March 31, 2010

One of Those Unexpected Things

My Alden had just got a febrile convulsion two days ago. It wasn't his first, but it was just as horrible and frightening as the one he had in 2009

It started with a fever on Monday morning (2 am) and despite giving him 2 doses of Pamol over a period of 8 hours, we couldn't keep it down. Because of his history with febrile convulsion, I got worried and called 111. The ambulance came in less than 10 minutes and we got to the emergency department at exactly 11.30 a.m. 

We were asked a few questions during the registration and were told to to wait for the doctor. So I sat down on the bed and waited. Alden was in my arms. Hubby was with Alva. After a few seconds, it happened - he went  into a fit. I shouted HELP and doctors came scurrying over to the bed. 

The convulsion lasted for 1 minute and 25 seconds but it seemed like forever to me. After treatment and general assessment, Alden was admitted to the children's ward at the Acute Assessment Unit, where his progress was monitored. Over the next six hours, Alden seemed to have gotten over the fever. His tests came out fine and the doctors said he was okay. They were pleased with his progress and told us we could go. 

At five something, we gathered our stuff and got ready to go home. It was then that I notice something wasn't right about Alden. He started to shiver again and he complained about being cold. I hit the buzzer and got the nurses to come. They all said he's fine. Again, they told us we could go home. I got the message stupid nurse!

I didn't want to go home cos I wasn't happy. He seemed fine but my gut feeling told me he wasn't. We decided to wait a little longer. Then, it happened again. Another seizure.  I hit the emergency button and the doctors came in a flash. The seizure lasted longer but it was less than 5 minutes. 

I felt like slapping the nurse who kept asking me to go home. She was really quiet during the treatment. The doctors ran a few more tests on him to see if there's any bacterial infection etc.  This time, Alden's recovery was slow and he became really weak after the attack. It was heart-wrenching seeing him like that. He was then admitted to the High Dependency ward so the nurses could keep a closer eye on him. We spent two sleepless nights here. 

This morning, Alden was discharged from the hospital and this finally ended our 3-day turmoil. His test results came out OK and the doctor has also given him some antibiotics to make sure all the  nasty bugs are taken care of. 

He is fine now and that's all that matters.

March 26, 2010

Autumn is Here

One of the things I do before I start my day is check the weather forecast on Yahoo. I did exactly that this morning and what d'ya know?! It's a perfect weather today! - H 26° L 14°. By 9.30 am, I was so eager to get out of the house just to send Alden to school. 

As I drove to campus, I noticed that the autumn colours are starting to pop out  everywhere. The leaves on the trees are turning to brilliant shades of yellow, red, brown and orange, making the whole landscape absolutey beautiful. 

March officially marks the season of autumn in NZ but we've been having so many warm days that it still feels like summer to me. But like I said, the telltale signs of autumn are starting to show now. I notice that the days are getting shorter, sunset is happening sooner and the nights are getting cooler. I personally love it cos it's not too hot and it's not too cold. Because of this perfect climate, autumn is said to be the best season for gardening. And indeed, when I look around me, I  can see that most of my neighbours have been investing a lot of time beautifying their lawns and garden.

Exhibit A: This house is only a few blocks away from ours.

Exhibit B: A house across the street.

Exhibit C: Another nice house across the street. 

Exhibit D: My next-door neighbour
My neighbour, Rag, has green fingers and he takes great pride in having such a beautiful garden. When hubby suggested  that he should plant other types of flowers to add more colours  and variety to his garden, I wanted to squirm and hide. Why? I'll show you why...

I now present you the most outstanding house in the neighbourhood: My house.

Unlike Rag's, our garden has a modest appeal to it. It's simple, dowdy, boring and samak. We have no fancy colour-coordinated flowers or cute garden gnomes. Instead, we have natural growing flowers, green shrubs and some cute lalangs. It's what I call a minimalist approach to gardening. So now do you see why we shouldn't make comments about other people's garden? 

Well, never mind that. Having a less appealing garden can't stop me from enjoying the wonderful autumn weather. Happy Friday everyone :)

March 24, 2010

18 months to go

My recent meeting with Professor X went pretty well. Once again he has put me back on track. Despite feeling good about the meeting, I can't help feeling like a second fiddle next to Kusai, my officemate  (not real name).

Since both Kusai and I share the same supervisor, we both had our meeting on the same day in our own little office. As always, his appointment came first and mine second. I had to sit at my desk and wait for him to finish before I could have my time with Professor X.  During the meeting, Kusai talked about the progress of his research and the work that he has carried out. Although I appeared to be occupied and  indifferent to what he was saying, I was partially eavesdropping the whole time. Well, technically I wasn't really eavesdropping cos they both knew I was in the room. Let's just say, I was multi-tasking. 

So anyway, I overheard Kusai talking about his research; the laborious data collection procedure,  smooth data analysis, his helpful co-researchers and the generous funding he's getting from  the institution. By the time he finished, my ears were bleeding with envy and I momentarily became this green-eyed monster.

When it was my turn to report, I felt so...inadequate. I don't know if that's the right adjective to describe my feelings but that's how I'd phrase it. INADEQUATE. I told Professor X everything about my data collection procedure which was much simpler compared to Kusai's, my research samples which were relatively smaller compared to Kusai's and the agonizing data analysis which I was still struggling to do. When I finished, Professor X smiled and said "Well done!" Even though he only said it twice during our discussion (Kusai got 7 well-dones btw) I was happy and instantly motivated.

The meeting gave me a great boost cos it made me realize how inefficient I've been. Never mind the babysitting and chicken pox attack. Those are excuses. I need to wisen up, work harder and overcome my inadequacy or should I say inadequacies. I don't want to be second fiddle anymore. I want to go beyond Professor X's expectations and see the look of awe on his face when he sees my work. And I have exactly 18 months to do that. I'd better get started now :)

March 22, 2010

Trying Not to Crack

I just came back from Countdown and let me just say grocery shopping had never felt so good today. It wasn't because of the buy-one-free-one promotion on selected Arnott cookies or the discount on those Weight Watchers cereals. No, none of that. It was because I could be alone for an hour not having to worry about Alva scratching her blisters or Alden running her over with his bike. I just wanted to be alone so badly.

Don't get me wrong. I love my babies to pieces but sometimes I can't help feeling trapped having both of them so attached to me. I can hardly do anything at home cos Alden sticks to me like super glue. He follows me everywhere and he gets really annoyed when I leave him alone in the living room, even for five minutes.

This morning, while he was watching Dora the Explorer, I snuck out to the bathroom with little Alva and closed the door leading to the hallway. I didn't think he'd notice cos he was so engrossed in his cartoon. As I was about to get Vava into the tub, I heard him shouting "Mama, Mama, Mama" at the top of his lungs. Crap! He did notice! He started banging on the door hysterically, shouting "mama! no! no! no!", louder this time. I was tempted to open the door but I knew that would invite more trouble. If I let him in, all three of us would've gotten wet. So I shouted "Wait! Just wait for mama k?" and continued bathing Vava hurriedly.

After a minute or so, he went really quiet and he stopped crying altogether. This got me worried cos whenever he's quiet, he's got something up his sleeve. As I was about to get Alva out from the tub, I heard him rummaging through the lower kitchen cabinets, as if searching for something. There was a lot of funny noise and I knew he was up to no good. After a few seconds, I heard a loud thump on the floor. Oh crap! I quickly wrapped Vava in a towel and dashed to the kitchen. As fate would have it, I was too late. The damage was done.

My three year old went amok and in less than a minute he had managed to crack all 30 fresh cage eggs. ALL OF THEM. Six were cracked on the floor, spattered all over the kitchen creating one big goowey mess. Can you imagine how hard it was for me not to flip at that very moment? No, I guess you can't. 
As I was saying I love my baby to bits but sometimes, he can be a real monster. When that happens, all I need is some Me-time.  

March 19, 2010

Good Timing

Over the past two weeks, I've heard many horror stories of people suffering from chicken pox as an adult. So many that it got me into a spiral of wild imaginations. 

One of them was Alva getting the pox at age 26, a week before her wedding day. Everything's set. The gorgeous wedding dress, the church, the 3-D cake, the catering, the photographer, the invitations and then BAM! CHICKEN POX! Wouldn't that be catasthropic? We'd probably call off the wedding cos she can't possibly get married while having the pox! And the scars. Oh my! At 26, she'll have a hard time getting rid of them and surely no amount of Vitamin E cream in  the world could get rid of her scars in time before the wedding.  We're doomed! DOOMED I tell you! She'll be crying her eyes out all week, looking at the blisters on her face. Then one day, when she's done crying she'll turn to me and say "Mom, it's all your fault!! You should've let me have the pox when I was a baby!!"

Pretty wild huh? Well, most of the imaginations I had were along those lines and they all spell Worst-Case-Scenarios. Because of this, I've come to embrace the thought of Alva having the pox as a baby. I know I was panicky when I found out about Alden's chicken pox but that was two weeks and hundreds of scabs ago. 

All this beating around the bush is my way of telling you that Alva has got the pox. Yep. She's got it! I discovered four cute, little blisters on her back last night and I was thrilled! I shouted  with glee and told hubby the good news. "Dear! Alva dapat chicken pox suda!!!!Yeh yeh! Hubby was perplexed of course. His eyes dilated in surprise and he said "Suka pula..." Never mind him.

So as I was saying, my wish is granted. It's going to be another week of chicken pox-baby-sitting but it's totally okay with me. At least I can rest assured knowing that it's not going to happen a week before her wedding day, 25 years from now. Hehe. 

March 15, 2010

Having a Vain Moment

Aside from wanting to lose weight, which I'm still working on by the way, I am also trying to keep up with my beauty regime. I'm sure this task is a no brainer for most of you ladies out there but if you have a 3 year-old demanding toddler and a 9 month-old baby, you tend to put everything else aside.

I have listed this task as one of my new year's resolution after discovering the appearance of fine lines under my eyes. The discovery gave me a mild stroke at first but then, when I reflected on the possible culprit, I realized it was all my fault. You see, during my second pregnancy, I transformed into a moody, hormonal hippo with a bad case of morning sickness. Due to this transformation, I became extremely frumpy and  sloppy.  And then, I did the unthinkable; I stopped using skincare! (did you just gasp?).  Well, I didn't see the point of sticking up to a beauty regime cos none of the creams I used could stop the hormonal breakouts on my face. So against good judgment, I went au naturel for almost a year.

Two months after my delivery, my fine lines and I met for the first time. Me: Hi y'all.  Wrinkles: Hello mommy! I'm fine lines and that's crow's feet. So yeah, we had an ice-breaking session. My first impulse was to go for a facial and pamper myself from head to toe. Something like this.

However, after visiting one of the salons in Riccarton, I had to reconsider. Spa treatments are  simply too expensive here and being a student, I can't afford it. A complete facial and body massage costs about $200 and this takes only an hour and a half (including consultation time). There are cheap ones which cost around $45 for just a facial but this is only for 20 minutes and it doesn't include face-steaming, facial massage  or extraction. It's just exfoliation and mask. Pretty pathetic. So I opted for a more economical solution and after seeing a very convincing ad on the net, I purchased this for my peepers. The price is quite reasonable at USD17.99 and delivery is FREE.

It came in a small bundle last week and I've been using it for three days; morning and night without fail. I am hoping for some kind of miracle to happen but so far, no such luck. Maybe it's too premature to tell. Aside from the ad for this supposedly effective UNT eye cream, I've also seen an enticing ad for Susan Lucci's microdermabrasion kit. It was aired on TV a while ago and I can't help thinking about it. After all, microdermabrasion has been said to help rejuvenate the skin as well as eliminate fine lines. I read about it here. Very tempting you know.

Today, I saw another product on the net which claims to diminish the appearance of fine lines under the eye with botox-like effects. With such enticing words I am convinced yet again. Read about it here.

March 12, 2010

Losing Momentum

The past five days have been challenging. Not so much because of Alden's chicken pox ordeal, but because of being stuck at home with the kids and not having ME time to do stuff.

This worries me because I have several deadlines to meet next week. I thought of taking them to the office but after how things went last Wednesday, I changed my mind. Alden had made such a lasting impression on my supervisor that the thought of him in my office is unbearable.

I had an appointment with Professor X that Wednesday. I knew it was impossible to have  them both with me during the meeting so I decided to send Alden to school for an hour. He was not allowed to, but according to the teacher, if the spots have all dried and scabbed over, he could come. So that morning, I got creative and started working on his cosmetic appearance. I slapped on heaps of calamine lotion on his spots and made them look dry. To emphasize this  effect, I also put on some Fobian lotion and powder to maximize the coverage. I then dressed him up in a turtle neck top and a pair of jeans and then we were all set!

We got to school at exactly 10.30 a.m. Alden was excited but I was nervous. Upon reaching the entrance, Debs (the senior headteacher) took one look at Alden and her eyes bulged out like ping-pong balls. The  make-up obviously didn't work. She was all "Oh no Alice, he can't come". Then came the lecture about the stages of chicken pox...bla bla bla. When she was done, we both headed to the door, dejected. 

I had to bring them both to the office. So I put Alva in the portacot and got Alden to sit at my roomate's desk. I switched on the PC, searched for Thomas and Friends on YouTube and let the video do the babysitting. So far so good. Few minutes later, Professor X came. He was a bit surprised to see them but after my explanation, he smiled understandingly. 

So we started talking about my research, data analysis and SPSS. Just when things were ticking along nicely, Alden started his first drama. He wanted to watch a different clip.  He pointed to the  screen  in exasperation and shouted "this, this, this". I excused myself, rushed to his desk and clicked play. Discussion resumed for another 10 minutes and then there was another tantrum. This time he didn't want Thomas, he wanted Sponge Bob instead. Fine. I rushed to his desk, clicked the thumbnail on the screen and begged him to behave. I smiled at Professor X and aplogized for the disturbance but he was so cool about everything. "It's okay. Don't worry bout it" he said.

We then continued our discussion about SPSS. Things started to get interesting cos he was teaching me how to create a new variable using the transform function. I was so into it, first click Transform, Compute and  then..."Mama, O-O" came Alden's voice. He started jumping up and down restlessly. "Mama! O-O!!" he  shouted again. This time he wanted to poop. Such perfect timing! I told Alden to wait but of course he couldn't wait. The poop was coming out. He cried and cried histerically saying "O-O! O-O!". Just when I thought things couldn't get worse, Alva started crying too. By now, the room was a total chaos; Alden's on the verge of pooping in front of my supervisor, Alva's crying at volume no 10 and  I was  there looking at my babies in panic. Then came the smell. A very distinctive smell that filled the entire room. It was none other than Alden's silent burst of flatulence! Isn't that priceless? I was horrified. Before I could decide what to do, my kind professor excused himself and told me not to worry about the meeting. He would set up another one next week. The smell was probably too much for him.

So everything has to be put on hold now. Work, fitness class, academic writing etc. I think I've lost lost some momentum but I'm hoping to catch up next week. For the time being, I'll just stay cooped up at home until he's recovered. One thing's for sure, I am not going to bring Alden to the meeting next week

March 9, 2010

Chicken Pox Story

We've survived the worst of Alden's chicken pox and at the moment he's doing just fine. The blisters are drying up and in a couple of days they should turn into scabs. It's probably not as itchy as it was a few days ago cos he's back to his old self again - being mischievous and cheeky.

Last Saturday was a total  nightmare cos he was down with fever and the blisters were popping out like hot lava on his body. He was whining and crying and throwing all sorts of tantrums. I felt quite hopeless cos all I could do was give him cuddles and tell him not to scratch. I think he really suffered that night cos the blisters itched  really bad and he could not sleep well. That was a total agony for all of us. His temperature kept fluctuating a lot, going up and down every hour and this got me really worried cos he has had two febrile convulsions in the past. To bring the fever down, we gave  him Pamol every 4 hours and kept an eye on him the whole night.

The next day, I went to the pharmacy and bought him some ZYRTEC, a fast acting allergy and hayfever treatment. This really helped relieve the itchiness and swelling on his face. The effects were quite instaneous and after just an hour of taking ZYRTEC, his mood improved tremendously. It was such a relief cos I didn't have to shout "Don't scratch!" like every 5 seconds.

Yesterday, Day 3, we brought him to the clinic and got him checked. Doctor said he was at his worst at that time and assured us that he'd be better in a couple of days. He still had the fever but it wasn't as bad as the first day.

Today, he's totally recovered from fever and I think the chicken pox is now at stage 3 - drying and forming yellow crusts. I am waiting impatiently for the time when all the spots ultimately scab over so I can see the dead cells fall off from his body. This might sound utterly disgusting but I still remember how much my sister and I enjoyed peeling off the scabs (which were almost falling off anyway) and looked at them in awe. I was 11 and sis was 15 and we were under 'house arrest' for many many days. The drying of the scabs was the climax of our miserable chicken pox ordeal and we had a lot of fun picking off scabs from our head. I was going like "Nah, sia dapat yang basar!!"  and sis was all "Syok oh kan?". There wasn't a lot of entertainment like Facebook or PS2 in those days so you can understand our fascination for dead skin. Right. I think I've totally grossed you out there.

Anyway, I'm just saying everything's okay now. The Doctor says that Alva's probably going to develop her first spot in 10 days' time but at least now I'm prepared. So chicken pox, just pop up whenever you're ready.

March 6, 2010

Mayday! Mayday! Mayday!

Alden just got the chicken pox yesterday.

C-H-I-C-K-E-N  P-O-X!!!!!!

The most dreaded childhood disease in the history of mankind. Why oh why does it have to happen now? When I'm on my own? If I were home, mom would know what to do. Me? I'm clueless.

Well, despite being clueless, it was me who discovered the first few spots on Alden's back last night. When I told hubby about it, he was like "Oooh, sia nampak ba tu tadi masa kasi mandi tapi sia ingat kana gigit nyamuk". (eye roll) There's never been any nyamuk where we live right now so his excuse for not recognizing the pox is quite disappointing.

I called mom this morning to tell her the news and she gave me some useful advice: drink lots of water, remain indoors and steer clear of peanuts, eggs and soy sauce.

So for the next 10 to 14 days, I will be at home babysitting poxed Alden. He's super cranky right now and I have no choice but to say YES to his every need. His wish is my command! I'm hoping lilttle Vava doesn't get it too cos if she does, I think I'll go mental.  A chicken pox party is the last thing I want right now. 

March 5, 2010

The Hot and the Not in Gym Class

I'm not trying to turn this blog into a training log but I just can't help talking about my fitness classes. They are after all, more appealing than my academic work. Anyway, after attending regular classes for almost a month, I have decided to stick to the ones I like. The schedule looks like this and I have tried almost all of the sessions offered.

All except for STEP, YOGA and SPIN classes. STEP is a stepping routine for beginners *yawn* and it's sort of like an oriented session for beginners to learn the basics in aerobics. Yoga is a flowing sequence of asanas or poses (boooo-ring) and SPIN classes are indoor cycling routines which cost an extra $3 fee. That leaves me with these:

Ko-Extreme - Kick boxing inspired workout
Blitz - Jumping around three different disciplines
NRG- High impact workout
BAT - Butt, abs and thigh workout
CardioFunk- low impact dance class with creative choreography

So my favourites are KO Extreme, Blitz, NRG and BAT. It's not just the routine you see. It's the people in class that make it interesting. Certain people have definitely made an impression on me like stripey aunty, fit aunty and yes, cute blond instructor with perky butt. I'd kill to have those perky butts. They look like J-Lo's butt on steroids! All fleshy, round and springy. You could make a guy do a whole thesis for you with that kind of butt. Well, not that I would, if I had those assets. I'm just saying.

Now where was I? Oh yes, interesting people in gym class right? Well, there's a girl from my KO Extreme class who seems to attract a lot of attention by her mere presence. I noticed her in my second session and my friend tells me she's been a regular since last year. Like the blond instructor, she turns heads too, but not exactly in the same way. People practically stare at her cos she's so skinny.

I mean, really skinny. As in anorexic-looking skinny. You know what I mean?

Whenever I see her, I get all maternal and all I want to do is feed her with a whole load of hamburgers.  The sight of her is depressing. Despite being so awfully skinny, she is still able to jump, run, skip and kick through all the routines. I don't know where she gets her energy from. One thing's for sure: You should never stand next to her in gym class cos you'll end up looking fat. Next to her, I'm obese.

If she's around, it is also best NOT to go to the changing room after a workout cos she normally showers at the common shower room. Yes, in a room where everyone can see her N-A-K-E-D. Okay let's take a moment for a communal jaw-drop. The vision of her body is like a mental torture to me. The sunken face,  the protruding ribcage, the pale skin and the whole shrunken body is just too much. I feel really sorry for her cos she obviously needs help but how do you tell a girl she's anorexic?

You don't. Unless of course you want to have a mortal combat with an anorexic girl. She's quite good at KO-Extreme you know.

Anyway, now that I've seen her so many times, I'm not as appalled as I was the first time I saw her. I'm like, "oh there she is, don't stare!" I'm more or less immune to her presence now and only stare once in a while. She doesn't go to the Blitz and BAT classes cos they involve lots of weight training, so I'm safe. I have enough distractions as it is with stripey aunty  and booby lady in these sessions, so it's good not having to see her all the time. What's the story with booby lady? Let's just say, everyone can see her big cherries all the time. Thanks to her too-thin sports bra. Hehe.

So yeah. My workout routine is very much set now; Monday, Wednesday and Thursday. I haven't lost any weight yet, but it sure is fun and interesting :)

March 1, 2010

Being a Scrabbler

It's the first day of March and I've yet to finish Study 1. This worries me but not enough to send me to a state of panic. I don't know. I'm just too laid back right now and when I do get worried, my subconscious mind tells me that I'd be able to do it at the last minute. I've been glued to the net for the past few weeks, playing Scrabble all day long. Other than getting my first Brazilian wax, I've done nothing major nor productive in February. Shameful, I know.

Having said that, I plan to start anew tomorrow. I will go to the office fired up, rejuvenated and  focused.  Yes, tomorrow will be my first day of March. Today's a warm-up so I can stick to being unproductive and will relish in this temporary state of luxury with this self-indulgent post. You got to understand something.  I really have no one else to talk to right now. My 3 year old who sometimes acts as my counselor is asleep and hubby is not amused by my addiction to a board game so that leaves me with you :)

Right. What do I want to talk about? SCRABBLE. I know, how boring. Told ya this is self-indulgent. Anyway, I've been playing a lot of SCRABBLE on Facebook lately and  like most online games, I find it  very addictive. I always choose the 2-minute per move version cos it's thrilling and the game ends fairly quickly. However I sometimes get carried away with the greed to strike jackpot and in my attempt to form a 7-letter word, I exceed the time limit by a few seconds. When this happens, I normally pass a turn and try to get it right the next time around. It's either that or getting 'forced forfeit'  from your opponent. However,  if you have given your opponent some extra time without skipping their turn, or sending them a forced forfeit, you should expect them to return the favour and thus give you some extra seconds during your turn. Isn't that fair? Well, this is an unspoken code of conduct that I've established with most of my opponents.

Not all of them abide by this rule, unfortunately.

Forced forfeit is by far the harshest thing a Scrabbler could ever do to his opponent. I almost got a heart attack  a few hours ago when a sore loser did this to me. I just sat there in disbelief, paralysed with shock. I so wanted to type GOOD JOB PATHETIC LOSER! on the chat box just to tell her how I felt but the game has ended  so chat box was no longer active. It really sucks to lose in such a way when you're already leading by 65 points. The nerve!!! Earlier in the game, on more than one occasion, she had gone way beyond the time limit but I had waited and waited and waited for her, patiently. I could have ended the game or skipped her turn but I didn't cos I just didn't have the heart to. But at the last minute of our game, with only 3 tiles to go, I exceeded the time limit by 3 seconds and before I knew it, the game was over. Boohoo. The pain that came with the forced forfeit was so unbearable I needed two bolws of boisenberry ice cream to recover.

Point is I've learnt my lesson. The road to victory in SCRABBLE is speed, intensity and ruthlessness. You beg to differ? Well, after getting forced forfeit, I'm sure you'll agree with me.

* I did some digging and found these useful tips. Click on the link if you're interested :)