Friday, November 27, 2009

Our First Fashion Shoot: Neighbourhood Style!

Jordy and I had a fun photo shoot at our neighbourhood playground yesterday morning for Aunty Melissa's style blog! Aunty Melissa lives a few floors above us, and has two very cute pooches.

We were featured in a section about stylish mums. I think Melissa is extremely generous to include me in her style blog, heh heh, as most of the time, my regular go-to-the-supermarket outfits consist of tank tops and shorts! But since my recent cholesterol scare I have been much more conscious about my own health and wellbeing, and I think a happy outcome of that is I look and feel pretty decent most days!

On a related note, I watched the most inspiring Michelle Obama interview yesterday during Jordy's ultra-long nap. I loved how she said she takes her cue from her male role-models in putting herself first (or rather, a very very close second after her two daughters) in terms of wellbeing and seizing opportunities. I fully agree. A happy, confident mum = happy, confident kids I reckon.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

My Current Youtube Obsession

I just can't get over how talented Sam Tsui and his music partner Kurt Schneider are. I just can't stop watching these two clips!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

The Joy Luck Club Goes to Bangkok!

This picture pretty much captures the essence of the holiday! Four mums sans bubs, three massages, 2.5 days. Bliss

OK this is rather overdue but I have to record my first trip away from Jordy for posterity's sake!

A few months ago, the lovely Adora mooted the idea of the four mums going away for a long weekend to Bangkok sans bubs. Yes, you heard right! But first, we had to get our wonderful husbands on board with the idea. Amazingly, all four Joy Luck Club men were pretty open to the idea, everyone pencilled the dates down in their calendars, and off we went to book our tickets.

Being the Type A mom that I am, I started planning for the trip a few weeks ahead. And was rather excited to type up an Excel spreadsheet (lame I know, but there you go!) for D as a resource for his solo-parent weekend with Jordy. I present to you an excerpt from the three-page long document. I put in as much detail as I could think of, and am thankful I did, as the handover was rather seamless!
7.00am Breakfast Milk: 180ml (3 scoops) before breakfast.
Weetbix x 1, milk, prune juice, mashed banana
Give 5ml of Multivitamins (in fridge) after breakfast. Spoon is in container next to fridge. Brush teeth. Take out fish nuggets from freezer to defrost on counter.
9.00am Morning tea Assortment of crackers, Gerber star puffs, Cheerios, raisins, rice crackers (depending on where you take him) Spare crackers and Gerber puffs can be found in food cupboard above dish drying rack.
11.15-11.30am Lunch - Homemade Fish Nuggets 1. Fish nuggets: Heat up on gentle heat in frying pan.
2. Wholemeal bread (1 slice): Spread very lightly with Vegemite and cut into squares.
3. Grapes (10+), cut into quarters.
Wash or wipe his hands before lunch.

So, with admin matters wrapped up, it remained for me to pack my very few belongings and head to the airport! Of course these few belongings now include, courtesy of my wonderful husband, the latest model of the iPod Touch. It is beautiful, sexy, sleek and I am a little too obsessed with it for my own good. I actually got a little thrill when I whipped it out in Chathuchak market to refer back to my Christmas shopping list.

But I am getting ahead of myself.

I won't go into a blow-by-blow account of where we went and what we ate, but suffice to say that we stayed in the truly marvellous Legacy Suites in Sukhumvit, grazed continually throughout the day on the gastronomic delights that only Bangkok can offer, squeezed in three massages in two and a half days, and talked and talked and talked.

I'm not sure which I cherished more, the "me" time that was so mentally and spiritually liberating, or the shared confidences with other women -who-happen-to -be-mums who share so many similar values to me. If one thing the last 15 months have taught me, it's the irony of motherhood being both the great leveller, but also the great divider.

Meet any stranger on the street, and if they are a parent, there is usually enough fodder to sustain a good 10-minute conversation. But sometimes, very quickly into the 10 minutes, you discover a thing or two that either unites you, or causes you to take a few steps back and walk in the opposite direction!

Example: a mum at my local playground asked me rather aggressively how I could even think about sending my child to a non-airconditioned childcare centre. "It will be too hot for them!" she exclaimed. I then told her that it was precisely because it was non-airconditioned that I wanted to send Jordy there. She looked at me with great dismay and didn't say anything to me after that. Hmm.

I don't mean that there is one correct style of parenting, of course not - I say amen to different strokes for different folks - but there are just some issues, sometimes even really superficial ones, that just make me want to run away screaming from the person I am talking to! Maybe this comes from one too many strange conversations with all types of caregivers at my local NTUC.

Alas, I digress yet again. It was just so lovely to be away from the routine of life with a toddler, and to not have to think about cooking the next meal or hauling a bag crammed full of Jordy-stuff for an outing. It also made me really treasure what I have, and miss my two boys in a Norman Rockwell painting kinda way.

Now, how to broach the subject of an annual Joy Luck Club holiday with D? Heh heh...

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Happy 15th Month Birthday, Jordy!

Classic Jordy shot at 15 months. Gleefully chasing bubbles with wild abandon.

Dear Jordy,

Happy 15th Month Birthday! Mum is going to keep this short because she's got a ton of things to do today, in preparation for... her trip to Bangkok this weekend with her girlfriends!

Now Jordy, this will be the biggest milestone for the both of us yet. Right up to this moment, the longest I've ever spent away from you is around half a day! So I'm not sure how I'm going to handle my first weekend away from you. The good thing is that I'll be with other mums, so if anything, I'm sure we'll all be going through a rainbow of emotions together.

I'm sure you're going to have a blast with your Dad though, doing all sorts of boy things together! As usual, your very anal-retentive mother has typed up an Excel spreadsheet with as many details as she can think of to help your Dad along. Not that he'll need it much I'm sure, but better just to be safe :)

Another classic Jordy shot: Running along drain grates at the park!

One thing I've noticed Jordy, is that the days seem to fly by now. Now that you take only one nap a day, it's given us more time in the mornings and afternoons to do fun stuff, like go to the park or playground - which we very often do twice a day!

Then next month we'll be off to New Zealand for Christmas and New Year's, and then January you start at Carpe Diem Kidz! I still can't quite believe how quickly you are growing.

You are one animated fellow now, especially at bed time, when you engage in long conversations with your Dad, both of usually ending up in big bellyfuls of laughter. You love your books, especially the Roadworks book from Mama Maree, and the Things That Go book that Dad bought. That pretty much sums you up actually, you love anything to do with the road (especially dashing towards it when you think we aren't looking), and anything vehicular that moves! Mum has had a few heart stopping moments so far, and I'm sure there are many more to come.

Well, to my little heart-stopper, Happy Birthday! Be good for your Dad this weekend ok?

Love lots,

Your mum

Monday, November 09, 2009

Helmet Heads Part Two

Portrait of the Blogger as a Helmet Head

We went cycling again on Sunday, this time with Jordy's pal, Olive. The three of us donned our helmets, mine with its sad history of being the helmet on the highest shelf. Jordy had a lovely time I think, judging from the fact that he a) stayed awake, b) smiled for a bit, and c) had afternoon tea half way. The skies looked vaguely threatening when we had our water break, but the gusty winds blew the grey clouds away and it was back to blue skies again.

The Island Hippies looking sharp.

Is it me though, or are there many more cyclists at ECP these days? Or maybe it is just a Sunday afternoon thing. But man, cycling back to the kiosk felt a bit like weaving through traffic in Hanoi!

After cycling, we headed to dinner at gong gong and mama's - where Jordy got quite cranky as he was just really tired. We still managed to stay long enough to help blow out the candles on his cousin Young's birthday cake! Went back home, and D and I both fell into deep sleeps in the middle of putting Jordy to bed. We got up around 930pm, groggily wondering where we were!

What can I say, our hectic two-parks-a-day weekend schedule may be taking their toll! Heh heh.

Jordy at West Coast park the same morning. Notice the carpet burn on his nose, from where he fell over while riding on his car.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Five Steps to Better Heart Health (Or, How I Lowered My Cholesterol Levels By More Than a 100 Points in Two Months!)

I've been meaning to post about my recent health scare for some time. But didn't want to commit pen to paper (or rather finger to keyboard) until some kind of milestone in my battle to lower my cholesterol levels had been reached.

It all started at the end of August this year. I went for a routine medical check-up, given free, as part of my women's health insurance package. I didn't expect anything unusual as medical tests have always been routine for me. At least, up until a couple of months ago. Did the usual battery of tests, or so I thought.

It wasn't until I received the medical report several days later that I discovered a) I'd never had my cholesterol levels tested before, and b) they were hideously high. Like fat-Texan-smoker-businessman-John Goodman-type levels of high. (I apologise from the outset if you are a corpulent person born in Southern USA. I mean you no insult. It's just the immediate image that comes to my mind.)

Before my check-up, I never even understood nor cared about cholesterol numbers. But when I saw that the Pathologist had written on my medical report in bright red ink "your LDL cholesterol is very high and needs management from your regular doctor. Please see you doctor for advice", I experienced a huge jolt.

My numbers read thus:

Total cholesterol = 319 (very high)
HDL Cholesterol = 61 (optimal)
LDL Cholesterol = 234 (very high)
Cholesterol ratio = 5.2 (very high)
Triglycerides = 122 (desirable)

An immediate Google search confirmed my fears that my numbers weren't just post-rich meal kind of high, but really way out into the stratosphere type high. More research (while Jordy thankfully napped) flooded my brain with a kaleidescope of information. Still reeling, I headed straight to my GP that evening, and was advised to change my diet to a low-fat one and exercise regularly. I was to return in three months for another blood test and if my numbers were still high, the GP suggested cholesterol-lowering medications.

Shaken, I resolved to develop a plan of action and stick to it, and return in three months as advised. I was also determined not to take any cholesterol-lowering meds if possible. That night, I wrote down my five step plan:

1. Limit intake of bad fats, i.e. saturated and trans-fats.

2. Increase intake of good fats, i.e. fat found in fish, olive oil, nuts, canola oil etc.

3. Increase intake of fibre, especially rolled oats, a "super food" for the heart.

4. Exercise five times a week.

5. Keep a meticulous food diary.

I knew that 2, 3, and 5 would be no problem. Number 1 would be particularly difficult for me, as I really did love my deep fried chicken, chocolate cake, cream biscuits and "bah kwa" (for those unfamiliar, that's the yummiest roast pork delicacy we eat during Chinese New Year). And Number 4, try asking most stay-at-home-mums (with no helper or grandparents living at home) if they even have time to wash their face in the day, and most will give you a derisive snort! So I wasn't that confident I'd be able to make the five times a week target for exercise.

I decided to go easy on myself regarding the exercise, and try to fit in short bursts of any kind of activity with Jordy. I would count walks to the parks and supermarket, and even short sprints when I chase after him anywhere.

I also decided that in order to maintain the plan, a whole overhaul regarding what I bought in the store, and chose to put in my mouth would have to take place! So I started reading labels. And researching low-fat recipes that hopefully wouldn't compromise on taste (so very important!). And I came up with about five or six staple recipes for dinners and lunches, which would be easy to modify and adapt based on what ingredients I had.

A sample day's menu would look like this:

Rolled oats (cooked in water)

Fruit salad

Thai fish cakes
Steamed broccoli

Wholemeal cajun chicken pizza, with mushrooms and peppers (sardines or anchovies and peppers also go nicely on this pizza base)

Olive oil chocolate chip cookies

I also took the GNC Cholesterol fish oil and plant sterol supplement, as well as garlic supplements daily.

I pretty much cooked my own food for 90% of meals, eating out only during the weekends.

I'll post more about my recipes in a while, but just wanted to share with everyone that I just got my latest blood test back and in two and a half months, my cholesterol readings have now reduced to:

Total cholesterol = 214 (borderline high)
HDL Cholesterol = 44 (desirable)
LDL Cholesterol = 143 (borderline high)
Cholesterol ratio = 4.9 (high)
Triglycerides = 137 (desirable)

I am beyond happy and am very inspired by my own body! Am going to persevere with my new low-fat diet and try to maintain as active a lifestyle as I can. My next blood test will be in another three months. I hope to get my cholesterol levels to the desirable range of 100+. Woo hoo!

Monday, November 02, 2009

Back in Blogland! And This Time, With Helmets!

"The Helmet Heads"

Sorry for the long hiatus from the blog. The weeks have flown by in a blur of trips to the park, dealing with toddler tantrums, applauding Jordy's latest antics, hanging out with friends and me working on my CV. Yes thought it was time to update the old resume and my goodness, it was rather surreal trying to find the words again. Have sent it in to my work so they can hopefully see where I can fit in again when I return in February!

Anyway, will upload the bulk of photos to Facebook. But exclusive to the blog are details of Jordy's first ever bicycle ride! We bought him a helmet a week ago and have been hankering to finally put it in action. So yesterday morning, we all left bright and early for East Coast Park, rented our bikes and off we went.

D and I were expecting Jordy to at least kick up a fuss over the helmet and try to remove it, but no, we had none of that. In all honesty, it all went rather seamlessly. We strapped him in the bike seat, put the helmet on, and off we went. Jordy was his usual serious, unflappable self and appeared to enjoy the wind in his face, and seeing all sorts of amazing things that go - from other bicycles, to inline skaters, to scooters, airplanes, ships, and his favourite, the wakeboarders and waterskiiers at the lagoon.

Unflappable, as always.

We cycled for quite a while, then stopped by a bench for a spot of morning tea. Jordy had a wee run around, then back in the seat he went. We cycled back to the rental kiosk, and as I turned around to give father and son a wave, what a sight greeted me. Jordy, eyes closed, head bobbing, just about falling asleep! Haha. No wonder he had such a serious, spacey expression.

Mother and son at morning tea

Thank goodness, we got him out of the bike before he had well and truly started napping, got him in the car, drove home to loud nursery rhyme music, fed and bathed him before he had his long nap.

(Oh and an aside on nursery rhymes, so far D and I have exposed Jordy to all kinds of music. The ipod is usually on when he's awake at home, playing anything from Chet Baker to U2, Crowded House to the Police, Neil Young to Jack Johnson. In the car, it's either BBC, classical music or Flight of the Conchords. But one thing we haven't done is play music targeted at young children, sung by young children. It's the latter that usually gets to me, the precocious voices never fail to cause me goosebumps, not in a good way mind you, more in a fingernails on blackboard kinda way. However, we have made one concession. We bought the CD of nursery rhymes produced by the childcare he is enrolling in in January. All orignal tunes sung in English and Mandarin by the Carpe Diem kids themselves. Apart from some hideous diction, there are one or two tolerable tracks. The Mandarin songs are much better than the English ones. And Jordy seems to enjoy them. Ah well!)

So anyway back to our helmety day. After inaugural family cycling trip, D and Jordy hung out while I met up with J (although we didn't end up meeting till after the event) to go listen to Neil Gaiman talk about Graphic Novels and Fantasy and Lots of Other Amusing Anecdotes. Aside from the crazy queues, I am so happy this event was free (thank you Singapore Writers' Festival) and I have new found respect and admiration (is that possible?) for Mr Gaiman after seeing him interact with fans so graciously and good naturedly. He stayed for well over three hours after the event just to sign autographs! I know this because J and I met up with Jordy and father for afternoon tea at One Fullerton (where Jordy fell on his face while chasing a bird. Another story for another time, but the bruise is still there...) after Neil Gaiman talk, and when we went back to car park after hanging out for ages, he was STILL SITTING IN EXACTLY THE SAME POSITION! Poor, wonderful man.

Then we dropped J off, said our farewells (she's flying back to Kyoto this week. Sob.) and headed to gong gong and mamas house. Where Jordy played in the backyard in nothing but a diaper and his Hussain Bolt-esque Nike running shoes, and had a very retro bath!

All right, off to mum's group in a minute. More updates to come!