Wednesday, April 28, 2010

What's up

Caitlin is recovering from her second bout of viral infection since the last post two weeks ago. That's why I've not had the time or mood to write anything here the past two weeks. She had the same symptoms as the first time, i.e. sore throat and fever. But this time the fever took longer to break. It finally did today, the fifth day.

I've put off writing for pleasure or pocket money for the time being. Apart from my blogs and my fortnightly 'column' in a newspaper, I've just been busy keeping house, pet and garden.

There was no fanfare for E's birthday on the 19th which was a Monday, a school and work day. We had initial plans for a small gathering at home with his and my side of the family the day before (18th, Sunday) but both his siblings and their families were not able to make it. That brought down the quorum by 50% so we decided to call it off. On Monday night, C and I got a small cake with one candle for him. C put some snacks, and candies in a small basket and decorated it like a hamper and stuck a note to it as a present for him. We also got him a new coffee tumbler as the old one was already cracked.

I got some help for my garden when my brother-in-law's helper came to live with us for a week while they were on vacation. She did a good job tidying up my flower beds and even put up the plastic decorative fencing for me. She took two mornings before the sun came out in full force to complete the job. If it were me, I'd have taken months. Coming from a farming background, I guess she's more experienced in working the soil.

I finally set up the earthern tub that had been overturned in the garden for months. I got a somewhat matching 'stand' for it. The stands at the gardening shops were too low for my liking so I got a flower pot, turned it upside down and sat the tub on it. I also don't want it to be too low as I know Rusty would surely stick his paw into it or take a drink from it. True to my thoughts, Rusty did attempt to find out what that new 'structure' was. He stood on his hind legs and took a peek over the rim with his two paws after I set it up. So I now have a purple water lily growing out of it, and some fish swimming around to prevent mosquitoes from breeding in the tub.

Easter came and went too and it inspired me to try my hand at making hot cross buns. But instead of the candied peels and currants, I used the dried cranberries I had in relative abundance. Unfortunately the buns didn't turn out soft and fluffy. Somehow the dough did not rise enough despite following the recipe to a 'T'. I believe the yeast I used were not of good quality or kind of 'dead'....I went through the recipe again and checked if I missed out anything in the process or whether I used any wrong techniques, but did not find any mistake. So we had hot rock buns instead. Cooking is always an adventure for me, trying out recipes and concocting my own and seeing the results -- tasty or not. We've also made pizza (using frozen base and personalised toppings) and roast chicken again. The only 'problem' with roasting a whole chicken is we'll have leftovers for the next two days. We then turn them into chicken porridge, chicken pasta, fried rice and stock (the carcass).

When C is back to school and healthy again, I might re-evaluate my writing 'hobby' and indulge in some others like gardening, catch up on the tons of books to be read, training Rusty (that I should and must do in fact) and taking pit stops to do no-brainer stuff like watch tv and go window shopping (so unlike me!). The writing I do for pocket money has become less satisfying somehow. The jobs are erratic (my fault as I don't actively go looking for them) and deadlines 'uncomfortable' and subject matter dry and uninteresting. I actually wonder how I ever did so much corporate writing in the 14 years of my career in the past. I guess I didn't have too much distractions (home, kid, garden, cooking, pet) then and had to work for the elusive dangling carrot....

Monday, April 12, 2010

This and that of the weekend

Yet another weekend has flown by. ACE were not too active this weekend as Caitlin had just recovered from her minor viral infection. She went to Sunday School this morning and they had an Easter party. As I usually don't cook, or cook minimally on weekends, we ate out for lunch and dinner on both Saturday and Sunday.

We had dinner at Sakae Sushi on Sunday. Caitlin had her regular Japanese food favourites of sake (salmon) sushi and chawan mushi while we ordered some specialty sushi, a soup dish, and picked some off the conveyor belt. I think I had too much ocha hence my sleeplessness right now (1.33am), hence my decision to write something here.

Other than eating out, we stayed at home and whiled the time away. C read and played in her playroom, E slept the better part of Saturday afternoon while I watched Julie & Julia, one of the few DVDs we got last weekend.

E finally cut the overgrown grass in our garden. It'd be easier now for me to remove the grass that's growing around the plants growing in the ground. It's a back-breaking and hand-aching task actually so it'll be a 'long term' job i.e. it'll get done whenever I feel like it!

C has started her own (private) blog i.e. one that she writes, or rather types in herself of whatever she likes. I set it up for her on Friday and showed her what she needed to do to write her first post. It's good to see she not only has interest in reading stories but also writing them. She has been 'creating' stories every now and then since a couple of years back. She was quite active at one time prior to starting school and I used to write them down as she told them, and then I transferred them into a separate (private) blog. Lately, instead of telling them verbally, she'd handwrite them in some random notebooks or exercise books. That's when I proposed to her that she could put them in a blog of her own, where she can write anything she wants. And it being a 'secret' blog as she calls it, she got interested. However, it's only day two for now so we'll have to see how far this will go.

Anyway, I'm just glad that it's something new for her to try, and something that takes her away from the TV, although if it were up to me, I'd prefer that she practises her piano and drums a bit more!

I am however, still unable to get her interested in anything related to other languages besides English, namely Bahasa Malaysia and Mandarin. I've tried children's TV programmes, story books, Bahasa-speaking day, but so far she's not interested. She'll drag her feet when asked to do some BM workbook exercises but when it comes to Science, English or Math, she seldom complains. Oh well, some things can't be forced....which leads me back to my sleeplessness...

I'm still wide awake. I had tried 'forcing' myself to sleep but it didn't work. Hopefully once E and C go to work and school in the morning, I can catch some 40 winks while waiting for the washing machine to be done with the laundry.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Going into labour

Caitlin came home from school feeling sleepy and tired yesterday. She also complained of a headache. I let her take a nap, which turned out to be quite a long one and when she awoke, I discovered she had a fever. After some paracetamol, she seemed fine until dinner time when she complained of pain in her throat.

This morning the doctor took a look at her and found ulcers in her throat. He suspects it could be HFM (hand, foot and mouth disease) but she has yet to develop any rash. Apart from the painful throat, she's pretty much herself today. She is staying home for two days. We'll then monitor to see how this infection manifests further, whether it is really HFM or some other virus.

The hassle of having a kid at home on days when she's supposed to be at school means having to catch up with two days' worth of school work that she'll be missing. This means if Mommy cares, Mommy would have to go to school and see each teacher individually to find out what she missed and then supervise her in doing the work at home. If Mommy doesn't bother, then it's up to the teacher to determine whether the child should complete the work or not. It also means for two days, mommy's routine is put to a halt to take care of her and keep her occupied productively.

When you become a Mommy, your LABOUR does not end the minute you give birth to your child. When you start to feel the contractions, it signals the beginning of lifelong labour, a labour of love in caring for your child until he/she leaves your nest!

Friday, April 2, 2010

Today

It's Good Friday today. It's the day when believers of Jesus Christ remember His sacrifice on the cross. Caitlin's school chose to make it a holiday today. That means Caitlin was home today with me. In the morning, after breakfast, we made some scones. Actually I did the measuring and mixing while she helped to roll the dough and shape them with the cutter. The dough was not rolled evenly enough so some of the scones turned out a little lopsided.But they tasted all right so it doesn't matter since we are eating them ourselves. Also, I believe that as long as it's not a matter of life and death, it's not quite necessarry to correct every little 'mistake' a child makes.

After completing her homework, she played and watched tv for the better part of the afternoon. After some persuasion and nagging, she finally gave in to my request to do some exercises in her 'home study' Bahasa Malaysia workbook. Her Bahasa vocabulary is rather limited for what is required in her Year 2 school syllabus. The standard of the language for kids her age these days is much higher compared to that during my time. They now do comprehension, sentence construction, proverbs, antonyms, synonyms and lots more. Those days, in Standard 2, we were only learning to read!

After dinner, C went for her capoeira class. While waiting for her I did some grocery shopping. We're having some friends over for tea tomorrow. It's amazing how some friendships can last while others fizzle off quickly. I have friends dating back to Standard 1, some were from before Standard 1, and we're still friends and still keep in touch through email, online chat and Facebook, and once in a while we meet up. We went to school together until we parted ways for college/university. Now, our kids are friends too!

I'm wondering what to make for tea. Spotted an interesting Vietnamese banana cake (banh chuoi) recipe recently and thought of trying that out. Or should we have crepes with stewed apple filling and vanilla ice cream? or both?