First Post of 2018: Doing Better

OMG? Permanent proof of a temporary sanity? 🙂

Wanted one for my 30th birthday, ok... That was like, a decade ago. Never got one 'til now.

I could never quite bring myself to get one "just because." What if I change my mind? It is apparently incredibly difficult and painful to remove, and over the years I've met not a few people who got tattoos when they were teens or young adults and really, really regretted it because Life then brought changes to taste and opinions.

One young woman who used to work in our area had a simple black "string" around her wrist, and then one day I noticed she had had it removed (she kept other much larger, colourful tattoos on her legs that she appeared happy with, she often wore shorts.)

What's with the string? "I was maybe 16; we were all there, one big group of friends, and everyone was getting something so I really had to. But it's so obvious when I work, everyone can see it, people judge you, you know..." (At which point I'm kinda ?? because the ones on her legs are huge in comparison... maybe she later fell out with the group of friends she got tattooed with, and that's the real reason she doesn't want the string anymore. Regardless, when someone who has multiple large, colourful tattoos tells me removing a little string of a tattoo hurts, I'm going to believe that removing tattoos really hurts 🙂 ) You can still see a shadow after she had it removed. So then it's a scar you wished you didn't go along with, one day 🙁

But I already had a scar and hated it....

My tattoo is actually covering this.

They say there's a moment after the dye is cast - breathe right and you can still change the way the painting looks... Well in this case it was 2.5 hours under the needle, not inclusive of prep time, and a minimum 6 months waiting for the scar to heal before you can tattoo on it, a reminder that Life is more one endurance race after another, rather than an impulse decision... or mistake. The beauty of hope is in second, third, fourth chances, healing, better choices. 

Unlike my C-section scars*, this sudden and unexpected mark on the top of my foot really bothered me - I got it in the most meh way imaginable, trying to get HN on the school bus one morning. (Not... to be taken as a criticism of school buses or classes ok... I believe in how things take time - how much time depending on a child's personality - and reinforcement at home is really, really important. One former dealing room head I had was a mum of a then-10 year old boy who loved tv... and I still remember her complaining she had to give up her tv after a hard day's work when her son was cramming for exams and missed his tv shows...

The seed of an apple is an orchard invisible...

Ever heard that one before? It's an analogy that both intimidates and inspires me, when I apply it to parenting. Parenting, inconveniently, demands consistency. (Produce a headcase, and someday there might be an orchard-full of headcases in this world, and those headcases.... It boggles the mind! 😀 ) It's also incredibly unglamorous, particularly in a place like HK where a lot more people clock long working hours in the office and that is often seen as the more erm, "noble" cause because you can "easily" get a helper (which I find misguided because it's unrealistic to expect a helper who makes minimum wage, particularly one who had to leave her own kids behind to come here and take care of your relatively privileged ones, to effectively "parent" for you when your kid rolls on the floor in a screaming fit), people sometimes look at SAHMs like they are total slugs 😀

Anyway. We happen to live furthest from any of the bus stops and School Bus Run was simply the thing HN had chosen to pick a fight over, for a time. As in, because she is an extreme sports junkee and - Fun Challenge! Let's Mess With Mummy Before Being Away A Few Hours So She'll Remember Me - Wheeeee! That's how I fell one morning, running back and forth up the hill to our block cajoling her on.

I can't see my earrings, but my hands, typing on a keyboard, are a powerful place for reminders....

Would've been Gal 6:4-5, my "life verse," but for the place I was in when I got this 😛

Almost as visible to me was Bus Fight Scar.

"Cubist Tattoo" was off the cashier processing JD's pet food order one day. How long had she had that elaborate, colourful image on her forearm? Ever had to touch it up?

I also ask the opinion of another mum after i notice the dark, neat design on the back of her neck, beautiful in its simplicity:

"You have kids, right? You'll be fine."

Never thought of it that way before, but I know what she means. At some point, after having little kids - chasing them, taking them for stitches, bone-setting, head scans, root canal... you're a lot less squeamish. (Bearing in mind I'm speaking from the perspective of someone who had never been elbow-deep in little kids until having some. They're the ickiest thing in the world, very unlike say, dealerboards and Bloomberg)

Move over, Tattooed Teenaged Alien Fighters From Beverly Hills Yes That Is An Actual Thing... You might be surprised how many mums get piercings or tattoos after they have kids. They just don't tell you until you also get one. You have to be in a good place before your kids can be, and besides pilates or the spa... well Maria Tash probably made a killing when they brought their NY/ LDN staff over to HK (hosted by Lane Crawford) last year.

I've got  friends still waiting for MT to come back. Some happily showed me stuff they got online, to refresh old piercings. Brightens your tired face 😛 Dropping off HN at the (very local) dance studio we sometimes frequent, I pass another mum with a similar-sized daughter - dressed very casually, not a branded item in sight... but with her ears pierced something like the above.

You might think the kids are erm, inspired to get themselves something now (especially the crazy younger one), but you'd be wrong. Rockstar disapproves of open wounds (infection alert!), which they realised is what a real tattoo is, from watching how I was tending it until the skin healed over (takes about a week, similar to when I fell and got the first scar). He's happy I got something done that I love, though - while I didn't need stitches for Bus Fight, I once ended up in A&E from running after him.

As for HN... she would like to change her tattoos and face paintings every day, thank you very much <uppity sniff>.

This is her showing off  her nose, last Christmas - guess who she chose for dress up 🙂

Can't do that with a permanent tattoo. Ends.

ps: Re C-section scars - Barely used the recommended scar cream. I had substantial gift coupons from co-workers and market counterparts back then, and maxed them out with La Mer Serum. I got the idea to use it on my scars because of an article about how the guy who developed it from ocean plant life had been motivated to do substantial research based on extensive facial scarring he sustained when a previous unrelated experiment had blown up in his face.

Sold as a kind of "youth serum" meant for ageing facial skin, it's horribly expensive, and so I would mix it with cheaper lotions. I credit that serum as the reason I have far less scarring from my huge C-sections - no discolouration, no keloid, just a long, light seam that I frankly love the way it is.  

pps: Everyone has already heard about Logan Paul over the new year, right? (LP donned a funny hat and went to make a Youtube in a known suicide site in Japan - one they do NOT like to publicise, for obvious reasons. He and his friends apparently then come across an actual suicide victim's dead body and he starts hamming it up. He then posts it, gets reviled by the internet, and follows up with an apology in which he claims he was trying to raise awareness.

Thing is, it was not just this latest horrendous action - Rockstar found Logan Paul last year through the much less-watched Dwarf Mamba, who had turned his own then-104cm height into a music video, Dwarf Problems. 

Just from that one thing (because we don't watch that much) I did think, "Now there's a guy who's trying to make the most of the hand he was dealt in life.." DM used to have around 1+mio followers, while the 188cm tall, very athletically built LP <resists urge to go on Beauty Is As Beauty Does rant> then had a whopping 18mio followers thereabouts - and if they really were friends like they said in old videos, then - can you imagine growing up with dwarfism around guys like LP who make videos where they strut about an apartment smashing plates everywhere and think that looks cool?? So yeah it was back then that we stopped watching. Not because You Will Turn To A Life Of Crime After Watching Plate Smashing Ah Boy but because... surely you have a bit more than that to be proud of, right....?? (Don't get me started about the idiots who upload pics and videos dangling from high places (particularly RESTRICTED high places) without safeties)

Going for the cheap laugh is so easy, and well, cheap. But more than that, it's horribly desensitising - Watch And Hang Around Enough Of That Ah Boy, And Someday You May Also Think Posting Something So Horrifyingly Insensitive Is Less Than Horrifying. You could throw away what you were blessed with - looks, charm (maybe. I don't find LP charming, but lotsa younger people must've) - on a choice you make and the internet documents unforgivingly.

You should value yourself more than that.

Somewhere in the many articles I skimmed was this one skill that is expected to be extremely useful for kids - the ability to debate. To convince another person, not through untruths but sincere... argument, of your point of view. Presumably LP started off having some of that, given his massive following. And then maybe he got a little.... overconfident. Allowed himself just one little cheap laugh. And another. And another, because people loved him, right? But now he's the guy who made "that" video. It's going to be very, very painful to come back from this, it's a wayyyy bigger "string" to laser off your wrist.

What happened to Logan Paul is a wake up call. We can all do better with our time, what we watch, what we say, what we do. We can write, draw, film, edit, create better. Because we become, we ARE, what we watch, say and do.

Don't run, fly? 😛 (For real - Rockstar's good friend had flying lessons, one recent break. They did however use a plane haha)

Let's make 2018 about Better, dears. Have an awesome year ahead, being awesome you.

 
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Fish Story, Part II

Forgot to post this, better catch up...

Our goldfish from Tai Tong Ecopark lived about 5 weeks, and then something might have gotten in the open vases tanks on the balcony one night, because one morning we found everyone belly-up.

Goldfish Apocalypse inspired us to get a few Swordtails - those little red guppy-like things our nearby fish shop guy feeds the Oscars with (I'm obsessive-compulsive about things like this - Oscar Food are going to die anyway, may as well come home with us and maybe not die. I don't like getting something that would've had a better (and possibly much longer) life if it didn't come home with me.

It's... possible I applied this to the kids as well, because one moment I was striding about that dealing room 25kg heavier with a belly I had barely registered as being attached to me except for being cold turkey on all medications and alcohol (yes. ALL. for both pregnancies AND both 1+ year nursing durations (but I do pump and dump milk)), then in the next two days they schedule a semi-emergency C-section during Christmas season, Rockstar comes out, I get an unexpected proverbial lobotomy. (HN's delivery btw, was a full-on emergency C where they literally snapped the bracelet around my wrist and said "you will not be leaving this hospital until the baby is out.")

So here we are 10 years later and not a day passes now both kids are finally in full day school that I don't long for some serious work action... that must nonetheless not keep me from being there when their bus pulls up at the end of their day. Working late nights especially after they sleep is fine, but Why The Obsession With Being There After School, mum friends have asked.

Because for us it represents a commitment, a binding agreement , signed not in "blood" but in "effort". You cannot easily parent a child bent on sneaking junk or dodgy websites (I once had an incredibly educational conversation with a cabbie regarding his 14 year old daughter who spent the night on a beach in Hong Kong when he thought she was in Singapore on school excursion), that is instead a relationship between two... adversaries.

Yes, I'm aware that in very traditional Asian households last generation in particular, fear was a powerful motivator. I bet it still is today. BUT. Think how much more productive we would all be if we didn't spend all that energy on dancing around each other, and instead put it into well, getting good at something. Like, really good. I'm obsessive compulsive about all that energy that could be put to so much better use, when parent and child duke it out struggle to get away with murder are trying to pull one over on each other. The greater the fear (or insecurity) instilled, the greater the effort put into hiding stuff. The greater too, the waste of energy and creativity, on something that is quite simply not productive...

Besides, the last time I took an office job couple years ago that required some entertaining and well, not being "there," instead staffing it to a helper, HN was, put quite bluntly, awful. (Not... that said helper could handle her either, she was rolling on the floor and carrying on for longer and longer periods. The flip side of a fearless child is a fearless child :D)

Anyway. Fish Shop Guy casually pulls a plastic mug through the water and pronounces "HKD 30" in exchange for its contents. I also lug home as big a plastic bag of the tank water from the shop as I can carry, along with the 7 fish that went from random tupperware to our flower vases.

Yes This Is How We Do Fish. There is a lot of stuff that makes up the water that fish, even the ones they use to feed other fish, live in - bacteria, minerals, a very big load of I Don't Care Exactly, But I Do Want To Give Them Their Best Shot At Not Dying On Our Balcony.

Long story short, -

Fish Babies!!

Last little-tail-count has us at about 30 fry.

Not.... that it persuaded the kids to leave off Goldfish Fishing back at Tai Tong Ecopark, one weekend past...

The attraction has now expanded to three kiddie pools of goldfish, and they were completely out of bagged goldfish prizes when we arrived. (We were not surprised, because we'd passed a big bunch of local school kids and they were all holding bags of fish :D, the kids were perfectly fine fishing for toy prizes - traditional Chinese whistles - Rockstar translates the text on the packaging as something about these being the same kinds of whistles used in ancient times to catch birds (?!))

Two local boys in their teens join our kiddie pool. One of them tries to strike up conversation with Rockstar:

"(Casually, in Cantonese) I haven't broken a single "net"...... <indicating Rockstar's net> How many've you gone through? Three? More? I'm still on my first one..........."

Rockstar breaks another delicate paper "net."

"......still on my first o-one........."

I bristle slightly, and search the teenaged boy's face. He's very quick, obviously very bright, and Rockstar and I exchange a puzzled glance. Usually, the hecklers we meet are.... not quite that intelligent, with some form of "insensitive gene," when they mouth off.

"(same tone)..... be-cause............ I'm u-sing............ 5 papers in my "net" all at once....."

Rockstar blinks (who says he completely can't understand Cantonese haha)

<throws his head back and laughs><holds up his net to show us>

Rockstar: <immediately opens up the plastic frames of his remaining "nets" and starts stacking the papers together>

Local Auntie manning the stall: AIYAA! THOSE BOYS! They love messing with our customers! They are VERY TRICKY AHHH! You be careful ahhh! <waggles finger affectionately at them>

The boys chuckle, then ask us where we're "really" from and chat awhile more, before busying themselves elsewhere. They're local middle school kids working in the park for extra spending money 🙂

Y'know, once upon a time Richard Branson and his best friend Nick Powell bred budgerigars in their very first business venture. They were 11.

Things that make ya go Hmmmmmmmmm.....

The true Fish People, the Black Belts in fish (and probably most any other critter)-rearing, create mini-oceans in their homes or offices, with the salt water tanks and micro-organisms and what-not. I had a boss like that once - it's a very serious hobby that requires a lot of commitment, he would hire consultants and what-not. He would test, measure, mix, test again, because Black Belt Fish People have this whole PH-balanced mini ecosystem complete with the micro-organisms and minerals down to the incredible science that it is - they let the sand settle, the micro organisms grow, they wait for weeks and weeks, before they introduce a freaking fish into their little box of immense stress and work tank.

Oh, and they follow the press and research about ethical harvesting of living organisms vs farming/breeding in captivity, when stocking their tanks.

There's this correlation, I feel, between the ability to successfully care for critters (fine, Other Living Things) and some form of drive and ability to see things, projects, through to completion without going batshit (ironically) stressing out. With living things, you don't get a "second chance" once the pet or plant is dead. (And of course there's all the benefits of caring for something other than yourself.) I can't say why, specifically, but like per Big Data (more on that later) increasingly correlation is good enough and therefore better than the need to prove causation...

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Miss-Speak #89: Christmas-isms

#89
Me: What d'you want for Christmas, darling?
HN: Don't worry about it, Mummy. I told Santa already. He came to our school, so he's taking care of it. 

(That's her Xmas gift wish - the Poinsettia headband she's wearing; matched with Unicorn tee from H&M picked out by her bro, Stella McCartney Kids jacket warehouse find from couple years ago, Zara Kids patent boots last couple seasons...) 

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During a rare, quiet moment...
HN: Mummy, what do you always wish for at Christmas?
Me: You mean like, actual stuff, or just a wish?
HN: Wish!!
Me: A fulfilling job where I could still remain close by enough to raise you guys.
HN: <pause> Stuff!Now do stuff!! What stuff do you want!! 
HN: <still enthusiastically> You know, that we can put in boxes!
Rockstar: <not looking up from laptop> A dead body.
HN: <shrieks at him>

(Rockstar wanted a custom Nerf sniper rifle)

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Optimism...
HN: C'mon Mum-may, what do you want for Christmas, that we can put in a box. 
Me: You just want to gift wrap a box, don't you?
HN: Yeah. Can you say "JD" so we can put the dog in a box? Then at the right time, she can jump out of the box and say.... <screams> "WOOOFFF!" 
Me: What makes you think the dog is going to cooperate with that?
HN: Why wouldn't she, it's only a few more days til Christmas...

For real though, the old border collie can be quite shy and reserved, while HN is this LOUD active kid with the BIG movements, and somehow the dog isn't hiding from her 😀 

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At bedtime...
HN: I don't want to separate (her two stuffed penguins). They're mother and daughter.
Me: You separate perfectly fine from me when you've got a class in your busy life. (Other times she can be very demanding on my energy and patience).
HN: Yah but they might be a different kind of mother and daughter.
Me: Oh, so life sucks being your mum?
HN: No, but life would suck being my brother. <thoughtful pause> Life would totally suck for him, Mum-may. Because I would make it. 

He has a penguin fighting with him for the corner of the sofa, and we need more furniture

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We started reading Luke 2 this Christmas, and...
HN: Mummy, I feel sooo sorry for baby Jesus. It's like what, no (birthday) party? 
Me: Your brother's 10, and he's never had a party (more on that someday).
HN: <mutters> Yeah, I don't understand that either.

HNs nativity scene activity at Sunday school..

And with that, MERRY CHRISTMAS AND PEACE ON EARTH!
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