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spikegifted.net - Archive Q1 2013

March 2013:
Home: Just when we through we have left all the illnesses in the UK, Master Cheeky was coming up with something. Just like Master Chill before we left for France, Master Cheeky was having a temperature for a couple of days. However, the difference was that his was actually edging higher. The over-the-counter mediation which we had with us we having little or no effect on the temperature. We decided to take him to see a doctor. However, it was Saturday evening and we were not familiar with arrangements in France. After calling a couple friends and relatives, we were given instructions on how to get to the out-of-hours clinic. We were eventually seen to by a doctor who diagnosed Master Cheeky was having laryngitis. After obtaining the prescription, we went off to the 24-hour pharmacy. As it turned out, it would appear that there was a little 'hot spot' of laryngitis cases in our area as the pharmacist had seen many cases on the day. So we have had our first experience with the French out-of-hour GP service, and we concluded that it was a vastly superior experience when compared with the similar (in name only) service in the UK.
Home: The boys loved their food! What we also tried to do was not only to give them as little processed food as possible, but also as broad a variety as we could manage. As it turned out, they boys loved Camembert! So in the next shopping trip, I tried to show Master Chill how to choose a Camembert. That was not easy task as deciding on whether a Camembert was right or not required a good tactile feel on the firmness of the cheese. He rejected one and picked another. Somehow, he picked a good one. Fluke or not, it was impressive. I would look for another opportunity to see if he could really choose a Camembert...
Home: We have completed so many of these cross-Channel trips that we were able to go on autopilot. Packing was not the easiest task as the boys liked to 'help'. However, we managed much of it while they were out of the way, ie. sleeping. Still, there were always some bits and pieces which had to packed away last minute. These were the things that took the most time. Once I got off work, the car was loaded up and we off. Hello, France!! 
Home: Here came the pièce de résistance! With chicken pox, the 'Queen's illness' and various 'viral infections', what could beat them all? The Ruler_of_spike was complaining about some abdominal pain. For her to complain about something, it meant it was really bothering her. The problem with abdominal pain was that it would have been caused by any one of half dozen organs. It was time to visit the doctor and it did not take long reach a diagnosis - kidney stone! Most people have kidney stones and if the stones stayed inside the kidneys, they would be blissfully unaware of their existence. The problem arose when a stone moved out of the kidney and travelled down the tube which connected to the bladder (my biology classes were too far back in history, so apologies for not being able to name 'the tube'). That tube was not designed to have a piece of solid passing through it. So it became soar and painful. That was the pain that the Ruler_of_spike was experiencing. The doctor prescribed a combination tablet which had a pain-killer, a relaxant and an anti-inflammatory agent. All in all, some pretty strong stuff. It was hoped that by reducing the inflammation, the kidney stone will do one of two things, either travel down the tube and pass out of the body or return back inside the kidney. It was severe enough to prevent us from travel to France, which was a massive relieve. However, going to France was only part of the story. It was important that should there be any further problems with the kidney stone, there was help available. That was a difficult thing to be certain about as we have limited experience with the French healthcare system. In the end, we took a calculated risk and went ahead with the trip.
Home: Master Chill had a temperature. It was not a high temperature which would require medical intervention, but nevertheless, it was a temperature. After a couple of days, we decided to bring him to the GP to be reviewed and we heard the, by now, overly familiar 'diagnosis' - it was 'some kind of viral infection and it should go away in a few days'. It was tiring to hear this again and again over the past few months. Yet, it was probably nothing we could have done. It was frustrating, and, for the Ruler_of_spike, draining.
Home: This had to be one of the coldest March we have experienced for a long time. When we went out for the Ruler_of_spike's birthday meal, it was so cold that it felt like winter. The wind was the worst part has the wind chill caused the temperature to fall further. The poor weather was just adding misery to all the illness our family has been suffering. What we needed was a bit of nice warm and dry weather...
Home: While the throwing up was over relatively quickly, for the boys the other part of the gastroenteritis would only come later. This delay 'action' was in some way giving us parents a false sense of safety - just when we thought we were done with the illness... BAM! Unfortunately, Master Chill was suffering more from this than his brother. Of course, no-one was suffering as much as the Ruler_of_spike. She had to somehow make a brave face and carried on. I was referring to the pants-busting diarrhea which came around forty eight hours after the end of the throwing up. When it happened, and it happened a few times, the Ruler_of_spike had to bring Master Chill to the bathroom to hose him down with the shower. This was never as simple as it sounded as there was Master Cheeky to contend with. Even if he did not do anything, it was the need to ensure that he was safe. With him being curious, often times he would follow his brother to the bathroom and just got in the way. The pressure on the Ruler_of_spike was just unrelenting.
Home: Did you know that going to the bathroom was a spectator sport in the spike household? Particularly if I was just to pass liquid as it was more effort to keep them out than just to give in and let them come with me. Usually when I visited the bathroom, the boys would file in after me and they would end up being either side of me. They would show off to each other and me how knowledgeable they each was, so there was usually series of words like: 'pee pee', 'zee zee', 'papa'. Ok, it was not literature, but frankly you would not need much more vocabulary than these at their age in the toilet. However, have taught them how to throw up in the toilet, the boys were keen to show that off to each other. What they did not know was that they have both been unwell as they have been taught the same thing, but in their own privacy (a rare thing). So Master Chill kicked off by saying: 'papa; me' (point at himself); 'ffffff' (pointing at the toilet). He was obviously very proud of that. What he did not know was that his brother knew how to do the same thing. So Master Cheeky immediately followed with: 'no; papa; me, ffffff' (with all the associated actions). As they boys were so keen to show off to each other, they could not wait for me to complete my first relieve in the morning, so I had to steer carefully so that they would not ended up getting more than they bargained for in the bathroom. As Master Chill realized that his brother knew the same thing as he did, he could not be bothered mentioning it again. Peace returned temporarily to the spike household... 
Home: I guess I made the last comment a little early. No sooner had I congratulated myself that my family had made it through without being ill, Master Chill was coming down with something. It turned out to be gastroenteritis again. Since he was suffering from it the first time, the Ruler_of_spike and I have given it a different name - 'the Queen's illness' (I know, but we had to find humor in such situation, otherwise we would all be a little depressed). Having seen how often they threw up in the first round of illness, I was not prepared to 'catch' or 'wear' each of his throw up. So I tried to teach him how to throw up in the toilet. It was not as difficult as it sounded as the body reacted to the need to throw up it naturally bend forward to compress the stomach. Master Chill seemed to gotten the motion of throwing up. I also instructed Master Chill to let me know when he felt the need to throw up. In the end it was a minor success as I did not have to clean up that many times and we did not ended up with couple of load of washing. Before I had a chance to feel goo about that, it was the turn of Master Cheeky to be revisited by the gastro. I was even more prepared this time around. Although I was caught by surprise by the first couple of times he threw up, I got him to do as his brother did. Ok, the boys had been unwell, by I have imparted some 'important' life skills.
Home: For the first time in a while, we welcomed a new guest to our house. We were visited by one of the Ruler_of_spike's nieces who was working in a London subsidiary of an American commodity company. As usual, it was nice to see our extended family. For the whole week, our whole family had been well - no-one was suffering from any illnesses. It was such a welcome relieve.
Home: Another six month has passed and it was time for another visit to the paediatrician at the hospital. Now that we have been using the inhaler through the second winter and that Master Cheeky's breathing has been without any wheezing, except for one episode of 'virus-induced wheezing', we were hoping that the paediatrician would recommend some specialist treatment which would be tailored to Master Cheeky's needs rather than this extensive use of the inhaler. We knew that there was little we could ask for given his condition was well under control, but we were hoping that he could be managed by specialists who might have recommended a different form intervention which did not involved prolonger use of the inhaler. It was a very frustrating experience having to listen to the generally woolly answers to our search for definitive solutions.
Home/Work: But then, I woke up on Monday morning to discovered that I have lost my voice again. Having to change the boys and having to give them a constant string of instruction without much noise coming out of me was very demanding. Thankfully, the boys were not being difficult and they really cooperated with me. It was a very different story for work. While I spend most of my day communicating with clients or internal stakeholders, it was surprising how hard it was to just rely on emails. There were times when a simple conversation would have things cleared up in no time, emails were just took so much longer. As it was a written form, I felt obliged to address it differently from the spoken word. It was so inefficient. Additionally, it was only when I lost my voice that I realized how frequently people called me and I called others. While emails were easily tracked through the 'in-box' and 'sent items', phone calls were rarely logged in any meaningful ways so they became this effective form of communication often became this uncategorized general heading of 'phone calls'. However, as my voice recovered a little in the afternoon, my conversations had to kept very concise, I noticed how much 'chat' contained in many my phone calls. I had to make a conscious effort to limit the 'chat' to preserve my voice, otherwise the conversations would have dragged on. This was an unexpected observation, a very interesting one which I thought was highly relevant to how I worked. Following the recovery of my voice, I decided to continue to make an effort to limit 'chat' on my phone calls at work, in an effect to make myself more efficient.
Home: Now that was an interesting development - I lost my voice! Can you imagine my shock when I had to use my voice for the first time in the morning and found that there was nothing coming out. Luckily, it was Sunday and there were things I could try to get the voice back. This losing voice business has happened before, years ago when I was still a teenager. On the occasion, I was with the friend of family also, and I got my voice when I finished eating the second lemon. It did not work out so quickly this time around. Moreover, it was impossible to spend any time without the boys without speaking, a lot. There were just so many things I had to intervene. Thankfully, my voice was slowly coming back. Also, a big part of the afternoon was taken up by the drive back down to London, which did not require much loud talking. By the time I went to bed on Sunday night, my voice was almost back.
Home: It was just a matter of time before the boys find it and it did not take long. There was a piano in the dining room. The grandson of our friend of family used to practice on it. Once the boys found it there was no stopping them. If you can imagine the amount keys which could be hit repeatedly with four small hands, without any coordination except for the owner of the hands wanted to make as much noise as possible, you would have some idea of the noise coming out of the piano. It was an awesome sight as well as an awesome noise coming out. We managed distract the boys by getting them something else to do. instead of bashing the piano in. However, Master Chill was not so easier deterred. He sneaked away when we were not looking and went back to the dining room. It just so happen that I noticed that he sneaked away. I decided not to intervene just yet as I was interested in what he was trying to do. He sneaked back into the dining room, climbed on the piano stool and quietly opened the lid. He then proceeded to 'play' the piano. Ok, it was not music that was coming out, nor was it mindless bashing of the keys. Master Chill was trying give tone and texture to the noise made by the piano. It was magical!
Home: As usual, our friend of family was spoiling us with her amazing cooking. Having know that the Ruler_of_spike was unwell only a couple of days previously, she prepared something light for us - chicken congee. It was warmly received by all of us. Diner was even more amazing. So much so that I had to take a picture of it!
Home: The Ruler_of_spike was determined that we made the trip to Cheshire to visit the friend of family. While she was suffering from the vomiting bug less than forty eight hours previously, she pretty much made herself well enough to travel. After weeks of being stuck at home owing to someone being ill at one time or another, she has had enough of being held ransom by illnesses. So we set off on Saturday after breakfast up to the Northwest. Although we were only going for an overnight stay, the amount of provision was quite staggering. The worst offenders were the high chairs. That was closely followed by the travel cot. 'Packing' for the trip probably the most drama, which was good as the drive itself was uneventful. We got the usual warm welcome from our friends. It was such a relieve to be able to get out of the house and go and do something different for a change. We have warm memories of this family friend's house: the boys learnt how to go up and down stairs in the staircase there. They were at home as soon as we walked through the front door. The study seemed to the favored hang-out as there were just so much to investigate there. It was impossible to get them out of that room. They some how found an old digital camera, an old cassette tape player and a large toy bear which Master Cheeky was particularly attached to.
February 2013:
Home: It should come as no surprise that the Ruler_of_spike, who has been spared of the 'gastro' so far, has finally succumbed to the illness. She seemed to have gotten it out of her system in a relatively short space of time. It was not pretty and she certainly suffered a lot. Amazingly, she was back looking after the boys the very next day. On the other hand, I knew that she must have been so tired from the illness, yet she was putting on such a brave face. She was running around, looking after the boys. It was almost as if nothing has happened to her. My wife is an amazing person and the boys are lucky to have such a great mother.
Home: It was not easy to keep the boys away from food while they were ill. Normally, the boys graze their ways through the day. While Master Chill's appetite was gradually returning, Master Cheeky was naturally in no mood for food. However, as he had lost quite a lot of liquid, it was essential that he take on-board liquid to replace what was lost. While he was happy to drink water, he was not interested in the Electrolyte solution which was made so that not only would he replace lost fluid, but also the salts lost through vomiting or diarrhea. So, fortunately, although he was not interested in eating, he was drinking plenty of water so he was not getting dehydrated.
Home: Even after Master Cheeky has stopped being sick, I could not fall asleep as there was something that was making me uncomfortable. I could not put my finger on it, but it was keeping me awake. Then it started, I just had to go to the bathroom. I was not throwing up but having diarrhea. It was coming in waves. It was uncomfortable to sit in toilet when there was nothing happening and frankly I much preferred to be either sitting in an armchair or laying down, even on the floor. Unfortunately, as soon as I was settled, I had to go again. After around half dozen trips, it was just water that was coming out. It was hell. Thankfully, Master Cheeky managed to sleep through the night. 
Home: As we approached the weekend, Master Chill was feeling better. We have totally avoided giving him any kind of solid food for a good 48 hours after him being sick. Even when he went back on to eating solid, we did not give him any milk. Then on Saturday night, Master Cheeky was sick just before dinner time, so there was primarily the biscuits and compote he had after his afternoon nap. He was sick three time before going to bed. However, he was still not well. He was calling from his cot to get my attention to help as he felt he was going to throw up. More touchingly, Master Chill was calling out for me as he could sense his brother was not well and needed help. There was little in Master Cheeky's stomach to throw up with, so he was literally heaving and only thing that was coming out was bale. It was not a pleasant experience for him. I stayed with him in the toilet and only brought him back to the bedroom when he confirmed he was ok. We figured that he might have be helped throughout the night, so I volunteered to say in the boys' room for the night. While there was an armchair which was reasonable to sit on, it was terribly uncomfortable to try to fall asleep for a long time. Eventually the only option was the floor which turned out to be reasonably comfortable. I had little idea of the time, but Master Cheeky eventually calmed down after midnight.
Home: Master Chill has stopped being sick overnight, he has developed a temperature and there appeared a rash, and finally the lymph node on his neck was swollen. We managed to an appointment with the GP and we were informed that he had viral gastroenteritis, otherwise known as the 'winter vomiting bug'. According to the doctor, a lot of people were infected with the virus before Christmas and the New Year, and by the time Master Chill picked up the illness, it was 'doing' its second round for the season. There was little we could do except trying to replace the fluid loss and manage him through the illness. As things eventually turned out, Master Chill had almost gotten away with comparatively little ill effect.
Home: As soon as the Ruler_of_spike felt better she was out taking the boys to their activities. One of the pressing things was haircuts for the boys as their hairs were getting a little long. While they were at the hairdresser, the boys decided that they would not sit to have their hair cut. Of course there was no alternative. With the two of them, getting them to the hairdresser was no mean fate, the Ruler_of_spike was not going to waste a trip just because the boys were not in the mood. So she hugged them while the hairdresser quickly worked around her. It was not the best solution as she was catching all the cut hair, but it was a solution. So while the Ruler_of_spike was holding Master Chill, he was sick. She was subsequently wearing his lunch. The staff was very understanding and helpful, but nevertheless, it was a right mess. After cleaning and finishing the haircut for Master Chill, the hairdresser quickly gave Master Cheeky his haircut so that the Ruler_of_spike could take the boys home. Back at home, Master Chill was clearly unwell and he threw up three more times before we went to bed. As a precaution, and not knowing if he was going to throw up anymore, I took him to the children A&E to see a doctor. When we got there, it was immediately evident that there were plenty of other kids suffering from the same thing. So it was good to know that we were not over-reacting by taking him to the A&E. When Master Chill was eventually examined by the doctor, I got another one of those non-answer from him: "he probably has some kind of viral infection". Hey, I could say that to people, can I be a doctor, too?
Home: This was just unbelievable! It was one thing after another. While everyone was getting better from the chicken pox, the Ruler_of_spike began to feel unwell again. This was this persistent sore throat, but there was also a slight temperature, and, finally, she was just drained. She was informed by our doctor that she was suffering from a secondary infection of the chicken pox, a not unusual occurrence amongst adult chicken pox sufferers. Notwithstanding its commonality, having a secondary infection was another draining time for the Ruler_of_spike. Looking after the boys was already a challenging task in its own right, but having to do that while suffering from repeated illness was just unfair.
Home: The boys were as usual full of little tricks. They came and went and some were more annoying than others. However, this one was quite special. Master Cheeky’s latest trick was to throw things under the sofa or other pieces of furniture where there were gaps between the floor and the bottom – basically, anything that had legs – then announced to all of us: “Gone! All gone!” We have learnt to understand that when he said that it means he has hidden something away, which he was either very proud of or found funny. When you ask him what’s gone? He standard reply would be the same… It would have been quite amusing had some of the things he decided to hide were not so important, like his hat (which was necessity on the winter and it took the Ruler_of_spike nearly an hour of running around to find) or his brother’s favored toys (which usually caused a lot of anguish). Good job we vacuumed our house on a fairly regular basis.
Home: After all the illnesses suffered by the Ruler_of_spike and the boys, it was refreshing that the whole family was well at a weekend, for a change. As it happened, it coincided with a pre-planned dim sum we arranged to celebrate Chinese New Year with some friends. It was such a relieve that we could all go out. As per normal with these family friends, our reservation was usual: table for eight, five adults and spaces for three high chairs. That was thanked to the three under-threes we have between us. We went to a Chinese restaurant which we have not been for a long time. The last time we tried to visit the place, we were informed that our reservation was cancelled as the restaurant had suffered smoke damage owing to an incident in their kitchen. That was just over a year ago. Although I received a text around six months later from the restaurant informing me that it has reopened, I was struggling to get through to make the reservation. I was having doubts as to whether it was still in business. Reading reviews on the internet certainly did not help as some of the reviews were frightful. The Ruler_of_spike and I were trying to come up with feasible alternative, but it was difficult owing to the short time frame. Eventually, I managed to get through and made the booking. Thankfully, the restaurant was just as we have remembered it, not the nightmare stories found on the internet written by 'guests'. All in all, it was a pleasant outing. It was not only just the food, the company and the occasion, it was because of the fact the the Ruler_of_spike and the boys had been ill and unable to go out which made it all the more pleasurable.
Home: One Sunday, we were eyeing up one of our house plants. Over the past six years or so, it has grown to the point that it was touching the ceiling of the porch. The Ruler_of_spike mentioned that one of the branches was to be cut to give the plant more space to grow. The boys heard that and immediately went to pick up some plastic pliers from the toy tool set and proceed to use them like scissors. It did not end there! They spent Monday discussing between them (in their own language) how to cut the plant down! At some point, the Ruler_of_spike was certain that she heard one of them imitating machine-gun sounds. It was a small wonder that the plant still stood at the end of the day.
Home: Happy Chinese New Year!
Work: I tended to enter autopilot on my commute and I only become alert when I notice something was not going according to the published timetable. Then one day, my journey into work has turned into one big joke, and I was on DEFCON2. My train was delayed eighteen minutes to start with due to 'operational issues'. It was a wonder that I managed to find a seat. Then the train driver announced that we were expecting delays owing to a signal problem near the UK's busiest rail station. By which time, I have finished leafing through my morning free newspaper, so I decided to concentrate on the music I was listen, but I fell asleep instead. After spending seventy five minutes in the train because of this signal problem, I made my way down to the London Underground platform. A train has just departed but, according to the announcement board, another was due in a minute. Unfortunately, I was not allowed to even attempt to board that train as the whole station was being evacuated owing to a fire alert. Normally, it took roughly five and half minutes to travel from the spot where I alighted to Underground platform. Of course, it took a lot longer in an evacuation situation. After fifteen minutes of jostling with what seemed like the whole of humanity, I resurfaced and in need of some other form of transport to complete my commute. Thankfully, Victoria was an area not short of connections. With rapidly diminishing amount of patience, I waited for a bus, my least favored form of transport in London. Even after boarding the bus, I sat in the non-moving bus as the number of buses being put out during peak hours was such that the just swamp and choke the roads of London, especially at major connection hubs like Victoria. When I reached my desk, it was over two hours after I left home. For a trip that normally would take seventy five minutes, this was not what I needed first thing in the morning.
Home: It was unusual for adults to suffered from chicken pox as immunity was usually developed after having the disease in childhood. It was possible to be re-infected in adulthood, but it would point to a different problem altogether - a depressed immune system. The problem was that if the person had the disease very young, it might not be remembered and it would have been down to the family members to fill in the missing gap of information. In case of the Ruler_of_spike, she could not remember having chicken pox and it was assumed that she has had it. However, after consulting with her brother, it turned out that she was never infected, despite her cousins having it when she was young. So having that piece of extra information, it was no surprise that the Ruler_of_spike caught chicken pox from the boys, rather than something wrong with her immune system. While it was not exactly a good news, it was a relieve that there was not a deeper problem with her health.
Home: With the boys having chicken pox, our thoughts were wholly focused on getting them well. So it was rather inconvenient that the Ruler_of_spike suddenly developed a rash. Again, we were left at the hands of the out-of-hour GP service. The doctor reassuringly informed her that it might have been some kind of allergy, which was possible, but unlikely. However, short of other explanation, there was little to counter the diagnosis. Then, on the next day, the rash seemed to have spread. Again, she had to endure the out-of-hour GPs. This time, she was so uncomfortable with the so-called doctor that she asked to be seen by another doctor. She was then informed that she might have some kind of viral infection. Finally, on the third day, she got an appointment with our GP surgery and it was confirmed that she was suffering from chicken pox!! Had she been suffering from anything life-threatening, those out-of-hour GPs would have missed all the opportunities to intervene. Given that the boys had been infected with it and she was always in close attendance to them, it would have been an obvious link to make, but somehow that was never made by some of the medical professionals. Their performance was not filling us with confidence.
Home: While Master Cheeky was suffering from chicken pox, we made sure that he and his brother had plenty of contact. We asked Master Chill to give his brother hugs as he was ill. We made sure that they had plenty of quality time playing together. Finally, when Master Cheeky was beginning to recover, Master Chill started blooming. We were deliberately getting Master Chill infected. While chicken pox was an inconvenience as a childhood disease, it would be much worse to suffer it in adulthood. So there it was, the boys having chicken pox together.
January 2013:
Home: The boys' speech was coming along nicely. Nearly every week, they were something new. It was hard to catch up. Being a tri-lingual family (the Ruler_of_spike spoke exclusively French with them when I was not around; both of us speaking English when I was with them and finally a mixture of Cantonese and English when I was with the boys) it was no surprise that their speech was a little mixed up. They were very clever in getting us to understand what they wanted, often picking the most 'economical' ways. If there were words in any language which were mono-syllable, they would use them, together required to get their message across. So we ended up some very strange word and sound combinations, which was only understood by the four of us. That, on the other hand, was progress... That was the boys' first steps in developing their speech and language skills.
Home: Chicken pox is one of those childhood diseases that is like a rite of passage for every child, or nearly every child. So it was no surprise that one of the boys would pick it up sometime. So it was no surprise that Master Cheeky showed signs of the illness. It first showed up as a few spots around his neck and his chest. Of course, we had no idea what were looking at to begin with. Again, these things could usually only happen at a weekend, which means we do not have immediate access to our family GP. However, we could not secure an appointment at the surgery. Apparently they were all booked. So I ended up taking Master Cheeky to the hospital to the Children A&E. Again. After being examined by the first nurse, she returned to inform us that our surgery has magically found an appointment slot for Master Cheeky. The insanity of it was that to secure that appointment, it cost me, apart from time wasted, an hour's charge at the hospital car park and some valuable hospital resources. The appointment with the doctor was rather predictable, aside saying that he had a viral infection which caused the rash, there was nothing could be done. The next day, we returned to the GP surgery, this time with Master Cheeky having spots all over. Being Chinese, the name we have for chicken pox is 'water spots' and Master Cheeky looked like he was having 'water spots'. The doctor took one quick look and an quick examination and diagnosed chicken pox. He was proscribed a bottle of calamine lotion to ease the itching. He hated that lotion and every time we put that lotion on him was a great drama. Thankfully, Master Cheeky was not that incline on scratching the spots, so it made our lives a little easier.
Home: There has been no snow hitting our part of the UK this winter. That was what we were thinking just a few days before snow descended on us. Thankfully, the snow was not as bad as previous years, although it still caused some disruptions on the trains. Overall, we escaped lightly this time round.
Home: For the third time, Master Chill attended a hearing test. Both he and his brother failed in the first test as they took a long time to get the equipment working and the boys lost interest. Master Cheeky passed the second, but Master Chill was distracted by the computer in the room and he had a cold which meant the ear drum test was affected. So we had to return for a third time. As he was the only one having to do the test, the examiner had his full attention. Master Chill was a star! He passed all the tests. He was having so much fun that he wanted to continue with the games even after the tests were finished. Despite passing the tests, the examiner and the doctor wanted to see him one more time, in six months' time. By which time, a different set of tests could be conducted, which would give definitive answers to his hearing. In our humble opinion, we thought Master Chill's hearing was fine, as confirmed by the latest tests. Seeing him again was a waste of NHS resources. On the other hand, it really would do no harm to have his hearing examined, as I was told that Master Chill was at an age which the test performed were of borderline relevance. Anyway, both the Ruler_of_spike and I were fully confident that there was nothing wrong with Master Chill's hearing. It was a case of allowing the NHS system ticking its box and we did not want to offend people who were just doing their jobs. So we look forward to yet another trip to the hospital in September.
Home: One of our friends has very generously bought the boys scooters. He just noticed that I was researching into them and when he and his wife visited us, they brought them to the boys. To be completely honest, the boys were a little young for them. Still, they were very excited by their new toys. Unfortunately, owing to the wintry weather, there had been very few opportunities to take the scooters out without making a right mess and bringing it back into the house, so we have been restricting the boys' outing with them. Additionally, it might have been owed to fact that they were still at the younger end of the age range, they were not yet fully up to speed with the purpose of the scooters. While Master Cheeky got the drift and he was able to push and stand on the scooter and allowed it to carry him. However, he had not figured out the intricate logic of steering. Master Chill, however, would not allow such inconvenience stopping him. He did not even try to get on his scooter, he just pushed it everywhere he went, including going 'off road' to conduct his explorations. In the end, we decided that the boys were a little young for these things and we stored them away until they were a little older, or when the weather improved, whichever came first. Hopefully, they would make better use of these wonderful gifts.
Home: It has been a while since we have been to dim sum. Seeing that my provision of Chinese products was running low, we went to our nearby Chinese supermarket. Within the complex, there were a couple of Asian restaurants and one of them served good dim sums, so we combined the shopping and the lunch into a single trip. I sped through the supermarket to complete the shopping. Despite my effort, the restaurant was full and there was a twenty-minute wait when we got there. That was just too long to keep the boys waiting, so we thought we would go around the complex to have a quick look around before heading home. We soon discovered the second restaurant in fact served Vietnamese cooking. That was new, so we stayed for the meal. We selected both Chinese originated as well as purely Vietnamese dishes. The boys loved it. So did the Ruler_of_spike and I. That was an unexpected pleasant surprise.
Home: As with the usual case, our return trip involved a day crossing on the ferry, which was a lot more difficult than a night crossing as the boys did not tend to sleep during a day crossing. However, for once, they slept. The remainder of the trip was free of incidents. After feeding the boys, they went to bed and we unloaded the car. The main advantage of not attaching the roof box was that there was nothing else to do to the car after unloading it. I did not have to climb up and down to have it detached from the car then manhandled it to the shed at the far end of the back garden. So while the carrying capacity was reduced, the post-trip 'clean-up' was much quicker. On the other hand, capacity was, at times, exactly what we needed. With the boys, we just had to bring so much 'provisions' with us: their buggy, milk powder, diapers, toys, clothes for every possible weather condition and, for this trip, Christmas presents. While the consume their milk and diapers, almost everything else came back with us on the return trip. Additionally, we generally like to get some pick up suitable products to bring back with us. It was not just simple things like cheeses (which could be tucked away in some corner), but several boxes of squeezy compote and some biscuits for the boys (which did not last long), some cartons of nice soups and other bits. To be totally honest, it was not possible to get too many things as we realized we had limited space. Still, unpacking all those things individually, as they were squeezed around the car in search of space, was a long process.
Home: All too soon, we had to get back to the UK, as I had to get back to work on January 3rd. As there were no ferry services on New Year's Day, we were cornered into taking the day crossing on the 2nd. The friend of the Ruler_of_spike once again offered us an overnight stay in St. Malo, which was gratefully accepted. However, this time round, we were spending the New Year's night in their house, which made their offer even more incredible. Given that we had to drive across Brittany, our New Year celebration was relatively curtailed. Thankfully, for only the second time in our trip, we had a sunny day, which made packing the car that much easier (and a lot less miserable than in the rain). The drive across was uneventful, except right at the end of the trip where there had been some changes to the roads, and we were a little confused by the new instructions. Once again, our host gave us a wonderful time, great company and great food. Mercifully, the boys went to sleep without causing too much of a fuss and we were able to enjoy our evening relatively quietly.
Home: Happy New Year!