The Terrible Toddler

In just six weeks my little girl turns four, which means she is no longer a toddler! She definitely hasn’t been an easy toddler so I’m happy to kiss the title goodbye and seemingly, so is she. She really is a lovely little girl these days – still strong and fierce and independent, with a fiery temper. But these are traits that I wanted for my daughter, and certainly bode well for a successful adult. Just not so easy in a toddler!

Meanwhile my easy, sunny, happy little boy has well and truly entered the toddler phase. Anyone who knows him will tell you he has been a beautiful baby – he embraced the world from the moment he was born and greets each day with a smile. He still is (I think, because I’m totally unbiased!) a gorgeous boy. His default mode is happy, he gives affection freely and his aura is warm. But WOW, at 16 months he can be a handful!

Me? A handful? Never!
Me? A handful? Never!

For starters, he is big. Like, really big! Not chubby at all but the true product of his 6ft Mum and 6ft4 Dad. He towers over the other babies in his music class (the teacher says “Walter can try xyz because he is older” but actually he isn’t the oldest in the class!) and is much bigger than we remember his sister being at this age. Not only is he big, he is STRONG. I physically struggle to contain him if he is reckless, as does his Dad. Catching him isn’t easy if he runs away – he is FAST! 16 months old and running!

So you can imagine what these first, just-getting-started tantrums are like – you kind of have to put him in a safe place and let it ride out. Getting too involved is pointless and dangerous. But it’s stressful and eye opening – we never had these kicking, biting, head-banging tantrums the first time around (just the shrieking, soul crushing kind). Boys, huh!?

The other thing I’m wrapping my head around is the seemingly boundless energy. All my friends with boys had told me about this: boys are not that complicated, they said. You just have to run them.

Walter runs from the moment he gets up in the morning – back and forth and around and around our apartment. Outside, into the lift, lift doors open, BAM! He’s off. Music class? Dance. Play group? Run. Stop occasionally to push a car around.

I thought I might avoid the hitting/pushing/shoving stuff with him but no, it seems all toddlers do their fair share of that at some point. Mostly he takes it out on his sister, which is almost definitely deserved, so I kind of try to let them sort it out. Occasionally though he has bitten, which leaves big marks and HURTS – I must say although Heike has tortured him for most of his life I don’t think she’s ever actually hurt him, but what are baby brothers for right?

The great thing with Walter is that he listens and genuinely seems to care if I’m not happy with him. Heike marches to her own drum and has always done pretty much what she wanted with no regard for consequences, which is what has made her so tricky to parent. Walter gives a very cute and funny bashful look whenever he gets in trouble and seems to be able to control his impulses pretty well. Phew!

It’s crazy to watch this little boy run around, communicating and socialising and showing us his own little personality. He is strong yet gentle, demanding yet very easy going. He likes books and music and cars. He’s not so into sitting still.

Where did my baby go? Why didn’t I hold onto that time just a little more tightly? Could I have cuddled him more, coddled him more?

Time goes too fast. Which is why I am cherishing every second with my cheeky little toddler, knowing that before long, he too will turn four and those days will be gone forever.

Z

Rainy Days Out

Hello from Hong Kong! Or should I say, Hello from my little apartment, where I have spent far too much time over these past three torrentially rainy days. Yes, it’s raining in Hong Kong, which is of course very typical for summer. Hong Kong rain is much like Sydney rain – it buckets and buckets until it clears. When you’re a Mum it basically incapacitates you, as no one wants to go out into THAT with two toddlers in tow, even more so in HK where no one has cars.

Still, at some point today (possibly the same point I realised the kids were watching their seventh episode of “Ben and Holly”) I thought well, how different is Hong Kong in the rain to Hong Kong any other day?! You don’t want to spend time outside because of the weather – but there are loads of indoor things to do.

So after Walter’s lunch time nap I bundled the kids into rain coats and boots, threw some umbrellas in my backpack and headed out on an adventure. I decided to walk to Admiralty and take the train one stop to TST, then walk to Harbour City where there’s currently a Where’s Wally exhibition as well as a huge Lego display.

We walk to Admiralty from Star Street, where you can go underground into Pacific Place Three and take tunnels all the way (there are underground tunnels connecting PP3, Pacific Place and Admiralty – a handy tip it took us a few weeks to work out). It’s only a few hundred metres from our building to here so we actually didn’t need to spend much time outside. From Admiralty the train to TST on the red line comes every two minutes, and the trip takes only four! At TST you take exit A1 and walk a couple of hundred metres to get to Harbour City. Here we did get wet, because Heike decided her rain jacket was too tight, then too loose, then her legs were too sore (at this point I did begin to question my decision to leave home!).

Once we got to Harbour City though we had a ball. We saw “Wally” and all his friends – Heike’s favourite of course was Wendy and our own Wally was taken with the other Wally’s dog. The kids ran amok inside the shopping centre (just a way more socially accepted thing in Hong Kong generally, which is great) and of course each had to get a small toy in the Log On on Level 3.

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Walter is looking not at me, but at the group of Asian women to my left who are also taking his photo…
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“I can pull funny faces here!”

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We then headed over towards Ocean Terminal and had an early dinner at “BLT Burger” which was nice but nothing special. I think there are nicer places to eat – there’s a Jamie’s Italian nearby (probably very busy) and a Dan Ryan’s around the corner with a bigger range. But it was good value and fairly child friendly.

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A typical action shot – Heike is too busy talking and Walter wants the phone

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After dinner we took a walk around the Cruise Terminal Shopping centre, which is where the giant Lego display is. The kids and I really enjoyed this and could have spent quite some time there if we didn’t need to make an urgent toilet stop!

From here we walked down to Ocean Terminal past the main Harbour City entrance, and saw the main Where’s Wally sculpture. By this point we were pretty over it and it was raining heavily again so we headed down to the Star Ferry to go back to Central.

I was impressed that we even took the ferry in the rain and it was actually really nice, very moody and the city looked beautiful. It was a nice change to be out and about and feel a cool breeze, and it gave me a taste of what life will be like (normal!) once the weather cools down.

By the time we got back to central it was 6pm and the taxi rank was full, so we got delivered safely to our door with no dramas! It really gave me confidence that I CAN get out and about with the kids on my own, EVEN in the rain. I feel like we’re becoming more “local” each day and nutting out how things work, and it’s a great feeling.

I’m still praying that tomorrow won’t be raining but hey, if it is I’ll manage it!

Z

Happenings: July

My sister has been staying with us for the last ten days and sadly flew back to Sydney yesterday. We miss you Aunty Sarah! While we had a fantastic whirlwind of the time, I unfortunately neglected this blog – sorry. I did however have lots of new experiences and discoveries that I can now share with you – you’re welcome!

So sit back and relax as I fill you in on the latest and greatest of our Hong Kong adventure.

– We took the train across to TST (very convenient on the red line from our local Admiralty) and did some window shopping, then ate dumplings at Din Tai Fung which were AMAZING (we did want to try the Ritz Carlton but it was booked out). We then took the ferry back across to Central which is obviously a must-do and would be amazing at night. All in all a fun and affordable day out.

photo-6– We experienced the wonder that is HONG KONG DISNEYLAND! This was such a fun and magical day, and we can’t wait to go back for Heike’s birthday. Yes, it was too hot. July is NOT the time to visit HK Disney. It was also slightly expensive, but not too much so considering it is Disney and they could essentially take you for everything you’ve got like some theme parks. This is a smaller Disneyland from what I’ve heard, and what I remember from my trip to Anaheim as a teenager, but really PERFECT for the 3-10 age group and certainly the place of my little girl’s dreams. I can imagine tweens/teens being difficult as there aren’t many thrill rides, maybe three or four. We also went without Walter which was an excellent call as he is a one year old whose main interest is running and playing with trucks, and I saw many screaming overheated babies. He would have hated it. But us girls had a lovely time – can you tell whose favourite princess is Aurora?!

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photo-7photo-9– We partook in far too much eating, drinking and general partying in and around Central HK. This included but was not limited to drinks at rooftop bars Sevva and Woolloomooloo, dinner at Brickhouse followed by drinks and too-late dancing in Lan Kwai Fong, yet another night at HK Races, dinner at (excellent) Greek restaurant Souvla followed by drinks and too-late dancing at Drop in Soho, and of course some dinners in our local Starstreet area – we love Pizza Express with the kids. I’m now tired, sober and enjoying crackers for dinner to recover.

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photo-23 – We discovered Repulse Bay, which is now known as “my happy place” – shopping and cafes directly on the beach? Water free from plastic bags? Yes please!

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photo-20– We also spent some time hanging out at Stanley Beach – less amazing but also lovely.

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photo-11-It was my birthday, which we’d planned yet another night out for, but we were trapped inside due to a T8 (Typhoon Level 8/10) warning being hoisted. We actually got a little excited for the drama but alas, nothing happened, and we spent the night indoors playing celebrity heads.

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– We finally took the children to Victoria Park, which they thoroughly enjoyed. We first took a swim in the public swimming pool ($17HK for adults and $8HK for kids) before spending ages in the playground areas (there are sections for smaller and bigger kids) and taking a walk through the park to Causeway Bay, finishing off the afternoon at King Ludwig Beer Hall with a stein.

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– There was lots and lots of quality family time, including an entire day spent indoors recovering from one of the aforementioned nights of dancing. Despite this fellow below showing us he has truly become a toddler (look at that cheeky face!) we just could not get enough of the little rascal – and he does give good cuddles to make up for any naughtiness!

photo-21So that was our ten short days, that felt like five days but in writing this post seems like we fit a lot in! Showing guests around Hong Kong is certainly trickier with little ones in tow, but done right both kids and adults can have their fun.

Right, I’m off to bed at 8pm, still recovering from all those late nights!

Z

Hong Kong Beaches Part Two: Deepwater Bay

Jump in a cab from the Mid Levels and drive just 10-15 minutes south towards Stanley and you’ll hit Deepwater Bay. A long, flat beach right next to Island Road, it’s the perfect “local” beach to head to early on a summer’s day.

We arrived at 9am and it was already 31 degrees – standard. It was a public holiday Wednesday but at that time there were still plenty of shady places to rest your towel. This beach is less covered in umbrellas than others in Hong Kong due to its great tree coverage, which saves you the $100HK for umbrella rental.

Like Shek O there’s a fenced off swimming area that keeps you safe from sharks and other killer sea life. There are also cute little pontoons you can swim out to if you want to sun bake, or just be cool and “hang” like the large group of early 20s who were hogging them when we were there!

According to some of the locals we’ve met (who seem to opine fiercely about most things!) Deepwater is “much cleaner” than Shek O, but I found it to be equally if not more dirty. In fact I was pretty much grimacing the entire time I was in the water. The only reason I didn’t run out and stay out was the heat, but even then it was a pretty close call.

It wasn’t all bad – in fact it wasn’t bad at all. The kids loved running amok, building sandcastles and splashing freely. We felt relaxed as we lay in the sun and watched them, tiny and happy. And all this just a ten minute drive from home.

BUT the water quality was fairly dire and I felt an awful little knot of homesickness in my gut, thinking about days spent at Camp Cove or Nielsen Park (amazing little Sydney harbour beaches you absolutely MUST visit if you’re nearby). We are definitely spoilt coming from Aus!

So overall, yes I recommend heading there to lie in the sun and listen to the lapping water all while watching the roller coasters zooming around at nearby Ocean Park. But don’t expect a Sydney style swim!

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Z