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Thursday, 29 September 2011

Some thoughts about the weather

I am expecting my second Singapore baby in early November. The first was due early December, and born in November.  Of course one of the questions you get when you are pregnant is: when is your due date? When I have replied to this question with both my pregnancies, a significant number of people respond with something along the lines of: "Oh, you are so lucky to have your baby in Nov/Dec because its much cooler then." If you have said this to me and I started at you like you had three eyes, I apologize. It's not that I don't like you, it's just I find myself clueless about how to respond to this statement. 

Here is the thing, folks: Singapore is in the tropics. Its 40 miles from the equator. It only has one season: HOT. Sometimes it's hot and sunny and sometimes its hot and rainy, but its always hot and humid. I mean, look at the variety on the current 10 day forecast from weather.com:

As you might imagine, one doesn't need to check the weather very often in preparation for what to wear tomorrow and dramatic weather forecasts aren't the reason you watch the nightly news. Sure, there are some days that feel hotter than other days. And every once in awhile after a rain and if there is a breeze, you might walk outside and think, "Wow, isn't that pleasant?". But "cool".... not so much. This is further evidenced by this data from ssd.org graphing the annual temperatures in Singapore:

I might spend too much time in a lab analyzing differences in data, but from a scientific standpoint it looks like a straight line to me (i.e. no significant difference). From a less scientific standpoint, I can add these additional observations: I have taken to eating ice like I have pica disease, I sometimes pretend to be looking for something in the cold room just to have a legitimate reason to hang out in there, and my husband thinks we could store meat in our bedroom at night even though I think it could be a few degrees cooler to be really comfortable. So even if there were a slight dip in the temperature during certain months, this decrease is totally offset by the raise in body temperature caused by increased hormones.

That being said, however, I usually try to give a sociable response to the above statement instead of staring at people like they are crazy. So I reply, "Yes, I agree, I am lucky". And that is the truth.    

Tuesday, 27 September 2011


Have you ever wondered what the world's cutest photographer looks like? Well, the wait is over because here she is! It's a good thing she has that goofy smile going for her because I'm not so sure how her picture taking ability is....unless she was aiming for pictures of the ceiling.

Saturday, 24 September 2011

Chopstick Lessons

Since we are living in Asia and everything, why not get Adrienne started early on chopstick use??
She is making real improvements.  See that good form on the chopsticks??

Step 1, pick up the food (Hint: go for the pasta, those corn kernals look hard to pick up!)

Step 2: Put in mouth (Hmmm....it helps a lot if I just hold the food to the chopsticks with my other hand and bring it to my mouth.)

Success! End of first chopstick lesson. Beginning of drum lessons.

Wednesday, 21 September 2011

Pregnancy Update

This week marks week 34--3 more weeks until full term and 6 more weeks until the due date. Phew! Ready or not...

Here are some brief updates of things on this end:

--The baby is growing lots and weighing in at 2.1 kg, which our doctor says is "just nice".  'Just Nice' is a phrase used all the time here in Singapore. While this phrase is somewhat non-descriptive, it has a positive connotation and hence we are happy that things are going well. As far as I can tell from internet searching, this baby looks to be exactly at average size and that is where we want him.   

--Speaking of internet searching baby info, have you ever noticed that pregnancy websites like to describe your baby as the size of a fruit? This week your baby is the size of a small lime/large lemon/mango/etc..  Well, this week the baby is the size of a cantaloupe (or rock melon for my local friends). What the websites fail to mention is that your bladder will likely be shrunk to the size of a grape at this stage. Sometime I feel like I have to go to the bathroom again before I even get settled back into my desk from my last bathroom visit.  If I didn't think it would be ridiculously inappropriate, I would just camp out in one of the stalls and do my work.

--Speaking of frequent trips to the bathroom, I kid you not that I had to go to the bathroom 4 times last night. And I didn't even drink water after 8pm to avoid this fate. People will tell you that this is good training for nighttime feedings of the baby. I am surprised that Mother Nature, being a mother herself, would enact such a cruel joke on womankind. I mean, waking up to go to the bathroom  every hour is not the same as doing nighttime feedings. It would be like training for a marathon by swimming lots of laps--exercise but not the right exercise. Besides, wouldn't the best training for nighttime feedings be to stock pile lots of good quality sleep that you could draw upon during those early weeks of sleepless nights?? I mean, I don't want to question Mother Nature too much, since she has done a relatively decent job at keeping our species going....but, seriously, she may have gotten this one wrong. 

--Beyond sleepless nights, I have gotten to the point where my tummy is so large that it is hard to ignore. You know, like the elephant in the room, one feels like they have to comment on it.  My, you are looking ripe/awfully pregnant/could be any day now, huh?

--The one place, however, where I can haul that elephant without anyone noticing is the train. The other morning I was standing in front of a young man sitting in the priority seat (priority meaning priority is given to the closest person to jump into the seat when it becomes vacated, despite signs and arrows surrounding the seat that suggest otherwise in both picture and in four different languages). A kindly passenger next to me nudged the man and asked him to get up for me. He, looking embarrassed, said, "Oh, I didn't even notice you were pregnant." Really, if it hadn't been such a disingenuous statement, I would have been flattered. 

--Even people trying to be complimentary have a tough time at this stage. Someone said to me the other day, "Wow, from behind you don't even look pregnant and then when you turn to the side, you look massively pregnant!". I think (?) this was meant as a compliment, although I would just like to point out that there are very few (read: no) occasions in which the adjective 'massive' should be used to describe someone's physical attributes. At least to their face.

--Along the same lines of people making interesting observations about my body, my husband told me the other day, "Remember how after you had Adrienne, your tummy looked like a deflated balloon?". Hmmmmm....Come to think of it, lets add 'deflated balloon' to the list of adjectives that shouldn't be used to describe one's body parts.

--Speaking of the hubby, we are no closer to deciding on a name for this baby than my last update posted here.  In fact, I believe we have not even spoken about names since the last update. He did mention that we SHOULD talk about names soon.  Like maybe this weekend, but for no longer than 10 minutes to avoid a fight. I'm starting to wonder if 'Boy' would make a decent name? I mean, it would be both original and obvious at the same time. 

--Lastly, Adrienne seems to understand that a baby will be arriving.  She likes to ask daily, "Baby, come?". She tries to feed and water and wash the baby through my tummy.  She also pats the baby gear and says "baby?" and looks at me expectantly like 'Why don't you put the baby here like I'm telling you to, Mom??'.  Lets hope she keeps up the enthusiasm once the baby gets here!  

All things considered, we are feeling happy and blessed and nervous  totally ready for this baby to come.

Monday, 19 September 2011

Muddy Puddles!!

Adrienne has just discovered the best part about a rainy weekend--muddy puddles!! I can't say this was an original idea. I am 99% sure she got this idea from her favorite cartoon pig, Peppa. Peppa pig was introduced to us by a good friend and has rapidly replaced Dora as Adrienne's favorite cartoon friend. We let her watch a couple of episodes (they are only 5 minutes long--don't judge!!) before bath. This always leads to tears between the episodes and bathtime, even though Adrienne also loves her bath once we get her in there. After her episodes of Peppa pig, Adrienne will look at you with those big alligator eyes with real tears in them and say "Bubba? Bubba please?". At first I thought she was saying 'bubbles', and so I would make her an extra big bubble bath. This outcome was probably equally as pleasing to Adrienne in the end. However, I have since realized that she is asking for 'Peppa' and it takes all my will power to say no when she looks at me like that!  If you have little ones and have not heard of Peppa Pig, I would highly recommend it. Just don't be surprised if your kids develop a taste for jumping up and down in muddy puddles!    

Wednesday, 14 September 2011

Baby Language Skills

At 22 months, Adrienne really wants to be talking. We can just tell that once she starts talking, she is never going to shut up. And I mean that in the most loving way. I am also realizing my inadequacy at understanding baby language. I probably should have been brushing up on these language skills over the past couple of months. We have been running into the various 'lost in translation' moments. For example, Adrienne often says something that sounds like "Aaaadii". She says it very clearly. When I say "What? What do you want, honey?". She starts doing what you do when you think you are speaking a foreign language correctly--you know, saying something more loudly and slowly, as if this will help in the comprehension. "AAAAAAAAADDDDDDDIIIIIII! AAAAAAAAADDDDDDDIIIIIII!". I can't quite figure out what this word is, although we have been able to eliminate Daddy, Auntie, and Adri. 

In another of these comprehension mishaps, Adrienne came up to me the other day patting her diaper and saying "PooPool". Naturally, I thought she had gone to the bathroom and was letting me know. So I did that which only a mother is not grossed out by: I pulled her diaper out and peeked down to see if there was poo-poo. "Nope, all clean, Adrienne" and put her back down to play.  A few minutes later, she came up to me again, "PooPool" and patting her diaper. Wondering if I had missed something, I stuck my nose down by her diaper and gave her the smell test. Still clean, I told her. When she came up the third time patting her diaper and saying, "PooPool", I tried the final mommy test--the dip test. You know the one where you reach your hand down into the diaper to feel if you are missing something. This is a risky test and should only be used on the rarest of occasions. The results, however: All Clean. "There is no poopoo, Adrienne". Then she gave me a look, sort of the toddler version of rolling the eyes, and ran off down the hall. When she came back, she was holding a PURPLE diaper. "PooPool" she says, and shoves the diaper at me. Silly mom, purple is her favorite color and she wanted to change into the purple diaper. 

I have to say that as far as misunderstandings go, this probably went in my favor. Had I thought she wanted something purple and instead she handed me a pile of poopoo, well now, I think we would all agree that that would have been much worse.

Only Bears and Purple Diapers for this girl!

Monday, 12 September 2011

I Don't Know

Here's a look we starting to see more and more.  It is a very useful tool to learn and perfect. There are so many instances where it comes in handy. For example, Adrienne can effectively maneuver this look when we ask her:
Adrienne, who has a stinky diaper? 
Who clogged the toilet with toilet paper? 
Why are there cheerios all over my bed? 
How did my shoe in up in the water plant?
Who used pen to draw on my wallet?
What is this sticky stuff all over my iPad/Phone/Chair/(Insert other Noun)?

You get the idea. Well, in fact, so does she.

Sunday, 11 September 2011

Woodlands Waterfront Park

Remember that I told you that Adrienne has been forcing us to explore our surroundings in various weekend outings? Last weekend we headed for one of the newest parks in Singapore: Woodlands Waterfront. The park is called so because of its vicinity along the Singapore straights across from the Malaysian boarder.  The park is being opened in phases, but its main attraction is a 400m long peir that is great for viewing, strolling, and fishing off the side. The first picture is a panaramic of Johor Bahru, Malaysia, taken from the pier. The second picture gives you a feel for how long the jetty is. There is also a large playgym area for kids.  Regis took one look at it and said, "That is the most dangerous kids area I have ever seen! I love it!". And he meant it because he spent quite a long time climbing up the ropes and exploring the sky bridges, while Adrienne and I played with some of the more age-appropriate playground toys.

Now I know I keep telling you how crowded Singapore is and you certainly will not believe me from these pictures. However, there was a good reason for the lack of crowds at this park on this particular day. It was HOT. This park suffers from 2 major problems, the first being that the pier (which is pretty neat) is totally unshaded and the new-ness of the rest of the park means tiny, shadeless trees. As a consequence, this park is almost unbarable on an average Singapore day. We showed up around 9am and already the toys at the playground were gettng too hot to sit on. So I wouldn't make the effort to go back unless it was a relatively cool, cloudy day. If you are thinking of visiting, I would suggest going to see the sunset from the pier.  You probably get great views and can avoid standing in the direct sunlight.

Thursday, 8 September 2011

St. Adrian's Feast Day

Yesterday, Sept 8th, was the feast day for St. Adrian, Adrienne's patron saint at her baptism. I must admit that I knew nothing of St. Adrian before we decided that Adrienne was a lovely name for our daughter. Poor St. Adrian certainly had a rough life. He spent the majority of his life persecuting Christians, before converting for about 5 minutes, being tortured and martyred. His wife, Natalie, was also martyred and a saint. St. Adrian is the patron saint of soldiers, prison guards, butchers, arms dealers and plagues. (Does it surprise anyone else that arms dealers get a patron saint?) Hopefully Adrienne will be able to pick another patron saint based upon her profession, since I find that these listed here are all rather unsavory for my daughter. However, on this feast day of St. Adrian,  we are grateful for his courage and pray our daughter also grows up to be courageous and upright. Additionally, today seems like a good excuse to post this picture from Adrienne's baptism.  Awww, look how little she was!

Tuesday, 6 September 2011

Mommy's Little Helper

I recently attended a chocolate-lovers baking class with a friend of mine. Following 2 hours of chocolate tasting and demonstrations, a sugar-induced high enticed me into purchasing enough unsalted butter and chocolates to bake for a small army. In an effort to start using these items, I decided Sunday afternoon would be a good time to make cookies. Despite my best intentions in the kitchen, I am incredibly lazy when it comes to cooking. Thus wanting to avoid a Sunday afternoon trip to the crowded grocery store, I had to invest some time googling for a white-chocolate chip cookie recipe for which I had all the ingredients on hand (I did not have macadamia nuts, oatmeal, or cranberries, all of which are generally agreeable to being paired with white chocolate). Anyway, I finally found this unusual recipe for white chocolate lemon cookies and decided to give it a go. 

Now to get started baking, I did what any good mother would do and popped in an episode of My Little Ponies to occupy my daughter. What? You don't do this? Well, as is turned out, My Little Ponies has nothing on powdery sweet substances that are ripe for the mixing. So mere minutes after starting this baking project, I had myself a little helper. And by little helper, I mean one who helps very little. Perhaps I could go so far to say the anti-helper, the inhibitor? Well, call it what you may but a rose by any other name, right? First my helper wanted to mix the dry-ingredients. That was so fun that she kept trying to sneak more of everything into the bowl. And by 'into the bowl', I mean all over herself. She also spilled half a cup of sugar across the entire kitchen (and just as I thought we were getting that ant problem under control!). She also managed to eat half the bowl of my lemon zest before I could stop her (weird, right?). And finally my little inhibitor cries at the sound of the mixer, which meant that all of the mixing had to be done manually. Once we got all most of the ingredients into dough form, I assigned Adrienne the task of doing the dishes. This may have been the best part for her. Permission to get all wet and soapy? Yes please! Getting the actual dishes done? Not so much... 

I would really like to blame Adrienne for the way my sad little cookies came out--very flat and crumbly. But lets be honest here, my cookies rarely come out looking picture perfect even under the best of circumstances. On the upside, they actually taste pretty good. Even my husband liked them and he is not really a fruit-in-my-dessert type guy. You know who wouldn't try these cookies? That's right, the inhibitor refused to try the finished product. I kept trying to shove cookies in her mouth and she was refusing! Cookies! This makes me wonder about two things: 1. Is she really my off-spring? and 2. If so, what does she know about those cookies that I don't know?? 

Sunday, 4 September 2011

Woodlands Town Gardens

This past Tuesday brought about the Hari Raya holiday in Singapore which, happily, meant a day off work for us. Adrienne was so excited about the holiday that she didn't want to miss a single second. She also didn't want mommy or daddy to miss a single second either, and as such woke us up before 6:30am to get the day started. We have slowly been figuring out that Adrienne is beyond the age where we can toss a stack of measuring cups in her direction and convince her that this is entertainment. Entertainment would likely pursue in the form of taking the cups over to our 'fish pond' and seeing what happens when fish water is dumped on to the living room carpet. And once she sets her mind on something, it is hard to persuade her to do something else. We find her curiosity is sometimes redirected more easily outside of the apartment. The plus side of this is that we have been forced to explore our surroundings more than our normal lazy selves might do. So this lovely holiday, we got up, packed a breakfast picnic, and headed over to a nearby park called Woodlands Town Gardens for a morning outing. 

Woodlands town garden is actually a very lovely park. It has a smallish man-made lake that is surrounded by a walking path and pagoda-looking picnic areas. There is also a small kids playground and a picturesque bridge spanning the thinnest part of the lake.  Following a leisurely breakfast, we took a stroll around the lake and hunted for rocks and sticks for Adrienne to throw into the water. Even though we planned this for Adrienne, I think Regis and I may have enjoyed it as much as Adrienne. The best part of the day, which you may have noticed from my pictures, is that the park looks suspiciously empty. I assure you that this is not an effect of photo editing (although we know that that can be done from THIS post; however, this in not a skill I have yet to learn). I believe I have told you that Singapore is an island the size of DC metro area (only 25 km top to bottom and 50 km across) and is called home by some 4 million people. We saw approximately 2 other people at this park the entire morning. The parks and garden website of Singapore claims the park is 11 HA in size. So using this information and some complicated calculus integrations, I have determined that Woodlands town garden on this particular Tues morning was population-wise the least dense place in all of Singapore. Now if that's not something to love, I don't know what is!

Thursday, 1 September 2011

Not a Fluke

Well, just to prove all you nay-sayers wrong, Regis decided to complete yet another olympic triathlon this past weekend. So not only did he finish 2 triathlons in 4 weeks time, he managed to shave off an impressive 10 minutes from his first time. I believe this puts him just close enough to the 3 hr mark that he is mulling over whether or not to sign up for another one and shave another 8 minutes off. I will be sure to update you once this likely happens, as it appears these races are rather addictive. (Regis was saying post-race that he was going to take some time off training. At least 2 days, he said). Adrienne and I went to cheer him on at the race finish line and managed to catch him hauling down the path at an impressive clip (rather than crawling on hands and knees, as I suspect I would be doing after attempting this athletic challenge). Here is a picture of Regis nearing the finish line; he looks pretty chipper for having just swam 1.5 km, biked for 40 km, and ran for 10 km, don't you think? Not to toot my own horn or anything, but I should point out that I had my own individualized set of tri-hurdles to overcome. This consisted of carrying a developing 30-week old baby in my uterus, hauling a 22 month old on my left hip, and wielding a camera with my right hand to bring you this picture. I mean there are successes and there are successes, right? Not impressed, huh? Well, at least my husband appreciates my obstacles; post race, he got us BOTH massages. I know, it is one of the many reasons why I love him.

Now I have mentioned that my husband likes to worry sometimes. We endearingly refer to this passtime as a paranoia problem. So post race, the worrying began that maybe he had missed a lap during the races, which was why he finished so quickly. This suffering had to go on for several days until the results were posted. Happily, there was not a DQ next to Regis' name. The night that the triathlon times came out, it was Regis' turn to give Adrienne a bath. I can tell he was taking advantage of this time to teach our daughter some new words.  See for yourself:

RPC, 3.07:44 = Fast
Congrats again, Hubby!