May 2011

We had an early birthday party for G yesterday.  About fifteen children came and a few parents stayed; it was good fun and the zipwire in the garden was very popular, as were the activities I’d planned.  It was more children than I’ve invited to parties before, but – granted with some help from a couple of friends – I probably felt happier with the result than I have done with any other party in the past.

Anyway, after the party come the presents.  Lots of big, shinily-wrapped boxes, as is the way here.  Filled with toys from China, which they all love here for some reason.

This was the first to be opened:

Ooh, what is it?  It’s got a track and ramps and a little car, could be nice.  It’s a carwash.  You put the car in one end, use a lever to move it along, push a button to spray it with water, another button to turn it round, another lever to move it out through the foam drier things.  Something like that.  Of course, it broke within two minutes of coming out of the box.  Something right in the middle of the tunnel, which it’s impossible to get to because you can’t take the tunnel apart.  Daddy tinkered for a while, but as far as I can tell it’s still broken.

By this time, it was half an hour past G’s bedtime, so the remaining presents were deferred till morning.  Nice way to ensure a brief lie-in for me, while the kids opened and inspected what they could!  Here’s the first I saw when I got up:

A spiderman mask, spiderman action figure (legs not attached, either that or G had already pulled them off and broken the feet by the time I got up?  I blame China myself), spiderman sword (does Spiderman even have a sword??), two little soft plastic spiders (lovely, will no doubt find L chewing on one in a day or two and have a brief panic while I investigate if it’s real or toy) and a bit of yellow string.  I’m assuming the string came with this toy, some webbing for the mini-spiderman to throw, maybe.  I’ve made him a skipping rope.  🙂

Next up… a jigsaw puzzle.

Have to say that I wasn’t expecting this – I have heard from teachers here more than once that jigsaws are something they just don’t do at home here, and the type of reasoning involved is very difficult for the children when they first come across them.  Unfortunately, this one creased coming out of the packaging, it’s so flimsy.  It looks a little on the tough side for G, all greens and browns, but I’ll have a go with him and see what we can do.  If the pieces were twice or three times as thick, it could be a good puzzle, given a few months maybe.  But I don’t think they’re going to last that long.  Shame.

Next, something to channel G’s aggression away from L.  It’s apparently a punchbag toy.  Nice.

Next we have three cars and a little track.

Having played with the children’s playmobil trees and ELC cars, I know this stuff is flimsy in comparison and going to break in no time.  But one of the cars has survived a 5cm drop from L’s hand without breaking, so I may be being unnecessarily pessimistic!  They are cute and it’s not a bad little toy (for something made in China) and actually L spent a happy ten or fifteen minutes pushing one of the cars round on the floor this afternoon, so I can’t be too harsh.

Now the next toy has to be heard to be believed.  Unfortunately, I can’t load videos onto my blog without paying some silly sum to WordPress.  (Maybe I should start up a fund and see who wants to hear this remote control car enough that they will pay something towards it?)  I tried taking a photo with the flashing lights, but they don’t show clearly.  Nearly every part of the car lights up red or blue, while very loud (I was going to say music) noise accompanies.  “No no, no no no no, no no no no, no no there’s no limit, left, left, right, right, left left, right right, go go go!”   – you get the idea.

Anyway, we put the battery they’d helpfully included in the box into the remote, switched remote and car on (“no no, no no no no …”) and – no movement.  This car is supposed to do tricks and stuff, the instructions say so: you can see for yourself below.

No, I don’t know what it means, either, but it sounds like it could be fun!

Anyway, the lack of movement was not well-received by the children.  E suggested the car might need charging.  I pointed out that it was happily singing at top volume (“there’s no limit…”), but wondered if she might be right.  Movement uses more power than lights and music, doesn’t it?  So she plugged it in, having read that it needs six hours to charge fully.

It was only an hour later that I read this…

Do you see it?  Right there, under “Chrging”, point 3.  “Set the power switch to ON… otherwise charging is not possible.”

Set power to ON.

“No no, no no no no, no no no no…”


Now what?!

By the way, I found this present still unopened when G left for school.

Beautiful.  And too tastefully wrapped in comparison with all the others to attract a child’s eye, clearly.


The children’s snacks for school tomorrow contain:  steamed broccoli (left over from lunch – good so far), steamed carrots (with a slight charcoaly taste from being left to boil dry), very overdone pasta (which was almost left to boil dry too) and grated cheese (which fortunately didn’t dry out before I put it in their boxes, but easily could’ve done, the surprise with which I found the heap of grated cheese, five minutes after asking R to grate it).

Can you tell L kept me awake until 2am last night?  🙂

Okay, as far as it possibly ever to know (in life in general and in our family in particular), it is now decided that we will stay in our current location until December.

Hooray to knowing what’s happening, and a half-hearted whoop to the thought, do I really want to be here that long?!

L didn’t sleep for 3 hours last night, and instead regaled us with a loud and heartfelt aria concerning pain, anguish and the likelihood of imminent death.  (I think she was overreacting, but maybe she was just feeling Mummy’s mounting frustration…)  In any case, it was good exercise for her little lungs and amazingly didn’t tire her out one bit.  I am a walking zombie today, however.

R is off school today with probably the same cold L’s going down with.  She has a temperature and coughs like a saw.  It’s this heat that’s making us all sick – I’ve had a cold for goodness knows how long – but I’m sure it’s something to do with this country that makes us more ill than other countries too.

We’ve had lots of problems in the house the past couple of weeks, too.  All in all, I’m looking forward to getting on the plane and having a break from the place, hence the half-heartedness of the whoop!

Anyway, once we come back, G will go back into his class (they’ve kindly opened a place for him even though they’ve given his place to someone else already), E will go to a new school if she passes the test next week and they accept her, and R will stay home with me.  So now I can start planning it all!

And I’m looking forward to:  salad every day, getting to grips with the garden, more time with all our friends here, but not necessarily in that order.  Anyway, there’s plenty to enjoy here once I look for it!

Now that my youngest is one, I thought it might be time to try and resurrect the ol’ blog.  Theoretically I have a little more time on my hands, although in reality I’m preparing for a possible house move.

“Possible”.  Interesting word in that context.  Most expats here have uncertainty about when they will be allowed to come and work in this country.  We have uncertainty about when we will leave.  Usually when someone does not have a planned departure, it’s because they’re given three days to pack their bags…  In our case, it’s two things:  M has no replacement for his current job, and his new job (which doesn’t yet exist, so no hurry to take over from someone leaving, at least) needs a work permit, which may take longer to process than was initially thought.

“How do you cope with the uncertainty?” someone asked me the other week.  The funny thing is, I’ve known since last summer that this was likely to be our last year here, and also I’ve known that the chosen destination (Canada) was a possibility.  For six months, the future remained uncertain.  Maybe Canada, maybe somewhere else.  Most likely not here.  Occasionally, staying here (but with a different organisation) floated about as a possibility, but each time it was eventually discounted and we were back where we had been before.  In February, M decided that a decision should at some point be made and that time should be now (February now, not May 9th now).  So he accepted the job and I finally allowed myself to get excited.  Maybe six weeks later, when staying here was again floating about (like a lazy housefly that buzzes near your head and stubbornly refuses to be swatted), he pointed out that as yet no contract had been signed, so perhaps I had been a little premature to believe it to be a done deal…

<sigh>  I said to the aforementioned friend that uncertainty had been hanging about so long it was no problem to me now – but you can tell that’s not really true, can’t you?  The contract has now been signed, and we will be going, but when is unknown.  August?  September?  October?  December?  Any of the above or none, as far as we can tell.  We just don’t have enough information to know!

Just got an email through from some organisation selling things:  “How hot do you want to look this summer?”



I already KNOW how hot I look!  It’s 45-plus these days, and it’s not getting any cooler – all the way to our leaving date at the beginning of June…