Saturday, October 31, 2009

Gymboree

Ryan can crawl well now although he only crawls if there's good reason to. Crawling is apparently essential to brain development (according to Glenn Doman, among others) so we are trying to get him to crawl more by enticing him with suitable toys and noisemakers to keep him motivated and focused. Today we managed to persuade him to climb the whole length of the crawling track at Gymboree. Well done Ryan!


Friday, October 30, 2009

Rub a dub dub, Ryan's in the tub!


Ryan loves being in the water. When he was a newborn, baths relaxed and soothed him and he would contentedly fall asleep shortly after.

I'd seen photos of babies swimming underwater a la Aquaman and had fantasised about my baby being able to do that. The earliest swimming lessons we managed to find in Singapore, however, were for 6 month olds. I was told however, that it is at 6 months that babies start to get nervous around water and that I should introduce Ryan to water play while he was still fearless and clueless. So, when he was still an infant, we took him to Hwa Xia to splash around in their tubs so that he would not develop a fear of the water.

We always thought that these sessions were supposed to be spa-like, relaxing and soothing. It seemed strange to us that putting a baby in the tub could qualify as swimming. Our friends who were swimming instructors scoffed at the idea that one could call this swimming. Yet, some parents do use these tub sessions as swimming sessions and, in fact, Hwa Xia encourages this. When we first put Ryan in the tub, we were content to let him just relax and enjoy the water but the shop staff encouraged him to kick about energetically. Ryan understood and he kicked, flapped, spun around and he earned lots of praise from the shop staff. We never needed to give him any reassurance or encouragement or wave any toys at him.

It was a little disconcerting to us at first as what we thought would be a soothing and calm experience turned out to be very chaotic and noisy - all the parents would be flapping and waving their arms enthusiastically at their babies in the tub, shaking all sorts of noisemakers, some would even hit the sides of the tub with the toys, everyone would be calling, "swim, swim, swim!" or "kick, kick, kick!"

Still, Ryan seemed to enjoy his sessions so we signed up for a package. We tried to go at odd times when the shop was relatively empty and quiet to reduce the chaos. However, after a few sessions, and having grown physically bigger and stronger, Ryan was no longer content to be stuck in the tiny tub. He wanted to go places and he kicked harder and flapped faster to try to break free of the tub. We had to take out all the floating toys because they took up precious space. He'd kick the tub and bang his float against the sides until the tub shook and the water splashed out onto the floor. It was heartbreaking to watch and I wanted to stop his sessions completely to save him all that frustration. I didn't think that he was having fun anymore.

Then, we went to KL and let him play in our big swimming pool there. He must have realised the difference because since then, he treats his tub like a relaxing spa. Instead of expending his energy with no reward, he now glides about gracefully in the tub, floating like a butterfly and dancing like a mermaid. The staff still try to get him to kick and flap energetically but he will simply smile, ever so sweetly, at them and continue his waltz. He takes more interest in his fans now (his audience of passerbys), posing and flirting with the ladies. Where the toys were obstructive tub-mates before, he now leisurely examines and grabs each one. When we think he’s had enough and move to lift him out, he will start flapping and kicking enthusiastically so that we leave him in the tub. As soon as we do, he goes back to his dancing and jiving. Obviously this cheeky monkey is smarter than all of us.

His sessions now go on for a leisurely one hour and when he gets out, he is refreshed and raring to go, as if he'd just stepped out of the spa. Previously, he would fall exhaustedly into deep slumber after each tub session.



The staff at the shop has always been asking us to sign up for their in-house competitions and we have always declined. Recently we'd been thinking that Ryan’s tubbing days are nearly over as he's getting too big so we signed him up for the competition as a nice ending. Perhaps we should have joined the competition when Ryan was still thrashing about hopefully, trying to freestyle his way to Sentosa. We wondered how he would do with his new graceful and playful routine.



The preliminaries were held on 22 September, at 11.00am. We overslept and were just in the nick of time after a bit of a rush. When Ryan’s turn came, we tried to do what the other parents did and started chanting swim! swim! swim! but we soon stopped because it seemed silly to us. We've never flapped our hands at him or told him that he should swim! swim! swim! He has always known what to do. Anyway, the moment he chuckled at us, we forgot about doing any chanting or flapping and we just chuckled back and we just let him do whatever he felt like doing. We didn’t bring any supporters but he soon had a good audience. For the 10 minutes allotted to him, he moved comfortably around in the water, relaxed as usual, oblivious to the fact that he was supposed to at least look like he was putting in lots of strenuous effort. When the judge came around, she asked me with some surprise why I wasn’t using any toys. I told her, Ryan didn’t need them, but inside I was thinking, oh no, we failed some judging criteria somewhere. Then the judge said, “Such a cutie” (in Chinese) and I was hopeful again.

Anyway, the following Wednesday, while we were in Sydney, we got the surprising good news - Ryan had charmed his way through to the finals! Yippee!

The finals were held the day after we got home from Sydney. We reached home from the airport after midnight, went to bed at 2am, woke up late and it was a mad rush to the shop once again.

The finals were quite a different picture from the preliminaries. We caught a look at the round of babies before us and their parents were definitely very serious! Many of them even brought their own toys and props! There were balloons, funny headbands and there was a lot of vigorous hand action and chanting going on. All we had was a towel. Since a portion of the points was given for baby-parent interaction, we thought, well, that’s the end of us. We felt a little guilty at being the lousy unprepared parents and we were just happy to hear that every baby who got to the finals would get something.

Anyway, we put Ryan in the tub and got started. The two of us, the parents, were completely useless - the best we could do was to stroke his head. Ryan leaned back against the tub and stretched out his legs and braced himself against the other end as if to tell us - I'm too big for this, if I do this for you will you get me out of here? You've got a deal, son.

When the judge came round to test Ryan, he was perfect! He smiled at her, he splashed about, he kicked, he flapped his arms and he spun around. Then he started doing his own thing – he gave his boyish grin, he flirted outrageously, he babbled adorably, he strutted his cheeky poses. He danced so gracefully that the judge commented he was doing the ballet.

And then, Ryan unsheathed his secret weapon. He started to sing. Yes, he started to sing.

Offkey, no doubt, but make no mistake, that bird was singing. At the top of his voice. The judge was completely charmed. When she asked me, “How do you pronounce his name?”, I knew he was in the top 3. Not number 1 surely (blame his lousy parents for dropping points) but definitely a hot favourite. When we left the shop, the judge told us, “Make sure you come back later for the results” and we grinned yes at her.

And yes, Ryan emerged number 2! When the judge announced his name, she also announced, “This one can sing!".

We were definitely surprised - Ryan didn't do any "training" for the finals, he just enjoyed himself and did whatever he liked, displaying his personality and his playfulness. Well done, Ryan! We are so proud of you!

Anyway, since then, we haven't gone back to Hwa Xia, except to pick up his certificate last weekend. A deal's a deal. Still, as part of his prize, Ryan won some extra sessions and he has also got some sessions left on his package so I guess we will be back, but only if I can get him to change his mind.

PS: 1st place went to Ryan's pal, Matthias, who together with his parents, put on a very entertaining show, with Daddy and Mummy giving lots of encouragement by blowing soap bubbles, rattling keys and making lots of clapping and flapping actions. Great fun to watch!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

This is not a how-to blog

I sometimes wish that I lived in a simpler world. I'm paralysed by choices. I have left a shoestore empty-handed many times simply because I couldn't decide between the black shoes or the brown shoes. I walk out of bookstores that have shelves crammed full of books because there's too much to compute.

You see, my problem is that I need to be convinced. I need to know the pros and the cons, the good and the bad, the upside and the downside. I need to process. And the more choices I have, the more I process. I process even when I have already made up my mind. I scan the entire menu before I order the exact same thing I had the last time I was at the same restaurant. I read all the reviews on other car/camera/[insert product] models before buying the model I'd set my heart on in the first place.

Since I've become a parent, all this processing has taken on a new dimension. There are so many decisions to make - which gynae? which PD? which diaper? which laundry detergent? which stroller? which toy? should I breastfeed? how long should I breastfeed? should we teach him phonics? sight words? should we teach him now or later? TV or no TV? what time should bedtime be?

Everyone has an opinion and every issue has divided opinion. There is an incredible amount of literature and opinion on every aspect of childcare and bringing up children. I myself have books and books on childcare but all that is a drop in the ocean compared to the millions of hits that turn up when I google "weaning" or "breastfeeding".

Which brings me to this blog.

I've been blogsurfing quite a bit and that has prompted me to think about what I want to see on this blog. It started out simply as a journal to record Ryan's milestones and our milestones as parents. We didn't even tell anyone about it in the beginning. It was just a diary for us. We finally told our family to look it up for updates when they hinted that we weren't keeping in touch as often as we should. And so it became a way to keep in touch, to share a piece of Ryan with people who were interested. And I think I'll keep it that way. I had been a little worried about putting our little family out on the internet. I had been considering going completely anonymous - no names, no faces in photos, etc. - or even making the blog private. Perhaps I will, one day. For now, I'll continue to share Ryan with everyone.

So, this is just a blog about our family's everyday life. I'm not going to tell you which stroller brand to buy, which school to send your child to or what to serve your child for breakfast. I will/may tell you which stroller we bought, which school Ryan goes to and what Ryan ate this morning, but only by way of reporting and not because I think you should do the same. If our choices for Ryan inspire you, that's wonderful. If they don't, that's cool too. We can still be friends.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Weaning

Since Ryan was six months old and started showing interest in our meals, we've been introducing him to solid food. We adopt the baby-led weaning approach, which is to let Ryan feed himself and to let him choose what he wants to eat (from a selection provided by us). We don't put things into his mouth and we don't spoon feed him. All food is placed in front of him, appropriately sized for his hands, and he will pick up whatever he chooses to taste and feed himself. This also means we don't do purees, cereals, mashed food or porridge. We did try porridge once - Ryan insisted on using his hand to grab the porridge off the spoon and, being rather unsuccessful, promptly lost interest.

Letting him decide what he wants to eat extends to his milk feeds as well, so as long as he wants to have milk instead of solids for his meals, that's what he'll get. At the moment, Ryan is still on breastmilk for 100% of his nutritional needs. We do let him have some fruit or biscuits or vegetables whenever we sit down as a family for a meal but that does not count towards his feeds. We don't give him any food outside of family mealtimes.

At first, much of the solids that Ryan took ended up on the floor (and was efficiently vacuumed by the dog) and he did gag quite a bit as he was learning to accept solid food travelling to the back of his mouth. Gradually, the gagging eased and the food started showing up in his diapers, which incidentally provided a source of entertainment for us - "honey, can you guess what Ryan ate today if I told you his poo has red bits in it?" (yes, I know we need to get out more)

As for what he eats, well, we generally give him fresh fruits (except citrus fruits), vegetables and biscuits. We stay away from salt, sugar, wheat, gluten, preservatives, eggs, dairy and nuts. We also don't do bread or pasta because of the salt and eggs normally found in them.

Many people are surprised to learn that Ryan is not on three solid meals a day and, in particular, that he isn't taking any cereal or porridge. To us, as long as he's healthy and happy, we're happy to leave him on 100% breastmilk, at least until he turns one.

Here's some photos of Ryan trying to paw some fruit muesli from Richard.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Photos!

25 October 2009 at The Botanic Gardens



11 October 2009 at Gymboree



10 October 2009 at Billy Bombers


4 Oct 2009 at Gymboree

Monday, October 26, 2009

Food adventures

26 October 2009 - Apple


24 October 2009 - Teething biscuit


22 October 2009 - Avocado


18 October 2009 - Banana


12 October 2009 - Teething biscuit

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Breakfast at The Botanic Gardens





Richard brought the family to The Botanic Gardens for breakfast. This is one of our regular spots and we always enjoy ourselves. Unfortunately, it started to rain just as we'd finished our meal so we couldn't take our usual walk around the gardens with the dog. Still, it was a lovely outing.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Still not as tall as Yoda

Friday, October 23, 2009

Life's Lessons - post by Richard (Daddy)

Time flies. Ryan is nine months old. Nowadays, I keep thinking about the future, especially Ryan's future and the kind of world that Ryan will grow up in?

He is very active vocally and it seems like anytime now he will be able to talk to us and we will have lots of conversation together. What sort of lessons will I then impart on him? Will I have the wisdom to impart the right knowledge and lessons to him?

It may sound a little cliche to say that a lot of life experience and lessons can be found in films but more often than not, good films are very much based on, or inspired by real-life experiences.

Recently I came across a piece of conversation between a father and son which left a deep impression on me. It goes something like this:

"Let me tell you something you already know. The world ain't all sunshine and rainbows. It is a very mean and nasty place and it will beat you to your knees and keep you there permanently if you let it. You, me, or nobody is gonna hit as hard as life. But it ain't how hard you hit; it's about how hard you can get hit, and keep moving forward. How much you can take, and keep moving forward. That's how winning is done. Now, if you know what you're worth, then go out and get what you're worth. But you gotta be willing to take the hit, and not pointing fingers saying you ain't where you are because of him, or her, or anybody. Cowards do that and that ain't you. You're better than that!" - Rocky Balboa to Rocky Jr in "Rocky Balboa"

This is definitely good advice which I will share with Ryan.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Nine months old


Ryan spent 39 weeks in my tummy and today, he's 39 weeks old.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

The Shichida Method - Parent Education Course


I have survived the few 'tough' days at work that I mentioned in Monday's post and now I can finally stop to relax. It's a very nice feeling when you're working hard and productively (assuming you enjoy what you do) but the post-deadline feeling of accomplishment, unburdening and switching off and cruising is also very nice.

This evening, after work, I attended the Shichida Parent Education Course. We have started Ryan on The Shichida Method and he goes for a class every week. This Parent Education Course is meant to give the parents a better understanding of how to apply the Shichida principles and how to go about doing the Shichida exercises/games when they are at home with their children.

The speaker was Ms Jocelyn Khoo, the director of the Shichida school, and she was very engaging. Of course, the subject matter of the talk - The Shichida Method - is very interesting in itself. The session lasted for about three and a half hours, with a light dinner provided. No children are allowed so one of us had to stay home with Ryan. Since I have been the one attending the weekly classes with Ryan, it was decided that I should go for the course, and I'm glad that I did. After the last few days of deadlines, hearings and stress, it was wonderful to just sit back, relax and listen.

The Shichida Method is known to produce children with high IQ although that is not its focus and that is also not the aim for Richard and me when it comes to Ryan. When I signed Ryan up at the school (which was a few months ago), I was asked to fill out a form stating what I wished to see in terms of his development and achievements. I wrote that I hoped Ryan would be a kind, sensitive and generous person.

It's easy to get caught up in the thrill that the Shichida child can do multiple mathematical equations before he can even speak but ultimately, The Shichida Method believes that education is not about acquiring knowledge and skills but about creating a well-balanced child who can use his whole brain (right and left) effectively and who will contribute his best to this world, whether socially, creatively or otherwise.

Before Ryan started his Shichida classes, we'd already started practising Glenn Doman math dots cards with him to give him some added mental stimulation. Now, after attending Ryan's Shichida classes and the Parent Education Course, I realise that The Shichida Method is different from Glenn Doman teaching, in terms of philosophy, opinion and focus. Even little things, such as the contents of the flashcards used, are different. Both teachings have proven to be effective in achieving their objectives.

At the end of the course, Ms Jocelyn Khoo related a story of one of her sons, Seng, the third of her four children. When he was about three or four, after all his siblings went to bed, Seng would be the one who shelved all their books and put away all their toys. When she was late coming home from work, he would call her on the phone and tell her, "Mummy, it's late, you should come home to rest. I've laid out your pillow and Daddy's pillow on your bed already, and I've also put my pillow in-between, can I accompany you tonight?" When his mother asked him what she should buy home for dinner, he would say, hang on while he asked everyone in the house (his siblings and the maid) what they wanted. And when she said, "What about you, Seng?", he would reply, "Anything, Mummy. You know what I like."

It was amazing to hear of such unselfishness, kindness and maturity in a three/four year-old child and I hope that we'll be able to foster those values in Ryan as well.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

The Nanny

One of the many things I am thankful for is Ryan's nanny. It is a great comfort to know that he is safe and well-cared for while I'm busy at work. When I tell people that Ryan is cared for by a nanny, they will tell me that she must be very good because Ryan looks so healthy and happy.

I trust his nanny completely and she has been very good to Ryan. She is attentive and observant of his needs and habits. She knows what should be done and what should not. She is calm and concerned at the appropriate times.

In addition to the tangibles, I am so grateful to have found this lady because I can see that she loves Ryan to bits and her whole family, including her extended family, does too. It is as if he has a whole other family when he's not with us. She is always buying new clothes and toys for Ryan. Her nieces, who visit her often, love to play with Ryan. Her eldest daughter, Caroline, a really sweet person, is always snapping photos of Ryan and playing with him.

Here's something that Caroline gave us - it's a very tiny book that I can hang on my phone/bag and it has 20 photographs of Ryan inside. She ordered it from one of the shops in town. I think it's such a great memento.



These shots were taken in my office. That's the view from my office window.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Monday blues

It's Monday again. I'm a little tired from the weekend and unfortunately I've got a tough few days at work this week. I like it when I'm busy at work - time passes quickly and usually pleasantly - but when deadlines, meetings and hearings collide in the perfect storm, time passes too quickly for anything to be pleasant.

In other news, the Christmas decorations in Orchard Road are being put up already! Christmas is my favourite time of the year - the feeling of peace and goodwill is so abundant. Last Christmas, I was 8 months' pregnant, and we invited two of my old schoolmates (Oi Lin and Voon Hooi) over for Christmas Dinner and that was when they found out that I was pregnant. Four weeks later, Ryan was born.

This Christmas is Ryan's first so we hope to make it extra-special. I'll have to start making a list of things to do/prepare, including adding a new Christmas stocking to the home! Getting excited about it! But first, I'll have to get through the next few days...

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Gymboree




Saturday, October 17, 2009

Busy Busy

Today was a busy day for Ryan. He had a playdate and then a friend's full month party. It was a tiring but enjoyable day.



Friday, October 16, 2009

Blog Action Day 2009 Update

The Peace of Wild Things
When despair for the world grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting with their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.

- Wendell Berry

This poem, by Wendell Berry, one of the greatest American nature poets of the 20th century, speaks to me deeply. The person finds himself in a situation that I find myself in often - where I have anxiety and doubt about my life, my situation, what I'm doing, even who I am. Some people right themselves by taking a walk or by reading a book or by playing a computer game. The person in the poem found his solace and peace by seeking out nature and by being among the 'wild things'. The poet is telling us that there is a balance between man and nature and when that balance is upset, we need to stop and examine our actions.

This moved me deeply because it expresses fundamental truths. Firstly, it is when we discard the complications of our life and live in the moment that our inner compass points to its true north and we find peace.

Secondly, there is a natural balance between man and nature. We should not be living selfishly, as though we are not part of the natural order of things. Perhaps Agent Smith said it best when he said to Neo (in the movie "The Matrix"),

"I'd like to share a revelation that I've had during my time here. It came to me when I tried to classify your species and I realized that you're not actually mammals. Every mammal on this planet instinctively develops a natural equilibrium with the surrounding environment but you humans do not. You move to an area and you multiply and multiply until every natural resource is consumed and the only way you can survive is to spread to another area. There is another organism on this planet that follows the same pattern. Do you know what it is? A virus. Human beings are a disease, a cancer of this planet. You're a plague and we are the cure."

We need to realise, properly realise, that our actions have consequences and that we are morally obligated to live responsibly and ethically during our time here. It's not a hobby, it's not a fantasy, it's not a romantic notion. It's our moral duty, as thinking, feeling and intelligent beings.

Blog Action Day 2009 - An amazing 13,563 blogs from 156 countries with more than 18 million readers participated to raise awareness on climate change. How amazing is that?

When I was pregnant, I kept my life simple. I ate from a limited menu, preferring to be safe rather than sorry. I did a lot less clothes-shopping, bag-shopping and shoe-shopping, preferring to wait until after I delivered because I was not sure how much my tummy would grow. I wore much less makeup. Instead of trawling the malls and trying to keep up with fashion and what's new, I spent my weekends having breakfast at the beach, walking my dog in the botanic gardens, browsing the shelves in the bookstores, indulging in galleries and exhibitions, and just staying at home.

After I delivered Ryan in January this year, I looked around and I realised I had clothes/shoes/bags/makeup/books/CDs/knick-knacks/gadgets/etc which I had never worn/used/read/listened to/appreciated/paid attention to and which I probably never would. There were three whole rooms in my house which I don't use on a day-to-day basis and they are full of stuff. I spent a lot of time just 'tidying up'. I felt weighed down, burdened. Previously, all these were belongings, assets. Now, I just saw rubbish. No doubt there was good intention behind some of the stuff - I feel wasteful throwing things away and usually keep and try to re-use stuff like boxes, plastic and glass. But there was just too much now.

I imagined the scenario where something happened to me and Ryan had to sort through all my belongings/rubbish and I felt so sorry for him. I felt terrible that my legacy was going to be a huge pile of junk.

So I made a resolution to live a simpler life. My mantra for this year is to live with less, to buy less, to spend less. No longer pregnant, I continue to spend my time having breakfast at the beach, walking my dog in the botanic gardens, browsing the shelves in the bookstores, indulging in galleries and exhibitions, and just staying at home. And I don't feel as though I'm missing out on anything. In fact, I feel lighter, less stressed, relaxed.

Today is Blog Action Day 2009. All over the world, nearly 9,000 bloggers signed up to raise awareness by writing on the same topic on their blogs today, which this year is climate change.

I'm pleased to know that my new 'less-is-more' attitude is also a step to slow down climate change. How? Well, watch this video - The Story of Stuff. This is a "20-minute, fast-paced, fact-filled look at the underside of our production and consumption patterns. The Story of Stuff exposes the connections between a huge number of environmental and social issues, and calls us together to create a more sustainable and just world. It'll teach you something, it'll make you laugh, and it just may change the way you look at all the stuff in your life forever."

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Reading

Richard and I love reading. We read all sorts of stuff - books, magazines, comics, graphic novels - and almost all categories and genre. When we go out to town, we usually end up in the bookstores. We are happy just to browse and happier if we find a good read to bring home.

My favourite is the novel. The last ones that I recall reading were 'We Need to Talk About Kevin' by Lionel Shriver (very disturbing but good) and 'Into the Wild' by Jon Krakauer (really really good).

It's been a long time since I had a good novel in my lap. I've been reading so much of other stuff. When I was pregnant, I put aside my novels and read up on pregnancy, childcare and bringing up children. I must have bought a small library on these topics, I devoured all that I could. Now that Ryan is here, I enjoy looking out for suitable books for him, carefully building his collection, making sure he has a good selection of the classics, the contemporary, the educational and the fun books. When I can catch a minute to myself to read something, I usually grab the newspaper or a magazine.

After one and a half years of mummy-reads and baby-reads and hurried reads, I wanted to get back to luxury reading for my own pleasure. So it was with great anticipation that I resuscitated my reading habit on our recent trip to Sydney. I chose 'The Time Traveler's Wife' by Audrey Niffenegger to do the honours and it was so worth it. I loved every beautiful word.

To celebrate my return to reading, I've placed a book widget on my sidebar to show what I'm currently reading, which is presently 'The Lovely Bones' by Alice Sebold. Also included are the books I'm reading with Ryan.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Letting go

It was a freaky coincidence that I was intently studying the beautiful stampede of cardboard horses by the awe-inspiring Ann Wood when I received news that a friend of ours had fallen off a horse while on holiday in Chiangmai and had suffered some spinal damage as a result. Thankfully, there is no permanent damage but she has to wear a brace for a while.

I told Richard about it and asked, would he let Ryan try out horse riding? Richard said no. And I thought, that's good. But then I thought, is it? Surely I want to give Ryan every opportunity to broaden his world. Surely I want to let him live every experience that comes his way. Surely I should be opening doors for him, instead of keeping him sheltered. Doesn't the saying go, 'nothing ventured, nothing gained'?

But how can I send Ryan into an activity that I know is risky? How can I knowingly put him in a situation where he might get hurt? Surely the most basic role of a parent is to take care of your children and keep them safe?

Before I became a parent, I never understood why it is so hard for parents to let go of their children. I always knew that it was hard, but I didn't understand why. Now I do. It is unimaginably hard because of so many reasons and I have newfound empathy for parents who are struggling to do so. I hope and pray that, when the time comes, I will be able to strike the right balance between being concerned and being over-protective.

"There are two lasting bequests we can give our children. One is roots. The other is wings." ~Hodding Carter, Jr.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Lessons I hope to teach my son

"Sometimes the things that may or may not be true are the things a man needs to believe in the most.
That people are basically good;
that honour, courage, and virtue mean everything;
that power and money, money and power mean nothing;
that good always triumphs over evil;
and I want you to remember this, that love... true love never dies.
You remember that, boy. You remember that.
Doesn't matter if it's true or not. You see, a man should believe in those things,
because those are the things worth believing in."

- Uncle Hub to his nephew Walter in the movie "Secondhand Lions"

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Food adventures

3 October 2009 - Choy sum


10 October 2009 - Water apple (jambu air)


11 October 2009 - Lettuce

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Hugs are free

Today we went to a preview of the program at Little Neuro Tree at POMO Centre. It is touted as "a unique tri-lingual programme using brain stimulation technologies to build knowledge, confidence and love for learning". At the end of the preview, the program specialist, Irene, approached me. I was holding Ryan in my arms and, a short while into our conversation, Ryan stretched out his arms to Irene as if to say, "Hello, here's a hug for you." Irene was very surprised. She delightedly took Ryan into her arms and Ryan gave her a good hug.

I took him back into my arms and Irene and I continued talking. Then Ryan stretched out his arms to Irene again, as if to say, "Now YOU give ME a hug, you lovely lady." Irene was astonished and happily took him on her shoulder again. Ryan then cozied up to her contentedly. Irene was so amazed. She said that this was the first time she'd seen a baby of Ryan's age do anything like this as normally, they stick to their parents.

I was surprised too as this is the first time I've seen Ryan give out hugs to strangers. No doubt, Ryan is becoming more communicative and interactive with his surroundings, so I should expect to see more of his personality and character now. Happily, I love what I'm seeing - the warmth and unconditional love he has for others. I hope we can find a way to preserve that so that he grows up to be kind, compassionate, generous, and sensitive to the needs of others.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Nuffnang Asia-Pacific Blog Awards 2009

I am a blog stalker/lurker/hopper/voyeur. It is a recent hobby of mine - trawling the internet, skipping from blog to blog to blog. There are various groups of bloggers which I visit - my friends, the parents, the crafters, the design critics, the lifestyle blogs. Virtual communities have sprung up among those with common interests and positive communal vibes leap out from the web pages. It is amazing to feel the camaraderie. It is equally amazing to read the comments left by the readers - always supportive, always interested, always encouraging.

There are some blogs which I particularly enjoy, which I return to over and over again. I brazenly poke my nose into their lives, read every report of their going-ons and examine every shred of photographic evidence that they disclose. These bloggers generously give their time, creativity and effort to share their lives with me in their beautifully laid out web pages and yet they ask nothing from me, despite the fact that I derive so much pleasure, entertainment and enrichment from their work.

I was feeling a little guilty at this imbalance so it was with great interest that I read that Nuffnang.com is presenting the first ever Asia-Pacific Blog Awards, honouring the best of the blogosphere in our region. People are invited to vote for their favourite blogs and the voting results will be announced on 23 October 2009 in Singapore. The nominated blogs and voting form are here.

I shall certainly be casting my vote. This is a great way to show my appreciation and say a small thank-you to bloggers everywhere. I was particularly pleased to see that taxidiary.blogspot.com has been nominated for Best Hidden Gem, a title which describes it perfectly.

Keep up the good work, all you bloggers!

Thursday, October 8, 2009

World Animal Day

My mother loves to tell this story about me. According to her, when I was a preschooler, maybe 4 or 5 years old, I had two pet turtles. One morning, I looked into the tank to find that one of the turtles had died. I was inconsolable. My father took the limp turtle out of the tank and placed it in a red basin. He told me, "don't cry darling, the turtle is just a little sick. I'll put him aside for a bit of a rest and you go off to school. He'll be fine by the time you get back."

So I went, anxiously, off to school. Unknown to me, my father proceeded to issue strict instructions to my mother. She was to carefully examine the turtle (which was well and truly dead) and memorise the number and location of all its spots and all other distinctive markings. She was then to go to the market and make sure that she purchased an exact replica. She dutifully carried out this mission.

When I got home, I ran into the house to check on my turtle, which was happily swimming about in the red basin. Wonder of wonders! I jumped for joy! I asked my mum, 'what medicine did you give him?' and she said, 'i put some salt in his water'. Wow!

It was many years later, and after I marinated many dead turtles in salt water in the hope that they'd 'get better', that I learned that there are freshwater turtles and there are seaturtles and that salt water is not the best medicine for a freshwater turtle.

Oh well. The point I wanted to convey is that I love animals.

There are strong indications that Ryan will grow up to be an animal lover too. We have a cat (called Tiger), a dog (called Max), an aquarium of fish and a small pond in the backyard which is seasonally populated by tadpoles and frogs. Birds are always present. Occasionally a squirrel runs across the fence. Ryan is fascinated by all of this. He shrieks in delight at the fish swimming about. His eyes follow closely when Tiger saunters past or when Max comes sniffing around. He chuckles and invites them to stay and chat with him and sometimes they do.

I'm sure that he'll want his own pet one day and I look forward to it. Perhaps I'll get the chance to heal a sick turtle or two.

October 4 was World Animal Day. To all the dogs, cats, hamsters, fish, chickens, ducks, rabbits, turtles and birds that have been part of my life, I salute you and thank you for the memories.


Wednesday, October 7, 2009

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month


Over the weekend, we went to check out a new bookstore at ION Orchard. It's called 'prologue'. I quite enjoyed it, the environment was relaxed and the staff were very helpful and attentive. The photo above was taken at the entrance of the store.

Just outside the bookstore, we passed a couple walking hand in hand and I noticed the lady was wearing a pink ribbon which reminded me that October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

After all these months of milking, vacuuming and suckling, I have come to appreciate my breasts a whole lot more and it is really hitting home that I need to make an effort to take care of them. Inasmuch as I've been given the privileges and powers of being female, there are attendant responsibilities, one of which is to take care of my female bits.

Certainly, before Ryan came along, my bosom was important to me. After all, it is a sign of my womanhood. It was gifted to me in a decent size (thanks mom) and I relied on it to look more womanly, to look more attractive, etc. Since Ryan appeared, they not only give me curves, they are called on to feed and nourish him around the clock and to calm and soothe him when he needs security and comfort. They never fail me and they never complain.

Accordingly, my breasts have now earned an identity of their own. Previously I would have said, "thanks mom, the boobs are great!". Now I go, "thanks boobs, you guys are great!"

So, I marvel at them. I give them loving massages. I choose underwear with their best interests at heart (support! support!), instead of mine (shape! shape!). I worry at any little sign of possible droopiness from the breastfeeding and I silently, absurdly, try to motivate them to stay perky - "come on boys, don't give up on me now! no slouching! no sagging! up up up!"

Yes, I'm on the verge of giving them their own names.

I'll make a promise to these two boys of mine. I'll be good to them and go for regular checkups and mammograms. I've never had any before Ryan. From now on, I will.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Gymboree




Ryan goes for a session at Gymboree every weekend where he gets to play on ramps, rockers, swings and slides. There are other activities like action songs and bubble play but the main feature of a Gymboree class is the physical exercises on their equipment. Ryan has started to creep and crawl about so we are getting more value out of the sessions now.

There are so many gyms for children in Singapore now - our children get their exercise and physical fun indoors, in tubs filled with colourful plastic balls and in inflatable bouncy castles, in sterilised rooms and in air-conditioned comfort. They do enjoy themselves and have lots of fun and their parents have the security of knowing that their children are in a controlled environment, safe and hygienic.

A friend commented to me yesterday that we didn't have such gyms during our time as children and children nowadays are so lucky. I thought about it and I'm not sure I can agree that our generation was unlucky or deprived. I remember myself as a child running about in the field outside my house, climbing the trees in my front garden, doing bicycle stunts on my BMX (the most popular being cycling without holding the handlebars), rollerskating (no inline skating then) up and down my street, standing on the swings in the playground and swinging higher and higher till I was almost horizontal. Those are some of the stand-out memories of my childhood - generally just being out and about in the sun (and rain) and the open air. I had a wonderful time so I'd say I was pretty lucky too.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Photos!

26 September 2009 - The Rocks Market, Sydney


25 September 2009 - Waiting for the tram outside Paddy's Market, Sydney


23 September 2009 - Grandma in Sydney


23 September 2009 - In our hotel room in Sydney





21 September 2009 - Lunch at Cedele, Great World City


19 September 2009 - At home


18 September 2009 - At home


16 September 2009 - At home


7 September 2009 - At home


17 August 2009 - Dinner at Por Kee


26 July 2009 - At home

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