Monday, September 27, 2010

Stating the obvious

This morning, Caitlin was seen juggling a number of things as she was getting out the door to the car for school -- Archie comicbook in one hand, her favourite gaudy pink stuffed cat in the crook of the other arm, while dragging her trolley bag with water tumbler strapped around her neck.

Obviously, she was going to read while eating breakfast in the car (which is a routine), and today, take Lulubelle the cat for a ride to school.

Seeing her in her juggling act, I asked, "What are you doing?!"

And she replied, "I'm multi-tasking!" with a hint of eye-rolling in her voice.

Mummy has to learn to be sharper in asking questions or at least not ask, but comment appropriately next time!

On the Web, Children Face Intensive Tracking

E found this article in the 20 Sept 2010 print version of the Wall Street Journal. I found it online here. It is a long article with quite a lot of other links to related articles but it is worth reading. I think it is a must-read for parents with young children and teenagers who use the Internet.

It is a good and eye-opening article about what takes place when our kids visit websites to play games, network socially or even to study.  We are more ''exposed' than we realise when it comes to how much information on personal details and internet activity websites can get with the tracking devices they install.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

This week

Wow, it's already a week since my last post here. It felt like only a few days. E is returning from a working trip to Jakarta this evening. Since Sunday afternoon, C and I have been a twosome. She was very sad Daddy was going away. She expressed fears of earthquakes and tsunamis when E mentioned his Jakarta trip a couple of weeks back. She cried pleading him not to go because of the danger. It's times like these I sometimes wish she wasn't such an avid reader as her knowledge of earthquakes and related events worked against us. She soon forgot about it until the day before he left, and then it started again..."I don't want you to go....there's earthquakes and's, don't go, pleeease..."

For the past four nights, I have a new sleep partner. She occupies almost the entire king-size bed and uses me as a bolster sometimes. I also have to drive her to school in the mornings since her usual going-to-school buddy who drives her and himself to work is not around. Poor Rusty is also not spared from E's absence. Instead of daddy, he gets me to walk him, and after the walk, he only gets water, no extra treats. I'm stricter and try not to let him pull me along. In defence of her little 'brother', C asked, "Why are you so strict with Rusty? He's not joining the army or anything!"

Ties between Malaysia and Indonesia have been strained since last year. A spate of Indonesian maid abuse cases here have gotten Indonesia putting a halt to 'exporting' their maids to Malaysia. Then our navy detained some Indonesian fisherman causing increased tension and demonstrations in both countries, then two days ago, another maid abuse case in Penang....

E said security was tight in Jakarta, even in the hotels. I heard over the news this morning that the Indons demonstrated at the Malaysian embassy there yesterday evening. E stayed in his room and watched tv and didn't go out after work. Luckily he's returning today.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Malaysian holiday season

Last Friday was Hari Raya Aidil Fitri, the Muslim celebration after a month-long fasting in the month of Ramadan the previous month. The school term took a break for a week last week too. And two weeks before that, Malaysia celebrated her 53rd year of independence, or Merdeka Day, on 31 August.

In two days' time, on 16 September, the country will have another national holiday called Malaysia Day. It's the day in 1963 when Sabah and Sarawak in Borneo, and the island of Singapore joined Peninsular Malaya to become Malaysia. (However, on 9 August 1965, the Parliament voted with a majority for the removal of Singapore from Malaysia.)

I'm wondering if I'll have the energy and time to make Malaysia Day a Cooking Thursday. C has a two-hour replacement class for her Yamaha Junior Extension Course in the morning. Parents sit in for these group lessons and by default, since I'm the one with music knowledge, it's become my 'duty', although it's not necessary for parents to have music knowledge to sit in).

Thinking aloud, I'd like to try making roti jala, or a simple cheesecake, or some kind of Malaysian 'kuih' since it's Malaysia Day. But I wonder if I'd have to cook a more elaborate dinner, especially when Thursday is also the day when E's parents come over for a visit and dinner. Since I'm not an expert cook, cooking for four adults and one adult wannabe is already more challenging than just cooking for ACE alone....

I guess I'll find out what I will really do when Thursday arrives and unfolds itself......

Saturday, September 11, 2010

My Baby

My chubby cheeker, adorable and innocent cutie pie is growing up so's been only five years since this picture but it feels so much longer. She has long hair now, is very vain, talks back, makes her case like a pro lawyer with comebacks that leave us either speechless or in fits of laughter. Her life revolves around wanting longer hair, beauty accessories and developing her own fashion sense, daydreaming about boyfriends and getting married, as well as whatever her current fancies are that relate to the books and movies she has been reading or watching. If she isn't only one month shy of being eight years old, I would have thought that I was just describing a teenager.

Caitlin (3 yrs old) and me, 2005

Yet in many ways, my drama queen cum princess is still an innocent little girl. She still has her favourite security bolster she can't leave home without. She still whines, folds her arms and pouts when she doesn't get her way. She complains incessantly that it's 'unfair' when she loses a board game that we played fairly although she knows it's only a game and we win some, we lose some. She is generous at times without any conditions but can be stingy too when it's to her advantage.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Home-cooked ABC Soup

Caitlin and I will be having a one-pot dinner tonight. This week, E has a slew of 'buka puasa' dinners to attend. It's hard cooking for so few people so one-pot dishes are the best way to go. Today, it's a variation of the famous Malaysian Chinese ABC soup. Caitlin loves to eat porridge, or what some people refer to as congee. She's been choosing that over rice for lunch at the school canteen these two weeks. She also likes 'flooded' rice i.e. rice drenched with lots of clear soup, or what some people refer to as broth. Terms differ for locals and westerners, a case of tomayto, tomahto, potayto, potahto.

ABC soup is so easy to make, so delicious and nutritious; good comfort food, and best of all, one of Caitlin's favourites. That means she will eat with more enthusiasm, less dawdling, until her tummy bulges!

The basic ABC usually contains potatoes, carrots, onions and tomatoes, all diced or if you wish, cut into large chunks. They are then boiled and simmered with stock of chicken or pork. Alternatively, you could use chunky soup bones, chicken carcass, or pork spare ribs. I usually like to use pork because it renders a sweeter tasting stock compared to chicken. I guess you could use beef too but of course that will give a rather beefy flavour to the soup, masking the clear sweetness from the carrots, potatoes and onions.

My version today contains a few more ingredients, namely cabbage and fresh shitake mushrooms, another two of C's favourites. Instead of pork bones or ribs, I used pork fillet which I cut into bite-size chunks, marinated with a little salt. Once all the vegetables come to a boil in the pot, I add the pork, let it boil and then simmer until the meat, carrots, potatoes and cabbages are soft. Add some salt to taste and that's it. Steam some rice and serve.

Other ingredients in addition to the basic ones (carrot, potato, tomato, onion) that you can add are winter melon, other mushrooms like button, golden or oyster, baby or sweet corn and red dates. You could also add some fish balls as long as they are of good quality to avoid giving the soup a fishy taste. You could add a dash of white pepper if you like, but for Caitlin, she can taste the slightest bit of pepper and complain that it's spicy.

Caitlin will definitely flood her rice with this ABC soup. I can be assured this evening that she'll have a balanced meal as this is one dish where she will definitely eat all the veges (except the tomato) while the pork will be boneless and tender enough for her picky palate to accept.