March notes ...

No, I haven't given up blogging for Lent. It's just that my parents have been here for almost two weeks, and any spare time I had was spent working on tasks that were actually going to result in something: dinner on the table, a completed article for Augsburg, etc. 

But what a momentous few weeks it has been!  Most momentously, little Finn turned one.  (We're trying to teach him to hold up his finger when we ask how old he is, but he just wants to touch his finger to ours, ET-phone-home style.) Admittedly this is a celebration as much for the family as for the kid, but it was still fun--and important--to mark the day. Some new friends from our church had a little party for Finn with other babies and moms, and then we celebrated at night with the family. Finn was surprisingly not that interested in tearing off the wrapping paper, but he was pretty excited by his gifts--a dump truck shape sorter, a walker, a lift-the-flap book, a stuffed frog that has perfect legs for gripping, and a shiny stuffed astronaut. Oh, and Cherrios.  Probably the most exciting gift of all--now that he's one, there are all sorts of new foods available to him, and Cherrios certainly tops the list. 

[caption id="attachment_332" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="Finn and Jack at Finn's party. The hats stayed on for all of 30 seconds. "]Finn and Jack at Finn's party.  The hats stayed on for all of 30 seconds. [/caption]


[caption id="attachment_333" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="Finn helping grandpa unwrap presents--or is it the other way around? "]Finn helping grandpa unwrap presents--or is it the other way around?  [/caption]

[caption id="attachment_334" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="Showing off the nice arrangement of presents "]Showing off the nice arrangement of presents [/caption]


[caption id="attachment_335" align="aligncenter" width="225" caption="Presents are fun! "]Presents are fun! [/caption]


[caption id="attachment_336" align="aligncenter" width="225" caption="not quite sure what I'm doing, but I like all this applause ..."]not quite sure what I'm doing, but I like all this applause ...  [/caption]

 He's laughing more and more these days, even with strangers. (Today on the bus, he was flirting with the woman sitting behind us, playing peekaboo and smiling like crazy.  She was on the phone, and whenever she would laugh as part of her conversation, Finn would pop up and laugh too. Very cute ...)  Of course, he's also crying more, at night anyway. Our little guy who has slept through the night since about week 6 has suddenly realized that other babies get attention and food in the middle of the night, and he's trying to get in on the fun.  I guess we need to watch who he hangs out with more closely--make sure they don't tell him about other crazy things that babies do.

[caption id="attachment_337" align="aligncenter" width="480" caption="He loves to stand."]He loves to stand.[/caption]

It was wonderful having my folks here, on a lot of levels. Great just to be out of the routine a little bit, doing special things and visiting new places. Fun and affirming for me to share the funny moments of Finn's and my days, laughing together over an expression, cheering him on together as he climbed a new slide or took some steps with the walker. Isn't there a poem or a line somewhere about "laughter is twice laughter when it's shared"?  Special for my parents to revisit this place they lived in 35-some-odd years ago, and for us to hear more stories of that time. (This summer we're going to dig out the letters and tapes my parents sent home from two years here--it will be so interesting to compare their impressions and experiences with ours.) 

[caption id="attachment_342" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="Out for dinner, at a place my parents ate at when they lived here! They think the waiters are all the same ..."]Out for dinner, at a place my parents ate at when they lived here! They think the waiters are all the same ... [/caption]

The other momentous event--spring has officially come to Hong Kong (according to me)! Disregarding the calendar completely--Chinese New Year is kind of the start of spring, with all the flowers and bulbs and blooming branches. But last Saturday we had weather that *felt* like spring--sunny, in the 60's, the earth smelling fresh and a little muddy, and there was just something about the light. We took the ferry over to Lamma Island and hiked from one side to the other, marvelling in the blue-green water and the views of Hong Kong and Lantau.  We then finished with a delicious meal of lamb kebabs, Turkish pizza and fresh lemonade, and Finn had his first taste of lamb. It was glorious.

[caption id="attachment_340" align="aligncenter" width="225" caption="See that light? "]See that light?  [/caption]


[caption id="attachment_341" align="aligncenter" width="225" caption="Trying lamb with grandma."]Trying lamb with grandma. [/caption]

Oh, yeah--I meant to mention Finn's birthday cake.  I always assumed, being a baker and a believer in things homemade, that I would make Finn's birthdays cakes. I had even starting planning that a panda bear cake would be very cute for a little boy turning one in Hong Kong. But the reality of finding pans that fit our counter-top oven, baking the cake one layer at a time, in very uneven heat, and making frosting without a mixer finally convinced me that of all years to buy a cake, this was it. And what a place to buy a cake--Hong Kong bakeries may make horrible, sweet, mushy bread with no substance whatsoever, but the cakes are gorgeous. Many a time have I stood in a bakery window and ogled the beautiful glazed fruit that tops most cakes here. I'd never tasted a Hong Kong cake, but I've had my eye on this mango-covered number ever since we got here, and seeing as how Finn is fan of mango, it seemed like the perfect time to try it out. And it was good. Not the best cake I've ever had in my life, but certainly tasty. It was sponge cake, so lighter than the butter cakes most of us are used to, and the frosting was lighter and  less sweet as well. Of course, the mango topping was luscious--I'm determined to practice cutting mangoes into slices like that. And the most importantly --Finn liked it.  


[caption id="attachment_343" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="Isn't that gorgeous? "]Isn't that gorgeous? [/caption]


[caption id="attachment_346" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="Trying it out ... "]Trying it out ... [/caption]

[caption id="attachment_347" align="aligncenter" width="225" caption="Yup, it's good! "]Yup, it's good! [/caption]


Krissie said...

Ok, I totally started to cry when I read this... I think it was just seeing pictures of your parents, and remembering old times at your house when we were in high school, and knowing what a safe place that was when everything else in life at the time was crazy.

Tell them hi for me... and thanks.

Marcy at Life is Good said...

That cake does look delicious! In Geneva I often ogled at the cakes and other confections displayed on the windows, including the chocolate masterpieces they always made in theme with whatever was going on in the city at that time. I thought we made fancy Easter bunnies here in the US! lol

To answer your question on my blog-- I do recommend Tim Seldin's book. Many of the suggestions are for kids a bit older than ours are, but still a great resource and an easy "intro" to Montessori since it's not as info-packed and overwhelming. I do also have Montessori From the Start and it's also a great book, but I disagree with some of the advice they say (or at least think it's a bit unrealistic). For example, the author advocates weaning a child off breastmilk at 9 months of age, for no stated reason other than for the sake of the child's independence. Seeing as the current recommendation (in the US at least) is to not give a child cow's milk until 1 year, it seem strange to me to suggest weaning a kid off the breast and into formula in a cup when they could simple wait a few more months. (If the mother wishes to stop nursing that's fine but if otherwise mom and baby are happy nursing, why stop at 9 months?). Or things like their suggestions on feeding times when the child is eating solid foods-- that the parent should eat before or after the child so can focus on the child during his/her meal, but parent should model proper eating behavior so sit at the table, etc. Leaves me wondering when exactly I'm supposed to eat, if not along with him, and I have to watch him the rest of the time, and naps don't always coincide with when I'm ravenously hungry. So, there's a few things like that, but for the most part it is pretty good.

Sorry to hijack your comments section. ; )

foodsmith said...

Thanks, Marcy, for all that! I think we'll check out Seldin's book to start with. I agree with you on both counts, about the breastfeeding and the eating together. Finn really only started to eat solid foods with any enthusiasm once we had him at the table with us and eating at the same time as us. It seems like a principle for teaching him anything is that he wants to do whatever we do, so of course it's that way with eating too ...

And as a baker, I totally envy your experience in Geneva. Hong Kong has tons going for it, and they may be starting to make beautiful cakes, but a baking capitol it is not. Oh well, I guess we'll just eat all the dumplings we can while we're here ...