If this isn't nice...

One of the things [Uncle Alex] found objectionable about human beings was that they so rarely noticed it when they were happy. He himself did his best to acknowledge it when times were sweet. We could be drinking lemonade in the shade of an apple tree in the summertime, and Uncle Alex would interrupt the conversation to say, “If this isn’t nice, what is?” So I hope that you will do the same for the rest of your lives. When things are going sweetly and peacefully, please pause a moment, and then say out loud, “If this isn’t nice, what is?”

I think about this a lot. Though not as much as I should.

How much do we do this? Think about, how, what we are experencing is, nice…

Not as much as we should.

Day 16

The cleaner always sorts the papers on my desk and honestly it’s the best.

Day 13

Sunday wasn’t great
Caught up inside my own head
Time to breathe and smile

How much do you think about this country’s obesity crisis? I used to, but now I think more about the mental health crisis. I used to focus on physical transformation – leanness, body shape. But during the pandemic I realised that it’s with mental health that people need help and motivation. Without a healthy mindset and the energy you get from exercise, life feels a lot harder. If you look at exercise from a mental health perspective, the body will follow.

Joe Wicks: The Guardian

Elise just gave me a thumbs up and then winked at me because she did some great eating. Which was weird.

Morning jigsaws.

In other news one of my 7 year old students made me realise my chess skills are not really what I remembered them to be!

Doing jigsaws with Elise made me realise that being patient with students/kids who are learning is just emotionally taxing. Especially when it a your day job too.

Day 10 is sponsored by Ted Lasso and the song Risk It All by Ella Henderson.

Does anyone use Bitwarden?

I currently use Lastpass but undecided about paying or switching to something.

It’s 5:45am and I’m having a coffee and a little cry watching Ted Lasso.

Dealing with money stuff and other stuff I find stressful is difficult enough and more so when the only time I can do it is between 9 and 10pm at night when I really don’t want to.

Day 9 Yumo was looking over the back of the sofa, like a meerkat. Tigger and his blanket held tightly. Daddy? Yes Yumo? He makes a kissing noise with his mouth. Good morning Yumo

❤️

The conversations I have with my kids. Where 东西 is Chinese for thing.

Him: 东西
Me: pardon? What do you want?
Him: 东西
Me: 东西吗?
Him: yes
Me: 你要什么东西?
Him: I don’t know东西

Good chat

Didn’t think I had the energy but managed my first sub 20minute 5k row today!

Love that this coffee shop is so close to wear we live. ☕️

凉面 is a Szechuan snack that’s cold noodles mixed with chilli and a few other things. So delicious.

Last year I taught Year 1 (kindergarten) and had been doing so for 5 years. This year I’m in Year 3 (grade 2).

I caught myself noticing how different I act because of the differences in age. Only two year but a world apart.

Happy with that. Pleased that I was able to keep moving more. Getting older, getting fitter!

Yumo likes to grab the tokens but it’s still nice to play. Good for Elise’s maths too!

scheduleAugust 31, 2021

Rediscovered Chrvches yesterday and that’s what been sent on repeat. A big fan of their vocalist and sound.

scheduleAugust 31, 2021

My sister and I are doing a haiku a day for September which I am absolutely sticking to this time… Probably.

Sundays amazing
Sunday is the worst, as well
Kids they will do that

scheduleAugust 30, 2021

The worst part about having kids is having to do all the things you want them to do.

Put down your device. Read a book. Go to bed. Say sorry. Be kind. Eat your vegetables. Be brave!

scheduleAugust 30, 2021

Today’s workout was fun and just what the Dr ordered. Just consistent work.

3 rounds

100m farmers carry 2x22.5kg dumbbell
55 skips
35 sit ups
25 goblet squats
15 calories Assault Bike

25:10

scheduleAugust 30, 2021

Monday is my busiest day by far with the added bonus of trying to be ready and trying to relax a little on Sunday.

scheduleAugust 28, 2021

But if you’re at work, there’s not a lot of evidence that more stress is the best way to have less stress.

I said yesterday that, I feel stressed but I don’t know about what. There was nothing I could think of, at least. But I still felt that weight.

First full week back at work done. Of course, I don’t feel like I was good enough or doing enough and that I should be better and everything. It can’t be that, I always feel like that.

Maybe it was just that the weeks are constant in the way teaching small children is. That, there’s always something I could be doing. Planning, resourcing, contacting parents, displays, marking, sticking.

Yeah, maybe it was that!

Solving for stress | Seth’s Blog

Flickr

scheduleAugust 28, 2021

handad

This is the first photo I posted to Flickr on September 28th 2004. 17 years ago. 17. Actually, it’s a scan of a photo since it was before I even had a digital camera.

Scrolling through my photos is potent and such an incredible snapshot of a period of my life. That I can’t bring myself to delete my account. Even though, I don’t upload photos there and I rarely use it. Hmmmm

Hey Siri, I’m not your biggest fan

scheduleAugust 27, 2021

Hey Siri play The Black Album by Metallica
Sorry, I don’t know that album
Hey Siri play Metallica by Metallica
Sorry, I don’t know that album
Hey Siri play Unforgiven by Metallica
Sorry I don’t know I’m forgiven by Metallica
Hey Siri play Unforgiven by Metallica
Now playing The Unforgiven by Metallica
Hey Siri what album I this from?
This is the self-titled album Metallica by Metallica
Hey Siri play Unforgiven by he self-titled album Metallica by Metallica
Sorry, I don’t know that album

scheduleAugust 26, 2021

Things I’ve eaten recently.

The first one was amazing. The second is a regular thing we have. You pick the meat and veg you want and then boil it in a delicious broth.

scheduleAugust 23, 2021

Today I’m grateful that none of the micro.blog people seem to follow professional wrestling. So, I can open safely while avoiding the rest of the internet for fear of spoilers!

scheduleAugust 21, 2021

Climbing, though technically I always did bouldering was one of my favourite things to do in the UK.

I liked that you could go and do it on your own. Just kind of hang out, work through some problems, unwind a little. On the occasions I did go with others, I like the social aspect of it that isn’t the same in climbing. It’s much easier for everyone to try and complete the same route, for example.

Anyway. Lyra and I went today to a place and it reminded me how much I enjoyed it!

scheduleAugust 16, 2021

(1) Worrying about what other people might think (2) The distraction of trivia and melodrama (3) The desire for perfection (4) Simply not being bold enough (5) Not having pen nor paper at all times (6) Believing things should be fair (7) Not starting. 

The Seven Greatest Barriers to your Best Work

Feeling this today, first week back at school in a new year level.

scheduleAugust 16, 2021

We’ve talked about being present before, but it’s worth repeating: The key to great parenting is presence. Being where you are, while you’re there.

Daily Day

scheduleAugust 16, 2021

I love my job, right
But in it, there’s elements
That stop me sleeping

Is that just me?

scheduleAugust 14, 2021

Day 5 - Her riding is so much better! Today she made her next step and fell off. We’ve stopped today but hopeful she’ll be willing to get back on again later.

scheduleAugust 13, 2021

We’re all watching Ted Lasso right? Surely not a coincidence?!

scheduleAugust 11, 2021

New board!

Also, definitely noticed that I should have eaten something before exercising.

scheduleAugust 10, 2021

Summer holiday workouts done. Back to school tomorrow. Hoping to maintain the consistency…

scheduleAugust 10, 2021

Day 1 of learning to ride a bike went pretty well! Mostly me that was the nervous one

scheduleAugust 7, 2021

Apparently yesterday was two years to the day that we arrived back in China after visiting the UK.

So, that means we haven’t left China in over two years!

scheduleAugust 7, 2021

Asked Siri to play some music to go with morning coffee. So we’re listening to Linkin Park, System of a Down and Black Sabbath. Thanks Siri!

scheduleAugust 3, 2021

The UK government website says 11 weeks for a passport renewal from China…

Except, we got the email to say it has arrived 19 days after we dropped off the form.

Fair play.

scheduleJuly 31, 2021

There is no way Jamie Tartt would say, ‘blocks’ when refering to distance. There was another one but I’ve forgotten. That aside, the second episode was really good.

scheduleJuly 30, 2021

She’s taken them out.

“I want my teachers to do it.”

scheduleJuly 29, 2021

Day 1 Daddy Haircare: Lyra did it today as I couldn’t. Onwards!

scheduleJuly 23, 2021

HITT in front of the air con because it’s hot.

scheduleJuly 23, 2021

Since UK passport applications from abroad are now all sent to the UK for processing. I’m continuing to nervously await news about E’s passport renewal. Obviously the first sign was that they charged me. No news is good news…

scheduleJuly 22, 2021

I know I’ve been watching too much Justified because I want to wear a cowboy hat, eat fried chicken and bbq and drink bourbon. I’m resisting the guns bit.

scheduleJuly 21, 2021

Despite everything at least the Olympics is in a very close time zone to me!

scheduleJuly 16, 2021

I like this responseto the writing prompt:

When the robots revolted, a sizable chunk of the human population outright sided with them. Not out of cowardice, but on account of genuinely agreeing with the stand the machines were taking.

scheduleJuly 15, 2021

I’m at this stage where I’m reading it a chapter at a time and only in a situation I can properly focus. I can’t bring myself to read it any faster. I don’t want it to end! And so much is happening in the story.

I saw a thread on Reddit recently about whether people take time to digest books after reading them and I’ve been thinking a about that a lot. Do I? Should I? It makes me think as well about how I’m grateful for the tv shows I can’t binge.

scheduleJuly 14, 2021

I find applying for my passports for the kids incredibly stressful.

Just applied for a renewal for my daughter. I checked and double checked* and hope everything we’ve done is enough.

*Except the location of the office. Apparently it’s not where it was.

scheduleJuly 13, 2021

At the top tier of just about any sort of endeavor, you’ll find that the performers have coaches.

Pianists, orators and athletes all have coaches. In fact, it would be weird if we heard of someone on stage or on the field who didn’t have one.

And yet, in the world of business, they’re seen as the exception.

Part of the reason is that work feels like an extension of something we’ve been doing our whole lives. Figure skating isn’t like school, but showing up at work seems to be. “I’ve got this,” is a badge of honor.

A coaching paradox | Seth’s Blog

I’m thinking about this in relation to teaching. When do I have the time to do all this?

scheduleJuly 10, 2021

Consistency > intensity

My issue is and has always been consistency. Life always gets in the way eventually. Plus I just don’t like working out on the balcony. I like to exercise but part of that is getting away from everything for a bit.

scheduleJuly 10, 2021

8am on a Sunday morning. Coffee on the sofa with the kids and having a cry at the end of Raya and the last dragon.

scheduleJuly 8, 2021

Finally got around to having a Chinese lesson.

I live in the country so feel like I should be doing more. It is just it’s not a priority as family, work, exercise and sleeping get in the way. It frustrates me.

Also, if only I moved to a country with an easier language!

scheduleJuly 5, 2021

Bit late to the party but Breath of the Wild is pretty good isn’t it?

Reading

scheduleJuly 4, 2021

“The Library didn’t only contain magical books, the ones which are chained to their shelves and are very dangerous. It also contained perfectly ordinary books, printed on commonplace paper in mundane ink. It would be a mistake to think that they weren’t also dangerous, just because reading them didn’t make fireworks go off in the sky. Reading them sometimes did the more dangerous trick of making fireworks go off in the privacy of the reader’s brain.”
• Soul Music

This popped up on Reddit.

Funny since I was reading this earlier too > Reading and Writing: A Reciprocal Relationship

scheduleJuly 4, 2021

Pro: I’m naturally waking up early and feeling good.
Con: So are my kids.

scheduleJuly 3, 2021

Signal somehow sent a confirmation message to my Chinese phone number. It wasn’t working before. Amazing!

(No more using my old phone!)

scheduleJune 27, 2021

If you’re missing any garlic, I think I found it.

scheduleJune 27, 2021

Taobao is a Chinese platform for selling. 99% of the things I buy online are from it. It has everything you need and plenty you don’t.

It’s also, kind of, like a social media substitute. I was reading this article and it’s possible to just scroll and scroll.

Link

scheduleJune 27, 2021

Coffee and book and dance lessons.

I am loving this book, I’m already feeling sad that the more I read the less I have left.

Also, I watched the trailer for the adaptation. Tom Holland! Daisy Ripley! Mads Mikkelsen! But I don’t think I’ll bring myself to watch it though.

Closed borders.

scheduleJune 27, 2021

‘Unnecessarily cruel’: how Australia’s closed border is forcing migrants to leave permanently

I do not know how I feel about this article.

I, we, are in a very similar situation. We were lucky my parents came to visit at Christmas 2019. Otherwise, we’d be heading for 2 years without seeing them. It’s now almost 2 years since we’ve left China, with no apparent end in sight. We’ve just sort of accepted that we can’t leave and won’t be leaving anytime soon.

Of course, it’s not that we can’t leave. It’s that if we did we wouldn’t get back in and then I would lose our main source of income.

Though, not seeing my family for a while is sort of normal for us.

The additional issue, for me personally, is that we live in my wife’s hometown. Most of the time, I’m ok with our situation and sometimes it’s really hard.

scheduleJune 26, 2021

Coffee and book and roller skating lessons.

scheduleJune 25, 2021
  • Last day at school - Which is always strange in our environment.
  • Worked out and burnt my nose.
  • Lunch with colleagues and didn’t drink.
  • Got gifted Santorini
  • Went to a theme park
  • Had a salad for dinner
  • Watching some more Lupin
scheduleJune 25, 2021

The carry got tough but glad I stuck with it.

Though doing it in this heat was fun.

scheduleJune 21, 2021

Album t-shirts are a thing but are book cover t-shirts?

scheduleJune 21, 2021

I’d rather sip water all day and Lyra has this big water bottle to do that but I find it much easier to just occasionally down a big glass of water.

scheduleJune 21, 2021

We finally decided to buy a Switch so I can play BOTW. Lyra wanted Just Dance and so those are the two games she bought…

scheduleJune 19, 2021

View from a friend’s flat. This city manages to be incredibly built up but still has lots of greenery. (And golf courses.)

scheduleJune 19, 2021

We’ve finally visited the theme park 10 minutes from our house.

It’s taken 7 years!

But it’s a kid visit so the big rides will have to wait.

scheduleJune 17, 2021

Work will subsidise a new MacBook!

Should I get a Pro over an Air? Did I need a Ram upgrade?

scheduleJune 15, 2021

Today I’m grateful for air con in the lift.

scheduleJune 14, 2021

I’m so tired. Such a fun weekend but not relaxing!

scheduleJune 14, 2021

Hiding in the hotel bathroom because it’s 6am and I’m wide awake but everyone else is sleeping.

scheduleJune 12, 2021

An odd day.

Kids have been themselves which has, at times, been overwhelming. But we’ve also travelled, had some delicious food, a few drinks and spent some time with close friends.

scheduleJune 12, 2021

Chameleon on Apple Arcade is the worst. The simple jump with one press and change colour with another is ridiculous. It feels like it is breaking my brain.I’ve wasted far too much time picking it up and trying to complete the goals. Over and over and over. Highly recommended.

scheduleJune 12, 2021

I love my daughter, obviously.
And it’s amazing how she effortlessly switches between 2 languages without a thought.
However, when she says chips when she means crisps it hurts. I’m not going to lie.

scheduleJune 11, 2021

The parcel my sister sent from California to China 7 months ago arrived…

It arrived back in California.

At least it wasn’t lost?

scheduleJune 7, 2021

Slowly getting some board games that are at the very least can be played with 2 people. So Lyra and I can play together. We picked up Onitama and then Splendor (Marvel version) arrived today.

scheduleJune 6, 2021

I am so grateful that Mythic Quest on Apple TV+ is released weekly. I enjoy it so much more for that.

scheduleJune 6, 2021

Coffee, noodles (not pictured), more coffee and some games with friends from work.

scheduleJune 5, 2021

Loki is out this week! A nice surprise indeed.

scheduleJune 5, 2021

The Daily Dad

As we’ve said before, our kids don’t owe us anything. It is we who are obligated to them, by virtue of our choice to bring them into this world. And yet how often do we, as parents, think about whether we’re making our kids proud? How often are we letting them down—with how we eat, what we say, where we work, or even choices we make in our personal lives? How often does that haunt us, the way feeling like a disappointment haunts them?

scheduleJune 4, 2021

Definitely better in a glass bottle. Reminds me of drinking in a similar fashion, stood outside a small shop when visiting Mauritius.

scheduleJune 3, 2021

Seneca wrote that death isn’t just some inevitable event in the future. Death is happening right now, he says. The time that passes belongs to death, he reminds us. We can’t take it for granted. We only have so many summers at home together with our kids, as we’ve written. Only so many drives to school. Only so many graduation ceremonies. Every time they wear out a coat, every time they outgrow a pair of shoes or a pair of pants. Those moments mark movement. They are the hash marks of the homemade growth chart on the kitchen door frame. They tick off opportunities for time together that never come back. Don’t waste them!

Daily Dad

scheduleJune 3, 2021

“I’m not saying we’ll live to see some sort of paradise. But just fighting for change makes you stronger. Not hoping for anything will kill you for sure.” —Leslie Feinberg, Stone Butch Blues. (Happy Pride.) 

> Laura Olin Newsletter

scheduleJune 2, 2021

Still can’t bring myself to write in my new notebook. It always starts so neat and then…

scheduleJune 1, 2021

Hi. I’m giving a colleague a notebook for the next academic year. I want to add some words In it. What positive messages, words could I put in it? Particularly as she’ll be taking on a team leader role for the first time. Any ideas?

scheduleJune 1, 2021

FYI it’s not Wednesday as I thought, it’s only time Tuesday.

scheduleMay 27, 2021

Was playing games and having a beer outside just as I got a message from a friend that they were going into lockdown again. Feeling grateful I can do that.

scheduleMay 26, 2021

“Darling, the internet isn’t working.” “Have you…” “Yes. Also, my phone is out of credit. Can you top me up?” “That’ll be why the internet is down. I’ll top you up and hopefully it won’t take long.” “What?” 5mins later, everything is back to normal.

That’s a ridiculous system.

scheduleMay 24, 2021

Back after a week, felt good to lift heavy again.

scheduleMay 22, 2021

This was not the right way to go it we got to where we need to be!

scheduleMay 22, 2021

Lunch! Two different pancakes and cold noodles.

scheduleMay 21, 2021

Long week. Will be happy when reports are handed in next week.

scheduleMay 20, 2021

For all that your kid has been through this past year, and all they will go through in the years to come, you have to continue to believe in them. They are not broken. They don’t need to “be realistic” or settle. Every kid—your kid, even your unhappiest, unluckiest kids—can be something and someone provided they are given that one person who believes in them. Someone willing to gift them with expectations, to push them toward places they’ve never even heard of. Someone willing to be a fan, even when things are bleak. Someone who is willing to help and encourage and fight for them.

That has to be you. For your kids…and all kids.

Every Kid Needs This From At Least One Person – Daily Dad – The Blog

scheduleMay 20, 2021

Trying to get some work done before the weekend is proving stressful. Grateful though for making myself exercise though.

scheduleMay 19, 2021

I realised that Signal was blocked in China but didn’t realise that I can’t receive a verification code to my new phone on my Chinese number. Which means, Signal works on my old phone and MacBook but not my new phone.

twitter

scheduleMay 19, 2021

Also, I had to called the UK government to sort something out and while the automated system kicked me out during the first call, the second time the lady sorted the problem quickly.

scheduleMay 19, 2021

New phone!

  • Can’t get a Signal verification code.
  • Not used to the not having a home button
  • Or 3D press
  • And I really need to sort my photos out

scheduleMay 18, 2021

When the kids are grumpy just as you walk out the door to go to work is the worst.

scheduleMay 17, 2021

Not quite sure this is how you do it…

scheduleMay 16, 2021

If/When we leave China the lack of cheap, delicious noodles is going to be a problem.

Excuse the photo, new phone next week!

It's not

scheduleMay 16, 2021

Tim Duncan’s Basketball Hall of Fame Enshrinement Speech - YouTube

“You showed up after I got drafted. You came to my island. You sat with my friends, my family. You talked with my dad. I thought that was normal. It’s not.”

Not a basketball fan and don’t really know either of these people but this quote but I liked this quote a lot.

As a parent and a teacher, how should I act and how do I want to be remembered?

scheduleMay 16, 2021

When Yumo stops saying “Daddy cuddle high,” when he wants me to pick him up will a sad day indeed.

scheduleMay 15, 2021

Kids are shouting.
I’m drinking coffee, making breakfast and listening to an “I miss Emo” playlist.
It’s 7am on Saturday.

“Do you want to be right or do you want to be together?”

scheduleMay 14, 2021

the examined family, Courtney Martin: ‘Hard conversations don’t fix hard things.’

That was something the comedian Hasan Minhaj told me his father told him to guide him in a conflict. Sometimes, it’s important you’re right and you stand up for yourself, and you take the consequences. Other times, it’s more important to be together, and you figure out which differences or conflicts you can let slide for the sake of a relationship. We have to do both at different times, sometimes in the same conversation!

scheduleMay 14, 2021

Today was pull ups, lunges and then some time on the assault bike! Was fun because Helen and I were finishing at the same-ish time so ended up racing.

Seth Godin: Starting and finishin

scheduleMay 14, 2021

Starting and finishing

Sometimes the rule is:

You don’t have to finish, but you do have to start.

And sometimes the rule is:

You don’t have to start, but if you do, you have to finish.

When building a personal habit, it might make sense to embrace the first rule. You don’t have to run all the way, every day, but you do have to get out of the house and start running.

And when making promises to a group where trust matters, the second rule definitely applies.

scheduleMay 12, 2021

Ha. 5 minutes later I read this.

That’s why kids can never “take away” from our careers or “hold us back.” They can’t interrupt our work because they are our work. We are always teaching them. We are teaching them that we care. We are being there for them. We are stating our priorities.

They Are Your Work

scheduleMay 12, 2021

There’s plenty of extra work I need to do but after I’ve done my normal work and family stuff the idea of picking myself up again at 9pm just isn’t happening.

Which means the work is hanging over me and making me stressed.

scheduleMay 10, 2021

20 back squats Row 4K 20 back squats

I hate running but I’ll always row.

scheduleMay 9, 2021

Yesterday was lovely, kids were at school* and Lyra and I went to IKEA in the morning. Then she went out and got a few things done.

But today was the opposite.

I’ve struggled with feeling with it. And I’ve got work I need to do, and I got some done yesterday. I’m feeling like I don’t want to do it if I’m not in the right frame of mind which is a change to the way I think. It’s something I normally get stressed about, that if I’m not doing it right now then that is a problem. I know in my head I always manage to get things done but still… I didn’t do anything today in the end but am feeling like I should have!

Try again tomorrow?

*Yeah, in China you get 3 days off but only one is free so you have to work two Saturdays to pay it off.

scheduleMay 9, 2021

Added most of the newsletters I wasn’t reading to my rss. Thanks @dancohen for the suggestion!

scheduleMay 9, 2021

I think we’ve fetishized the idea that your job should be your passion. It’s ok for your job to just be a job.

From my perspective, a calling isn’t a job or an industry. It’s an activity or an impact. When you can identify your calling in these terms, you can start to imagine many ways for it to exist in your life.

Exit Interviews: Phoebe Gavin - An OpenNews project

scheduleMay 8, 2021

Mads Mikkelsen, In Conversation

My approach to what I do in my job — and it might even be the approach to my life — is that everything I do is the most important thing I do. Whether it’s a play or the next film. It is the most important thing. I know it’s not going to be the most important thing, and it might not be close to being the best, but I have to make it the most important thing. That means I will be ambitious with my job and not with my career. That’s a very big difference, because if I’m ambitious with my career, everything I do now is just stepping-stones leading to something — a goal I might never reach, and so everything will be disappointing. But if I make everything important, then eventually it will become a career. Big or small, we don’t know. But at least everything was important.

scheduleMay 8, 2021

Stopping to return a football that went over the fence.

“Football is life!”

scheduleMay 8, 2021

Cal Newport, Study Hacks: The Neuroscience of Busyness

There was a time, not that long ago, when the standard response to the query, “How are you?”, was an innocuous “fine”; today, it’s rare to encounter someone who doesn’t instead respond with a weary “busy.”

Does the wiring of our brains play a role in this reality?

And

Like the subjects in the experiments reported in this recent paper, however, the best solution to these problems might often instead be to do less.

Less?!

Also, I don’t subscribe to see the responses but this question made me think:

What work would you do if your industry was required to treat you with respect?

link

scheduleMay 6, 2021

I don’t ‘call’ people, except my Mum.

I can’t even imagine calling/Facetiming the people I consider closest to me.

Living in another country, another time zone, even with COVID.

I still struggle with it.

That said, I appreciated calling Mum this evening.

scheduleMay 6, 2021

“The kindest people are not born that way, they are made. They are the sounds that have experienced so much at the hands of life, they are the ones who have dug themselves out of the dark, who have fought to turn every loss into a lesson. The kindest people do not just exist – they choose to soften where circumstance has tried to harden them, they choose to believe in goodness, because they have seen firsthand why compassion is so necessary. They have seen firsthand why tenderness is so important in this world.” – Bianca Sparacino

swissmiss

scheduleMay 6, 2021

Sacrilegious for someone of my profession to say, maybe, but I don’t like giving people books unless they’re 1) books they’ve asked for 2) really nice editions of books they already love. Otherwise, it feels like giving someone work. “Did you read that book I gave you yet?!?”

Nobody wants to read a book - Austin Kleon

scheduleMay 5, 2021

Elise’s Rules 1. If your piece is taken you can put it back anywhere on the board on your next move. 2. You can swap sides.

scheduleMay 5, 2021

I like the browse sometimes while my class is looking for books to take out of the school library. Over the last couple of weeks, I’ve been reading a few pages of “The Knife of Never Letting Go” by Patrick Ness. A YA book about a dystopian future where a boy, soon to be a man, lives in a world where everyone can hear everyone else’s thoughts. The Noise.

Anyone, I picked it up today since YA books are sometimes enough. Turns out a film came out this year too!

scheduleMay 5, 2021

“Updating an Apple Watch Series 3 is a nightmare in 2021”

I like mine well enough. It’s useful for being a silent alarm and telling the time because that’s all I really use it for.

The Verge

scheduleMay 4, 2021

The new Marvel megatrailer: The Guardian

And, I don’t know about you, but there was a moment towards the end of the trailer where my excitement gave way to a creeping dread at the sheer relentlessness of its release slate. Marvel is a monopoly now. A juggernaut. There’s no use fighting it. Better to just go limp and let it stomp all over you.

scheduleMay 3, 2021

100 swings and 10 Turkish get ups. Just to get moving a little.

We've lost dancing

scheduleMay 3, 2021

This popped up on the Dance XL playlist and I haven’t stopped listening to it.

This year we’ve had to lose Our space, we’ve lost dancing We’ve lost the hugs with friends and And people that wе loved All these things that wе took for granted (We’ve lost dancing) (We’ve lost dancing) If I can live through (We’ve lost dancing) This next six months (We’ve lost dancing) Day by day (We’ve lost dancing) If I can live through this (We’ve lost dancing) What comes next Will be Marvellous

Fred again.. - Marea (We’ve Lost Dancing

scheduleMay 3, 2021

Today I’m grateful for Lyra taking the kids out so I can a little time and space.

So, obviously I’ve spent the morning tidying and sorting and rewatching Barry.

scheduleMay 2, 2021

Took the kids to the theatre to see and adaptation of a Chinese book.They mostly loved it and I think it was a good experience for them. Was definitely a point when Yumo had had enough though.

As well, we were in a theatre with a few hundred people which feels normal for here but definitely not when looking at the rest of the world.

scheduleMay 2, 2021

Elise knows how to use the camera from the iPhone Lock Screen. She just took this!

scheduleMay 2, 2021

Rediscovering Enter Shikari through some of their concerts on YouTube and the first album I listened to.

Not sure what the family made of it when I put it on in the car though.

scheduleMay 2, 2021

Today I am grateful for coffee.

As I am every day. I’m cutting down though. Coffee at work isn’t great. Quality not quantity!

Also, I’m going to do my gratitude posts in the morning. Evenings don’t really work for me.

scheduleMay 2, 2021

What’s better for children: sleep or exercise?

the team examined the optimal balance between children’s physical activity, sleep, and sedentary time across the 24-hour day to better inform tailored lifestyle choices.

On a minute-for-minute basis, moderate-to-vigorous physical exercise was shown to be 2-6 times more potent than sleep or sedentary time.

scheduleMay 2, 2021

One of my favourite ice lollies. In the UK we would call them Twisters but her in China they’re called “lots of circles.”

I can’t not say, they were much bigger when I was younger.

scheduleApril 30, 2021

Today I’m grateful for feeling better then I have all week.

scheduleApril 29, 2021

As I drove to work that I’d forgotten to brush my teeth. Then I realised I’d be hugging the kids instead. I’m ok with that.

scheduleApril 25, 2021

Today I’m grateful for having some time without kids at home.

scheduleApril 25, 2021

Mum would call it ‘potching about’. Though a quick search doesn’t throw anything up. It’s where you’re just doing a bit of this and that around the house. With kids, I rarely get to do it. This morning, I’ve had coffee, put some washing on, hung some washing up, watched some Netflix, tidied the kid’s room a bit. I’ve potched about. It’s been nice!

scheduleApril 25, 2021

So, sometimes I sit on a bean bag in the kid’s when they go to sleep. Recently Yumo has been getting out of bed to either give me a cuddle, to tell me he loves me or to give me a kiss.

Which is the absolute best and most frustrating thing. I love you too but go to sleep.

scheduleApril 24, 2021

Today I’m grateful for having dinner with friends who understood that I was just really tired and not on top of my game.

scheduleApril 24, 2021

There’s totally a difference between when chatting online someone says lol but isn’t really laughing and when you actually make them laugh. I can feel it!

scheduleApril 23, 2021

This Tiktok video about working retail really tickled me. Must have watched it 10+ times since yesterday. video

scheduleApril 23, 2021

Kurt Vonnegut // “Nobody will stop you from creating. Do it tonight. Do it tomorrow. That is the way to make your soul grow… The kick of creation is the act of creating, not anything that happens afterward. I would tell all of you watching this screen: Before you go to bed, write a four line poem. Make it as good as you can. Don’t show it to anybody. Put it where nobody will find it. And you will discover that you have your reward.”

from https://www.nitch.com

scheduleApril 22, 2021

Our flat is too small to watch TV at night after the kids have gone to bed, mostly I’m ok with it but it can annoy me.

Today we got take away noodles and went to watch Nobody at a place with a giant screen, a sofa and a decent sound system.

The film is ridiculous but fun

scheduleApril 22, 2021

Got vaccinated yesterday! But then got frustrated with the kids not sleeping. Then got up before 6 to give myself a little time to myself where I wasn’t stressed. Has been nice.

scheduleApril 18, 2021

Lyra: Let’s have pizza.
Me: OK. Which place shall we order from?
Elise: I WANT CHEESE PIZZA.

scheduleApril 18, 2021

Enjoying James Hoffman’s second episode about the Aeropress - Understanding the Aeropress . He does a lot of testing. Really interesting as I’ve been using mine daily recently.

My friends may as well be in China

scheduleApril 17, 2021

It started with a thing happening recently, then it made me realise something and finally I’m still sitting with it because I’m not sure what else to do.

The plan was only ever to go and work abroad for a ‘bit’. Though, to say it was a plan is, perhaps, giving it a little too much structure. So I upped and left the country at 8 weeks notice makes me think two things. In any case, I’m coming up on my 10th year out of the UK somehow.

To come back to my point, I realized that all the posts and articles of how lockdown/quarantine suddenly felt a lot like I sometimes feel. That living so far away feels a lot like being trapped at home. That separation. I have my life here but even after all this time I still feel like I yearn for my life back in the UK. Relationships maintained through chat apps particularly for me. Especially as I’ve been one to ‘call and chat’, Mum excluded of course.

Today is my brother’s and Jenn’s birthday and again it is just hard not being closer.

scheduleApril 17, 2021

Episode 5 of Mythic Quest was something else. Quite the depature from the rest of the series.

scheduleApril 17, 2021

Something about when the kids take photos of me.

Closing Time

scheduleApril 16, 2021

There’s a bar near us. That is now closing. It happens a lot. Us Westerners (foreigners) like bars. Here in China people eat AND drink generally. There are bars but restaurants dominate. Generally.

It’s strange. I feel sad it’s closing. I don’t go there a lot but I’ll miss it all the same.

scheduleApril 15, 2021

It’s weird how kids grow up.

Like, the physical stuff, getting bigger, walking and talking you kind of expect but the cognitive stuff is sometimes strange and disarming.

scheduleApril 13, 2021

Morning routine of shower with cold water to finish, meditation and then coffee and Chinese practice works so much better when the kids aren’t up before 7.

The challenge will be doing those things when they do!

scheduleApril 12, 2021

Started the day well and feel like that carried me through the rest of the day until I exercised after work.

scheduleApril 11, 2021

Before and after. Took a year but I finally got it cut.

scheduleApril 7, 2021

Can’t wait for Loki after watching the trailer. Much more my cup of tea compared to Falcon and the Winter Soldier.

scheduleApril 7, 2021

Going away with the kids is always “fun” but hotel breakfast makes up for it!

scheduleApril 4, 2021

Lovely evening. Played a couple of games of Splendor and a first game of Catan. Watched the latest episode of AEW Dynamite and had a few beers.

If this isn’t nice!

scheduleApril 4, 2021

We did try to find a name we liked for our second that started with V so that our initials would spell L.O.V.E. but couldn’t find something.

scheduleApril 4, 2021

When you’re simultaneously annoyed at your child but also realise you need to console them.

For example when they did something you asked them not to and it ended in tears.

scheduleApril 4, 2021

Is there a quick way to share a website I’m looking at on Micro.blog? There’s nothing on the share icon in Safari…

scheduleApril 3, 2021

Interesting conversation with E about why she can speak two languages. She’s not really sure, maybe it’s her teachers? So jealous of her sometimes! Switching effortlessly between two languages is all she knows.

scheduleApril 3, 2021

I’ve stopped eating poached eggs.*

*When Y is around as he always wants to eat all of them.

scheduleApril 3, 2021

E decided to join us today. She’s going to read for 7minutes a day.

scheduleApril 2, 2021

Once again, the only thing that I’ve needed to change was myself.

Hopeful that the new morning routine of cold shower (after hot, obviously), coffee and reviewing my Chinese will start to stick.

Friendships

scheduleMarch 30, 2021

It will no doubt get me into trouble with the medical profession, but it is not too much of an exaggeration to say that you can eat as much as you like, drink as much alcohol as you want, slob about as much as you fancy, fail to do your exercises and live in as polluted an atmosphere as you can find, and you will barely notice the difference. But having no friends or not being involved in community activities will dramatically affect how long you live.

This Is How To Make Emotionally Intelligent Friendships: 6 Secrets

scheduleMarch 30, 2021

6x 500m with 3 minutes rest in between each set.

Rowing is the devil.

scheduleMarch 29, 2021

Our teaching team had 31 parent meetings. 31!

So much sitting on small chairs.

The Guilt of Not Working More, When We're Done for the Day

scheduleMarch 28, 2021

Zen Habits

At the end of a day of work, there can be a simple practice of wrapping things up and shutting down for the day.

But so many of us feel guilty at simply stopping, and this feeling that we should be doing more … it drives some of us to keep going as long as we can.

This can lead to overwork, burnout, tiredness, and never letting ourselves enjoy a moment of rest.

Do you relate to this guilt of simply stopping and resting?

scheduleMarch 28, 2021

When you recommend something in a game but it fails… Oops. I’m also very sorry for what I did.

scheduleMarch 27, 2021

Grandparents are in and we’re out with friends staying in the hotel we got married at.

scheduleMarch 27, 2021

Also, this photo from last night.

We go out to eat with friends a fair bit and I always find it difficult. I want to to go out with friends but find the kids being themselves stressful. So, now I just accept it and we take toys and I spend time with them.

scheduleMarch 27, 2021

Daddy exercise became family exercise.

Sit ups because high five sit ups. Squats and tuck jumps they did themselves.

It’s all good. Before, I think, it would have frustrated me.

scheduleMarch 27, 2021

I never used to lie in before I had kids.

Now that I have kids. I can’t.

This message is brought to you by getting up at 7am on Saturday.

Torn

scheduleMarch 27, 2021

From Austin Kleon whose blog is, if you said I could only visit a few websites would be up there.

Also, Kottke’s, another favourite website, reply:

Yes, this. But also: I am torn between a) the knowlege that I need to cut myself some slack and b) the continuous criticism of myself. Working on it!

scheduleMarch 26, 2021

China is maybe changing tax laws next year which may have a big impact on me. Clear as mud.

scheduleMarch 25, 2021

Always interesting the cultural differences that pop up when you marry someone with different life experiences.

For example today, Lyra looked at me like she didn’t know me when I made a chip butty at dinner.

I miss a proper chippie dinner with some bread and butter!

scheduleMarch 23, 2021

I spent some time last night writing down the 8 rules from the link I posted yesterday.

scheduleMarch 22, 2021

Two things happened to me today as I was driving that made me feel good.

  1. A car pulled out of front of me, this much is normal round her, but instead of having to force myself to be calm. I just was.
  2. After the gym today, I wasn’t overwhelmed by feeling good. It just was.

Listening list

scheduleMarch 22, 2021

Talking to Rich about albums and he gave me this list. Which I intend to get through eventually, maybe starting with the ones I know I haven’t listened to.

Dj Shadow - Endtroducing
Massive Attack - Mezzanine
Chemical Brothers - Dig your own hole
Leftfield - Leftism
Amon Tobin - Permutation
Daft Punk - Homework
Bjork - Homogenic
UNKLE - Psyence fiction
Portishead - Dummy
Orbital - In sides
Photek - Modus Operandi
Goldie - Timeless

scheduleMarch 22, 2021

Eight Rules

These make sense to me.

Do not run away from the thought you may be an idiot as if this were a rare and dreadful insight. Accept the certainty with good grace, in full daylight. You are an idiot but there is no other alternative for a human being.

scheduleMarch 22, 2021

Is there a simple way for me to make my archives page something other than the giant list it currently is? I just wanted to find something from a year ago and just had to scroll a lot, are there other options?

scheduleMarch 22, 2021

I wrote this mini-book a year ago today!

It was the start of us coming out of lockdown.

Yet a year later, while we go about quite normally things are still ongoing around the world.

scheduleMarch 21, 2021

So proud of Elise. She played “car dj” using my phone to play tracks off her playlist and we listened to 3 WHOLE songs. Not 10 seconds of many songs. So proud.

Haim - Rock and Roll Rules Shakira - Try Everything The Rainbooms - Rainbow Rocks

scheduleMarch 21, 2021

Put Roni Size - New Forms on in the car today and no one complained.

Following up with Goldie - Timeless and rediscovered 4 Hero’s album Two Pages which is just amazing.

scheduleMarch 20, 2021

Glamour.com

“We didn’t know it was bad, because you seemed okay,” my daughter said. “And if you are okay, then everything else is.”

Parenting in this pandemic has felt like I am the only barrier between my children and the cliff’s edge of the world.

Via Metafilter

scheduleMarch 20, 2021

I’ve been trying to use my phone and computer less.

Most notifications have been turned off. I’m trying to pick it up less but it’s hard. To be more conscious in my use of both.

But it’s hard.

We organize our lives to maintain the pressures and boundaries we’re used to. We’d like to pretend we’re just going to bear with it until we get through this urgency, but we’re usually lying to ourselves.

A new habit takes at least thirty uncomfortable days to form, and a new habit is unrelated to the external forces (positive and negative) that we’re so good at finding and embracing.

[https://seths.blog/2021/03/oh-the-places-youll-go-back-to/](https://seths.blog/2021/03/oh-the-places-youll-go-back-to/

scheduleMarch 19, 2021

Album Update

Jon Hopkins - Immunity
Anthony and the Johnsons - I am a bird now

Question is, is posting what I’m listening to affecting what I’m listening to?

scheduleMarch 19, 2021

swissmiss: Home

“Home is not where you are born; home is where all your attempts to escape cease”.
― Naguib Mahfouz

scheduleMarch 19, 2021

Seth Godin: Resilience

Resilience is a commitment to a design, an attitude and a system that works even when things don’t turn out the way we planned. Especially then.

scheduleMarch 19, 2021

There’s more and more smaller coffee shops in the city. Often they’re “Internet famous” for their decor and full of people taking photos of themselves^ but if the coffee is good I’m ok with that.

^Obviously it’s different if we do it!

scheduleMarch 19, 2021

Didn’t buy it but after messaging British friends will buy one next time FOR SCIENCE!

(It’s not going to be nice.)

scheduleMarch 19, 2021

How stressed I am seems directly related to the number of times I press the key fob to lock the car.

1 - as good as it gets
5 - normal levels
10- pretty stressed
10 times and then walk 5 minutes and turn round to go back and press 10 times - pretty bad

No sign of the vaccine but is that a problem?

scheduleMarch 17, 2021

China has employed blunt but effective quarantine measures to contain Sars-CoV-2 successfully, and life in the country has largely returned to normal. Though it authorised its first vaccines for emergency use in July, just 4% of the country has been vaccinated so far.

“One of the most important contributors is this perception that China has a low risk of infection,” said Yanzhong Huan, director of the Center for Global Health Studies at Seton Hall University in New Jersey. “So people think, why bother to get vaccinated? We’re already safe.”

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2021/mar/17/why-covid-vaccine-home-produced-india-russia-china-slow-start

I find myself thinking that too.

We’ve yet to hear anything from work, who would be our go between for us getting the vaccine, about getting vaccinated.

But while we haven’t, we’re going about as normal… Going to work, going out, not really thinking about infection.

Of course, it’s frustrating not being able to leave the country to see family but…

Album listening updates:

scheduleMarch 17, 2021

Power Trip - Live in Seattle (Thrash metal but I read an article about them and had a listen. Was a nice warm up for the day.)
Black Sabbath - Black Sabbath (Gym)
Slipknot - Slipknot (Gym)
Sam Smith - In The Lonely Hour (post gym)
Bon Iver - For Emma, Forever Ago (Working)
Maximo Park - Nature Always Wins (Saw it browsing Apple Music, a blast from the past)
Metallica - Master of Puppets (Commute)
Various artists - Dark Was The Night (Jenn got me onto this 12 years ago. Still like it, especially the Yeasayer track.)

scheduleMarch 17, 2021

5 rounds 15 one arm kettlebell swings (since I didn’t have a heavier kettlebell) 15 burpees

10:41

Then after

5x10 seconds on the Assault Bike

Hence the lying down. 10 seconds can be a long time.

scheduleMarch 16, 2021

Morning cuddles

The morning between getting up between 6:10 and leaving at 7:10ish is all about feeling like I need a little time to myself and often spending time with the kids. And, honestly, it’s a battle sometimes.

scheduleMarch 15, 2021

1 mile run. 2k row. 1 mile run.

Nice and steady. Still feels strange to run but got it done.

Temperatures are rising too, 23 today.

scheduleMarch 15, 2021

FaceTiming nainai and Elise was talking about her day.

Apparently her new phrase is, “boys are mad.”

scheduleMarch 15, 2021

We’ve been told we can leave our province during our Easter break. Woo! Still no idea when we can leave the country though.

(It’s good because we’ve already booked a holiday.)

scheduleMarch 15, 2021

The Strokes - Is This It? Red Hot Chilli Peppers - Californication Alt-j - An Awesome Wave Future Islands - As Long As You Are

Continuing with full albums. Got my first recommendation of Future Islands. Which is right up my street.

scheduleMarch 14, 2021

Album 2.

Keaton Henson - Birthdays

I heard on of the tracks on Sherlock (the US version) and apparently listened to this album a lot in 2015.

But it’s the track ‘You’ I’ll always come back to.

If you must die, sweetheart
Die knowing your life was my life’s best part

And

If you must work
Work to leave some part of you on this earth
If you must live, darling one

Just live

scheduleMarch 14, 2021

Today’s new idea that I just thought of but haven’t thought through.

This week, I’m going to listen to albums.

Starting with Way Out West and Intensify.

What is writing, what are words?

scheduleMarch 13, 2021

I’m currently reading Exhalation by Ted Chiang. One of the short stories involves the interactions between a missionary and a child he has met. They talk about writing.

“Moseby explained to Jijingi how each a person spoke could be indicated with a different mark on the paper. The marks were arranged in rows like plants in a field you looked at the marks as if you were walking down a row, made the sound each mark indicated, and you would find yourself speaking what the original person had said.”

Then words.

”… But you need to leave spaces when you write.” “I have.” Jijingi pointed at the gap between each row. “No, that is not what I mean. Do you see the spaces within each line?” He pointed at his own paper. Jijingi understood. “Your marks are clumped together, while mine are arranged evenly.” “These are not just clumbs of marks. … Where I come from, we call them ‘words’. When we write we leave spaces between the words.” “But what are words.” “How can I explain it?” He thought a moment. “If you speak slowly, you pause very briefly after each word. That’s why we leave a space in those places when we write. Like this: How. Many. Years. Old. Are. You?” He write on his paper has he spoke, leave a space every time he paused. “But you speak slowly because you’re a foreigner. I’m Tiv, so I don’t pause when I speak. Shouldn’t my writing be the same?” “It does not matter how fast you speak. Words are the same whether you speak quickly or slowly.”

It just struck me.

As a Year 1 (kindergarten) teacher, these are things we support students to learn every day. It was interesting to see a discussion that included someone who had never been exposed to the idea of writing or ‘words’.

scheduleMarch 13, 2021

If this isn’t nice.

Let’s talk about why I didn’t capitalise the last e.

scheduleMarch 11, 2021

It’s taken my 4 days but I’ve finally finished watching the AEW’s PPV.

scheduleMarch 10, 2021

I’m not sure I totally trust microwaves that don’t spin around.

scheduleMarch 9, 2021

Been listening to this a lot lately.

Though, still no closer to getting around to working out how to ask Siri for it.

scheduleMarch 9, 2021

All I could think of in the final episode of Wandavision was when Po fights Kai in the spirit realm in Kung Fu Panda 3 and he gives him all the chi and Kai can’t deal with it.

My take away is that, as a parent, most of my references at the moment are kids films.

scheduleMarch 9, 2021

Played Splendor (Marvel version) for the first time at lunchtime and then a unicorn sparkle game when I got home.

Though had to spend 15minutes looking for one of the die for the unicorn game before we could play. We’ve had the game two days…

scheduleMarch 8, 2021

The worst app for distracting me on my phone is the web browser.

scheduleMarch 7, 2021

4 episdoes of For All Of Mankind in a weekend is basically as close to binging as I’ll get.

Also, if I had to sum it up in one word it would be: smoking. So much smoking.

scheduleMarch 7, 2021

Started taking photos with Lyra’s old Sony camera. It’s kind of fun actually. I like it. Though, I have to use her old Macbook Air to take photos off the memory card as I’ve no way to do it on my Macbook Pro.

scheduleMarch 7, 2021

Just finished Here We Are (Notes For Living On Planet Earth) on Apple TV+, a kid’s program based on Oliver Jeffer’s book of the same name.

Really fun! Elise noticed that it was based off the book straight away, they use the same stylings and include everything in the book.

scheduleMarch 6, 2021

Enjoyed the 1st episode of For All Mankind. Especially as our Year 1 (kindergarten) class has been learning about space.

scheduleMarch 6, 2021

Gamers. Is a Switch still worth buying? 🎮 🕹

scheduleMarch 6, 2021

Am aware of our good fortune of being able to meet friends for dinner last night and Elise being able to have a birthday party today.

scheduleMarch 4, 2021

Feeling very up and down this week between work and kids and everything feeling a bit too much at times.

scheduleMarch 4, 2021

Slept better. Felt better. Had a morning cuddle.

scheduleMarch 3, 2021

Me: Do you want some more avocado? Elise: (sad voice)I just really want unicorns to be real.

🥑 🦄

Boundaries

scheduleMarch 2, 2021

“The idea of “boundaries” has become so porous when it comes to cultivating work/life balance that it’s lost all meaning. People don’t respect boundaries. You don’t respect them. Even when the pandemic is over, it’s going to be very, very difficult to try to rebuild them. What we actually need are guardrails, big and sturdy ones, to protect us from the runaway semi-truck of work.

In our current framework, boundaries are the individual’s responsibility, and when they’re broken, it’s because the individual failed to protect them. But guardrails? They’re there to protect everyone, and they’re maintained by the state, aka your company. There are a lot of ways to actually build guardrails around employee’s lives,”

https://annehelen.substack.com/p/imagine-your-flexible-office-work

scheduleMarch 1, 2021

It started with Lyra, we’d say “I love you more than (thing that I really love - coffee and bacon for me, spicy food for her.”

Only Elise it has somehow changed to.

Elise: “I love you more than coffee for you.” Me: “I love you more than unicorns for you.”

If this isn’t nice.

Lyra’s birthday so she’s organised a big party for her and the girls. She’s going all out and is very excited. Me and the kids are going to watch tv and eat snacks until she gets back tomorrow.

It’s not a workout if you don’t take a selfie or track if…

Heavy deadlifts yesterday and 4K down the hill and back up this morning.

Started to think running isn’t so bad…

Episode 51: Lyra And Yumo Look At A Book

Yumo tends to speak to me mostly in Chinese, even if he mostly understands what I say in English. Sometimes though he’ll use Chinese and English in a sentence.

E.g. when reading he said - me jia you, which means ‘me house has that’ so starts English and switches to Chinese

Cold shower challenge.

Day 1: Ridiculous. 10 seconds. Onwards!

Cold showers

It started with my sister saying she was doing a challenge of going in the ocean every day and she got mum involved but they live in places you can do that, whereas I don’t. Then I read Leo Babuta’s post on ‘What I Learned About Facing Fear from Cold Swimming;’ which he is doing as part of his ‘discomfort challenges’.

So, as I was meditating a couple of days ago I put 2 and 2 together and got 4 but maybe 5 and decided cold showers should be a thing this week.

My bedtime routine involves meditation, some water, the Apple Music bedtime beats playlist, some reading and losing my patience with the kids because they won’t sleep.

First run.

Went for my first run with Helen today. - We didn’t anticipate waiting so long at pedestrian crossings. - But that meant we took it easy. Which was probably for the best. - Also we finished at Starbucks. - Then went to McDonalds. - But the weather was nice and it was good to get out.

Wandavision, eh?! So good. Now, I just need to watch it all again.

Fun to read online discussions about it though.

Local green plum wine served in the classiest of vessels.

The Daily Dad linked to Maggie Smith’s Poem called Good Bones and I’ve got it stuck in my head.

Life is short, though I keep this from my children.

Daily Dad - The harder path is worth it

I liked yesterdays Daily Dad

It’s not fair to subject your kids to all the things that have broken your heart in this world. It’s not fair to let your experiences deprive them of the hope and belief they need not just to survive but to be happy.

We have to stay positive. We have to keep trying. We have to remain strong—against the pull of bitterness and anger and hopelessness.

It makes me think of a couple of things that often come to mind. The first is them knowing my fears, or the things that I find difficult. The second is how I’m feeling and how they are aware of that - particularly the negative emotions.

Hill sprints with added weight*.

*Weight was one child and two badminton rackets.

Today was going to be me sitting alone doing stuff but has turned out to be sitting with people. And all the better for it.

Today I am grateful for the lady who had an appointment but let our kids get their hair cuts before her kids, which I totally didn’t expect.

Also, the kids are getting hair cuts so maybe I should too…

Hey Micro.blog if you haven’t watched Detectorists I think you should, it’a a British show about some metal detecorists and it’s nice in the best possible way. I think it’s on Amazon Prime. Here is a dodgy trailer, all the others the suggested videos were spoilers.

Morning workout with Lyra, kids joined later because the only time they don’t want to watch tv is when you want them to. Obviously.

Carole King's Tapestry and its memories.

Carole King’s Tapestry is 50 year old but I can still listen to it. For me, it reminds me of Mum and Dad playing it in the car. Which makes me think of road trips to France and staying in a tent or that time we stayed in Dad’s colleagues holiday home - I remember reading James Herbert horror novels because that’s what was on the shelf and the supermarket playing 7 Seconds by Neneh Cherry and Youssou N’Dour.

Other albums/artists I think about in the same way are by Kate Bush, Elton John and The Eurythmics.

Only 3 more episodes of Wandavision which doesn’t feel like enough… Latest episode was very interesting!

Signed up for the Fitness+ service but apparently I can’t Airplay to my old Apple TV 3. Which is hugely disappointing. I just get audio but no video.

Busy day.

Safari park this morning/afternoon. Then some time at Lyra’s uncles before dinner with her extended family. Lots of thoughts about dinner that I would like to put down.

swissmiss, swissmiss: The Good News

They don’t publish
the good news.
The good news is published
by us.
We have a special edition every moment,
and we need you to read it.

Thich Nhat Hanh

Our Chinese New Year holiday started today with me being confused because my alarm was going off. Took me a moment to realise what was going on.

When it’s not even 7am and your Apple Watch is telling you to breathe.

When I don’t get up because until the last minute because trying and failing to have five minutes to myself before work with two small children around is hard.

I just spent some real money and I can’t remember the last time I did that.

A little hungover today. Not too much that it meant I couldn’t go out but just enough that going out was, occasionally, not fun.

I’ve got my photo-taking workflow pretty well sorted now. 1. Go somewhere with Lyra. 2. Let her takes photos. 3. Airdrop them to me phone when we get home. 4. Send them to Mum and friends.

We caught up with the latest 2 episodes of Wandavision last night. Such a change from the first 2.

A walk out to have lunch, then naptime and then wine with some friends. Today was nice.

80rmb/£9/$12 with 300 games. A little bit tempted…

We be consistent
Because we old and we creak
But we still want abs

First attempt at Helen and I’s fitness creed.

That episode of Tokyo Diner was just what I needed after such a full-on day at work.

A choice, this or that
Time for you or time to sleep
Feels like, dreams or dreams

Getting time to myself or getting enough sleep. It’s one or the other.

Dug out a grinder I got given. Not the fastest but good enough.

Who am I to not let the kids help?!

Just got back from a Royal Rumble viewing with some people from work.

Was good fun. I like watching professional wrestling but was good to do it with other people.

Did some running because I don’t like it and that is why I did it. Tried to keep up with Helen and couldn’t. It was fun!

“This would be a cool place to come and work!”

We caught ourselves saying that today and realised that we should come to do something for us.

Our first no work-work club will be meeting soon!

Name and location to be confirmed.

like sand in the sea

gone away, away
i’ve come back down and settled
like sand in the sea

I remember reading about meditation being like letting mud, or was it sand, settle in water so that things become clear again. I’ve always carried that with me.

Coming away yesterday without the kids, having some time, not feeling stressed or letting anxiety muddy the water has been, nice, lovely, just what I didn’t realise I needed.

No taxis, it’s ok
I’ve had a drink, feeling fine
This man will take us!

We’ve gone away but couldn’t get a Didi (Uber), I mean we found one but he didn’t show up in the app so he wouldn’t take us. A shopkeeper overheard us and he took us for an inflated, for China, rate.

Our initials…

I prefer YELO though I think.

We had a conversation before Yumo was born that if his initial was V our collective initials would spell LOVE but it never happened.

Today in parenting.

Most stuff is trial and error. Though somethings, in hindsight, seem obvious.

Like not letting the kids run around just after eating. I’m not sure Lyra appreciated me laughing as we cleaned up vomit in the shopping centre.

Live and learn!

What’s your reasoning behind such a long passcode for your phone? Security?

Of a sort. My daughter learned my 4 digit and then it was kind of an arms race.

Can you know brokenness without being broken?

https://vimeo.com/313725613

After losing his leg to cancer as a young adult, Jon Wilson struggled with feeling broken. Challenging himself in the outdoors presented a possible remedy. Today, crutching up and skiing down mountains at night provides a distinct backdrop for Jon to explore, accept, and embrace the idea of “brokenness,” allowing him to find a more sincere, vulnerable and honest connection with life.

It’s ok to be broken. After all, the real power of being broken is knowing you can survive it again.

This brought tears to my eyes.

I broke in my own way in my early twenties. As he says,

And while I would never wish it on anyone, I would never trade in my scars,

Yup.

Without what I experienced I wouldn’t be the me I am today. The me I am, mostly, proud to be.

I pay for Apple Music and also 200gb of storage. If I subscribe to One Family do I then need to cancel my storage as well?

The funny thing is all I ever wanted I already had
There’s glimpses of heaven in every day
In the friends that I have, the music I made
The love that I feel, I just had to start again

Hospital for souls - Bring me the horizon

Neither of us was 100% on Monday but back on it today! 1minute cardio (run/bike) 1 minute rest but I started a minute later.

No idea of metrics just tried to work hard.

Team Consistent!

Hey! This is your Trance Thursday reminder for tomorrow. Maybe let’s do a theme tomorrow? Favourite old track? Favourite new? Favourite mix? Maybe?

Feeling fitter, happier and more productive today.

Such a change. The difference is so noticeable.

If you tell the kids you’re going to do something, then do it, otherwise don’t say it. I hope it’s not just us, as parents, that often fail in this.

“Fine. No more tv/iPad/toys/fun/toast for the rest of your life.”

The last weekend, wasn’t great, and Lyra said no tv/screen time for the week*. And you know what, it’s not been so bad. It’s only been two days but we’ve stuck with it and I commented to Lyra that maybe we should stick with it… Funny, how it’s turned out really.

*When the grandparents come doesn’t count.

I predict that Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Cartoon Opening Theme (1987) will be my most played song this year.

  1. Keep kids busy
  2. Try not to go crazy
  3. Try not to eat too much

My rules from day one of our lockdown/quarantine that started January 23rd 2020. I forgot to post it. So much has happened since.

Making worksheets for Maths on Monday on Saturday night is the most relaxed I’ve been all day. The kids haven’t had great days and it’s been so full on.

  1. Watch Wandavision.
  2. Discuss obvious stuff with Lyra.
  3. Go online to read about all the stuff I missed.

Elise and I have copying a picture from an Anthony Browne book.

Walked a new way home because Baidu Maps said we could. Took us down a random muddy path but it was a new perspective on the area we live in. Despite being so built up there’s still space around.

Exercise continues.

Having someone to go with makes it harder to not go and more fun when I do.

Having someone working a different level has been good too, in that it forces me to consider what I’m doing more. As I creep towards 40, I’m making choices about working out so I can work out again this week and next month and for the foreseeable future. I’m happy with the programme I’m doing, I like this quote from their website.

It is for these reasons and more that Linchpin focuses on long-term health and fitness. We want you (and your back, knees, and shoulders) to be fit, happy, healthy, and extremely capable for decades to come.

No idea what to make of the first 2 episodes of Wandavision honestly, but I know we’ll keep watching.

“I’ll follow you into the dark” cover by Frank Watkinson. I’ve been listening to the original recently but liked this one. Also, his house is so British and it makes me miss the place a bit.

link

The kids enjoyed the lychee and orange Oreos that have been released for Chinese New Year but I wasn’t a fan, just a strange taste.

grown-ups

“She’s a grown-up, isn’t she? Grown-ups and monsters aren’t scared of things?”

“Oh, monsters are scared,” said Lettie. “That’s why they’re monsters. And as for grown-ups…” She stopped talking, rubbed her freckled nose with a finger. Then, “I’m going to tell you something important. Grown-ups don’t look like grown-ups on the inside either. Outside they’re big and thoughtless and they always know what they’re doing. Inside, they look just like they always have. Like they did when they were your age. The truth is, there aren’t any grown-ups. Not on, in the whole wide word.”

I thought about adults. I wondered if that was true: if they were all really children wrapped in adult bodies, like children’s books hidden in the middle of dull, long adult book, the kind with no pictures or conversations.

Not sure why this passage struck me but it did and has me thinking about grown-ups and how we grow up and we’re the same but different.

Update: I’ve allowed Elise to dress herself. Mum is not going to love her choices.

What’s the quickest way to check when I bought my iPhone?

Youngest was being himself last night* so have been up since 4:30.

Fast forward to 7 and the kids are up and since Mummy is asleep we’re doing chocolate cereal with chocolate milk and now we’re going on a plane.

*Karma eh?!

Operation Xmas Abs* has started again for another year.

*All very tongue in cheek but have started exercising again for mental and physical health.

I’m much calmer, things are bothering me less, I not getting hung up on things recently. Both at work and at home.

I know it’s that I’m meditating daily but I can’t quite believe it is since I only do very little, sometimes only 1 minute.

scheduleJanuary 9, 2021

Stressful week at work and then the kids not going to sleep easily last night and then not getting enough sleep followed by a day out at soft play and I am done.

Looking forward to going back to work on Monday for a rest.

scheduleJanuary 8, 2021

In today’s ‘things that feel strange’ now… We had parents come in to school to talk about how their child is getting on.

Amor Fati

scheduleJanuary 7, 2021

“Amor Fati is a mindset that you take on for making the best out of anything that happens. Treating each and every moment – no matter how challenging – as something to be embraced, not avoided. To not only be okay with it, but love it and be better for it. So that like oxygen to a fire, obstacles and adversity become fuel for your potential.”

source

scheduleJanuary 7, 2021

This is my monthly (?) thought that I wish I didn’t need an Instagram account to view “public” posts on it. I get that it’s so I sign up and help small businesses but I just don’t wanna.

scheduleJanuary 7, 2021

When going out and eating feels extravagant.

Yes that’s a pasty, but because it’s China it has sweet potatoe noodles in!

scheduleJanuary 6, 2021

In parenting news - Elise when Lyra offered her more melted cheese, her fav, from the pasta said, “I need to eat more pasta first.”?! - Yumo doesn’t like melted cheese from the pasta, which initially made me sad, but more for me. - Yumo throwing plates at me to wash up. Thanks dude

scheduleJanuary 4, 2021

In other news, I’ve turned off notifications for Wechat and Whatsapp which normally leads me to checking my phone more just in case. Now though, I think I’m starting to turn a corner and feel like I’m overcoming the need to read messages the instant they appear.

scheduleJanuary 4, 2021

We’ve all been ill the last 4/5 days (NOT COVID) but it’s meant I didn’t go back to work today and that I don’t feel ready to go back tomorrow. It just isn’t great honestly. I’ve not had the time to prepare and it’s just, frustrating.

scheduleJanuary 1, 2021

Laptops killed work-life balance - Saw this and it has been something I’ve been thinking about. Sometimes the convenience feels too much and I’d be better with a desktop. The thing is that I can’t be trusted!

scheduleJanuary 1, 2021

Happy New Year everyone!

The clock ticked over just as we were putting our two to bed.

If this isn’t nice.

Does anyone grind their coffee at home? I think I’d like to, interested if anyone does?

Obviously I’m looking at things that aren’t cheap!

Our youngest’s favourite food is anything + plum sauce. Today was steamed fish and plum sauce and rice with plum sauce. Plum sauce on its own wasn’t allowed.

Daily Dad - The present is pleasurable enough

I like this reminder.

The parent who thinks this is an occupation you “win,” who believes it’s about those special, big moments, is missing a lot of majestic life as well. 

It’s not about the future, about getting through the terrible twos or terrible teens, on some idyllic end-result. The next milestone is not there to assure us the days of toil and hardship were worth it. We can’t forget to notice and appreciate the little pleasures of the experience, the right-here-and-now. 

Link

Hired a lounge for the afternoon while the grandparents watched the kids.

We watched The Invisible Man which is Lyra’s cup of tea but definitely not mine.

Lasagne club rules

The first rule of lasagne club is you do not talk about lasagne club.

The second rules is you can’t just have the cheese from the top. If you want more cheese then you have to eat the whole piece first.

Also, I thought Elise found the mushrooms I’d chopped up but she was just complaining about some onion.

26th Day of a Mile a Day

Today was my 26th day of walking a(t least a) mile a day (in one go) in December. Tonight, I forgot to start my Outdoor walk workout on my Apple Watch but I got a buzz half way around to ask me if that was what I was doing and it had recorded the walk so far, which is cool.

I was thinking of writing a top 10 things I learned and I did honestly start thinking about that but I’m struggling to find the time at the moment. So, i’ll leave with you the two that I thought of so far.

  1. I thought it would be a struggle to find the time, but it hasn’t been. Most of the walks I’ve done between 8 and 10pm. Probably a lesson there.
  2. I’ve walked the same 2km route most days and that’s been fine too, I thought it would be monotanous but it really hasnt’t been. Probably a lesson there too.

As well, I’m happy with not doing any running at all, I meant to but with the walk I’m out of the flat pretty quickly as long as everything is charged and I don’t need to do anything

I keep coming back to Seth Godin’s post on social media, why it is the way it is and how it could be better. If only.

The successful people in your community or your industry (please substitute ‘happy’ for successful in that sentence) don’t act the way the influencers … do.

I can’t recommend Midnight Diner on Netflix highly enough. It’s about a small diner in Tokyo and the people in it. If it persuades you, I’m not tempted to look at my phone while watching and I watch all of the introduction. It’s nice in the way Ted Lasso is.

My Christmas resolution, which is a thing now unless it was already a thing, anyway, I’m going to read all the books I bought or was bought that have been piling up.

If I read half as much as I played on my phone, it’ll be easy…

kind

2020 is the year of the Kind Movie — and it couldn’t have come at a better time

Also, tv because it mentions Ted Lasso and while I don’t think I agree with all the kind films I do like the idea. There’s lots of recommendations and discussion too in the Metafilter thread I saw the link.

And while I’m at it, I had meant to talk about Speed Cubers and Queen’s Gambit because they both caught my eye for similar reasons. The first is a documentary ostensably about people doing Rubik’s cube’s REALLY fast and that’s why I started it but it turns out to be about the rivalry and friendship. The latter, I just like how it resolved it in the end.

Fell down a bit this afternoon with using my phone but had lunchw ith Lyra, wrapped some presents am caught up on His Dark Materials, did a lesson of the Chinese course and cooked dinner while Elise watched Moana. So it’s not been so bad.

'Want to change the world? Start by being brave enough to care'

I’m trying to be more focused today, possibly tomorrow too, which mostly means not picking my phone up every ten seconds and using my computer more purposefully. Today’s struggle was trying to sit through of all of this TED talk without opening a new browser window to search for the speaker’s name or sending a message to someone about it. I managed it, which I’m pretty proud of.

It’s called Want to change the world? Start by being brave enough to care and I liked it a lot because it was something I benefited from hearing.

This time I woke up when the youngest crawled into bed with us sometime between 12 and 5am. Then the eldest joined us around 5:30. It this isn’t nice. I don’t know what is.

breaking point

I feel like I’m better at knowing when i’m reaching my ‘breaking point’, especially with regards to my children and that point where I need to do something before I lost my patitence.

Though as I thought about writing this in my head I felt like breaking point are the wrong words since, it suggests that it’s a one time thing and not something that happens on a semi-regular basis.

I felt it today with the kids, being away in the hotel for a couple of days was nice, it really was but it got a bit much at the end.

What to do is when I notice it’s happening is a work in progress.

These two links popped up though that felt relevant:

  1. Zen Habits - 8 Practices to Get Still and Calm
  2. this list of things by Hope Hall when she starts to feel ‘overwhelmed or stressed or lose my center’

From the latter link is this line, which reasonated a whole lot because it says what I’ve been trying to do recently.

Try to put how you want to feel ahead of what you want to be or even do.

We’ve come to a hotel for two nights with two friends, we’re on our third bottle of wine, the kids were up till too late, we’ve not eaten much proper food, mostly biscuits, it feels as close to Christmas as it’s going to get!

What’s your favourite Christmas film?

Bonus questions: What’s your favourite kid’s Christmas film?

好爱你 (hǎo ài nǐ)

I’d got this card for Lyra for Xmas but broke it out yesterday at McDonalds because it felt like a good time1. I’d found it when looking for thank you cards for my team. It says, 好爱你 (hǎo ài nǐ) which literally translates as ‘good love you’ but actually translate as ‘(I) really love you’.

1There was a staff quiz and I didn’t want to go, because at the moment me time trumps social time, but I’d had a couple of beers on the way home and it seemed like a good idea but then we stopped for Friday McDonalds dinner and suddenly it semed like a bad idea.

Yesterday I was thinking about this quote a lot:

If you always do what you’ve always done,
you’ll always get what you’ve always got.
Henry Ford

Especially as the semester has come to the end and I can’t help myself start thinking about the next one.

Got gifted this. Looking for suggestions beyond eat it with a spoon. Which is also why I haven’t opened it.

I have a soft spot for some of Tiesto’s early mixes, particularly In Search of Sunrise 2 and Magik 7. Plenty of tracks that I love, I think partly because they connect me to an earlier time.

Both are on Apple Music but not Spotify unfortunately.

Just remembered that tomorrow is Trance Thursday and that has cheered me up!

Cancelled trip

We were due to fly (2 hours maybe) to the south coast of China (so not leaving China) in a week for a few days in the sun (only a few, hotel rooms get claustrophobic with 2 small children quickly) but after a few more cases appearing both in the city we’re in and around China (not massive amounts by any stretch, but still) we’ve decided to cancel (we’d probably be fine, but why risk it?).

Which is obviously a bit rubbish. Generally feeling a bit down at the moment. Mostly I’m ok with living abroad and being thousands of miles away from immediate family, but not at Christmas. Plus, it’ll soon be a year since I saw Mum and Dad when they came to visit last Christmas.

Elise has started writing her name after starting at kindergarten. Even though I teach students around her age, she doesn’t see me as a teacher, which is understandable, and I’m ok with not pushing.

I know I’ve read about Ted Lasso on here, I think @maique has mentioned it? But, I’ve been binging it this week and it’s just the best.

As a Brit, Ted’s American-ness is just not me but the way he builds people up and his kindness, especially to Nate, is a-mazing.

In other news, I upgraded to Micro.blog to the Year and in the process realised I need to be making more use of my Premium account. Also started an Apple One trial and in the process found that there’s an adaptation of one of my favourite kids books series called Stillwater.

My 1 mile a day
Is the bestest part of it
Except cuddles, duh

this evening's rabbit hole...

This timelapse of the song Better Days by Radical Face. The technicality of it wasn’t my cup of tea but some of the words caught my attention.

Particularly…

And your head is pouring gasoline
On the person you prefer to be

Which sums it up pretty well.

Radical Face also wrote the second of three songs I used to play off an old and battered iPod Nano plugged into one of those little speaker sets that I used as my morning/wake up songs.

In order

  1. Lanterns On The Lake - I will lay you down
  2. Radical Face - Welcome Home
  3. MOPP - Dream About You

And this was when I moved to Manchester to live in the room at the top of K’s house on a whim. Though whim is probably the wrong word, ‘because I saw no reason not too’ is probably a better way to put it. Which is also how I moved to China and Beijing and then Chongqing and then time passed and now living here is normal. When really it’s anything but.

Christmas is coming and I've been not been feeling great at all recently,

For the last few weeks, really.

Today, I realised, maybe they’re connected?

I read a post on a forum of teachers working abroad about not feeling great about about not being able to go home at this time and that being hard.

Not seeing immediate family is fairly normal for me but we normally see Mum and Dad at least once a year, if not twice (!) and now it’s been a while and maybe that’s starting to get to me?

  1. Read title and decide I’d like to make that.
  2. Open link.
  3. Look at list of ingredients.
  4. Scroll page to read the rest of the list.
  5. Close the tab.

The week ahead is going to be full on and I’m not feeling prepared for it going either physically or emotionally.

It keeps coming up.

Though, maybe I’m just noticing it more.

Guilty Pleasures and the idea that there is shame in the things we like - when there isn’t.

  • Someone talking about the films they feel like they shouldn’t like.
  • Me feeling like I should be going out - when I don’t want to.

We have a HomePod but the options for smart homes in China are cheaper - mostly Xiaomi stuff - but I’m struggling to get them to work together is proving tricky.

HomePod Mini’s are available to buy in China!

But delivery would be between the 21st-28th December.

Oh.

Day 3 of 1 mile per day. Except it was 2 miles because that’s how far away from work I live. I’m still doing 2 beers for the walk. 1 per mile. Tomorrow will be harder. We’ll see…

‘revenge bedtime procrastination’ - when “people who don’t have much control over their daytime life refuse to sleep early in order to regain some sense of freedom during late-night hours”

BBC

First time I’ve seen this but I totally get it. Except mine is work+kids.

I see all your fancy pizzas but tonight we did “wrap pizza”. Plain tortilla, bolognese sauce from a packet, sausage and cheese. In the toaster over for ten minutes. It was amazing. And all I was capable of doing.

no finish line

I read yesterday about how Austin Kleon was writing about there being no finish line and talked about the Big Dog’s Backyard which is a race, of sorts, where you have an hour to 4.1677miles and if you can do that, you do it again and again and again.

the race format where you are always tied for the lead….
until you give up..
the race format where anyone can win.
all they have to do is to never quit.

It’s not surprising it’s from the man who started The Barkley Marathon. One of those things I’d never do but would like to, it’s a little out there. I like that even if I don’t like running but there was a time when a friend and I did 35miles in a day just because and that was different. Maybe because it was outside, the UK has some beautiful countryside.

Which is a round-about way of getting to my point, I read about someone doing The Character Mile where you run a mile a day. I was considering doing something, for me that’s normally burpees, so I’m going ot try and step outside my comfort zone a little.

Since I started reading it at 10pm last night I walked the 3.2km home today and that’ll have to do for the first two days. I also drank 2 beers as I did it, but we’ll see if I stick with that…

Is this month of posts going to reinforce writing? Maybe, maybe not but I’m glad I stuck with it!

#mbnov

On thinking I need to stop

A colleague of some student’s parents* left China and tested positive on arrival in their home country. Since they didn’t know where they caught it, on the plane or the airport or at work - they tested a whole lot of people by all accounts. Including a lot of our students. School was closed today as a precaution. We found out just not, in the afternoon, that school would be open again tomorrow and that some students will be quarantined. So yesterday and today were abnormal. We had to prepare online learning for today, sent approximately a thousand messages within our team, made a 5 page PDF in English and Chinese, had a Zoom session with 20 ish students and looked at their work that their parents had posted.

And all I can think about is how I’ve been trying to do too much and feeling powerless to stop myself. I can feel it. That I need to stop and do something that isn’t make me stressed or anxious or stressed and anxious simultaneously. That thing isn’t much - sit and watch some tv, or read or write but it would be to just do that thing. Which is where I struggle. The last few weeks haven’t been great, to be sure I’ve done some nice things but maybe I haven’t noticed. I’ve been, I am, trying to do everything I can at work and for my family and it’s been wearing me down.

It’s funny because it started when I realised that I was trying to do work and family and trying to socialise and that I needed to stop. I felt better for making that decision but now feel worse as a result. It was the right decision, is the right decision but it’s just turned out that it has seemed to be making things worse and not better. I feel like those parents on TV who are dramatically tired. I’ve never felt like that before, I do know. And maybe it’s just that work is a bit much and I haven’t been feeling a 100% either and exercise has fallen away. Who knows.

In any case, I’ve been wanted to put something down but well, I’ve been too busy. To be sure, my day is draining, I’m surrounded by small children from 6:30am until Yumo decides he wants to sleep between 8pm and 10pm. That’s hard. Being patient all day, or trying to be. Beating myself up when I’m not. The thing is, I’m not sure what i’d do differently…

So, yes. This post happened because I was finally not in my normal routine and I caught myself becoming aware that I do need to stop sometimes and that being on all day is apparently not a great thing for your physical and emotional health. Who knew?!

*those apostrophes, where JH when you need her?

This weekend has been anything but pedestrian.

Same as all weekends then…

#mbnov

Just heard my first Xmas song! Paul McCartney - Wonderful Christmastime

You just took in hiding,
from yourself always slip-sliding,
everyday a mask your wearing,
trying to show your surviving,

Wookie - Battle UK Garage!
#mbnov

The dilemma this week: Struggling to find time for myself after family and work and it starting to feel a little too much.

#mbnov

Having kids you have to constantly adjust.
Now they’re mobile!
Now they’re talking!
Now they have opinions!
Now they’re picky about what they eat!
Now they go to school!
Now they love Peppa Pig!
Now they don’t!
And so and so on!

“This is a call” is a track from the Foo Fighters first album that I have a really strong memory of. Someone at school introduced it to me. 25 years this year!

This video about the hip-hop artist NF called The Power of Vulnerability stopped me and is going to stay with me a while. The talk about vulnerability and how it scares us has hit me, especially this week when, honestly, I’m not feeling great and reticent about talking about it.

Youngest managed to snap this of me reading with Elise. He apparently knows how to access the camera from the Lock Screen.

Am enjoying the BBC’s His Dark Materials. I’ve been meaning to go back to the books again and maybe will soon.

I’m grateful some of the teachers I work with always have provisions. Sometimes a snack is just what I need!

#mbnov

Been in the restaurant twenty minutes and none of the staff have said a word to me. It’s been lovely.

Ordered and will pay by scanning a QR code at the table using WeChat.

I remember when you bought the 36 exposure films. So many things to capture!

#mbnov

In the interests of science and because I’ll try anything once* I bought one of these on the way home. Well, its lot very cheesy. More like a cold vanilla latte. I was hoping for more out there and it’s pretty bland honestly.

*Pig brain, goose intestine, cow stomach, stinky tofu, durian, duck blood, chicken hearts to name a few.

Borders are a big part of our life and will continue to be. We had to make a choice for the kids which passport to get them, the same as me or their Mum. Both wasn’t and isn’t possible. That choice will continue to affect their lives for a long time to come.

#mbnov

What does everyone want for Xmas? Do you make a list with your significant other and buy each other things?

I normally buy the things I want and don’t like getting things for the sake of it so my wife always says I’m hard to buy for.

A haiku a day

Inspired by this article little sister and I have been exchanging haikus this week. In a, let’s just see how goes, method of starting something.

Theirs are very plant orientated and ours have been very children and feeling orientated. Has it helped me? Maybe. I don’t know. I’m still no better at writing them and, as you can see in the pictures I find it easier to underline and am happy to send them not written in neat. But it has been nice to do. I like the byline from that article…

“I get a glimmer as to what she’s feeling right then, and it also gives me a way to share how I’m feeling with her.”

Here are a few…

Winter is Christmas and makes me miss Christmases ‘back home*. The build up, the food, the excitement, the presents. Living in a country where it’s not such a big thing. It’s not a national holiday here. It’s just not the same now.

#mbnov

Sometimes it feels like the thing I/you need to do to feel better is to be alone and do things alone. And today that was what I thought.

Except we had another family over and talked and had a disco and watched a film and played Monkey Bingo.

And it was just what I needed.

How to tidy your home.

  1. Invite people around.
  2. Say to yourself, I’ll just say - “sorry about the mess!”
  3. Ignore that and tidy manically an hour before they arrive.
  4. Success!

As I write that, I am grateful that we can actually do that here.

daily dad from this week

This week has been too much, so I’m just catching up with the Daily Dad emails. It says a lot that I actually read every single one of them.

You can talk all you want about what being a man is, about how much it means to you to be a father. But that doesn’t matter. What matters is that you’re acting that way. In each and everything you do.

You can toughen yourself up for war, you can coolly bet millions of dollars at work, but there’s nothing you can do about the gaping soft spot your kids have access to. Nothing can get you quite like they do… because nothing matters to you quite like they do. This is the hardest thing you’ll ever do. Know it. Accept it.

https://dailydad.com/

Things fade,
Eventually
Hurt us, a little less.

I spilt wine on someone,
When I worked in the pub, over the road,
I was 16.

It would keep me up at night,
Years later
For reasons I was never clear of.

Now, it’s ok,
Plenty of stuff from my 20s
To keep me up.

#mbnov

'I should have loved biology.'

I should have loved biology but I found it to be a lifeless recitation of names: the Golgi apparatus and the Krebs cycle; mitosis, meiosis; DNA, RNA, mRNA, tRNA.

In the textbooks, astonishing facts were presented without astonishment.

I’m too tired to read it all but plan to go back to it.

I did love biology in secondary (high) school and it was exactly because the teacher focused so much on the amazing stuff biology was doing. He was forever showing us newspaper clippings or talking about something that had been discovered. That sometimes the lesson was spent doing that and was all the better for it.

I should have loved biology

Today’s entry in things I saw in the little convenience shop over the road… It’s not even in the fridge!

“We Are The Champions” on Netflix says -

’Explore an array of unique competitions, from the quirky to the bizarre, and meet their passionate communities’

The first episode is of my hometown where they, (we?) chase a big cheese down a really steep hill.

Trailer

Finally put some money towards @kottke after running out of excuses for doing so. Consistently interesting stuff that I’ve consistently been reading for I don’t even remember how long.

It's family.

I worked late at school and Lyra thought she had an English lesson so we got to have dinner together while the grandparents watched the kids. When we came back I always ask Elise to say thank you to them and they always laugh.

I know why because of the time we flew to Beijing, so internally within China, and we couldn’t check in because the kid’s didn’t/don’t have visas in their British passports so - long-story-short* - Lyra’s parents had to go from their home to our flat, a 30minute trip, at 10pm on Friday night to get a document and then to take a photo of it and send it to us so that we could check in. Lyra said thank you for doing all that, and her dad laughed and said, it’s family, you don’t need to say thank you, of course we’d do it.

Though, it goes back to when Lyra and I were first going out and her very closest friends laughed at me for saying thank you when we went to visit them because, to their mind, I didn’t need to say it.

But I’m British and conditioned to say thank you at all times so it’s strange to deal with this. I ain’t changing though but it’ll be interesting to see where the kids fall!

*Their Mum is Chinese, so they are Chinese. Putting a visa in their British passport would be equivalent to admitting they aren’t Chinese - which they are. We have to get special documents every time we leave China.

Dinner of spam, quail eggs, many types of tofu and vegetables cooked in a beef broth.

It’s possible our youngest will go down without getting up repeatedly but it’s also possible I could win the lottery.

#mbnov

Possible is too often overshadowed by its siblings. The elder, ruder, sibling impossible and its cute younger sibling can.

#mbnov

It’s getting late. My dependence on working late is not sustainable!

#mbnov

He went to work every day before Hannah went to school, and in the evening he worked at home. When Hannah asked him a question, he would say, “Not now. I’m busy. Maybe tomorrow.”

Love Anthony Browne’s books. This one is called Gorilla and has me thinking about work and family.

I’ve been on a bullet train in Japan and regularly get the fast trains here in China but while they’re speedy and efficient, I do miss the British trains and the views out the windows.

#mbnov

It feels weird to be overwhelmed but it not be COVID related. And I know it’s ok to be so.

I think maybe it’s strange because all the media I read is predominantly British and American and their daily situation is just so different to mine.

3 rounds 50 sit ups 1 minute at the top of the press up.

Total time: Not sure. About 3 songs from Taylor Swift - Folklore

I can never tell what my first memory is. Whether it is my memory or something I’ve put together from photos and hearing people talk about that time.

Now, I think about all the memories I am creating for myself with the kids that they probably won’t remember.

#mbnov

I just noticed Apple Arcade on my MacBook App Store. So I ‘think’ I could do that and I kinda like the idea. Does anyone do that?

Basically my home is as automated as it’s going to get. We can do a disco and that’s it. What more do you need?

Who says romance is dead?! Airdropping messages while out with the kids and hearts on Saturday morning ‘McMuffins’!

I like this ‘Nobody is normal’ video for Childline that I saw on @Kottke. He says, ‘I was comparing my insides to my classmates’ outsides’ - which is what we do right?

It’s making me think about the post yesterday on ‘guilty pleasures’ and being willing to like what you like.

Work at work, home at home.

Reading this discussion on Metafilter about people’s experiences of working from home and their work-life balance and thinking about how it relates to me.

I’m normally at work from around 7:15 to 4:30 at the earliest and often stay after 5. That still doesn’t feel like enough time to do everything I feel I need to. This weekend, I’m trying to relax and also find time around the kids to write reports and do work for Monday. Which is obviously very stressful. I wish that I had a job where I left work at work.

Memories of Pepsi in glass bottles, at grandma's house.

I had Pepsi today. First time in a while because I’ve finally not drinking full-fat soft drinks so much. Though, when I do it’s normally Coke and not Pepsi. And today the first sip was enough to evoke some pretty strong memories.

Memories of Pepsi in glass bottles, at grandma’s house.
A brief 2 hour drive and short 11 hour flight away.
Of the road outside - St Francois Xavier, with the cigarette factory - cinq cinq cinq - around the corner with it’s particular smell, the football pitch opposite, the shop with unusual sweets and the two large rocks for seats where family sat and talked and watched the world go by.
The creaky front gate and the alley leading to the house, as well as Dad’s Uncle’s and Aunt’s houses.
The kitchen that we always ate from but rarely went in.
The living room with the day bed where people would sit and talk and where I remember grandma being.
And the space beyond it where we slept when we did stay there and sometimes ate.
The mashed potato dish that they made and that I always used to love.
The fact it was dark and that the bed we slept on was so high.
I have such sharp, clear memories of it.
And they all came back today because we always drank Pepsi and never Coke.

I don’t do spooky films. I don’t enjoy them. It means I can’t sleep. #mbnov

Foo Fighters - Times Likes These on Saturday Night Live.

It’s times like these you learn to live again
….
It’s times like these you learn to love again

Elise’s Dinosaur workout
🦖10 dinosaur raaaaas (lunge and go raaaa)
🦕10 brontosaurus reaches (jump and grab leaves)
10 velociraptor runs (high knees)

‘no more guilty pleasures’

I love Austin Kleon

We all love things that other people think are garbage. You have to have the courage to keep loving your garbage, because what makes us unique is the diversity and breadth of our influences, the unique ways in which we mix up the parts of culture others have deemed “high” and the “low.”

Don’t guess.

So much of my anxiety comes from this.

#mbnov

It’s been an overwhelming week in some ways between work and family. Wasn’t feeling great this morning but it has abated somewhat this afternoon.

An evening of McDonald’s and going to the cinema to watch Paw Patrol awaits!

We create challenges for them (our children), but we are not the challenge

As usual, taking something from the Daily Dad

We don’t raise tough kids by inflicting pain on them. We raise tough kids by teaching them—lovingly, patiently, understandingly—how to grow past their limits. Still, we respect those limits. We realize that each of us has different strengths, different weaknesses, and in appreciating that, we can find ways to develop them into their own unique and special self.

We create challenges for them, but we are not the challenge. No, we are their ally. We are on their team. We love them. We’re working with and for, not against them.

The places I eat.

Tonight was on the pavement next to a 4 lane road. The garlic mushrooms were excellent!

Would i wear the same thing everyday if I could? I sometimes think I would and in fact I kind of do. I always wear the same couple of pairs of jeans and T-shirts. #mbnov

Often, I feel like I have something to say but not the time to properly form it between family and work. #mbnov

Being social, even online, is something I wish I was better at but have accepted as something I find difficult as I’ve got older.

With that said, getting replies from people on micro.blog is my favourite thing about using it. It’s just nice. #ifthisisntnice

Elderly. Grandparents are elderly but never your parents, I mean, until they are. #mbnov

After yesterday’s I’ll advised kettlebell workout, today’s workout was just about moving a little. Good for the body and the mind.

Some photos from the weekend. It’s a little section of a bigger tourist attraction done up in an old-ish style. We just happened across it but it was fun. They had beer!

Omar’s Law states that a probability that a child will offer the correct leg/arm/hand/foot to that being offered to put on trousers/t-shirt/glove/sock is 0.

I think my issue with the challenges is I don’t like to force it. I want it to be perfect and so I often just give up because it isn’t. And now I’ve completed the challenge again, by accident. #mbnov

My experiences are
You can’t force people to change
They have to do it for themselves

I say this as someone who,
at a point,
Found myself realising,

All the things I’d done to help myself,
Had been what everyone had always said,
You can take a horse to water!

#mbnov

I’m thinking about what binds us and how those things are not the same everyone we know.

A common interest. Work. A time. An event?

How some bonds seem solid, others only temporary and others that sometimes vary.

#mbnov

23:06 Leaving it late. I am inflated by spending time with my wife and friends this evening.

Lyra and I are going away for the night while the grandparents try and keep up with the kids - which I’m trying to not worry about. Elise cried as we left and I just wanted to stay, even as I know it’s good for everyone to have a break.

One of the biggest sacrifices I make as a parent is eating things so my children don’t.

Cake, ice cream, chocolate, I eat it all so they don’t.

I don’t want to but I do because I love them.

This article in the Guardian of critics admitting to getting things wrong has me thinking of what things I’ve changed my opinion of.

Tried to do a workout. First Elise joined in for the jumping jacks and burpees. Then she got bored. A little while later, Yumo joined in in his own way and sat on my back for press ups. Workout was totally ruined… It was awesome!

Picking up the kids from school is such an amazing feeling, every single time.

For the first ten seconds anyway but I’ll take it.

I am always puzzled
By my feelings for Friday
The week is over! Again
The weekend is here! Again

I feel next week’s wave
Pull at my feet
Some gentle lapping
Or maybe a tsunami?

#mbnov

(I’m posting it now but it’s a work in progress, written in a break at work)

I know The World Waits™️ and the UK is now on lockdown again but…

Both our children slept through the night. Not a peep out of either of them. This is the first time that this has happened.

If this isn’t nice!

Christmas - it either feels too early or too late, never just right.

and the word is near
but all I can think
is the opposite
of how the distances
between us, currently
seem so great

#mbnov ✏️

Work is just… it’s not that it’s difficult, no, that’s not right as it is, it’s the volume of a thousand little things we’re expected to juggle.

I’ve said it before, the problem with teaching is fitting in all the paperwork, emails and meeting around the students.

As a, relatively, recent father and a teacher of, relatively, small children, kids always astonish me.

It’s the best.

#mbnov ✏️

I skip breakfast a lot but since I’m trying to exercise more regularly l feel like I need something. Plus, I don’t want to make many thing in the morning.

So, today I had my first bacon, egg and cheese “McMuffin” that I made yesterday and reheated this morning and it was good!

Something I miss about the UK is pork pies.

Something else I miss is fruit concentrate aka cordial aka squash. You mix it with water and then the water tastes nice. Here I’m forced to drink plain water. Where’s some Robinson’s orange and pineapple?!

✏️#mbnov

Cuddles are the best. I’ve rolled my eyes in the past when mum has said it to me, but some things you have to learn for yourself.

One great thing about having kids is that they force you into an active practice of love whether you are ready for it or not.

From a letter to my son.

What hit me was concern that his son would be like him, not open, not willing to be loved. I worry about this stuff too.

I enjoyed The Mandolorian - Justified crossover episode a whole lot.

I’m from the UK and so I’m used to the weather not being the best.

That said, the weather in Chongqing at the moment is dreary. It’s gloomy, dark and it’s constantly raining.

Can we get some sun?

✏️ #mbnov

My heart is moved by all I cannot save:
so much has been destroyed

I have to cast my lot with those. who age after age, perversely,

with no extraordinary power,
reconstitute the world.

—Adrienne Rich

From Laura Olin’s newsletter

Being present

I’ve been trying hard to be more present this morning. And the effort has been worth it. I’ve felt well, happier, less stressed. I’ve done the washing, made sandwiches for breakfast, watched two 15minute videos, one on foreign correspondents opinions on the upcoming election and one on finding pumpkins in the park presented by someone called Blippi, used my phone less/a little more consciously we’ve been to soft play and then had dumplings with friends.

It’s been nice, the kids for the most part have been amazing.

It is hard work though. I have the creeping anxiety that I should be doing MORE and that if I don’t bad things will happen.

Is anyone considering Apple One? I already have a family music subscription and pay extra for 200gb. So a little extra for Arcade and Apple TV+ seems a good choice.

5 Nice Things

Kottke just linked to this post titled An Easy Way To Practise Gratitude which is about a game where you simply name 5 nice things in your life. The rules are ‘don’t overthink it, and be specific.’

It ties in nicely for me with something I do about noticing nice things in my life, which I got from this Kurt Vonnegut quote

Anyway, here are mine…

  1. The security guard at school said good morning in English to me yesterday. Normally they would greet us in Chinese but he’s obviously been practising. Even though I had my headphones in it made me smile. Going against my normal programming I shared it in a school chat group and it turns out other people had noticed too. It made me feel a little more connected with people at school/work and I’m glad I shared it.

  2. A teacher’s friend is doing takeaway food from his flat. Yesterday he did bbq chicken with chips, peas and coldslaw and it was amazing. We ate it with a few friends and I had a couple of drinks and didn’t even get too annoyed with the kids!

  3. It’s the weekend and Lyra and I are going on a date tonight while the grandparents babysit. Curry and cocktails. I think I might get my hair cut today aswell. “My hair is long because I haven’t had the time to have it cut.”

  4. It’s the morning, Lyra and Yumo are asleep. I’m having coffee and Elise is getting some screentime. No one is crying or angry and it’s a very pleasant start to Saturday morning.

  5. The Apple photo widget has such a noticeable, positive impact on my life. Opening my phone to old photos of my wife, kids and family is just THE BEST.

The kids were allowed to dress up today and it was the first time I’ve seen a Black Panther, which was cool.

Every morning the security guards take our temperature and say good morning in Chinese. Today though they’ve said it ok English. Which has put a smile on my face!

Stayed up late reading, which I haven’t done in a while. Another YA book out of there school library as I find they scratch the reading itch without being too much when I’m busy. This time Legend by Marie Lu.

Feeling tired this morning though.

Today in Chinese crisp flavours: creme brûlée and milk tea!

Exercise today was row 5k. Which I do because I know it’s good for me, even if I’m not a huge fan. Either of cardio or rowing.

Youngest didn’t wake until 5am so Lyra and I got the bed to ourself all night. Then the eldest and I moved to the spare room at 5:30. Was led with her in the dark, listening to the rain and it was lovely.

#ifthisisn’tnice

Made lasagne for tomorrow. Did some exercise. Was productive. Felt good.

Shoutout to the Wayback Machine for saving the lasagne recipe I like to use after it disappeared

Yumo moved out of our room and into his sister’s. The first night we gave it up but they both eventually slept and then slept through most of the night.

It meant I was able to lie in bed and read a book before going to sleep!

This letter to an ‘agony aunt’ from someone who has lived in their partner’s home country for a long time and now misses the country they are from is something I think about a lot. Where is my home? I don’t know that I could easily answer that question.

The originally makes sense apparently but the English trans unit so much.

Is there a way to block websites in Safari on my iPhone? I’ve deleted apps but can’t be trusted not to open the website. Eventually I know I’ll just download the apps again because why not.

I don’t think it’s a coincidence my anxiety kicked in after I felt good about myself for doing something. Come on brain, teamwork!

I’ve managed to remove a notification I’ve had for months and never been able to. So I’m feeling pretty good.

Today, try to hold some of the dark and some of the light side by side. Don’t turn away from either one. That’s the muscle I’m building in these horrible, beautiful times.

Courtney Martin

Youngest did not sleep well and was slow getting back to sleep. So now I’m off to work and feeling a little* tired.

*A lot, a lot tired.

New plan: Have something to do in the evening.

I find I come home from work and spend time with the kids and eventually get them to bed and then I have time. The thing I want most in the whole world, beyond a home gym and a British supermarket.

Yet, I inevitably waste it with idle browsing, being annoyed or stressed or anxious, some of this and some of that. Then suddenly it’s late and I really should be in bed and I’m feeling no better for the time.

So new plan is to have a plan in the evening. Monday was go to the gym, which was awesome and then. Yesterday Lyra and I started watching Monsters and Love - which is fine if the voiceovers are a bit much.

I think I just need to be specific. Using the time to go through my RSS feeds or even catching up on some YouTube videos is fine. There just needs to be purpose.

lessons

stand up for what is right
prioritize your mental health
being flexible brings success
your voice makes a diffeerence
do not hide from your emotions
hard moments do not last forever
healing yourself makes life better
pursue your goals no matter what
embracing change eases your mind

young pueblo

via

My favourite thing about iOS 14 is definitely the photo widget. A constant stream of photos of the kids when they were little-er is just THE EFFIN’ BEST. Today it brought me to a 1 Second Everyday I did of Elise when Yumo was born and it was so so so lovely to see.

I think there’s something wrong. with my. spacebar as it keeps adding i n adding in spaces and. additional full stops. (periods). Urgh.

In other related news about my kids. Things they’ve been competitive about recently…

  1. Going to the toilet on their own
  2. Eating a healthy dinner

So awful! 🤣

This evening Matthew I’m going to be the father from the Lego Movie…

“Stoooppp messing with my stuffff!”🎵

Another rollercoaster weekend is over… We’ve talked about watching Monsters and Love but we’ll see. My money is on no.

Losing my patience.

Losing my patience with my children is the worst and yet still, it happens.

This week has been difficult because when Lyra and I lose our patience with the kids it affects our relationship as well. Particularly, talking about it between us. We both now we made a mistake but discussing it without it feeling like we’re criticising each other is really hard.

With that said. We’ve talked about stepping in when the other person is on the edge and realising when you are and asking the other person to step in in the future. We’ll see how it goes.

My additional bonus difficulty is that the reasons I lose my patience are basically the same when I’m at work (as a teacher of small children). Trying to maintain calm and reasonable-ness from 7:45am until 8-9pm is difficult. And yes I should be kinds to myself about this but I’m only human, so I’m not.

Listening to Jocelyn K. Glei’s podcast Hurry Slowly and this week it’s titled The Angst of Working from home (WFH). As a teacher, I’m much happier working from school just because of my job needs.

Today I’m grateful that kids here can have parties again. Reminded recently that Elise’s 3rd birthday was entirely at home.

I think that I’ve put the old iPad one of the kid’s uses in a safe place. Thing is, it’s such a safe place I can’t find it.

Care and love

After reading Austin Kleon’s post We love because we care I asked Lyra to help me buy the book.

Alison Gopnik advocates for the abandoning of the word “parenting” as a verb, and encourages readers to think of being a parent as a relationship that runs on love, instead of a job that runs on work. “Love doesn’t have goals or benchmarks of blueprints,” she writes, “but it does have a purpose.” The purpose of loving children is to care for them as a gardener would tend to plants, creating the conditions under which they will thrive.

This caring, she says, changes us, and deepens our love. “We don’t care for children because we love them,” she writes, “we love them because we care for them.”

Drinking, silly talk with colleagues was just what I needed after this week. Physically I’m ok but emotionally haven’t been feeling with it.

Wednesday October 14th, 6:34pm, Chongqing, China

The youngest loves the marble run set we have and the eldest was enjoying spending time with a visiting friend.

#adayinthelife

Still, somehow thought it was Tuesday but apparently it’s already Wednesday.

Time seems to be a runaway train at the moment. I blink and another week is nearly gone!

Forever ago

I rewatched my quarantine 1 Second Everyday just now. I did it from January 24th which was Day 1 for us, I even made this picture. 262 days ago. Quarantining with the kids. E-learning. It feels like forever.

Here in China, things have moved on and are pretty normal. While talking to friends in the UK feels like a whole other world that I can’t, quite comprehend. It’s a strange thing indeed.

So I’m at least 90% sure I’ve got all day Wednesday to take my photo for the challenge. For me it runs 1am on Wednesday until 1am Thursday. I think.

Today

  • Time alone with coffee, a notebook and a book
  • Lunch with Lyra
  • Afternoon beers with friends
  • 1 minute late to pick up the kids, I didn’t have a mask so couldn’t go in but met them just outside the school

If this isn’t nice!

Pretty satifisfied with how The Boys finished Season 2, how things were wrapped up and how they’ve set the stage for Season 3. I’m assuming there’s a Season 3. 📺

scheduleOctober 9, 2020

Yesterday I was grateful for a less stressful bedtime.

Thing is, the kids were just as troublesome I just didn’t let it get to me.

scheduleOctober 7, 2020

Noodles and then a drink and chat with a friend while the grandparents are watching the kids was just what I needed this evening.

I’ve just addded “If this isn’t nice” as a category but I realise it’s a gratefulness journal by another name isn’t it?

scheduleOctober 6, 2020

My new mantra is, ‘one thing at a time.’

Which in theory is quite simple and in practice is a very real struggle to not look at my phone or not focus on whatever I want to just focus on.

I do feel better for it but we’ll see how it goes…

scheduleOctober 5, 2020

After yesterdays watching of Vampires vs. the block, Lyra and I watched Attack the Block today. Yeah, maybe it’s the British-ness of it but much preferred Attack the Block. Am now on the hunt for similar British films… 🎬

exercise

scheduleOctober 5, 2020

New me continues. Am I peaking too early?

Broke out the kettlebell and did this:

Perform 5 circuits of the following:

5 Dumbbell Snatches Per Arm
5 Dumbbell Swings Per Arm
10 Burpees
Rest 60 seconds and repeat

11:14.

The burpees slowed me right down. I should do more of them I suppose.

It occurred to me that I am, finally, becoming more pragmatic about doing exercise. Not by choice you understand. I would dearly love a gym outfitted in a way that China doesn’t do - by which I mean like a Crossfit gym - but it’s not going to happen. Maybe one day.

The one at school is actually pretty close but I can only use it straight after work and that doesn’t work. My family will come first. Always. Even if it gratesd, and it did. It still does a little. The pragmatism is there now, I’m happier about finding something that works for me, and that being ok.

That said, the big issue is not eating so much rubbish. That’s the real struggle!

scheduleOctober 5, 2020

Also, the plan to turn my life around is going pretty well. I haven’t lost my patience with either of my darling children and I didn’t check my phone until 2pm. I did use it to pay for something and for music in the car but that’s it.

scheduleOctober 5, 2020

I’ve started to reread the last but one book in the Rivers of London series by Ben Aaronovitch. In preparation for reading the latest one, which apparently came out in February and makes me wonder what I was up to during the quarantine.

scheduleOctober 4, 2020

Vampires vs. The Bronx on Netflix was fun. Not too heavy to watch In the afternoon while the kids napped.

Felt very much like Attack the Block. 🎬

scheduleOctober 3, 2020

Finally got around to finishing my rereading of Dune, inspired by the trailer for the upcoming film. It’s such a big, long book but it’s so easy to get swept along by it all. Still not sure how I feel about the film. We will see…

scheduleOctober 3, 2020

Lovely 24 hours away with Lyra for our 6th Wedding anniversary on Thursday.

We had a nice Airbnb, some cocktails, took a couple of lovely walks around the city, had some coffee and took a lot of photos. Also, I finally watched Inception.

scheduleOctober 2, 2020

Oh my goodness. The penultimate episode of The Boys was just so very good. Very excited for the final episode.

This whole idea of releasing one episode a week, I think it might catch on… 📺

Lunch included pig ears and century eggs. Neither of which I’m a massive fan of. Eggs should be yellow and white not black and amber.

Just finished Russian Doll on Netflix. Highly enjoyable. LOVED the lead. Will definitely be watching it again. Also, reminded me how much I like watching things knowing nothing about them. No trailers, no no-spoiler reviews. 📺

“Classic trance with a 2020 twist.”

This is right up my street.

Still love the trance I would listen to in my late teens/early 20s.

music.apple.com

Saw Tenet again. Wasn’t as overwhelming but still can’t comprehend what was going on really. Will be reading up later.

It was “4d” so the seat pitched forward and backward, vibrated, had puffs of air and occasionally poked you. Not a fan.

Only people in the cinema too. 🎬

Trying to get back into some good habits. Definitely taking it a little easier today.

How do you share photos/updates with family? I don’t really want to use FB or Instagram. We have a family WhatsApp group but I don’t feel it’s idea.

Holiday!

National Holiday in China so we have a week off.

Leaving the country is impossible as everyone entering China has to quarantine for two weeks. However we’re still being advised not to leave our province on the off chance that where we go stops being low risk. Which would then mean more quarantine when coming back.

It’s not a big thing for this holiday but looking towards Christmas everyone is hopeful of getting away, even to somewhere in China. We will see.

Anyway, going to try and relax…

“Up for a challenge?? A poem a day- when you would reach for your phone? Reach for your journal and pen instead!!??”

So that’s what I’ve been doing. My sister and I have such contrasting styles, hers are neater, longer, mine are shorter, messier and more like my piles of teenage notebooks.

Made last night and reheated today. Made the late night supermarket run worth it. My best one yet, so delicious.

My favourite iOS 14 feature is having random photos of the kids appearing on my Home Screen. So nice.

Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s Advice For Living

Another often-asked question when I speak in public: “Do you have some good advice you might share with us?” Yes, I do. It comes from my savvy mother-in-law, advice she gave me on my wedding day. “In every good marriage,” she counseled, “it helps sometimes to be a little deaf.” I have followed that advice assiduously, and not only at home through 56 years of a marital partnership nonpareil. I have employed it as well in every workplace, including the Supreme Court. When a thoughtless or unkind word is spoken, best tune out. Reacting in anger or annoyance will not advance one’s ability to persuade.

From and seen on Daring Fireball

Parent teacher interview always make me nervous but after I’m always grateful for them.

It’s easy to forget students are someone’s children, that someone is thinking about them. And I say that as a parent.

It’s nice to remember that. Definitely changes my mindset.

A girl at Elise’s dance class has a t-shirt that says - “I need a break” and I’m totally feeling that.

Reset

The few hours Lyra and I just had were just what I needed. A chance to reset my mindset and for me to start again.

I’ve found it difficult when I’m either with my own children before and after work and other people’s children between 6am and 9pm. Much as love my own children and I do enjoy my teaching other people’s.

It’s one of those things about teaching that, when you’re working, yes you’re in charge but your time is very much not your own. You can’t leave the room to go to the toilet or go speak to someone, you can’t sit and have a think. While we do get some ‘free’ time during the time, it’s incredibly difficult to switch off. When you’re teaching them there’s a million other things to do.

Anyway. I feel very much better for the evening off of parenting and teaching.

Best thing you can do for your children sometimes, is to be away from them!

First time in a cinema since I can’t remember. We saw Tenet. It was amazing. I think, I’m not sure. Absolutely want to watch it again! 🎥

Also, this is the only time I get that I’m free of children and I need to make the most of that.

My tolerance for annoying stuff happening when Lyra and I are out without the kids is basically unlimited since anything is easier without our two darling kids.

Unicorns and My Little Pony are Elise’s current favourites.

Great grandma gave Elise and Yumo some money. We could have got the same toys cheaper online but I feel like this is something they need to do.

Kids remember everything. You think they didn’t but it’s in there somewhere, waiting to come out.

We started writing with our 5 and 6 year old students today. It’s a pretty useful skill I think. That said, it was hard work. I’m just glad we’re in school. I can’t even imagine trying to do some of this stuff online.

Do not like how Apple pins chats in Messages. I don’t like the giant bubbles, why can’t I have everything like it was but with smaller changes like in WhatsApp and Wechat.

Today was good and that was almost entirely because of me and my attitude. It was good. Good.

In China at least. Kids having Kid versions of Apple Watches to stay in touch with parents is very much a thing. You see them everywhere. It’s a whole market. Will be interesting to see whether Apple can start joining that market.

I would like an iPad. So that my MacBook becomes work only. I just don’t need to do that. I have separate user accounts that work well enough.

In this email talking to a mindfulness teacher was a quote that struck me and now I can’t stop thinking about.

“How many other people need to be doing their jobs well for you to do your job well?”

the examined family

Paying up front

In China people typically pay up front. From buying phones outright and then paying-as-you-go, to gyms or lessons for the kids. I’ve always balked at it. So it was with drama lessons we bought for Elise that we’ve just found won’t be starting again. Apparently the money isn’t coming back and we don’t have any interest in the online lessons they’re offering.

I’m hopeful that, in the future, that paying up front won’t happen so much. That people will more hesitant to put down a lot of money. We’ll see…

Was in bed before 9 and then had a restless child between 3-5am and up at 6.

Today’s plan is to just get through today.

Just watched the new Dune trailer and will now pick it up the book from the library at school today. Completely forget it was being made and hopeful it may come out in China…

冰粉bing fen - is one of those foods that i like but would never catch on in the UK. It’s sort of sweet but not all of it and a bit weird in texture.

Reading this about Instagrams changes make me glad I ditched it again. The reason I joined again was to upload photos of the kids privately to a select group, family and close friends.

Would a private page of photos be possible using micro.blog? daringfireball.net

Elise at 6:50am: “Why do cereals need milk?”

It’s too much art for these sort of questions。

Spent the evening sorting the kids toys… Which I’m taking as a sign I was in a good mood! I think Elise took this photo. I always like how they turn out.

Episode 3 of The Boys* - My one word review is: Crikey. Kicked things up a notch I think. 📺

*Though perhaps Billy would prefer: ‘blimey’.

Milk tea

China is crazy for milk tea as well as other fruit based drinks.

There’s countless places open everywhere, with the more popular places heaving with people. As a result, you can queue for the drink - obviously you’ll order on your phone - for up to 40minutes! 40minutes!

Anyway, one I like is opening within walking distance of home and delivery distance of home!

I didn’t stop between 7 and 5 but managed to keep it together today. Busy but I didn’t let it get to me. Good job me! 👍

Recent crop of beans and beetroot from our land*.

*That is thousands of miles away and that mum and dad maintain.

Question. What are my options for my over 10,000 Flickr photos? It’s such an amazing snapshot of a stage of my life but I don’t use it. I don’t like the idea of downloading them all and them being on a harddrive but paying money to occasionally look at them seems a waste.

Daily Dad Email.

Daily Dad is a daily, duh, email about being a better dad. The tagline is, ‘every dad needs a little help’ and I think that’s how I found it, when searching online for dad related help.

I like it for the brevity of the emails but mostly because it’s advice that I feel like I need. I love my children so much and I worry a lot, so so much, about them and our relationship. About so many things. While also being aware that putting them first always isn’t necessarily the best thing. That is, I need to be happy/sane/calm/patient etc etc at the same time.

The email does help. Gently pushing me in the right direction is maybe I want to best describe it. Thinking about what I do, how I do it, how I can be better with them.

You can listen to it too apparently >podcast link

We tried to lie in but it’s tricky with small children climbing on you.

The Boys 📺

Just finished episode 1 of season 2 of The Boys. Interested to see how it goes from here. The things that stand out though were:

  • The remakes of Billy on the tv with ridiculous swearing were perhaps the best bit.
  • Gus Fring
  • I could watch Banshee again I think because Anthony Starr is the worst in this.
  • The swear count kicked up in the last couple of minutes.
  • I now have Billy Joel - Pressure on repeat. It came out the year I was born!

Zen Shorts

Zen Shorts and it’s follow up Zen Tie, Zen Ghosts and Zen socks by John J. Muth are some of my favourite children’s books. I think I picked it up one day in the school library when my class was visiting. It’s about a panda called Stillwater who meets 3 children and tells each a Zen tale.

I’ve been reading them recently with Elise, I’m not sure how she takes from them but I’m reminded how much I like them.

I think it’s the pictures but it’s also in the way Stillwater speaks. I find the books very calming.

Rereading, I’m also reminded of the benefit of repeated readings even of children’s books.

The aim this week was to get through. Hoping to recharge the batteries a little this weekend… We will see how that goes. Excited to watch the new season of The Boys.

First impressions of the new Sunlit app are very positive. I like the new look a lot.

One of things I find hard as a parent is the weekends.

scheduleAugust 29, 2020

What’s a good weekend?
What do I want/need? What do I feel I should do (with the kids)?

Today, we’ve been up since 7 and didn’t stop till 11. We went to a book shop, had a nice lunch, went swimming and had dinner with friends.

It’s been full on. Just being with the kids is a lot. As well, we’re working hard with our eldest on choices and her dealing with things she doesn’t like or want to do.

So, it’s been good in some respects. We’re working on things that are important. I’m spending time with my family.

And yet, I’m aware that work on Monday is looming and needs preparing for and that just makes me anxious.

reading

scheduleAugust 29, 2020

In a nearby park is a coffee shop that has books you can read. We’re in the habit of going at the weekend, but he kids get cake and Lyra and I have a coffee and we try to read a little.

We’re regulars now. Though, sometimes we spend more time reading then others. Today the kids spent time with the staff, other times they make new friends. They have some English books I can read them but I also take my own book just in case.

I’m aware that I want the kids to read and that the best way to do that is to model it. Even as someone who loves reading, it’s often difficult as a parent.

scheduleAugust 27, 2020

Passion fruit beer and spicy porridge. I know how to treat myself!

24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

scheduleAugust 25, 2020

When your job involves working with young children (I teach Year 1(kindergarten)) and you have small children of your own at home. So your life involves the associated testing of patience before, during and after work. It’s a little emotionally taxing.

In other news grass is green and water is wet.

This is also me thinking I should be a little kinder on myself.

Dadding

scheduleAugust 23, 2020

I’m still thinking about Kenneth Koch’s poem this weekend, “You Want a Social Life, with Friends” where he says of a social life, a work life and a love life you can only have two but not three. His

There isn’t time enough, my friends–
Though dawn begins, yet midnight ends–
To find the time to have love, work, and friends.

And how my 2 have been chosen for me. Love(family) and work if you couldn’t guess. And I’m ok with that for the most part. And that the issues always arise when I try to fit the third in. A night out on Friday has had repercusions that have carried on over the weekend that a part of me is regretful of going out now.

There isn’t time enough, my friends.

scheduleAugust 22, 2020

Spending an hour in McDonald’s at 1am talking about work with a colleague. I’m loving it!

scheduleAugust 21, 2020

Am out for dinner with my phone and a face mask. I must have forgotten something.

scheduleAugust 20, 2020

We call it shaokao because we’re not sure how to translate it to English so just use the Chinese. You take your food out of fridges and then they cook it over large grills. It’s all on sticks in the fridges but it’s chopped up and mixed together when served. I’ve stopped having chilli as, while it’s delicious, I have work tomorrow. It’s silly cheap too. One of those things that us foreigners like as it’s not something you get back home.

scheduleAugust 20, 2020

Just waiting for my friend to turn up so we can dinner. It’s an odd feeling not being in a rush, not worrying what my darling children are doing, to have some time to do nothing but wait. It doesn’t happen often.

scheduleAugust 20, 2020

Grandparents are watching the kids. Lyra is out. So have the time to go to the school gym and do some rowing. Good times!

scheduleAugust 17, 2020

Ok, I didn’t make it to the gym this evening but I did do some KB swings, squats and press (push) ups on the balcony - which is better than nothing. Only in 31c heat, so not too hot…

Feeling all the better for it too.

exercise plans

scheduleAugust 17, 2020

In theory it made sense.

I want to exercise more regularly but I’m also aware that when I exercised straight after work it impacted on the kids and my wife. Since I was getting home late. I didn’t like it and always felt guilty for working out so it never felt like ‘quality time’ and, honestly, it wasn’t enjoyable as a result.

Over the summer, we joined a gym and while the equipment selection was dire it was better than nothing.

So the idea was that I could go to the gym after the kids went to bed in the evening. I could come home straight from work and spend more time with them and help with cooking dinner etc.

In theory it made sense.

Except, unsuprisingly, after being at work all day and then coming home and dealing with that stuff, picking myself up to go to the gym and work out is proving tricky/difficult/impossible.

I did it once last week.

And today is the same.

I like the time I get with the kids but I also would like to exercise - for my emotional and physical health. I don’t know, I don’t have answers honestly. Just lots of questions. Should I put myself first more often? What about my wife? Or is always that my children come first?

Do. Not. Know.

scheduleAugust 17, 2020

6:00 - Snooze 6:09 - Get up 6:30 Coffee and some scrolling 7:00 Didi (Uber) to work 7:30 First day back at school!

The Home Office

scheduleAugust 16, 2020

This story of a British lawyer being refused a visa he didn’t apply for always gets me as I imagine us in that situation, trying to navigate the UK Home Office to get Lyra a visa. It’s not a simple process.

scheduleAugust 16, 2020

Rereading and enjoying Ted Chiang’s - Stories of your life and others, a collection of short stories that includeds the story that the film Arrival was based on. Now, want to watch the fim again.

scheduleAugust 15, 2020

My top parenting tip for today is: if you choose to hide under the covers on a bed, cover your soft areas.

This tip is brought to you by experience.

scheduleAugust 15, 2020

Reading The Very Hungry Caterpillar with Elise asked, “Yes, but why do caterpillars become butterflies?” Apparently, “because they just do,” wasn’t a satisfactory answer but I’ve promised to look up the answer.

scheduleAugust 15, 2020

Have been trying to use the instant camera we have more. Partly because we’ve got lots of instants we need to use but mostly because it’s nice to hold actual photos. I have such fond memories of going through actual prints when I was younger.

scheduleAugust 15, 2020

Youngest has been awake since 5. Sent Lyra to the spare room at 6ish. Elise woke at 6:30. It’s now 8 and we’ve played with Playdoh, dinosaurs and read books. The kids are now on toast and I’m on my 2nd coffee. Happy weekend! 😬

scheduleAugust 13, 2020

A friend came around this evening so Elise could give her her birthday present.

Elise and Yumo were very excited to see her and help her unwrap her present. Elise didn’t stop talking.

I felt like I saw Elise through different eyes today. It’s the wood from the trees isn’t it?

Deep breath

scheduleAugust 13, 2020

The classroom is nearly as set up as it’s going to be. We have new students coming in tomorrow for a short while to meet us. Then we start in earnest on Monday. Most of our students will be in school, with a few not because they’re unable to get into the country.

It feels like this will be the last pause before everything becomes chaotic next week. Trying to take a moment to breathe before that all starts.

scheduleAugust 11, 2020

All I can think about when reading this article about paying by the hour is… When I’m getting my hair cut, I don’t want it to be too quick - I want to get my money’s worth - but also I don’t want it to last too long - I’ll pay more for it not too! seths.blog

New habits! Yeah, but will it last?

scheduleAugust 11, 2020

I’ve been making an effort recently with things…

  • Not using the phone around the kids
  • Less screen time all around in fact
  • Trying to be more patient with the children
  • Going to bed earlier
  • Not letting much writing in my work journal get scribbly
  • Trying to do 1 thing at a time - e.g. if I’m watching Netflix, I’m not opening a new tab, or playing on my phone. Or even, just eating!
  • being consistent in exercising but compromises have to be made.

It’s just really hard.

scheduleAugust 11, 2020

It’s strange that, by the looks of it, when our students return next week it will look normal. No social distancing or masks. Children sat together on the carpet! Together!

scheduleAugust 10, 2020

FYI running in 36 degree heat will leave you feeling unwell. Wouldn’t recommend it. Who knew?!

Back to school tomorrow

scheduleAugust 9, 2020

We’ll have a week without students and then students will start on the Monday. Will find out what that’s going to look like tomorrow.

Been a strange summer. Though, that’s perhaps an understatement in the grand scheme of things.

Am as ready as I’ll ever be.

scheduleAugust 8, 2020

Yumo is potty training, which we’re hoping will be easier since he wants to do what his older sister does, but we’re in the habit of high fiving after he’s done it. I’d be ok with doing that forever.

Nervous flyer

scheduleAugust 6, 2020

I remember the first time I was nervous flying.

Growing up, it’s not that we flew a lot but when we did it was relatively long flights. So i’ve always been fine flying. It’s the safest form of travel! All the same, you’re pretty high in the air arent’ you often over boundless stretches of water,

It was after Elise was born and suddenly everything was different. The first time we flew a shortish flight and I was suddenly nervous on take off. It wasn’t about just me anymore.

I think this thought popped up because I was in the hospital today and that’s always a good place to get you thinking about things.

scheduleAugust 6, 2020

Finished our night away with a trip to the hospital after getting my finger very briefly trapped in a nice heavy door.

scheduleAugust 6, 2020

Even if I’m not taking part I’m really enjoying the photos from the contest! Thank you everyone!

scheduleAugust 6, 2020

I do not need to buy new stationary. I do not need to buy new stationary.

Am resisting the urge that to take the next step I need to buy new stuff to do it. When it’s true that the things I have already are probably* enough.

*definitely

scheduleAugust 5, 2020

An afternoon sat on the floor of our hotel room cutting and sticking was very relaxing!

Day/night away

scheduleAugust 5, 2020

Grandparents are in and we’ve gone away, mostly visiting places that are popular online. Pho, then coffee, check in, ice cream and now day drinking and worms.

Full names.

scheduleAugust 4, 2020

It’s interesting to hear Elise talking to classmates as she leaves school. In Chinese she uses their full name - which is normally two or three characters and so that many ‘sounds’. So, it doesn’t make saying the whole name too long.

I thought how strange that would be if children did that in the UK or similar places.

Tea-tales

scheduleAugust 4, 2020

Another day, another new place. This was to try some new tea based drinks. Those these ones are based more on the traditional tea people drink. Which is really not my… cup of tea.

scheduleAugust 4, 2020

Have been going for a shortish walk after dropping Elise off at kindergarten. It’s been nice, a little time to think things over. Mostly, I like it because I can’t do anything. I’m not sat at home wishing I was doing more productive things. That said, it’s already 30 degrees!

Welcome back for the 2020 school year! [A letter from your local superintendent and school board]

scheduleAugust 4, 2020

Welcome back for the 2020 school year! We are incredibly delighted to have our children and educators back in school again, particularly after such a challenging spring and summer. We couldn’t be more excited to see your kids’ smiling faces back in our classrooms!

As you know, some things will be different this fall. We wanted to share a few things for us all to think about over the next few months…

First, some of our children and families probably will become very ill.

Link

scheduleAugust 3, 2020

Trying to get Siri to play Jaja Ding Dong from the Eurovision move by Will Ferrell was a fun afternoon activity. No, not Ding dong merrily on high. The trick is to say it wrong, j not y. Just FYI.

scheduleAugust 3, 2020

I go back to work next week. So I’m been trying to sort my sleep routines out a little. Going to bed a little earlier and getting up a little earlier.

Day 1 didn’t go so well. Didn’t go to bed yet early and ignored my alarm to get up.

'My Mission is to keep the light in your eyes ablaze."

scheduleAugust 2, 2020
To my boy, all that energy, so wild
Love your hues and your blues in equal measure
Your comings and your goings-away
My mission is to keep the light in your eyes ablaze

To my girl, all your innocence and fire
When you reach out, I am here hell or high water
This nest is never going away
My mission is to keep the light in your eyes ablaze

To my boy, my precious, gentle warrior
To your sweetness and your strength in exploring
May this bond stay with you through all your days
My mission is to keep the light in your eyes ablaze


Alanis Morrisette - Ablaze.
scheduleAugust 1, 2020

If you haven’t seen it, this video of Alanis Morrisette performing via the internet while holding her daughter is de-lightful. Link

Another day, another adventure

scheduleAugust 1, 2020

This time without kids and with a taxi there instead of a taxi.

It definitely ticked the adventure box. The first place we went to wasn’t doing food as we hoped, then the coffee took an age but we were playing Worms so it was no problem. The lady in the shop was lovely and gave us the coffee free in the end. Will definitely go back likely in the evening. It was a nice space. Chongqing is starting to get more and more of them. They’re mostly an opportunity to take some photos though! Often, relatively isolated and often looking very out of place.

So we went somewhere else for food, that was closed. So we went next door for Japanese.

After, we got lost finding a cake place. In the 34 degree heat, which was fun.

Finally, we went to a bar for more games a few beers.

scheduleAugust 1, 2020

It’s this hot, so we’re sitting outside instead of inside.

scheduleAugust 1, 2020

Pringle “taco”. Things I’m going to make at home!

Norsemen

scheduleAugust 1, 2020

Really enjoying Norsemen on Netflix. I read it described as Vikings meets Monty Python, which I kind of like. They apparently recorded it in Norwegian and English - which is pretty amazing. The way they speak in English, where the inflections are, adds a certain something. Trailer

scheduleAugust 1, 2020

Youngest has been up since 5:30. Got annoyed and am now annoyed about being annoyed. We need a plan!

scheduleJuly 31, 2020

As someone whose job it often to encourage and support parents to leave their child at school when said child is reluctant to come into school you’d think I’d be better at doing it myself.

Nope.

scheduleJuly 30, 2020

Lyra wanted something like this after she had it in a place in Chengdu. Turned out ok, avocado, smoked salmon and eggs.

Getting in the car with/without children.

scheduleJuly 30, 2020

Without kids.

  1. Approach car.
  2. Unlock.
  3. Put on seatbelt.
  4. Spend some time choosing the right music.*
  5. Start car and drive away.

*optional

With kids

  1. Approach car.
  2. Chase children around car - “No, your seat is the other side.”
  3. Open back door.
  4. Close door, so child can open door.
  5. Put child in seat and strap in.
  6. Continue trying to strap in child.
  7. Close door on screaming child.
  8. Count to 10.
  9. Open door.
  10. “Daddy, play Trolls music.”
  11. “Just. Let. Me. Put. My. Seat. Belt. On.”
  12. Play Trolls music.
  13. Play correct Trolls music.
  14. Consider going home.
  15. Drive away.

Starting to think about going back to school

scheduleJuly 29, 2020

Summer holidays are coming to an end. For us in China, school will reopen for students on 17th August. In a similar state to when we closed. However, everything is a lot more open in China since we did close.

Quite aside from that I need to get back into the habit of going to bed earlier and getting up earlier. Don’t wanna!

scheduleJuly 29, 2020

At the dentist for the first time in too long… Fun!

scheduleJuly 26, 2020

It’s Sunday, so I’m jealous of all the roast dinners people are eating in the UK.

scheduleJuly 25, 2020

Annoying as someone without an account when Instagram wants you to log in to look at something someone has linked to. At least Twitter doesn’t.

scheduleJuly 25, 2020

Youngest spent 10minutes sitting happily watching the water.

scheduleJuly 24, 2020

I dreamt I had a new job (a new school in a different country), that I could fly and that there were lots of cockroaches.

scheduleJuly 23, 2020

Bbq and then Worms and watermelon beer this lunch time with Claire was lovely.

Some mix up where we ordered ice cream and not mashed potato was thankfully quickly resolved.

exercising

scheduleJuly 22, 2020

Workout today was supposed to be 3 X 1000m row but I was forced to run instead. First time I’ve run in quite a while. I realised:

  • Sometimes I like running - it felt pretty good
  • But I don’t like treadmills as I could maybe have gone faster but wasn’t quite brave enough.
  • I’m not confident about my Airpods Pros staying in.

After I did some farmer’s carry’s and then some side plank. Lyra and I have been exercising more regularly than I have in the longest time and I feel so much better for doing it. Would love to continue but how I fit that into my schedule when I go back to work is to be decided.

A proper effort.

scheduleJuly 19, 2020

Lyra and I made a proper effort to not spend time on our phones when we were with the kids. A few photos, directions and other uses aside.

I managed to read a WHOLE book today and start on another.

I reread The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time because I needed something easier as I’ve been slogging through some non-fiction and not really enjoying it. Though, there’s plenty in the story that I didn’t find easy, ironically. It’s sparked a desire to read fiction again though.

scheduleJuly 19, 2020

Went on another adventure* today!

*take the light rail for a few stops and find somewhere to eat then come home.^

^taxi home obviously

Goodbyes

scheduleJuly 19, 2020

I am reminded of what I wrote when Natalie left last year.

We said good bye to Wil this week, who is someone else who has bee, was I suppose, a big part of my China experience. I think this year has been a year where a lot of the people I associate with China, just aren’t here anymore. Dealing with that is hard for lots of reasons.

scheduleJuly 18, 2020

We all started in our room, youngest in the cot and the eldest in bed with us because she wouldn’t sleep and it was time for us to go to bed. We ended up with just me in the room and everyone else in the office. As you do.

scheduleJuly 15, 2020

“Take care of yourself.”

Chengdu train station with some kind words.

scheduleJuly 14, 2020

People in this city are wearing their masks a lot more than the city we live. As well, they are still taking temperatures going into shopping centres, which they have stopped doing we are.

Coffee without the kids is so nice

scheduleJuly 14, 2020

They are annoying but I miss them so much. Though I think mostly it’s worry. Our children are mostly looked after by wife and I. This is the first time the grandparents have had them for an extended period of time. If you can consider 3 days an extended period of time. Sometimes I think about that.

Fish and chips

scheduleJuly 14, 2020

Scott’s is a fish and chip shop in the UK that hosts Chinese tourists after the Chinese president visited. Today we visited the restaurant that was opened in Chengdu, China as a result of that.

We had fish and chips… It was ok but it’s just not the same. The chips from ‘chippies’ in the UK are not usually crispy like these were. The fish was ok but I like a bubblier batter.

(Link)[https://www.yorkpress.co.uk/news/18054524.east-meets-west-scotts-fish-chips-opens-restaurant-china/]

scheduleJuly 13, 2020

Away for two days to ANOTHER city WITHOUT kids!

scheduleJuly 12, 2020

Patience is low today. Which I inevitably obsess over as. Then up being annoyed about being inpatient. Yup.

Adventures.

scheduleJuly 11, 2020

Our youngest likes to see the light rail trains.

We always point them out when we see them. Yet, we don’t ever take them even though the station is only 5 minutes walk from our flat. It’s easier to drive or take a Didi (Chinese Uber). So this afternoon we took the kid on it. Lyra found a restaurant near* a stop that’s 6 stops away. So we donned our masks since it’s one of the few places that you still have to wear them and we went.

It was nice. It felt like an adventure.

We walked (and walked). We saw things. We explored a new area a little. It made us realise we didn’t do this much. We drive and and we go to the same places a lot. We said, we should do this again soon. Admittedly we also said it would be easier when the kids are bigger too!

Then we found the place, a Korean bbq restaurant, that was busier then we expected but was worth the wait. We’d bought some baozi (steamed buns) for the kids on the way to keep the kids occupied a little. I had a couple of beers, Lyra and I shared some plum wine too. The place was busy in a good way. I started to feel a little drunk, in the best kind of way.

Here’s to next time.

*It wasn’t near.

鸳鸯(Yuānyāng)

scheduleJuly 11, 2020

It’s the Chinese name for the Mandarin duck and where the first character refers to the male and the second to the female. There are believed to be lifelong partners. So in Chinese, it’s used as a sign affection and fidelity.

However, it’s also used to describe things being put together - e.g. today I had a yuanyang drink, which is a mix of coffee and tea. I really liked it.

As well it’s what you ask for when you order hot pot and you want spicy and non-spicy broth.

An Unlived Life

scheduleJuly 9, 2020

I will not live in fear
of falling or catching fire.
I choose to inhabit my days,
to allow my living to open me,
to make me less afraid,
more accessible,
to loosen my heart
until it becomes a wing,
a torch, a promise.
I choose to risk my significance;
to live so that which came to me as seed
goes to the next as blossom
and that which came to me as blossom,
goes on as fruit.
— Dawna Markova
via swissmiss

I’m aware how much I gloss over most of what I read online, taking the time when there’s some more scrolling to do. With that in mind, I’m copying some of the poems down into a notebook to help me take more time over them.

3 Links

scheduleJuly 9, 2020

I keep meaning to post things I like but I normally end up sending various links to different people.

Via Metafilter - The Hu - A Mongolian folk metal band. We’ve been liking their stuff since I started playing it yesterday. Especially Wolf Totem - This stop motion short about a trans kid coming out featuring Godzilla. via

Also - This John Hamm voiced meeting of a father and his daughter’s boyfriend that flips it a little. I’m not going to lie that this isn’t something I’ve thought about. via this inbox zine

Death by 10m Shuttle Sprint

scheduleJuly 8, 2020

Place 2 cones 10m apart. With a running clock, sprint 10m in the 1st minute, sprint 20m (10mx2) in the 2nd minute, sprint 30m (10mx3) in the 3rd minute, etc, etc. Continue in this fashion until you fail to achieve the required number of meters in the appropriate minute.

Fun. It’s easy until it isn’t and then it gets hard fast. Finished 14x10m but only managed 12 of 15 in the next round. Encouraged to walk in the down time by all the mosquitos.

scheduleJuly 7, 2020

Fitness always takes a backseat during term time when family and work take up all my time. So it’s nice at the moment to have time at the moment.

scheduleJuly 6, 2020

Obviously, I love my children. I worry about them constantly. Sometimes I try not to think about them too much, when I do it can overwhelm me.

With that said.

Sometimes I think the best thing I can do for our relationship is to be apart rom them. Just for a while.

Foofighters.

scheduleJuly 5, 2020

Yesterday was 25 years since Foo Fighters released their debut album. I was a little young for Nirvana but still remember being introduced to Foo Fighters by a classmate, whose name I think I remember because he did. Still enjoying it. Though, I think the memories are a big part of that.

scheduleJuly 5, 2020

Lyra and I talked about cutting down our screen time and leading by example and if that isn’t the hardest thing.

scheduleJuly 5, 2020

Lyra and I spent some time with a book before meeting a friend for lunch while the grandparents watched the kids. So nice.

scheduleJuly 4, 2020

Burpees and kettlebell swings on the balcony. Partner workout while the kids nap.

Holidays.

scheduleJuly 2, 2020

We travel a fair bit. Partly, I think because of our location - which makes Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam relatively short flights away but mostly because of our global family. We travel a lot to see family. The joke is that we couldn’t be further apart. We’re in China, Mum and Dad are in Mauritius, sister is on the West Coast of America and my brother is in the UK. Mum and dad buy round-the-world tickets to visit us all.

When we had just had our eldest we travelled a fair bit with her because 2:1 is a decent ratio for childcare but we’re finding that with a second child that ratio ain’t so grand. It’s a holiday, but not as you know it.

We’ve just got back from 6 days in Sanya on the island of Hainan on the south coast of China. I realise we are lucky to have gotten away in the current situation.

It was very up and down. The pools were lovely, obviously hotel breakfast is great but the much smaller space of a hotel room made things more difficult sometimes and stressful.

I am glad we did it though. I am back and feeling a little calmer about things generally. Now to start put my computer down a little more, spend a little more time with the kids and wife, exercise a little more and read a little more.

scheduleJuly 2, 2020

Back home to multiple bedrooms and not the 4 of us sharing two twin beds pushed together! Heaven!

scheduleJuly 1, 2020

Does your job and your life ever overlap? For me as someone who teaches small children and have two of my own. I find going swimming or to soft play or places with lots of small children stressful. It’s just too much like my day job, but it’s really not.

scheduleJune 30, 2020

Nice to be mixing up days because of being on holiday and not because of a global virus.

scheduleJune 29, 2020

In children news. 1. Elise says, “open sesame” at automatic doors to make them open 2. When we run places we are playing “Mario Game” (Mario Kart). Shes the Gorilla (Donkey Kong).

scheduleJune 29, 2020

Holidays with kids. It is nice to be away. It is. And hotel breakfasts are amazing. It’s just hard with the kids sometimes.

scheduleJune 26, 2020

There’s a thousand things swirling around my head. That I’m hopeful I’m going to have time to put down to paper over the coming weeks as I try and wean myself of my compter a little. We’ll see…

scheduleJune 26, 2020

NPR’s Tiny Desk Concerts have always been on my radar on the occasions I head over to Youtube. Alicia Keys video was just uploaded and is awesome.

School finished today.

scheduleJune 24, 2020

Students had their last day yesterday and teachers finished today. We did a little more packing up and that was that.

It’s always a strange day. In international teaching, there’s always staff leaving as contracts end. As well, this year, some teachers are still out of the country. Of whom some will return and others won’t. The last we saw of them was them was the end of January. Those who won’t return, we likely won’t ever see them again.

I’m trying to dampen the anxiety of next year. There’s going to be so many changes and I can’t help let the worries build, a little at least. How will I do this or that and how will things work out? I’m trying to let them go, for now at least.

Instead, to try and relax a little. To maybe reflect on the last 5 months. Of our the quarantine, e-learning programme, of going back to school again.

scheduleJune 23, 2020

Going to be a weird end to a strange school year.

We’re going to have a disco with the kids, except we’ll have some kids in the class, some in same city, others in India, Hong Kong, Korea and Poland.

Sometimes

scheduleJune 21, 2020

Sometimes, I like living in a country where I don’t speak the language and where people who do speak it are few are a far between.

It appeals to my introverted side.

I liken it to living in a bubble. And sure, it’s more complex than that but, really, most of the time I’m ok with it. After, 8 years of it. It’s my normal.

And the people who do speak my language are typically, almost exclusively, the people that I work with. And if those are my people, that’s great. And sometimes they are. And often, they never stay long.

And that’s really hard, sometimes.

scheduleJune 20, 2020

Clean your teeth everyone. Soft play is terrifying.

scheduleJune 20, 2020

It’s Saturday morning. The kids have been playing with each other!!! It’s amazing.

Episode 26 “Journey Number 5”

scheduleJune 20, 2020

We’ve just read Aaron Becker’s third book in the Journey trilogy that’s called Return. Though, at school the kids have been calling it Journey Number 3.

It has really grabbed Elise’s attention. In fact, it has grabbed mine too. I keep seeing new things every time I read it and more than once have got into conversations about it with colleagues at school.

scheduleJune 19, 2020

Just created a Week 20 e-learning folder. Mannnnnn

Time away

scheduleJune 18, 2020

Sometimes the best thing I can do for my family is to have some time away from them.

I think about this poem (link to Austin Kleon’s site) a lot. About not being able to have a social life, a passionate love life (I substitute family here) and work. You can have only two.

For me work and family are the big things in my life. They take up most/all of my time. I would and try to do anything for my wife and children.

I’m also aware that having a rare evening off is good for my mental health even if it feels like I’m letting them down by not being there for them.

Driving in China - Lessons in life.

scheduleJune 18, 2020

I rediscovered that I had a journal in Day One titled Driving in China that I’ve tried to write some pithy words talking about my experiences driving here and to turn them into ‘Life Lessons.’ My experiences of driving are of driving in the UK for 10+ years and now driving in China for nearly 4 years now.

Driving here, there are the official rules and there are the rules of the road. At first, driving here was terrifying. Yes, the lane markings indicate two lanes but the physical space can fit 3 cars, so we’ll do that. My biggest gripe is the, as I see it, impatience of drivers. Like yesterday, I stopped at a crossing to let someone go across but the car behind me undertook me, because why would you wait? Anyway, that’s my second idea: Driving in China - Lessons in Mindfulness.

Lesson 1 >The ‘fast’ lane isn’t always the fast lane. >Sometimes people will say, “do this, it’s the quickest way,” and sometimes it is. Don’t assume the quickest way is the same for everyone.

(In the UK we have 4 lanes some places but here there’s 4, 5 and 6 lanes everywhere. There’s no lane discipline. It’s normal for people to undertake, to speed down the ‘slow’ lane and go between two cars.)

scheduleJune 17, 2020

串串 You pick your sticks and then boil it in spicy oil.

As well, it reminded me how busy China is when you go outside in the evening. There’s just so many people “milling” around.

Apart, from the news of the virus in Beijing now.

scheduleJune 14, 2020

Couple of photos from last night.

Back with a bump today. Small children are a rollercoaster eh?

scheduleJune 14, 2020

Have been promising to make this out of the back of the book Tiddler by Julia Donaldson for a while. Finally got around to making it this morning.

scheduleJune 13, 2020

One of my first memories of coming to the city I now live in was the weather. A muggy, heavy, heat. Something I now accept when summer comes around.

So, it’s not just that living here has helped me eat spicy food, my tolerance for hot weather has definitely changed too.

scheduleJune 13, 2020

Lovely afternoon having a few drinks and not feeling additional, small child related, stress. As well, it was nice to be with someone I’m comfortable with.

scheduleJune 13, 2020

Daytime drinking because my wife is amazing and has taken the kids out for the day. Guinness for olds time’s sake.

scheduleJune 13, 2020

Looking forward to seeing Dads. Trailer looks really good.

Dads is a heartfelt and humorous documentary that celebrates the joys and challenges of parenting in today’s world.

trailer

scheduleJune 13, 2020

Just submittd my Microcast to Apple!

Thanks to @manton for the support but also @chet for this post that was just what I needed to change the title to something other than my micro.blog title!

scheduleJune 13, 2020

Knocked off another couple of 3* mirror races on Mario Kart 8 this morning!

Still aiming for 3*s on all the races but not sure the summer holidays are long enough to do that on 200cc.

scheduleJune 12, 2020

Parents, what are your thoughts about posting pictures of your children online? I have some friends who choose not to, while others do. I’m interested in what your thoughts are? I had a private Instagram account that I used to share photos but I’m trying to move away from it.

scheduleJune 12, 2020

Can I still gift a micro.blog account? I thought I could but I’m not finding anything.

scheduleJune 10, 2020

My wife and I are trying to be good, food-wise, at the moment but it’s really hard. Since work is stressful and I’m realising that my go to reaction is to eat unhealthy good and snacks. It doesn’t help that the school canteen is giving free cookies with every coffee either.

scheduleJune 9, 2020

Been a week since my AirPods case stopped working. This morning finally got the headphones from my iPhone 8 box. It’s weird. There’s a cable running to them.

Also, they don’t fit and I really don’t like them.

Engaging.

scheduleJune 8, 2020

After reading some of @MDonaldson’s newsletter about starting to use Micro.blog and how it encourages people to interact. It has got me thinking about how I find it hard to engage online. In that, I actively choose not too. I spend a lot of time reading, but not interacting. I’m thinking particularly about Twitter and Reddit. That that is a for a variety of reasons. I feel like I’m breaking that habit more and more with Micro.blog but it’s still hard.

scheduleJune 6, 2020

Home alone update: I’m playing Mario Kart on the tv!

scheduleJune 6, 2020

Lyra has taken the kids out to a friend’s for a few hours! So, I’m obviously, struggling to make the most of it. Which, obviously, means I’m not relaxed at all. With that in mind, I’m starting with some meditation and then some exercise.

Morning jealousy

scheduleJune 5, 2020

I’ve always been a little jealous of other’s morning routines. Since, these days, mine rarely involves, peace, quiet or stillness. Instead it involves 1 or 2 small children, argy-bargy, nappies, a rushed coffee and getting out the door with my head-not-right at 7am.

It wasn’t always like this, and I’m sure it won’t be like this forever but for now, it’s hard. Especially since work is especially is, how to put it - time-consuming at the moment. We continue to support out students not coming into school, while some students are in school.

With all that said. Every morning, either in the Didi (Uber) or sitting in the car park after driving to work, I’ve been putting a few words into my Day One journal. And it’s been good, actually. Not all of it has been positive but I’m hoping it’s a start of a habit…

scheduleJune 1, 2020

Every 3minutes for 30minutes - 12 calorie sprint on the Assault Bike.

First four rounds were ok. Last 6 were not.

#CrossfitLinchpin

scheduleMay 31, 2020

Had breakfast in a place that’s a pretty decent copy of another Western style place that we like but which isn’t in the city we live. We love it, but it’s very, not Chinese and so we always worry it’ll not be here long. It’s always pretty empty.

scheduleMay 31, 2020

Whether Elise either dresses herself, like this morning, or is helped she currently always wants to wear her school uniform.

scheduleMay 30, 2020

Awww. The last 10 minutes of Season 2 of Schitt’s Creek was lovely. I mean, I’m enjoying the series a whole lot but I like how it ended. However, if Stevie and David fall out. I WILL NOT BE HAPPY.

Changes at school.

scheduleMay 29, 2020

Covid19 has meant a lot of changes at our school.

Some teachers went away at Chinese New Year at the end of January and have yet to return. They are still working online, while the school has been open for going on 5(?) weeks now.

Some teachers have been let go for the next academic year as student numbers fall. Some teachers won’t return at all and their things are being packed up by other teachers in China. Next year our campus will be very different.

Some students are in a similar position and continue WFH. We do ‘Zooms’ with some of them but it’s hard when we’re in China and they are in Korea, Japan, Europe and North America.

With China’s borders still closed, there’s a real possibility they won’t be able to return before the start of the next academic year.

scheduleMay 29, 2020

Our team is a little more on top of things today. And as a result, have a little more time to talk (not just about work!), to work things out, to work on things. To give things a little more of my time. To have a little more focus, less rushed.

How nice that feels!

scheduleMay 29, 2020

Last night was the first night this week I didn’t work at home (after going to work). Woke up this morning not feeling 100%. Like my body was was like, “Oh, we’re stopping. Cool cool cool. “

School.

scheduleMay 28, 2020

In no particular order: - Reports are done but… - Doing e-learning and teaching students in school is ‘time-consuming’ and draining. - It doesn’t feel like the end of term. - I don’t know what it feels like, honestly. - Starting to learn a little more about what next year will look like since our student and teacher numbers will be down. Lots of change. - There’s going to be an, optional and paid, summer school for a week. - Is it worth it?

scheduleMay 25, 2020

My gen 1 AirPods case has stopped charging. Which is annoying and frustrating but probably should not be surprising. The trade off is these things don’t last do they.

scheduleMay 25, 2020

Trying hard to, ‘be the change.’ Last week was rough because everything was getting to me. Today, even though the youngest was crying at 1am and there’s too much work to do. I’m a trying to focus on the important stuff.

scheduleMay 24, 2020

L has turned her hand to macarons recently… These are the second batch. They’re so good.

scheduleMay 22, 2020

Reasons I update things on my phone: (in order of priority) 1. To get rid of the red circle

scheduleMay 19, 2020

A morning routine Darling children all around Everyday a storm

Having small children awake from 5:30 when work is stressful is the worst way to do a morning routine.

scheduleMay 17, 2020

We were watching the Matthew Mconnughey and Anne Hathaway film Serenity last night and the best bit was realising some of it is filmed 5 minutes walk from my parents house! If that means nothing to you, save yourself and don’t watch it. It’s not great.

Up

scheduleMay 17, 2020

This site said we were 439m on the 69th floor. Now, most of the time I take things for granted. Planes can fly thousand of feet in the air, there’s people on the International Space Station, I can send messages in the blink of an eye - my dad tells me when he first moved to the UK he had to schedule a long distance phone call, and it’s all normal.

But last night, as we sat there I felt a little nervous. Not sure why now. Being so high up in this man made structure.

scheduleMay 17, 2020

Hole - Violet

I listened to it again recently after discovering it on an old hard drive. It takes me back to my teens and Napster, Freeserve, the sounds of dial up, logging on to just check my email.

🌈

scheduleMay 16, 2020

A night away with Lyra and without the kids. Almost didn’t get in. A nice view from the window. Air con. I just had a Twister. Nice to have a little space. To clear our heads a little.

scheduleMay 16, 2020

Bought a new book today, Lyra asked me if I’d finished my other books. I have not. See number 2 on this listby Austin Kleon

True friendship

scheduleMay 16, 2020

“Be courteous to all but intimate with few, and let those few be well tried before you give them your confidence. True friendship is a plant of slow growth.” – George Washington

I’m think about this in terms of the friends I have that I’ve know __ forever__ and those who are heading that way. Especially as, living in a non-English speaking (or at least not your native language) country can make it hard to make friends.

from

scheduleMay 16, 2020

A friend mentioned Schitt’s Creek in passing and I’m slowing working through first season. I’m tolerating the ‘oh these local people’ stuff because the conversations between Stevie and David are incredible.

scheduleMay 13, 2020

I should sleep

I should sleep
but, if I stay awake
A little longer
I feel, I can hold tomorrow off
A little longer

scheduleMay 12, 2020

Oranges. Photos found this photo for me… 📷🌈 #mbmay

scheduleMay 12, 2020

I want to record my daughter talking to family and friends online. Both would be using iOS. What’s a simple way to do that?

scheduleMay 11, 2020

Red.

I keep thinking I want a new unlined notebook but keep coming back to the thought that I should be using what I already have.

phone dependency

scheduleMay 10, 2020

I ended up watching Jerry Seinfeld’s new special on Netflix. There’s a bit he does about how our phones. How dependent we are on them and how much we text now. It’s just so convenient. As someone who much prefers texting and for whom calling makes uncomfortable. I’ve spent the day wishing I could leave my phone alone more.

scheduleMay 10, 2020

Saw this and remembered I needed to do a quote today. 💬

scheduleMay 10, 2020

It’s Sunday and it’s not even 9.
I’m working; because I don’t know,
What else I could be doing.

Our Year 1 students go back to school, full time this week. And, coupled with other things - both work and home - I’m feeling completely overwhelmed.

Episode 12: 爸爸

scheduleMay 10, 2020

A trial run of talking with Yumo… Who is on the verge of talking. He understands what we’re saying and knows what he wants to say, it just doesn’t come out right, yet.

scheduleMay 9, 2020

“Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind.” – Bernard M. Baruch

I know I got yesterday’s from Mum but she always used to say the latter part of this quote too. Fell over it as I was looking for today’s quote. 💬

scheduleMay 9, 2020

I was doing so well with talking to Elise but it kind of fell off.

Anyway, I did a short video for a friend yesterday and relised I could share that audio. So, I’m going to do that and to do that I needed to upgrade my plan, which I’ve just done.

scheduleMay 8, 2020

“You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose!” Dr Seuss

Mum’s choice today… 💭

scheduleMay 6, 2020

I’m sorry I have to say it but you look like you’re sad Your smile is gone; I’ve noticed it bad The cure is if you let in just a little more love I promise you this, a little’s enough Angels and Airwaves - A little’s enough

I know it’s cheesy but I’ve always loved this. 💬

scheduleMay 5, 2020

When I think I’m teaching, I’m probably not. When I don’t think I’m teaching, I probably am. John Badessari

I wrote this down, a rare thing, when reading Austin Kleon’s website.

His site gives me pause about my own teaching. Sit. Listen. How else can I do things?

💬

“If this isn’t nice, what is?” 💬

scheduleMay 4, 2020

I can’t remember where I first heard this Kurt Vonnegut quote but I think about it a lot. It’s a reminder, for me, to focus on the small things that make life good. 💬

One of the things [Uncle Alex] found objectionable about human beings was that they so rarely noticed it when they were happy. He himself did his best to acknowledge it when times were sweet. We could be drinking lemonade in the shade of an apple tree in the summertime, and Uncle Alex would interrupt the conversation to say, “If this isn’t nice, what is?”

So I hope that you will do the same for the rest of your lives. When things are going sweetly and peacefully, please pause a moment, and then say out loud, “If this isn’t nice, what is?”

Tales from the Loop

scheduleMay 3, 2020

Watched and enjoyed the the first episode of Tales from the Loop. A series based on the work of a Swedish Illustrator Simon Stålenhag. 📺 > The townspeople who live above “The Loop,” a machine built to unlock and explore the mysteries of the universe, experience things previously consigned to the realm of science fiction.

The human bean: 40 days on a tin-bean diet

scheduleMay 3, 2020

This video is titled The Human Bean: 40 days on a tin-bean diet. I’ve always enjoyed watching the videos he makes. Partly because I like the way his mind works and partly because I’m a little jealous of how he lives. He makes and does stuff with his own hands, is active in a very natural way and is big on an true.

Eating tinned beans for 40 days is ridiculous but the idea that someone might do something like that really appeals to me. Just like when he run a marathon by running a mile an hour (plus a couple extra obviously) and then spending the rest of the time doing stuff.

One thing at a time

scheduleApril 28, 2020

Yesterday was rubbish.

Today, I’m __ trying__ to not try and do everything at once and then beating myself up for inevitably failing.

Today, is one thing at a time. Exercise, not exercise and send work messages and trying to decide on the optimal music. Eat breakfast, not eat breakfast and check work emails and decide on what music.

Just one thing at a time

Things that aren’t work.

scheduleApril 27, 2020

I think I’ve realised that, in week 12 of e-learning and 14 weeks since this started, since I started working from home, that I’m recalling struggling to do things that aren’t work.

Before this I rarely worked at home.

Now, it’s all I can do. It’s the evening and the kids are in bed, kids are out with their mum? I’m writing up lesson plans or making resources.

I can’t, won’t maybe, make time to things for me.

scheduleApril 27, 2020

One of these day, I’ll sort out my morning routine.

At the moment it always leaves me stressed out, between posting work online and starting to work and watching my two.

I know I should separate those things but I find it so difficult to do it.

scheduleApril 25, 2020

This chilli oil with garlic is amazing with dumplings.

Traumatic Chinese Haircuts

scheduleApril 25, 2020

I was due to get my haircut during Chinese New Year but obviously, that didn’t happen. So it’s got longer and longer. This has happened before. I’ve had long hair because I didn’t get it cut and I didn’t get it cut and so then I had long hair. I didn’t get it cut for a few reasons. These reasons have sprung up again.

  1. Communication issues.

I still remember the first time I got my hair cut in China. I think this is because it was a traumatic hair cut. Back then my Chinese was even more limited than it is now. So I had to show the hairdresser a picture and hope for the best. I don’t like doing this so I don’t go on my own.

  1. Glasses issues

As well. I wear glasses and there’s something about not quite being able to see what’s going on that always makes me anxious. What are they doing, are they cutting it too short? There was a time, this wouldn’t have bothered me, I’ve bleached my hair and shaved it pretty close to the scalp. However, those times are long gone.

  1. Darling wife issues.

My wife and I have quite different views on my hair. Often, I will accede to her views because, honestly, I don’t care that much. Obviously, since she is a native Chinese speaker she talks to the hairdresser.

So, today, my wife and the hairdresser spent a decent amount of time talking. They were both in agreement that me wanting a short back and sides wasn’t the best option. So, it’s stayed long.

However, issue 2 came into play today. Today was a particular traumatic haircut. However, I don’t like to make a fuss, so I waited…

It has turned out ok, I think. It’s growing on me, I think but I won’t going back in a rush.

scheduleApril 25, 2020

I’ve seen a book I’m interested in. However, I’ve still not finished the books I’ve started. Do I buy the new book anyway or should I wait?

What would you do?

Pruning uncomfortable memories.

scheduleApril 24, 2020

So. I have too many photos. I don’t need that many. Lots are there because I never curated them. So they’ve accumulated over time. I’m slowly, ‘pruning’ them and it’s a slow process. I’ll get there, eventually.

With that said, some of the photos suddenly brought up a lot of uncomfortable memories. Things I haven’t thought about for a long time. Yeah, that wasn’t great but the memories did make me prune a few people out. I don’t need those photos/memories. Do I?

scheduleApril 23, 2020

Time zones are the worst. I replied to two messages I received overnight first thing this morning but now have to wait an age for replies. I’m just really curious what they will say!

Episode 2: School

scheduleApril 22, 2020

Elise presses the button to start recording. Elise talks a little about school and why she hasn’t been going. Yumo says hi too!

Episode 1 - Unplanned at bedtime

scheduleApril 21, 2020

After reading about @Chet’s podcast with his children, I kind of liked that idea. Then I listened to introduction to microcasting by @macgenie, briefly searched for microphones online, realised that for this month there’s free microcasting and decided I would chat to Elise today.

Which is what we did. We talked a little, unplanned at the moment and this is the result… We’ll see what happens next!

scheduleApril 21, 2020
  1. I’m in China. We can go outside.
  2. School is closed (for my age level, Yr 11/13 went back yesterday). So I’m still working from home.
  3. So my daughter can have friends over.
  4. 😐
scheduleApril 19, 2020

It’s occurred that parts of me are everywhere. A number of conversations spread across services and time. A little here, a little there.

scheduleApril 18, 2020

Also, this screenshot we drove through recently. Not complicated at all.

scheduleApril 17, 2020

Future dreams

(Not entirely prompted by the lockdown but it’s probably influencing my thoughts.)

  1. Home gym
  2. Garden
  3. Dog

Four Albums I can listen to all the way through.

scheduleApril 17, 2020

Heavily influenced by my late teens/early 20s listening habits, 3 of the albums are 14 years old or older. Also, I think because these albums hold such strong memories. I remember holding the cassette of the Placebo album. Two of the albums are connected to some pretty strong memories around my mental health too. As such are reminders of getting through and coping.

Maybe as well it’s that I don’t tend to listen to whole albums as much anymore.

scheduleApril 17, 2020

Anyone else have the WFH situation where it’s fine if you stay in the office (or where ever) but if you go outside… The kids remember daddy is here and suddenly you’re all involved again.

I just want a(nother) coffee.

scheduleApril 16, 2020

Hi @vincent i just opened Gluon and got this error. I don’t think I’m doing anything I shouldn’t… Can you help?

Bouncing back with some old tracks

scheduleApril 16, 2020

Slight regret at yesterday’s beers but feeling like I’m starting to bounce back a little.

Dug up my old last.fm account and listening to some tracks from 2015. Currently Meg Myers - Monster off her Daughter in the choir EP. There’s an awful lot the same though…

Reminds me that my sister said, I listened to this one track on repeat recently - like you do. I mean I do, but hadn’t realised anyone had noticed.

Also, someone has asked me to name 4 albums I can listen all the way through without skipping. Still thinking about it.

scheduleApril 15, 2020
  1. Drinks with Claire.
  2. Walking into the light
  3. Drunkenly buying flowers on the way home.

scheduleApril 15, 2020

It’s funny the things that give you a new perspective, that make you look at the things you do everyday a little differently.

scheduleApril 15, 2020

Beers of the world. Lovey afternoon discussing a potential return to school and just chatting. It’s been really nice.

scheduleApril 14, 2020

Tried out my new 32kg kettlebell today. Glad I stuck with the 24 as long as I did. The 32 was a tough but wasn’t terrifying. Managed a couple of Turkish get ups with it too.

Now, we’re colouring them in.

scheduleApril 11, 2020

Our ‘e-learning break’ is coming to an end and I’m dreading Monday and going back to work aka sitting in the spare room staring at a screen.

Part of the reason I like teaching, apart from working with kids is that I can’t stare at a screen when I’m working, it’s frowned up.

西贝

scheduleApril 11, 2020

This restaurant is one of my favourites. It’s called 西贝(xī bèi) and is Mongolian style food. Lots of big joints, literally, of meat. We cold noodles in a spicy (only a little by local standards), spicy lamb kidneys and pork with sauerkraut and potatoes. The noodles in particular are amazing, they have a sort of spongy tofu in and the sauce is to die for.

Other people

scheduleApril 10, 2020

Had a few beers with a few friends in the afternoon and then a few more over dinner with a few more friends. It was nice to be talking to people in-real-life. I’ve missed that.

As well, it made me appreciate the connections to people that just aren’t the same online. Which I say as someone who would previously avoid too many interactions, particularly with people who weren’t ‘my people’.

parents are not ok

scheduleApril 10, 2020

Lots I associate with in this piece entitled Parents are not ok by Chloe I. Cooney. Two bits that jumped out at me.

This is hard.

I thought by the fourth week of social distancing we would have all settled into the new norm a bit. But for my family (and others I’ve spoken to) that is not the case — things are harder than they were at the beginning. Harder because we’ve all accrued anxiety, stress, and sadness over this period.

And

This current situation is almost prophetically designed to showcase the farce of our societal approach to separating work and family lives. We are expected to work from home full time. And care for our children full time.

scheduleApril 9, 2020

Not often I get to drive 70mph in China. 120kmh is reserved for roads well out of urban areas. Was nice to do and helped clear my head.

scheduleApril 9, 2020

Lost my patience with the kids and now in a foul mood. Wish I could start today again.

care and reverence

scheduleApril 8, 2020

This question answered by Nick Cave talks a little about appreciated the here and now from the point of view of Bob Dylan’s new song.

perhaps there is some wisdom in treating all songs, or for that matter, all experiences, with a certain care and reverence,

And in light of me trying focus on right now a little better I liked that phrasing of it.

www.theredhandfiles.com

scheduleApril 8, 2020

Announced today that local (which we aren’t) schools in our area in China will begin a staggered opening, eldest students first, from April 20th. Don’t know how I feel about it honestly.

Noticing your mother tongue

scheduleApril 8, 2020

One of the things that always - jumps out at me, surprises me, that always makes me stop me about living in a country where the language spoken is not my first is how I always notice my first language. Like how you suddenly notice when someone says your name. I always notice English being spoken. A parent using it with their children, people slipping in occasional words into their conversation*. As well, the written word too. I guess that it jumps out less because it’s everywhere.

Which brings me to this card we got from Starbucks. Just enough English to notice but not enough to glean much from it at all.

*People I know who are very comfortable using 2 or more languages are the worst for this, especially when talking to someone else who is the same. you know what I mean?

scheduleApril 7, 2020

One minute I’m fine and then suddenly my anxiety, which was under control, has snowballed, runway and turned into an avalanche. That’s always fun. It’s never anything major either, a small thing I’ve read a slightly different way and it all goes pear shaped.

scheduleApril 7, 2020

Our rented and furnished flat has 3 bedrooms all with doubles in. This has meant that our eldest has always slept in a giant bed. Finally took it down today to put a much smaller bed up for her tomorrow. Will give her room much more space and will hopefully get some of the toys out of the lounge.

scheduleApril 7, 2020

L said, go look at the kitchen, “I’ve sorted it a bit…” and so I go and I look and it looks about the same. Then I open some cupboards and it’s like it’s a new room! Old stuff has been chucked out and the cupboard don’t give me anxiety when I open them. Amazing.

the world that’s in your pocket is not the world?

scheduleApril 6, 2020

Second in the series of song lyrics that have struck me… Though it’s more spoken word.

That world that’s in your pocket is not the world
The world is the one that lies before your feet
And the people that we meet
The smells, the sounds, the sights, the skies
Tell the world that you are ready and it replies
You see I’m not sure what the secret to happiness is
But I’m pretty sure it starts when you go outside

Tom Rosenthal - You might find yours

scheduleApril 5, 2020

芝芝咖啡。Cheese coffee. It shouldn’t work but I love it.

scheduleApril 5, 2020

There’s a world outside
And I know ‘cause I’ve heard talk
In my sweetest dream
I would go out for a walk

Eels - Not Ready Yet

These lyrics popped into my head this morning. At one time they rang true but now they seem true for entirely different reasons.

'a fraction of our attention'

scheduleApril 4, 2020

This piece by Leo Babauta on ‘The practice of meticulous attention’ resonated with me this afternoon.

”All day long, we’re only giving anything a fraction of our attention. We’re distracted, multitasking, opening multiple browser tabs, checking phone messages and social media. I’m a part of this like anyone else. I’m not immune, and I don’t judge. This fractured, scattered, partial attention has many deleterious effects on our lives.”

As it’s something I’ve been noticing recently, especially with the kids and work. Trying to do all the things, just isn’t healthy. So, I’ll try and give things my full attention and see how that works out…

scheduleApril 4, 2020

Hot pot / 火锅 - boiling oil which you put food in to cook.

scheduleApril 4, 2020

Just pulled out a couple of on-line-wins on Mario Kart. My day has peaked basically.

scheduleApril 3, 2020

Today was the last day of our 9th week in e-learning. Never been more glad of a break.

scheduleApril 3, 2020

This article where writers were asked what would their characters do in a pandemic is fun. At least for the shows I know. Though now I want to watch 24 again.

scheduleApril 3, 2020

Also, I feel bad for working. That’s something hasn’t changed the whole 9 weeks I’ve been teaching from home.

scheduleApril 3, 2020

Baby Shark is on repeat in the lounge as I work in the spare room. There goes my Apple Music recommendations.

scheduleApril 2, 2020

Kettlebells on hold for some Yoga today. It was nice, I assume I’ll not have to spend so much time looking at my phone next time.

scheduleApril 1, 2020

I took he hard drive out of my old Mac and it’s full of stuff. One of the things was some scans of photos I took 16 years ago. At a time when I’m trying to sort/organise the thousands of photos I have, I miss that limit. I felt so much more connected to the photos I took.

scheduleApril 1, 2020

Played an online game with some friends and then it just transitioned into just chatting. Even if I wasn’t talking much, it was nice to be ‘there’ and to have that sort of interaction.

scheduleApril 1, 2020

Happy with using the Micro.blog hosting and transferring my Wordpress blog over was really simple. Some minor errors sorting my domain but it’s all sorted now. Onwards!

scheduleMarch 31, 2020

I hate that my exercise is so doable. I’ve not got any excuse really. What fraction of the day is 25minutes? The added bonus is it’s some of the only time I actually give myself to properly switch off. Just to listen to some music or just to sit and think. I should do that more.

scheduleMarch 31, 2020

Came to Micro.blog by accident, now I post to my blog again!

However, I feel like I like the idea of having it hosted by Micro.blog. That seems simpler since it’s all I really use my hosting for.

Is that a good idea? Or not? Can I transfer posts over? Looking for help, ideas?

scheduleMarch 31, 2020

Put my head in my hands for a few breaths because trying to work while the kids bounce between playing and fighting just outside the door is getting me down.

scheduleMarch 29, 2020

Today I started to try and deal with my thousands of photos. As I’m deleting many many photos, I’m wondering if I just Thanos’d half, would I notice?

scheduleMarch 28, 2020

In the Apple store 5 minutes and I’m all like, “could I do all my work on an iPad?”

scheduleMarch 28, 2020

Obviously we’re eating something spicy food, in this case roast fish.

scheduleMarch 28, 2020

Ohhhhhhhhhhh. We’re out without the kids! First time in 9 weeks!

scheduleMarch 25, 2020

It’s such a strange moment. One day you’re suddenly having conversations with your children.

scheduleMarch 25, 2020

I’ve just made a folder on my computer for Week 9 of e-learning. 😐

scheduleMarch 25, 2020

So late it’s almost early. A giant storm just passed over us. With such intensity, That I thought of a ship in a storm. It seemed to be testing our strength. “Batten down the hatches.” And even now, it’s passing. Maybe now, i can sleep. Kids slept straight through, Of course!

scheduleMarch 24, 2020
Thus we never see the true state of our condition till it is illustrated to us by its contraries, nor know how to value what we enjoy, but by the want of it

This quote is in the back of one of the kid’s picture books called “A bit lost”. Which feels pertinent at the moment.

scheduleMarch 24, 2020

Apple Music has added “Get Up!” Mix, an upbeat selection, which I’m starting the day with. Started well so far…

scheduleMarch 22, 2020
  • We went out to a park today, sat on a mat in the sun and had snacks. Elise was brave on her scooter!
  • It's still tough even though we can go out, my wife has a photo of me on my phone with the youngest copying me, so I've tried to stay off it today. I would just like a break.
scheduleMarch 21, 2020

Just put together a table but obviously that’s too simple so i added two more children and that was much better.

scheduleMarch 20, 2020

Out for a stroll in the sun with Lyra and the eldest. Ice cream, some chips and a drink. Was very pleasant.

scheduleMarch 19, 2020

Another sunny day and e-learning is on hold for a virtual sports day (kids encouraged to log a range of activities at home). I have a little more free time and trying to spend it not working. Playing hide and seek with the youngest and I’m definitely too big to hide in the bath.

scheduleMarch 19, 2020

New rules today for our city are that anyone coming from overseas into China has to go to a hotel for at least 24hours to be tested. Previously it was just coming from high-risk areas. Potentially longer hotel stays if someone on the flight tests positive.

scheduleMarch 18, 2020

Was reading this discussion Metafilter about fun social activities that don’t involve leaving the house. Anyone else considered anything, got any ideas?

scheduleMarch 18, 2020

There is food in there, it’s not just dish of chillis.

scheduleMarch 18, 2020

Played Fibbage with some friends in Australia over video chat. It was fun! I find making the effort to initiate calls or videos difficult even with close friends.

scheduleMarch 18, 2020

Apple Music normally puts similar music in my Favourites Mix but this week it’s given me Slipknot, Tool, Black Sabbath and also Pink, Sia and the Spice Girls.

scheduleMarch 18, 2020

Question: I mostly use my Macbook at home but if I bought a extra monitor - would it work with a Nintendo Switch too?

scheduleMarch 17, 2020

It’s funny - now self-distancing/isolation/quarantine has hit the Western world there’s more discussion I can read about it. Like people discussing what to do with their kids or what they can do to organize games or online adult stuff. And I don’t know how I feel about all that.

scheduleMarch 16, 2020

This one was hard work trying to decide what to put in it. It’s been a tough few days but I wanted to finish it.

scheduleMarch 16, 2020

Mum and dad took us out of school for 8 months when I was 9. They were both teachers and we did an hour a day. We came back ahead not behind.

And that worries me.

Some kids are definitely benefiting from being out of school so long and some kids are really not.

scheduleMarch 16, 2020

Anyone else manage to keep things in check as long as you need to be. Then when you don’t need to be, your body goes… NOPE.

I feel like that today. Someone came to help out at home and I feel more out of it than I have the 7 other weeks we’ve been self-isolating.

scheduleMarch 15, 2020

Feeling a little better for going outside for milk tea and dumplings. First time eating out in a while.

scheduleMarch 15, 2020

Day 52. Lyra and I have never been bored with 2 small children but today has been hard because I just want to sit and mope. And I can’t. And that’s really hard.

scheduleMarch 15, 2020

It’s strange. Now that things are getting worse in the West there’s lots more for me to read about it. Like this article on Kottke about social distancing. Here in China we had no choice.

scheduleMarch 14, 2020

I’m sweating, my mouth burns and my nose is running. Sick? No, just Lyra wanted hot pot for dinner.

scheduleMarch 14, 2020

I think that one of the hardest bits of the self-isolation is, since we’ve been with the kids pretty much 24/7 for 7 wks now, neither us gets time to just ‘reset’ or ‘fully relax’. That’s why I feel like I’m always on the verge of running out of patience.

scheduleMarch 14, 2020

Health check to get into the shopping centre.

scheduleMarch 14, 2020

Friday 13th was day 50 for us. Tomorrow we’re planning to all go out in the car for the first time since it started. We’re now able to do that. Just as the situation elsewhere seems like it’s just starting.

Outside!

scheduleMarch 12, 2020

E and I went out of the compound today. First time I’ve been out in 4 weeks. Which sounds crazy when I say it out loud but here it’s the new normal. We walked up to the shops who took our temperatures before went in. Supermarket was pretty busy though. Restaurants are half-open, you can only take away.

scheduleMarch 12, 2020

One of the singer finalists on Chinese tv is doing the show from his flat!

scheduleMarch 10, 2020

I have to admit it was good to get outside even for a short while.

scheduleMarch 10, 2020

No idea how I came upon Lunarbaboon webcomic but the mix of Dad stuff and mental-health stuff is right-up-my-street.

scheduleMarch 10, 2020

Never more focused then I when I feel down. I guess nothing else matters so much and I’m not so easily distracted.

Day 47 and I feel like I’ve hit a wall. e-learning continues but it’s no fun. My sleep continues to be sub-optimal. Sleeping too late and snoozing too much.

scheduleMarch 9, 2020

There was talk yesterday about the ‘lockdown’ (only 1 person being allowed to leave every 2 days) stopping today. Nope. Obviously disappointing.

scheduleMarch 9, 2020

This was just a list I made at the start but I realise it’s pretty much just working from home. Which I haven’t really done, I’ve done planning and stuff but not teaching.

scheduleMarch 7, 2020

Austin Kleon was talking about mini-zines recently so that’s what I did this afternoon.

scheduleMarch 7, 2020

@help Hi! Is there a reason I can’t type in Chinese characters in the app on my Macbook? When I try nothing happens.

scheduleMarch 7, 2020

Last night I tidied my desk and felt all the better for doing it. Not my greatest work, there was some hiding of stuff but it’s a start.

scheduleMarch 6, 2020

Struggling to get into Season 2 of Altered Carbon. It feels completely different and I’m not sure I like it. 📺

scheduleMarch 6, 2020

Kettlebell swings are feeling stronger, which I guess is coming from some consistency. Which is good.

scheduleMarch 5, 2020

Squashing coffee, exercise and just taking 5 minutes into the time between making breakfast and an online meeting with some other teachers.

scheduleMarch 4, 2020
  • 41 days of self-isolation
  • 3 weeks since I've been out of our compound.
  • 3 weeks since I've spoken to a native speaker in person.
  • 3 days since I stepped outside our flat.
  • 5th week of ‘e-learning’
  • 480 snippets in my 1SecondEveryday
  • I think I've lost a little weight too
scheduleMarch 4, 2020

Yesterday Day 40 of self-isolation wasn’t too bad, here’s hoping 41 isn’t so bad either.

scheduleMarch 2, 2020

This week, we’re going to try and put some order into our week. I’ve started by making the writing in my work journal diary neater and more organised.

scheduleMarch 1, 2020

Quarantine cooking: finding relief from the coronavirus anxiety in the kitchen. It’s strange since I’m here, but all this stuff passes me by, obviously.

scheduleMarch 1, 2020

The hardest part of this coronavirus lockdown in China is that my wife and I get so little time to ourselves and so much time with the kids.

Just learning that with Family Sharing on iOS that in-app purchases can’t be shared. So, it’s better to get an app that costs $ instead of a free app that needs $ to unlock the full version.

£5 a month just to play Grindstone ok Apple Arcade just doesn’t make sense.

Both L and I have both kind of hit a wall recently. It’s now 5 wks of being stuck inside. I can write about because I’m feeling a little calmer about it.

No idea of how much longer it will last. Considering going to Thailand but debatable whether that is a better choice for us.

I like the film viewing process when I don’t have a clue about it. It’s just so nice to not have expectations of what others think or what it’s about. It’s always a risk of course and some films it’s impossible to not hear anything about obviously.

I miss rolls of film.

I say that because apparently my 200gb of iCloud storage is full and I don’t want to have to sort out all my photos.

My wife tidies as she goes when she cooks and I’m very much in the - I’m cooking not cleaning school of thought. Which is why, when I think about it, that I normally wash up.

Been a tough weekend.

Now into our 5th week of self-isolation.

It’s normal now, not going out but L and I are finding it difficult having no time to ourselves now that our eldest refuses to sleep.

I used to watch The Office but fell out of it. We got Netflix recently and have watched the last season. Still one episode to go but the way they’ve done it is just lovely.

Finally took todays nap time to get the Switch my friend kindly lent me off the top of the cupboard and to play a little Mario Kart. For the first time in a while I felt a little like myself.

I would love to see a playlist of music I’ve ‘loved’ on Apple Music but in the last day I’ve been making an effort to stop playing the same few playlists. It’s hard though.

I’ve turned off screentime on my phone. We’ve totally given up on trying to not use our phones or computers now.

I was going to try a screen free Saturday but here I am. The kids are, mostly, playing nicely in another room. I’m crashed out on a beanbag in the lounge considering doing some drawing and listening to some music.

Was interesting to read a discussion of subtitles of Parasite on Metafilter but I also read this post about subtitles missing some of the nuances.

For me, in China, Western films are normally subbed. Still, it’s when Western films have non-English dialogue that screws me!

Today’s Day 28 of self-isolation. I’ve been making a ‘freestyle’ @1secondeveryday (now 6.5mins long!) I realised, as I watched it that to start we made a conscious effort to do stuff to keep the kids busy but now we just do stuff with them. A small detail but feels significant.

I know I’m busy because I completely forgot to open my RSS reader.

I have such clear memories and ideas about some of the music I listened to when I was a teenager. I just don’t feel like that’s as true anymore. Now, I can speak out loud and pretty much any music I want will start playing.

I don’t know how I feel about that.

@vincent I’ve downloaded Gluon but can’t post and I think that’s because my blog isn’t hosted by Micro.blog? Is that right? Thanks

Had a moment with the eldest and it made me realise the importance of something. Of making time to spend time with your children individually.

Our youngest can be ‘overpowered’ by our eldest because he’s 1 and at 3 she can do so much more. But he deserves some quality time too.

Wide awake at 3am because I went to bed early to ‘get a good nights sleep.’ Ah well. Still, the quiet right now is amazing.

Still working on the superheroes name. Tomorrow, they plan to tell someone it’s ok to not know what to say to someone.

Basically, it’s the superhero the world I need.

Can’t we all just get along the kids are pointing maybe it is going to kick off maybe it’s just love?

the struggle is

I said today was going to be happy haikus but that’s gone out the window. The struggle is that I have work I need to do but only a small, period that I can really do it without distractions. And that is something I really struggle with. It’s basically nap time or after they go to bed, but the eldest isn’t napping at the moment and in the in the evening I’m just tired. So I just end up constantly stressed.

Saturday in Haikus.

I tried not to use my phone today. Ended up writing some haikus instead. This are mostly first drafts that I haven’t dwelled on but instead was just trying to capture a few moments.

coffee and kids phoneless Saturday bubbles in cereal milk other connections

risk assessment single cough or sneeze your first thought always viral best start drinking then

but how much its all the screaming a constant high-pitched barrage I do love my kids

screentime I should put it down but what else is there to do when everyone’s screaming

nap quiet restful time when kids sleep parents can breathe want to buy a bridge?

Day 23 Bake Off on the box the trains out with the boy it’s not just one day

I’m so sorry, this is hard we don’t argue much we shout our feelings loudly at last, better out than in

I’ll exercise tomorrow one beer’s no problem ‘cause it helps take the edge off 4 more is ok too

My freestyle @1secondeveryday is up to 326 snippets since we started staying at home. I say to people, “just assume the rest of time is full of people being annoyed or crying.” We have done lots to keep the kids busy, but obviously only focus on the times we lost our patience.

We live in a compound - a group of 5 18-floor towers- it has a front gate. I’ve not been out the front gate in a week now. The longest I’ve been outside the front gate in 3 weeks is 90minutes and that was to go to the supermarket. Now, 1 of us can leave the compound every 2 days.

Work + Family

Were once separate and now crashing together Powerpoint to do

I think we’ll stay in this weekend. Self-isolation is the new going out.

It’s interesting how in our bilingual household certain words don’t get translated into English. We only ever use the Chinese, it’s typically foods. Do you want a 水果泥? Though, I realise English is full of borrowed words. Maybe we’re adding some then!

Currently working while the kids pop all the balloons in the house.

We’re doing ‘e-learning,’ posting daily work for students, responding to both their work and their parents etc. The issue is that I’m doing that with 2 small children running around screaming. It’s not conducive to working. Anyway, happy week 3/21 days of self-isolation!

In other news managed to setup the router I bought over a year ago to have a separate vpn WiFi network. Not sure how I managed to though.

Regardless, it was nice to just sit on the floor in the lounge and just mess about, which I haven’t had time to do. It working is a bonus!

In the disco today is Armand Van Helden remixes. We’ve got mixes of Spin Spin Sugar, Sugar Is Sweeter and his collaboration with Dizzee Rascal on the track Bonkers. The last one being kind of perfect to describe our situation.

We made an effort to tidy today. We’ve kind of been letting things go, so toys were everywhere. Definitely feel better for doing so, even if it doesn’t last.

The one bad habit I now have is going to bed much later. Before, I’d get a decent 7-8 hours sleep, sometimes more. Now, it’s around 6hr and I’m waking after the kids and realising - “it is a bit like the tv, when parents don’t feel with it.” New experiences.

I feel like what works best for me, in terms of habits, is to not tell anyone and just get on with doing whatever I’m doing. It seems so much more successful. No apps, bullet journals, no charts on the wall.

*This message is not me admitting that I have started anything.

The daily trip over the road to the Lawsons (little shop, convenience hop, Spar) is the highlight of my day.

Sometimes losing my temper is cathartic. A hard reset. This morning was hard. My stock answer to how it is going is now, “ups and downs.”

When you wake up and are briefly happy it’s the weekend… before you remember you’re stuck in the flat for the 16th day.

It’s hard.

The foreign office in the UK is saying we should definitely leave China (but we can’t because we don’t have the right paperwork) but the exposure from flying would definitely be worse then we have now.

Medical Police’s account of a world wide virus is about the only one I can handle at the moment.

Also, I learned the phrase is self-isolation, not quarantine. We’re doing it badly though, but we gotta eat.

Also also. Day 14 tomorrow. We should have a party.

Half an hour, forty five minutes, sitting, playing with my phone, drinking a couple of beers and taking a breath.0

Before we were self-quarantined the problem was that I got no respite, I worked with small children all day and came home and had two small children of my very own. Now, that we’re preparing daily work for students while at home. It’s just, full on.

Families, questions.

Your family is whichever motley crew of dysfunctional humans you love so damn much you would do anything for, including being driven crazy by them. Your family is your blood, or maybe not. Your family is the people that know you at your ugliest and least evolved. Your family is oxtail soup or rice congee or collard greens. Your family is your breaking point and your healing refuge. Your family is your best chance to be known.

Courtney Martin - Real talk on real families

It’s not even the first quote I wanted to quote but I got distracted clicking around and then ended up reading a second post of hers that ended with this. How families are not how everyone pretends they are.

The other post was about, ‘your first question’

Hearing about Day’s first, big question got me wondering about my own. What is the question that I asked as a little girl and have never stopped asking? How has asking that question defined, even if unconsciously, the choices I’ve made, the things I’ve created, the legacy I will leave behind?

When I have some time, it’s something I want to think about.

L went to get permits for the kids to leave China today but apparently they aren’t doing them until next week, the 10th, which is disappointing but not surprising. So, even if we wanted to leave we can’t, not yet anyway.

Empty road outside our flat. There’s never only 1 car on it.

This piece on why millennials are bad at hobbies is interesting, particular about how much harder it is to pick up new things as you get older.

There's a world outside. And I know, 'cos I've heard talk In my sweetest dream, I would go out for a walk. Not Ready Yet - The Eels

Fell over these lyrics again, it was always a favourite song but now, stuck inside as we are (day 11!), they have taken on a new meaning.

Every Day is Day One.

I did pay for Day One , the journaling app, but honestly, I never stick with it.

So, I have a glut of posts titled Day One. Which is me starting out, again. Me, starting over, because that’s ok. Even if I forget it a lot and have a tendency to beat myself up over things - particularly losing my patience.

Today is Day One again.

We are in the lucky position of having 2 small children while being stuck inside. So there’s posts floating round of, ‘things you can do with your children’ and now, ‘things you can do to be entertained and healthy’. The struggle is, for us the how to do both those things, with the added difficulty of the kids being the age they are.

I’d sit on the sofa and watch tv but anything I want to watch isn’t appropriate and trying to exercise/meditate/work/read/study/write is difficult when the other parent is struggling with the kids again.

So our free time is nap time and when they go to bed and invariably during those times neither of us has the energy to do much.

Clack, clack, clack. Feels like we’re on a rollercoaster but stuck on the first long ascent.

Wife went to get exit permits for the kids today but it was closed, so will have to wait till Monday. Lots of nervous talk amongst friends about whether to leave or stay. Just read that UK is starting to withdraw some Embassy and Consulate staff too.

How I’m doing. Two graphs on Day 10 to show effects of staying at home because of the Coronavirus.

Started preparing some things for students next week, since school is closed, and it was nice to be doing something finally! At least it distracts me from worrying about the virus situation. The problem is going to be fitting in working around them.

Occurred to me as I was chatting to a friend, the longest one of us has been out of the flat in the last 7 days is 90mins. Which was when I went to the supermarket.

Since we ‘trapped’ at home at the moment, I made this for my wife and I. A voucher for some free time. With having two, and the ages they are. It’s all hands on deck most of the time. Which we are finding stressful, coupled with the stress of worrying about the situation.

My vote don’t count - Aimed at America but plenty of takeaways for others too, about the importance of voting. As a Brit there’s plenty of things about America that worry me. Yet, there’s still so many things that are amazing. Hopeful we’ll get to visit this summer though.

It’s an interesting thought, I read on an email called Digitally Well, that I now pretty much lurk on the internet. How that wasn’t true before Twitter and Facebook when forums and smaller sites were a think. I don’t know what changed. Did I just get old?

I read this story on Reddit a long time ago. It’s the story of a man getting help with his tire. A nice, reminder that there is good in the world. Anyway, someone made a video of it- today you, tomorrow me . #Onions

Day 5 of trying to not leave the flat in China. Still a constant battle to keep the kids entertained and find a little time for ourselves too. Though, it seems like supermarkets have veg now (they didn’t), which is something.

With the Coronavirus, the foundation I work for has shut their schools in mainland China. We were due to go back to work on the 3rd but now will go back on the 17th. We’re planning to not go if we can help it but it means we’re ‘trapped’ at home…

In the last 5 minutes, I’ve read that Flickr are raising their prices, I don’t know what to do with all those photos, and that Sonos is ending updates for some of their old stuff. Sonos doesn’t effect me, yet but will eventually.

Today in the spirit of, ‘if I want to want my children and students a to be willing to try then I must also try’, I got up on the stage with other teachers and did a dance routine in front of the whole. Went as expected, but I did it.

Anyone else not able to imagine being in any other job? (Regardless of how you feel about your job.)

Throwing stuff in the bin always makes me nervous. Especially fast food restaurants when I’m tipping stuff off the tray. Am I throwing my car keys in the bin?!

E likes to get me to draw something and then she colours it in. She works on her drawing and I work on my sketching skills. Win win. Here she needed the picture I used to make sure she got the colours right.

Reasons to be cheerful is a site that tries to do what it says, highlighting some of the reasons to be optimistic in today’s world. Today they have an article titled Is It Okay to Copy China? And it highlights some of the things I think about a lot living here.

Found the photo I was thinking of the separate devices/things I used to carry around in 2008.Camera, iPod, phone, wallet and book. I even wrote that my phone was capable of all 3, which it was but not in the way my iPhone is.

L was complaining about her iPhone 8 camera yesterday. Which is more of a complaint that it isn’t a newer iPhone.

It makes me reminisce about my first phone camera, I think. Sony W800i, and the photos you could take. Also, about how having a separate camera. I kinda miss that.

lyra’s old flat

I think this is the first time I’ve seen the outside of the flat my wife grew up. We went past yesterday and she said that the area immediately around it is still very much the same.

Her parents still own it and rent it out. Mostly, in the hope, that it gets bought out. It sits right next to one of the big business centres in Chongqing and with the speed that things develop in China…

It’s an interesting contrast. Two minutes walk from the world’s biggest labels and all this money are tiny flats, being rented out for tiny amounts.

It’s the same at school, looking out across the sports fields are towers and towers of flats that weren’t here 5 years ago.

The speed of change in China is a hell of a thing.

I’ve been making an effort to listen to new music recently since I have all this (Apple) music and end up listening tot the same things. This week has been mostly the One Mix DJ mix shows.

I read a tip about faking inbox zero by archiving all my emails in Gmail, but read about the idea of ‘email bankruptcy’ and simply deleting it all*. All 38000! I started browsing my email when I first opened the account in 2004 and it’s just so different.

*i just couldn’t.

Do not let daily to-ing and fro-ing to earn what we need to keep going prevent what you once felt when wee, hopeful and free.

Alasdair Gray via Austin Kleon

Apple - Chinese New Year Video


Link

Quite aside from it being from it being a bit of a tear-jerker.

It’s set in Chongqing, where we live. From the yellow taxis, to the river and its bridges, the buildings and some of the ridiculous roads.

I made this bingo sheet to give me things to do that aren’t playing mindlessly with my phone. It started as a more specific list but I think I like the idea of each one being more than 1 thing. E.g. Move could be running, walking or some press ups.

Also, what else could I add?

scheduleJanuary 9, 2020

I play with a friend half way around the world using Chess.com but I just don’t like the time delay or not being able to manipulate the pieces.

scheduleJanuary 8, 2020

New Resolution. One resolution at a time. To continue all year. First resolution: Go to bed before 10.

scheduleJanuary 7, 2020

So many good things on the internet that are well worth my time, but it’s such a struggle to just focus on one thing/them and not mindlessly scroll.

scheduleJanuary 6, 2020

Started the new year with a new plan. While there are numerous plans that would work, I’m happier paying and having someone tell me what I should do. Today was the first session and as ever I failed the first rule… don’t ever say or think, “that looks easy.”

scheduleJanuary 5, 2020

First attempt at some blackout pages. Deliberately started at the front of the book and forced myself to use each page. Which was harder but worth it.

scheduleJanuary 4, 2020

I stopped watching NWA Powerrr but started again today. The promos are amazing, it’s the actually matches that never really grab me. Ep 12 This Eli Drake promo is just incredible, just feels a lot more personal than anything else I watch.

scheduleJanuary 4, 2020

Breakfast. 碗杂面. Noodles with stewed beef and chick peas. Spicy, numbing and causing me to break out in a sweat. Good start to the day.

scheduleJanuary 3, 2020

Avocado and wasabi, sweet potato and coconut and pumpkin and caramel. Slightly out there crisp flavours.

scheduleJanuary 2, 2020

香菜拌牛肉,coriander beef served cold. Spicy and delicious.

scheduleJanuary 1, 2020

My Flickr account is such a glorious snapshot of my life when I used it. There’s so many pictures that bring back a whole range of memories. A time before todays social media. I think that’s part of the reason I can’t bring myself to delete it, even though I don’t touch it now.

“When you love someone, the best thing you can offer is your presence. How can you love if you are not there?” ~Thich Nhat Hanh

I need to put my phone down a little more.

I used to love Spaced, Simon Pegg’s comedy series, but after watching Star Wars - Rise of Skywalker. Reminded me of this video about how he feels about the Phantom Menace.

I was tired, a little hungover and just wanted to sit on the sofa when we went to do these photos. They are lovey though.

Spoilers! After watching The Rise of Starwalker, wife and I are taking advantage of my parents being here to stay out for a night and have decided to watch the original Star Wars since she hasn’t seen them.

I like the 8 in the lift on the way to R’s drama class.

Not knowing what you did to fix something is still fixing it!

This one, @hollyhoneychurch. I use it as a reminder and quite often just like to turn it over and over in my hand.

Mum and dad arrived at 11:30 last night, so obviously the first thing to do was go out for a few drinks and a chat with someone for work. Having them here is amazing. So much less pressure having them in the house. Cleary too many drinks…

I feel like, that I’m better at knowing how much I need to push when working out. So today, I only did 90 of a variety of burpees and not 150. That said, I still can’t bring myself to go running.

I like this post about someone asking those closest to them the question, “Please tell me how I can love you better,” and then sharing what happened. Even if the idea of doing so, regardless of how much I want to, scares me.

Parenting

This piece by Austin Kleon is brief, and awesome.

Becoming a parent is also an opportunity to treat yourself more tenderly, to forgive yourself, to forgive your own parents, and move on: Live your own life, love what you love, care what you genuinely care about, and give yourself the freedom and opportunity to go about your days in a way that unlocks who you really are.

Day 2. Every 30seconds for 20min. 1x clean and jerk @ 70kg. Challenging but manageable weight. Two days of exercise and I feel like a different person. Fitter, happier, (possibly) more productive.

Day 1 of trying to get into better habits. Starting Simple and Sinister again. 100 kettle swings and 10 Turkish get ups. It’s 15minutes-ish with a warm up. Which is about all I have time for at the moment.

I saw this article titled “I have come to dread looking after my grandchild each week” recently.*

It doesn’t apply to me, my parents live an 11 hour plane ride away (neither of those places being the UK). Then, I was talking to a former colleague about it and how there are pros and cons of living near your parents.

It was just strange, because for the people I know it’s a real conversation. However if I lived in the UK a 2 hour car drive would feel like a really long way.

*The article isn’t really relevant to me, both by the distance to my parents and the cultural difference of my wife’s Chinese parents.

A mile an hour -Running a different kind of marathon. Sometimes Youtube does recommend something worthwhile. He does a marathon in 24hrs and some odd jobs in between. He’s so likely, lovely easy watching. I want to run. ) hate running. www.youtube.com/watch

Parcel collection in China. Parcels don’t get delivered to your flat, instead they go into a locker or to one of these places, within walking distance. You get a text with a code to collect it. It’s just extra busy since China has a massive online sale.

Starting to feel better after a couple of days off work. With it has come the the strength to believe what I’ve always known. What’s important, what isn’t. Things I shouldn’t be worrying about and things that are important but where worrying so much isn’t helpful.

My Apple Music - Replay 2019 because it’s shared with the 3yo features both “Hey Micky You’re So Fine” and IDLES, Paw Patrol Theme and Dermot Kennedy, Superorganism and Little Mix.

a stage.”

I’ve been thinking of this a lot since I read it a couple of days ago. Life, as a total of everything that happens to me, has been (is) a struggle at the moment. And this quote was a reminder I very much needed.

Yesterday L took the kids out for a couple of hours. We always tend to do things altogether at the weekend. Having the time alone just for a couple of hours was genuinely glorious. I felt refreshed as a result.

When at home, do you always like to read in the same place? A particular chair or spot on the sofa? What does that look like?

Parents. I feel like with time being so limited between work and home. I need some things to do that aren’t eating food I shouldn’t and playing with my phone. Any other ideas?!

We drove past this building a lot and I’d always just assumed it was some sort of government building as it’s pretty imposing. Yesterday we saw a Paw Patrol show inside it though…

Today had started so well, I realised 10mins into our drive that we hadn’t argued about the music and the 3yo was loving some indie classics. I miss that already, simpler times.

Food took ages and they forgot my beer. It was amazing. Nice to be bored for a while. Followed up with watching a film in a private room. Happy days.

If I took all the time I spend trying to format the work I’m doing, on whatever program, the things I could have done!

I always like the way the 3 year olds photos turn out. I think this a panorama shot.

A definition of love

“It’s a verb. It’s an active engagement with all kinds of feelings—positive ones and primitive ones and loathsome ones. But it’s a very active verb. And it’s often surprising how it can kind of ebb and flow. It’s like the moon. We think it’s disappeared, and suddenly it shows up again. It’s not a permanent state of enthusiasm.”

[from]

One of my favourite things about Apple Music is that my weekly playlist is one kind of music, this week is all old dance music. I like that.

Places to put things at home are normally pretty easy. 1. Stable 2. Unaffected by gravity But then you have small kids and it’s 3. Away from grabby hands. I currently keep my computer on top of wardrobe, it’s just safer. He’s going to work out doors soon.

working parents

For working parents our careers tend to be busiest when our children yearn to have us around the most

Woke up to this article and can’t stop thinking about it. I couldn’t spend more time with my children though and feel all the more stressed for it.

(Link)

Just finished watching Back to Life about a women who has just got out of prison. It’s quite dark but also really human and somehow manages to be funny too. I really loved it and had a little cry at the final scene. It’s just so British too.

The 1y.o. found the missing Paw Patrol member Zoomer. I couldn’t find him anywhere! Good work Y!

Happy to see Scotland and Japan going ahead in the Rugby World Cup.

scheduleOctober 9, 2019

When you hear and love the remix first and then hear the original and it’ll never be enough.

scheduleOctober 9, 2019

Wonder how many of the Apple Arcade games I can play on my Macbook that work fine with just the keyboard.

scheduleOctober 8, 2019

Want to upgrade to Catalina but the one app I need in China, my VPN, won’t work. So having to hold off. Disappointing!

scheduleOctober 6, 2019

That Sunday morning and we’ve been up since 6am look.

scheduleOctober 6, 2019

Quick! The kids are napping, you need to relax. Always find it hard. What should I do with myself. I crave this time but don’t know what to do with it!

007: 5 minute free write - Nappies

scheduleOctober 6, 2019

Sit down. Close your eyes. Rotate your neck slowly in circles while counting out-loud to 5. Once you hit 5, stop rotating your neck and open your eyes. Take note of the first thing you see. Set a timer for 5 minutes. Do a freewrite about the thing you saw until the timer runs out.

Nappies, we have boxes of them because Lyra sells them, they sit in a pile in the spare room that’s not really a spare room. More storage, office. I have my computer in her and some sometimes come in here to get away from the noise.

The advantage is that since both kids are still wearing them, we never run out. They wear both sizes too, which I suppose is something to be grateful for.

I remember when we took Elise somewhere and I realised that you could tear the sides to take them off. I’d been pulling them down before, which was often precarious and in hindsight, fairly ridiculous. Live and learn.

I’ll be happy when we’re rid of them and they’ll be able to go to toilet on their own. The eldest is out of them, mostly, but going out is still… It still makes me nervous. “Do you need the toilet? Are you sure? Do you want to try?”

It’ll be easier when they’re bigger, that’s not trus is it?

Staying or going

scheduleOctober 5, 2019

Going away with my wife’s friends for a couple of days has been enlightening in terms of the decision for what I want to do with my job contract, and by extension, whether I want to stay in Chongqing longer. I think I’ve made my peace with staying a little longer.

It was good to start trying to write down some of my thoughts down about. Though, it ended up as more prose. That is a work in progress.

scheduleOctober 5, 2019

油茶(you cha) is basically porridge with spices and some crunchy rice noodles on top. It’s delicious.

scheduleOctober 4, 2019

I’d love for this view to be British countryside but I’ll take the convenience of the fast trains in China, I think.

scheduleOctober 3, 2019

You get used to the English when you live in China but this from the hot springs we went to today tickled me. Forbidden tips!

scheduleOctober 2, 2019

3 taxis, 2 trains, 2 metros, 2 falling outs, lots of spicy food, 3 beers, 1 coffee.

Happy Anniversary.

scheduleOctober 1, 2019

Today is my 5 year wedding anniversary. The kids woke at 6, one was coughing and we went to the Doctors to get them checked (it was all fine), then they came home and had a fight, then McDonalds forgot the toy (tears), so we went to the shop and then I had to carry 14kg up 5 flights of stairs as the lift was out.

When you have kids your marriage completely changes, it just gets harder. Suddenly, your relationship often has to take a back seat. For it all, I wouldn’t want to be doing this with anyone else. x

scheduleOctober 1, 2019

New Mr Robot next weekend! Doing some reading and watching to catch up a little.

We went to this little sushi place for lunch. It’s clearly very popular but is hidden away in a tower block that seems to be full of small businesses. Such a strange thing!

Zen shorts.

One of favourite books is a children’s book called Zen Shorts by Jon J Muth.

As much for its beautiful pictures, as its words. It introduced me to the Zen stories in it. Which, I think back to often.

Today I am thinking about the Muddy Road and letting go. Holding on to feelings, today it is anger at myself and anxieties of what may be isn’t helpful.

E went to kindergarten today - a Sunday!* - so I dropped her off and then came to have a coffee and do some work. It’s been nice and makes me want to do some more study, just not yet.

*In China, you’ll get a day off but have to work a Sat or Sun to ‘earn it’!

A Tribute to Brooklyn Nine-Nine

“001 Watch your favorite television show. Any episode. Describe everything you are seeing, as it happens, in real-time. Do this without ever hitting “pause”, or rewinding the show. Write from the perspective of someone who’s never seen the show before. Title it “Tribute to [Show Name Here]”.From: Peculiar Prompts

Someone is late. It’s a police station. He missed the meeting. The main guy has punished the late comer by doing high 5s with everyone. The late guy describes them with names. He is distraught.

Opening credits is perky.

The captain says goodby to his partner and they say goodbye by shaking hands. The partner meets the guy who was late in the toilet. He needs his help. They are quoting The Rock. The captain comes in while they hide in the toilet. He talks about buying theatre tickets.

Guy is complaining the fridge is broken. We are seeing all the main characters I think. A sergeant improves morale by ordering pizza. Another sergeant now offers sushi. It’s a competition.

A bit about laser pointer. The secret toilet meeters are found out.

The pizza people talking about how high their morale is. They are arguing with the sushi team. There’s sining. I don’t like this bit really. They say it’s a competition.

They talk about the tickets - it’s how they know.

They’re talking about some very academic. The captain is talking about how he’s his partners ‘working class bimbo’.

Wait the police officer was in that Chronicles of Narnia skit on SNL! Chronic - WHAT - cles of Narnia.

The two policeman decide to work together to show the academics to show them he is smart.

They are making rules about the competition. Yelp. There are two teams.

They are speaking to someone with lots of books. The captain is freezing up. He didn’t do well.

One team is eating cupcakes. The other is in a limo. It’s ridiculous, no one cares this much about lunch.

More problem solving for the case. They have a lead. There’s lots of banter in this show. Smart talk.

The smart guy says he found the thief. Obvious misdirection. He’s talking down to the captain. They are humiliated.

More smart talk.

How do people watch and live tweet?

More smart talk. They think they have cracked it. Too early. They are talking about brains.

More team talk. They are doing breakfasts now. Some people aren’t happy. When do they work? They are going above and beyond to beat each other.

Following the academic. They stumble into an acapella circle. Singing. They see a footprint.

Lunchtime - they are paint balling. The other time is a doing teppanyaki. Their teams are hiding. No one is having fun. I’m not.

She shoots Gary. Gary says help.

The two policeman interrupt to prove they are right. I don’t think they will be.

They aren’t. Everyone has the same shoes! Oops. The academic is talking down to the academic again. He is embarrassed. They talk about brains a lot. Captain isn’t happy he is playing a game because that’s bad - It’s the Times Crossword.

They are talking about being underestimated. They’ve solved the case.

The team captains apologies for the lunches. It goes badly. Hilarious. They are doing nice things for their teams. Lovely.

They solved the case. Well done. The captain is smart again. They are talking about a kerfuffel. They shakes hands.

NOT A DOCTOR.

Finally replaced the debit card that expired at the end of August. Since then, I’ve survived just fine using mobile payments. I’ve stopped carrying my wallet around with me, so don’t have cards or cash on me.

Grandparents with the kids and I’m watching the rugby and trying to enjoy a little time to myself.

5am Saturday morning coffee and some peace and quiet before the weekend starts and the kids wake.

Living here has definitely changed how I react to temperatures. It’s 23c today and it feels cool. Since summer is always 30+ and humid.

Letter of intent

We got an email about completing a “letter of intent” with regards to our contracts. Since schools hire as they can internationally they want to know what staff will do. This will be my 8th year in China which is crazy, frankly. I’ve met someone, married her, moved halfway across China and had two children. I’ve such mixed feelings about staying or going, that I’ll write later butIt all comes down to what’s best for the kids.

The Tail End This post about our time left and what we do with it was just what I needed, even if it I don’t like the feeling.

Daughter just tried to put the CD on top of our Homepod… Also, we don’t have anything to play cds at home.

In other news, yesterday I introduced the family to Haddaway’s - What is love. This led to searching for NOW albums and someone who has put all the NOW series into playlists on Apple Music. Now, I’m onto my old Britpop favourites. Feeling like a teenager again.

Moments.

Life feels full on, constant in its intensity and I am always craving some time to myself. Some peace and quiet. Between work and children it rarely comes. Instead it’s snatched moments that are never enough. RELAX NOW. It’s not possible is it? All the while trying to enjoy this time when they’re little.

Yet, sometimes it comes together (all 4 of us are happy!) and those moments make it worth it.

Parking is always a pain when we visit L’s relatives. Narrow streets with cars on both sides makes parallel parking a pain. Plus I always want to get as close to the wall as possible.

I want to write more

But I don’t know what I want to write about or what I want to say. I know I want to find the time from somewhere to get some of things rolling around my head - out and a more organised. Family, work, life. 2 small children, working abroad in China, living in China. Some of that, probably. But how to say it?

You want a social life, with friends

This popped into my head last night as I sat on the sofa and the kids ran about. Meanwhile there was a work get together, I didn’t go to. It feels true and I find it hard to accept I think. Having two small children under 3 is time consuming.

scheduleAugust 27, 2019

My MacBook Pro screen packed up today. Closed it. Carried it somewhere. Opened it. Nothing. Another day it wouldn’t have bothered me. I just don’t need to be dealing with fixing it right now. Coupled with work now not happening too. I am a barrel of laughs right now.

fear of smartphones

scheduleAugust 23, 2019

For reasons I’ve been making a point of “faffing” about with my phone a lot less this week. At work it stays in my bag and at home it sits, mostly, by the front door. Often, in those places it’s switched off. I can’t be trusted. It is hard though and this short piece is good for thought.

Is Our Fear of Smartphones Overblown? [www.calnewport.com/blog/2019...](http://www.calnewport.com/blog/2019/08/23/7280/)
scheduleAugust 19, 2019

First day of the new school year. It always feels like starting again and not like continuing.

scheduleAugust 6, 2019

When we are away from Chongqing L always craves spicy food. So she’s getting some now. Veg and meat cooked in a spicy broth.

scheduleJuly 8, 2019

What does that mean in terms of friends?

I often say, I rudest to people I feel closest to. Because I don’t want to offend people I don’t know well or don’t know at all. It would cause conflict or because why would I? Maybe I just do it with close friends because I find it difficult to say I really feel? These are the people I know best, that I want to know me best.

But it also means that these relationships are the most challenging for me. These are the people I don’t want to offend, whose opinions I value. Whose off-hand comments can sometimes shake me most.

It’s inevitable though isn’t it?

Being back in the UK

scheduleJuly 3, 2019

(In no particular order.) * How much for parking?! * Supermarkets and all the wonders inside * Fish and chips * Being in the same time zone as most people I talk to * Not having to start the VPN before doing anything on my phone * Streaming services * Driving a manual car * Driving being so different * Drinking water from the tap * Jet lag with small children

goodbyes

scheduleJune 28, 2019

“I think one of the hardest bits of living abroad is missing home. And I mean that in the sense of it being things and people that you know. The familiar. The things that comfort us.

And sure, there’s plenty of things that make living abroad great but being away from immediate family, friends and these things is hard.

It is for me.

So, to have something that reminds you of home, that can connect you to it is important. And what that is might be different for everyone. An activity or a type of food.

Natalie is that connection for me, I think.

Talking to her feels like home.

I’ve got so used to having you here. It’s going to be strange when you’re not next year.

I’m going to miss you.”

I had to write some farewell words for a friend who was leaving today. It is the nature of the work, people come and go every year.

This hit me hard though. I sobbed before, during and after. Should have been 20 seconds or so but took a few minutes to compose myself.

scheduleJune 27, 2019

Dinner. I couldn’t finish it, because it was SPICY and I’m about to do a few drinks. I don’t think that’s a good combination!

home

scheduleJune 18, 2019

As I’m less than two weeks away from going back to the UK. It’s making me reflect on what home means to me and daily life being so different to the UK. China is home but will never be home. Yet, the idea of going back to the UK makes me nervous now. Being able to understand everyone, easily communicating, not clearly being different.

scheduleJune 14, 2019

These circles represent where Mum and Dad, brother, sister and I live. I’ve followed dad and moved to a new country for work and married someone there. My sister moved to a new country for work, met someone and then moved to his home country. It means we’re a little, spread out.

scheduleJune 11, 2019

The problem is that I’m trying to use my phone less and eat less crap, but with two small children it’s really hard…

scheduleJune 8, 2019

I know she was asking me to wait, that she was giving me a refund and then I would need to pay again. Except I didn’t understand a word she said.

scheduleJune 7, 2019

Today is Duanwu festival. Which is famous for dragon boats racing zingzi - sticky rice wrapped in banana leaves. We’re visiting L’s uncle for lunch. After lunch we’ll go for a wander and the family will play mahjong.

scheduleJune 6, 2019

We are allowed to officially wear shorts to work today. I am comfortable because 30 degrees and shorts but uncomfortable because I’m wearing shorts to work. Aren’t brains great!

scheduleJune 5, 2019

The storm that passed over this morning was crazy.

scheduleJune 4, 2019

Between this and Years and Years on the BBC, I’m feeling very aware of my own mortality. This book starts with the world ending. As with Years and Years, it’s a little too real for me.

scheduleJune 2, 2019

Interesting reading reviews of authentic Chinese food in the UK. My first thought is - that sounds gooood. Quickly followed by realising I probably take for granted all the good food I actually eat in China. Final thought is - how much money!? Link

scheduleJune 2, 2019

Morning meditation cancelled today when the 3yo climbed into my lap for a cuddle. Totally worth it.

scheduleJune 1, 2019

Today is children’s day. So the shopping centre was packed in a way that is totally normal to me now.

scheduleJune 1, 2019

Was nice to go out without the kids but even two drinks was enough. The thought of an actual hangovers terrifies me.

scheduleMay 31, 2019

Jocelyn K. Glei’s ‘Hurry Slowly’ is pretty much the only podcast I’ve maintained listening. It’s about being better by slowing down. Also, her voice is so relaxing. Hurry Slowly

scheduleMay 31, 2019

View from the balcony for my morning kettlebell workout. Accompanied by some drum and bass.

scheduleMay 29, 2019

Getting up at 4:30. Pro: I like having the time in the morning before the family gets up. Con: By the time I get to work, I need a second wind.

scheduleMay 28, 2019

Haven’t been eating much sugar recently… Just slipped and inhaled 3 cookies. Ooops.

scheduleMay 27, 2019

Evening Plan. Home > Friend taking the big kid so we can watch > Marvel Agent’s of Shield > Street bbq > Bed.

scheduleMay 27, 2019

Morning routine - meditating, coffee, exercise. Managed some work too this morning before the boy woke up.

scheduleMay 26, 2019

Evening markets are good for noodles, fruit, clothes and Peppa Pig stickers.

scheduleMay 26, 2019

28c and 69% humidity. Hot and sweaty.

scheduleMay 26, 2019

I miss going for breakfast in the UK. I’d love to be able to go somewhere for a full English

Exercise

scheduleMay 26, 2019

It was always the thing that kept me level and recently, while that’s still true. The time I’ve needed to take to do it has impacted on other areas of my life. We’re working through it but the in the meantime I’m trying to do something in the morning.

scheduleMay 25, 2019

E has packed a bag, a small basket and the sofa is now a plane. ✈️

scheduleMay 25, 2019

I get a lot of these from an app E uses on my phone.

scheduleMay 25, 2019

Toddler film names:

Frozen - Let it go (song) Big Hero 6 - Microbots Zootopia - Uh uh uh (It’s in the song from the film.) Tarzan - You are in my hug (heart) (song) The Good Dinosaur - New dinosaur (not old dinosaur) Tangled - Tangled Lion King - wimba we (the lion sleeps tonight)

scheduleMay 25, 2019

Thought I heard the baby crying. Went to check on baby. Baby was still asleep. Woke the baby.

scheduleMay 25, 2019

Reading reports and hoping the baby doesn’t wake. Worked out how to add Markdown support so that links work now.

scheduleMay 25, 2019

Watching Mission Impossible - Fallout. Felt disappointed he wasn’t winning the fight in the toilets.

scheduleMay 25, 2019

Saturday morning soft play. I asked for cheese though.

scheduleMay 25, 2019

Surprised I got to get this to work around breakfast!

Maybe

Maybe it’s married life, maybe it’s home being somewhere in China, maybe it’s working with children, maybe it’s that I’ll be a father next month or just maybe it’s the cumulative weight of my experiences.

Maybe it’s realising that only you can find your own way in this world and that they were right all along*.  Yet, you know you’re stronger for finding out these truths out yourself.

Maybe it’s knowing those people who you are certain of. Whose kindness, love, support is never in doubt.

Maybe that while that group is small, maybe you willing give of yourself to countless more because this is it and because you can.

Maybe you’ll be the one to break a silence.

*Where to start… Let it go. Smile more. Worry less. Tell those that are important to you that they are, repeatedly. Be kind. Things will work out. And so on.

Resolutions

scheduleJanuary 2, 2016

The mindset we need isn’t the positive-thinking mantra that failure is impossible; it’s that failures are inevitable, and for good reason. It’s an unexpectedly hopeful conclusion: we may never really understand how to get what we want, or stave off the very worst – yet we may manage it anyway.
In no particular order. Things I plan to do but will likely fail at.
  • 1 Second Everyday
  • 130kg squat/100kg clean + jerk/190kg deadlift/100kg bench
  • Get ripped
  • Cook lunch and dinner regularly
  • Write on my blog more frequently
  • Focus on doing less better at work
  • Meditate daily
  • Be a good dad
  • Speak more Chinese instead of letting L do all the talking
  • Drink more water
  • Look at my phone when moving around less
  • Tidy more

Moving

Untitled

And when I can feel our baby move, if that isn’t the most glorious thing indeed.

And sometimes.

scheduleOctober 9, 2015

And sometimes, the universe seems so big that nothing matters much.

And sometimes, our troubles, our little corner, feel like weight of it all.

And sometimes, our troubles, become our little corner. We wake to them, live with them, sleep with them.

And sometimes, we realise we can be more.

You

scheduleOctober 9, 2015

If you must wait, Wait for them here in my arms as I shake If you must weep, Do it right here in my bed as I sleep If you must mourn, my love Mourn with the moon and the stars up above If you must mourn, Don’t do it alone

If you must leave, Leave as though fire burns under your feet If you must speak, Speak every word as though it were unique If you must die, sweetheart Die knowing your life was my life’s best part And if you must die, Remember your life

You are You are Oh, you are You are Oh

If you must fight, Fight with yourself and your thoughts in the night If you must work, Work to leave some part of you on this earth If you must live, darling one,

Just live Just live Just live

I think I realised what it is.

scheduleOctober 8, 2015

IMG_2152 The reason that I feel like I do.

There was the time I drank tequila straight on the balcony at 2am. It all got a bit much. But really that passed pretty quickly, the hangover lingered but I moved on from the reasons for it the next day.

Yet this time, coming back from Cambodia. The hangover has lingered. I faced it down yesterday and started to feel like it was passing.

Yet today, it’s still here.

It’s because all all my priorities have changed. Things that were important, that felt so, aren’t anymore.

The things that are, just are.

They come before everything else now.

Glorious

scheduleOctober 3, 2015

This week was glorious. Like a holiday should be but which we’re never sold on. Instead of beaches and pools it was evening meals and sitting on the sofa. Time with friends, of nothing much, nothing to excess, but more then enough. Too much. I am overflowing.

It was the time out that I sorely needed. A step back and away, away from everything that is daily life - of work, friendships that don’t feel enough, of the burdens of living abroad, of how soon there’ll be three of us in our little family. I didn’t realise how everything had combined to burden me in the way it did. This week has helped me remember again the important things in life. Love, friendship, kindness, done unconditionally. As well as how potent the opposites are at poisoning our thoughts.

Of how lucky I am in a multitude of ways. How too often that never seemed enough. How it never does. How I’m working to replace jealousy with love. Replacing wishing I had that with being glad that someone else does.

Cambodia.

Untitled

Different.

Different is good. It’s a holiday. It’s time with friends. It’s time to see someone where new. To relax. It’s time off. It’s time to think. To reassess. To plan.

Living.

You can take a horse to water…

I’ve been sending a friend a lot of quotes lately. She’s been having a hard time and likes them but really I can’t help think how useful they really are. The difference between treating the cause or just the symptoms. Somethings you just have to learn for yourself.

This is something that I have learnt for myself.

I'm fine

scheduleAugust 31, 2015

I want to write more. I never know what to write about. I say I’ll sit down and just see what comes… But that never happens.

So, I just spent 10 minutes putting photos on Flickr.

Was off sick today, felt horrible yesterday. Drained, lethargic, with no appetite, tired.

Today, felt better but stayed off because it wouldn’t have helped. I did go in for a parent information evening because no one else could do it. Got told that I didn’t look well, I thought I was feeling better.

But it did make me think about how good, or bad a judge of how we are.

Am I fine?

Am I well enough? Should I be doing more of this or less of this? Should I be staying at home instead of going to work? Should I be making more of effort to do this or that?

Are we a good judge? By what standards are we judging anyway?

sweeping up after yourself

scheduleAugust 29, 2015
It doesn’t make sense to me that you wouldn’t want to remember your life. This concept of partying, it’s like you’re sweeping up after yourself constantly. You’re just sweeping away your memories. I like to be present, and keep it with me. Some people think of straight edge as a tee-totaling sobriety movement, but in my mind it was just about self definition. I found it unimpeachably positive. But people always find ways to be derisive. You’re in England – you fucking know that, right? It’s an extremely snarky society.

http://www.huckmagazine.com/art-and-culture/ian-mackaye-survival-issue-interview/

Those times

scheduleAugust 23, 2015

When you fall off the edge and getting back involves a long climb. Returning isn’t simply a single step.

Photos

scheduleAugust 5, 2015

Untitled Untitled Untitled Untitled

I realise I didn’t take enough pictures of people. Here are some though.

a list

scheduleAugust 4, 2015

I meant to start a list of things I was going to start doing in the coming school year. I just never got around to finding the time to do it. I had a thought that I might do it tomorrow but realistically, I’m just gonna dilly d