Friday, December 31, 2010

Last Sunset of the Year

We just came back from witnessing the last sunset of the year at Labarador Park. It was truly beautiful. Reminded me to take stock of all the good things in life and try not to get sucked into the national pastime of complaining!

It also reminded me to just sit down and write a blog for goodness sake! Though the blogging has been sporadic at best, so many blog-rich things have happened this past year which never made it to the pages of The Camel Diaries. Much like how many of life's best moments aren't captured on film as you were too busy, well, living.

So in the spirit of rememberances of things past, and of tomorrow's fortunes told, here are some life events which never made it to blogland, but should have!

1. Awesome holidays - Turnip staycation in Swissotel, Bintan family trip to celebrate gong gong and mama's 40th wedding anniversary

2. Jordy in the news - Meant to post the wonderful piece Janice wrote about Jordy in The Straits Tiimes. Aside from capturing Jordy's personality in an uncannily accurate way, what was most special to me was the obvious bond the two shared. They are both introverts (and I mean this in the best possible way) and I am blessed to have them in my extroverted life.

3. The Jordy Language Explosion - from single words to quirky phrases, and now to full on sentences and semi-conversations, and even the daily word game, this is one journey I really regret not capturing in more detail. How did the child who started off saying "car!" to everything now make all sorts of random statements like "fountain is hiding behind the bush" and "Jordy don't want to go play school. Jordy want to go gong gong and mama's house. Gong gong and mama's house this way!" (said in car seat while pointing in direction of expressway). And just today, we were revisiting some old PowerPoints he used to love, and he shocked me by being able to recognise and say all the alphabets and all the shapes in the slideshow, yes, including pentagon, hexagon and trapezium (though he pronounces it poot-pee-zium, which I suspect is a little insider joke of his.

4. The meaning of Christmas = patience - we put up our tree on 17 November and Jordy never once insisted on opening any of his presents. His first present under the tree was a red package from sheepie and dragon, and he was so thrilled that they rememebered. As the days wore on, the red box got buried under the growing pile of presents. On Christmas Eve, D and I told Jordy on the way home from his cousins that he could open one present when he got home. As we pulled into the carpark he was extremely jaunty, and did his self-satisfied waddle back home. As soon as he got in the door, re ran to the tree and fished out the red present from under the sea of brightly-packages, and said "love, sheepie and dragon" - D and I were amazed and very moved.

5. Dora the Explorer - she has become the fourth flatmate in our already cosy apartment...

6. A fine balance - still finding my feet in the working world, but feeling very buoyed by several professional firsts for me, all involving unprecedented media coverage of volunteerism and philanthropy in Singapore. Of course it's not all due to my efforts, not by far, but I did play a pretty crucial role in making it happen, and I am so pleased with this addition to my portfolio and CV. Definitely something to be proud of. Also, I feel like I am moving in the right direction work-wise, and I feel very lucky to have negotiated successfully flexible work arrangements. Not normal for a local organisation, so I'm counting my blessings.

7. The Wire - D and I finished all five seasons and dare we say it, we actually think it ranks as top of our list of TV series in a long time. So much so that when we went back to watch The West Wing, we astonished ourselves by cringing now and again at the hokey-ness of some of the scenes. BUT The West Wing is still very much up there for us, and will suffer no more criticism from me again. Just this once, ha ha.

8. The Ipad - D gave me one for Christmas. I love it (and him) very, very much.

9. Many more, including an awesome visit from Godpa James, my first visit to Universal Studios Singapore, Jordy's lovely, blossoming relationship with his cousins, Jordy being promoted to nursery 1 (!), Jordy spending his first night away from us - and now asking to go to gong gong and mama's for sleepoveers, oh and a pretty lovely Christmas party we threw for a bunch of friends and kids (that saw me cooking a kinda three-course meal to suit vegetarians and pescatarians, which I had a blast doing and so wanna do again), awesome books I'd like to recommend like Margaret Atwood's The Year of the Flood, and now my stomach is rumbling and it's new year's eve so I'm going to get me some sparkling grape juice and cookies.

In short, blogging declined because I was too busy with life. Help! But I have also realized that blogging is a fun part of my life at least and I resolve to do more of it in 2011. Which brings me to... Resolutions. Won't be many this year. Still mulling, but will post them in the new year.

May 2011 be filled with happiness, joy, peace and tiny miracles. xo.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

O Camel Christmas Tree

We put up our Christmas tree on Wednesday, and dare I say it, it's the best tree I've ever had in my 30something years! We bought a fake tree this year as 2008's real live Swedish IKEA tree was wonderful but oh-so-high maintenance.

This year's tree has ornaments from the previous years, with a few new additions: golden Christmas lights that have red flowers, green stars and blue cones interwoven amongst them, a yellow bird that Jordy chose all by himself at TANGS' splendid baubles fair at Vivo, and a sparkly blue butterfly, again chosen by Mr J himself. What's missing is the 2010 Jordy bauble, something that is quintessentially him. Will know it when I see it. (Of course, right now, looking at his preferences, it'd have to a Dora or Boots bauble. He is OBSESSED with Dora!)

Pictures to come. I promise. I realise my photo-taking has drastically declined now that I've started full-time work. I'm also not the biggest fan of taking photos of everything as it means you aren't really inhabiting the moment. But some things, like the annual decoration of the Christmas tree, well, that's different!

Oh and just a funny anecdote from my expedition with Jordy to Vivo yesterday. To understand this, you need to know that Jordy has, from about two months ago, developed a dislike for sharing lifts with strangers. If a lift comes with a stranger in it, he says loudly, "Next one!". However, sometimes, in the morning rush of getting to childcare and work, he passes on two lifts in succession, then I will look at him with a stern expression and say, "we have to share the next lift. Why do we do that? Because we live in a community."

So anyway, back to Vivo. We were in the basement and wanted to get to the level 3 skypark. It was a Friday evening. It was crowded for Singapore standards! The lift comes, a whole bunch of people exit, and another bunch of people get in. Jordy takes one look at the lift and says, "Next one!"

I enter the lift with him wordlessly.

As the lift travels level by level, somewhere between level 1 and 2, he says in a quiet voice, "Community..."

A few heads turn, some wide eyes, and the girl next to me chuckles in surprise. Jordy looks stoic and unfazed. When the door opens, he can see the sky park on level 3, some birds playing on the grass, and he runs out to meet them.

What a boy.

On that note, here at The Camel Diaries, Christmas is starting early. I'll leave you in the good hands of one of the brightest Internet stars (in my opinion)!

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Blogging and the working mum

Well, it seems my complete silence corresponds with my starting full time work in October! I'm starting to figure out a new routine and so far so good! Thank god for an understanding workplace that let's me leave at 4pm most days to go pick up Jordy. So really, the key differences to before embarking on full-time work, is that I now have less time to cook and do chores. Which means weekdays, Jordy gets mainly reheated frozen food, I alternate between a chicken and brocolli noodle thing, spag bog with 5 veg sauce, various veg soups n cheese and marmite sandwiches, Mac and cheese, and easy cook dishes like bee boon soup with tofu. The house is slightly messier, but other than that there hasn't been too discernible a difference!

My craziest working mum moment to date must have been on Thursday, which happened to be The Biggest Media Announcement Day of the Year. We'd just run a media conference that morning that saw everyone turn up (biggest turnout to date), the rest of the day was spent fielding many media queries. When I got home with Jordy that afternoon, I was pretty much doing a one woman Hindu goddess juggling act. At one memorable point, just before D got home, I was simultaneously on speaker phone with a reporter from The Straits Times and changing a poopy diaper while filling up the bath! *bows courteously*

The best thing? The journalist was a mom too and totally identified with the constant juggling that is working motherhood. And we shared a moment in between talking about trackable donations to religious organsations!

But that's the thing I'm so relishing at the moment. That by day, I get to do something I think is pretty meaningful, something which I truly believe will make Jordy's generation happier - I mean, promoting volunteering and philanthropy in Singapore is a pretty cool job to have. Then when I go pick up jordy at 5 and go hangout at the playground then have dinner, I'm doing the most important job of all. So despite the daily adrenalin rush of just keeping things together, I think I'm in a pretty sweet spot right now...

Oh well, it's only been six weeks in this new routine. And I've only managed to blog ONCE. Well, it's a start and the camel diaries is back again! Refreshed, revitalized, and still manic as ever!

Saturday, September 04, 2010

On Fathers and Fire Stations

We brought Jordy to the Central Fire Station this morning. They hold an open house every Saturday morning from 9 to 11am, and I think it is such a lovely community service they perform! Jordy had a pretty good time - he loved the sirens and lights, was intrigued by the crane (or "a very, very long ladder" as he called it, a phrase he picked up from a delightful Eric Carle book that Mama Maree got him), was happy to observe from a distance the powerful water hoses, and didn't quite like sitting in the huge fire engine ("Jordan go down!" he exclaimed).

I think the part he enjoyed the most was being toted around by his dad; it's a special bond they share, those two. Often in the weekdays, when it's just Jordy and me in the afternoons, he'll discover something cool (like for example, when he realised he could say "rugby ball" in a low voice, a high voice, a quiet voice, a loud voice, and a robot voice), and the first thing he does after cackling in delight at newfound discovery is to say, "Show Daddy!". I think it's so lovely.

After reading the very insightful Raising Boys by Steve Biddulph, I'm conscious of not getting in the way of a Jordy/Daddy relationship. I've realised my Type A, sometimes-manic personality tends to make me a tad, err... controlling by nature, so I tell myself every now and then that I need to let go. That I'm not the expert on all things Jordy, and that Daddy and Jordy need to find their own rhythm, and develop their own shorthand.

I also know that at some point down the line, Jordy is going to become physically bigger and stronger than me, and if the situation ever calls for it, it's going to be very important then for D to step in and say, "Don't speak to/treat your mother that way, son!" If Jordy is in any way like me, I can foresee that happening quite a bit!

If watching your baby develop into a thinking, feeling person is like going on a road trip to an unknown (but pretty funky) destination, then watching him form relationships with the most important people reminds me of the coffee and cake stops you do in between.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Hand, Foot, Mouth, Shudder...

HFMD is still at epidemic levels in Singapore, with more than 1,000 children getting it this past week alone. Poor Jordy has had it twice (TWICE!!!) this year already - the first was an extremely spotty affair, but thankfully he wasn't afflicted by the characteristic ulcers in the mouth; the second bout was milder but he did have a few small ulcers in his mouth which went away fairly quickly, thankfully.

I read a report which quoted Singapore's Ministry of Health as saying that the kids that caught HFMD tended to have poor nutrition and hence their immunities were low. Started looking at what Jordy's diet is like, and I thought it seemed pretty ok. I mean, he's not one of those kids that will just eat brocolli and carrots as is, but he usually gets his fair share of nutrients.

A typical day in Jordy's food journal (on a playschool day) would look like this:

Breakfast #1 at home (7.15am):
- 1/2 banana
- 1 pottle yogurt
- 1 piece toast with vegemite/jam/peanut butter
- 1/2 cup diluted orange/dark grape juice

Breakfast #2 at school (8.45am):
- cereal/french toast/hash brown/"bao"/sandwich

Whatever school offers: usually rice with soup/veg, pasta, porridge, noodles + apple slices

Afternoon tea
Afternoon tea #1 at school (3.00pm):
- bun/sandwich/green bean soup/sponge cake

Afternoon tea #2 when I pick him up (4.00pm)
- cereal bar/banana/Heinz baby biscotti thingies

Very predictable:
- Main course: noodles with chicken/fish, brocolli, carrots, OR spag bog with 5 veg sauce (beef mince + tomato, zuchinni, red pepper, carrot, celery), OR macaroni cheese + brocolli and tomato/carrot soup, OR tomato/carrot soup + cheese sandwich
- 1 pottle yogurt
- 1/2 pear or mango or apple

- Cheerios + milk

Aside from that, I'm giving him a daily multivit supplement, a tablespoon of Scotts Emulsion (Orange), and as soon as my order from iherb arrives, an immunity-boosting supplement from Elderberries called Sambucus, which I've had recommended to me from so many different mom-sources that I think I should try it.

Anyhow, I'm trying my best to make sure Jordy gets his daily nutrition needs. But this whole HFMD thing is just always lurking at the back of my mind. Guess we can only do what we can, and leave the rest to a higher source!

Oh, and in light of the epidemic, the new policy at childcare = no more toys from home. So Sheepie now stays at home and miraculously... Jordy is perfectly fine without him, and has been falling asleep with no problems. Honestly, sometimes I don't give him enough credit. What an amazing, adaptable kid!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Yes, The Camel Diaries are Alive and Well, Thanks for the Concern!

Yipes! Yet another crazy long hiatus from ye olde blog.

This time the reasons are pretty valid: HFMD Bout #2 (a mild case that saw us being off school for 9 days!), then Mama Maree came to visit and we were too busy having fun in Bali and then at the pool, and in the midst of it all, we had not one, but TWO, birthday cakes!

The first was at Jordy's second birthday party, held the day after we returned from Bali. We made a pretty special airplane cake (if I may say so myself):

And the birthday boy was very visibly thrilled:

The second cake was a quieter affair, a strawberry and cream concoction from Da Paolo, which we first had for D's birthday this year. Jordy went at it with his characteristic focus.

I'll do a Bali post soon - I feel compelled to chronicle just what a fantastic traveller Jordy is turning out to be. From being wonderful on the flights, to taking hour long naps in the car with his head on Mama Maree's lap, to eagerly climbing into weird, new cots, and to saying "Amazing Bali" and "Thank you so much" to the many taxis drivers we met in Seminyak and Ubud!

In the meantime, this is more a blog-recusitation post so that everyone knows I'm still alive and writing. On that note, I'm currently reading The Guardian's How to Write. I am officially inspired. Now to just get of my butt and do something about it!

Friday, July 09, 2010

Powerpoints Aren't Just for Work

Man am I glad it's Friday. Just emerged from a rather frantic few weeks at work, culminating in a major event on Wednesday. Had my longest day yet as a working mum, leaving the house on Wednesday at 7.30am (D dropped Jordy off that morning), and then rushing from work later that day (after issuing a post-event media release no less) to pick Jordy up at 5.10pm from childcare. Officially his longest day yet!

And what did he do when I dashed into his playschool, looking pretty beat up and with fading make-up? He ran towards me with a big chuckle and said, "AMAZY MUMMY!"

Did my heart do a double-lurch and almost leap out of my body in his toddler arms? You bet it did!

Anyway, I know I've been posting heaps of videos of late, but with my new phone, it makes it all so seamless I just can't resist. One of Jordy's favourite pasttimes for a while now has been looking at homemade powerpoint slides with me. I have my fabulous sister to thank for that. She did up a bunch of themed slides which her boys enjoyed, then thumb drived them to me one time. I've since added some content to the slides, especially the Food themed one (with all of Jordy's favourite things). Anyway, his undisputed favourite is the one on nature. Something about the elemental forces of nature call out to that boy of mine!

His other favourite is one on the family, oh and not forgetting the one on insects. What is it with boys and creepy crawlies? If you listen carefully, you'll be able to make out the crazy things he can say now ("centipede!").

Oh and we have yet another first happening tomorrow. Jordy's first sleepover at gong gong and mama's! Woo hoo! D and I are going to catch Toy Story 3 (hopefully... we haven't booked tickets yet) and go for dinner after. Jordy is so ready for this. He spends a lot of his day looking around the house saying "see gong gong!", "see mama!" or "no more gong gong!" "no more mama!". Ah well, the age of the grandparent is here! Haha...

And only two-odd weeks to Mama Maree's arrival! Can't wait!

Friday, July 02, 2010

The Reader and The Farm Boy

They've started a great little reading programme at Jordy's playschool, using materials from the National Geographic Windows on Literacy series. Apart from the fact that the books look like they originate in the 1980s (based on the high incidence of shoulder pads and bouffant hairdos in some of the photos), I think they're a great introduction to words and reading. I particular like how light they are!

Anyway, Jordy loves them too. He's been reading along with me for some time now, but lately has started reading the books to himself! I was a little too late in catching his attempt this evening. His first try was spot on! Anyway, just for fun:

Oh and he's also starting to singalong with me too. They've been singing Old MacDonald Had a Farm at school and he's trying with all his might to get the EIEIOs right. He gets it right, some of the time. Other times, it turns out like this:

Heh heh. I'm so glad he's enjoying his time at childcare. It makes being at work so much easier (and what a manic few weeks that has been!). Oh well, am hoping things will calm down a bit after our major event next week, then it's Bali in four weeks! Bring it on!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

The Numbers Boy

Jordy absolutely loves his numbers these days. Finally managed to capture him in action!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

The Business of Fiction

I make no secret of my love of fiction. In fact, I can count on one, ok, maybe two hands the number of non-fiction books I have truly loved.

I love reading fiction so much it was not surprising that I ended up studying English Literature at university. Don't get me wrong, I loved almost every minute of my time at uni, it's just that I've always felt slightly err, lacking, in terms of my chosen field. Walking through Borders or Kino, I would always, ALWAYS walk by the rows and rows of Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, Go Fish, or Who Moved My Cheese, somehow feeling like something was just a little wrong with me for not being interested in what these books had to offer.

So it was with great delight, and a huge cheesy grin on my face, that I drove to work two weeks ago listening to this programme on the BBC World Service - all about the strange world of Business Books. A Business Daily correspondent delved into the reading masses of New York City to see whether the economic downturn had had an effect on the types of books people were reading, and one of my favourite strangers-whom-I-want-to-befriend, the fabulously named Bright Simons who reports from Ghana, talks about what business books look like in his part of the world. At the end of the programme, I felt so not alone. In fact, I felt completely relieved that it wasn't just me feeling a bit weirded out by the proliferation of business books out there.

I felt so good that since 31 May (when that fateful edition of Business Daily reached my ears), I've had one of my best runs of fiction-reading in ages! I've finished The Book Thief, The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, and Elizabeth Gaskell's North and South.

I love reading fiction because it nourishes the soul. Because it is so profound (to me) that every word I am reading has emerged from someone's imagination. And that I know there is a story within me that is waiting to be told, and that I just need the guts and the wherewithal to sit down and write it out.

Monday, June 14, 2010

It is a truth universally acknowledged...

Well, I'm certainly keeping up my renewed fervour in the blog. A recent text from Sandy about the amazing experience that is the BBC's adaptation of Elizabeth Gaskell's North and South has inspired this post.

I've been meaning to write a post like this for some time, but have been faintly embarassed. Ah well, with renewed fervour comes renewed chutzpah! Presenting...

The Camel Diaries' list of the FIVE BEST period drama heroes/actors: from Austen to Eyre to Gaskell... (listed in order of preference, ahem, I'm saving the best for last!)

5. Timothy Dalton, Jane Eyre, BBC (1983)
I studied Jane Eyre when I was 14 (or was it when I was 13?). Can't remember exactly. But depending on the day, it is my favourite novel of the era. On a sunnier day, the answer is Pride and Prejudice. We watched the BBC version at school all those years ago and I was captivated from the word go. But it was when Mr Rochester first meets Jane on the misty road to Thornfield, high on his steed, that my heart did a little double-lurch. Timothy Dalton remains, and always will, the definitive Rochester in my mind. Toby Stephens (2006 BBC adaptation) was pretty good, William Hurt (1996 Zeffirreli film) appalling. But no one captured Rochester's thunderous brow, simmering anger, and urgent despair quite like Timothy Dalton.

4. Ciaran Hinds, Persuasion, BBC (1995)
Ah. This is the best adaptation of my second-most favourite Jane Austen novel. Ciaran Hinds transforms Captain Frederick Wentworth into an at once stoic, yet passionate, man who is trying to move on from his his first love. His chemistry with Anne Elliot (played by the unfortunately named Amanda Root) is palpable and believable, and I find their portrayal of autumnal love very moving. There is no dancing or singing to be had here. This is a serious love story with two very serious protagonists. The final revelatory scenes are particularly delightful to watch. Go youtube it! (ps: If you are a Persuasion fan, then Ruper Penry-Jones in the BBC 2007 version would have been by number 6 on this list!)

3. Matthew Macfadyen, Pride and Prejudice, Working Title Films (2005)
Well, this is a toughie. Matthew Macfadyen's Darcy vs Colin Firth's? I loved both interpretations, and I must admit Mr Macfadyen has a voice that could sell anything to anyone, but I think he's my second favourite Darcy only because he had less screen time, given that this version was a feature film! I loved the chemistry between him and Keira Knightley, and the way he played Darcy as shy and socially awkward rather than arrogrant and morally uptight. In any case, had a mini obsession with him when I first watched the film. Made me want to buy Spooks on DVD just for him (never did so in the end as I feared the violence portrayed)! Anyway, two wonderful Mr Darcys can't be bad right? Which leads me to #2 favourite period drama hero/actor of all time...

2. Colin Firth, Pride and Prejudice, BBC (1995)
For the longest time, Colin Firth occupied the highest pedestal of romantic period hero dashing-ness. He was the unparalleld ONE. His yin to Jennifer Ehle's yang was so inherently perfect, that every single minute of the six-hour long production was nothing short of perfect. Everyone raves about the lake scene at Pemberley (me included!), but my favourite scene is one of the more subtle Lizzie-Darcy moments - when Elizabeth receives news that Lydia has eloped with Wickham and is in tears, and Darcy offers her some wine and briefly holds her hand. Argh! The subtlest of romantic gestures! And the way he calls her "dearest, loveliest Elizabeth" during the second proposal scene is just completely heart-a-flutter inducing. So as you can see, my admiration for Colin Firth's Darcy has long run deep. I thought he held the permanent 
title of best romantic hero of all time. That is, until a certain moment in 2009 changed everything...

1. Richard Armitage, North and South, BBC (2004)
For those of you woeful souls who are unaquainted with Mr John Thornton of Elizabeth Gaskell's North and South, well, let me introduce him quickly to you. He is NOT what Austen would have termed a gentleman, in fact, he is in (God Forbid!) trade - he runs a cotton mill in the Northern town of Milton for crying out loud! He speaks with a strong Northern accent, and is a bit rough round the edges. He's been described as saturnine, aggressive, brusque and not carrying out his moral duty where the wellbeing of his mill workers are concerned. But of course, the tough exterior conceals an empathetic, compassionate heart, enlightened enough to embark on a philanthropic mission for his poverty-stricken workers. Such a gentle soul he has. And faultlessly portrayed by the then relatively unknown Richard Armitage, whose role-of-a-lifetime portrayal of Thornton was not just compared to Colin Firth's seminal Darcy, but also spawned the obsessive fan base called the Armitage Army. Now I haven't signed up online to be on their fansite yet, but I can understand why some would! Heh heh. In anycase, North and South is so beautifully rendered, and the last four-and-a-half minutes of the series are possibly the best four-and-a-half minutes I've ever experienced on celluloid. Go ahead and youtube it if you don't believe me! Actually, I'll save you the trouble. You can just click here. Of course this is a major spoiler if you don't know the story, but heck, it's so good I can't resist putting it up.

So there you have it. My ultimate list. Do you have one? I'd love to hear it!

PS: I should end this post by saying what a wonderful husband I have in D who has good-naturedly tolerated my Victorian romantic hero obesssions. He knows he is the 21st century equivalent to me :) xxoo

Saturday, June 12, 2010

The Amazing Jordy

The Amazing Jordy

Sometimes, it helps to have a little image overhaul to bring back the sizzle in a relationship. So, introducing Camel Diaries 2.0: new look courtesy of Blogger, content: same insightful stuff as always (hah! sorry, had to do some PR for myself).

Thought I'd upload a few videos taken from my new Motorola Milestone (I'm one of the tiny percentage of people out there who don't have an iPhone because wonderful D suprised me with an iPod Touch last year so I thought it would be a little wasteful to have an iTouch AND an iPhone. So Milestone it is - not bad functionality, extremely good price, and QWERTY keypad. Overall positive user experience so far).

Anyway, this is a Jordy post. He's saying all kinds of wonderful, surprising things these days. Just this week, he started saying "Amazing Jordy!". All his teachers at school have heard it, and some are calling him that, haha! He's kinda saying it in the video above, very hard to capture as it's usually quite out of the blue. Oh and just two days ago he started saying "tomorrow"!

So here's another video from a few weeks ago. When the HFMD quarantine was first lifted and we went to Vivo one morning and hung out at the open amphiteatre and playground. Jordy's getting very handy with a ball and is running very fast these days!

Throwing a ball and a tiny fall, which left him unruffled.

So, seeing as the Amazing Jordy is two months shy of his second birthday, I thought it time for another vocabulary audit. List is probably not exhaustive, but I'll try to list down everything I can remember. This is as much for the Jordy almanac, as it is for posterity's sake. Sorry if it appears a little indulgent but I think it's rather fascinating to chart language acquisition!

These are all the words he can say, from recollection (his receptive vocabulary is much larger than this):

Family and People
Mama Maree
Gong Gong
Uncle Nick
I love...

Everyday Items & Home
Baby (for Baby Einstein)
Mote (for Remote)

Cake (!)
Nana (for Banana)
Masi (for Medicine, or Scotts Emulsion, his favourite thing in the morning, or anytime!)


Crocodile (in Chinese, er yu)
Baassie (for Butterfly)


Choo Choo
Beep Beep

Numbers (he can recognise all the numbers from 1 to 11! 11 because that's the level we live on, so he's always pressing the number '11' button in the elevator)


Pee pee
Poo poo
Spots (thanks, HFMD!)

Commands and Actions
Wait, wait!
Bye Bye

I love...
Amazing Jordy
All gone
All done
No more

Hmm, have run out of steam. There's actually quite a bit more, but I can't quite remember right now. Oh well, good job Jordy! Amazing how you've gone from tiny zygote to talking, running toddler with an attitude!

Ok, better go for now. Afternoon plans may include the zoo (depending on state of Jordy's drippy nose when he wakes, and my own not-so-sore throat but still rather blocked nose.) Oh joy!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

A First

Hi! I'm officially blogging from my new android phone. I think this may mark the start of a new era. Now just gotta figure out how to upload videos and photos!

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

It's Been Forever (But I Still Think About You All The Time)

Yikes I feel so guilty that I haven't blogged for close to a month! Four letters could somehow explain two weeks of this hiatus: HFMD. Yep, Jordy finally succumbed to the horrible bug that was going around and erupted in over 400 blisters (I lost count in the end). He was an amazing little invalid throughout the two week long quarantine period. My work was superb and allowed me to work some days from home, mama and gong gong were mobilised to help some days, D took a few childcare leave days, and somehow, we survived relatively unscathed!

A week after the official all-clear from HFMD and Jordy is down with a mild cold again (will this germy phase ever end?!), and now I've caught the mild bug too. D has kindly offered to do solo Jordy bedtime duty, while I sit here nursing a bit of a headache and trying my best to update my once, rather lively blog.

Poor blog. In the busyness that is life with an almost-two year old, you have suffered some collateral damage!

So I found myself thinking: should I continue with this blog? Whatever for? Who reads it? What's it all for? And the universe somehow answered back in a tiny whisper: Keep at it. If anything, it's been going for more than three years, and has been such a lovely thing to revisit now and again (for me, at least!), and it does allow me the rather self-indulgent arena to pen anything. Ah well. And I think Jordy may find it a bit of a hoot sometime down the track.

Anyway, so I thought I'd regain some of ye olde blogging fervour by doing a quick recap of what I've been reading. Haven't done a bookish blog in a while. But then again, between watching The Wire (Awesome!), Mad Men (Super Awesome!), American Idol (Not So Awesome), and Glee (Awesome! Awesome!), didn't leave me much time to get lost in a book.

A colleague at work introduced me to a pretty amazing fantasy series though. Was lost in it for four whole days! As in reading at any spare moment kinda good (coincided with a viral fever I got in April). Anne Bishop's The Black Jewels Trilogy (book one pictured below).

One of the darkest, most sensuous, and subversive things I've read in a while. Subversive in all the good ways though, especially in Bishop's use of the language of emotions, love and power. Everything is turned on its head. Gender stereotypes are smashed, and just when you think you've gotten the characters and the world they inhabit figured out, Bishop turns the tables on you and you either smile, gasp or both. Very dark, very compelling and ultimately, very satisfying. Oh and also very cheap, about $13 a book at Kinokuniya!

The other standout thing I've read recently is Tracy Chevalier's new book Remarkable Creatures. Had no idea what it was about before I bought it (but I have loved every single thing she's ever written), and then, discovered to my joy of joys, that it a) is set in Lyme Regis (where a pivotal scene in Jane Austen's Persuasion occurs); b) chronicles the unlikely friendship between two women in the early 1800s (a particularly favourite theme and time period of mine); c) brings to life the stories of Britain's first women fossil hunters and paleontologists (Dinosaurs! Fossils! Skeletons! Yay!); d) is all about Mary Anning, the woman who inspired the tongue twister "She sells seashells by the seashore".

How cool is that right?! Will not give anything else away except to say that this book is SCREAMING to be made into a movie!

Isn't the cover just gorgeous? Sigh.

Oh and I'm just savouring a book another colleague at work lent me (in the happiest twist of fate, I now work directly with people who read. Fiction. Yep. Elation!): The Book Thief by Markus Zusak. Again, another book I knew nothing about but fell in love as soon as I read the blurb. It is narrated by Death. Enough said. Love it already (though it is about the Holocaust)! But seriously, I'm only a tenth into the book and it's one of those gems you want to savour every last word of. So am trying to go slow...

On the topic of The Book Thief though, what is it about British vs American book covers? I mean am I the only one that thinks that British editions are almost ALWAYS far superior in terms of look, design, feel, and overall suitability to the tone of the book? I mean, judge for yourselves:

UK version

US version

Am I not wrong? The US version is just a tad fugly right? I'm just so relieved the edition I'm reading is the UK one.

Anyway, argh, my cold is taking a turn for the worse. Bring on the tissues. Will end here. But just wanted to say, thanks to anyone who has returned regularly to check this site for updates. I've been remiss I know, but me and my blog, we just went through a bit of a quiet patch, but just today, have renewed our vows. So here's to a bit more sizzle in this relationship hopefully!

Watch this space I guess :)

Saturday, May 15, 2010

On TV, Toddlers, and Tiredness

One of the highlights of my morning drive to work is listening to the BBC World Service. My 15-minutes of uninterrupted drive-time listening usually coincides with the world news and Business Daily, the latter being one of my favourite BBC programmes. Last week, one news bulletin in particular caught my attention, yet another study on Toddlers and TV.

When I had Jordy, I made a promise to myself to try not to rely on the TV as a passive babysitter. I didn't have a hard and fast policy on TV watching, but I did know I wouldn't have the TV blaring on in the background the whole day. Not sure why, but I just felt having my ipod playing would be a lot more relaxing for all involved. So that's what we did most of the day. Some of my fondest memories of my stay at home mum days with Jordy involve dancing around to music - Jack Johnson, Simon and Garfunkel, Yo-Yo Ma, Mark Knopfler, Turin Brakes, U2, Crowded House, the occasional Guns n Roses and Radiohead.

But very deliberately, I also remember looking online for second hand Baby Einstein DVDs, and meeting a mum at an MRT one afternoon and buying the ENTIRE Baby Entire discography in one fell swoop (for $35 might I add, and no, she didn't throw in Ginzu knives).

I can't remember the thinking that led me to the Baby Einstein purchase, I just remember it coincided with Jordy enjoying being in his bouncy chair and me thinking that he should have something else to look at during bouncy chair time besides the incy wincy spiders hanging down from the mobile attached to his chair. But the thing was, it felt RIGHT. It felt like I was giving Jordy a glimpse into a cool world filled with puppets and classical music and great toys. And I remember thinking it was a welcome respite from all that playing - whether it be with me or on his own, as well as his all-time favourite activity, Reading with Mummy - we were easily going through 10 to 20 books per day from very early on!

So from that moment when he was around three months old, Jordy watched 20 - 25 mins of Baby Einstein every day. This increased to twice a day when he was about 8 months old, and this takes us right to the present.

So when I hear news articles like this, with a very severe sounding researcher saying in an urgent voice that children under two SHOULD NEVER WATCH TV. Not. at. all. Or it might impact their later years in very bad ways, I feel a mixture of emotions that range from guilt, fear, chagrin, anger, denial and a sense of "mind your own @#%* business!"

I know Baby Einstein is currently embroiled in a class action suit. But hey, I didn't buy Jordy those DVDs thinking for one moment that they would make him smarter. Sheesh, surely any parent would know that? Wouldn't they?! Doesn't your gut instinct tell you that the things that make your child grow up into confident, bright individuals are the simple things like love, security and attention? And not plonking them in front of a screen?

Anyway, I know I'm ranting a bit here, but I just feel that parenting in the 21st century is characterised by Too Much Information. If one were to spend just 10 minutes everyday Googling the latest child rearing trends, that would make for a pretty confusing life indeed. I mean, the debates are endless: breasfeeding vs formula, organic vs regular, cow's milk vs non-dairy, traditional baby-wearing cultures vs Western baby-on-playmat approach, co-sleeping vs cry-it-out, home-care vs child-care, smacking vs anti-smacking, medicating vs homeopathic treatment, flashcards vs books, and let's not even start about the whole "working mom" debate!

So back to the TV is BAAAD issue. Well, seeing as Jordy is 21 months old, and that he's been watching 20 to 40 minutes of Baby Einstein everyday (more when he's sick!), I'm going to state here that it felt right at the time, and still feels right today. I'm not making excuses or getting defensive, but he gets loads of one-on-one interaction, shared reading and imaginative play, and is one active toddler to boot (he was able to jump as of three months ago!). TV makes up a small but not crucial component of his day. So I'm hoping that if we carry on with our balanced, common-sensical approach, it won't do him any long term harm! If you are a parent and have a view on this, I'd love to hear it!

In the meantime, here's a little recap of Jordy at 21 months...

He still loves bubbles! In face, one of his favourite things is a Central Park bubble song I downloaded on my ipod.

Bubble time at gong gong and mama's

He has deep-belly laughs. He enjoys a good laugh as much as a good cry (yep, we're firmly in the terrible twos).

Sharing a laugh with Mama

He LOVES cake. The capital letters do not give enough emphasis to the far-reachingness of that love. That love, it is immense. This was the first time he'd ever tasted real chocolate cake. It was Mothers' Day and we thought it was a special occasion so why not?!

Ola, my name is Jordy aka The Moustachioed One.

And he's talking heaps now. Favourite new words include "swimming" and "goggles"! And we've been showing him pictures everyday (on Powerpoint) of the entire family, Singaporean and Kiwi, and he lights up when he sees family now :)

Rare family photo at Mothers' Day dinner!

Wow this was a pretty long post. Ok, Jordy's due to wake up from his nap anytime now so am gonna end here. Oh and the tiredness I alluded to in the title of the post? Just a lingering malaise that I'm trying to ease out of, remnants of a viral fever that I came down with two weeks ago I suspect. But I have been feeling bone-tired the last few days. Doesn't help that work is crazy. Not just normal, many-projects-with-multiple-deadlines crazy, but CRAZY. But the people make it worth it at the moment (apart from unhinged director I had to deal with from another department). So things are chugging along at the moment but am hoping to get back into exercise routine this coming week!

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

The Toddler Approach to Managing Conflict

Last week at work was crappy for me. Prior to that I'd had a honeymoon run of two and a half months where I was literally humming to myself while driving to work, smiling at the thought of the work day that lay ahead. Feeling really happy that I was adding value and able to contribute and was working with an amazing team of people. The rain clouds had to gather at some stage.

In a nutshell, a colleague holding a more senior position at work ranted at me for almost an hour, over what seemed to be an invented issue, working herself up into an emotional state in the process, and not allowing me a word in edge-wise (quite hard to do, but it was done!). Scary thing? I'd barely had three conversations with this person!

Anyway, this post isn't about the actual unpleasant rant - I've got boundaries in this blog, one of which is not to discuss work in too much detail. Wouldn't want to be dooced.

Instead, it's inspired by something D said when I related the surreal incident to him. He said the colleague in question sounded like she was throwing a toddler tantrum. Which led me to conceptualise the following management theory:

The Toddler Approach to Managing Conflict

Hypothetical scenario: You are sitting peacably at your desk, concentrating hard on drafting a media release. Suddenly, a colleague appears from behind you and asks you whether it was true that you had commented about project XYZ at a meeting where the bosses were present. If it is true, then she is very unhappy that you had even given an opinion about project XYZ, as project XYZ was hers and no one, repeat, no one, was allowed to talk about it, except for her. Your colleague stops to breathe at this point, and you are about to say, "I'm sorry if you are upset about what I said. I was giving an opinion as the bosses had asked me what I thought was needed for project XYZ to get good publicity from the media. I gave them a few suggestions to consider, and that was that." But you are unable to as she quickly resumes her monologue, but this time talking increasingly faster, louder, and you notice, worryingly, that her eyes have welled up in tears and she is turning a slight purply-red. She is also stabbing her index finger awfully close to your nose. People are gathered discreetly outside your office to be entertained. What do you do?

Possible solution: If you are a parent, picture your toddler where your colleague is. Bring yourself back to a particularly intense tantrum, say, the one where your son refused to stop screaming and crying because you took the plastic knife with the serrated edge away from him, and gave him a wooden spoon instead. Place yourself squarely in that moment, where your son's cries grow louder and louder, accompanied by foot stamping, and ends in him throwing not just the spoon, but his whole body on the floor in a shuddering heap. Now, react.

Not all reactions will be the same of course, but a possibly common one would take this shape:

1. You physically distance yourself from your colleague.

2. Your voice and demeanour grow more dispassionate as hers grows more hysterical.

3. You slow down the rhythm of your speech, and speak in as calm a tone as you possibly can muster.

4. You say in a quiet, steady voice that you will only engage with said colleague/toddler when said colleague/toddler has calmed down and stopped crying.

5. In the meantime, you tell said colleague/toddler that you will be in the next room, and that you are there for her/him.

6. You walk away, and wait. If you are lucky, you get to read a few pages of People Magazine.

7. Colleague/toddler calms down. Life continues on.


I'm so going to adopt this approach next time something like this happens to me (hopefully not too often. It's so draining!). Thanks so much to D for sparking this idea, and to Jordy for the regular role-plays!

On that note, I'm off to watch Episode 4 of The Wire Season 1. So amazingly good!

Saturday, April 10, 2010

More Than Words (Or, a 20th Month Birthday Stock Take)

Firstly, a big Happy 20 Month Birthday to Jordy!

Thought I'd use this occasion to do a quick vocabulary stock take. So here goes, here's what Jordy is saying (or trying to say!) as of today:

Air-pane (Airplane)
Ah-go (All gone)

Boh (Ball)
Baba (Bye bye)
Ba-woo (Bedroom)
Boo (Bird)
Bed (Bread)

Car-car (Car)
Coe (Cold)


Ele-oo (Elephant)

Gape (Grape)

Hoe (Home)

Jordy (but it sounds slightly different each time, think he's trying to work out how to make the "j" sound)

Kiss kiss
Kau-papa (Koala)
Kaga (Kangaroo)

Mum/Mama (Mummy)

O-poo (Open)
Or-ay (Orange)
Ow-oo (Owl)

Pease (Please)
Pee pee
Poo poo
Per-ler (Propeller)

Shoe shoe (Shoe)
Poon (Spoon)
Tar (Star)

Tuh (Truck)
Tow-oo (Towel)

It took a while for him to start speaking but now that he's started, he's surprising us with something new everyday!

Thursday, April 01, 2010

Jordy Discovers Granddad's Hat!

Looking very dapper in singlet and hat

Today was the equivalent of a grey, wintry day - except it neither rained nor snowed. What I mean is Jordy and D were both feeling very under the weather (Jordy with an upper respiratory tract infection and cough that has lasted for almost a month now, and D with a suspected microplasma infection and who was on to his second round of antibiotics in less than a week respectively), and so we were instructed by our respective doctors to stay home and rest for the long weekend.

I stayed away from the office (though worked from home, like D) and had to think of things to entertain Jordy for a whole day indoors! It wasn't as bad as I expected in the end. We read lots of books in bed, played tickle monster a lot, spooned dry pasta into various bottles and containers, AND... Jordy (while D and I were typing away on our laptops) discovered his Granddad Adrian's hat from their last visit to Singapore. Deep in the recesses of our study closet!

Yeah baby!

It was the first time he'd truly played dress-up and we were so tickled and delighted to be there to capture him in action!

I'm talkin 'bout the man in the mirror...

You've been hit by, a smooooth criminal...

Why do I have the certain feeling that Jordy and I could dress up very convincingly as Diego and Dora next Halloween? Ola!

Friday, March 26, 2010

Life Imitates Art (Or, Jordy's First Art Exhibition)

Painting on the left, artist at work on the right.

Jackson Pollock said every good painter paints what he is.

If that holds true, then Jordy is a warm home, framed in a wonderful swirl of greens and blues. He is also a gardener, one hand in the earth, watching the fruits of his labour bloom in pinks and blues.

Jordy's is the green hand on red. His name is written in traditional Chinese in the upper left hand corner.

As D and I were feeling better after a day of (semi) rest at home (D worked mostly in the study, I cooked a batch of Jordy food to freeze), we were both able to pick Jordy up from childcare and head to the Children's Exhibition at Carpe Diem Kidz' new Russels Rd premises. Extremely impressive, and you could see the heart shining through the teachers' and children's work.

I didn't realise the toddler class would be included in the exhibition so was so surprised to see Jordy's efforts on display. He was pretty unfazed by the enthusiasm emanating from us, and just gave us small Jordy smiles as we clapped and whooped in appreciation.

Family shot at the Exhibition!

Halfway through the Exhibition, I was suddenly struck with wonder that the very Jordy who had produced a handprint artwork was once a cell. I know I'm not the first parent to be struck by wonder at that, but if that doesn't constitute a miracle then I don't know what does.

And Family Shot #2, this time with a clearer depiction of the artist's face!

I'm just so pleased we found a good childcare provider for Jordy, and that he seems to genuinely be having a good time there. I can see myself getting right into the whole parent-teacher thing, and the after-school volunteer programmes etc. Right up my alley man!

We didn't stay too long at the exhibition, and left before it officially started (as we were still not 100% and didn't want to risk being there when all the other children's families arrived), so then headed to IKEA for dinner (where Jordy fed himself half the kid's portion of pasta - some landed on the floor and some remained in the bowl!). At dinner, we unveiled his new favourite book - a present from his Mama Maree that had just been received in the post that day! A digger book with monster wheels!

Jordy and his book go shopping at IKEA.

Back home now, D's putting Jordy to bed while I type this, then it's Glee! And tomorrow, I turn 34. Oh. My. God. I will restate that for posterity. 34. Years. Old. I figure it's gauche to be all precious about revealng one's age. Call a spade a spade I say.

So yes, on my last evening of my 33rd year, I'm sitting here on my couch up in the air in my apartment facing the jungle in a tropical island just north of the Equator, my wonderful husband and much-blogged-about son just a few feet away, my health looking good (temporary ailments aside, touch wood), my sense of self, like my teeth, intact, and I'm thinking, Jackson Pollock said, Every good painter paints what (s)he is.

Well if I were a good painter, I'd paint a pretty big sun with a smiley face in it. 'Cos that kinda sums up how I'm feeling at this moment.

Out, Out Damned Spot (of Bad Fat)!

At home today down with a throad infection. D came down with it in Abu Dhabi then I started feeling pretty awful on Wednesday night, and the fever and body aches came yesterday. We suspect we got it from little Jordy, as D's now developed the awful hacking cough that's plagued Jordy for more than two weeks now!

Sigh. But thank God for the wonders of anti-biotics. Can't remember the last time I had to take them, but whatever it is, it's working!

The really, really cool news is that I got my latest cholesterol results back, and... everything is looking rather good! So the new diet and exercise regime is working. And the best thing of all? My Cholesterol/HDL ratio of 3.8 is now in the better-than-average range! Whee!

DATE 29-Aug-09 2-Nov-09 23-Mar-10
Total Cholesterol 319 214 202
HDL Cholesterol 61 44 53
LDL Cholesterol 234 143 135
Cholesterol/HDL Ratio 5.2 4.9 3.8

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Don't you know, we're talkin' 'bout a revolution

Wow, the gaps in my posts are getting huger and huger. The funny thing is, it's not really the working mother juggling act that is keeping me from posting regularly, but more the potent combination of Amazing Race-American Idol-Glee-So You Think You Can Dance + Our new StarHub recordable set-top box.

Which means a) I'll never have to miss anything that coincides with Jordy's bedtime again; b) I can record ANYTHING on the channels we pay for, like say, random episodes of Whose Line Is It Anyway; and c) TV Is just so... distracting! Anyway, bad excuses I know...

So. A ton of things have been going on but probably the coolest has been Jordy's sudden decision to TALK! Yes, as in clear words, not just "geh" or "kah". It's been a l-o-o-o-n-g time coming but it's so fascinating to watch!

So here's a look at the words Jordy is saying at 19months:

1. Daddy
2. Mama
3. Uh-oh (usually after he deliberately sets his water bottle on its side, or overturns something)
4. Baby
5. Bubble
6. Ah-poo (for apple)
7. Air-pane (for airplane)
8. Car-car (for cars)
9. Kou-kou (we think he's referring to gong gong, his granddad, but we're not 100% sure yet)
10. Per-per/Per-ler (for the propellers on his airplane!)
11. Tar (for star)

And just today he said,
12. Two (for the number two!)

Speaking of numbers, he's really into them at the moment. He loves pressing the number "11" button in our elevator to go home, and singing "One, two buckle my shoe" will get him out of most grumpy moods/crying jags.

Ok, going to catch some zzzzz soon. David is on whis way to Abu Dhabi and I don't know whether Jordy's persistent cough will mean it's Sleepless in Singapore tonight so I better make hay while the sun shines (weird metaphor for sleep I know, but you get my drift!). If not it's zombie city at work tomorrow! Till next time!

Saturday, March 06, 2010

Notes from an (Incredibly Overdue) Exhibition (Or, A Very Long Hiatus)

Collage #1: Dated from the morning of 6 March 2010, this nuanced piece of work shows a boy and his car as they go off on adventures in the park. Notice the subtle hints of colour linking boy and car, the green a tribute both to the naturalistic setting, as well as to the snot flowing freely from the boy who has caught yet another bug while at daycare. The splashes of red allude not just to the fiery personality of the male subject, but also to the broader context of transport - note how the boy's shoes and his car's wheels are an almost identical shade of red.

Sorry to all for the long silence on this poor neglected blog!

The weeks have passed in a whirr of work, play, and rest. Jordy is now very settled in childcare after four weeks of tears in the morning (that gradually went from distraught "what happened to mum and what on earth am I doing in this noisy, crowded place?!" cries, to half-hearted "waah i don't want mum to go, hey isn't that a cool bird in the cage, hmm I wonder what I'm going to have for breakfast" cries.)

It was amazing to watch him gradually get more comfortable and secure at childcare. And on the Monday of the fifth week, he happily marched in, let me take of his shoes, grabbed his water bottle, and WALKED STRAIGHT IN. Without looking back. On the Tuesday, he turned back and waved goodbye and SMILED! I almost fainted from shock but stood as if like a smiling pillar of salt, one hand raised in a big wave. And on Wednesday, he laughed as the teacher checked his temperature and sanitised his hands, waved and again walked in. It's been like that since and we are now into the seventh week at childcare!

I wish I could capture this precise moment in our lives, because it honestly feels like we've achieved a lovely balance. Jordy seems to be happy at his playschool, he eats and rests well there (he's known as as "third helping" boy, and settles for his two hour nap very easily, doesn't even need patting to sleep!), he's learning new things everyday (e.g. he now knows how to pump a soap bottle, take some soap in his hands and wash them!, he dances to "If you're happy and you know it stamp your feet" and "Ring a ring a roses") and settles back into homelife pretty well after school.

As for me, I'm loving being back at work. I thought I would feel some kind of disconnect, or at least experience some jarring moments here and there. But truthfully? It probably took me a day to transition back to work, I don't really feel like a fish out of water, and it's amazing how wearing nice clothes, some lip gloss and slipping on a pair of heels can transform how you feel inside. And the other thing? I'm loving getting back on the exercise bandwagon. It's gym day and swim day for now, but I may look to add a "walk up Fort Canning Hill" day to the week. But I'm easing into it.

Weekends are more precious, and I probably enjoy my time with Jordy more now, as I have time to miss him. One of the girls asked me at dinner last night if I thought about Jordy a lot at work, and again, honestly? I don't really. I think it's because I work only four hours a day and in those four hours, I feel like I'm making every minute count work-wise. It's like I'm a living PR Agency time sheet where I can account for my time for each project I'm working on! Anyway I'm only into my fifth week back at work so ask me again in a few months and you might get a different answer.

Which brings me back to how I wish I could freeze this moment 'cos it's feeling pretty sweet.

As a tribute to a recent book I read, the excellent Notes from an Exhibition by (the ridiculously good looking) Patrick Gale, I present to you, more notes from an (incredbly overdue) exhibition. All artwork created and curated only this morning!

Still Life #1: Boy and DVD player. This muted scene barely conceals the rich undertones simmering beneath the surface. The boy's eyes are raised to the artist, as if inviting admonishment. This picture paints a visual puzzle in the form of the missing DVD. Where has it gone? Who has taken it? And for what purpose? We are left wondering, even as the boy's right hand curls protectively round his water cannister. But wait, what is hidden in the boy's other hand? Could it be...

A Study in Animism: Here, the boy is shown in a rare state of spiritual reverie. Eyes downcast, he is at peace with the natural world, his energies and intent focused on the green car wrapped in his hands. He is also bowing in the direction of McCafe, which is the traditional scene of post-play replenishment and redjuvenation.

Mother and Child: Through the ages, the mother and child prove to be an enduring subject for artists. In this case, the mother points out the myriad kites gliding through the sky to her firstborn. Excited, he raises his hands and says triumphantly, the word "Geh!"

Still Life #2: Boy scanning the horizon. In this closer study of the Everyboy, he is once again clad in green, set against the backdrop of the urban/natural dichotomy - in this case, the maritime/oceanic split. Notice his resolute half-smile as he ponders what is to come, determined to tackle head on whatever comes his way.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Confessions of a Working Mother

The Dragon and the Rat on the first day of the Tiger year. Rrrroar!

1. I am currently loving both my jobs: my paid job in an office in the city with a view of the Singapore River, and my unpaid job as mum to toddler extraordinaire Jordy.

2. I lay out my outfit, complete with accessories and shoes, the night before work. I feel like I am in primary school again!

3. The mornings still feel pretty relaxed - we wake a little before Jordy does, shower and have breakfast, then Jordy gets up, and I feed him, then I get dressed and prepare his day care stuff while he watches a bit of Baby Einstein. We leave the house at 8.15am, he's settled in school by 8.30 and I'm at work by 9!

4. I love the walk along the river to work. I park my car in a nearby mall (where season parking is relatively cheap for the city: $90+ a month!).

5. Once I hit work it's pretty much non-stop go until I log off again at 1pm. Today marks the end of my sixth day at work and I've already handled one media query on my own, on an initiative new to me, but that I didn't have much problem coming to grips with. I don't think I'm overstating it, but I already feel like I'm contributing and do feel valued. It's an awesome feeling.

6. I love the walk back to the car after work, along the river again. I have an hour or so to run errands, grocery shop, start dinner, listen to my iPod - generally ME time - before I pick Jordy up at 3.30pm. As of next week, I am going to incorporate exercise into my new routine. I am aiming for one gym session on a Monday, and a 10-lap swim on a Wednesday or Thursday. The gym and pool are but one escalator ride away from the office (in pretty stunning surroundings) so there is NO excuse. I am taking a leaf out of Michelle Obama's guide to motherhood - place your children first, and yourself a very, very close second.

7. In order to fit in gym and swim into new working mom routine, I will have to pack lunch in. I am thinking a penne/pesto/broccoli/cherry tomato cold salad one day, and leftovers (bleagh) another. If not, there is always Subway downstairs or the foodcourt.

8. I love, love, love the anticipation I feel when I drive into the school gates to pick Jordy up. And I love how everytime I've gone to pick him up, he's engrossed in an activity - be it finger painting, dancing in a circle (here we go round the mulberry bush), and just today, I walked in and saw him playing with water balloons! He still cries every morning, but it is no longer distraught, and dare I say it, "normal" separation anxiety emotions that he will work through in time. It is also less painful for me to drive away. Sometimes, in the morning, when the teacher takes him, he cries a bit, then forgets himself, and smiles when she points out the chirpy parakeet out to him. That's when I know that things will work out OK.

9. At the end of the day, though I know I'm not earning big bucks or have a career on fast track, the sense of accomplishment I get from wearing these different hats, and juggling these heavy (metaphorical) porcelain vases like a Chinese acrobat, is proving pretty priceless.

10. I know it's early days yet, but I think things bode well so far. And if things don't turn out that great, then in the words of a wise mum before me, everything is reversible.

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Last Day of Stay-At-Home-Momhood

This is what I made for dinner on my last night of stay-at-home-momhood - a chicken pie with an olive oil mixed herb crust. The outcome certainly paled in comparison to the amount of work put in. Don't think I'll be using this recipe again, or if I do, I'll spice it up with some chili and more spices.

Anyway, I am hanging up and dusting off my apron as I type! *bows and walks off stage*

Heh heh.

What better way to sum up my last 18 months than with a little Dickens eh? To stretch the metaphor, the stay-home-mom/working-mom dichotomy is very much a tale of two cities...

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to heaven, we were all going direct the other way - in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only.

Next time I post, I'll be officially contributing to the economy!

Monday, February 08, 2010

What'll It Be?

A quick update from my trusty iPod... I'm meant to be returning to work on Wednesday. Five half days, 9 to 1 pm. I've had a beyond fantastic last three weeks to myself while Jordy spent the morning and early afternoon in childcare. The freezer is stocked with stews, soups, pizza bases, homemade burgers, Thai fish cakes, stock, heck, I even spent part of a morning browning lean beef mince in bulk so I can just pop it in the slow cooker for chili. I bought myself a new work bag, some new clothes, sorted out season parking at a nearby mall to work, even met up with colleagues to get a sense of what I'm returning to.

Anyway, all this is leading somewhere, please bear with me.

So then this morning Jordy woke up with a slight fever. Which then spiked and ebbed as the day went on. Highest recorded temp was 38.9. He's still eating well but is clearly not himself. Example, he was happy lying on my lap on the couch for half an hour while watching Baby Einstein! Anyway so now I'm not sure what's going to happen come Wednesday! Really hope he gets better soon... If not my first day of work might be a dependant care leave day!

Something tells me I'm being orientated pretty quickly to the world of working-parent-juggling. Argh!

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Mullet Begone!

Jordy and his mullet enjoying Baby Einstein.

Jordy's mullet was beginning to have a life of its own (or at least deserving of its own nickname), so before things got too out of hand, D and I decided that today would be the day we embarked on Jordy's first milestone in hair removal.

I had no idea how he'd react - I've heard all kinds of horror stories, so was prepared to take things as they came. Armed with a little pair of scissors, and a vague idea of what sort of style I'd aim for, we began!

Not much of a reaction from the first snip!

I worked as swiftly and decisively as I could, taking out rather huge chunks of hair as I went along, as you can see below!

The tools of the trade!

And as quickly as it began, it ended. Barely two minutes! And now presenting, Master Jordy Version 2.0, sharper, sleeker and stylier. As D put it rather nicely, he's gone from lout to lad! Heh heh.

Jordy attests to the hypnotic effect of Baby Einstein.

Not a bad job if I can say so myself, ahem.

Obligatory back view

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

They Should Build a Roller Coaster Ride Called "Motherhood" (Or, Day Eight of Childcare!)

Today marks the eighth day that Jordy has been in childcare. And also the eighth day that I've experienced four seasons of emotions in one day.

The mornings start out like Spring; you wonder what the day will bring. Everything hints of possibility and new-ness. Jordy smiles and feasts on breakfast like the nestling that he is. We read some stories and play his favourite music.

An hour later and Jordy is dressed for childcare and suddenly Autumn is here. He seems slightly older in his yellow and blue outfit, and the spring in my step is suddenly gone, replaced with a little heaviness that mirrors the weight in my heart. The colours of the morning seem a little muted now.

He gets into the car happily enough, even smiles at his little robot backpack. We pull up the driveway of his little school and he senses the first frost in the air. He is tentative, but still puts on a brave face as we walk into the din that is morning drop-off time. He understands what is to happen when I remove his shoes and rub some insect repellent on him. He is in denial though, and only really cries out when he sees his teacher coming to get him. When she carries him into the Centre - and to his new routine in the day - Winter blasts its icy entrance into my heart and I always freeze for a moment. Don't move, lest he cries more. But then I regain my senses, and walk briskly to the car. Pause, deep breath, and drive off.

The next six hours pass in a bit of a blur - of activity, of emotion, of movement. I run errands, I catch up with friends, I watch a movie alone, I read in a cafe, have a pedicure, take my time while choosing produce at the market, I listen to a lot of music. Winter gradually gives way, warmth creeps back, Spring again.

Three o'clock. I pack a couple of his snacks, some sand toys, perhaps a ball, and drive to the centre, my heart beating a little faster than usual. I reverse park in the driveway, stop the car. Pause, deep breath. Wonder what he will be doing when I next lay eyes on him. What expression will be on his face.

Every single time I see him, he is always happy, always busy, and pretty content. His eyes widen with recognition, and he runs up to me. Never clinging, but always to show me something he's learnt, or a new favourite toy. This afternoon, it was a pasta music shaker he made himself. I leave him in Winter, and return in Summer.

And if there's one thing to remember, it's that kids have fun in Winter too.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Apron Strings and Other Things

First morning, dressed in his childcare kit, not knowing what lay ahead.

This is a bit of a bittersweet post. Hmm, maybe bitter is a little too harsh sounding. More of a semi-sweet post. Heck if this post was a chocolate bar, it'd be a Whittaker's 70% Ghanaian cocoa bar.

Apologies for the clumsy metaphor. What I mean is this: the last two days have seen me vacillating between emotional extremes. On one end, it's fear, anxiety, guilt, doubt, and these gut-wrenching regular twitches where my heart used to be; on the other, it's pride, liberation, love, and the great, overwhelming desire to WRAP MY ARMS AROUND something, preferably my child.

Yes, Jordy started childcare this week.

I thought I had psychologically prepared myself by reading a plethora of online articles from various mum and bub sites and working mum forums. I read the fantastic chapter on working mums in Kate Figes' Life After Birth. I was mentally prepared for the swirls of emotions they all said you'd feel. But alas I have learnt that the cerebral is no match for the visceral.

In plainer English, my brain thought I was ready and would be okay with my firstborn going to daycare for seven hours a day, but my insides rebelled and I suddenly found myself on day two after dropping him off, sitting in a car wash and crying. All this before 9.30am! The stuff they don't tell you about motherhood! (By the way, the car is clean and sparkly, so that's one good thing eh?)

Jordy's first day at Carpe Diem Kidz (yes, unfortunate spelling I know, but they have a petting zoo and tree house so there!) started at 8.3o and ended at noon. His second day started at 8.30 and ended at 2.45pm! My intention is to pick him up around 3pm everyday, once I go back to work.

In his more formal uniform for day two!

He did pretty well on both days, considering it was his first time being cared for by strangers after hanging out with me as his main caregiver these past 17 months! He started each morning cheerfully enough, clambering to get to the dining area to see what was being served for (second) breakfast - omelette yesterday, cereal this morning - then walking around the garden and looking at things. Both days he didn't cry when I said goodbye and walked away. But both days, I saw him look for me after I'd gone (I spied at him from afar of course) and then, when he was unable to find me, would start crying.

The teachers had to carry him for much of the first two days. Strange considering he normally hates to be carried.

D said a very insightful thing, that Jordy had been so secure previously, and that's why he was so independent and would walk and run all over the place and not ever asked to be carried. So he is probably craving the cuddling now that he is in an unfamiliar situation, and is not feeling all that secure. Do you hear my heart breaking yet?

Ah. But everything I've read has also led me to believe that it will be worse before it gets better. I'm expecting disrupted sleep at night, increase in tantrums, and perhaps, even weight loss if he doesn't eat as well in the next few weeks. I'm preparing myself but the realities are just so tough to face!

Anyway, don't get me wrong. It's not all doom and gloom. It's just that the challenges are so out there, so obvious, that I've had to address them first.

What I'm getting to is what I think will be the longer term benefits. The amazing toys and resources they have at the centre. The well-trained teachers who seem genuinely caring and compassionate. The presence of a dedicated Mandarin teacher (yay!), and of course, the fact that as Jordy is broadening his horizons and his world just a little, I'll be able to get back to the workforce! So I'm taking a long term view on things.

Having a little play at home before heading off this morning.

I'm going to keep this short as Outrageous Fortune beckons on DVD. But it's only the end of day two, and I'm already getting a little inkling of what lies ahead. I see in Jordy's future... a pile of school reports, much like the one below...

Isn't it fantastic? The teacher will prepare one every week to explain what the week's activities have been centred on, as well as what is to come.

And the very best thing? You turn over the report, and you get this!

Almost as good as being there? Perhaps not, but it certainly allows an overly-imaginative parent like me to keep a few images in my head.

These early childhood teachers do an amazing job. I salute them, as I do the wonderful kids who inspire them (I hope!).