daddy's glasses, etc.  But her powers of observation really surprised us on this trip when, emerging from the elevator on our floor on our first day of our stay, Lola could pick out our hotel room door.  How is that possible?  We were about 15 rooms down from the elevator bank.  The only thing I could see that might be helpful was that our door faced the hallway directly because it was where the hallway turned slightly.  But even then - I think an adult would be hard pressed to find the right door!  And even more (or similarly) amazingly, Lola emerged from breakfast on the ground floor the next morning and knew, as we started down the long, large hallway, that there was a broken escalator ahead on the right.  It was a long, long ways ahead - way out of sight.  She must have remembered it from when we returned home that way the evening prior. 

Lola continues to be a constant source of joy and delight and a little charmer - she has won over all of our security guards and building people, blowing them kisses, waving hello and goodbye, and giving out high fives freely when she marches in or out of the lobby.  We are often stopped in our building or in the neighborhood park with a delighted shout of "Lola!"  One of our neighbors is a sweet 3.5 year old who tells me solemnly when she sees me that she really likes Lola.

All of this is to say, I love this munchkin so, so much, and I am so proud of her and so honored to be her mama.  She is such a treasure. 

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Mother's Day Weekend in Macau

We spent a lovely three days in Macau this past weekend.  Hong Kong had yet another public holiday on Monday(!), so we decided to go to the Four Seasons and soak it up in (Chinese) sin city.  The weather cooperated beautifully, breaking out into a hot, bright, sunny day on Saturday after a week of gray, drizzly, cold rain.  Michael planned a bunch of meals for me and we just generally got to hang out in our little family unit enjoying all of the fun children-friendly activities that Macau has to offer.

Macau is such an easy trip for us that it's essentially a staycation.  We left our apartment on foot at 12:08pm on Saturday, and managed to arrive at the ferry terminal, clear immigration and pull away from Hong Kong ferry terminal by a minute after 12:30.  We were checked into our beautiful hotel room before 2:30pm.  It was pretty great.

We booked an executive suite which gave us a huge living room with a desk, sofa, dining table, hallway/foyer and separate bathroom, bedroom and king sized bed, a full walk in closet and wardrobe area, and a huge bathroom with free standing shower and soaking tub.

the bedding is already messed up because we couldn't resist letting Lola play around on it
The Four Seasons really knows how to be hospitable - they arranged the most amazing package of necessities for Lola, lots of goodies like crayons and coloring paper, and, probably Lola's favorite, a big tent that she could run through and hide out in. 

Just look at that smile!

No request was too difficult - they brought up a well padded Stokke tripp trapp high chair for Lola right after we asked for one, and also provided us with sterilizers and bottle warmers (though we don't need those anymore).

I can confidently say that Lola loves Macau (because she told us so!) and Michael and I had a great time.  The room was comfortable and it was so great to get a break from our apartment in Hong Kong.

The grounds were beautiful as well, and we thoroughly enjoyed our time at the pool.

Breakfast was included in our stay and we pigged out on their buffet. 
 We enjoyed letting Lola run barefoot in the grass.  She scampers around like a little sprite and is so adorable!
Lola got to see a glimpse of a casino - she was fascinated.  But also by the elaborate painting on the rotunda. 

She liked the Eiffel Tower, but not as much as eating fruit by the pool and playing in the multiple indoor playrooms that Macau has available (see below).
Michael and I enjoyed dinner at Zi Yat Heen on Saturday night.  I thought the food was just okay for the price - certainly not bad, but probably not worth what they charge.  Unfortunately, I neglected to get a picture of the braised pork ribs, which was probably their best dish.

 On Sunday, for Mother's Day, Michael brought me to Belon at the Banyan Tree for their seafood buffett.  It was a beautiful place and the spread was pretty ridiculous.  We managed to get a beautiful table on its own elevated platform.


On Saturday and Sunday, we went to the Qube playrooms at the Venetian and the Parisian hotels.  Before we did that, we also played around the Four Seasons' grounds.  Whenever Lola saw Michael on the swing, she was very adamant that he come off and kept saying "no sit no sit" which made us laugh.  But she refused to get on the swing herself.

It was a rare weekend when Michael didn't have to work as much as he usually does (or, more accurately likely, he still had work but could put them aside for a little longer than usual).  Things were also surprisingly quiet for me (I at one point refreshed my email twice because I couldn't believe it had been that long before I got any messages).  It was so nice to hang out altogether.  Lola definitely agrees - she has started to say "Mommy Daddy" in the cutest voice when she wants us to go or when we are all going somewhere together.

The girl loves her snacks.
 She was so brave with the slides this time - totally willing to climb up on her own and also come down on her own!  She must have done this slide at least 30 times.

Wednesday, May 8, 2019

Activities with Lola: AMC, Cinco de Mayo, Fun Zone

Here are some pictures of what we have been up to lately:

Two weekends ago, we went to the Aberdeen Marina Club, an awe-inspiring private club on the south side of Hong Kong island.  I am not sure how to explain the sheer size of this place - it has two wings with multiple swimming pools, multiple playrooms containing slides, life-sized trucks, cars, buses, helicopter, play dressing area, multiple play kitchens and grocery area, a play pet store, ball pit, and toys, toys, toys toys everywhere... and that's not even getting to the slides and adventure zone for bigger kids, or the arcade... seven (I think?) restaurants, an ice skating rink....  It's heaven for children.  Lola does not disagree.
We then went to the American Club, another private club, last Friday night for their Cinco de Mayo dinner.  This club is also so children-friendly - the place was full of families and kids hanging out on the grass for movie night.  It is still a bit chilly by the pool so that part was quiet when we went.  Lola loves their children's playroom, The Eagle's Nest, an incredibly elaborate, fully padded, two story obstacle course with slides and ball pit and all the makings of great adventures.
As you can see, it has been pretty overcast in Hong Kong.  It has been pouring every day and downright frigid (for Hong Kong in May), hovering in the upper 60s to low 70s.  Yes, I know, it's all relative.

Last Saturday, I took Lola to the Fun Zone, a padded playroom that you have to pay for entry, located in the Westwood mall at Belcher's.  This place was SO loud because they were blasting the dance music and at the same time the kids in the place were shrieking and laughing as they chased each other around.  I got some pictures before the place got crowded.  It was a very popular venue for birthday parties.


 The Fun Zone had a huge, huge red slide with a nearly vertical (hair raising) drop, which Lola really wanted to try.  I took her twice and I was probably more terrified than she was.  My imagination was getting way ahead of myself and I was picturing all kinds of doomsday disaster scenarios, such as Lola flying out of my hands, or one of us breaking an arm or something.  As Michael says, there is no doubt who Lola gets her super cautious, scaredy cat instincts from! 

I was really proud of Lola though, she got off the slide after our first run and immediately said, "hai yao!"  But I think she was really terrified - and after she went down a second time, assured of her accomplishment, she didn't want to go again.  I get the sense that for her a lot of it is being able to say that she did it.

 I blame this place for getting me sick.  I came down with a nasty sore throat and cough this week.  My tonsils are burning.  I am walking around with a light blue surgical mask over my mouth to avoid contaminating anyone else.  But on the upside, Lola had a pretty good time.