Among my favorite things to do with the gals are:
Yes, we love to watch movies like The Sound of Music, Fiddler on the Roof and Mary Poppins and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (though, I must admit, that one was actually a bit hard to get through. It was surprisingly boring for a movie about a magical car).
If you haven't heard my confessional before, the first movie that my girls ever attended in a proper theatre was Mama Mia. It's not that I'm a lover of musicals: just a select few. And really, what is more sing-alongable to than an ABBA song? (Really, folks. It was a great movie. No gratutious violence or sex. Just dancing and singing and good, clean fun.)
Of course, Emily had her eyes shut the first half of the movie, saying, "The TV is too big - I can't watch it!' but once we persuaded her to pry her eyes open and start rocking out to the music, there was no stopping her. She was dancing in the aisles by the end, and we are now (much to my husband's chagrin) proud owners of the movie. Just last week the girls requested a re-watch. Lord knows, they're a lot more stressed out by Home Alone and ET and other so-called children's movies than they are by mommy's adult musical favorites.
Aside from rousing singalong movie watching, I love to exercise with my daughters. The last few weeks Emily and I have started doing Pilates together. We mute the bits where we have memorized the instructors's inane comments and we mimic the things she says like, "Tighten your buns, girls" or "Squeeze those abs," or "Give it all you've got, gals. Think how good you're gonna feel when it's all done."
We also have a lot of fun going on hikes through our local Hong Kong mountains. This is a whole family activity and we are often joined by our best buddies, too. Rain or shine, we always have a lot of fun shimmying over the hills. Bribery in the form of chocolate is usually included and there are always a lot of stories and jokes Surely you have you heard the one about the three-legged dog who walks into the bar and tells the bartender, "I'm looking for the man who shot my paw." If you accompany us on our gallavants, these are the kinds of jokes you will hear. Again and again.
Hanging Out on the Beach
We are lucky enough to have a little beach in the front of the village we live in, just a moment's walk from our house. Some of our most pleasant times together have been spent picking up shells (or garbage!), bringing down picnics on warm Sunday afternoons, floating in the sea when the weather is warm, and some half-hearted attempts at fishing. Often we'll drag down the lawn chairs and, in the colder weather, a flask of hot chocolate (I brought down Baileys to spike mine with at Christmas) and some baked goods. I'll often bring a book sometimes and settle in for a good lounge while the gals enact elaborate fantasies or reenact scenes from The Lion King. The satisfaction and deep contentment I feel being beside the sea with happy daughters beside me is indescribable.
What could be better? We make time for this every day and it is almost always the highlight of my day. There are few times I can remember in our seven odd years of parenting that we have gone without reading to our kids before bed. Every once in a while there is an occasion (that actually feels a bit sad) where Charlotte will ask if she can read alone in her bed. I know these times will come more frequently before long, and reading in the bed (or tub!) or anywhere is a great, private pleasure that needn't be shared. Even so, we most often say, "Let's read together first and then you can go read on your own for a bit, too."
The pleasures of the read aloud are still with me from my primary years when the itinerant librarian, Ms. Lindor, a big bosomed, masculine woman came to our school once a week to read to us from The Secret Garden or James and the Giant Peach or other books that remain classics to this day. If I do say so myself, I am an excellent read alouder and will miss the days when I am no longer called upon to do so.
|Emily wearing her Aunty Coly's bikini top.|
While I don't want my daughters to become too "precious" (and they're not), we do enjoy the act of prettifying together. I really DO put make up on because I am of a certain age and I need it, but they like to use my brushes and pretend to adorn themselves. Then they prance around the room, donning my heels (and sometimes my bras) and pretending they are movie stars. Putting on toe nail polish is a sacred rite that involves detailed scrutiny of the various varnish colors and a great deal of wriggling and laughing and lots of touch-ups.
Dressing up can also involve tiaras (for mommy too, of course), Spiderman, tiger, and leopard outfits, and occasionally daddy's underwear and some kicky red cowboy boots we were given. When we have visitors, they have to keep their clothes locked in suitcases or they might just find the gals staging a fashion show with their bathing suits or pajamas!
Going for "Coffee"
The girls and I love to pack up our favorite reading and drawing materials and head off to the local coffee shop to enjoy a cup of coffee together. The girls actually get hot cocoa with whipped cream (and sometimes I do too) but we always call it coffee. It's a good bonding time together. We usually share a scone or muffin and we pretend we are sophisticated young ladies who lunch (unti Emily inevitably spills her chocolate and chaos ensues.)
Living in Hong Kong, the girls have learned the nuances of the English accent and this is usually when they choose to pull it out and use it very loudly. "Mummy will you be a dear, and pass the sugar? Thanks, awfully, darling!"
Driving Home From School TogetherA few days a week I have the pleasure of driving the girls home from school. It is always an education to hear what they have to tell me and ask me about as we make our way home along our seaside route. Emily's questions are often along the line of, "Mommy, tell me exactly how the brakes work and when my legs will be long enough to use them," and "How do you make the car go speedier, Mama?"
Charlotte will ask questions like, "So, do you think after primary school I can go straight to university or do you think I should go to high school first?" or "What about babies? Will it hurt?" Then Emily will chime in with, "When you adopted us, Mama, did we come out of your tummy?" (She's getting it. Slowly. There are lucid moments but the synapses have not yet fully connected on this topic.)
Often we listen to classic episodes of The Satellite Sisters on my iPod and the girls will guess which sister is talking. "Is that Julie or Monica, Mama?" It must be Lian. I think it's Liz: she's talking about the news. If she's talking about teaching, it's Sheila. She's a teacher, you know."
It's funny that my girls like listening to podcasts, but I guess since Mama is a fan, I'm turning my girls into fans, too. (We've thought the three of us could make our own!) In between that and NPR streaming at home all the time, I have a feeling they will become information junkies before long. In spite of their exposure to current events, the other day when I asked Charlotte who her president was, she replied, "Giraffe Obama? No, Geronimo Bolton. I mean Barack Iraq. Oh, it's Brack Obrama."
(In her defense, we DO live in Hong Kong, and though she is an American citizen, she has never lived there.)
Anyway, it's often in the car where we make some good connections together and have a good laugh. By the time we get home, we're in high spirits. We keep the keys out of Emily's reach because, if she could, she'd be the resident chauffeur on our driving adventures.
My New Starts For Today:
No new starts. I'm just committed to keep doing my favorite things with my favorite little gals in the world. Life is sweet and I am grateful.