Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Another week, another post

It sure looks like my posts in this blog has been reduced from daily to weekly until such time when I get a line at home (when???? I truly wonder). In the meantime, this computer is still living its lonely existence in this yet-to-be refurbished-for-rental unoccupied apartment which I escape to when I need my weekly Internet fix and to write my fortnightly column for theSun newspaper.

We have been very slowly getting the new place into the look and feel I envision it to have. This can't be helped as we're busy with daily life on weekdays -- work, school, extra curricular activities, while the past few weekends, we've just been occupied with family events, leaving us hardly any time to do any DIY stuff around the house. Eugene however managed to put up some blinds at our pergola adjoining the car porch last Saturday.

This coming weekend is a long weekend with Friday (1st May, Labour Day) a public holiday. I hope we can get some things done in between me attending a wedding dinner on Friday and Caitlin a birthday party on Saturday.

I planted some plants a few weeks ago as I was tired of waiting for the grass to grow (look at the grass in the picture to get what I mean).

Apart from it being a newfound 'interest' for Rusty, they seem to be still 'hanging-in-there' with my daily watering. Some of them got bitten at the tips of their leaves while others got slightly trampled on by our curious four-legged boy despite me putting up those decorative fencing in the hope to deter him.... Poor Rusty who spends most of his time outdoors these days is probably bored without being literally at my feet and decides to entertain himself 'admiring' the plants. The past few days, he's taken to chewing the door mat, leaving it with loose,'sprouting' fibres....Have plans to get more plants and also start planting vegetables in future...

Caitlin has been using the phrase "thanks to..." very frequently these few days. she loves blaming other people and even things when things don't go her way. She's gotten her longtime wish to join an art class so now every Tuesday evening, she goes to one in the nearby hypermart mall. I still think she should resume her Mandarin lessons which I stopped last December but going back to the same centre means a fair bit of additional travel thrice a week (the Mandarin lessons require three lessons a week...), on top of her art, Yamaha and drum lessons. I need to find one nearer home or get a personal tutor (but that's pretty expensive). While Mandarin is not an exam subject at school, I still feel it'd be good for her to at least know it even if she does not master it. I always wonder how some parents and kids manage to squeeze in so many extra curricular activities throughout the week. Some kids have so many activities I wonder if it's really necessary, if it's what they themselve want or what their parents believe they need.

With Caitlin, it's only Mandarin so far that we think she needs while music and art are her own requests. With just these few activities (compared to lots more other kids have), I already find it difficult to juggle helping her with schoolwork, music practice, chauffering her around and attending to household matters, writing, plus caring for our 'son' Rusty.

While chatting with her schoolmate's mum yesterday as we waited for our kids at drum lesson, this mum told me an inspiring story of her nephew. He was an easy-going, happy-go-lucky kid during his schooldays but turned out well later. He was determined to further his studies in the US despite his parents inability to afford and their insistence that he did engineering. He requested his parents to only pay for his airfare there and an aunt over there to support him for the first six months. He worked and studied and paid his own way through university, studying engineering at first to please his parents. He later switched to chemistry and is now pursuing a Masters in pharmacy.

My takeaway from this story: Never ever force your child to do something he is not interested in. Allow the child space to explore and once he discovers his passion, support him as much as you can. Passion, determination and hard work can reap rewards. Kids whose parents can afford to send them overseas to study ought to appreciate their parents' sacrifices. Those who fool around, take things for granted ought to be kicked in the butt.

If we have raised our kids right, they will not disappoint us. "Raising them right" -- that's the challenge for parents. It's a rugged and long journey I believe, and I have only just begun!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Retail therapy

This is what I hope to get the next two hours. Life has been stressful since .... lost track....Really need a looong holiday away from home and this country preferably, but I really wonder when this can happen....

I've not bought new shoes for years and my Clarks sandals I got before Caitlin was born has given way. Other sandals and slip-ons had also given up on my feet much earlier so I really, really need at least a new pair of casuals pronto, plus a pair of comfy sporty shoes for brisk walks with Rusty and 'chasing' Caitlin while she cycles...what to do, no bike of my own to cycle along with her....I also need a haircut badly but doubt I'd have the time today given the fact that I'll have to factor in lunch and travel and waiting time to fetch Caitlin from school.

I still have half of the cash Eugene presented me last December for my birthday to spend on myself. How long do you take to spend 'crazy money' given to you? I guess it depends on how much the sum is and how good a shopaholic you are. some people can spend thousands in just one shop or boutique. As for me, the cash is not much, just in the hundreds, and I'm not a shopaholic plus I don't have time to while away at malls....and I prefer to buy cheap stuff! More for less! However, there's not much you can get for a couple of hundred bucks these days. Money is 'small' nowadays as some people say.

No title

The house is slowly getting into better shape. The third floor where our study is to be is still yet to be. The mosquito problem is slowly getting manageable...or are we getting used to it?

Rusty is still not as much attended to as I'd like it. He still has some skin problems and now lice too. This new neighbourhood has a high pet dog population. Most of the dogs look well-kept except for the two belonging to our neighbour two doors away. They are pretty much abused as working dogs in my mind - confined to a fenced area (although reasonably spacious), one is perpetually chained to the kennel while the other, a Rottie, roams free to scare possible intruders with his size and bark. I've not seen them let out or given a bath in the 1.5 months we've lived there. Possibly, they are the breeding ground for lice and ticks which crawl over to my place in search of new blood, literally....

Caitlin is enjoying her playroom, especially when she has friends and cousins over. School was out for the day yesterday as they had their annual sports day on Saturday (she and other green house classmates got a bronze trophy for the telematch they took part in and was very proud of it). She spent almost the entire morning playing alone in her make-believe world with her camping tent and fake firewood.

Sunday was Eugene's 44th birthday. We had both sides of the family over for lunch. We had too much food leftover, especially the pasta, while other dishes were doggy-bagged by the guests. I didn't get enough of my roasted pork ribs as I was too busy attending to this and that. Guess I'll have to make them again one day.

Need to find time to utilise my kitchen more as I've not been cooking as much as I want to.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Still waiting

I called Telekom and told them it's been five weeks. Their reply: Our technical team has visited your area and there are no ports available. We have put you on the waiting list.

No point for me to write here what I said to them.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Curbing colourful vocabulary

When you least expect it, your child comes home from school one day and utters a swear word. Many parents have found themselves in this predicament before since time immemorial. It was my turn recently when my seven-year-old said a swear word. This lead me to finding out how that word found its way into her vocabulary and how best I should tackle the situation if it happened again. I discovered that she learnt it from a classmate but did not know its meaning.

Before we lash out with a torrent of swear words ourselves or inflict any form of punishment in reprimanding our children for swearing , we must remember that we are their role models. If parents or other adults in the household swear, the children will very quickly and easily pick up these words. Young children not only pick up words but also the feelings that come with them when they are used. They observe and learn how you look and act when using those words so the next time they are angry, they will also use the same words you use when angry, for example.

According to a tip I read in the Internet, do not encourage the child to think it is funny or interesting. If you laugh when he says a swear word, he will pick up your feelings and think you find it pleasing so he will very likely say it again, as he wants to please his parents more than anything else.

On the flip side, if you react with anger, he may use it again when he is upset with you in some way and wants you to know about it. You could tell him firmly: “We don't use that word in our family and I don't want to hear it again" and then ignore it and do not respond if he says it again. Fortunately for me, I was driving when my child pulled that shocking surprise on me and could only react with a “What did you just say?” I kept my cool and told her it is not a nice word to use, explaining to her that if she didn’t know the meaning, she should not use it.

Set a rule that everyone in the family must know the meaning of a word in order to say it, and they must mean what that word means. If your child says a swear word when he is angry or upset, focus on helping him express his feelings using words he understands and means, instead of fussing over the swear word. Explain to him the meaning of the swear word and that it is wrong and rude to use it, and it may hurt others’ feelings.

Some children use these words to get attention or to show off, thinking that it is a ‘cool’ thing to do. Find out the reasons why your child swears, if he is under any stress, is crying out for attention or just wants to fit in with his ‘cool’ peers. Explain to him that it is not necessary to swear to gain friends and be ‘cool’, and in fact, swearing is not a smart thing to do as it reflects one’s lack of knowledge in using proper words.

Finally, be in tune with your child's activities and feelings. A child who has a balanced lifestyle and access to open communication and love from parents is more likely to understand that it is not necessary or good to swear and swearing is simply not 'cool'.

This is my unedited article scheduled for publication next Tuesday.

Horrors...Caitlin said "F**k"

This happened on Monday in the car on the way home from school. She almost dropped the bun she was eating and her immediate reaction was "F**k!" I couldn't believe my ears! If I weren't driving and having to keep my eyes on the road I'd probably have reacted rashly with a glare and a shout.

"What did you say?!" I asked....Thus, began a series of probing questions on how she learnt that word, if she knew what it means. To my own surprise, I was calm and collected in handling the situation and talking to her in the hope that the word will never ever be repeated in future.

Going to talk to her teacher when I go to school in a few hours' time to fetch her back home....

She learnt it from a classmate sitting behind her recently according to her. She doesn't know the meaning and actually asked what it meant....Didn't want or know how to describe the meaning as I think she's too young to know so I changed the subject as I realised my mission in letting her know that it's a bad word and she should not use it and should not use words she doesn't know the meaning of has been accomplished.

Sigh...kids are exposed to so much these days. I didn't even know that word existed until I was in my 20s and working!!

This and that

I've been back at the old place to use the computer daily this week so far. Had to come back today to write a piece for my contribution here to be published next Tuesday....

Made a list of outstanding chores for both the new and old place that need attention asap. I'm tired of living in makeshift fashion honestly. Some things I can do, some I can't. But finding the time to do them is hard with daily routine demands.

While waiting for our kids to be dismissed from school yesterday afternoon, Caitlin's classmate's mother was lamenting she hardly has time for anything. She is a stay-home mum like me. She has two kids, one seven years old (Caitlin's classmate) and another four years old. She has a daily part-time helper to do all her household chores. Her mother-in-law who lives in the same neighbourhood cooks her meals for her. In my eyes, all she seems to be doing is send her two kids to school and kindy, surf the net, drop her daughter off at her MIL's place while she goes to fetch her son from school, help her kids with homework, and then drive to her MIL's to collect her dinner....and yet she says she has notime. Aiyo, I hope she doesn't google me and find this post! I don't mean anything negative here but in comparison with me or employee/businesswomen mums, if she doesn't have time, what about us?

I only get part-time cleaners for two hours a week, not daily. I also have two kids, one seven years old and one five-month-old four-legged one (Believe me, Rusty is accorded child status as I've to pick up his poop and wash the floors at least 3 times a day, feed him, pamper him, train him, trim his fur and bathe him...). I write for pocket money on a fixed basis fortnightly and adhoc basis when someone is in need, I cook, do laundry, tidy up 3,388 sq ft of living space, drive here and there to do grocery shopping, run dozens of errands, send and fetch Caitlin here and there to school and other classes....and I only have two kids and am a stay-home mum.

What about mums who work from 9 to 5 or run their own business and have more than two kids and no maid or part-time help? Hats off to them. I'd literally go crazy if I were in their shoes. I've tasted the stress of a demanding fulltime job as an employee with a demanding boss and juggling life as a new mum with an even more demanding baby and incompetent maid, two years of sleep deprivation (Caitlin was not a good sleeper) and doubt I want to go down that road again, money or no money.

As for stay-home mums, regardless of whether they have only one child or ten)who are fortunate to have a rich husband and faithful, capable dependable maid(s) and even chauffeurs, thank your lucky stars and be considerate of others less fortunate. I would think these are the mothers who would have more time on their hands to do as they please.

However, I conclude that every woman is different. Every child and every family is different. Should not, cannot compare in fact.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Monday madness

It's the start of a new week. The routine and dreadful cycle of daily life begins again. Dragged myself out of bed at 5.50 am to get Caitlin ready for school. The morning rush gets adrenalin pumping pretty quickly and the droopy eyelids have no time to fight the ticking clock. In between making/packing eat-in-car breakfast for C & E, I feed the dog, shout out frequent timechecks to the two upstairs who are dressing up and gobble down my own breakfast.

Pick up after the dog and C & E, make the beds, tidy up clutter and kitchen and breakfast stuff, do laundry. I then decide to give Rusty a fur trim and overdue bath. Meanwhile, soup is simmering on the stove for dinner tonight. Rusty is naughty and gets an accidental bald patch at his ribs. The 'detachable fur-length adaptor' from the electric trimmer falls out during a struggle while I was running the trimmer down his ribs......

Rush to get out of the house for a late morning appointment. Just realised I had to print out something for the meeting ...no printer or computer so gotta go to old place. Clicked 'print' and it says "Printer out of paper"....aargh, no spare paper here at the old place....guess I have to send the document over later....

While driving here I was wondering how people can plan their activities far ahead. Some have their children's schol holidays marked out and have booked tickets in January for December holidays. For ACE? or at least me? gosh....even what we're gonna do this weekend is still a question mark let alone holidays or activities in May, June,...September....December.....

Ok, late morning is becoming afternoon soon so I have to leave this poor lonely computer here....

Friday, April 3, 2009


Some pictures I took with my mobile phone during this Internet-less time after moving.

Lunch treat at the new Bubba Gump Shrimp Restaurant at Sunway Pyramid. They have one at The Curve too. First time I ate at this place was in San Francisco ten years ago. I don't remember them having that "Stop Forrest Stop" signages then for you to get the waiter's attention....

An interesting presentation of unagi sushi at Sakae Sushi

It had been a long time since I had this version of tea - Marie biscuits dunked into local Malaysian black coffee

At Dinotrek/Petrosains...the two car racing fans couldn't resist trying out the simulator.

Still no Internet...and update

Obviously, you can tell from the title of this post that this has been my main grouse these few weeks. I'm back again here at the apartment to visit my lonely computer to catch up on email and other stuff, including overdue bills that I usually pay online.

And because I have other things to take care of at the new place plus going through the motions of daily life, time spent here is limited so less time to share long stories about ACE.

The one-week school break came and went middle of last month. We didn't go anywhere except Petrosains and their feature exhibition of Dinotrek which Caitlin enjoyed very much. Petrosains however is a larger area with lots of science-related exhibits which Caitlin did not have the attention span to stay on at any particular one to read their explanations.

Rusty was stressed out from the move to the new place and protested with his new living arrangements. The first two weeks there we kept him outside in the shelter of our covered backyard most times. We couldn't handle having him inside with all our clutter and half-opened boxes with stuff which he'd very likely chew on when we were not looking. I also wanted to train him to use the toilet at the back and not inside the house. That did not go well with him. He was reluctant to eat unlike before when he'd rush to his bowl when he knew I was coming with food, and gobble up everything within seconds. He took a sniff and walked away this time, finishing his food in instalments over a couple of hours. And during the times we leave him alone at home to go out, he'd protest by going to toilet at spots other than his usual designated ones....

He's happier now because I allow him in during the day when I'm at home. When we're out, he's tethered via two leashes joined end to end, to a pillar at the front car porch. Left him loose one day to frolic unsupervised and he chewed up Eugene's slipper, dug a hole in the garden and had a taste of some 'serai' (citronella) plant that my MIL planted for me.

Caitlin is enjoying the new place as she gets to cycle around every evening and yesterday, she visited the small playground nearby for the first time. Our neighbours opposite have schoolgoing kids too so she's making new friends too. I'm getting my share of exercise too, having to go up and downstairs many times a day, walk briskly to catch up with the rebel cyclist or rein in the curious puppy when he goes out for walks.

There's still lots to do for the house. Some things can't get moving because in order to do B, A needs to be in place first and is not....

Gotta end here now and start going into my banking sites to pay bills.