Saturday, May 30, 2009

A Belly-Full of Laughter

This is the first time I've ever posted a video anywhere. Hope it works!

ps: This is of Jordy watching Baby Einstein's Baby Noah this afternoon after a whole morning at the beach!

Thursday, May 28, 2009

A(n Almost) Mid-Year Book Revue

I can't believe it's almost June, and that it's been more than two months since I last posted a book review. Now that Jordy's nights are mostly settled, and he's pretty great at playing on his own on occasion, I've had more of a chance to get stuck into some good reading, even when he's not napping in the daytime! (Picture this: Just after breakfast, Jordy spends twenty minutes moving from toy to toy, babbling to each and chilling out, while mum enjoys a cup of tea and a short but intense read. HEAVEN! I don't know long this phase will last but I am relishing it while I can...)

Anyway, in between re-reading collections of Baby Blues and Get Fuzzy I borrow from the library, as well as the baby food bible by Annabel Karmel, here's a quick camel revue of what's kept me going cerebrally these past months:

The Red Tent by Anita Diamant
Recommended to me by MIL extraordinaire, I couldn't put this book down. The blurb on the dust cover didn't sound too promising. Just wasn't something I would normally pick up, but I am SO GLAD I DID. The book retells the story of the Old Testament's Dinah, daughter of Jacob (brother of Esau and son of Isaac) and sister of Joseph (yes, he of the technicolour dreamcoat fame). In the bible, Dinah's story is almost a footnote; she is taken (in the Biblical sense) by an Egyptian prince, and her brothers avenge her honour. In The Red Tent, Diamant gives voice to many of the women in Genesis: Dinah, her mothers Leah and Rachel, her grandmother Rebecca, and Sarah before her. The themes of family, sisterhood, motherhood, loyalty, diaspora, autonomy and the self are all given voice by the different characters. The most compelling thing about the book was just the level of research Diamant had obviously done when describing the rituals, myths, beliefs and general day-to-day living of the characters. I've since found out this is a perennial book club favourite and I can see why. Loved it.

Dreams from My Father by Barack Obama
I think this is the first autobiography I've ever read. If you don't count the Diary of Anne Frank and Boy by Roald Dahl. I started reading it when Adrian and Sally were staying with us (they had a copy) and was hooked from the first page. Excellent prose, and made me think very nostalgically of The West Wing. In fact, now that there is nothing to watch on TV anymore, I think it's time for our annual re-visit of all seven seasons. Bring it on!

Nocturnes: Five Stories of Music and Nightfall by Kazuo Ishiguro
Jordy's Mothers' Day gift to me. Thank you, you psychic baby! Interconnected short stories by the true master of the fallible narrator, this absolutely did not disappoint. The trademark first person narrators were a leitmotif, along with the themes of recalibrated dreams, ambition and resulting determination, all set to a beautiful sonorous prose. The whole thing felt... autumnal. More so than The Remains of the Day if that's possible!

The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz
Slightly tougher to read than the others, but well worth it. Verbally dazzling prose - the most original writing I've come across in some time. Pretty much in the genre of American immigrant writing, the story revolves around the lives of the unfortunate protagonist Dominican-American Oscar, his sister, his mother and her father. It deals with the harrowing history of the Dominican Republic under dictator supreme Trujillo, and the resulting diaspora to the US. It transcends your typical immigrant story because of the fresh mode of telling (which, without giving away too much, makes use of a copious amount of footnotes!). I also love the fact that the narrator is a manic, LOTR-quoting yet hot-blooded male. May not be everyone's cup of tea, but I really enjoyed it in the end.

Kitchen Confidential by Anthony Bourdain
Wonderful. Visceral. Unputdownable. Can't believe I never read it till now. Developed a minor crush on Mr Bourdain halfway through the book, then made the mistake of googling him, and realising that he's since divorced his highschool sweetheart Nancy, and shacked up with a woman half his age. They have a young daughter too. But back to the book. Now I know never to order mussels from most restaurants, never order fish on a Monday, and I'm never looking at Hollandaise the same way again.

Just Another Kid by Torey Hayden
Yet another book I would not normally read. From recollection, this is from my cousin J (thanks so much). Never really felt in the mood to read it, then spotted it two days ago on the bookshelf next to my love/hate Gina Ford The Contented Little Baby Book (I'd filed it under parenting you see). Well, this booked knocked me out! By knock out, I mean, I was stealing away to read a page here and there over the last days and managed to finish it this morning while Jordy was conducting an experiment involving his buzzy bee and an empty yogurt container. Written by a special ed teacher and child psychologist, it's a memoir of a year she spent teaching six special needs kids somewhere in the US. Particularly interesting as the book is highly contextual (written in 1988) and three of the kids she teaches were sent to live with relatives in America from Belfast, where they were traumatised from living right in the midst of the troubles in Northern Ireland. Can't believe the amount of non-fiction I am getting through these days. S-t-r-a-n-g-e but true!

Fables: Animal Farm by Bill Willingham
I started this comic series at series 2 I know. But then, Page One had run out of Series 1 and D had gotten me a couple for my birthday and I so badly wanted them and you get the idea. Anyway, I LIKE! Can't wait to get stuck into it again (Thanks A for lending me the first series so I can get the proper back story).

What am I going to read next?

Think it's more Baby Blues tonight, and think I'll also read the graphic novel Waltz with Bashir. D said it was pretty powerful, then I might read a book D borrowed from his boss called The Impressionist, or maybe some Neil Gaiman: Fragile Things (Thanks Sandy!)?

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Interlude: Baby Food Recipes

Been meaning to post an update on Jordy's gastronomic adventures through middle earth, but haven't really found the time nor energy. Our days are mostly filled with going to the park and playing in various sandpits around the island, so by evening time, I'm usually too sun-addled to do more than sit on the couch and watch TV. And what a few weeks of TV it has been with American Idol reaching fever pitch. Now that it's over, and I'm still recovering from Adam not winning (HOW, tell me HOW was that possible?!), I'm wondering what to fill the empty desert lands of summer TV programming with.

Ah but I digress. This is meant to be an update on Jordy's culinary journey, and boy is it getting more and more exotic and fun. The last two weeks saw the introduction of more sophisticated fare like strawberries and golden kiwis, and just last week, his first muffin! Homemade corn and cheese muffins! He wasn't sure of it at first, I suspect because he wasn't that hungry when I let him try it, but now, he's a convert!

So at exactly 9.5 months of age, this is an updated list of what he's ingested thus far (sorry to bore non-mum readers out there, but this record is really for posterity and who knows, Jordy might just find it interesting one day):

Kiwifruit (golden)

Sweet potato
Red lentils
Butternut squash
Red pepper


Fish (Ling, blue cod, threadfin, tuna, garoupa)

Cheese (Cheddar - Mild and Tasty, Edam, Philadelphia Cream Cheese)
Yogurt (plain and Greek style)
Butter (unsalted)
Milk (full-fat)

Pasta (spaghetti, alphabet)
Rice (white and brown)
Rice cereal (white and brown)
Bread (Sunshine enriched softmeal bread, both toasted and untoasted)

Crackers (various flavours, various brands, a mixture of cheap and cheerful and riculously expensive organic stuff that is gobbled up way too quickly)
Rusks and toothie pegs

Condiments and spices
Balsamic vinegar

Oh, and those muffins I was telling you about? Adapted from a recipe I found on the Baby Whisperer forum. My adapted version is reproduced below:

Corn & Cheese Muffins (Makes 12 regular or 24 mini muffins)

380g pack of corn kernels (washed and drained)
1 1/2 cups plain yoghurt (360 ml)
1/4 cup olive oil (50ml)
1 large egg
100g grated cheese (mild cheddar or edam)
2 cups self-raising flour (225g)
1/4 cup milk, if required (50 ml)

Preheat oven to 200 C or 190 C for fan ovens. Put rack just below middle of oven.

Pulse corn in blender if muffins are for younger baby (I did).

Mix yoghurt, oil & egg well together. Add in corn and cheese.

Put flour in a big bowl. Pour in the liquid mixture and begin to fold together. If you think the mixture looks too dry add the extra milk and fold JUST enough to combine. (Do not over-mix it - lumps are OK!)

Spray muffin tins with non-stick spray. Using two spoons divide the mixture evenly between the pans.

Bake for 12 - 15 minutes or until golden-brown and centres spring back when pressed. Let the muffins cool in the pans for 2-3 minutes before tipping out.

I then use what I need and freeze the rest for picnics in the week!

I'm going to try a variation of this recipe soon, changing the corn and cheese to banana and apple juice! Will post the results of the Jordy taste test once done!

Monday, May 11, 2009

A Mothers' Day Birthday

Look at the gorgeously colourful spread of fruit, courtesy of Carrie and Mano! Jordy seemed rather nonplussed until he tasted strawberries and kiwis for the first time. Ker-ching!

I love the fact that Jordy turned nine months on Mothers' Day. Mothers' Day marked the moment he has been traipsing on this earth for longer than he was swirling around in ye olde belly. So apt, eh?

Anyway we started the day with a most lovely picnic with Mano and Carrie at new favourite hangout Labrador Park. The skies were portentous and threatening, and even spat a few drops of rain as we entered the carpark. But we decided to stay on and play things by ear just in case it cleared up, and I'm so glad we did! The weather turned out perfect for a picnic and a walk in the end.


We encountered all manner of bugs, saw some big ships and waves, the dog was walked and the baby slept. It was kinda perfect.

It got even more perfect when D looked after Jordy while I went for my first facial SINCE JORDY WAS BORN. From going every few weeks to a nine-month hiatus. Let's just say my facial lady greeted me with a very diplomatic, "Wah, Dora, ni gai bian le hen duo" (i.e. Wow Dora, you've err, CHANGED!"). I decided to take it in the best possible spirit and just blob out while she did her thing. Loverly!

Then it was on to gong gong and mama's for a Mothers' Day family barbeque and Ramly-burger-esque feast in the backyard. Much meat was had and even a salad or two. Aunty Aida displayed her magical cooking abilities to full effect and we even had a family ukelele jam, while Jordy bounced up and down on dad's legs.

Sizzles and strums

Jordy was happy enough hanging out in the playpen, munching on his new teething feeder. Thanks to Carrie for getting it from Robinsons! He really likes sucking on cold grapes and just today, I tried out some chilled strawberry as well and he loved that too!

Kampong boys

Then it was time for the mums to gather round and be feted (or rather, to cut the most excellent ice cream mudpie from Island Creamery).

ps: Thank you to Jordy for getting me the best Mothers' Day present! Kazuo Ishiguro's new book, Nocturnes: Five Stories of Music and Nightfall. I'm about halfway through it already and it is FABULOUS.

Mothers (and one toddler) of the world unite!

Friday, May 08, 2009

The Five Stages of Jordy

Every Friday, Jordy and I head into town to meet D for lunch. You'd think Jordy would get used to all this cafe-ing by now. Well, now that he's found mobility, let's just say that he craves action a lot more. And when he gets bored, he lets you know pretty unequivocably.

To see the five stages of Jordy boredom in real time... Scroll down, fast.

Hmmm, straps are pretty solid...

Nothing to look at either...

Finish your coffee...finish your coffee

Ngngngn...why don't they finish already...


Thursday, May 07, 2009

Boys and Sandpits

Two boys, one truck = Recipe for disaster?
What is it with boys and dirt?

I decided this week to see if Jordy would enjoy a stint in the sandpit at Labrador Park and he loved it so much, I took him back the next afternoon! And coming along for the ride was Jordy's Gymboree buddy, Isaac.

Oooo, sandy...

Anyway, some finer points about sand:

* Sand is to baby as toffee is to apple: little granules stuck everywhere and in every single crevice.
* Sand is to dump truck as swimming pool is to Jordy: they just GO.
* Sand is to Jordy's mouth as KFC is to people-who-like-that-greasy-stuff (i.e. me): finger lickin' good
* Sand is to mums as err, sand is to mums: you have a love-hate relationship with it; you love that your kid loves it but you hate the mess it makes!
* Sand is to Jordy's diaper as box of chocolate is to Forrest Gump:you never know what you're gonna get!

Jordy's signature move - the side swipe.

Anyway I really hope sand is ok for babies as, err, it's a bit too late to worry now. Jordy's ingested a pretty decent amount of the grainy stuff, along with his afternoon tea. So far he hasn't seemed to mind it too much, and it's made his diaper, just that little heavier! Haha.

Poster boy for the "Eat Dirt" Campaign

And since we're on the topic of firsts, I am SO SO happy to announce that Jordy had his first drink of formula yesterday afternoon (80ml - not bad for his first attempt in a sippy cup)! That's right! You heard me, we are officially starting the weaning process people! Woo hoo! Here's to no longer being slave to the boob and to no longer feeding a sometime-feral child with teeth! Sorry Jordy, sprouting teeth is good for eating cake and lasagne, but not for mum's boobs. *Cuddle*

PS: Thanks to Isaac's mum Constance for the lovely pics :)

"What's all the fuss about?"

Sunday, May 03, 2009

Swims, Swings and Smiles (Or, A Cracker of a Long Weekend!)

Jordy's first time on a swing!

Praise the heavens for the long weekend!

Not just because it gives me a little respite from full-time Jordy-care - which, now that he has gained mobility, has turned into a mix of American Gladiators (at diaper changing time), Sesame Street (e.g. puppets, singing, dancing, endless repetitions of Rubber Ducky) and the Amazing Race (try getting anywhere on time with a baby who now has his own agenda) - but because three days spent as a family of three going all over the place having adventures is just how it's meant to be!

Met Mano and Carrie at Sentosa for a morning walk and a picnic, then we all went for lunch at the Guild House at Kent Ridge. After which, I got a MUCH-NEEDED hair cut while D hung out with Jordy at Gymboree. Then dinner at trusty Viet place in Harbourfront.

If he gets his excited over a plastic doughnut, can you imagine when he chomps into the real thing?

Aunty Pamela and Aunty Ranji came over to visit Jordy (argh! realised I didn't take pics... $#(@!) and we had a great time catching up, especially since Aunty Pam was going on to the AWARE EOGM after to be part of a historic milestone in Singapore's socio-political scene (for more on that, read My dad's post on the whole saga. I fully agree with everything he says). Then we had afternoon tea at the ever reliable Cafe Pralet, and Jordy had a great time feeding himself crackers. And he did a brand new thing too: he tried to feed his dad a cracker. Not once but twice! Aww... it was too sweet. Then it was on to gong gong and mama's club for a swim and dinner.

The civilised afternoon tea shot

Crackers! Gimme! Om nom nom noms...

Went for a morning walk along the Southern Ridges walkway, Dad and Jordy had a nap, then it was on to another cafe stop! McCafe at Ang Mo Kio, where Jordy had a good ol play on the swings at the adjacent park. His first! He loved it :)

An aside: This is the first set of child-swings I've seen that are meant for younger children. If anyone knows of any others around the island, please let me know!

Eh, how come no movement?

Then it was on to Sunday dinner at gong gong and mama's where we had the most stupendous home cooked nasi briyani by mama herself. And Jordy enjoyed his rice crackers as usual while everyone else had poppadoms!

A real cracker of a weekend (pun fully intended)!

"Anything you can eat I can eat bigger, I can eat anything bigger than you."