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  • Monkey 4:16 pm on March 10, 2014 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Alex, cinema, cineworld, movies,   

    Taking a toddler to the cinema, and getting a refund… 

    As a film fan, I’ve been internally wondering when the best time would be to take our three-year-old toddler to the cinema. Take him too early, and it may traumatise him for life. Take him too late, and he may not pick up the cinema film habit. And with an average film ticket costing £10 or more, you don’t really want to waste your time if it’s not going to work out.

    But our local Cineworld offers Movies For Juniors, where adults and children can see a film for £1. This weekend, they were showing the Disney Oscar-winning film Frozen that HyperHam had wanted to see. So with some minor trepdiation and a “Be prepared for anything!” attitude, we booked our tickets online.

    It all seemed to go so well to begin with. Monkey marched up the stairs like he owned the place – although, to be fair, he tends to do that with any set of stairs he sees – and then ran across the communal hallway like a boy who likes running. He sat down in the seats while we told him the big television was going to start soon. One minor hiccup involving fidgety feet and a huge mega-gulp drinks bucket notwithstanding, it was going smoothly so far.

    Then the adverts started, which he diligently sat through. And the trailers, which he also diligently sat through, while occasionally asking for his favourite TV programme. Today’s digital on-demand generation – spoilt, I tells ya…

    Then the short before the main feature started. And that’s when his itchy feet couldn’t take any more, and demanded to run up and down the stairs across the cinema. And try as we might, we couldn’t persuade him to sit quietly. So we ended up leaving the auditorium for the cool spring sunshine outside, where he happily spent another thirty minutes running up and down stairs.

    It subsequently turns out that Cineworld offer a policy whereby if you have to leave the movie before it even starts, have a word with the manager on duty, and he/she may well refund your ticket price or give you vouchers to use for another day. Which seems remarkably nice of them – so a top money-saving tip there!

     
  • Monkey 10:14 am on August 22, 2012 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Alex, , lettertoalex   

    Dear 19-month-old Alex… 

    You’re going to be 19 months old tomorrow. And yes, for the last three months (at least) you’ve been walking, making the odd noise and using me as your exo-skeleton and pointing in the general direction of places you want to go to when you can’t be bothered to walk there.

    Indeed, we’ve managed to put you on a harness and let you walk wherever you want to. You love climbing stairs and steps, but have yet to realise that when there’s vertical space between you and the ground, that’s generally a dangerous thing. You’re also fascinated by opening and closing doors, even if you fail to notice the real hand opening and closing them, and the fact you’ve had your finger trapped in the hinges once already.

    But in the last couple of days you’ve managed to surprise me even more. How? The noises you’ve been making are starting to sound suspiciously like consonants. And they’ve come with a happy lilt. Now, I may be reading too much into this, but I get the feeling that you’re getting the handle on how to be expressive, and you’re quite happy about it too.

    Plus you’ve now stopped screaming when I leave the house for work.

    Love you!

    Dad

     
  • HyperHam 10:54 am on February 23, 2012 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Alex, belief systems, , ,   

    Love the Sinner, Hate the Sin 

    The Mormons are at it again, baptising Jews from the Holocaust, most notably this past Saturday, when Anne Frank was posthumously given the chance to join Mormonism in the afterlife. While the Mormon heirarchy has once again blamed ‘overzealous’ church underlings, the Jewish community has just about had it with their shenanigans, as well they should – the Mormons vowed in both 1995 and 2010 to stop this practice on Holocaust survivors. Anne herself has allegedly been baptized a few times now, and I assume had it rescinded every time the Mormons were caught out. One would have thought they would have employed a ‘no backsies’ approach to the baptism or rescinding, but that’s just me. Now some may say that if you don’t believe in the baptism, you shouldn’t mind if it happens to people long dead, but for me it’s not the actual act that bothers me – it’s the sentiment behind it.

    I have a real issue with religion lately. I think of course before I begin that I should define religion and faith. Faith is inspired by God, and is therefore pure. Religion is created by man, and is therefore is sullied and pompous. The Pope, a guy who was born a regular bloke, is by the decision of a bunch of cardinals and a plume of smoke, now considered to be infallible – the new Christ. Evangelicals consider themselves ‘higher’ than others (including other religions), which is why they HAVE to go to all corners of the world to preach the Good News – they are called by God to convert everyone to their way, the correct way, of thinking. And Mormons, believing all other belief systems to be invalid, have no problem baptising the dead, as they see it as the only way to give their poor souls a chance to convert to the “true” Mormon religion. It’s not even about God anymore, it’s a pissing contest between men.

    We have an enormous amount of beliefs/religions in our neighborhood – off the top of my head I can think Muslim, Sikh, Catholic, Church of England, general Protestant, athiest, agnostic, and Hindu. Baby Alex will be taught that all people of all faiths have the potential for good, and should be treated with equal respect. But I find it very difficult to apply that same principle to the leaders of the religions. For instance, I have, by virtue of going to a Catholic school for 12 years, many devout Catholic friends. One of my dear friends, M, is actually studying to become a Benedictine monk, one of the most stringent sects of Catholicism. I adore him; I hate his boss. But when the heads of the Catholic church gets caught with their hands in the Vatican bank, or shuffles paedophile priests from parish to parish, I cannot place those sins on M. He’s just trying to love his God the best he can.

    When I meet a Mormon, I don’t scream STOP BAPTISING DEAD JEWS, just as I wouldn’t scream TERRORIST to a random Muslim person. And yet, that’s what religions attempt to do – lambast the other with transgressions while conveniently forgetting their own. I once actually had an American schoolmate parrot to me the old Fox News line: “Not all Muslims are terrorists, but all terrorists are Muslim.” Considering I now live in a country that for 25 years was held in fear by the Irish Republican Army, a group of white Catholic terrorists, and she herself was a white Catholic with apparently no clue what happened outside her own little world, I found that both exceedingly funny and stomach-churningly sad. The self-enforced ignorance of the atrocities of one’s own belief system is a baffling concept to me. It’s one thing to say “I know that the head of my belief system has historically done some really shitty stuff, but I will work every day to pull my faith out of it’s shame through my good works”. It’s quite another to stick your fingers in your ears and yell “LALALALA I CAN’T HEAR YOU, EVERYONE IS WRONG AND WE ARE RIGHT!”. The old speck of dust/plank of wood in the ol’ eyeball story comes to mind.

    I’ve said before that if Alex decides to convert to a different faith, as long as he is respecting others and doing good in the world, I will be okay with it. I know that might seem ridiculous to some, but I’d rather him love his fellow man as an atheist than fall into a religion that pushed hierarchy over selflessness. I want to raise a good kid, not a good Catholic/Lutheran/Evangelical/Druid/Jew/and on and on and on.

     
    • Dale 4:53 pm on February 23, 2012 Permalink | Reply

      I really enjoyed reading this post. Don't know if Andy ever said (or even if he knows) but I am a Mormon, and the heading, Love The sinner Hate the sin, is the creed that I and my wife try to live by. Too often I've seen members of my Church "look down" on others because they are not living in a way members think they should. Everybody really does have free will, and I will start judging people when I myself am perfect, which I can tell you, will take much longer than next thursday. I am a true an honest believer that if we stop worrying about what others are doing, and try to become a better person ourselves, then most of the problems the planet have will go away all by themselves.

      • HyperHam 5:31 pm on February 23, 2012 Permalink | Reply

        Thanks Dale! As I said, it would be idiotic of me to be mad at all Mormons for the actions of the few, just as with my Muslim neighbors or Catholic friend. It just kills me what the people in charge try to get away with in the name of 'their' way of doing things. They tend to forget that man has been around a few million years, and there is no perfect way of doing anything.

        Be good, don't suck, help others, the rest will fall in place.

      • HyperHam 1:42 pm on February 25, 2012 Permalink | Reply

        Dale, I have a question. As a non-Mormon, I do not have access to the LDS records, but I know Mormons do. Is there any way I can give you my family's name and you can see if they are listed as Mormon or not? I have tried contacting LDS (via mormon.org), to no avail. Thanks.

  • HyperHam 2:52 pm on January 31, 2012 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Alex,   

    Advice for new parents, from…a new parent 

    Alex turned 1 year old last week. We didn’t do anything major – his aunts and uncles came over and sang him Happy Birthday, and he was more interested in the fruit on his cake than the cake itself, but it was nice, and we got to have a great family moment. Since then I’ve been vacillating between calling him a baby or a big boy – he can pull himself up now, and take small steps when we hold him; he can feed himself by hand, and hold his own sippy cup to drink, and we’re working on him feeding himself with a spoon; he’s chatty and adventurous and loveable in his own special way.

    A few weeks ago we were at a cafe, and sat next to us were a couple with a 10 week old. I commented that they looked great for having only had the kid a few months, and that I couldn’t remember the last time I numbered my baby’s age in weeks (rather than months). Andrew said it gets easier, and I was just about to launch into some tired platitude like ‘cherish these moments, they grow so fast!’ when I stopped.

    It’s right around the 1 year mark when parents think they can start giving out unsolicited advice (rather than always be on the receiving end), and I always found it a bit annoying, especially since some of it was downright stupid (someone actually said to me once regarding my overtired 6 month old, “Give him some gin with a little honey, he’ll go right down”. Thank you, Drunky McStupid, but I think I won’t poison my kid with honey and booze just yet). But, as this is the Internet, where unsolicited advice rules over everything else, here is my bit of advice for new or expectant parents:

    Whatever the hell works, work it.

    If wearing your baby 24 hours a day works, do it. If your copy of Gina Ford is falling apart from you thumbing through it, do it. If £3500 worth of the fanciest baby gadgets gives you peace of mind, do it. If you have to call Crysis and your peds doc every three hours, DO IT. If making all his food by scratch works, or if buying everything off the shelf works, do it. And while I am grossly against it, if you feel like not immunizing your kid is somehow better for them, as much as it pains me to say, do it. Pretty much everything short of hitting your kid or abusing drugs and alcohol, if it gets you through the day, do it.

    It’s hard enough in this world of overinformation, where everyone seems to be an expert, to figure out how to be a good parent. It’s even harder when you feel like you have to be the ‘expert’ parent. For example, the other day I got mad at myself because I wasn’t doing my 20 minutes per day of Cantonese lessons with Alex. Let me restate that for all of you: I was mad at myself because my son, who would eat his own poop if I let him, wasn’t getting his 20 minutes of structured lesson plans per day. Ridiculous.

    Your job is to be the best parent in the world…for your kid. If that means tv time and a late bedtime, fine. If it means Suzuki piano lessons at 9 months, fine. As long as you are doing what you feel is the very best for your kid, *AND* you are honestly evaluating yourself every once in awhile to make sure it is the right thing for them (and not just for your ego/laziness/etc), then go for it. Don’t worry about the experts, your job is to get through the first year with your brain still intact.

    Good luck, and remember – it’s only 365 days. Try your best 365 times, and you will be fine.

     
  • HyperHam 1:55 pm on November 20, 2011 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Alex, grandparents, Hong Kong, Ohio, , ,   

    The modern traditional family 

    My husband and I are geeks, through and through. When the baby went down for bed yesterday, we could have folded clothes or played a few levels of Portal 2. Guess what won out? (The laundry got folded this morning, no worries). So this noon when it was time to feed Alex lunch, we noticed that both my parents (in the US) and his folks (in Hong Kong) were online. We pretty much pushed the boundries of Skype (and our broadband!), but there we were, with laptops sitting next to each other, and two sets of grandparents watching their grandson enjoy lunch. It was 7 am in Ohio, noon in London, and 8 pm in Hong Kong, but were any other family sitting down to a Sunday meal.

    People decry technology for the downfall of the family. “We’ve become too isolated!”, they screech. “We can’t even talk to each other anymore!” And I agree. Technology, like ANYTHING else in the world, can hurt you if you let it. But considering technology helped me find my husband, keep in touch with him when we lived an ocean apart, and keep our family together now that baby Alex is here, I can only find good in technology. Yes, I check my email while I feed baby his morning milk. Yes, my husband is on his phone first thing in the morning. Yes, my son understands what most remotes in the house do. And yes, we do love Portal 2. But, this is our family.

    Non-traditional, geeky, and always loving.

     
  • HyperHam 7:22 am on July 4, 2011 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Alex, newborn   

    Why Your Baby Sucks 

    In another of the “Things that Suck”, we now go from feeding your baby to your baby itself.  In my five months of being a parent, one thing is now crystal clear:  Newborns suck.  People tell new parents to hang on, the first six weeks are the hardest, and they are right, but at the magical six week mark I wanted…I don’t know…something to change.  I wasn’t expecting him to quote Nietzsche, but I guess I was expecting a little more than the screaming, potato-looking poop machine that I had been dealing with for the last 42 days.  Don’t get me wrong, I loved that spud more than my life, but it was a let down.  I was still healing from massive episiotomy, my house was a mess, my body was awash in hormones, and my kid was no smarter/cooler/more responsive than he was yesterday.  My ROI (return on investment) was not really panning out.

    It’s not till the 4 month mark that babies stop slightly sucking.  Alex can sit on my lap with just one hand around him, not me holding him at 298282 points because his stupid head kept flopping.  He has a pretty set schedule of feeds and sleep, as opposed to OMG I AM SLEEPY OMG I AM STARVING OMG SOMETHING IS WRONG AND I WON’T TELL YOU AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH… every damn day and night.  When he smiles, I know it isn’t necessarily gas, but because he is enjoying himself.  He can keep himself occupied with a mobile or toy, versus at 6 weeks when his only entertainment seemed to be watching me stare at him and intone – “What the hell is going on?  Why are you screaming?  We have to figure this out.  Are you hungry/thirsty/tired/dehydrated/sick/dying/had a limb removed/sleepy/awake/too hot/too cold/wet/dry?!?!?!  WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON HERE?!?!?!”

    At five months, I feel like we are really hitting our stride, but Alex is such a Rubix cube – every time I think I have one side down, I realize there are so many more facets to him.  Well, we’ll figure it out.  We always do.  And even when I fail, I can think – at least he doesn’t suck.

     
  • HyperHam 2:14 pm on July 1, 2011 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Alex, american, , mixed race family,   

    The little old lady smiled genially at me cuddling my son.

    “What an adorable boy!” she cooed.

    I thanked her.

    She noticed my accent, and we chatted about where she had been in the States.

    Tickling my son’s foot, she then asked, “And where is he from?”

    Oh, I said, he’s a Brit.

    “No,” she said, “originally.  Originally, where he is from?”

     

    Sigh.

     

    Ah, the joys of multiracial families.  For those of you new to our saga, I am white American and my husband is BBC – British born Chinese.  When my husband holds our son on outings, people give him the type of look that you normally give doting fathers with their offspring.  A kind tilt of the head, and a sweet nod.  When I am out with my son, I generally get a slightly questioning look, one that asks “Why is the nanny being so over-familiar with her client’s kid?”

    It’s hard not to take it personally, the fact that our family is a bit of an oddity.  According the the 2001 UK census, only 15% of British Chinese males married outside of their race, half of the percentage of British Chinese females.  You will generally see far more BBC females with other race males than BBC males with people who look like me.  It genetics, pure and simple.  My husband has the stronger genes, and our son is the spitting image of him.  I am a caretaker in their eyes, not a genetic contributor.  And some days, it stings.  I look at pictures myself or my sister and her kids as babies, with our bright blond ringlets and large light blue eyes, and I try to mash it in my head with my son’s dark brown hair and soft almond eyes.  I tell myself that Alex got my fierce spirit, my cheekiness, my drive.  I remind myself that I am just as much in there as his father, it’s just a bit more difficult to see at first glance. When a Chinese mother pushes her mixed race baby in a pram, you can generally tell they share DNA. I don’t have that luxury.

    The exchange above wasn’t the first time someone asked about us.  We had just gotten off the plane from London to Chicago to visit my family when Alex and I ducked into an airport bathroom to freshen up.  A lady in the basin areas commented on Alex’s good nature, and I boasted that he was very genial after a seven hour flight, no mean feat for a then 4 month old.  “Oh!  He’s adopted!” she exclaimed, as if the light bulb went off, trying to understand why we were paired together.  When I explained (nicely) that no, his father was Chinese, she said, “Oh, I thought you went over to China to pick one up.”  Setting aside the fact that children are not accessories that one pops over to pick up (thank you Madonna for perpetuating that thought process), on what planet would it ever be acceptable to say something like that to a mother?  I pasted on a smile, got Alex cleaned up, and met Monkey outside the restroom area, who himself was slightly perplexed that a woman had just come out of the bathrooms and given him and up and down look (maybe she thought he wasn’t really my husband, but a baby broker.  The world may never know).

    But back to the lady from before, asking where my son was from.  I wanted to say “Originally, he’s from my vagina.”  And believe me people, after a 66 hour labor with multiple instrumentation and massive hemmorage, I have every right to give props to my vagina for all it had endured.  But, I didn’t.  I smiled, and re-iterated that he was British born and bred.  She got the picture, and no more was said on the subject.  Ah well.  Putting up with well meaning (and eventually, non well meaning) people who don’t quite understand Mendel’s Dihybrid Cross is a small price to pay for having the most wonderful boy in the world.

    In the end,  I don’t care if I never ‘see’ myself in Alex – I know I am there, in every smile, in every cry.  When it comes down to it, DNA doesn’t make you a parent – the hours you put in, the sleepless nights, the worrying, the laughter, the tears, the blood, the pain, the joy – THAT makes you a parent.  My son is an original, born into the brave new world of multi-cultures, multi-nationalities, and multi-races.   He may have a hard road ahead finding his way amongst so many different worlds, but one thing will always stay the same.  Mummy loves him.  Daddy loves him.  And that, folks, is all that matters.

     

     
    • almost witty 3:38 pm on July 1, 2011 Permalink | Reply

      Alex is going to get the "No, really, where are you from?" question for the rest of his life. Like I always have. I've started replying that I'm actually from Argentina…

    • Kaitlin 3:49 pm on July 1, 2011 Permalink | Reply

      I once met a very white woman holding a very black baby at the park and as we started talking I couldn't help but wonder if she was the mother, the nanny, an adoptive or biological mother. I said nothing as I did not want to offend her and it later came up that she was in the process of trying to adopt her. I am very aware of how the stereotyping can feel on such an opposite end of the spectrum as I am adopted and people often size up my mom and I or my brothers and myself and say things like, "You guys really look a like," or "I see it in the eyes." I'm not ashamed of my adoption and have never felt like I was treated differently than my brother. I was told at a very young age so it's just something that is part of my life and I don't bring it up unless it comes up in conversation. I usually just reply, "Oh really. That's weird since I'm adopted." My dad had a friend once ask him how he could love his adopted children as much as his own son and my dad was stunned. He couldn't understand why he wouldn't love us just as much. People make such odd assumptions and I find that I do it myself, even if I don't speak it. You are definitely correct in saying that all that matters is the love you show him.

  • HyperHam 12:45 pm on May 5, 2011 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Alex, gaming, ,   

    Monkey and I won Portal 2 a few days ago.  Technically, Monkey won it, I served as the World’s Most Annoying Backseat Gamer.  I couldn’t help myself, once I figured out how it was all supposed to work, I obsessed over it till we were done.  You know, there are a lot of parenting manuals out there, styles of raising your kids, from Gina Ford’s strictness to co-op commune.  Helicopter moms versus Hands Off dads.  I think there is an under-represented parenting style, The Gamer Parent.

     

    The Gamer Parent (TGP) tends to overhype the arrival of the new game, but rarely reads up on the game itself (spoilers!).

    TGP sees each day, even each hour as a different level to be conquered.  She knows that the game won’t solve itself – she has to be willing to risk it all for the big reward.

    TGP is hyper aware of every small clue along the way, and will often journal or blog her progress as a way of remembering and seeing new patterns in play.

    TGP  can often become myopic and has to be reminded to step away from the game every once in awhile, lest she gets burnt out.

    TGP often uses the Internet for tips and hints on her level – specific issue.

    TGP understands that even though a particular level seems impossible, she can’t give up.  She has to keep slogging through.

     

    Right now we are dealing with constipation.  We’re doing warm baths, tummy massage, trying to give water, everything and anything.  Before that, it was painful gas and spitting up.  Before that, it was jaundice.  The levels change, the game as a whole stays the same.  You adapt, or die.  You take help where you can find it.  You remember to keep your head about you.  You rejoice in well planned executions as well as happy accidents.  You never give up.

     

    You never give up.

     

    You never give up.

     

    And if all else fails, UPDOWNUPDOWNLEFTRIGHTLEFTRIGHTABABSELECTSTARTGIN.

     
  • HyperHam 12:01 pm on May 4, 2011 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Alex   

    Alex turned 100 on Monday.  He’s ginormous, over 13 lbs and in the 90% for length.  He’s getting his (late) 12 week jabs on Friday.  He is visually fascinated by things, but doesn’t yet grasp for them.  He likes to barf when doing tummy time, and can sit up against the couch for about 5 seconds without falling over.  He sits outward facing in the carrier, loves to smile at strangers who stop to coo at him.  He’s way cool with being held by everyone, and is laid back with strangers and our two *awesome* babysitters.  His face is fascinating – he’s starting to really come into his own with nuances of looks.  I can hear the differences in his cries, and he babbles constantly when he wants something – he really strains to communicate his position with you.  He loves to be massaged and have his legs bicycled (being colicky early on, we massage constantly), and his laugh is infectious.  He has a sleep schedule of naps during the day, and sleeps through the night.  I love pushing him in his pram, but even more love carrying him, feeling his happy warmth near me.  When he is asleep, I look at pics and vids of him – I am that much in love with him.

     
  • HyperHam 3:06 pm on May 3, 2011 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Alex, barack obama, , friends, osama bin laden   

    I just unfriended someone on FB that I have known since I was 12 or so – 23 years.  She put up a status update which essentially said that Obama only caught Osama by using Bush era intel, that he only caught Osama when he did because his poll numbers were lagging, and how waterboarding got us the intel we needed, etc.  Now, I can go through one by one and point out that if the Bush intel was so great, why didn’t Bush ever use it, that if he wanted to really use the death/capture of Osama, he would have waited till just before the Primaries and blown the GOP out of the water, and that everyone, right and left, have agreed that waterboarding and other inhumane torture methods were not used to get the intel needed to kill Osama.  I could have, but I didn’t bother.  It’s like dealing with Birthers, or people who believe the Earth is six thousand years old, and kids used to play with dinosaurs – logic and facts don’t matter to them.  They only care about their own predjudices and viewpoints.  I realized that I had nothing in common with this person, and probably hadn’t for a very long time.  (I do like the irony of her being religious and also apparently pro-torture.  I don’t remember Jesus ever saying “Suffer the little children to come unto me…I SAID SUFFER, MOTHERFUCKERS!”).  Ah well. 

    I don’t know why I bother keeping some of these tenuous ties up – is it nostalgia, or selfishness, or vanity?  I just don’t know.  Monkey says I think about this too much, that I can just set status updates and such so people can’t see them.  I say why not just get rid of them?  Why go through extra effort to hide your life from someone, when you could *really* hide, and just kick them off?  Alex is just starting to nap on his own, it’s not like I have oodles of extra time to go through my lists and hide some, scan others, etc etc etc. 

    Sigh.  I thought being a geek meant I didn’t have to *deal* with people!

     
    • Mosh 4:58 pm on May 3, 2011 Permalink | Reply

      According to the frequently changing and contradictory statements being released intelligence was gathered, in part, by using "Enhanced Interrogation Techniques". Now come on – tell me that's not a euphamism for "torture".

    • @Mosh 5:00 pm on May 3, 2011 Permalink | Reply

      According to the frequently changing and contradictory statements being released intelligence was gathered, in part, by using "Enhanced Interrogation Techniques". Now come on – tell me that's not a euphamism for "torture".

      And OpenID logon here still doesn't work unless it's a Chrome issue.

      • HyperHam 5:03 pm on May 3, 2011 Permalink | Reply

        I'll tell Monkey about the Chrome, he's generally on FF.

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