June 26, 2010

The Girl Who Rocks My World

Dearest Alva,

A year ago today, you came into the world. It was one of the happiest days of my life and I remember it so vividly as if it happened yesterday. Now before you roll your eyes and say "Come on mom, you said the same thing to Alden.." let me assure you I'm doing this for a good reason. It's my way of displaying fairness and equality in my affection. And writing a letter which closely resembles the one written for your brother is my clever way of doing that. It has nothing to do with my lack of creativity, okay?

Now where was I? Oh yes. The day you were born. The procedure was similar to the one I had for Alden's delivery so I was quite relaxed. Your dad was beside me looking all happy and excited, camera in hand. I told myself, "Be cool. No panicking this time!" and that's what I managed to do - the first 10 minutes. I don't know what got into me but as they started getting ready for the surgery, I got scared. The whir of the medical equipment on the operating table made me visualise how they were going to slice me open. So I panicked. I remember asking for the happy-gas but the nurses said NO. That completely disturbed my state of mind and freaked me out. OMG! OMG! No happy-gas? Matilah!!Your dad tried to calm me down by saying something nice but it didn't work. Then the anesthetist decided to try her mojo on me by saying "Is that your natural eye colour? They're beautiful!". I answered her with a curt "No". But she didn't give up and went on talking bout my lovely eyes or rather, my lenses. After a minute, I forgot all about the gas. I think this is what people call psychology.

So. Back to the story. After  I recovered from anxiety attack, the doctors sliced me open and gave me a little push on the abdomen. I know this sounds disgusting, but I could hear a gooey, slippery, wet sound when they pulled  you out from my womb (like something from Aliens 3). Soon afterward, I heard the sound of you crying - you were terrified to see the light! I got a glimpse of your face and said to your dad, "Eee...she looks like you". It's not that I wasn't happy. I was just erm, surprised. The nurses then took you to the cleaning table where they had you measured, cleaned and examined. To your dad's delight, they let him play doctor and gave him the privilege to cut your umbilical cord. It was your dad's proudest moment. After the cutting ceremony, the midwife wrapped you in a towel and put you on my chest for the skin-to-skin bonding. That's when we met  and fell in love with each other Alva :)


Today, you're a big bundle of joy. Twelve months old and officially a toddler. It's just amazing how much you've grown over the last couple of months. You were 2.6 kg when you were born. Now? You're 9kg! Amazing huh? In terms of physical development, you are right on par with other babies your age. You can stand unaided for more than five seconds and you have mastered the skills of baby-walker maneuvering. I reckon in less than a month, you'll be able to run.

Because of the vast development in your physical abilities, you've started to become more independent too. You like to do stuff on your own like brushing your teeth, (more like sucking the toothbrush), feeding yourself and drinking from the sipper bottle.

Unfortunately, at such a young age, you have experienced the negative effects of sibling rivalry. When I'm not looking, Alden tends to do some nasty stuff to you like slapping your face, grabbing your toy and biting your fingers. When this happens, you'd cry for mercy and these huge ginormous tears would trickle down your cheeks. A very pitiful sight. Because of the constant bullying, you are now very anxious around Alden and the slightest intimidation would send you scurrying like a rabbit. But it's no biggie. According to the book:  IT IS NORMAL. It's only temporary and your brother will grow out of it when he turns..I don't know, 18? By then you would've toughen up and gotten used to his bullying. Don't worry, your dad and I are working on this.
What do you like to play? Well. It's not like you have much of a choice since most of the toys you see are boy-oriented. Having said that, I have noticed that you have a deep interest in Alden's train sets. You love stacking up the train tracks and wooden blocks on the floor and watch them fall. This constantly upsets your brother because by doing so, you end up destroying his little Sodor town. To overcome this constant battle between you and your brother, your dad and I will get  you more girly toys okay? For the time being, you can play with mommy's makeup.

What will you be when you grow up? Will you be pretty? Will you be rich? I know you'll definitely be beautiful cos in my eyes, you are perfect (I'm biased of course). It's the rich part that I'm not sure of. This is why I'm encouraging you to venture into the field of cosmetic surgery or a career related to health and beauty. That's where you get the big bucks. Ask your brother, he'll agree with me. I mean I'm not forcing you or anything. I'm just thinking what's best for you. For us. After all, you do seem to like cosmetic stuff. This is a good sign. Think about it Alva.

In terms speech development, you are doing superb. You say mmmmm when you see food and da when you see daddy. You pick up a car when I say car and you give me wet kisses when I say kiss. There are a few more words that you've come to understand but I don't think it's necessary to list them all out. Let's just say, your development is normal and mommy's doing a great job at teaching you. Hehe. We'll keep on working on other more important words like mommy okay?

In terms of socialisation, you are quite the social butterfly. You love smiling, laughing and baby-talking all the time. According to the  carers at daycare,  you are very friendly with other tots and you are by far one of the most well-behaved babies in the centre. You no longer cry when I leave you and even blow me kisses when I say goodbye. You've settled quite well and mommy's so proud of you!

Before you were born, I was really anxious about having you cos your brother has such a unique personality. So unique that it eats up 100% of my energy everyday. Because of this, I wasn't sure whether I could cope with two highly-unique babies at the same time. But a week after you were born, I realised that you are so different from your brother. You're easier to handle and you're more settled at night. Thank God for that. Because of your mild-temperament, I am able to bring you to the office 3 times a week and have you sit  there quietly while I work.  I know you hate it when strangers come in and pinch your cheeks or when some aunty tries to amuse you by talking your language. Believe me, I know how torturous it is. But darling,  for the time being, it's the only way we can make things work. Next time, we'll lock the door and do stuff that you enjoy doing okay? I Promise.

As I've said before, I'm not a perfect mommy yet. I'm still striving to be one and thanks to you, I've  learnt a  lot about mommyhood over the last 12 months.  It means watching a cartoon 1000 times, going  to the office wearing stained pantyhose and cleaning poop 24/7. At the same time, it also means unconditional love, unselfishness and getting heaps of cuddles and kisses at the end of a long, hard day. The cuddles make everything worthwhile. 


I think I've said it all Goliva. You are mommy's precious princess and second biggest achievement. Happy Birthday.



June 19, 2010

A Threesome in A Pick-Up Truck

Hubby brought home a pre-loved toy car from work yesterday. He didn't know how it got into the litter bin but that's how he found it. Since no one seemed to know how it got there, he took it upon himself to keep the unwanted toy.

When Alden got home from school, hubby decided to give him a surprise and show him the red pick-up truck. 

As you can see, it's a bit worn down with one door missing. But Alden didn't mind at all. The moment he saw it, his eyes lit up like fire crackers and he gave his daddy his biggest smile ever. He was so delighted to get a 'new' toy and he started playing with it excitedly. He took it wherever he went; to the bathroom, the kitchen and later that evening, to KFC where we had dinner.

While we were eating, I heard him talking to himself. His animated conversation involved the mommy, the daddy and himself. He pretended that his little fingers were miniature dolls and started moving them into the pick up truck.

"Come on mummy, come on dada. Alden sit down. Dada's divin (driving). Let's go " 

He closed the door and started moving the truck. His little sister wasn't in the picture so I pointed this out to him.

Me: How about Vava? Where's Vava?
Alden: Back...There... (pointing to the bed of the pick-up)
Me: Why is Vava at the back?
Alden: Vava falls down

Using his little hands, he showed me how 'Vava' fell out of the back of the pick-up truck before she hit her head on the road. Ada guling-guling scene lagi.

Alden: Ouch! Vava fell down...cryin.

And then he laughed and laughed cos he found it hilarious. "Vava fell down! Ouch!" he said again. He then moved the truck, broom brooooooooom....leaving little Vava behind. And that's how he ended his little play. Adorable huh?

June 18, 2010

Motivation is A State of Mind

I have been inspirationless for more than a week; with no thoughts, no ideas and no posts. To justify my lack of inspiration, I was very tempted to whine and give you a string of excuses in this paragraph. I had planned to talk about the showery, dull weather, the kids, the paper-work and how  all these factors influenced my state of mind. But on second thought, I decided not to cos I know it'll only sound lame.

So. Let me move on and tell you what prompted me to write this post okay?

Yesterday, I did my 5th round of data collection work in College X and I managed to work with 9 international ESL students. The setup of my study required the participants to write a timed-essay in English (L2) and they were given a very general topic that most  L2 students could relate to. When I gave them the signal to begin, I noticed that most of them had trouble starting the first sentence. I saw them writing a sentence, then erasing it, trying another sentence, then scratching it out. You could say that 99% of them had a writer's block while attempting to write the first paragraph. Two students, who seemed more troubled than the rest got stuck for more than half an hour before they could even start the first sentence.This was a bit surprising for me as they were all clustered in the upper intermediate class.

As I observed these students, I reflected on my own writing behaviour and realised that I too have had my fair share of writers' block. Some lasted for a few minutes and some lasted for months.  The first draft for my research report for instance took almost 3 months to complete and that was only 18 pages long. I guess this happened because of the intended audience I had in mind. My audience was the high and mighty Yoda, my mentor and supervisor who assesses and reviews my progress report. So  understandably, writing a draft for Yoda is very daunting.

When it comes to blogging however, the occurrences of writer's block are minimal because my audience is you; family, friends and fellow bloggers who do not expect much from me. I can count on you on this one right??? Just nod. Anyway, according to Hale (2006), "We normally choose a writing strategy based on who we think of as our reader." When I blog about Alden's poop for example, my intended audience  would be my sister and I would then imagine myself having a long, one-sided conversation with her. In this conversation, I need not worry about my text being lame, inferior or inappropriate. So this helps a lot.

Having said that, having an intended audience in mind is not enough. These past few weeks, I've been having difficulty starting a blog entry. I don't know what's gotten into me. I wanted to write so badly  and I had stuff to write about but I just couldn't make myself do it. No mood I guess. Same ol' excuse. So what happens if this goes on forever? How do I get in the mood to write?

I Googled this question on the net and found this site (full article). According to McCamment the answer is simple.

Writing creates the mood.

He came to this conclusion after reading a book entitled Write is a Verb: Sit Down, Start Writing, No Excuses by Bill O'Hanlon. He also said:

"The next time you don’t feel motivated to write, sit down and begin writing anyway. Get your fingers moving and watch what happens. It is almost magical the way it works."

This may not be a big revelation to you and I'm sorry if you're disappointed. But  from what  I 've gathered in his  article, we can change our mood by forcing ourselves to write. This sounds so obvious but it is so true. One common way of doing this is to free-write without worrying about mechanics, punctuation or grammar.   Just write non-stop for 5-10 minutes. My students usually find this stressful at first but as they write for a minute or so, the juices start  flowing and they soon begin to warm up to the idea of writing. Like Nike, my point is: Just Do It!

All this fuss about writing and writer's block and how to get in the mood to write  bla bla bla is just my way of telling myself: You need to be consistent! Be it in blogging or thesis writing. Lizee1: Have I made myself clear? Lizee2: Crystal!

Okay. I think I've got enough motivation to last me a week. I leave you with this quote taken from  Hanlon's site. He got it from Seth Godin’s new book Linchpin. I think that both books are worth investing. But that's just my opinion! Have a great weekend.

There are three states of being: Not Knowing, Action and Completion.
Accept that everything is a draft. It helps get things done.
Banish procrastination. If you wait more than a week to get an idea done, abandon it.
The point of being done is not to finish but to get other things done.
Laugh at perfection. It’s boring and keeps you from being done.
Failures count as done. So do mistakes.
Done is the engine of more.

– Bre Pettis

June 9, 2010

Winter Blues

May has disappeared ages ago and now it is June. With June, comes winter and that means we get a lot of frost, ice and cold air - the perfect ingredients that make up winter blues. Although it is only the second week of June, vast changes can already be seen in the weather. I've noticed that it's pitch black by 5.30, an indication that the days are getting shorter, the gray skies are more often cloudy than sunny and on certain days, it can  even rain or hail for half an hour. All this contributes to the subdued and unfriendly atmosphere  you feel in the air and this leads to those winter woes; cold, flu and SAD - Seasonal Affective Disorder.

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), also known as winter depression or winter blues, is a mood disorder in which people who have normal mental health throughout most of the year experience depressive symptoms in the winter.

Symptoms of SAD may consist of: 
  • difficulty waking up in the morning - Check. Sometimes I don't wake up even when the alarm is constantly buzzing.
  • tendency to oversleep as well as to overeat - Check. Dieting is so much harder now.
  • a lack of energy - Check. I've been rather sloppy in the house-cleaning department lately.
  • difficulty concentrating on completing tasks - Check. I can't get my article done.
  • withdrawal from friends, family, and social activities - Check. This explains my absence in the blogsphere.
All of this leads to the depression, pessimism, and lack of pleasure which characterize a person suffering from this disorder.

Source: Wikipedia

So you see, it's not me but the winter that's responsible for my lack of enthusiasm in everything. Having said that, I must admit there are a few plus points in winter.

  • You get to enjoy really nice scenery.

Picture taken in July 2009 - courtesy of Lois Wong

At Mt. Cook

  • You get a touch of frost. Well, this is nothing special but I'm just plain sakai :)

Freezing cold!

  • The kids at pre-school don't get to play outside so that means they'll be warm indoors. That also means Alden has a lower chance of catching a cold.

Alden at Pre-School

I guess that one wraps up all the plus points. The negatives? Plenty. Having dry and flaky skin,  driving in fogged up windows, wearing bulky clothes 24/7, drying clothes in front of the heaters and of course paying higher electricity bills.

Yes. Winter is cold and miserable. But that's okay cos we're going home mid winter and we get to escape the cruel NZ weather. And that's what keeps me going - the thought of me in hot and humid KK, having fun with family and friends. Can't wait! :)