Today, the 6th of May 2016, you have existed in this world for an entire year. Much has happened since my last update back in the beginning of August when I wrote the last blog post about you.
Papa had finished producing a music album earlier in the summer by a Swedish friend and world-class singer Viktoria Tocca. Papa spent two years producing, arranging, mixing and finally mastering the album as an audiophile product. The album got released in Hong Kong at the HK Convention and Exhibition Center and Viktoria flew to Hong Kong for the release.
Later, in late April 2016, this very album was awarded ALBUM OF THE YEAR at the Indie Music Channel Awards in Los Angeles. Papa was a proud papa!
But schedules sometimes don’t align, at least according to Murphy’s Law, so after a quick chat in Sai Kung town and a brief encounter between you and Viktoria, papa flew to Vietnam to attend the wedding of one of his best friends in Hong Kong – Thomas Lo and Koora May Lee. Thomas had organized a 3-day tour de force to be reckoned with as far as wedding planning and I must admit it was 3 days jam packed with wild moments, magic and all around beauty!
Mama had just gone back to work towards the end of July as Hong Kong only allows 10 weeks of maternity leave. Papa was taking care of you full time but in the beginning of August we hired a part-time helper 4 days a week for 6 hours a day. This allowed papa to take care of his own business as well as the household without having to keep an eye on you, though you still hadn’t started moving around on your own yet.
Your new helper was called “Weng” (Rowena Garcia) and she was the first person to help take care of you outside of mama and papa. At this point there was almost daily “firsts”. For example, you learned to eat with a spoon.
On the 16th of August you vocalized a laughter for the first time.
Later in August mama and papa wanted to take some photos with a professional photographer friend, Dino, but that day happened to be one of the hottest of the year. We were all sweating our asses off and to say the least, even your otherwise jovial attitude was less than desirable for that precious Kodak moment…
On 9/11, a day most people of my generation connect with terrible events, you managed to get yourself out of the baby seat which was placed on a table and decided to test free fall while daddy went to the John. I heard a sudden cry and ran out and saw you on the floor. My heart stopped. I inspected you from head to toe but not a single scratch despite falling 3 feet. That was the day papa started believing in guardian angels. From that point we knew you would never sit still in a chair again.
On the 26th of September you were able to sit on our couch and lean forward followed by bending yourself back up again – multiple times without falling over like you had in the past.
Then you finally figured out how to twist and do a 180 turn from being on your back to being on your tummy sometimes on the 29th of September.
On the 1st of October papa took you to the ocean at Pak Lap Wan and you went swimming for the first time. You were very focused and tense and squeezed your little hands but you didn’t cry at all.
Later in October we started to feed you various forms of solid food in pure-form. You especially liked fruit pure. On the 27th of October you squeezed out, after much, much effort, your very first turd! Probably because you ate an entire mushed-up banana the day before.
On the 31st of October Weng stopped working for us because she was about to have her own little baby. She was 8 months pregnant.
After Weng her sister Chelle (Rochelle Garcia) started working for us part time. You two had fantastic chemistry. You loved Chelle and she loved you! She was only with us for a few months while we tried to find a full-time helper for you. She was with you between November 2015 – January 2016. They were 3 very happy months for you!
Well, outside of the times when Chelle tried to make you crawl but you wanted to hear none of it!
On the 29th of November papa decided to test his physical endurance and took you for a 4-hour hike to Hoi Ha and back – 13 kilometers in all. We didn’t know how you would react but you were happy as a clam, enjoying every second of it. Papa was feeling his age but persevered and carried your 9 kilos up and down mountains despite his leg muscles begging for mercy.
On the 6th of January, when you turned 8 months old, you caught your very first cold. I laced your milk with naturally derived vitamin C and made a pate with smoked salmon and raw garlic as well as homegrown chives, dill and chili peppers, a squirt of sunflower oil, a pinch of salt and organic creme cheese. Mama was horrified as all her other mama friends in Hong Kong were firm believers in NO spice, NO salt, well apparently NOTHING at all except kanji…
As I had learned that you seem to have papas taste buds it was not unexpected that you absolutely loved papas anti-cold pate! You got well within 3 days without the need for medicine or doctor visits. You haven’t been sick since.
Your first two teeth broke through the gum in January and you were drooling, a LOT.
We met with friends, survived Christmas and New Years, traveled on the MTR and you were always the constant charmer and center of attention.
You finally figured out how to crawl, well, somewhat – you could only crawl backwards by pushing with your arms while your legs were mainly flopping like a fish out of water, i.e. your propulsion-ability still needed a bit of refinement.
By now you could also turn and twist but for some reason you didn’t enjoy being on your tummy as anything past 10 seconds on your belly would be a sure-fire hissy fit.
On the 8th of January you turned for the first time in your baby bed, which was much more restricted in allotted space for clumsy turning.
Towards the end of January you went to your very first casting session in Causeway Bay for an upcoming baby commercial by the baby formula giant Mead Johnson.
You got the job!
Later in February you attended a costume fitting in Chai Wan. You smiled naturally at the costume girls who fell in love with you and the director thought you were a seasoned child actor.
You went to the shoot on January 27th in an apartment in Happy Valley. 8 hours of shooting with full cast and crew. You were a champ. You smiled genuinely and was just being yourself while the director took shots after shots. But we had to make you cry as well for a specific shot which wasn’t hard to do, we just waited until you were tired and hungry.
You impressed the hell out of every single crew member on that shoot crew.
I wish I could share the video here but unfortunately in Hong Kong a commercial needs to be approved by every “boss” under the sun, moon and stars, so around revision 157 projected to occur in 2017 we may see the final product…
At the end of January you had to say Bye Bye to Chelle as she had to start working for someone else. It was a sad moment for both you and Chelle. She missed you a lot when not taking care of you and she still asks about you and sent us her birthday wishes to you today via a mobile phone message.
February was a rough month for papa. Papa really needed to be able to focus on work in the music studio and had counted on other help after Chelle. But our intended full-time helper fell sick with cancer and 3 months of over 40 interviews, preparation, visa work with immigration, etc, suddenly had to start from scratch again. Papa tried to find some temporary part-time help but learned the hard way that every helper is not the same…
I’ll spare the ugly details here. You were still in a good mood which was the most important factor and daddy, though stressed as hell, did thoroughly enjoy our full days together.
On the 11th of February you showed us that you could drink water out of your cup completely by yourself without aiding adult hands.
February 2016 was outside of being very stressful for papa and mama also the coldest month on record in Hong Kong. On the coldest day the temperature reached +0.5 degrees at our house in Ko Tong Ha Yeung. You didn’t seem to mind the cold.
As papa didn’t have any help, despite backlogged production in his studio, he took you out to Sai Kung town in the afternoons where you got to try all kinds of new dishes at local cafes, while entertaining the other guests. Here you get to try the cream and homemade berry jam at “Let’s Jam”.
While spending all day with you I also took the chance to go and look for new houses where we intended to move as our current house was simply too small. We probably visited about 20 different houses and you got to see all of them.
You especially reacted to one house which was only 6 kilometers from our then current house. You were waving and clapping your hands and making lots of sounds in what looked like to me an approving gesture. As mama and papa also liked the place we decided to rent it, after getting the rental price down $7,000 a la papa-style!
On the 22nd of February you duplicated something for the first time. I would clap my hands and then you would clap yours.
February did finally end and in March our new full-time helper Junah arrived back from the Philippines. Papa had lots of music projects to attend to and we started packing.
Papa also started renovating the new house as he had to build a new room to incorporate his future music studio.
We moved on April 2nd. It was very stressful as papa had more projects in the studio than at any time in the last 6 years, mama was working full time and our new helper Junah was getting grooved in.
But we made it. Don’t ever underestimate a move! It takes a LOT of work to pack, move and set up a new place.
But we did it! You love our new home!
We even had time to go out to Sai Kung town and enjoy a Philadelphia Sandwich at the newly opened Chef’s Choice, well, papa did and you got to taste some of the bread and coleslaw.
When we moved our old neighbor Brad and Amy gave us a toy stroller for you to start practice walking. In mid April you started using it and you absolutely LOVED it! Any time you do something on your own you become enthralled.
On the 2nd of May your cousins Sing Sing (4) and Siu Bui (8 months old) came with their family to do an early celebration of your birthday. You got to taste you very first cake – a lot of it, and ALL over the place!
For today, your actual birthday, mama made a cherry cheesecake for you. We cut you a big piece and on papa’s order we let you do whatever you wanted with it. You complied in full and splurged on the cherry cheesecake! With your dexterous spoon movements the cheesecake slid off the plate like oil on a Teflon pan and into your mouth, well, most of the time…
Happy Birthday Nina!