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!