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I know it’s been a while, and we have so much catching up to do. Mainly, I’ve been busy with a special project that consumed my life for a while, and is just about in a lull right now leaving me time to breathe. It’s nothing earth-shattering but I want it so bad, that I can’t bring myself to talk about it.

So I’ll talk about everything else.

The kids are growing up fast. Benji has settled down at school, though he doesn’t love it. However, he’s totally into reciting the nursery rhymes he’s learnt. If you try to say it along with him, he sternly says: “Don’t sing, don’t sing.” His school books come home every weekend, and he loves looking at them and not letting Mimi get her hands on them. (Note to self: Get Mimi a school bag and put in a few books.) He particularly likes his Chinese book, and when I saw it, I thanked my stars I didn’t send him to a Cantonese-medium school because I have no idea what he’s learning in that class. Last week, I took the book to office to get some of it translated, much to the amusement of my colleagues. To complicate matters, he’s learning Putonghua not Cantonese in school, so even the little bit I know is useless.

I got my first bit of homework from school: to make a lantern with Benji for a mid-autumn festival lantern competition. I groaned and moaned and then resorted to Google where I followed the simplest instructions I could find. Somewhere along the way, I got totally into it, and had a major fight with V for criticising my efforts. Although it’s supposed to be a parent-child thing, there’s not much a child can do seeing as it involves scissors and a fair bit of coordination, but I involved Benji by getting him to stamp different patterns on the coloured paper I had bought. The result was quite charming, if I might say so myself, and I had to do a couple of extras for the kids to play with.

The biggest milestone in Benji’s life is that we got him off his pacifier (which he called “Frenny”, a short form of “friend”) a couple of weeks ago. Yes, at the ripe old age of nearly three. We were loath to do it, but I began to worry once I saw his teeth were beginning to stick out a little. Plus, he did look ridiculous with it. I googled and apparently it is not terrible for a child to use it primarily for sleeping even up to later. However, I decided to give weaning him off it a shot (half-heartedly as ever), and to leave it if he was too upset. Turns out, he was off it in a couple of days. It required a longer bedtime routine, and some crying, but it’s amazing how it was no longer part of his life in a week. We did have to hide all photos of him with paci so he wasn’t reminded, and he did gaze covetously at the dummies in the mouths of babes in the elevator, but doesn’t seem to do that much anymore. I find myself feeling nostalgic for it sometimes, it was so much a part of our lives and his “look”, ahem.

Mimi has progressed to saying two-word sentences. The longest phrase she has said is “Mummy’s office”, which unfortunately she said while pointing to a dumping ground on TV. (A professor from my uni was being interviewed and I very excitedly proclaimed: “Hey, there’s my office” only for the screenshot to change to a dumping ground a second later.) She is also clearly into animals and has a whole menagerie of soft toys that she cuddles and carries around: two meow-cats (her favourite), an owl puppet called Hooty based on a character in a book series we have, and quite an ugly electronic dog that used to bark. Being the little toughie that she is, I’m surprised that she is attached to a security blanket (“Blankie”).  She also likes trying on different shoes – hers, mine, Benji’s – and walking around with a handbag. Benji does this too, but Mimi is a bit more into it.

We just had a long weekend, and I insisted we go to Disneyland before Benji turns three and we lose the benefit of free entry although it was a hot day and a public holiday to boot. I must admit, I was super excited myself. I’ve been before but never really explored it properly although I was charmed by what I saw. We got there as soon as the gates opened but it already seemed crowded to us. Nevertheless, we managed to do three rides in the first hour, which is a good record. Unfortunately, things went downhill after lunch as the queues were serpentine and it was crazy hot. We called it a day after seeing only Tomorrowland and Fantasyland. I was kicked to go through the Small World ride that I had first experienced as a four-year-old in Tokyo Disneyland myself. V thought the air-conditioning was the best part of it, but I was moved by the depiction of cultural diversity. The high point of our (the kids and my) experience was meeting Donald Duck in person. It’s strange the thinngs kids enjoy – some kids are really not into the meet-and-greet but mine were super thrilled, with Mimi shouting “Duck!”, “Mouse!” imperiously whenever she caught sight of them. I guess it really is worth it spending a night at the hotel if going with kids as young as ours to get the full experience.

We actually had quite an eventful weekend, even taking the kids to a friend’s place on Sunday because Benji said he wanted to go. I really appreciate these friends who open their homes to our kids even though they are not parents themselves.

And last but not least, I caved and bought the iPhone C. I’m probably one of the first to get it in Hong Kong, which is saying something. I’ve noticed people staring at my phone in the train, and I haven’t seen anyone else with that model. V and I watched Apple’s presentation on the new phones and iOs system and I was in splits the whole time about how they talked up what were basically technology value-adds. Although not a panacea for any of the world’s greater problems, I still came away thinking the phones were pretty cool. One of my biggest grouses with Apple was the basic colour scheme, so I was delighted with the candyesque choices in the C range. Admittedly, it’s not cheap, but it’s what I want in a phone, I realised. Plus, as a colleague pointed out to me, the value of the Samsung I own on the resale market is dropping fast so if I want to ditch the phone, I needed to do it pronto. So I did. And I have to say, it’s so good to be back to Apple. I’m loving the new phone, smaller screen notwithstanding, everything just looks better.

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