Monday, July 30, 2007

At home with Caitlin

Caitlin's two days off from school last week has stretched on till today since her asthma cough has not improved and she developed a mild fever three days ago. It looks like the fever has gone today while she continues to have phlegm and coughs and pants a little when she gets too active and loud. Her condition seems to bother me more than her as she continues to be her usual active and playfully mischievous self at home, while I have to be the one monitoring her medication and inhaler schedules.

She's been good at keeping herself occupied most times. I'm actually surprised and pleased that she has done without Astro (satellite TV) quite a bit as our TV set in the living room has been out of order since last week. She's been watching a couple of DVDs in the room but mostly occupies herself with books and toys. Hopefully once the TV is working again, she would have forgotten her morning dose of Tom & Jerry cartoons. She seems to enjoy the cat-and-mouse violence which is beginning to make me wonder if it would have any long-lasting effects on her although I keep reminding her that this is just a cartoon and those acts don't happen in real life....

I hope her cough and phlegm will stop soon so that we could get back to our usual routine of her being at school to allow me to do stuff at home in peace!

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

A productive day

I am pretty satisfied today was quite a productive one considering that Caitlin was home with me all day. I decided to keep her out of school today and tomorrow due to the chronic cough that she's developed once again from a runny nose after a seven-month hiatus.

Somehow, she was pretty compliant and 80% well-behaved throughout the day. I was actually expecting the worse this morning when the notion that I'd have her with me all day at home hit me.

Here's roughly what she did today:

Read a few books by herself after breakfast

Completed about six pages of math (subtraction) with my guidance

Coloured some pictures in her Barney colouring book

Practised music on the piano for 15 minutes

Took a nap on her own (so I could cook dinner in peace)

Read more books by herself after her nap, and arranged them back on the shelves by herself


Played some computer games and read some online stories, and AGREED to stop when I told her to (although she cheated a little by turning the pages back to read the story backwards to prolong her computer time!)

Completed four pages of subtraction so far on her own (with only one mistake!!) while I'm writing this (despite coming over to check on me very frequently!)

Notice all the caps and exclamation marks I have. That's how surprised (and pleased) I am!

She is now doing another page of math. I can hear her counting aloud in the other room. Next and finally, I hope she'll turn in for the night without protest!

Caitlin's QOTD

I was eating some dragon fruit after dinner when Caitlin presented me with her question of the day: "How do you make a dragon fruit?" I told her that you do not make a fruit, it grows on a tree. And Caitlin, being Caitlin, could not accept a correction. She had to have the last word and so proceeded with her own explanation in a rather matter-of-fact way:

"When the dragon is dead, you chop it up and let it rot. Then you put some seeds in and you get dragon fruit!"

Yes, ma'am!

Blog and make money

I started blogging in March as I thought it would be a good way to share some of my thoughts and stuff about our life with family and friends. Since I enjoyed ‘talking’ on paper as well as ‘virtually’, I started considering if this could be a way to earn some money from home. I started exploring making money via blogging and have been surfing other blogs. That’s how I came across PayPerPost.

PayPerPost is a site for bloggers and advertisers, providing bloggers with opportunities to blog about products, services, websites they are interested in, and getting paid for it by the advertisers. I was eager to see what I could do with PayPerPost so I signed up immediately and submitted my blog…without checking what the requirements were.

It was only after receiving an email rejecting my blog that I learnt my blog had to be over 90 days old and have at least 20 entries, among other requirements. I’ve crossed that hurdle now that my blog is over four months old!

The PPP community is filled with people from all over the world, all walks of life and they all have their own interesting stories to share via their blogs. It’s amazing how some of these bloggers are doing so well in their earnings from PPP. I’ve yet to explore PPP and its community fully and hope to do it soon. Despite having been an ‘at home’ mum for two years, I’ve yet to master the art of juggling ‘home stuff’ and ‘work stuff’ well enough to make tons of money from home!

I plan to take this slowly and whenever I get some money out of this, I plan to keep it in a little kitty for personal pampering. So, if you’re like me and looking for some pocket-money or even better, some big bucks to supplement your main income, try checking out PayPerPost.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Planning a holiday is hard work

It's been a long time since we took a real holiday. Our last was in 2005 in Penang when Caitlin was three (my profile photo with her was taken then). She enjoyed it the most as it was her first experience (that she was really aware of) staying at a hotel and playing on the beach and in the sea. I remember that she was somehow very fascinated with the light switches at the bedside table and kept playing with them until one of the bulbs blew!

It's time for another holiday. School is off for a week mid-August and there is a long weekend for the National Day holiday on August 31. These few days, I've been looking around in the internet, newspapers and my Amex brochures for good deals, free stays, cheap flights, points redemptions, etc. Obviously, it is another holiday with Caitlin's interest in mind, to give her an experience of travelling in an airplane, or coach, and using her passport. (Parenthood forces you to change your priorities;I am still longing for my snorkelling, kayaking, shopping and foodie trip somewhere I've not been to before preferably....)

Planning a holiday, especially with a young child or children in tow, is a little harder. We can no longer simply rough it out or schedule a hectic itinerary and hop from one place to another at a moment's notice. The destination selected should preferably be kid-friendly, etc etc etc. (parents with young kids, you know what I mean). And it gets harder when you are on a budget and time restraint since we've yet to have money come down from the sky (we're working on that!)and there aren't many vacation days for Eugene just yet.

Hopefully, I can pin down someplace suited to all the above concerns soon.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Educational Materials

Since being a SAHM/WAHM, I spend time on the internet sometimes looking for free online educational material to cut cost. Caitlin is at that age where she needs and wants to learn many things and getting books and material from bookstores locally can be limiting and expensive.

There's just so many websites with free, printable, downloadable or affordable material if they are for sale. Some even come with teaching guides, advice, newsletters, forums etc to help parents. There are also educational online games, although I'm not too keen on promoting that. Most kids including Caitlin tend to get hooked to them and spend hours in front of the computer, jeopardising their eyesight and missing out on physical exercise, free play, and outdoors time.

I've just touched the tip of the iceberg of websites, info, materials etc available through the internet. Some sites I've come across are:

PBS, Fable Vision, Fun Brain, Nick Jr., Starfall, Family Education Network,and Caitlin's all-time favourite game site My Little Pony .

Just last week, I was looking for music manuscript sheets for Caitlin to practise wiritng her notes. Her music school did not have the manuscript book with large-size staves for little hands, so I went online. And I found it. It's great because I can select and re-size the various manuscript sheets and print them out for free. This is the website.

And for homeschoolers, there are so many sites with good materials, curricula, guides and information, although I don't know which is better and more suitable.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Inner beauty

This e-card really got me in stitches when I viewed it while choosing a card to send to my good old friend Siew Lin who is celebrating her 39th birthday today. Happy Birthday Siew Lin!

I hope that as we age (sounds like I seem to be thinking quite a bit about aging these few weeks right?), we will continue to retain our beauty, and grow even more beautiful. I mean more of our inner beauty, although it is also good if we could keep those lines, wrinkles, sags and bags in control!

In this extremely commercialised and competitive world which shouts so much about appearances, first impressions, fashion, brands, it is so easy to get caught up with looking good on the outside and forget the more important aspects of attitude, behaviour, values, etc. Just by leafing through any newspaper or magazine, you can tell that a large chunk of advertising revenue for print publications (and probably other media) come from industries involved in personal care and beauty such as apparel, cosmetics, slimming, fitness, beauty treatments, for women AND men.

What good is it if a person looks like Ms Universe but when she starts speaking, her lips spew nothing but words of conceit, pride, self-centeredness, vulgarity (the list goes on)? This brings to mind a well-dressed woman (stranger) I was standing behind, descending on an escalator in a busy mall one weekend. She had with her a young boy (presumably her son) not older than 10 years. Further down, another lady was struggling with her fully-laden supermarket trolley to get off upon reaching the end. Yes, we have people like that here, I don't know why....

The lady with the young boy exclaimed loudly in a public attention-seeking manner, "Goodness, how stupid can she be? So stupid, so stupid! Look boy, she's so stupid!" I actually did think the same in my heart too, but it is one thing to think that, and another to proclaim your thoughts to the whole world, and worse still to your young child using such words. What a 'fine' example she set for her son.

All that stuck to my mind after that was no longer a picture of a well-dressed, educated upper middle class lady, but an ugly one with that contorted, sneering face, whose son will probably grow up to become a spoilt, ill-mannered, obnoxious rich kid with no heart.

There are so many such parents and children out there nowadays it's scary to imagine the kind of society my daughter is growing up in.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Disturbing 'pictures' in my mind

Eugene and I were travelling on the KL-Seremban highway, on the way home from the city centre last night at 11pm and got caught in a traffic jam. It was a Friday night so the heavy traffic was expected with people still out and about and also returning home southwards to places like Seremban, Melaka and Johor for the weekend.

The jam triggered some thoughts:

Why is there still a jam when the recently-launched Smart Tunnel on that stretch was supposed to ease traffic flow?

Then came some detours due to road works. Why work on the roads on well-known peak-hour Friday night?

Why has the government spent billions to build a light rail transit system and reform other types of public transportation, and yet people still prefer to drive?

While stuck in the jam, a series of police outriders and escort cars whizzed by with sirens and lights to get us to move aside for one heavily-tinted VIP car to zoom past.

Why should anyone, even a VIP like a minister for e.g., be given the 'royal' treatment in such instances? In order to understand the plight of their citizens and voters, shouldn't they get themselves down to their level to know what their people experience in order to help them better?

And why the heavily-tinted windows on their cars? The degree of the tint is definitely beyond the permitted range set by the government's road transport department. Eugene recently bought a used car and has yet to get possssion of it because it did not pass the road transport deparment's inspection. Its window tints were apparently too dark and the previous owner has now got to strip them off before handing it over to Eugene. Why such double standards?

I have lived in Kuala Lumpur since 1992 and nothing much has changed in such experiences of mine.

There are of course other issues that bug us like the income tax system. Upon reaching home last night, I received a letter from the income tax department requesting payment of over some RM900 of additional taxes for income earned in 2004. It's now 2007...On top of that I had just paid an additional RM3000 plus early this year....

Then there's stuff like human rights and freedom of religion, for e.g. here
and here.

So what's wrong with these pictures?

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Sleep gets in the way

Why do we have to sleep? There's so much more I could do if I didn't have to rest or sleep. I could read and write lots more, and seriously listen to music to fully appreciate it, especially at night when Caitlin is really asleep and I can do these things undisturbed.

By the way, this picture of Caitlin sleeping was just taken half an hour ago. Don't all our children look like innocent little angels when they are asleep? Actually, they are indeed innocent little angels sent by God to bless us. It's only when they are awake and wreak havoc around the house that they become mischievous little angels!

When Caitlin realises she has done something wrong and I'm likely to reprimand her, she'll say "I'm sorry, I'm sorry, I'm sorry, I love you mummy. Are you angry? Mummy smile?" That feels like cold water poured over my fire.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

The wonders of Google

It's amazing who and what you can find via Google. It feels like the world and all its information is at my fingertips by just typing a few keywords and pressing on the 'search' button. Of course, that means the good and the bad, and more than two sides of the story, pros and cons, the real truths and the real untruths are readily available. The reader has certainly got to be smart enough to differentiate them, although it could be difficult sometimes.

Today, I found an old friend from my school and church days in Melaka simply by 'googling' his name. He is now an Associate Professor at the Malaysia Genome Institute based in Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (Malaysia National University) in Bangi. Way to go, Lionel!

I'm on this quest to re-connect with old friends from my school days since the gathering of a bunch of us recently. It sure looks like those in academia have been pretty easy to find. Last week, I found another friend via Google after a tip-off that he has a blog named after our Chinese zodiac (monkey), and he is a post doctoral researcher at Harvard Medical University.

The internet is a great tool!

Friday, July 6, 2007


I got my blood test results this morning (see earlier post). It looks like the Tham family gene for elevated cholesterol level continues down the family tree. In the past, and also now, I've registered a total cholesterol level bordering the high end. Although my HDL (the good guys) level is strong, my LDL (the bad guys) is even stronger, thus giving a total cholesterol reading of 5.7 (<5.2 is normal).

So, I guess I've to consciously do something in my pre-menopausal years before it gets worse. At age 50 or so, I'll be at equal risk with males in similar condition to suffer heart disease. At least now, my estrogen is protecting me (I think this is one of the rare occasions I'm thankful for this hormone!).

Sigh, looks like I've to work some exercise time into my already busy and haphazard daily schedule....And also watch what I eat; less fried stuff and my all-time fave seafood :(

Getting older isn't fun as the body becomes less efficient. I'm beginning to miss my 'wonder' years of my late 20s and early 30s. Looking back, it's amazing that I survived those GI Jane days of fortnightly hiking, camping, canoeing, swimming, jogging, jungle trekking trips in Port Dickson. Those were tiring but really fun times. And it was all in the name of work! (ex-Phileo guys and gals, you know what I mean!)

Eugene thinks I could join him on weekends at the gym. I'm not sure about that. Maybe I'll start with walking up the hill across the road and doing a few laps in the pool.

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Hot weather

The weather here is bad again. No rain. Afternoons are the worst when the sun is literally scorching hot. Hotspots have been detected again in the Sumatran forests and Penang is already experiencing another onset of the haze. I guess it won't be long before KL is hit. I worry for Caitlin as she is always sensitive to bad air and hot weather due to her eczema and weak respiratory system.

The high temperature is also making me lazy and irritable...

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Good old friends

Last Sunday, I attended a gathering of old school friends dating back to the 1980s. It came about from a rare visit home from two friends who married each other eventually. Judy and Simon (and their daughter Sara) now reside in the States. We, the 'boys' and 'girls', were a fairly crazy bunch of teenagers back then. Our links to each other were through inter-school activities (we attended all-girl and all-boy schools then), tuition classes, church and for some of us, we eventually became classmates or schoolmates in Form 6 (pre-university). We lived in small-town Melaka then where the various schools were in close proximity and the well-regarded tuition teachers were only a handful.

The girls were a close-knit group in MGS (Methodist Girls' School), displaying what I now call the typical traits of teenage girls i.e. sharing secrets, comparing notes on our crushes, boys, TV shows, songs and other girly stuff. Meanwhile, the boys were also typically their teenage-selves with their own crushes (on some of us!), pranks and etc (I could actually write a book about all the 'etc'). They attended GBS (Gajah Berang, meaning 'angry elephant' school...I went there for Form 6 and till today, I don't know why that school is named such - hey boys, care to shed some light?).

Fast forward 25 years later and there we were, at Desmond's house in Bangsar, KL on a hot and humid Sunday afternoon. After the hugs and introductions to our spouses and kids, the decibels increased and it sounded like we were back to those good old days. I think most of us were reminiscing and laughing about all we did back then and at the same time exchanging info about what we've been up to all these years. We also shared info about other mutual friends. There was so much to catch up on and so many people to talk to that time passed so quickly. I must say I didn't get to really talk to some of them.

Would this be a start of maintaining our contact with each other again? Do we have to wait for some other friends to return from a faraway land to get together again? We girls briefly shared an idea of a reunion next year, our big 4-0 year...Is one year's notice enough? If there is consensus, we could start discussing this seriously.

For the record, those who were at the gathering were:

Ng Sim Kong & Vivian Yeo (& daughter and son)
Lennie Chen (& wife Linda and two daughters)
Desmond Ch'ng (& wife Ghee Keng and son and daughter)
Randy Chitty (& wife Jacqueline and son)
Simon Wong & Judy Ng (and daughter)
Ganesh Nallathamby
Ann Marie Chandy
Loh Foon Fong (& boyfriend John)
Anna Tham

Signs of aging

I used to do yearly blood tests to ensure I was in good general health but not for the past three years. Preoccupation with work, family and other stuff somehow took over some priorities obviously. For the past few weeks, I had been contemplating an update on my health status since I had been getting aches all over more frequently - backaches, shoulder aches, headaches and aches from old injuries to my knee and wrist.

Last night I decided to see a doctor for the blood test this morning after an excruciating headache. Okay, I am a stubborn mule and love to play Dr. Tham whenever I can to save a trip to the real doc. I simply hate the waiting, and who knows what microbes you may catch from other 'co-waiters'.

This morning I waited for 20 minutes before my number was called. No hitches in the doc finding my vein and sucking my blood out. The last bit called for a weight check. The digital weighing machine read 51.4kg. I was surprised although I knew I had put on some weight since quite a number of pants have suddenly become too snug for comfort. The last time I went past 50kg was when I was pregnant. Never in my life have I gone past 48kg at most all this while. And those of you who know me, know that I lose more easily than I put on.

After noting it down, the doc said, "Try to maintain it at 50". I voiced my surprise that I weighed that much. To that, he said, as we get older, we tend to put on easily as our metabolism slows down. He then continued with the advice of three square meals, no snacking in between, some exercise... Yes, he's right -- as we get older...

Grey hairs are sprouting and the body gets tired easily. Memory loss becomes more frequent. I need to check my eyesight next. I stopped using my short-sighted glasses/contact lenses for at least one and a half years and never bothered to question why. Now I guess I should as signing a bill or credit card receipt requires a step back from the usual distance...maybe that is contributing to the headaches!

I subconsciously expected to experience all these past 40 but my body has decided to start at 39. Wow, aging is becoming real to me!