Thursday, December 24, 2009

Have Yourselves a Very Happy Christmas!

Heads, shoulders, knees and toes in Mama Maree's garden

Here's wishing everyone reading this a very Merry Christmas!

We've been in New Zealand a week and already it feels as though we've always lived here! Jordy is loving the weather, the ant-less grass, the many seagulls to chase, and of course, his Kiwi whanau. Pity that his molars decided to choose the last two days to slowly emerge. We've had amazing days, but extremely unsettled nights. Let's hope he doesn't scare Santa away tonight with his screaming!

Jordy and his favourite pram observe the clouds

Anyway, will update soon about our fun times so far! In the meantime, Ho Ho Ho! May 2010 be filled with love and laughter :)

Monday, December 14, 2009

Around the World in 80 Blogs: Singapore

Right. So I just remembered this minute that I signed up for a great globalisation-bloggy idea mooted by one of my favourite bloggers Everyday Stranger. I stumbled onto her blog about half a year ago and have since spent many a Jordy nap time going through her archives. Time extremely well-spent, in my opinion!

As part of Around the World in 80 Blogs, I'm meant to write a short something about Singapore. A little glimpse into life here I guess.

So the good news is I'm going to write a short blog about Singapore, and why it's a cool place to live. The bad news is I haven't had time to take many photos so am unfortunately going to rehash a few images.

So here is The Camel Diaries' List of Miscellany About Why Singapore is an OK Place to Live (despite the sweltering heat, more than occasional dodgy hygiene practiced by many of its residents, crazy pace of life, and oh yes, the death penalty.)

1. It's cool because though most people live in public housing apartments that look like this...

2. You can walk out of your door, get into the lift, turn round the corner, and walk into a nature reserve that will bring you closer to something like this...

3. Singapore doesn't suffer too much from urban housing woes that may plague other dense urban areas. Yes, you do get some graffiti in the lifts, the occasional puddle of dog pee (or worse!), some petty crime (but we don't have guns, so chances of getting maimed rather low), but all in all, most people wouldn't think twice about walking home alone from the bus stop or car park at 2am.

4. I think the reason for this is that a) the majority of people live in public housing so there's a bit of a village feel happening (no secrets and many eyes in a block of flats); b) there are lots of gardens, parks, and trees in the housing estates (just look at the picture below of a garden right next to a boring multi-storey carpark! And yes, that's the Singapore flag flapping away in the foreground); c) most places in Singapore are incredibly well-lit; d) the government has a stringent housing policy based on racial quotas (x% Chinese, y% Malay, z% Indian and Others) to ensure no ethnic ghettos develop; e) we're relatively prosperous as a nation (although the rich-poor divide is widening).

5. We're an island, so though the whole country is one big city (think more than 4 million people living in a land mass smaller than New Zealand's Lake Taupo), you're never really far away from the beach...

6. Which means lots of fun if you are a toddler...

7. And when living in a tiny dot of a nation gives you cabin fever (or island fever may be more appropriate), you can catch a one hour ferry to Indonesia and hang out on relatively pristine beaches! Like so...

It's weird typing this knowing that we are leaving for our Christmas holiday to New Zealand in two days (11 hours on an airplane with an active toddler, Lord help us!). I really wonder what Jordy will make of his identity in the end - he being half Singaporean, and half Kiwi. The two countries couldn't be more different geographically, and culturally. He's spent the first 16 months of his life in a 100sq metre apartment in the sky - the sound of traffic wafting in from one window, the jungle cicadas and crickets droning in from the other - and his other hometown consists of acres and acres of green pasture dotted with sheep, with nights so quiet you could hear an owl call, and where the sky is just one big panorama of stars that defy belief.

Well, it'll be interesting to witness his sense of self developing, that's for sure. If one thing bodes well, it's that Jordy chose, from out of at least ten furry options, his Sheepie to be his best friend. Surely that must be his innate Self speaking? Wonder what he'll make of the real thing when he sees them in a few days! Will post pics for sure!

Righty-ho, will stop here as I can hear Jordy rousing from his nap. Thanks again to Everyday Stranger for this brilliant idea. Look forward to reading the other 79 blogs, and feeling just a bit more connected to the rest of the world!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Happy 16th Month Birthday, Jordy!

Dear Jordy,

Happy 16th month birthday to the best boy in our lives! Mum's been a bit remiss with the phototaking so will just let the words do the talking. Today has been a bit of a milestone, not just in terms of the amazing journey that is your life, but also in terms of Mum's own future. I won't go too much into detail since this is a public blog, and (it's best to learn this lesson now, Jordy) public blogs need boundaries. So I will update everyone of any developments in a little while - but suffice to say, it concerns the very real, very commonplace-yet-heartbreaking issue of mums and work.

Ah. So.

No matter what happens in the coming months, I am so happy that I got to spend the last 16 months hanging out with you. The first couple of months were tougher, but now, it's getting to be pretty good fun!

I was inspired by what Aunty Adora blogged about one time about her daily routine with your friend Poppy. It made me see the little wonders in our daily routine, simple and quiet as it may be. So I thought I'd just pen a little something about how our day normally goes right this moment. Just for posterity's sake.



You wake every morning on the dot at 7.00am, or a few minutes earlier. Dad always hears you first, and he makes your milk and cereal every morning. Dad gives you your milk while I have my shower, and it usually takes two of us to change your diaper in the morning! Yes, it's that err, bulky, and you are usually too eager to start running around the place to lie down on the changing table!

Then you have your cereal in the kitchen while Mum and Dad putter about. Your favourite high chair toy right now is an orange. You pick it up and say "Ay-yay!" Everytime. Then you brush your own teeth, while I wipe your face. Dad normally leaves while you are having breakfast or just after.

When I let you out of the high chair, you immediately zoom off! Sheepie in one hand, and the other hand reaching for your favourite toys. Right now, it's your hammer and peg set, the shape sorter, stacking rings, and the IKEA farm animal set! Oh and your plane and tractor. Then you flip through your books while I have my breakfast and read my book or catch up on blogs on my beloved iPod Touch. Heh heh.

By this time, it's around 8ish in the morning and we usually set off for a walk at this time. Sometimes we go to the playground, then NTUC for groceries, and other times we walk to HortPark, where you love to point out all the flowers to me.

By the time we get back home it's usually almost 10am and we read some books, then it's Baby Einstein time while I prepare your lunch!

You eat an early lunch around 11 - and in characteristic Jordy-speed, you are done within 10 minutes! Thank goodness I'm a fast eater too so I'm always done when you are! Then you like to zoom around with your toys while I wash up and prepare your bath. You LOVE bathtime, especially trying to splash me with water. And pointing out the flowers and fish and frogs in your bathbook.

I love the time after your bath, 'cos I get to cuddle and tickle you in your room, and we read a few books, Roadwork, That's Not My Truck and of course, Goodnight Moon, before you go to your cot and do your acrobatics. You're always asleep by 12.20.

While you dream the heat of the day away, I'm either baking, on the internet, reading, or listening to BBC podcasts on the iPod. This quiet time is one of my favourite times of day too! :)

And then it's 2ish and you're up! And you have your milk, and then some raisin and peanut butter toast and then we're off on our afternoon outing! On lazy days we go for walks around the neighbourhood, to the playground, or the park. On more exciting days, I take you for a car ride and we go to West Coast Park, or to the Botanic Gardens, or to Labrador Park, or Keppel Marina, sometimes we go to indoor playgrounds (though you tend to get a bit germy after that so maybe not that often!). Some days it's just us, other days we hang out with friends.

Then by the time we get home, it's usually 5ish and I make your dinner while you hang out in the kitchen playing with anything that rolls, opens and closes, or makes a lot of noise! And then before I know it, you're done with dinner (literally, it's always 10 minutes or less!) and then you're off playing again while I clean up and then we usually have some reading time before your bath.

And more often that not, sometime during your bath, the doorbell rings, your face lights up, and it's Dad! Home at around 6.45. Then you go pull on his trouser leg, and then he carries you and swings you around for a few minutes. You love this time of day very much.

And then it's Baby Einstein time again while Mum and Dad have dinner! Sometimes, when you like what you see on the screen, you look at us and laugh, inviting us to join you in your moment. It's very cute. Then Mum has her shower while Dad prepares your milk, and water, and PJs and toothbrush.

And the funniest thing happens. As soon as Baby Einstein time is over, you scoot from your high chair immediately to your bedroom door. You love this time most of all I think. Hanging out in the cool air-conditioned room, hearing mum and dad sing songs and reading your favourite books all over again. Then we have evening gymnastics on the mattress, before you go in the cot. And you always fall asleep to the sound of mum and dad talking about our day. And most of the time, you're asleep by 8.20pm.

And then mum and dad creep out of your room, wash up your things, read the net for a bit. Then sit down and watch The West Wing (or a stressful few weeks with True Blood) or sometimes MASH, with fruit, and cookies or chocolate!

It's a simple life Jordy. But rather charmed. Magically real, or really magic.

So I'll end this spontaneous blogpost right now before I ramble on anymore.

See you in the morning!

Your Mum

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

The Jordy Book Club (Or, Milestones in Reading)

Alright people, we achieved a major milestone in literacy today, yo! It was so exciting. I was reading one of Jordy's favourite books, the Usborne (Look and Say) Town book, and asked Jordy the same questions I always ask him when we read together, "Where's the dog? Where's the car? Where's the fish?" And so on... and normally he just looks at me and says, "Kah!" or "Tuh!" or "Ba!" or more recently "Kiwawa!". But anyway, today, drumroll... he actually looked at me, then looked at the page, and started pointing at the pictures!

YAY! Now this may not seem like much, but to a stay-at-home-mum (but not for much longer!) who does this several times a day, EVERYDAY, it is a wonderful change! Whee! Yeah so from recollection, he pointed out:

car, bus, bicycle, plane, flower, bear, dog, cat, fish, nose, eyes, ears, hair, mouth, toes, baby, egg, balloon, orange, pen, apple, ball, rattle, drum, tricyle, boat, dump truck, concrete mixer, err... there are a few more but I say, isn't it just wonderful?!

Anyway, this prompted me to think about what Jordy's Book Club List would look like if he hosted his own daytime chat show. You know, the books with the Jordy seal of approval. They do change from time to time, but here are a few perennial favourites. Which are (in no particular order, save for the last book):

Moo, Baa, La La La
Definitely up there with the best of social satire. Note how all the animals say what is required of them, save the pigs, who sing and dance.

My Car
D and I like this book. The sentences are short. They are grammatical. They make sense. And the pictures are colourful. Jordy just likes the red car.

Things That Go
I have learnt much from this tome, as has Jordy. Whoever knew there was such a thing as a recumbent tricycle? My growing knowledge of all things vehicular continues to astound me.

A Jordy daily must-read. At least several times. Excellent use of onomatopoeia. One of the best books to read out loud. As much fun for reader as it is for listener! Entire book is now held together by scotchtape.

That's not my truck
Whoever knew a radiator could be holey? An early Jordy favourite, which he still brings out at least once a day.

Diggers and Dumpers
This is the best money I have spent on Jordy hands down. Cost me $4.99 at discount book store. LOVES it. Literally squeals with excitement when you take it out of shelf and place in front of him. His favourite page is "Tractor", as he will scamper off and bring you his real tractor looking all pleased with himself.

Ten Frogs
Recent addition to the favourites list. Cool Quentin Blake artwork (he of Roald Dahl fame), and who can beat a hundred wasps all buzzing at the end?

Teaching Bears to Count
A quintessentially Kiwi book, this one has five chocolate fish and six pikelets! Another one that is more sticky tape than book. He's thumbed through it so many times I've lost count!

He loves spotting the different things about the town. Of great delight are the little mini Schnauzer dog and the black cat hiding in the busy street scene. Oh and not forgetting the bricklayers and concrete mixer. Another $5 cheapie I got that turned out to be a gem!

And of course, the favourite of all favourites. The Quieter or Tantrums, The Silencer of Screams, The Queller of Cries... Goodnight Moon. All you have to do is start reciting the first few lines and Jordy will calm down. It's a literary dose of valium! Highly recommended to all first time parents! Do not be turned off by the psychadelic colours used or the slightly freakish figure of the "quiet old lady whispering hush"! This book is a tiny miracle!

Friday, December 04, 2009

Water, Water Everywhere

Jordy does his best impersonation of Moses parting the Red Sea. Granted Moses would never have held a GNC Calcium Tablet Bottle in his right hand, but this is a post-modern take.

Waterparks are the new black. In the Turnip household at least.

Jordy's gone from being a little tentative and sceptical about the delights of fountains and jet sprays, to being a full on convert. His favourite water park is the one at Marina Barrage.

Jordy tries yet again to control nature, while an amused young woman looks on. She took lots of photos of him (after asking our permission of course), but probably found it tough as she kept stopping to laugh!

Wherever he wanders, he usually has my old GNC vitamin bottle in one hand. The other hand, palm splayed open, trying to hold onto the streams of water. It's a peculiar, yet wonderful, sight.

Jordy and I caught out by the geyser erupting from under us!

And this last photo here kinda sums up my thoughts about how quickly Jordy is growing. This was him at good mate Ned's first birthday party a week ago. Most of the children were between 11 and 18 months of age. Look at all of them sitting down to have afternoon tea together! It was so civilised and well-mannered (aside from when Jordy tried to grab three Vegemite sandwiches at one go, prompting a slightly embarassed D to gingerly put them back on the plate).

"Hey, look Mum! It's like the welcome dinner at Hogwarts!"

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Thai Fish Cakes Recipe

Ok, this post is for Adora!

Here's my version of Thai Fish Cakes (an amalgamation of several recipes I found online). These taste GREAT and are very low in saturated fat.

(serves four)

2 fillets of firm fish (300g)
2 large (or 3 small) potatoes
1/2 cup canola oil for frying
1 cup flour or 1/2 cup bread crumbs
1 egg, beaten
Thai sweet chilli sauce for dipping

2 tbsps fish sauce
2 or 3 red or green chilis
3 kaffir lime leaves, snipped into small pieces, discard stem
1/3 cup coriander leaves, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced

1. Place potatoes in pot of water over high heat. Boil.
2. Mince and stir paste ingredients together.
3. Steam fish and debone. Flake.
4. Once potatoes are cooked, mash with skins on.
5. Add mashed potatoes to paste and mix in flaked fish.
6. Using hands, shape into cakes.
7. Dip cakes into egg, then turn over in flour or breadcrumbs to coat.
8. Heat 1 inch oil in pan. Fry until golden brown, approx 2 to 3 minutes.
9. Serve with dipping sauce.

(I find that plain steamed broccoli is a lovely accompaniment to these very flavourful cakes.)