Sunday, 4 September 2011

London bridge without the Changster

Last time I went to London, I went with the Changster and we had lots of fun at the Natural History Museum, London Bridge, London Eye. Tonight, I'm on my own at the airport and will be gone for two weeks. It's the first time ever the two of us are separated for so long (almost two weeks) and everyone could smell the tension in the air from couple days ago. She cried and wanted me to stay. My heart ached and I also know she won't do it for much longer. Before I know it, she will be saying "Please mum, just drop me off two blocks away from school ppplllleeasssee?!"

I love you sweetie and I will bring something Little Mermaid related back for you. See you soon and be good!

Sunday, 26 June 2011

Your child may not look like you but...

...your child is a mini-you!

Out of the group of fathers waiting anxiously outside of the delivery room, the nurses went straight to Daddy to inform him of the birth of Changster. Yep, that's how much the two look alike. I was totally convinced by the theory that babies look like the father in the first few months in their lives so that the father cannot deny the relationship.

One birthday cake after another and I came to term that Jesus didn't hear my very persistent prayer. But wait! I think Jesus did listen and granted me my wish, not quite the same as the one I hoped for but technically flawless: I wish my daughter is more like me and she does, in terms of personality! (See, be careful of what you wish for!)

Where should I start? She can get really cheeky and knows how to guide you to the answer she wants. That's not very Daddy like. She does the exact opposite of what she's told to do and I had that comment under "room for improvement" in all my report cards. I like to eat but I am also very particular about the way of how my food is prepared and she's the exact same way, even at the young age of 7 month.

She was telling us a story that she made up the other night and there were lots of weird stuff like how to make the magic potion (squid brain, squid eye balls...etc) and that the sleepy head monster was out there to eat little kids and she should be allowed to watch TV in the living room. I was pretty much the same way by telling my dad that a tree in the middle of the school yard ate children from other class and I shouldn't be sent to school.

I admit, I'm the one who told her that I fart because I eat thunder whenever there's a rainstorm (and thunder is therefore nothing to be afraid of!). I don't know if it's me influencing her or it's genetics. All I can say is it may not be obvious but children are mini-me's of the parents.

It's just a matter of time when she starts forging my siganture for sick note. Perhaps I should start signing in Chinese!

Tuesday, 12 April 2011

Completion 蓮香

When I was little, one highlight in my rather dull week was having dim sum very early in the morning with my grandmother on a non-school day.  It was our time together and dim sum was done the way it was meant to be - one type of tea and two choices of dim sum 一盅两件.  I was an easy to please child.  The humongous lotus seed buns with a whole salted egg yolk, packed with saturated fat and cholesterol put a big smile on my face.
The tea house we went to was a 500 square foot street level shop three blocks away from home.  The presentation and ordering of food was very interactive.  Diners examined the steamers stacked on a metal tray that the staff carried around.  It was loud, the tile floor was wet, and the food rustic.  It was the little dim sum world that my Grandma shared with me.  
I stopped going to dim sum with Grandma when I went through my rebellious teenage year.  Then Grandma passed away when I was 16.  The dingy tea house we frequented disappeared and on that very same spot, a new “luxurious apartment building” replaced the building with herbal shops, tea house and a bakery.     
A friend was working on a project on dim sum and we quickly formed a small group of dim sum buster to try out a list of restaurants in town.  We went to very nice places with dim sum so well made that I could imagine them being food for Kings were they made 100 years earlier.  Yet, something was missing.  The name Lin Heung popped up during one of the dim sum sessions and I was very determined to get the group to go and I got what I wished for.  The breakfast was supposed to start at 8am but I was so eager to fill the empty spot in my heart, I was there by 7:30am.
The place was grand compared to my little tea house.  The food, whilst old school, was not quite the same as what I had either.  I munched away and happy memories of my dim sum highlight came back.  The part when I refused to go for dim sum with Grandma could not be changed and there will always be an imperfection in my book as a result.  However, I think I know why Grandma took me.  Dim sum wasn’t just about eating your breakfast.  It was a place where everybody knows your name (Yay! Cheers!)  You learn not to waste your food and be grateful for the treat. It’s a place where Chinese people feel uninhibited to express their opinion (Boy!  It’s been so long since I last heard about the 3 years and 8 months of Japanese occupation). And you learn not to be an introvert when you need to fight for your dim sum and strangers sitting at the same table might strike up weird conversations (Oh!  This time I am not Korean with plastic surgery or FOB mainland Chinese. I am Singaporean now).  And of course, you work out the rules whilst things seem to be chaotic (important life lesson)

I am going to make it a monthly activity with the Changster and I hope she won’t tell me to “drop me off two blocks away from school and STOP following me around” when she’s 15.
Thank you my friends who woke up early for my rather selfish excursion

Sunday, 13 February 2011

Four is no ordinary number

Number theory taught me six is the first perfect number because 1x2x3 = 6 and 1+2+3=6. As a mother, each number means something special and unique. In Feb 2011, I have "FOUR".

Changunnie, now that you are four (and a big girl as you said), I hope you will remember the following and I hope they will be useful for you in navigating through the ups and downs in life. Here's my FOUR for you

For better or worse - What exactly does it mean when people say it? To settle for the lesser? Be grateful that your situation isn't the worst? To me, it means no matter how bad the situation is, you will get over it. Your fate is in your hands and your attitude determines your action which determines the consequence. I will either be there for you or when you are older and I am not there physically, you can still download a pile of notes from me. Use your common sense, have faith in yourself and you will be fine. Trust me, you will have a smile when you look back on seemingly awful situation so long as you keep your faith and don't loose your cool.

Omnivores - Yes, be an omnivores. There are so many cliche diets on what's good and what's not for your health. In the time of Mama's grandparents, they ate lard over rice in good times and bark when they were running away from the Japanese. My grandfather lived to the ripe old age of 97. The key is balance. Do not discard any food group from your diet and of course, do not touch contaminated food. Do not chuck the egg yolk (you need that for your eyes and brain), eat a healthy amount of fat (for your skin and hair, and to protect the internal organs and your nerves) and a good chunk of veg and fruit every day (for the vitamins and the fibres to clean your AC).

Understand who you are and learn to be humble. No one is perfect and thus don't be full of yourself no matter how good you are in some area. Being an a&& do you no good. However, learn to identify one and be able to deal with them as there are tons of them around.

Respect the others. You should respect people who work hard and are honest. It doesn't mean you should agree with them all the time (this is going to be another note) but you should respect them. In a world where people have very skewed world view, it is not easy to stick with one's principle. Also, it is only through respecting people that you will benefit from other people's wisdom. Be very nice to people who serve you at shops and restaurants. Working in the service industry is tough and at times horrible. You should appreciate the help from them.

Happy birthday and let me tell you why I love to kiss you.... because I fall in love deeper with you each time I kiss you.

Thursday, 23 December 2010

2010 - A Space Mountain Year

Saying 2010 was eventful doesn't give the depth of what happened. For once, I cannot think of a smart one liner to sum up 2010. I know for sure though, I want to say I am very lucky for being able to sit here to write this note in late December 2010. There was a real possibility of not being able to do so...

January - the year did not start out as a nice one for me work-wise. People talk about being at the right place at the right time as the right person. I had to substitute some of the "rights" with "wrongs"

Into Feburary - Grandma had her physical. Mostly well and found out the reason of her tendency of fainting without any warning sign. The mammogram wasn't good news

March to April - Biopsy only confirmed our fear. I remember the day when we had the reports; Grandma and I were on the rooftop staring at the lettuce but I couldn't see anything. A week later, I passed my driving test and on the same day, I got the offer from my new firm. Yes, my work-stress is gone but I was only having a taste of domestic stress.

April onwards - When most people thought I was having a blissful 3 months gardening leave, the family started travelling to and from Korea. The day sitting in the waiting room whilst the doctors operated on Grandma was one of the longest days I've ever experienced. The Severance Hospital in Seoul was big and factory like. Big screens on the wall flashed the name of patients, the operating theatre number, the start time and the status (started, recovering, finished). There was no one we could talk to. The surgeon was supposed to inform us of the type of procedures required upon the completion of the frozen section biopsy. Grandma's name was never called. "Recovering" blinked after almost five hours.

To November - Chemotherapy and radiotherapy... Technology might have advanced but the effect on Grandma was not pretty. I don't know what kind of scale they use in Korea but something gotta be very wrong when the white blood cell count was 50 when other chemo-patients should be at 500. The fever, throwing up, feeling very sick "standard" symptoms are simply too trivial. When I found out that the hospital missed some of the medication for Grandma and that attributed to her low white blood cell count, I was furious and started interviewing oncologists in Hong Kong.

November - Grandma returned, looking better than before. Face was round and have a nice glow with pink cheeks. We couldn't asked for more.

On the work front, I eased into the new job. The technical part wasn't hard. Having to deal with a new set up and without the infrastructure was tough. I was back to the 16 hours day that I went through in the first three years in my career.

Late November, I wasn't feeling well. So bloated that I lacked energy to move around. Went to the Adventist Hospital in HK and had MRI, CT Scan, blood test... I had flash back and started to wonder if I could celebrate Changster's fourth birthday. I wasn't really myself for that few days.Decision was made two days after all the tests result to go for surgery. I cried so much in the moring of the day of the surgery. All the what ifs filled my head and I didn't want to leave the Changster and daddy behind. The mass was removed, measuring 25cm and weighted in at 4.05 kg (without blood?). I had immediate weight loss of almost 12 kg. Frozen section said no malignancy and the surgery went really well. When I opened my eyes in the recovery room, I distinctly remember asking the nurse for the time and was relieved that it was 1:02pm.

So here I am typing away. I can see the scar on my tummy (now I have a reversed T from the cesarean and the surgery) and I can still feel the pull inside. Am I happy? Yes. I am happy that I have my family and friends around me through good times and bad times. I am happy that I was pulled back from the other end of the tunnel.

Tell people you love how much you love them. Be grateful and gracious of what you have. Don't just sit on your plan. Execute it! You may think there is always tomorrow. The truth is, you never know if you will wake up to tomorrow. A very good friend of mine has just lost her father this afternoon.

To our family and friends, thank you for being there for us! We wish you and your family to have a very healthy and blessed year in 2011!

Sunday, 31 October 2010

Silence is Golden - Happy Anniversary

First and foremost, allow me to declare that we got married when we were VERY young and innocent!

Yesterday was our 11th anniversary and.... we did nothing. In fact, we didn't even exchange more than 20 words.

No no! It's not that we are having problems or anything. Changunnie daddy has been suffering from a really bad case of sore throat and still can't speak. He has been drinking yogurt fruit shake. Our plan for a late night movie yesterday was canceled as he fell asleep under the influence of his medicine and I was tired from watching You Tube (I found this really funny Korean drama with English subtitles - Queen of Housewives)

We looked at each other most of yesterday without saying much (thanks to his sore throat, nothing remotely romantic at all). I think silence at the right time is indeed golden and helps to have a healthy relationship with your spouse. From my experience for all my friends, next time....

... when you are about to say something mean in order to win a fight over mostly trivial things, remain silent. It's easy to be verbally abusive but the cost to repair the damage is hefty

... when you are about to say something "funny" at the expense of your spouse, remain silent. If you think the pen is mightier than the sword, words from your mouth can be as potent as an a-bomb

... when you want to complain about your spouse for ignoring you, remain silent. Is he/she really ignoring you or just worn out after a long and bad day at work?

This year's note is a short one. Whilst I believe Silence is Golden, I also am a believer of Less is More. Changunnie daddy, don't complain if I eat most of your food and give you the "lady" portion. Less is more.

Happy Anniversary!

Happy Halloween (or what's so happy about it?)

Gomo kindly picked a very cute Cinderella dress for the Changster. We all thought she would happily wear the gown but she said one gotta look scary for Halloween and so her decision was to pull out the 3D pumpkin suit that we bought her when she was 18 months old. Erhh... a plump orange Pumpkin itself wasn't scary. The entourage that accompanied the Changster was.

Who would dare to take Changster's candy when Grandpa was walking 15 yards behind with the ever hyper Bear. Daddy was 10 feet away with an abnormally big face/chin/neck because of his sore throat and mummy was dressed as a witch (fits my personality much better than Kick Buttowski according to my BFFs at work. I take it as a compliment) right next to her. We knocked on doors, Changster repeated the same three steps:

1) Happy Halloween (what's so happy about it? In fact, why do we need to go around to do T&T on Oct 31??)
2) pick one, nothing more nothing less, candy from each basket (call me the ultimate smug parent but I was very proud of the Changster for being able to demonstrate self-discipline when adults were saying "take more!")
3) Thank you.

Some kids eyed the Changster up and down and focused on her candy bag but the moment they wanted to make a move, they were met with the deadly stare of Dyson 2000.

What prompted me to write this is the behaviour of other children who came to our place for Trick or Treat and those we met at other houses.

Do parents teach children the true meaning of value anymore? The behaviour of those childen seem to scream value means how much candy you can grab in two seconds or selecting the house with the best treat or better yet, put on a new hat and hit the same house again because of the quality of treats. Those children moved in like sharks dancing around a pool of blood when the door opened and appeared a basket of candy. They elbowed each other out of the way and greedily stuffed candies into their big trash bag.

In case you are reading this and your parents didn't teach you or you want to teach your kids. Here's my penny worth:

-Don't get overly excited when someone is handing out free candies. I checked the packages, there are some pretty nice ones and some about to expire ones too

-Don't judge a book by the cover. You may be picking on the youngest one in the crowd, the big scary one might jump out from behind to give you a real lesson. The same principal applies when you go to school, go to work... just learn to be nice and fair

- Candies may give you the instant pleasure from sugar rush, you will suffer from depression and unnecessary weight gain which will take some pretty extreme measure to loose

- Just because you wear a Halloween outfit doesn't mean I don't know which house you live in. You will have to pay for your rudeness and trust me on this one

Happy Halloween!