Friday, May 30, 2008

It's Friday already?

Time flies during the school holidays. I just realised I have not posted since Tuesday. My computer time has reduced this week in general with Caitlin at home. Today, she had a school friend over for a play date.

Her friend was to be here for three hours but just 20 minutes before her mum came to get her, I asked if they wanted dinner (it was almost dinner time)and she eagerly said 'yes'. So I served them dinner. They beat their own eggs for an omelette each and ate up the steamed fish, mushrooms and carrots (they avoided the celery!), egg and soup. Caitlin's friend is a good eater and asked for second helping of everything (except the omelette). I've yet to come across a child other than Caitlin who is a small and slow eater....

Her mum arrived while they were halfway through their meal and after they finished, the girl asked to play for a little longer. So I chatted with her mum. When they really had to leave, she refused. A few failed suggestions and persuasion later, we ended up agreeing to another play date tomorrow. And we're going swimming. She had actually asked to go swimming tonight....

They were quite manageable today except for the few little moments of wanting the same things, like the only pink rose on the cake at tea time, and the only pair of pink cutlery and a Disney Princess mug at dinner time (luckily I had two of the same Sesame Street dinner plates!). Then the opposite was also problematic. Caitlin wanted to read and did not want to play with her friend who wanted to play cooking, Caitlin played VSmile while her friend wanted her to play cooking again....

They also took turns to practise the piano for a while and did some art and craft.


It's going to be a longer play date tomorrow as her friend will be arriving first thing in the morning and leaving only after lunch. It looks like another long day for me tomorrow with probably zero computer time.

I sure hope Eugene will be able to stick around tomorrow. One adult with two water-loving girls at the pool sounds like a daring attempt.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Unethical credit card sales agents

As I was about to enter a hypermarket with Caitlin this morning, I was approached by a credit card direct sales agent. I've been approached by many such people before and I ALWAYS decline their invitation and temptation with all sorts of benefits (free for life, 3 years annual fee waiver, free supplementary card, etc etc).

Firstly, I don't need another credit card. Secondly, even if I entertain their pleas to help them achieve their sales target and get a free gift, I know my application will not be approved simply because I am a homemaker with no fixed income. Therefore, a waste of everyone's time.

Most of these people back down after I tell them I'm not interested or I don't qualify. But this morning, a young persuasive gentleman from ABC* Bank (*the initials are fictitious although it is a local bank with three alphabets for its name) approached me AND Caitlin with a nice remote control toy car asking me to help him meet his target and spend five minutes filling in an application form. At first, I declined but he was persuasive enough with his free gift toy car and his plea for help that I agreed. "Approved or not, it's ok, I just need the application form filled," he said. He was very friendly and even let Caitlin choose which car she wanted (they came in different colours and models).

He helped me fill in the necessary personal particulars and told me to sign on the dotted line. After that, he went back to a section which required my employer's details to which I told him I'm a housewife. He then proceeded to ask me if he could list me as 'self-employed' to which I said 'no'. Not giving up (I guess they are paid for every approved application), he suggested that I could still be 'self-employed' and assume I'm working part time!

Realising what he was up to, I took the pen from his hand (I felt some resistance initially) and wrote on the form myself 'housewife'. Immediately, his shoulders drooped and he said it couldn't work that way. So I told him that he was misleading me into lying/cheating and it was unethical for him to lure prospects the way he did. I had put my signature on a declaration that "I hereby confirm and declare that all information provided by me is complete, true and correct..." Imagine the consequences.

And in the event the bank had been duped so to speak to approve such an application, they would have acquired a customer that could probably be defaulting payments in time to come.

While the credit card industry is very competitive, banks or card companies should ensure that their sales agents are properly trained to handle prospects and be brainwashed with proper ethics and the do's and don'ts of their job scope. It is sales agents like these and people who are easily persuaded, not aware of what they are subjecting themselves to, that are contributing to problems in the financial services industry and the economy as a whole.

Training is a very important aspect that many organisations overlook. It is not merely equipping staff with the necessary product knowledge or technical procedures but encompasses other 'soft skills' such as ethics, proper customer service management, image, etc etc.

Oh, and he returned the application form to me and I took the car from Caitlin to give it back to him. As we walked into the hypermarket, I explained to Caitlin why we had to return the toy car. She already knows the no-telling-lies rule so she understood, and in a very serious and earnest tone, asked me to teach it to that guy.

Abandoned

If a woman's pregnancy is unwanted, they should not dump their baby like a piece of dirty tissue. There are so many couples who are childless and would give anything to have a baby. Why can't these women give their child up for adoption instead? Maybe they are too embarrassed or ashamed that their child is conceived out of wedlock?

Even animals don't abandon their offspring.

Here's yet another case which just happened in the southern part of this country in a town called Batu Pahat, reported by local daily The Star:

Businessman gets baby in return for free ride

BATU PAHAT: A good Samaritan who gave a lift to a woman was shocked to find a baby abandoned in his car after dropping her off at the bus terminal.

Batu Pahat OCPD Asst Comm Ibrahim Aris said the businessman in his 30s was driving past a hypermarket on Sunday at about 8.30pm when the woman stopped him and asked for a lift.

“The woman, in her 20s, was not carrying anything except the baby in her arms,” he said, adding that woman got off from the back seat of the car on reaching the terminal.

ACP Ibrahim said the businessman realised something amiss five minutes later when he heard the baby cry on reaching Sri Gading.

He lodged a police report when he could not locate the woman after a search at the bus terminal.

He urged those with information to contact the police hotline at 07-2212-999.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Louis Armstrong


Get ready to watch lots of YouTube here.

Louis Armstrong is probably best known for his "What a wonderful world" in his deep, throaty bass. However, his fans would also be very familiar with his other songs and his trumpeting. But what I enjoy most is when he teams up with the other stars of his time like Dizzy Gillespie, Bing Crosby, Ella Fitzgerald and Frank Sinatra to produce such enjoyable, swinging, jazzy, bluesy, romantic and soulful sounds.

Found this on YouTube and it makes me want to watch Casablanca again. I wonder if I can still find the CD somewhere around the house....


And here's one for the road... La Vie En Rose, the signature song of French singer Edith Piaf.


For a more current version of "Life through rose-coloured glasses", check out Celine Dion's version here.

Friday, May 23, 2008

School break

picture from bigfoto.com

The two-week mid-term school break starts tomorrow. This means I'll have Caitlin with me 24/7 for two weeks and I will not have the mornings to myself. However, her mandarin and music lessons are still on so it means I'll still have some sending and fetching to do.

In the past, I used to plan and make sure I have some enrichment activities lined up for her to make sure her time at home is well-spent. This time around, I have not and am tempted to just leave her to her own devices! I'm too lazy and tired but who knows, maybe I'd feel guilty and whip up some activities on the fly...

I think modern parents take parenting too seriously at times. The competitive spirit starts from as early as when the kids are in preschool. Parents send their kids to all sorts of enrichment activities to boost their knowledge and abilities, leaving the kids little time for free play. And if they don't, they constantly feel the pressure to do so, fearing that their kids may not be at par with others. The cycle is vicious.

It's great if you can afford it as these enrichment classes are not cheap at all. You can leave the tutoring of your children in others' hands and not face the challenge of having to teach them yourself. Kids tend to listen to people other than their parents more easily it appears. However, if you can't afford it or if paying others to teach your children is not feasible somehow, then you'll just have to be content with whatever you think you can do best i.e. teach them yourself, limit the number of activities or not provide them with such activities at all.

Parents who homeschool their kids are really brave. I admire their courage to take the plunge and educate their children themselves so to speak.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

The extra degree

If you are in need of a push to climb your mountain, to persevere, to march on that long and tough journey, this may help you re-focus and press on. Watch it and you'll know what 'the extra degree' means.

My loving child


Since Caitlin learnt to write, I've been getting so many love 'letters' so consistently and frequently for the first time in my life (no one, not even the person I married can come anywhere close!).

It feels nice to know my lovely child, as precocious, mischievous and stubborn as she may be, is so free and generous with her love and expression of it. Almost on a daily basis, I receive handwritten notes and pictures on scraps of paper or in her numerous notebooks professing her love for me. Most times, they are "I love you mum" with an outline of a heart or drawings of flowers or butterflies.

Today (or rather last night since it's now past midnight), while checking in on her doing her homework, I caught her just finishing another love note for me. She had yet to start her homework. As usual she gets distracted by other stuff around her (and they are just stationery on her desk!). Of course, when I saw the note, my heart melted and the earlier intention of nagging at her to complete her work melted away. This is what she wrote.


A child's love is just so pure, innocent and unconditional. If they love you, they truly love you, unlike adults whose love could be guarded, conditional and 'tainted'.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

A common issue only-child mums face

Why is it that when you have only one child, you tend to get questions and advice from people you meet about having a second one? What's wrong with having only one child? "She will be lonely", "One child is not enough", "Don't worry that you can't afford it, cross the bridge when you come to it" are the add-on comments. I try not to rebut most times as it is just a waste of effort.

Though these people may mean well and the concern is appreciated, I think they could have forgotten to be more sensitive to others' feelings and respect their choice, (and mine for instance).

Do they know the whole story? What if the couple is actually in a dilemma about whether to have another child or not? What if they have actually been trying hard and not been successful? What if there are other circumstances beyond their control?

On the opposite scenario, I doubt if there are many only-child mums who go around telling people NOT to have more than one child. I for one don't ask "How are you going to cope with so many kids?", "Aren't you thinking of getting a hysterectomy?" etc...

Monday, May 19, 2008

Tidy up!


When Caitlin plays with her toys, it is usually a nightmare for me. She usually starts with some and then moves on to others and as time passes, the whole play area will be strewn with toys, some just thrown about, some arranged in a particular order based on her imagination and 'script'.

I always remind her that she needs to tidy up after she plays and return the toys to the boxes or compartments where they belong. Otherwise, her toys will get all mixed up and the next time she wants a particular one, she may not be able to find it (that has happened countless times and guess who ends up rummaging through her toys to look for Pinky Pie, one of the Little Ponies?)

One evening, she started telling me a story. She sometimes creates stories of her own and I would write them down in a dedicated notebook and later in a blog called Caitlin's Stories. I had forgotten where I kept the notebook (it had been sometime since her last story) and in passing asked her if she knew where I had placed it.

"See, you didn't tidy up and put it back where it belongs so now you can't find it" came her reply....

Geez, my own medicine didn't taste good at all, and trust my smarty-mouth princess(what we Malaysians call 'loyar buruk' or 'lawyer wannabe') to come up with that!

We mothers do have loads of such stories about our kids. Some are funny, touching, embarrassing, great or not-so-great moments, as how The Mom with Brownies puts it. You can read about others' experiences in motherhood here.

Working mothers

I have a friend who is expecting her seventh child next month. She was my secondary school classmate. She is a qualified medical practitioner and has chosen to stay at home.

I have another secondary school classmate friend who has four kids. She is a qualified pharmacist and has also chosen to stay at home.

I have other friends with two or three kids but are still out there working because they need to, or they want to.

Some mothers prefer to be at home to spend as much time as they can with their kids, watching and helping them grow up. Some believe they can still do it without staying at home so they continue working. Some, whether they want to or not, need to be at home due to certain circumstances.

Some who choose to stay home can depend on their husbands to bring home the bread. Some are lucky enough to continue to live the same lifestyle as before - shopping, travelling, maid or even maids, car, personal luxuries. Some cannot depend entirely on their husbands and have to find ways to earn supplementary income from home and cut down their spending, get rid of the maid, stop shopping and travelling.

Meanwhile, some totally can't afford to leave their jobs and have to continue working, employing a maid to help with the house and kids. And some prefer to be 'working mothers' and not stay at home to become a 'housewife'. Whatever it is, all mothers are working mothers. The only difference is that some are salaried and some are not.

Someone once said the phrase "working mothers" is redundant.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Mothering = Nurturing, a full-time job

A mother can wear as many hats as she chooses to. It is a matter of choice. And if one chooses to really be a mother, then her hands will always be busy. Every phase of development of a child requires a mother to use different skills and knowledge. Be it one child or six, mothering is a full-time job. It is the area of focus that could differ. For example, older children require less attention for basic needs like bathing or feeding them but need to be taught responsibility, while younger ones need to be put to bed, assisted in the toilet, and taught to say ‘please’ and ‘thank you’.

There are, however, mothers in our midst who definitely would be more burdened the more children they have -- mothers with special-needs children, mothers with physical disabilities, and single mothers for instance. These are mothers I take my hat off to.

An article I read titled “The Sacred Responsibility of Mothers” by Forever Families says: “Scholars define mothering many ways, but most include the idea that nurturing children is the central task. Nurturing includes meeting children's physical demands, such as food, clothing, and protection. And it includes loving, cherishing, educating, and training them.

Because children are so completely dependent when they're first born, this work is ‘wholly child-centered, emotionally involving, and time-consuming’. One of the most important objectives of all this work is to raise children to become upstanding, responsible members of their community.”

It also went on to tell of an article in the Wall Street Journal that described the multi-dimensional role of a mother as "the most creative job in the world" requiring knowledge in many areas, including “taste, fashion, decorating, recreation, education, transportation, psychology, romance, cuisine, designing, literature, medicine, handicraft, art, horticulture, economics, government, community relations, paediatrics, geriatrics, entertainment, maintenance, purchasing, direct mail, law, accounting, religion, energy and management.”

That is indeed a long list. So in my mind, if you are a mother, be it to one child or six, you have a fulltime job of nurturing. Honore de Balzac, a nineteenth century French novelist once said, “A mother who is really a mother is never free.”

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

A Mother's Prayer

Following my rant post below, I googled for a 'Mother's Prayer' and found quite a few. Here is one.


A Mother's Prayer

I need your help today.
I want to care
for those you've sent into my life,
to help them develop the special gifts
you've given them.
But I also want to free them
to follow their own paths
and to bring their loving wisdom
to the world.

Help me
to embrace them without clutching,
to support them without suffocating,
to correct them without crushing.

And help me
to live joyfully and playfully, myself,
so they can see your life in me
and find their way to you.
Amen.

A mother's gift is to give life. But in the daily demands of feeding and forming, cleaning and cautioning, tending and teaching, her gift can get lost in the layers.
She needs to remember that her work begins with herself. To be attentive to others, she must listen to her own heart. To care for others, she must take time for herself. To teach self-love to others, she must act lovingly towards her own body and her time.
If she finds her own sparks, she will fan them in those around her. If she frees her own spirit, she will help others soar. If she focuses each moment by being wholly present, she will point the way to holiness and to God.
And if she truly lives, she will give real life to the world, not only in her children's bodies, but in their souls.

And the song by Celine Dion:

(the images are from Lord of The Rings)

A Mother's Prayer

I pray you'll be my eyes
And watch her where she goes
And help her to be wise
Help me to let go

Every mother's prayer
Every child knows
Lead her to a place
Guide her with your grace
To a place where she'll be safe

I pray she finds your light
And holds it in her heart
As darkness falls each night
Remind her where you are

Every mother's prayer
Every child knows
Need to find a place
Guide her with your grace
Give her faith so she'll be safe

Lead her to a place
Guide her with your grace
To a place where she'll be safe

My first major rant in my blog!

Sometimes I wish I could live in isolation. I'm TIRED of having to manage external influence, especially those that I feel Caitlin does not need for the time being; too much TV, toys and entertainment-related stuff which distracts us from our priorities. Kids tend to get very excited and passionate about something which interests them and they have not learnt how to practise restraint so it's up to the parents to draw the line. That's the hard part.

She goes to school and sees something her friend has. She gets excited and demands for it. She sees other kids with some fancy toy, she wants it. She watches TV and some junk food commercial comes on. Guess what happens the next time she sees that item when we are at the grocery store. She sees other kids crazy about Winx Club, Pokemon, Gameboy, Nintendo, she wants them....We explain to her that she cannot always get what she wants. Not all parents can afford a Playstation or Nintendo, whether it is an 'educational' tool or not.

Sometimes, I think kids are too spoilt nowadays. And parents, including myself, are to blame. We love our kids too much. We find it hard to practise tough love. We give in at the slightest tear, whine or pleading. We rationalise that they deserve it, that it does help in their development, so on and so forth.

It's worse in the city where you're spoilt for choice, and when you have higher disposable income, and if you're a shopaholic. I remember the bookstores I knew back in my day was one located on the ground floor of a double-storey shoplot. The only children's books they had were Enid Blyton's Secret Seven, Famous Five, and Trixie Belden's can't-remember-the-title adventure series. Now, bookstores are megastores with thousands of squarefeet of floor space, a sprawling chidlren's section complete with reading corner, TV and video player, rows and rows of all sorts of books and titles.

Ok, I'd better stop ranting before I get more wrinkles. I've still a long way to go when it comes to the parenting journey. What I'm experiencing now is just the 'abridged' version. Peer pressure in its full glory is just lurking around the corner with smoking, drugs, sex, 'lepak' culture, chatrooms, you name it. Well, such is life that I have no choice but to live with what comes my way, be patient, plod on and continue MANAGING.

Urgh, I hate that word - MANAGING. And another word I hate today is POKEMON!

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Barbados

This picture is from an online photo gallery, Barbadosphotogallery.com

Here I go, dreaming of travels to faraway places again. The Carribean has always fascinated me. There's a lot I don't know about it, the landscape, scenery, culture, food and music of the many and varied islands and that's what intrigues me. The little I have read and seen in magazines and travel shows makes me dream of going there to experience everything. And a Carribean cruise would be most splendid.

Today, I choose to visit Barbados. Google has turned up many sites to check out and I chose the official site of the Barbados Tourism Authority. I just got lost in this site, checking out the various attractions.

Barbados is a honeymooner's paradise according to Barbados.org It says: The latest honour comes from UK travel website Expedia.co.uk which selected Barbados as its #2 pick for "Top 10 Honeymoon trips". So what makes our island a lovers paradise? Barbados is an island of song, dancing to the rhythms of the Caribbean and resting in the tranquil music of the wind and waves, serenading lovers in their hideaways. The natural beauty of the island beckons all seeking a romantic escape! Here you can get married on a boat, in a church, in an elegant plantation home, under the cool shade of a flamboyant tree, by sea cliffs or soft sand beaches.

Sigh...just imagine the ambience, the romantic setting...

Ok, wake up Anna! Back to reality...otherwise readers of this blog will think I'm too free with nothing to do! Sob, sob. I hope to go to as many beach destinations around the world before I die. I love beaches, a wonderful creation to behold.

Monday, May 12, 2008

A Kangaroo Love Story


One day, a girl kangaroo was playing with her friends. A cheetah came, watching her play. Quickly the cheetah ran towards the girl kangaroo and bit her on the leg. When her friends saw the cheetah, they ran away and did not help her.

A boy kangaroo saw what happened and kicked the cheetah on the face. The cheetah said, "Who did that?" The cheetah saw the boy running away with the girl. The girl was not so lucky as she had to limp. When the boy saw the girl, it was love at first sight. He wanted to be her boyfriend and marry her. He asked her "Will you marry me?" The girl kangaroo said "yes", and they lived happily ever after.

The end.

Told by Caitlin on 10 May 2008.
(This story was probably inspired by hours spent watching Animal Planet lately)

Ave Maria (Hail Mary) and Pavarotti

While surfing YouTube for a dose of inspirational music, I came across one of Pavarotti. It's been a long time since I listened to opera, Pavarotti and the other tenors (Domingo and Carreras). His voice just transports me to another world. Unfortunately I never got to see him live and now he's gone. He died of cancer last year.

I hope you enjoy this.


There have been many others like Charlotte Church, Andrea Bocelli, Celine Dion and Il Divo who have done their own rendition of Ave Maria but Pavarotti's is 'big time solid'!

Mother's Day

In times like these, I've wondered why we set aside one particular day to celebrate something. Take yesterday for instance, i.e Mother's Day. I guess we humans are forgetful creatures and we take things and people for granted a lot of times. Therefore, it is necessary that we make it a point to remember and appreciate a person or commemorate an event at least one day in a year.

Mother's Day came and went yesterday. It started out like any other day for me. I'm a mother everyday so what's the difference? I wasn't expecting anything special (as they say, best not to expect lest you get disappointed!) It's only 'different' when others celebrate your motherhood and appreciate your contribution as a mother. That's when entrepreneurial minds take advantage and commercialise the day (and other days like Christmas) -- flowers, gifts, Mother's Day lunch and dinner buffets at restaurants/hotels, promos at retail outlets etc, to make you spend extra $$$. But that's another topic to talk about.

So as the day progressed, I received wishes from friends, mostly mothers, two fathers, and one single lady. They were all via SMS. It just goes to show how technology has taken over our lives!

I received two messages which were pretty similar and it went like this: "Nothing compares to a mum's love. She looks with her heart and feels with her eyes. A mum is the bank where her children deposit all their worries and hurt. A mum is the cement that keeps her family together and her love lasts a lifetime. Happy Mother's Day!"

Caitlin's school celebrated it on Friday by inviting mums to join in the activities they had planned. Mums were given a piece of white cloth each and with help from their kids, turned the cloth into funky tie-dye scarves. We also had some fun with tattoo-ing designs on the back of our hands using henna.


This is the scarf Caitlin and I made.

And later when she got home from school, I got a card from her too.


Happy Mother's Day to all mums (sorry, one day late!).

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Husband/father vs dishwasher

Eugene will be away in Borneo this weekend for work. I told Caitlin about it and this was her reaction: "Who's gonna wash the dishes?". No "I'll miss him, blah blah blah...". Eugene normally does the dishes every night because I'm allergic to soaps. So I told her I'll have to do them myself and she asked "What if your hands get itchy?". "I'll have to wear gloves" I said. Then she went back to playing in her imaginary world, talking to herself and her toys.

Maybe I should think of getting a dishwasher, the machine that all Americans rely on to do their dishes. It's such an American thing to me. Not that the American way is not good (although I think some elements have been so 'idolised' especially by Asians that it gets under my skin). But I think it's not too green, the dishwasher I mean. It uses more water and energy than necessary, and our family is a very small one...And I'm already being un-earth friendly using a dryer for our laundry because we live in a high-rise with hardly any space for outdoor drying.

It doesn't make sense too financially as a dishwasher is not a cheap item over here. I'd rather save the money for a holiday. I've not been on a REAL one since our last holiday sans kid six and a half years ago. A holiday with a kid and without one is just not the same. With a kid, you only do things that the kid enjoys, and when you don't, you tend to feel guilty. How did time fly? Certainly not on an airplane, speaking of which I've not been on one since then. Horrors! I don't even know what the security restrictions are now since 9-11. I guess it's the trade-off for leaving a steady income to be a SAHM. Ahh, now I know why they call us SAHMs...I view the term Stay-at-home with new light now!

The current low-cost airlines' fares battle between MAS and Air Asia doesn't mean a thing to me. Air Asia's "Now everyone can fly" tagline is still a dream for me although I always wonder if the maintenance of their planes is as up to par as they claim.

Going back to the dishwasher matter, do you think machines can replace a husband/father? ha ha...I don't think I can replace Eugene with a machine. If that happens, I'll have to find an alternative source of income!

Online friends

I have two options when I see my friends online. Sometimes, I leave them alone because I don't have anything to say to them, I'm busy or I just don't feel like talking. Sometimes, I drop them a line. Then I wait for a response. If they respond and are not busy, we chat for a short while. If they respond and are busy, we just say 'hi' and 'bye'.

If they don't respond, I sometimes wonder why. They are not at their desk? They don't want to talk to me? Whatever it is, a response, even if it's "sorry, I'm busy, can't talk", or "sorry, I'm not in the mood to talk to you" is better than a rude silence. Or there is always a status indicator that you can select or customise to notify others that you are busy, in a meeting, not at your desk, on the phone etc.

And if you can't continue chatting, please inform the other person. Don't just abandon the conversation. That's not nice at all. It's like leaving the phone off the hook halfway through a conversation and disappearing.

I think that technology is one of the reasons why some friends are not as close to each other as before. They think they can continue the friendship online via email, chat, social networking sites like Facebook...but it's just not the same, unless both parties make an effort to keep up with it.

I think it's about time I do some housekeeping with my chat and Facebook contact lists! Or maybe just forget about chatting online. Whatever happened to the good old days of meeting up, chatting over the phone or writing letters? I used to love the feeling of excitement when I find an envelope with a familiar handwriting of a friend in my mailbox.

Pictures of kids


Nothing is a better remedy for a sad or depressed soul than to just look at cute, sweet, comical, adorable pictures of kids, especially your own child(ren), nieces, nephews, god-children, children of friends you are close to.

Their chubby faces, toothless smiles, dribbly pouts, wide grins that make their eyes squint, funny poses etc can just melt those blues away.


I guess not everyone finds comfort from looking at kids' pictures when they are down; especially not those who are single, married without kids, or not interested in kids I think.

Other forms of 'therapy' could be chilling out with friends, binging on a fave food, audio (blasting the stereo) or visual (getting 'lost' in the TV) therapy, retail therapy (shop till you drop), reading, meditation, prayer, yoga, exercise, drinking (this is a bad one), drugs (this is a really bad one), hypnosis, psychiatric or psychological help, counseling, support groups, extreme sports,.... or you can choose to just sit there and mope.

Kids are ultimately a joy to have, to be around, to experience, despite all the challenges that come with the package - well..., for me at least. I'll try to remember this when I pick up Caitlin from school and continue with today's routine with her.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Lemon Rosemary Salmon

Salmon is one of my favourite fish. I would usually just pan fry it (did that again last night for dinner). The original taste of the fish is nice and sweet enough that I don't need to add any special seasoning other than some salt and pepper. I tried making an oriental-type salmon fish head soup once and I quite liked it. I poached the fish head with an adequate amount of ginger and garlic, added some salt and loads of Chinese cooking wine, then topped it up with chopped spring onions and deep-fried chopped red onions.

AllRecipes sent me a salmon recipe today called Lemon Rosemary Salmon. It is another very easy-to-cook dish. After looking at the recipe I realised that a recipe I created on my own once is similar to this one. I baked dory fillet (instead of salmon) with olive oil, lemon slices, parsley (instead of rosemary) and some salt and black pepper.

The recipe for lemon rosemary salmon is here. The picture above is from the recipe.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Energiser bunny

I've got an 'energiser bunny' at home. She has been one that's difficult to put to bed since birth. At this time of writing (around 11.15pm), she is still awake. That's because she had a good nap late this afternoon after returning from her energy-sapping drum lesson. I had insisted she took a nap because she clearly needed a rest. (If you want to know how and why I did it, see here.)

She is now in bed and getting her nightly dose of bedtime stories from Eugene. I hope it would be lights-out soon.

With this post, I'm calling it a day too. My back and shoulders are already feeling the strain from sitting here for over an hour!

Coffee, tea and me


In the mid nineties, I used to drink coffee and tea quite a lot despite their adverse effects on me (totally can't sleep if I take too much or too late in the day). After getting bouts of gastritis pretty frequently, I decided to stay off these two drinks. I wasn't addicted to them so it was not difficult to deny my body of the caffeine and tannin it was used to. The only tea I would drink was Chinese tea during Chinese meals at eating places. I continued to stay away from coffee and tea when I got married, pregnant, and started breastfeeding in 2002, mainly for the baby. The hot beverages I would take were chocolate, milk or malt drinks.

Late last year, I returned to drinking a bit more tea, especially Chinese or green tea for its health and cleansing properties. Somehow along the way, I developed slight cravings for coffee too. It became full blown when Eugene switched instant coffee brands and I decided to check it out...(yes, I'm blaming him!). My coffee tastebuds were awakened from their 10-year slumber so now, I'm back to drinking coffee although I'm still careful about not taking too much, especially those brewed ones which are stronger.

It also got me thinking about learning more about coffee and tea. In the process, I found some fun trivia facts here and here. Did you know that:

.Bach wrote a coffee cantata in 1732
.Milk as an additive to coffee became popular in the 1680's, when a French physician recommended that cafe au lait be used for medicinal purposes
.In 1900, coffee was often delivered door-to-door in the United States, by horse-pulled wagons
.In the days of the early Chinese emperors, legend tells us only virgins wearing white silk gloves were allowed to pluck the budsets that would become white tea
.There are reputed to be more than three thousand types of green tea in China alone, so it rivals wine in diversity
.There are ‘Blue Mountains’ famous for both coffee and tea: the Blue Mountains in Jamaica where exquisite coffee grows, and the Blue Mountains that are known as the Nilgiris in southern India, on which a very special tea thrives

And of course, Manhattan Transfer's Java Jive came to mind.

Friday, May 2, 2008

Meaning of names

Do you know the meaning of your name? When we were expecting our daughter, the search for the 'perfect' name for her was aided by the internet, and a rather unconventional (it contained a lot of uncommon names like Andromeda and Gaia for e.g.) English baby names book for her Christian name which we found in a bookstore. For her Chinese name we used a Chinese names book with romanized letters and English-translated meanings (both of us don't know Mandarin, shame on us...we are what is termed as 'bananas' - yellow on the outside, white on the inside!).

Last year, when Caitlin had to learn to write her Chinese name in Chinese characters at school, I had to look it up again to let her teacher know. I then realised I had quite forgotten what her Chinese name means, as well as her Christian name(s). I only remembered that Caitlin means 'pure' or 'clear'. And I couldn't remember what her middle name Sophia means.

I did a search and found Think Baby Names dotcom which provides more than the meaning of names. It provides the origin, variants, pronunciation and also gives statistics of how popular the name was in past years. According to it, in the year Caitlin was born, her name ranked midway between the top 200.

As for 'Sophia', it means 'wisdom' and was ranked among the top 50 in 2002.

Dogs are smart

Someone emailed me a video clip which appears to have been broadcast by Animal Planet and featured by Ellen Degeneres on her show. It just goes to show how smart dogs are. I found it on YouTube (I thought we're not supposed to post copyrighted videos there(?!) but there seems to be millions of them in YouTube!)