May 26, 2010

The Boy Who Rocks My World

Dearest Alden,

Four years ago today, you came into the world.  It was one of the happiest moments in my life and I remember it so vividly as if it happened yesterday. Before I go all touchy-feely talking about how much you've grown over the years, I'd like to tell you what happened moments before you were born. Rest assured, I'm not going to talk about the gory details, so there is no need to feel sick. Unless of course, you decide to watch the  whole footage shot by Daddy.

Back to the story. It was 7.45 a.m. and there I was lying anxiously on the operating table, waiting to be slaughtered by Dr. R. At that time, your dad was not allowed to enter yet cos the doctors  needed to get me sorted out first, so naturally I was feeling kind of miserable. At 8.00 a.m. the anesthetist came to inject the anesthetic into my spinal cord. It felt like the sting of an ant's bite at first but as the needle went deeper, it felt more like a cold dagger piercing into my back - so nyilu. Since Dr. R warned me not to move, I was very obedient and remained still during the whole ordeal. After being anesthetized, I lay on my back and waited for the slaughtering to begin. At this point, the anesthetic started to take effect and I could feel my legs going numb.  After awhile, I felt paralysed from the waist down and let me tell you, it was the yuckiest feeling ever.

To make myself feel better, I tried lifting my right leg, but only managed to lift it half way before it fell limply on my side. I panicked. I tried lifting it again but no matter how hard I tried, I couldn't do it. It felt so damn heavy! I kept thinking CAN'T-MOVE-MY-LEGS!!! ARGH!!! CANT-MOVE-HELP! Doctors started noticing my effort and ordered me to be still. But NO. I didnt want to be still cos I wanted to move my legs! So I started flipping my hands like a madwoman, thinking that that could help move my legs. The OT started to get a bit chaotic cos I wouldn't stop flipping like a half-dead fish so Dr R. got the nurses to hold me, and tried to calm me down. Then your dad came in and started holding my hands, telling me to calm down. I wasn't listening of course. I told Dr. R "I change my mind. I don't want spinal! I want GA!". Dr. R said cannot change my mind tiba tiba. I felt like scratching his face at that time. Then my BP skyrocketed - 160/ 110 and that was the final straw. Dr. R. ended my suffering by putting an oxygen mask on my face and that's when everything changed dramatically. I suddenly felt happy and calm. Then Dr. R did his thing - some incisions, some pushing and shoving and then you were out Alden! You were all wet, gooey and so tiny. And that's how mommy saw you the first time we met.

Today, you're all grown up. A big boy, a preschooler and most of all, a big brother to little Alva. I know you still feel miserable having her around cos you hate sharing stuff with her - parents, toys, TV, etc. but I  am certain that in time you will learn to love her. Apart from being a bully brother at home, you're everything a mother could ever want. You're affectionate, loving and very dramatic. If you hear a siren, you'd feign surprise and say "oh gosh!" in the most dramatic manner. If we watch a scary cartoon like Scooby Doo, you'd be shaking and gasping when you see the ghost. And if you find something funny to laugh about, you'd be rolling on the floor, saying "so pani (funny)" repeatedly. What can I say? You're such a character.

In terms of speech development, I must say you have improved tremendously. You can now get your message across 90% of the time and you can even carry out a short conversation with 3-word sentences. I'm so proud of you! Sure, most of the time only mommy can understand you but that's because I'm a good listener  and I really pay attention to what you're saying. Others should try to be a better listener when talking to you.

In terms of interest, you still love trains and cars. Your favourite cartoon is Thomas the tank engine but you're still loyal to the Little Einsteins. You can play with your wooden train set all day and  I  just love watching you play because you get so focused and serious. Your attention to detail especially in setting up the train tracks and the way your little hands work on the small parts give me the impression that you will have a career in the medical field. Like becoming a specialist or something. I am hoping you'd become a plastic surgeon so that you could earn a lot of money and help people. That way, you could give mommy regular treatments in your clinic - botox, lasers, IPLs - all for free. Think about this Alden.

Another thing I have noticed about you is your ability in making decisions for yourself and others. You have started to pick your own clothes to school and sometimes you even tell me what to wear. Your taste is  often impeccable.Last Sunday, you chose your own birthday cake and everybody commented how yummy it was.  Great choice! And of course when it comes to what food to eat, you know exactly what you want -it's either corn soup or chicken soup. You are less picky than you were 6 months ago so I guess I should be thankful for that. We'll continue working on your positive eating habits and try to get you to eat more healthy food. It sounds easy but in reality, it's not. But we'll keep on trying.

Birthday party at Teo Ao Tamariki
 Having you has taught me a lot about motherhood - it's a challenging journey but  it's highly gratifying.  I know I'm not a perfect mommy yet. At this stage, it's quite difficult for me to strike a balance between studying and being a mommy. And because of this, I sometimes get sloppy when it comes to your school preparation. Like  when I get so busy thinking about my thesis, I forget to put diapers in your bag and you'd end up coming home with school diapers and training pants. And if I forget to put some shoes on you , you'd end up wearing the school's gumboots all day. And sometimes your socks don't match cos the other pair is lost in the washing machine, but that's okay cos you're always wearing jeans anyway, so no one would notice. But I promise you, that will never happen again. Pinky swear!

I think I've said it all Alden. You are mommy's pride and joy and biggest achievement ever. Happy Birthday.




May 18, 2010

Why I love Yoda

I am feeling high again. As in HIGH HIGH HIGH, roller coaster high. Why? Cos I've just had a meeting with Yoda today and FYI, every single meeting with Yoda  is a revelation. He's a true Jedi Master, who knows all and sees all. Taught me well, Yoda has! I once was lost, but now am found, was blind but now I see.  You know that song? Hehehe.

As with most meetings with Yoda, there's the good stuff and there's the bad. The good thing is, I now know what to write about and how to write it! Yay! I'm talking about my thesis of course. You see, more than half the time, I don't even know what I'm talking about cos my head is constantly filled with these thoughts: What's my point already? Can anybody understand this? How do I paraphrase XYZ's statement? Do I sound academic enough? It's like I'm floating in a cloud of uncertainty, where everything is fuzzy and blurry and confusing. But after meeting Yoda, I got my Aha! moment and suddenly everything seemed to make perfect sense. Knowing what to do next is just splendid!

Okay, the bad news is, there are tons and tons of scribbles on my papers and that means I have a gazillion of amendments to do. This plus some extra literature I need to include in the discussion  part and conclusion. Having said that, I'm so thankful for the scribbles because they practically tell me where to go, what to say and how to say it. I don't have to crack my head and use 90% of my brain cells to interpret one small data set. I don't need to spend 5 days writing the discussion section. And I don't need to hit my head on the wall when I have a writer's block while attempting to write the conclusion. Why? Cos I have Yoda's precious scribbles!

As you can see, I have a lot to work on. Yoda tells me "you're getting there" but that's the only encouragement he offered. Not that I expected extra credit  btw. I just felt that today, he was more serious than usual. I guess while marking my inscrutable paper,  all the joy of being a supervisor was sucked out of his being. He confirmed this, more or less.

Me: I hope my writing didn't drive you cookoo (smiling weakly)

Yoda: Ooohh...yes. I can't even begin to describe it. It drove me cookoo alright! (Feigning a disgusted expression, eyebrows raised + eye roll!) Now work on that bit and send it across when you're done. I'll see you on Tuesday.

And that's how he left me. Isn't that priceless?

May 9, 2010

Tag, You're It!

An Award from Chegu Carol 

1. Ucap terima kasih & letakkan link orang yang memberi award ini.

Thank you Kay. This is my first tag.

2. Nyatakan 7 perkara tentang diri anda.

i. It drives me crazy when I can't remember something like the name of an actress or a TV Show.  Like last July when my sister was here, a verse of a song from a cartoon we used to watch came to her head. She kept humming "Here I come to save the day...da di da di da di da" but she couldn't remember the name of the show. I couldn't stop thinking about it too, so both of us googled "superhero cartoons" and found the answer. It was Mighty Mouse.

ii. I am a reformed klutz. In the past, I used to trip, slip and fall on a regular basis. Some examples - I tripped over my shoelaces during a sports event in primary school. In Form 2, I slipped and fell on a muddy sand pit in front of the school gate, where everyone was waiting for the bus. And on my third date with hubby, I slipped into a drain behind Anjung Selera. There were so many incidents like this but let's not dwell on the past shall we? These days, I'm extra careful when walking over drains and going up and down the stairs.

iii. I have the uncanny ability to remember the outfits I've worn during special occasions like weddings and birthday parties as well as normal outings like attending classes etc. Well, sometimes I also remember what other people wear especially if they're interesting, unique or plain weird. Hehe. With regards to this ability, whenever I recollect an event in my mind, I'd focus on the outfits first. Hubby tells me not to strain my brain  all the time but to me, it's totally effortless. Bad habit. I know.

iv. I love giving surprises and getting them.

v. Don't tell hubby this but I am secretly in love with Christiano Ronaldo. A month ago, I met him in my dream where he was taking my grammar class in uni. He was wearing an MU jersey and at one point during the lesson, he stood up and asked me a question. It was something about simple present tense. When I answered his question, he smiled at me and said "Thank you Ms. Wong". T'was the sweetest dream ever!

vi.  I am easily influenced by TV Ads on the shopping channel and I've made a list of the three things I'd like to have: 1. A BeDazzler 2. TOBI Professional steam iron and 3. Microdermabrasion Kit

vii. When I really like a particular song, I play the song over and over AND over again until I get really sick of it.

3. Pass kepada 15 orang award ni.
 This is a bit hard cos there're so many to choose from. Plus, Chegu has already tagged most of the blogs I frequent. Let me just do it the Eenie Meenie Miny Mo way okay? Here goes...

Erin Gray
Mapeh's Homepage
Mrs. Craig

*Ennie and Mimi - I know Chegu has already tagged you so consider this your second award :)

 4. Beritahu kepada 15 orang yang bertuah ni bahawa diorang dapat award ni.

These are for you. Thanks for giving me good reading materials every day/ week/ month.

You've just been tagged but you don't have to do it if you're busy saving the world (roll eyes). To be honest,  I'm hoping you'd do it so I could read about your 7 juicy details. Cheers :)

May 7, 2010

All's Well That Ends Well

So. On Wednesday Alva and I flew out to Wellington to get her travel documents done. The mission was to obtain them by 2.30 pm so we could get back to the airport for our return flight to Christchurch. The plan was simple. 

We landed at 7.45 a.m. and we were way ahead of time. Our appointment was scheduled at 9.30 so we had an hour and 45 minutes to spare before our meeting with the consulate. I initially wanted to get a cab and go directly to the MHC office but I was told that the office doesn't open until 9.00 a.m. So in the interest of saving money and killing time, I decided to take a shuttle bus to the city centre and then get a connecting bus to Brooklyn, where the MHC office is located. Since I've been to Wellington last November, it was quite easy for me to get around the city and get a bus to Brooklyn.

The journey to Brooklyn took less than 20 minutes. By 9.00 a.m. I was already at the gate of the MHC headquarters and I was the first visitor. I made my way to the reception desk and was greeted by an Indonesian receptionist. She told me to write my name on the visitors' book and wait at the waiting lounge. At 9.35 a.m. the consulate came to see me and we proceeded to her office. She examined all our documents and made sure everything was provided. There was also a short Q and A about our trip in July; why we needed the emergency travel documents, why we're flying to Melbourne, why this why that..bla bla bla. After all the yakking, she finally took Alva's thumb print and got me to sign the application form. And then it was done!  

Happy that it all went smoothly, I asked her what time the documents could be released. Her answer was "Come back at 3.30 pm". WHAT?!!!! I almost went balistic when she said this but I calmed myself down by blinking my eyes repeatedly. I explained to the lady how crucial it was for me to catch the 4.00 pm flight. When I finished, she smiled and said "Ahh...I see...I will tell my superior and we will try to get it ready by 2.30 OK?" It wasn't reassuring at all but I just had to suck it.

The time was 10.30 a.m. and I had 4 hours to kill before the documents would be ready. I looked around me and sighed heavily. The office environment was not family-friendly at all.

To stay around and wait would be suicidal. First of all, there was no Parents room  for us to relax in. Secondly, I was starving and there was no cafeteria at the premise. And thirdly, there were quite a number of visitors at the waiting lounge, so there was no way I could feed Vava without exposing my boobs to all these strangers. I had no choice but to head back to town.

I took bus number 7  to get to Lambton Quay and headed back to Willis street. By the way, I haven't been talking much about Alva in this entry because she was asleep most of the time. She was so settled and well-behaved during the entire trip. Lucky me :)

So. Back to the story. I strolled along the streets of Lambton Quay and saw Starbucks at the Old Bank Arcade. As planned, I ordered a Frappuccino to celebrate our small success, which was the submission of Vava's application form.

After a short break, I headed back to the street for a little sightseeing and photo taking. As I was walking aimlessly along Willis Street, I saw this nice boutique.

The moment I saw the word Sale I stopped dead on my tracks, my heartbeat quickened and I had this uncontrollable urge to walk into the shop. It's a behaviorism kind of thing you know. You heard of that famous study done by Ivan Pavlov? the one with the dog? Pavlov rang a bell each time he gave a dog some food and after repeating the procedure a million times, the dog's saliva began to flow whenever it heard the bell. Even if no food appeared. This experiment showed that a reflex such as the flow of saliva can become associated with a stimulus. In my case, the stimulus was the word SALE and my reflexes were the accelerated heart beat and buying impulse. Makes a lot of sense right? Hehe.

I saw so many nice dresses and blouses and cardigans and winter jackets and off-season autumn wear. All on SALE! OMG. It was like Christmas you know. Good deals like this don't happen everyday. I had to try them on! So I started taking a few blouses, a cashmere jacket and a sleeveless top and headed to the biggest fitting room. Then, I took off the baby carrier and because Vava was already awake, I placed her on the floor and ordered her to remain silent. She obeyed for 5 seconds before she started crawling out through the fitting room curtain. She was crawling at the speed of light and I had to stop my fitting rendezvous immediately. It was a lot of work you know, trying on the clothes AND getting Vava to behave. After some futile attempts (Vava kept crawling out of the fitting room), I gave up and left the store. 

I walked out, feeling a bit bumped for not getting anything. I reminded myself to be frugal and focus on my mission! No shopping. Suddenly out of nowhere, a store called BLING appeared in front of me. The store sold accessories so I didn't have to take off the baby carrier at all. Just what I needed! 50% off ALL items were written on the store's banner! OMG. Once again I was consumed by the same reflexes I experienced earlier. I walked to the store and started scavenging for blingy stuff. After a few minutes, I decided to purchase reasonably important accessories only. I bought a few blingy headbands to keep my hair in place in windy Wellington, a white eye liner to make my eyes pop out after a tiring day and 2 eye shadow pallets to...never mind.

After a visit at BLING, I felt much so much happier. The familiar feeling of euphoria slowly seeped in so I continued strolling along Willis street to check out other cool stores around. I saw Whitcoulls  instead and decided to try my luck at Lotto. I got myself a lucky pick.

 After a shot at the lottery, I tried searching for a Parents room at Withcoulls but the staff told me there was none. She told me to go to Kirkcaldie and Stains instead. I did just that and found a nice parents room at Level 2, where Vava had a nappy change, a wholesome feed and some play time.

After almost an hour, we were back on the streets but I wasn't excited to shop anymore. I felt a bit tired lugging the sling bag on my shoulder and carrying Vava with me so I decided to head back to the MHC office. Just as I was about to walk to the bus stand, I came across a nice little store called Equip which sold accessories like belts, chains and hoisery. The leggings were on buy 1 free 1 so I grab a few packets and went to the cashier. Just couldn't resist a good bargain!

We got back to the MHC office at exactly 2.30 pm. I went to the counter and gave the receptionist my name, hoping there'd be an envelope waiting for me. Guess what? It wasn't ready yet. I asked the lady "What time will it be ready?" to which she answered "Maybe 3.00 o'clock? The certificate's not signed yet. Maybe the consulate got urgent meeting with Datuk". Hearing this, I felt really sick. Sick to the pit of my stomach. My head was spinning and  my palm started to sweat. Cold sweat. She told me not to sit at the reception area and go to the waiting room. Kena halau lagi ba.  I told her I couldn't wait until 3.00 but she kept telling me the same thing. "I know you are worried but you have to wait!" And then she smiled. Why the heck did she have to smile like that? I didn't like that smile at all. It was made-up and unsympathetic and cold. How can I make you understand ah? Oh! I know. It was a Joker smile. As in Joker from The Dark Knight.

So. I waited until 2.55 p.m. and decided that enough was enough. I could have just left but all my original documents including my passport was still with the consulate. I got up and decided to go to the airport without the documents. I just wanted my passport. So I went to Joker's desk and told her what I wanted. She got the consulate on the phone and then after 2 minutes, the consulate herself came to see me. The good news was, I could have all my original documents back. The bad news was, Vava's cert was not done. So she'd have to send it through via courier the next day. Well to me, that was as good as gold.

I thanked the consulate and quickly called a cab. It came in 2 minutes and we finally made it to the airport on time. We checked in, rushed to the boarding gate and got on our plane. Phew! All's well that ends well.

May 4, 2010

Just Me and You Baby!

Alva and I will fly to Wellington tomorrow. I have booked the earliest flight at 6.45 a.m and the return flight at 4.00 p.m. (Wellington - Christchurch). We are coming back on the same day and shopping is not, I repeat, IS NOT in the agenda.

It's just a one-day trip and there will be no time for sightseeing or shopping. But anyway, that's not important. What's important is Alva's birth certificate and travel documents. That's the reason why we are going to Wellington, in case someone's forgotten! (that's a self-reminder, by the way).

I will be travelling light and these are the stuff that I need to bring to the Malaysian High Commission:

- A Baby called Alva
- Baby's passport-sized photos
- Baby's birth certificate (copies and original)
- Hubby's IC, passport and birth certificate (copies and original)
- My IC, passport and birth certificate (copies and original)
- Marriage Certificate (copies and original)
- Borang IM 42. Pin 1/97

That's about it.

So. The moment I land at the airport, I'm going to haul a cab, tell him exactly where to go, march to the office at 9.00 a.m. sharp and get all this stuff done. When it's all over, Goliva and I will shout Yay! before we head to the nearest coffee shop and order a big glass of Double Chocolaty Chip Frappuccino. And then we wait. And wait and wait and wait for our flight at 4.00 p.m.

That's my brilliant plan for tomorrow. During the wait, I'm sure I will be having heaps of Schmigal sessions (talking to myself), entertaining Alva, observing people and checking out every store at the airport. Exciting huh?

And how will I be travelling? Like this of course.

Well, minus the sipper bottle, the pacifier, the 3 other clinging babies and the hot body. As much as I hate wearing the baby carrier, I must say it's the most convenient way to carry a 10-month old baby when one is on the move. I know I'll be looking a wee bit frumpy tomorrow, with my faded jeans, sneakers, messy hair and the baby carrier but I've decided to choose comfort over style. 

That's my plan, from A to Z. I hope everything turns out okay. Fingers crossed - Goliva's and mine :)