Dorta has been getting a lot less attention these days, but still surfaces now and again to ensure she is not completely forgotton!
JD is 2 months old today. He's quite well-known in the neighbourhood now and gets lots of attention when we take him for walks in the sunshine. The fresh air sends him to sleep almost immediately, however, so the locals rarely see his big brown eyes.
[Click here for more photos of JD's early months]
The baby room is gradually coming together. We had the cot delivered today and I managed to put it together without any breaka furniture or loss of blood (I'm still limping from the glass tabletop experience!). Dorta decided to test the bed and mobile. We also bought a mattress for the nanny's bed. Having initially been quoted 700RMB, Ava went to work and we eventually got it for just 200RMB (£20) including delivery! Nice discount!
Despite us fast approaching Winter, we've been enjoying some chilly but sunshine-filled days here in Kunming recently. Barely any rain for weeks though, which leaves us fearing more water rationing before too long.
Jiajia has been making sure Dorta enjoys the sun though, placing her on our balcony every morning, resting on her banana bed and sporting some fashionable shades. (Is there a more broody pregnant woman out there? I doubt it!!)
I had a nice birthday last week, despite it being a working day and feeling dizzy throughout (I'm back under the doctor after 6 months of good health). Ava, Ma-in-law and I went out for a local Chinese meal in the evening. Ma-in-law surprised me by buying a rather yummy birthday cake [see photo]. Bear in mind that Ava has never once had a cake bought for her by her Mum and doesn't get as much as a card on her birthday. Maybe my charm offensive is working?
Then, on the following evening, Ava and I went out for a Pizza Hut meal, using her friend's special half-price discount card! Food tastes better when it's a bargain. Ma-in-law may have been a bit annoyed at missing out on this meal, as a lot of the cake had been eaten by the time we arrived home. Dorta was blamed, but the evidence seemed a little bit dubious!
Our good friends Peter and Judy visited for a meal (by Ma) yesterday evening and a jam sponge cake (by Judy). Dorta watched how it was made [see photo] and we are fully expecting imminent gateaus and pavlovas from her. Peter and Judy are just in Kunming for a few months this time, though they have been regulars here for some years before. AND they brought me five curly-wurlies from the UK ...woohoo! Welcome here any time, chaps!!
(Check out Peter and Judy's blog by clicking here)
Ava and I spent this afternoon queueing for a "routine scan". Yes, for those who haven't yet heard, Ava is three months pregnant and, to be honest, hating every moment so far! Throwing up 2-3 times a day, for months on end will do that for you. It wasn't helped today by a 2½ hour wait in the hospital, beside a smelly toilet, only to be told that our baby was lying in the "wrong orientation" for scanning and we would have to return to try again tomorrow. However, we are both quietly excited at the prospect of parenthood. We know that our age complicates things a little, and I'm feeling a little lost amongst the various odd cultural practices that surround pregnancy and childhood in China (more of that later!) and ruing my poor language skills when dealing with doctors, and assistants in baby shops. But we'll muddle through and see how things pan out. "Dorta" is already getting used to the idea of Mummy giving birth [see photo]!
Despite having to rouse myself at 4am, I thoroughly enjoyed the Olympic Opening Ceremony - very quirky and eccentric. Quite a few students told me they preferred it to Beijing's blockbuster event four years ago. As one said, "We had 6000 dancers, but you had James Bond, Harry Potter and Mr Bean"! So far it seems like our athletes are struggling to maintain the good start, but it's early days, I guess. Meanwhile, Dorta has been getting into the Olympic spirit and wishing there was a giraffe-riding event (or possibly the high jump?).
Today was the last day of my term - the end of a busy three weeks of double lessons. Jiajia and I are off to Bangladesh next week for a bit of an off-beat trip and country #95 for me.
The unusually high amount of sports and exercise I've been getting involved in over the last few months leaves me permanently achey but buzzing! Whether it's 5-a-side football (once, so far), badminton (at least once a week), running (6-8km, 2-3 times a week) or weights (1-2 times a week) I haven't felt this fit, or weighed so little, in many years. Euro footie, Wimbledon and the Olympics help with the spirit - even Dorta has been doing her bit. I can't honestly say I'm 100% well these days but, with my various meds, I've been well enough to work up a sweat, which helps with the stresses of doing double lessons during July.
Dorta decided to head off to the new airport herself yesterday, firstly on a cheap local bus and then on the newly-opened urban light railway linking the East Bus Station to the airport. What a clever girl!
Compared to the 35RMB (£3.50) "Airport Bus + taxi" route which I used a few days ago, Dorta's trip worked out a lot cheaper, at just 7RMB (70p). But both options still take over 1½ hours and Dorta had to stand for an hour in the local bus journey on the way back, as there were no free seats. She says got very tired and was nearly trodden on twice. Not to mention all the staring!
When I married my darling wife, I always knew there would be "three of us in the marriage" (to quote Lady Diana), with Jiajia's mother living with us. I hadn't quite bargained for our needy fourth resident though. "Dorta" seems to get as much attention as I do and a lot fewer complaints. Her latest gift is a rocking horse which Ava spotted in Shenzhen and couldn't resist buying and shipping back to Kunming. Jiajia's spending habits tend to rise when I'm not around, and nothing is too much for her "Dorta"!
Jiajia's been having a bit of a stressful time at work lately (while I've had a quiet week, for a change). So to cheer her up I recreated her "Small World", her favourite ride at Disneyland in our bathroom for Dorta. I managed to get the "Small World" tune playing on a loop in the background as Dorta gently floated past all her friends in a plastic bowl. Needless to say Jiajia loved the surprise. The hardest part however was collecting enough water to fill the bath - we're now in our third month without running water.
I learned last week (from my slightly odd wife) that it was her favourite doll's birthday today and it was made very clear that a card and present were required! Jiajia had bought her a little bed from the internet (actually made for a dog, I think!) and I got her one of those bottles where the water disappears as you tip it up. "Dorta" is apparently 21 years old (the number of years since Jiajia got it) and happily single (though now of age!). Oh, and it was Jiajia's birthday today too!
When I first met my wife Jiajia, she was strictly a tea person. But after trying a coffee with me a few times, she's started to enjoy an instant cuppa once or twice a day (though rarely in the evening for fear she won't sleep). I also read in an online article that more than six cups of coffee a day is actually good for gout, so that's my excuse. But it was disconcerting to find "Dorta" having a sneaky mugful yesterday though. I'm not sure caffeine and plastic mix?
Thankfully Ava and I have a week off work to "recover" from our holiday away. We're both still sniffling, itching, limping, peeling and trying to unblock ears and noses! With my school and her shop closed for Spring Festival, we have had no option but to take things easy; lie-ins, DVDs, internet, meals with friends and, today, some crafts. Ava decided she needed a sock storage system and so commandeered an orange box and decorated it [see photo]. She's now making another one for her doll's clothes!! Well, it keeps her occupied.
Those who know Jiajia well know how devoted she is to her "Dorta" - allegedly the only toy she was ever bought as a child (...though she's made up for it since!). If it ever came down to "Husband or Dorta", I fear it would be me being shown the door. Anyhow, I've learned that the best way to my wife's heart is through her doll. So, when Jiajia asked me to meet her in the market down the hill the other day, I made the snap decision to take Dorta along too, in her newly-bought stroller [see photo]. To the raised eye-brows and perplexed giggles of the locals, I wheeled Dorta around the vegetable stalls until we were finally spotted. Ava was both thrilled and highly embarrassed - a win/win for me!
Now Ma-in-law has got in on the act, knitting Dorta a new jacket and skirt while Ava was away working in Shenzhen [see photo]. I've raised the stakes by buying some tiny pink booties, but Ma-in-law is now threatening to sew together a pair of flowery trousers. Who will win this battle of the gifts ...just Dorta and Ava, I think. Still, if it keeps the women in my life happy, I'm happy to compete! How much are plastic earrings, I wonder?
JIajia is back from her latest monthly business trip to Shenzhen, laden with the usual shop stock - mink coats, wedding dresses, shoes, clothes, handbags, etc. There should have been a box of leather coats too, but the courier company seems to have lost (or stolen?) this en route which is potentially a big financial loss for the store and therefore causing a lot of stress. Apparently "delivery insurance" is not common practice here.
Ava also brought back the usual mixed bag of "inspired purhases". I fear the charity shop experiences in the UK have left her vulnerable to any perceived bargains out there. Thus we now have a frying pan clock for the dining room, an ornamental sailing ship ("...it was the same price as the fridge magnet boat from Deal lifeboat station"!) and a pushchair for "Dorta", which Ava has been merrily racing around the house".
Today is Ava's birthday. A few weeks ago I managed to smuggle her favourite childhood doll out of her flat, and took it to various locations around town, photographing its "Big Day Out" as I went [see photos]. I put the resulting 50 photos in an album and gave it to Ava yesterday. She really seemed to like the cheap, but unique, present!
Jiajia bought a hand-made bird cage in Simao last year and it's been hanging in the lounge looking very empty ever since then. So when we took down the Christmas tree decorations (those birds and the bees, you may recall) I had the inspiration to give the birds a new home, stuffed into the cage! I think it looks quite arty and, having found her favourite childhood doll in the cage a few months ago (sorry about that!) Ava is just relieved it's only birds now!
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