Friday, February 24, 2012

I don't know how other mommies do it.

a) I finally caved getting help.

I grew up with no domestic helper. My dad didn't want me to take things for granted. By 8 years old, I took over the housework at home. I would sweep and mop the floor once a week, iron my uniforms, wash dishes and even sew/patch clothes myself. Looking back, I think parents were just exploiting me as child labour. Ha. It did instill a good working attitude in me and I believe that you reap what sow.

I had fully intended to do the same to DD. I had already got her to help with watering the plants, bringing me stuff when I cook and dusting surfaces. 
If only, it's this easy to keep a toddler clean
In recent weeks, with the school opening, I have been really swarmed. There's a million and one things to do but not enough hours in a day. We don't have a domestic helper so DH and I do the household chores ourselves. I make dinners for weekdays and he would cook for weekends. On top of that, I'm in charge of grocery and financial matters. Weekends are filled with kiddie activities.

Then I had a car accident a couple of weeks ago. A minor one, but still a good wake-up call. I need to slow down, learn to delegate and accept help when needed. Looks like I cannot wait till DD grows up to assume the role of chief domestic officer.

Realising it was one thing, but finding good help is another. Salimah was recommended by a lady in the condo. She started today. I didn't know what to do with help, I actually offered her cookies and drink when she arrived. Ha. She got to work right away, and she knew exactly what to do. She was meticulous and had initiative. She cleaned better than I had ever done for the house. 

When I came out of the study room at one point and saw her washing my balcony, my heart swelled with so much gratitude and I swore I was going to burst into tears. What have I done to deserve Salimah? (Yes, I have been so busy and strung up that I am getting emo.) 

I'm glad we finally got cleaning help. Best decision I have made this week.

b) I love drinking coffee but stop taking caffeine during pregnancy. I thought I just had to wait till DD was born for some coffee liberation. Sadly (or thankfully), as I breastfeed her, any caffeine I consume gives her gas and makes her (more) active than usual. She has more problems with coffee than tea, so I can indulge in 1/4 serving of teh ice and teh tarik occasionally.

For coffee, I took one for the team (yes, hubby it's for you!!!) and extended my abstinence from coffee. I did cave in and switch to decaf coffee at one point. I know it's moot, but the psychological benefit from smelling and drinking coffee is intangible but very real. Plus I became obsessed with all coffee derivated food such coffee flavoured cupcakes, coffee candy etc.
My fave coffee cupcake at Bijou. Sadly they took this off menu.
One of DH's favourite cafes is Antipodean in Bangsar. We go there at least once weekly. Unfortunately they don't serve decaf coffee, as a matter of principles. I asked the owner several times and even posted on their facebook, to no avail. Here goes some of our conversation.

Me: Can you please put decaf coffee on your menu?
Him: *smile* No
Me: But you are a family friendly cafe, just think of the number of pregnant and lactating moms here.
Him: Erm, no.
Me: I will bring my own beans. How about that?
Him: Noooooooooooooooo.

Sigh. At least he wasn't as snooty as Artisan Roast.

After DD turned one year, I decided to test the waters by stealing sips from DH's coffee. Little to no reaction from DD. Yay! I start lite with nespresso, capuccino or latte.

Two days ago, when the owner wasn't around, I decided to order a long black from Antipodean. It tasted so good, could be partly because I couldn't have it for so long. What's even better was the fact that DD was fine! 
Liberation tastes so sweet
Lesson I learnt - as mothers (and fathers), we try to take on as much as we can for our children and our other halves, many times we forget ourselves. Sometimes, we just have to remember to cut ourselves some slack. A happier mom is a better mom.

In other news, our school is opening in a few days. Am beside myself with excitement.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

It sure feels like spring around here

Living in Malaysia, there is really only one season, which is summer. It is hot all year round with variation in the amount of rainfall.

Having said that, it feels like spring in our house which has been on the receiving end of 'new births'. (Not mine, I should clarify.)

I became rather fond of gardening in recent months. It started with us moving into our new home and we thought some greenery would spruce up the bare balcony. Plus, I thought it would be a good idea to introduce DD to living things and instill the idea of responsibility (before we move on to pets).

I am rather green (haha, I can't help the pun) to plants and nature so the maiden trip to the nursery was an eye opener. I didn't know you can buy plants outside the florists and supermarkets. Haha. The uncle was particularly nice to me and offered plenty of advice. I think he was rather worried I was going to kill the plants eventually.

The plants were delivered to our home and got all set up. Weeks came and went, they didn't die. In fact, most of them seemed to be thriving. 

I got adventurous and planted some chilli (both chilli padi and big red chilli) and lime. I had a 10% hope of any positive outcome. Still, I got DD to water the pot daily.

When we returned home after Chinese New Year, I was delighted to see some green shoots. Real green shoots, not the Bernanke-imagined kind. 

I made the rookie mistake of planting both chilli and lime in the same pot. When the seedlings came out, I happily told DH we are going to get chilli lime. He shook his head and said that wasn't going to happen. Then I fret about not being able to tell which is chilli or lime. It has been weeks, the seedlings are now bigger and it's obvious from the leaves. And if I am really unsure, I can always wait till they fruit. :) 

It's great having all these plants. DD loves helping me with watering the plants. Every night before bed, she would say 'night night' to each one of them and pat them. Very cute.

And then our fish gave birth less than three days after we bought the three of them. 

I think the fly (baby fish) were born live, rather than hatched. We had to separate them, in case the mother fish eats them because she forgets those are her offspring. Yes, apparently goldfish memory is not limited to goldfish. I counted 30 initially but eventually only three survived. We bought 3 and ended up with 6, a pretty good buy if you ask me. Great fun for DD too. She went hysterical when she spot the teeny tiny fly for the very first time. They are now much bigger, probably at the toddler stage. Mother fish is pregnant again though. 

DD has to say 'morning' to the fishes before going to the school. She wants to dip her chubby hand in to 'sayang' them. Given her excitement, I think it could be a good idea to have some plants and pets at the school. Maybe more fishes or even rabbits. We will leave it to the kids to decide.

Then there was Valentine's Day. DH actually remembered without any reminders. On top of that, he bought me flowers (gasp!), making me a very happy mommy indeed.

P.S. The chilli lime plants have grown pretty big and more have sprung up since the picture was last taken. If you are interested to adopt some chilli babies, do let me know.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Valentines special: Loving thy body

It tastes as good as it looks
This morning I was having breakfast at our regular mamak after the morning school run. I ordered nasi lemak with ayam goreng (fried chicken) and teh ice (iced tea). I usually order this or a thosai.

As always, I get stares for eating alone. It baffles me why there is a blatant double standard in this. It's ok if men dine alone, but strange if a woman eats alone. God forbids if she has a healthy appetite.

When I was paying, the young lady at the cashier asked me if I eat any lunch or dinner. She told me she has only fruits for dinner and a light lunch because she needs to watch her weight. I took a second look at her slender build and told her she looks amazing and there's no need to diet.

I did answer her question. I do have my lunch and dinner. In fact, I have a healthy appetite and eat every two to three hours. I guess I have relatively high metabolism to burn off the insane amount of food I consume (well, most of). If I put on any weight, it can be easily lost through more exercise. 

I am slightly taller than average, of average build and have chubby cheeks all my life. I don't weigh myself regularly because my weight changes a lot all the time, i.e. before and after meals, during the month, before or after breastfeeding. If I put on weight, fret not, I have bigger clothes for 'fat days'. I don't stress over weight gain, because I believe the weight can be shed off through exercising more. 

I thank my parents for encouraging my love in food and not focusing unnecessarily on my weight. My dad lovingly tells me that my chubby cheeks is plump of collagen and would slow down the aging process, a blessing in later years. (Not sure how true, but my dad is just wonderful that way.) I am grateful for my Dear Hubby who love me for who I am. My father-in-law proudly pat me on my head as I out-ate the male cousins-in-law. My mother-in-law who always cook me my favourite dishes and go out of her way to buy me my favourite dessert.

Just yesterday, I was buying frozen yoghurt and commenting to the lady boss that frozen yoghurt is a great snack for kids. She went on to gush about her yoghurt series being low fat and no fat, which is better for children. 

It was a little sad that the pressure on images seems to be taking its toll in Malaysia. I had always thought it's a refreshing change that women here are of different sizes and that women aren't that self-conscious about their weight.

While driving home, it brought to mind a friend in HK.  She fretted to me her baby was putting on weight too fast. She didn't want her baby to grow up obese and was searching for a low fat formula. Her baby was three months old at that time, aiyo.

But good fat is necessary for a child's development. Over 60% of our brain is made up of fat. A child's brain grows to 97% of an adult's brain by 6 six years old. Depriving your child of fat from young equates to shortchanging your child of his or her potential.

It bothers me that the society places so much pressure on images, and most of this pressure falls on women. 

As a mother of a daughter, I want DD to grow up with a healthy appetite, loves her own body, celebrate her individuality and never be afraid of eating alone. 

Raising our children to have a healthy self-esteem gives them the inner strength to make many other right decisions in life.

Why conform to what the magazines portray as beautiful? We are all beautiful in our own unique way. 

Enjoying your thosai much, little girl?

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

The One about Bugs

Last weekend, I was gardening.

I was transferring one pot of aloe vera to a bigger pot when I unearthed a GIANT worm. It squirmed from the exposure and snarled at me menacingly. Ok, I might have imagined the snarling but I jumped back and hollered for Dear Hubby.

My shining knight came running and scooped the worm into a plastic bag. I made sure he made sure the worm was dead before he disposed of it. He laughed at me being scared of a tiny worm. But I cannot help it. The very sight of a wriggling worm gives me the creeps.

Yesterday, DH told me that there was a cockroach in the bathroom. I rolled up a copy of Economist and swiftly killed the roach, before picking it up (with a tissue la) and flushing it away. DH laughed (albeit shakily, clearly still traumatized by the roach) that I can ‘terminate’ most bugs in the house but am scared of worms.

He’s right and we are lucky to complement each other this way. The bugs that freak him out (most except lizards and worms) – I can handle them relatively calmly. He can take care of the yucky lizards and worms.

We all have our own preference and fears. It’s only human. Having said that, many of our fears are possibly a result of exposure and upbringing, rather than innate.

Once we were in the fish section of a supermarket, where they have live fishes in tanks. This was when we were living in HK. One fish jumped a little, causing a little splash and startled a 4-5 year old girl next to it. She screamed in fright so loudly and couldn’t stop crying for a long while. DH couldn’t believe a fish can cause such a big reaction. To me, it was probably a result of parental influence and lack of exposure.

One of my challenges is raising Dear Daughter to have an open mind. 

This is one of the many things about my parenting approach which surprise even me. Friends know me as an opinionated person who has a strong view on most matters and what I want. Often I persuade people to do certain things (without realizing it).

Kids' hearts are pure. Their hearts are like a clean canvas. I consciously refrain from imposing my personal preference on her or introducing fears to her unwittingly. She shall develop her own preference, her own thoughts without prejudice.

Anyway last night, there was a bug crawling on the floor. I pointed it out to DD and wanted to see how she would react. She was curious and leaned closer to touch the bug, then squealed in excitement when the bug flew away. DH remarked she was a stark contrast to an encounter when we were living in HK. I felt strangely proud of my fearless little girl.

p.s. I used to be scared of cockroaches too. One Chinese New Year eve, I saw one and screamed a bloodcurdling scream. My dad rushed to me immediately and in his haste, he kicked at the roach and hit a metal object. His big toe nail came off and he bled a lot. We even had to visit the A&E. I felt really bad and thereafter suppressed the fear to rid the pests myself. After awhile, I realized most bugs aren’t really that scary.

p.p.s Reading the entry again, it sounds like our house is full of pests! It’s generally ok, just the norm for a tropical country.